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Monday, 20 July, 2009


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

prashant menon's itemsGo to prashant menon's photostream

Wednesday, 20 May, 2009

a new venture - ambigrams

This is the new pastime. ambigrams
Though angels & Demon of Dan Brown formally introduced me to the concept, it was not before I visited the ambigram Flickr community and John Langdon's website that I decided to give it a try.

Since I have no formal training or much capability in Calligraphy or Font creation/designing, I must say I rely on already available fonts and their modifications to achieve the same. I prefer using Old English Text Font to create ambigrams using Paint.NET software.

These are some that I have been able to create or do.
They stand for amit and eldrich.
more updates soon.

Tuesday, 12 May, 2009

Secularism 1.1

These are just how various institutions/sites/persons define secularism :
  • Religious skepticism or indifference
  • The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.
  • WordNet :
  • a doctrine that rejects religion and religious considerations
  • Wikipedia:
  • Secularism is the assertion that governmental practices or institutions should exist separately from religion and/or religious beliefs.
  • Wikitionary:
  • A position that religious belief should not influence public and governmental decisions
  • The related political belief in the separation of church and state
I find skepticism, indifference, rejection all too caustic to define secularism.

Secularism is not about outright rejection of religion like our dear Communists do. Its not about separation of religious beliefs and ones thoughts. This is not refining but sheer destruction. What is a man without religion? Its the fabric that protects him from the coldness of Ignorance, corruption, etc. Religious skepticism or indifference is the negative way of approaching secularism. Its not about denying justice to majority community to show sympathy towards the minority. What I find today happening worldwide in the name of secularism is outright rejection of religions and religion bashing.

Many have a feeling of rationality and religion never going together. Its wrong. Every religion goes through a phase where it needs revision to adjust to the world scenario. When this fails and when the religion sits rigid stubbornly refusing to change, the gulf of division between secularism, rationality deepens with religion. Its then, religion appears to do more harm than good. But is it still justified to throw out the religion ? No. You be the change to change others. Religion is not a conglomerate business where it can be led by certain people and diffusion of freshness is considered abhorrence. Every religion is open for scrutiny and revision. So secularism is about taking religions along amicably.

One must understand when there is a talk of revision of religion, its not much of change that is needed but little tweaks from time to time. When change is needed means not change in the religion but the way we see it, the way we interpret it. I strongly believe the foundation or the philosophy that enshrines every religion is similar be it the Abrahamic religions or Hinduism or any others. Its universal.

Separation of state and religion is somewhat people wish for but rarely seen. It simply means doing ones karma without buckling under any pressure. Isn't it what all religion speaks of ? So you wish for their separation while every religion speaks of it. Its never the fault of the religions but their erroneous interpretation as majority of the religious scriptures are also excellent rich works of literature that always remain open for fresher interpretation. Separation of State-Religion is what Church needed during the Dark ages, what Indians needed after the Old Vedic era. Religion and State are both potent, powerful and the mixture of both results in an explosive nitrate mixture unless handled carefully. History has always been witness to their union and it simply proves their separation is not easy and not the modus-operandi for secularism. What is needed is more like a controlled explosion where more religious freedom must be there, where diffusion and assimilation of thought are needed. We need to create awareness about what religion means and what is the use of its philosophies. People must know, what is the actual thought of the religion and how sciptures and objects that represent religion are just simply props to convey the actual essence that is hidden deep inside the realms of literature. Then the question of separation wont arise and both state and religion will live side by side amicably.

In Indian Political scenario itself, every party anoints itself as secular while lambasting others as non secular. Every political party is everything other than being secular. Every party is guilty of minority or majority appeasement, bribing and threatening them. Be it National parties like Congress, BJP or regional onels like Left, RJD, LJP, SP, BSP, etc. I consider preference over justice also as a denial of justice. Reservations exceeding 50% is in itself a show of degenaration of secularism. Its more than half a century of Independence and still the goals of reservation remains to be achieved. People forget, reservation was supposed to be a short time impulse boost to the neglected to attain parity. Instead now there is parity in disparity. India finds itself in unique contrasting position where it breaches its own constitution by preventing application of Uniform Civil Code. I find the Pseudo secularists Congress and their allies guilty of it. One must understand the Political system of India is guilty of asking and restraining the majority under the chains of secularism while preventing seepage of secularism to minorities. LJP had recently commented to raise a complete dalit batallion in the army. Look at Mayawati, who wishes tp become PM just on the credential of being dalit queen. This is the disarray in Indian political system where secularism is of negligible importance.

What secularism we see today is a complete sham and I must say its just pseudo secularism People must see through this. We need a political renaissance.

Friday, 10 April, 2009

Who will become the PM ?

Prime Minister or PM is the humongous country India's top notch position or I should say was.
"Humungous" not just geographically but the extreme diversity unseen anywhere else but still holding itself together along with all problems a developed, developing and under developed nation faces makes India's position unique and important. It is a strong and weak nation where pluralism and singularism co-existing amicably and a country full of youth but run rigidly by olds make it a rare and strange combination.
"was" because nowadays the projected prime minister rarely displays a strong personality, reflects qualities of leadership, clarity, strength. Nowadays, the voters hardly know who their prime-ministerial candidates are. I doubt, the parties even fathom over it until the elections results are declared. Its now a post reserved for the most faithful stooge of the party who will go by what the party wants.
Running such a country with population second only to China with so many differences, opinions, wants, demands, suggestions and over all these things many parties makes the throne a thorn. So can any Tom-dick-hardy be allowed to be the ruler ? when so many things are at stake ? Definitely Not!
This time around, almost every party has an aspirational prime ministerial candidate. BJP has their aging but still fiery leader Mr. Advani while Congress(I) has their steward Dr. M. Singh who seems to be filling the vacuum until their Yuvraaj assumes complete iron power from his mother. BSP projects Mayawati as their candidate or is it herself projecting her as their candidate ? Does that matter ? No. Then we have the RJD (Lalu P), LJP(Paswan), NCP(S. Pawar), AIDMK(Ms. Jaya) among the others. I don't consider, Left - a force to recon at least in this election. If predictions and the anti-incumbency, multitude of corruption cases during their rule in Kerala, the CPI and CPI-M split in seat sharing, split between chief minister and party Secretary, Nano & Nandigram atrocities are to be considered they will face almost complete swing in Kerala as also earlier unseen public retribution in W-Bengal.

Those days have long left us when every party had a clear ideology and the prime ministerial post was a post for doing service to nation and its people. Those days have long forsaken us, when lust for power never over powered national interests. Today, Indian politics is a lucrative business where fame, power, money and respect are at stake and the odds of profiting is higher than the speculative bear markets. Also unlike any other field, accountability is feeble and the articles in the constitution insulates against action over serious lapses, crimes etc. For a small investment at the time of election in terms of political canvassing, freebies and goodies; the politicians break even very fast with margin of profit that is limited only by ones ability to gloat and justice.

I pity for the school children & for India, as we nowadays rarely produce any quality leaders who are successful in capturing center-stage. School children still need to look at leaders pre- 1983 and even 1947, when they have to write essays about "My favourite Indian Leader". Our school history books are forced to teach history till our Independence (1947) , as then there begins massive detoriation of our system and consciouness of our politicians.

I am still shell shocked over Mr. Paswan's portrayal of deep concern for dalits by suggesting new regiment for dalits. For few days, the tamil issue seems to be quite rocking the Indian political scene. Almost all political parties seem to be jumping the wagon to show their soidatory for the tamil elam movement in Sri Lanka. I hope the Tamilians do understand the hollowness of these lip service gestures and punish those who are trying to earn a goal over the issue. <I suppos I will write one new post on this issue>

Somehow the shoe throwing incident seems to be the best thing to come out of this year's election. It seems to be quite effective in sending message. Suddenly the common man - the poorest of poor can make a statement. He has no weapons but a simple rugged slipper to project his feeble voice across the table. Nice, someone must create a machine gun and cartrige for slippers so that many one after another can be sent to deliver the message.

Yes, Vote but to whom ?

Its election time in India and the people of this largest democrazy in the world will decide which oldie can sit in the thorny throne in New-Delhi for a max of 4-5 years (ie. if the oldie doesn't wither or his/her supporting allies doesn't back-stab or an early election is needed to prevent anti-incumbency factor shadowing the positives)

The Major power houses at the centre are Congress and BJP. Unfortunately their power domain has been steadily decreasing while regional powers gain at their expense. As a result it has been a very very long time since any individual party has surpassed the magic number to form its own government. Coalition governments has been the mantra for an irritatingly long time. Thus the formation of UPA coalition of Congress and NDA of the BJP is seen. Coalition gave rise to politics of adjustments and compromises, where even the smallest fraction of the coalition could hold the government to ransom over petty personal issues. The thought that coalition would bring moderation and result in better welfare/administration has been dashed long ago.

Regional parties are many and I can confidently say its definitely more than the states of both US and Canada. Every state has at least 2-3 regional parties who align themselves at the centre either with the BJP or Congress.

Left and their allies have formed the third front and hopes to present an alternative to Congress, BJP lead governments at the Centre. Their alliance partners are so colorful and myriad which includes Tamil Nadu's amma, andhra pradesh's Mr. Naidu, NavinPatnaik's BJD from Orrisa, Deve Gowda JD from Karnataka and some more. I am not sure whether BSP supremo Mayawati will stay after polls.

For many of these parties, its still Castes, sects, reservations, concessions, religion, freebies, goodies that dominate their manifesto. Development and socio-economic upliftment, judicial and defense forces modernization is hardly an issue. Leave alone these issues, for a starter just check how many young candidates are given tickets by parties. Its all oldies and oldies. How can Indian public remain mute over this when there is always demand for fresh young blood to be given chance in cricket? For instance, Congress poster boy Rahul doesnt seem to reflect the party in Kerala where hardly any ticket has been issued to the youths.

  • Every party in India lambasts BJP as non secular. Why ? Congress, SP, RJD always play the majority-minority card but still gets tagged as secular. Why? There is hardly any party that cares for any religion or region.
  • BJP accuses Congress over the anti-Sikh riots of '83 while its own hands are not clean in Gujarat.
  • I find the Left as the most corrosive party as they in the name of secularness admonish every religion. I find it infuriating when Kerala Left leaders visit Sabarimala on Jan14th and stand in front of all devotees denying them darshan and nonetheless say they have come to check security arrangements.
I want to vote for a party/canditate :
  1. which believes in separation of State & Religion
  2. believes in conducting community meet programmes unlike people like Govinda
  3. declares his aim, vision and leader before polls
  4. which believes in true socio-economic upliftment and refrains from giving away color tvs, rice-wheat or resrvation soaps.
  5. shuns political horse trading and dilution of its principles just to come in power and wont enter into post poll alliances (Its not right for voters as this dynamic action doesnt have the blessings or say of the common public)
Is it possible ?

able was i ere i saw 'in to the bag'.

Its a week since my camera went MIA. It was Thursday afternoon when i put my hand in my bag to feel my camera in college. A sudden vacuum filled my stomach and adrenalin shot up as I knew this is serious. My camera was no where to be found, even after 15 minutes of frantic searching. Thorough search was initiated in my house for recovery of my camera though in vain.

The feeling of permanent loss was strong this time. Somewhere down deep in the heart, I knew this was irreversible. The emotional and economic loss is immense and intense for not only me but many in my family.

Wednesday was the day the camera met its downfall; a day before I sensed its loss. The accuracy and precision of the heist makes it an insider job. A job done with such accuracy and stealth that it points to people who knew where I safely secured my camera in my bag.

People ask me why in the world would you bring it to college and my reason is, there is photo worthy life in between college and house which i wish not to miss. Photography for me is not about simply catching holiday pics but to capture emotions and life in its natural form that do not give prior intimation of its arrival and departure. Things that represent randomness and unpredictability attract me. I wish not to lose even a single day in learning new elements of photography for every lost day is a lost step in my ladder. So was it worth the risk ? Yes and no. Loss is still loss and it hurts especially when you have spent your last year and half entirely with the camera; hand in hand, thoughts together for a result that gave me satisfaction none else could provide.

so what next ? As the show never stops, life must move on though scarred. I fear not for the crucifix held by my friends or others who glee at my misery for that's the way world works. Presently, I got an exam at the pedestal to worry more about. May be it is time I move from auto focus to manual focus. However it will be long long before I again own a wonder called camera

Sunday, 15 March, 2009

Goa UnOfficial Trip - March09 : 3

Goa March 09
Post 1
Post 2

We had touched Mapusa and were readily bundled into a taxi - Maruti Omni converted into a Taxi and the cabbie readily agreed to smuggle in more than 4 of us for off course some extra incentive or I must say higher fare. Anyways, it was still cheaper for us as our per person contribution would drop while the cab driver would get higher than his normal fare. So a win-win situation if you consider economics! The taxis started moving when they felt their graph and ours met at optimum.

The ride from Mapusa to our Hotel was a new experience to me. Not only were the roads unknown but also the destination hotel. Luckily the driver nodded when we said the name of the resort. We were going through some nondescript tinsel town-villages with fields and intermittent houses showcasing the famous liquor bands. I dunno how Oka was sitting at the back of the Omni meant for baggage. I am sure my ponch would have disapproved of it! After passing fields and fields and fields and some houses and many winding roads, we finally reached our destination. I was praying this time at least the hotel is more nice and respectable unlike the one in previous trip. The present destination hotel boasted of swimming pool though it is not a factor for a non swimmer like me. I hoped for more clean rooms and having at least satisfactory basic amenities !
The Wild West Gang and Rakshas Gang( Nagu(c) ) had already reached a day earlier and were already acclimatized to holiday living. Some of them had just got up while many were still in their beds. We had to wait more than an hour to get rooms and settle. While others waited in the lobby for their rooms, Codec, Lebedev and myself decided to check out the beach nearby.
Finally we checked in, regenerated and did our brunch in Indian Spice hotel. We hired Honda Activa bikes and a maruti 800 for rent and bought some local petrol that looked wose than crude.

More to write but no time right now. Later on !
Meanwhile check the pics and the web album

Friday, 13 March, 2009

Goa UnOfficial Trip - March 09 : 2

← Previous 

So while the movie went on painfully, I tried my best to look out and kill time gazing the sky for signs of any star. However the moon ensured that I could not! Finally the movie ended though it would be long time before many of us could catch a wink of sleep. The ghats and hair-pin curves (CCR enlightened me to this term) along with some rough driving ensured that we continuously slip from our seats. Even the seats in front lacked anything to hold onto in case of a jerk or a sudden turn. All that was present was a small mutilated lasso bottle holder that reminded me of rodeos and their wild horses. We talked over a multitude of issues and topics that included even Monica Bellucci! Finally tiredness overcome many of us and peace and tranquility prevailed in the bus. While many slept like Kings, some like Codec and myself were denied sleep. Codec was sitting in the middle seat of the last row with just the narrow bus walkway in front and more seats to the sides. Poor guy had nothing to hold onto and couldn't sleep even an iota. I was sitting next to him and found myself being dragged along with the forces of the bus. After a while the bus made a pit stop at a derelict canteen for early morning tea. The only nice thing about the place was the soothing music being played on the loudspeaker. It was like Kenny G special but some instrument that I don't recollect. The canteen owner surely has a nice taste!

The bus started moving again and like Jason Bourne I fail to recollect anything next. Next I remember waking up to daylight and the bus is about to make a brief pit stop for a morning tea. I remembered the place from my first Goa trip with my parents. The long stretch of highway dotted with conical trees on both sides, the same canteen and tables and the TV. Speaking of TV, India-New Zealand match was going on and we were hooked onto it. I don't remember whether I had tea or coffee but the match was nice!

We were closing on our destination, Mapusa and the change was visible. The laterite soil, flora-fauna was all different. Not that I have not been to Konkan regions or Kerala or even Goa but the change was quite visible and pleasant. Better than the smog, SPM filled Mumbai skylines and the chemical stink filled Navi Mumbai skies! Sawantwadi whizzed past us and finally we reached Mapusa. We were already sweating in Goan summer heat and we bundled ourselves into taxis. The Omni taxi meant for 4 was ready to carry more than that for higher rentals. Though it was a win win situation for both of us, I dunno whether we were testing the Taxi to its limits. I Dunno; but that's the way it works in India especially outside Mumbai.

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Thursday, 12 March, 2009

Goa UnOfficial Trip- March09 : 1

This weekend I made a brief trip to Goa (Saturday to Wednesday) along with many of my fellow Chemical BEs. The Official Goa trip during Third Year(TE) left much wanted. Also, much of Goa cannot be explored under the pretext of Industrial visit. So as many others we decided to revisit Goa!
Mumbai To Goa Journey - March 09    Next
  • Start      
    5:00 pm 7 March09, Saturday from Neeta Travels, Borivali(W), Mumbai.
  • End      
    Around 9:30 am 8 March09, Sunday at Mapusa Bus Stand, Bardez, Goa.
  • Mode     
    Non AC Bus.
  • Agents
    Taj Travels / Neeta Travels
  • Cost    
    Rs 400/- per head (includes body and the luggage)
  • Route
    Borivali to Goregaon via W.Expressway, then Powai and LBS Marg and finally on NH17
We had made reservations with Neeta Travels for Mapusa from Borivali for 13. The 13 includes SBF(myself), Labaad brothers (Labadoku n Lebedev), Red Indians (CCR, Spidy), Oka, Vivek, SriRam, Stegaya aka Bansi, Codec aka Ashish, Swati, Kiran and Siddika. Our seats were reserved on the last rows, much to the disappointment of many. However the cacophony and pandemonium that comes along while travelling with friends makes one forget of all such trivial matters. The bus was supposed to leave at 5 pm from Borivali. However, Stegaya and Swati ensured that the bus leaves only by 5:30 pm. This left Ashish, our spear header at the receiving end of fellow travellers' ire and of the driver's outbursts.

Finally Modek aka Swati and Stegaya arrived and the bus moved forward. We were then informed of last minute change in bus route. The bus was earlier supposed to go via Ghodbunder Road and into Thane. Due to feeble booking response on that route, the bus was now going to go through Western Expressway - Goregaon - IIT Powai - LBS Marg -Thane - Navi Mumbai. The bus crawled through the slow and sick traffic along the Powai and LBS Marg routes throwing us behind of schedule by hours. Bhandup, Mulund all seemed to stretch miles and miles along the LBS Marg. The bus started picking up pace and we were going through the industrial zones in Navi Mumbai and Stegaya quickly corrected us about the smell in the surrounding as that of fertilizer chemicals.

We constantly changed the seats as some seats were very bad (I will avoid Taj travels in near future). My seat had lost its reclining power while CCR's was stuck at complete recline position. The last row sitters were constantly tossed up, down, left, right, lurched forward and backward. I must say the Sigma mixer in our Nuke Bunker (SFMO lab) comes no way near to this mixer cum Bus! After Navi Mumbai, with fast approaching night; the temperature began plummeting. I was hoping the bus would make a pit stop at Hotel Visava, Mahad. However Mahad seemed too far and the Bus stopped in some Ghost Town cut directly from a Clint Eastwood Wild West Movie. The Dinner was better than my expectations. However the loo seemed like a NH4OH storage tank and repelled many. Only the brave survived! Dinner was followed by a movie session in the bus. The movie was Ghajni, a Hindi adaptation of Tamil version which in turn seems to be an adaptation of Hollywood movie, Memento. The movie began with a statuary warning like the FBI warning for Hollywood movies, warning against screening in Buses/coaches. Ah! Its India where IPR is still Intellectual Property Rips and where Copyright is understood as it is right to copy! The sub-quality speakers blared at max decibels driving me crazy many at times. The movie began and ended after a painful maybe 2 Hrs. It was painful not only because of the movie but the sound speakers, stiff chairs and the bus wish to turn into a sigma mixer of high efficiency made it a painful experience!

Much more to write but later. Meanwhile enjoy a batch of pics from the journey! Next
Unlike College feedback forms, mine accepts all sorts of criticism. So do comment!

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The Photos are under a Creative Copyright Licencing.
Please read the Licence before using the pictures.

Tuesday, 3 March, 2009

Today, Lahore and Tomorrow, ?

My IS tutorial had ended and I was on my way to the 1st floor of Old Building when news started pouring in that the Pakistan touring Sri Lankan Cricket team who were on their way to the Gadaffi Stadium have been ambushed by terrorists. Various disturbing reports were rising and it was hard to differentiate between truth and rumour. Many of us dashed into the CA Lab, our special anti-nuke bunker( well i do imagine it!) to log onto the Internet and verify the news.

The attack was a myth buster that cricketers would be the last people to be attacked in Pakistan. It is sheer luck and the Sri Lankan Team bus driver's presence of mind that averted a cataclysmic hostage drama and diplomatic humiliation for Pakistan. Evading bullets, rolling grenades and rockets is no simple matter! Recent reports speak of 11-12 terrorists well trained and equipped to create a hostage situation as the perpetrators. 

The dust has not even settled but mud slinging has already begun. The Pakistani Minister of Shipping and many others including many Pakistani media persons have started pointing fingers at India! Western Media compares the Pakistani finger pointing to India's 26/11 accusations in the same light. I fret and fume over this unjust hippocratic perception and cannot understand how people easily forget the past or take it for granted when they compare India and Pakistan. There has never been any shred of proof to substantiate Indian government or its people being involved in any conspiracy to attack or disturb the peace of our neighbour. In fact, India has always been complacent in its External and Foreign Affairs. Compare this to Pakistan, a country where an AK-47 is easily available than food or water or education. It has a history of state sponsored terrorism and has been a serious headache for the entire sub-continent and even the world when the A.Q.Khan nuclear proliferation nexus was uncovered. The fact is Pakistan has always escaped from international radars especially the so called bastion of peace - The West for a long period. Either they are a failure or have closed their eyes every time Pakistan has given signs of the intended turbulence in coming future. Pakistan has nursed and bottle-fed the demon Taliban and nurtured the ticking time-bomb thereby allowing diffusion or Talibanisation of its armed resources and its people. Pakistan has always has a skewed view of the world and always has a single critical objective of surpassing India and emerging from its shadows. This erroneous policy has resulted in the balknisation of Pakistan, constant and continuous turbulence in administration, and increasing influence of extremists over its people.

Pakistan has always lived in self-denial and never realised the enormity of the task it is facing and the limit up to which international government can help in cleaning domestic mess. It refuses to understand that India is on the right side, geographically and righteously! It fails to come out open on its commitment over War on Terror. It feels Indian RAW is behind the Baluchistan separatism movement (I earnestly hope so! Why ? simply because I feel unlike other western nations Indian IB and RAW have no feathers in their porous cap).

Numerous reports are emerging of Talibanisation reaching even the Pakistani waters near the volatile Karachi. Most of Pakistan is burning from administrative instability, terrorism, insurgency, and severe financial paralysis. It has lost SWAT and many other regions in FATA, NWFP, Waziristan and others along the Afghan border to Talibani elements. It was forced to accept sharia law and Taliban superiority in SWAT in the previous month. Pakistan is a sick nation and refuses to accept it has the sickness. The distance between India and the volatile regions to its west is less than the Mumbai-Goa distance. It won't be long before the contagious disease will be at India's doorstep. A time no far in future will come when India will have to decide whether it will opt for silence and face annihilation or take preventive steps to check the spread of the malady!

Saturday, 28 February, 2009

Kerala Train Trip : a trip that tripped me !

..contd from prev.

Afternoon changed into evening and night and still the tunnels were far from over. I had a peaceful Malayali dinner of Lemon Rice and Kaiypekya Theiyal, to which I silently protested but ate minimal to survive. It was late for many and the lights in the coach were quickly going off. Being a nocturnal Mumbaikar, I prefer to stay wake at nights and gaze out of windows upon the starry night sky - pure and unpolluted by city light until I fall asleep. I was determined to utilize the night hours and use it to reflect upon the credits and debits of my life and meditate upon the my decision to shift to IT from Chemical. I had plugged my ear phones and connected it to my Motorola SLVR L7 mobile cum MP3 Player to reduce ambient noise and disturbances.

It was around 11 pm and my brain had pressed the log off button. I fell asleep in no time being softly rocked by the train. It was unusually cold and I had to adjust the thick blanket to maintain warm temperature. However my face was badly exposed and I was directly under the cold air blower. My nose was as cold as ice! In an hour, my body started giving indications of uneasiness and discomfort. It was 12:15am when i found myself shivering but my neck and brow were sweating. I was too sleepy to make sense of this anomaly and was busy trying to think of what is wrong and apply relative temperature stuff. ie. whether my hands are icy cold or is it my neck that's heating up ? Either could give the same sense or feeling. However I had neglected the shivering and sweating. In half an hour, i was shivering very badly and my stomach had started aching due to the violent shivers. The pain in stomach robbed me of the remaining sleep throughout the journey. My past experiences with gas trouble and stomach aches due to my sedentary life had made me hyper on even a slight stomach ache, making me drink all possible syrups and tablets. Suddenly my fever started shooting up and I panicked. I had a Crocin and hoped my sufferings would subside. I was praying for the dark hours to pass off swiftly. However the time had come to a screeching halt and I found it crucifying to see that only five minutes had passed since my previous observation! My disaster management board in my brain activated Operation Valkyrie to prevent chaos and panic mask my better senses!

I popped in an another tablet and exchanged my berth with my mother's. She was more than happy to exchange as she found the region around her berth to be extremely hot. I thought it must be another of her usual notions she has due to her thyroid fluctuations. I was more than relived to be away from the icy cold Arctic like berth of mine. However my joy was short lived as this berth was indeed getting hot and I started sleeping without any extra insulation. However the shivers started again and my tummy started paining again. I started understanding the seriousness of the issue and started thinking of whether it could be an appendix inflammation or hernia as my friends have described it? However my shivering was still unexplained for!

I decided to relive myself in the loo and went out of the Ac cabin. Just moving out of the cabin itself was a relief. Somehow, the constant cool air step input on my face initially triggered a body rejection of the temperature condition inside the cabin. I spent most of the night outside of the cabin like I was on vigil while others pondered at my decision to spend money for the Ac and spend the night outside. I still do not completely know what possibly went wrong but my parents point at my nocturnal study life as the culprit. I dunno!

I had pleaded with God before commencing the journey to make it eventful and it seems He ensured it in His own way! My idea of clicking pics next morning of the beautiful Kayals and back-waters on North Kerala failed as I had lost all energy and enthusiasm with the events of previous night. I simply wanted to reach my Uncle's place at the earliest!

Thursday, 26 February, 2009

Finally, a solution for winamp 5.541 and gtalk music track status clash

Aha! Finally I have put to rest an issue that has been dogging me for some time.

Whenever I played the latest updated version of Winamp along with GTalk (Google application) with its status kept as "Show current music track", my GTalk used to freeze and refuses to work in tandem with Winamp. This was untill I came across a nice tech site (unfortunately I forgot the name) which suggested me the solution. The site author writes he recently chanced upon the solution provided by another man on the net.

The solution is so simple that it may seem stupid bit it works and is nothing less than magic!

  1. Goto the winamp installed folder
  2. Create a file called winamp.m3u
  • Goto windows explorer menu and uncheck the hide file type before creating a new file and renaming it as winamp.m3u
Voila! Thats it. Now start the winamp and gtalk wont freeze when status is kept as music track!

Wednesday, 25 February, 2009

Passing emotions and thoughts.rar

This Monday, I woke up to the loud noises from TV. Before I could make sense of the din, suddenly the noise level amplified exponentially and my mom rushed in to tell me that Rahman had won an Oscar. I was not even slightly amused as everything else has lower priority to my sleep.

It was Oscar morning(in India) and much of India was glued to the Idiot boxes praying for Oscar that has eluded Indian work or Indian theme for a long time. Smile Pinky and Slumdog millionaire were the Indian connection films/documentaries nominated for this year's Oscars.

I got off my bed and managed to watch the ending few minutes of the glitz and glamor of Hollywood which was being masked by Bollywood. Danny Boyle and his fellas were frequenting the stage a lot. Well, they had won or I must say sweeped the Oscars with 8 awards. Smile Pinky had won award in the Documentary section. My congratulations to Danny Boyle and his entire team along with the people involved with Smile Pinky.

SlumDog millionaire - I was thinking of its Hindi counterpart and the word 'jhoppadpatti' - a term commonly used with slums and shanties came into my mind. It has 'patti' at its suffix which in Malayalam means dog and I ponder whether jhoppadpatti actually means slumdog ? Anyways if you ask me whether the film was worth the Oscar ? I haven't watched the other movies in contention but have watched movies of yesteryear's that have won oscars. Slumdog millionaire feels more like a regular cliche filled bollywood movie rather than a Oscar Movie. It has nothing new for me or anything that inspires me except the randomness and 'anything for love' style. I find the initial dialogues of police constable played by our own "kallu-mama" in English very odd. The strange ascent and the fact that pandus are speaking in English looks artificial to me. Also, the thick British ascent of Dev Patel is quite evident. However the movie has helped in bringing the Bollywood into Hollywood which I hope will result in better and more collaborations between the two Goliaths. I would love to see more sensible movies made in Bollywood rather than the item songs injected masala movies.

The previous semester I created a personal record. I managed to finish around 90GB of Movie -Documentary watching and am still cruising ahead with no side effect on my academics. Whoa! I recently bought 3 National Geographic Society Magazines(Old editions) for 50 Indian Rupees from Matunga. Though old, still it is worth reading and gazing at the excellent photographs. My Flickr free account photo limit is nearing and Flickr has started threatening me with deletion of my initial photos to accommodate new photos unless i pay and upgrade. I dunno whether I should pay or reduce pic taking while increasing the quality of photos.

Tuesday, 3 February, 2009

Help Gaurav Tandon!

Hello there, Earthlings and Orkians! Kayo!

Its just the hangover from wiki-ing (like googling) about the old American sitcom Mork and Mindy lately and my personal favorite. Used to watch it in my school days on Star World.

A few days back, a fellow musketeer from our band of four; informed me of Gaurav Tandon and his hardship. Gaurav suffers from a rare disease (Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a type of blood cancer) and needs immediate medical attention or treatment. The costs of the treatment would surpass a crore Indian rupees and is beyond the financial scope of his family or his relatives. His wife teaches in an Engineering college in Mumbai and thats where my fellow musketeer studies.

He is suffering from AML and needs bone marrow transplant which might require treatment in US or UK or Singapore. The treatment initial cost is being estimated to surpass 1 Crore Indian Rupees. His regular health and news updates are constantly being put up on the website.

More Details about the person, his health, contact details, Reports, Updates and others can be obtained at,
So how can you help ?

  1. Donate money yourself

  2. Spread the word and request people to donate money

  3. Help us find right Donor for Bone Marrow Transplant

  4. Help us sale Gaurav's Flat at Thakur Village in Kandivili, Mumbai.

  5. If you have, share information such as important contacts

  6. Pray for speedy recovery

  7. If you have time or resources at your disposal and still do not know how you can contribute, please write to Vishal Kekre at
Money can be donated through various institutions, wires, and even paypal.

Tragedies can and will strike anyone with no prior intimation. Though we have little control over it, we can make a difference by ensuring Gaurav gets the treatment he needs. People speak of encountering such appeals everyday and every hour and face a dilemma of whom to help. We must help all possible people we can help, as someday the roles can get reversed and we could become the pleaders. Like a doctor, we must not loose hope or loose vigor and must help those in need in all feasible ways and leave the rest with the Providence. Please help him and help bring back happiness in their lives

Monday, 26 January, 2009

Kerala Trip : Train Travel : Mumbai to Kerala 1

5th Monday, Jan 2009 : Its morning 9:00 and the cab has arrived to pick us up on time. This time the cab is not the usual black and yellow Fiat Padmini Premiere Pal but a Maruti Esteem Reliance service Cab. So whats' the big deal ? Well, Lets just say you wont end up donating your entire wallet and your body wont be forced to act as the shock/jerk absorber of the car. The cab moved along the Western Expressway and Eastern Expressway and also through some routes that I have seen only in maps. The monotonousness of traffic blocks, greenery void and dirt filled roads and slums and slums sent me into intermediate dozes only to be awakened by bumps and pot-holes. As always we (my parents and myself and my digital alter ego : SBF) reached the LTT or better known as Kurla terminus well before time. Ah! Its always well well before time, on an average 1 hour before the train departs. That's' in total contrast to the tradition of some of my uncles who often race with time and sometimes even with trains to catch them. :-)

We had ticket reservations in the Konkan Railway Netravati Express from LTT, Mumbai to Trichur (Trissur or Trisur) in Kerala. I got cemented to my side berth window seat, with mellowed excitement as it is an AC Coach and the windows are sealed by tinted thick glass. After all, the sound of engine, tracks, trees gushing past, the rumble over bridges makes a journey complete. However Providence had many other things in mind to keep me busy throughout the journey. No journey is worthy without kids in the coach and there were 4 in my case. Kids with their randomness and dynamism will never boredom to creep in or allow your journey to go wasted. There was this Marwari doctor and his wife along with their two kids (boys) occupying seats in the 6 seater section. These school going siblings ensured that their parents had tough time through out the journey! The train hadn't even started that the younger kid started throwing tantrums for each and every item that the vendors were carrying around. The impulse input of the tantrum did not result in any response from his mother or brother for a long time. Slowly the tantrum intensity was increasing but lasted for less time (dt) as response was negligible. Finally, the tolerance limit was breached and his mother delivered the hand of god with so ferocity that we all were startled - startled not at the need of the beating but at the intensity! (I.P.C.-Instrumentation n Process Control surely has driven me desperate in the search of input-response relationship in each and every thing around me).

Finally, the train started moving and the kids were back to doing what they do the best! Both the siblings were busy playing with their wall sticking jelly spiderman toy With peace restored, I decided to continue with my novel and mobile charging coz I forgot to charge it the previous night. My mind was now buzzing with thoughts and ideas as to how I will spend my time in Kerala; how I could evade the usual temple visits and relative house visits and spend the days in leisure. I was busy cleaning and polishing my weapon(camera) as I had grand plans to shoot the scenic and picturesque back-waters and rivers that flow beneath the rails in the northern Kerala. A long 3 years had passed since my last visit to Kerala and surely much had changed since then.

The stations along the route in Maharashtra wore a desolate look reminding me of the stations in the Clint Eastwood Wild West movies. Khed and all passed without much activity (apart from the din created by the two kids). The stations seemed quite different and boring from my previous trip to Goa; maybe the presence of friends made the difference in Goa trip. The continuous in and out of tunnels along with frequent blackouts started wearing me out. Also presence of parents stopped me from spending long time near the coach door. So I simply kept reading the autobiography and analysing the author's perspective and justification for his various acts. Time and Stations whizzed past and my vision started fading as my brain pushed the hibernation mode. .. Next

Sunday, 25 January, 2009

A day after ...... and a day before .......

4th Sunday, Jan 2009 : It is Sunday morning and many might be still in bed, deep in their sleep seeking solace from the daily grind. Many of my B.E. chemical engineering friends might be enjoying a hard earned sleep and rest. After all it is the next day after the Semester exams got over. They might be slowly clearing their accumulators & immediate-use registries in their brain of the Sem VIII processes and subjects. However the day didn't seem like any Sunday to me. I was already sitting in a train bound for Churchgate to appear for the XAT exam with negligible preparation as my semester exams had just ended yesterday after a month long exam carnival! Anyway the only relief was that, I had a chance to visit Churchgate and Fort area after a long period. I could gaze for hours and be completely taken over by the Victorian era architecture and the art-deco style. Meanwhile, I had got a new novel to read and seemed enough for the train trip to Kerala. The exam went as expected and before dejection could fill my heart and brain to brim, i detoured to Fountain with an accomplice to check on the second hand novels and pirated ones. My friend's quest for Bourne Triad novels ended in disappointment while i continued scouting for books on history, geo-political books and biographies of selected few. After tanning ourselves in the afternoon scorching sun, we decided to refuel ourselves before commencing on the journey back home. My friend enlightened me of the existence of a railway stall in churchgate station that specialises in Frankies and which according to him is "one and only". Anyway the frankie was nice, though I must say the place is not clean and customers wish to keep it that way! :-(

It was a special day as it was a day after my Semester exams had finished and a day before commencing on journey to Kerala - my native state!

The rest of the day passed in planning and packing the bags. As usual my camera and swiss knife along with necessary ID cards were my high priority items apart from Maps. Well this would seem odd when you travel with your parents but thats the way I travel ! I decided to carry my portable internal but externalised SATA 320Gb HDD to minimise use of DVDs and maximise data transfer.Though my wish to have a traveller's back pack remains unsatisfied, I was ready to travel. My bag was full of wires and cables and chargers apart from some warranty cards and a spare mobile to change over as my mobile suffers from quick discharge.

It was bedtime and was thinking as to how fast time has passed. Years had passed since I held some of my cousins back in Kerala in my hands and stood hand in shoulders over some cousins. I was thinking of the new faces that might have emerged and of the many I wont be able to meet anymore!

Monday, 19 January, 2009

Revisiting Kerala!

So, I am back after a session of self regeneration and visiting some temples in Kerala.
For many Kerala might mean Backwaters (kayals), Beaches, Tropical Climate, holiday destination etc. while it means a lot more to me. Kerala in a few words would be Greenery, coconut trees, rivers and seas, beautiful and majestic temples, churches and mosques, set-mundu, GOLD and SILK (unfortunately its an eye sore for me. Malus seem to be obsessed a little lot over Gold and Silk. Print media, TV commercials and ever increasing no of branches of their outlets are the proof), schools, SPEED (Man! the roads are small in width but speedometer never goes below 60-80), Marxists, literacy etc.

I had visited Kerala after a gap of nearly 3 years. That's a long time for me! So has Kerala changed in the meantime. Well, Yes! and No! Power-cuts are still there but it was bearable as it was winter. Vehicular Speed and Overtaking is still the same and I imagine it inspires F1 racers. Where else would you see a car being overtaken by another, while it being overtaken by a third vehicle? All happening simultaneously on a thin but smooth road while you are coming from the opposite direction. You need nerves of steel to drive in Kerala! The Government is still the same oscillating between the Congress led UDF and Communists led LDF. Roads have improved and even the smallest of roads are better tarred than the ones in Mumbai. Buses, Cars, Autos and Trains are clean and beautiful. Well, I have seen this only in Kerala. Every day early morning the transport buses are washed and Sandalwood is applied. Compare this to the ST buses of Maharashtra!
Temples are more crowded and more houses have popped up in my native place. Old thatched roofs and walls have been replaced by aluminium roofs and brick/concrete walls. The old rice mill which was something not less than a wonder in my childhood days has disappeared and the village temple has a new perimeter wall. The Varna theatre still remains with no significant change at least from outside. Many Old faces are missing while many new ones have emerged.
Moreover I can read many signboards in Malayalam, though at a disappointing rate. I had wished to see at least one strike or hartal but to no avail. Seems like Kerala is changing for sure! Kids and teens wait for buses or walk the road to schools/colleges in humongous numbers that I have never seen in Mumbai. Surely, I could sense a feeling among the parents and kids as to how important education is!

Kerala is changing and that is a relief! It has changed my perspective of a lazy and politically incompetent kerala to one with hope!

So, I will begin posting from my next post as to how I spent and what I did in Kerala and what I learnt in Kerala.
Meanwhile you can glance at some of my kerala visit pics that I have posted in Flickr @
Till then,

Sunday, 4 January, 2009

Packing my bags and ...

My New year truly begins today or after my XAT in noon to be precise.


I am packing my bags and getting ready for the catalyst regeneration trip to my parents' native place- Kerala. Fish is already enjoying in Bengaulru with his friends and hopefully clicking pics. Finally, my Semester exams are over and I can sigh relief. Today i gave my XAT sadly with no preparation as I was busy till yesterday with my Engineering exams. The think-tank inside took a while to crank up! The essay at the last was a breather. The exam got over at 12:30 pm and I decided to stroll around the nearby Churchgate-Fountain area scouting for second hand books and novels along with my buddy. My friend bargained and extracted some nice deals for 2 novels while his search for Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum remained a search. he is now convinced the books are jinxed for he has the deja-vu, "out of stock" answer every time. My serach for some cheap history related books or treatises went in-vain though I did find hard coverbooks on Jinnah and terrorism and its social causes-fallout sort. They were beyond my immediate reach, though I have placed an eye on them. Menawhile I have to content with Mario Puzo's Omerata and Sicilian and Pervez Musharaff's autobiography. it seems enough for the train journey.

I hope there will be plenty of things to shoot and capture. Coconuts, greenery and Kayals; here I come!

Rest in later posts!

Saturday, 3 January, 2009

All in a night's work!

Every day, when I wake up there has always been a group of special friends to greet me regardless of the climate, temperature or time.

For 21 years I have seen them grow and they have seen me grow, play and throw tantrums. These special friends are the trees that surround my building. Every tree occupies a unique position in my heart. They are the shelters for many birds and squirrels which I wouldn't have seen and understood so closely had it not been for the trees. It is much more than reading about them in books or in a Zoo(No guarantee you can see them in Mumbai Zoo!). I still remember and cherish the childhood adventures of looking for hours at the birds' nests for sign of life and I can still feel the ecstasy of seeing hungry mouths competing for food. Binoculars and Patience were my only tools but the reward was nothing less than a treasure.

Apart from these, just imagine I have never thought of putting up a curtain in my room. Never needed to! The trees provided enough cover for privacy and dust and dirt almost never existed. The cover was so thick that a Full Monty would never be caught!

Past 1 year, the landscape and mindset of the people has changed drastically. Suddenly, many trees have started collapsing and withering; some naturally others due to the ulterior motives of many greedy men! Land prices have sky rocketed and all lands are now sitting gold mines. Redevelopment and demolishing are the new mantras and quick money is in every ones mind. The land opposite my house is being redeveloped and the former school is making way for a new humongous Tower Complex.

At night, I hear sounds of iron hitting wood and next morning I find a friend of mine is no more. I have silently cried at the loss of my friends and mourned with the many birds over the loss. Birds have shifted houses and the chirping has mellowed. Squirrels find this invasion threatening and have been forced out of their natural habitat. Many days I see them dead on road mauled by stray dogs while others try to salvage something from the nearby apartments. Today, many of my friends have left for heavenly abode while many wait for their turn. The landscape has changed, everybody is suffering from dust related illness and respiratory ailments have sky rocketed.

Will this stop ? Can anyone stop the muscle men of Builders , those who are infamous for their underworld and police nexus ?

One more tree has almost perished by their carelessness and recklessness.
Their wish to provide nets at the building perimeter to ensure safety to neighborhood has left the tree brutally hacked!
Attempt 1 : The nets got tangled with the tree branch (left one) and a dumper who didn't see the nets pulled along the nets thereby breaking the left branch which finally had to be cut to prevent it blocking the road.
Attempt 2 : Yesterday, the whole day there was high activity around the tree with the workers beaming with high motivation to finish netting. Today morning, I find the other branch mortally cut and the tree reduced to a tiny-winy shrub!

The Rightmost tree near the Right Gate Lamp. It has two branches emerging close to ground (left and right branches)

The Left Branch has been hacked while Right Branch has been cut and reduced

Left Branch after hacking has been covered up

All for erecting a net frame? This must be seen as tree hacking for billboardsFrom SBF - Voice of India
All in a night's work!
When and where will they stop ?

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