Experts on three wheels

Experts on three wheels... that's just one way I would call the rickshaw drivers. A group of people I always find so amusing and interesting, because of a lot of reasons.

I do travel a lot by the rickshaw and really enjoy the trips least the long ones. You get into one in the morning, announce your destination and there starts the fun. You have to be fortunate and possess really good convincing skills at times, to get some of them run for you. I am talking about the guys who run exclusive trips to the Moon. They won't take you to a place within 10 Km radius... they only eat big fish.! But sure are there guys who take you anywhere, through the shortest and least cluttered routes, giving you a description of the roads and places as you cruise along. If you are new to a place this can help a lot; just take such a guy from one end of the city to the other.

Then there are those who update you with the day's news in the morning. You will get to know the important news with a bonus analysis on most of them. And rest assured that you will get a totally different opinion on things. Some of them make you think, some bring a smile on your face and some forces you to respond. The other day one of them commented on my hairstyle ,as he noticed this one white hair. He suggested that I should not pull out the white one; according to him two will grow in its place if I pull out one. He also told me that applying oil on head has nothing to do with hair growth, which I surprisingly verified later as a fact, contrary to popular belief.

And there are the guys who have fitted their rickshaw with terrific audio systems. Don't confuse this 'terrific' with the 'terrific' terrific; I am just referring to the volume. Some of them are happy with few heads turning as the rickshaw zooms past the crowd. But there are real music aficionados too... the ones who love to discuss music. I like them and its great fun listening to Kishore Kumar or Mohd. Rafi as the driver educates you on the music of the 50s, 60s and the 70s. There will be occasional comments on today's music directors and how they destroy the beauty of music. According to one, Himesh Reshmaiah composes all his songs sitting in the bathroom, whining as he struggles with his morning rituals.

Either way its always a fun-ride... expect when the guy is busy chewing his pan and responds with all "mmm"s and "haaa"s.

Valentine's Day

Red wine..
Fried fish..
Experimental cooking..
A hug..
Trip to the station..
Music by Nikhil Chinappa..
Valentines Day..
Shaken.. not stirred..

Valentine Stories

How much ever I try to underplay the importance of Valentines Day in the life of an average human being, I now know I will fail. This fact was proved once again this week, reminding me how ignorant I am of the ways of the world. The amount of e-mail exchange on this subject itself is good proof for that. Most of them were about the Do's and Don'ts for the day.. reminding that nine months down the line, on November 14th, is Children's Day. I know if I write something about V-day, it will be construed as whining or the sour-grapes syndrome; so I will not write about those without valentines.

When lot of people cry out loud for a Valentine, there are in fact people who suffer from the problem of plenty. And I never realized it as a much bigger problem than having no Valentine, till I spoke to a friend recently. Here is one man surrounded by multiple fans/followers/wannabes at office, pestering him to grab that priced spot of being his Valentine. Not really, as he says, here you are at the risk of jeopardizing the delicate ecosystem at workplace.. a slight imbalance in the relationships can create havoc. That's a tricky business and everybody at office has the right to be treated equally. There is always this Opportunity cost of picking up one over the other. If you ignore the one who is a little closer to your boss, then be ready to get your happiness screwed through exaggerated recognition - complex projects, under-valuation during performance reviews, and what not. Above all, think about getting into a big trap like this for a day's benefit. That is like selling your soul to the devil. If Robert Johnson did that,it was in exchange for extraordinary guitar playing abilities..!!

That's about the perils of those who either don't have a valentine, or finding it difficult to choose one from the crowd. If you think life will be a smooth ride once this phase is over, think twice... the worst might be waiting round the corner, like a buddy of mine found out last year. Imagine this: By Goodness' grace he left office early, there wasn't much traffic on the road, even the traffic police man didn't notice when he jumped that signal. He stopped over at the florist's to grab a bunch of flowers, her gift was safe in his jacket pocket. He had a table reservation at one of the best places in town and it was just a matter of time before he enjoyed some quality time with her... everything was so great. And he finally picked her up and reached this restaurant, the place was all lit up to fit the mood, a live band playing some mushy songs.. Ooooh Laa la.. perfect setting..!!

There is this Greek word 'Catharsis', which when used in the 'Dramatics' context refers to a sudden emotional breakdown or climax, that brings about a twist in the story. This is when generally the heroine decides to get married to the rich but old guy leaving the hero heartbroken, or the hero falls for another girl ignoring the heroine.. and so on. It was Catharsis time in our story as well.

As soon as he walked into the restaurant, he recognized a familiar face in the crowd.. none other than the previous year's valentine. (valentine for 3 consecutive years, to be precise.) And before he realized, she was close to him, saying 'Hi handsome', but staring straight at our heroine, checking her out. Before he could come up with some excuse to get out of there, she had opened the Pandora's box, letting out all the filth.. stories of 'good old days'. So, to cut a long story short, a day which started so well, ended on a pretty bad note. How better it can be when you spend two hours answering questions like.. "So are you still in touch with her?", "Where did you go for last valentines day?", "what did you gift her?".. blah blah.. boom.. boom..!!

I do not want to make any conclusions out of these stories... everybody can make their own. Like somebody said, learning from own experience makes you wise.. but learning from others' can save you some embarrassment!

Birth Of A Trek : a true story...

The idea of an adventure germinates in someone's mind often as a perfect antidote to boredom or a welcome escape from the monotony of life. But at times it can even happen for the sweet love of pigs; as it happened with Rob the Dude in our case. Now don't mistake Rob for a PETA activist or a member of 'Animal Rescue'; I was talking more in lines of the love for 'roasted pork'.

So one Tuesday evening, back from a swim in the shark infested waters of his pond (I am not joking.. he got a pond with about 40 sharks, though I haven't seen it yet! ), Rob felt a tingling sensation in the upper left corner of his lower abdomen, exactly where the porko-adventure glands are situated. Unable to resist the over secretion of adventuralin, he sent out the following email to Jai, Sherwin and myself. It is worth pointing out that he was at his diplomatic best while writing the mail.

Rob: Guys, Don't you think it is time for another trip to Tandiyandamol? If family obligations permit, the weekend around the 28th this month, which is a full moon night, would be perfect for overnight camping on top. I can meet you guys at Virajpet. Let me know if we can make this happen.

The memories of our last trip to Thadiyandamol, was still afresh in all our minds. The taste of green-apple vodka and roasted pork is not something sane people forget too soon anyway. Thadiyandamol is the tallest peak in Coorg, and the name when translated to Malayalam means "fat man's daughter". No..No.. honestly, it wasn't the thought of mounting the fat man's daughter that brought us there even the last time. It wasn't long before Jai responded.

Jai: That sounds great...!!! I am in as long as Sherwin is joining...( as I need to baby sit my expectant wife with his !!!!). Also this time I am trying to get a cycle along.

None of the exclamation marks were added or removed by me from Jai's mail. And I seriously do not want to correlate the three of them in the first part and the four of them towards the second part of the sentence, with the respective subjects mentioned and pass a judgment on what really excited Jai. Either way, what matters in the context of our story is the extend of excitement, not the cheap thrill you get by investigating the real cause of Jai's excitement - whether it is the destination or the prospect of a temporary escape from the wife or the bicycle. So I refrained from going all the way in that direction and mailed in my confirmation. After all, who am I to say no to such an enticing offer? Salted Pork, Rum... Yummm!!

A little later in the day, Jai came online to demystify the whole cycle thing.

Me: Jai, where are you planning to cycle around @ Thadiyandamol ?
Jai: I am planning to get a mountain bike....primary agenda is to burn calories. Trying to see if I can pedal to Thadiyanmol.
Me: waha.. great.. I would like to take some pictures while eating you would be busy pedaling.
Jai: Hi Hi.. on the contrary, I will be pedaling.. reaching there first and eating the pork...while u guys will still be climbing.
Me: good idea...May the Trinity be with you..I don't think just one of 'em is enough :)
Me: Don't forget to get those water bottle fitted helmets ... we will fill 'em with some nice grape juice.
Jai: Got a better idea; (, get one of these and fill with single malt. Wow..its got a hose!
Me: hose would be better.. straw won't do.
Jai: Yes..there is a bigger one as well(
Me: the bigger the merrier. And pardon my harsh words.. I can pedal as well :)
Jai: hi.hi.....:-)..would be great to have all the jerks together!
Me: you bet! am game any day in fact.. though I think full moon can bring out the lunacy a tad better :)
Jai: I know....

In spite all this activity, we all noticed that there was no news of Sherwin. In a desperate attempt to get a response from Sherwin, Rob sent out another mail, where he replaced the diplomacy with some much needed temptation.

Rob: Alliyoo - so looks like yours is the last call to make. Imagine a full moon night. Tents. Campfire. Water. Food. Jaideep's cycle (all the way up there??? i donno) etc. etc.

Water..? water..? Where is the Rum dude? Anyway, the fate of the adventure now rests solely on the reply from Sherwin....

Will he say YES? Or, will he chicken out feigning exhaustion from test driving a Bugatti Veyron?

Only time can answer this question!

Dreams: they mean a thing or two?

It was pitch dark initially. Then the pale blue stage lights came on. From the backstage I could hear the murmur of the anxious crowd. The smoke guns slowly swung into action giving the feeling that I am looking through the clouds. The crowd went absolutely crazy when Thomas Anders took the stage and sang "you're my heart, you're my soul..I'll keep it shining everywhere I go..". Yes, it was a 'Modern Talking' concert, and I was enjoying the show literally standing on the stage; just behind the band. I don't have a clue how I reached the backstage, during the concert of a band whose last live performance was in the early nineties!

OK, as you might have already guessed, it was one of the dreams I had a couple of days back. I wasn't a regular in the dreaming circuit, the kind you see in your sleep. I was always comfortable dreaming in the day itself, almost exhausting my daily quota of dreams by the time I go to bed. Even if I dreamed during sleep, I rarely remembered any of them once I am awake. You need some cues in the morning to remember the dreams you had the previous night. Like, something you see or do during the day, relating you back to the dreams you had. Entirely different is the case of this friend of mine who has come to stay with me for a while. He dreams every night and remembers all of it the next morning. His brain works like a movie theater, running multiple shows every night. His dreams are so 'real' for him that he occasionally rides a horse around the room or paddle into the kitchen on his way to crack a waterfall! The sound effects also closely match the emotionally charged situations most of the nights.

As if inspired by him and the vivid stories of his dreams, I have started dreaming more often these days. I should rather say I am remembering some of the dreams. After the Modern Talking concert I had another interesting dream the same night. I was visiting this 'mystic', with a friend of mine who had something to discuss with this 'God-man'. We reached the god-man's house, and my friend started talking about the problems in his life while I watched the scene from outside. After listening to my friend for a while the god-man moved to the adjacent room on all fours, lifted his hands and grabbed something from thin air. When he turned around I could see that he was holding an over-sized millipede in his hand. I could not remember what he was mumbling, but it was to the effect that he has taken care of all the bad energy in my friend's life. The millipede symbolized all that was bad in his life. The next thing I remember is my friend telling me how the millipede actually came out of the god-man's pocket and not from thin air.

Where do dreams come from? Why do they come and always show some weird stories? Do they reflect hidden emotions and desires? Are they always triggered by things you do or topics you discuss or thoughts you have? I know I am just repeating some of the questions people have been asking for ages. But after looking at the dreams both us were having over a period of time, I feel that dreams are nothing but a mashup-on-steroids, of all that happens when you are awake. There are certain parts of the dreams which you can relate to real events, thoughts or desires, but they are more like triggers around which elaborate plots are cooked up.

Looking at my own dream, I do listen to Modern Talking once a while. I also got a live concert video, their farewell concert at Berlin, but I haven't watched it in the last few months. And to be honest, they are no Floyd or GNR for me to be delighted if I get a backstage pass. Moreover, I have videos of many other live concerts- from Metallica to the Metropole Orchestra, so why Modern Talking of all the bands? The second dream makes more sense in fact... we have been discussing about a mystical personality recently; how he listens to people's problems and attribute them to various things like events in their previous life. We had also talked in detail about how some of these so called 'god-men' cheat people, by doing cheap tricks like manifesting objects out of thin air. And over-sized millipedes.. yes, I have seen them in the woods during my treks, at least once.

So, now I know some of the probable triggers of my dreams; but how? why?... the questions all still remain.

An evening in Bangalore

Weekends can get a little too boring at times. It was to kill boredom that I decided to go and watch the flower show at Lalbagh. I thought of taking some pictures of all the exotic flowers on display and took my camera along. But the place was so hopelessly crowded that I hardly got a chance to get close to any flowers. Every time I was almost there, somebody would push or pull and I had no choice but to get out of the line. I don't have super steady hands, and I found it really difficult to get a decent picture at full zoom, without camera shake. So I decided to look elsewhere for subjects.

Everyone was so busy capturing the flowers that no one noticed all the people who were taking the pictures. It was fun to see so many people huddling around the flowers, twisting and turning in all kinds of impossible angles, to get a clear shot. So, while the crowd was after the flowers, I started clicking the crowd. As I approached one of the stalls that sells orchids and plant seeds, I noticed this little girl who was running around with her older siblings. She looked like a fairy, in a golden gown among the flowers and flower pots. I couldn't help clicking some pictures of her, but there wasn't a moment she stood still. She was having a jolly good time playing amidst all the flowers. The only picture I could manage showed her in some pensive mood, with an eerie feeling written all over her face. It wasn't at all representative of the mood she was in then. Though shaken, I liked the picture a lot and it now serves as the screen saver on my comp.

I waited a long time around the flower stalls to get a clear picture of this fairy child, but she was soon gone. People were already looking at me with suspicion as I was lingering around the area with my camera. I called it quits and walked towards the lake. There were some turquoise-blue colored birds on the other side of the lake, among the tall grass by the water. I jumped the fence and got in as close as possible through the rocks, to get a good glimpse of these beauties, but they too soon retreated to the comfort of the thick bushes. The sun was doing its last lap by this time and slowly disappeared behind the treeline. The palm trees around the lake cast a nice reflection in the water and the orange hue of the horizon gave the park a dramatic look. It was a beautiful evening.

Can't blame the people who throng the gardens and parks on a weekend; this is the only whiff of fresh air and sight of greenery they get to see in an otherwise monotonous life in the concrete jungle. For the kids, this is a rare opportunity to run a few hundred yards without hitting a concrete wall or running into an automobile. Is it me whining again? As the crowd was getting thinner, I quickly took a few shots of the flowers and was on my way back home.
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