Tuesday, 29 December 2009

3 Idiots

People are raving about 3 Idiots everywhere. People like it so much, that talking anything negative about the movie is a crime. The movie-hall where I went to watch it had it on for something like 12 shows -- 12 EFFING SHOWS!! I remember a time where there were only 4 shows in a movie hall and the tickets cost 40 bucks -- given my age, I also remember Keo-Karpin, Rasna, and two rabbits from Lijjat Pappad. Coming back ... yes the movie ... and here is where I put the SPOILER ALERT!

With that out of the way, 3 Idiots is a movie with the message that students should study what interests them rather than what will land them a lucrative job. If I were to describe the general theme of the movie in one word, it's: "Independent-Thinking" (yes, those were two words, but look how smartly I hyphenated them)

While watching the movie, I felt that there were two forces pulling the movie apart. One being the good part (for lack of words in my vocabulary) which showed the real deal in engineering colleges and which made me laugh. The other part being the cringe-worthy part which showed Bollywood illogic in all its charms. The good part reigned the first half of the movie. The cringe-worthy part unfortunately took us to the end.

There are jokes in the movie which have been lifted off the net. A certain part even seemed to have come from the book "The Kite Runner". So if we think about it, although the makers of the movie wanted the message of independent and original thinking to get to the audience, they themselves didn't get it completely.

Final word: watch it once. Or if you can wait, just download it off the web (legally) after 12 weeks and don't spend money on those expensive tickets.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Happy Birthday To Me -- 25

Finally I'm 25 -- the legal drinking age in Delhi. Nope, there are no other advantages associated with that age. And so continuing last year's tradition, let me talk (brag?) about the year which went by.

  • Jan - Usual running around. Ran the half marathon in the midnight marathon, which was a come-back event (I had fallen sick in Dec 2008).
  • Feb - Took up kickboxing classes at a place near my house. It had been my childhood dream to learn a martial art.
  • Mar - Ran up and down Nandi Hills (twice). Gave up kickboxing after my first sparring session, where I was left wounded and wondering: why am I paying money to get beaten up?
  • Apr - Went with office colleagues to Belur, Halebidu, Shravanabelagola. One of the most memorable one day trips I have ever had.
  • May - Ran the Sunfeast 10K with Rakesh. Also won a small-time office athletic competition held at our gym.
  • Jun - Bought a bicycle; started cycling to work and also did some long rides over the weekend. Another awesome trip to Dodamakkali nature camp with my chums.
  • Aug - Started the hard part of the training for the Kaveri Trail Marathon. Did my 20 miler and fell victim to Jaundice (more like Viral Hepatitis, but WTH).
  • Sep - Recovered from Jaundice. Started cooking on my own to fend against the bad viruses and germs which you gain by eating "bahaar ka khaana".
  • Oct - With physical activity out during the you-have-recovered-but-need-more-rest period, made a bunch of video recordings of songs on the guitar. For additional embarrassment posted them on youtube.
  • Nov - With the you-have-recovered-but-need-more-rest period over, started training (running/cycling) again. Ran the 25K in the Bangalore Ultra in a decent time. Started filling up applications for further studies in Amreeka.
  • Dec - Did my first sub 2 hour half marathon in the Bangalore Midnight Marathon.
So a good year, all in all. On the one hand, I wish I hadn't gotten Jaundice. But on the other hand, I wouldn't have learnt cooking (in my dictionary cooking == Dal-Chawal) and read so many books.

Whatever happens, happens for the good. I really hope I don't have to use the previous sentence next year.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Questions from Avatar

I saw James Cameron's Avatar yesterday. I liked the movie, but have some questions (questions may contain spoilers ... ALERT!):

  • Why does the Pandora wildlife allow "bonding" (the connection they make via those worm-like things at the end of their hair)? What is in it for them -- there doesn't look to be an evolutionary advantage? Who would want to be controlled by someone else just to (sometimes) serve and die (did I just define soldiers)?

Figure 1: Thanators are the meanest in the Pandora wildlife. Not many people like them.
  • Where are the f*cking robots? Come on, I mean. If we have rubbished earth, mastered space-travel and found life on another planet, we would (should? (must?)) have honed our present-day robots. And if so, why not send them to battle instead of humans?
  • More of a philosophical question: how do you determine, which is the most intelligent life-form on a planet? Do we just assume that whoever looks closest to human beings, is the most intelligent? The Na'vi happened to be the most human like. Apart from the fact that they have hair which bonded, every other aspect is human: looks and body structure, red blood, hunter gatherer, bipeds, sleep, their own language, rituals, etc. In fact Na'vi's are just the regular folks who live in jungles in planet earth. And we have our sympathies towards them just because they look like us?! I mean, who was rooting for good old Thanator (Figure 1), except me, when he was trying to kill Jake Sully. I ask: is it OK to kill Thanators, but not the Na'vi?
  • Why were the main ship's glass walls not vulnerable to the Na'vi arrows, but those of the choppers were?

    Answered (source):

    However, it is rumored that a Na’vi firing in a vertical attack dive can generate enough combined velocity (between the 40-meter-per-second release-velocity of the arrow from the bow, and the 120 knot dive speed) that the two-meter long arrow can hit with sufficient kinetic energy to penetrate the Scorpion canopy if fired at close range.

  • What would happen if two Na'vi hair-bonded? Who would control whom?

Figure 2: The Na'vi are blue and angry. Bonus question: what would happen if someone cut off a Na'vi's hair? Who is their barber?
  • During the final bombing, in all their wisdom, why do the humans choose to literally throw explosives out of the main ship? And such explosives which explode, without a detonator, on just contact? The attack on the home-tree was impressive, with all those rocket like missiles. But no, for the Tree of Souls, we will just dump some explosives labeled ... "explosives" (duh!).
  • And continuing on the attack on the Tree of Souls ... did the humans leave their entire base unguarded and take each and every soldier for the attack? If not, then how did the Na'vi conquer Hell's Gate (the base) so easily?
  • Who amongst us believes that there will be a sequel? I for one do and am hoping that it does. I mean come on, if I were the CEO of RDA (the evil corporation exploiting Pandora), apart from being extremely handsome, I would also be quite pissed-off that a bunch of indigenous folks have stopped my mining operation because a trigger-happy general cut down a tree. And I would want to send in more forces, and get my base back.

    And if I were Jake Sully, I would know that this is going to happen and would be busy training the Na'vi in the art of explosives and gun warfare. Maybe I will fix couple of Gun Turrets on a Thanator, maybe people will start liking Thanators because of this, maybe the Thanator population will become happier, maybe more people will start hair-bonding with Thanators ... Ah! What a pretty Pandora!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Midnight Marathon -- Post Race

If there was a perfect race which I ever ran it has to be this one. It was just plain beautiful execution by me. I finished the half marathon in 1:55:02 -- which is sub 2 hour and a personal best.

My initial plan was to maintain a 5:40 pace till the half way mark and then see how I felt. In fact when I reached the half way mark I was a minute ahead. I reached the 10 mile mark within an hour and a half. I hovered around the 5:20 -- 5:30 pace for the next 4 KM and the last KM was run under 5:00.

The course was pretty good. A newly tarred well lit road. It was initially supposed to be 2.75 KM one way and back, but at the last moment the organizers had to cut it short and make it 2.1 KM. So the people running the HM had to go out-and-back 5 times. Mostly flat; a very minor decline/incline towards the U turn point.

The organizers had managed to rope in Bisleri as one of their sponsors, so there was bottled water all throughout. Which helped me because I didn't stop, not even for a bit, in the entire race. The only sad part was the lack of electrolytes. I didn't have much of a problem because of that, but spare a thought for the people running the full marathon. Kudos to RFL for setting up their own pit-stop which had electral.

Anyway, after I was done with my half marathon, I was happy with the time, but not really satisfied -- I felt I could have pushed harder. So I chatted with the guys for a bit and then decided to give company to Pankaj who was doing the full.

I did one loop with him, when I started having some cramps. So I had some salty pizza and then continued with Pankaj on Shantanu's cycle. I accompanied him on the cycle for 2 more loops, after which I gave back the cycle and I ran with him on the final loop.

So in all I would have done around 30 KM of running and around 8 KM of cycling. Best part is, at the end of it I still had energy left to do more.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Krrish on Laziness and The Stubble

I made this to take care of my pre-race nervousness. I'm satisfied with how the panels and the dialogs came. Not too happy with the over all story-line and the fact that the bottom text box in the last panel is kinda blurred.

Midnight Marathon: Pre Race.

The Bangalore midnight marathon is 5 hours from now and I'm running the half-marathon. Few people whom I know are also running the Full Marathon -- I question their sanity, just like others question mine.

It's a pretty boring route -- an out and back measuring 5.275 KM to be done 4 times (yuck!). The FM guys need to do it 8 times!

Except for a bruise on my right-shin due to a bike accident, I don't have any major worries (the bike accident happened today afternoon, when an asshole biker -- who was violating the one way -- came right in front of me, from behind a car, resulting in a head-on collision).

A bit of pre-race nervousness; would like a sub 2 hour time.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Wolverine against W.A.L.S

Might be considered my first web-comic. Influenced by Flyyoufools and Penny-Arcade.
I wanted to post this on the newly created Mawalys (मवाली) FB group, but for some reason the FB group page is not allowing me to upload photos (despite the fact that I'm the administrator and I have enabled the setting).

If you don't know about W.A.L.S or the Shave India Movement, click here.

Fame Decays Exponentially With Time

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Chetan Bhagat Blocks (#chetanblocks) Saga Documented

On Monday 7/12/2009, sometime in the evening, the Indian author Chetan Bhagat blocked few people from his twitter account. Chetan (@chetan_bhagat) was having a debate with a journalist (@jojiphilip) on books and piracy, when he received some tweets which didn't gel with him. The result was him blocking those people from his twitter account.

This started a massive surge of tweets related and unrelated to this incident with the hashtag #chetanblocks. This is currently a trending topic on twitter and tweeple are retweeting just to see it go up -- which also hurts Chetan's reputation (I guess).

I'm not sure who coined the hashtag, but its originator might be Saad Akhtar (who writes an awesome Indian web-comic flyoufools.com) who was one of the people blocked by Mr Bhagat.

Update: As witnessed by whatthetrend.com, the hashtag was originated by @nikhilnarayanan.

Order of events for context (I have too much time, I guess):

@notytony quips and gets blocked.

It's somewhere after the above tweet, when the hashtag (#chetanblocks) started trending.

Chetan's responses:

At this point, Chetan took a break after which he came back with a flurry of responses (which IMO should have been a blog post). I have omitted few of them, but I think I have kept enough to do justice to his position.

I think the battle (if you may) is still on. Enough for now; tired of taking screenshots.

Update: Other related links:

Update (7/12/2009 7:36 PM): Added notytony's tweet.
Update (7/12/2009 8:18 PM): Updated with Chetan's latest responses.
Update (7/12/2009 8:35 PM): Corrected hashtag origins.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Updates from Cochin

  • Getting your transcripts done from CUSAT is an expensive affair. The transcripts cost Rs 1200 per college (if the college asks for 2, the subsequent transcript costs Rs 600) and to get the mark-sheets + degree certificate attested cost Rs 1000. Total damages came around Rs 20K (heart-wrenching cry). I also get to go to Cochin again some time soon -- the mark-sheet attestation, in spite of the exorbitant charge, takes a week's time to get done.
  • The India Coffee House at the center of the CUSAT campus has closed down. It seems their lease expired and they didn't want to pay the new rent.
  • Cocoa Tree, the coffee shop, has taken down their post-it wall. I don't know why.
  • The city still hasn't really changed. I won't call it stagnant, but more like a lake -- moving, yet not going anywhere.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Bangalore Ultra 2009: Race Report

The Bangalore Ultra 2009 was good experience. It was well organized and the weather couldn't have been better (cloudy with a bit of drizzle) -- what more do you need?

I finished the 25 KM race in 2:34:07. Which though not bad, I feel could have been better. I did the rookie mistake of going out too fast in the first lap and struggling a bit towards the end. I have been able to hold myself back and not get flustered by people passing me early in the race, but today that was not the case. Maybe I was expecting miracles.

Now, on to the race details -- which I know because I was there.

The first runners to go on track, at 5 AM, were the 100K, 75K and 50K (early starters) runners. They were provided with torches as it was still quite dark. There were two start times for the 50K runners: 5 AM (red bibs) and 6 AM (green bibs). Only the 6 AM 50 K starters were eligible for podium finishes.

Footnote: Talking of colour coded bibs the 100 K and 75 K runners were given purple bibs (royalty). The 25 K runners had yellow and the 12.5 K runners had blue bibs.

The next runners to be flagged off were the 50 K (late starters) and 37.5 K runners at 6 AM. Following this were the 25 K runners at 6:30 AM (which had me). The 12.5 K runners started shortly after that.

The track was a 12.5 KM out-and-back route with couple of gradual inclines. It's mostly trail with a little patch of road towards the middle of the out-and-back route. There were four aid-stations in total, spaced out at each 2 KM. There were enough things to eat -- chips, peanuts, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, bananas, oranges, Parle-G -- and, of course, electrolytes and water.

Few of the podium finishers whom I know:

1. Men's 50 K (Open) 1st -- Ashok Nath ( ~ 4 hours 30 minutes)
2. Women's 50 K (Open) 1st -- Dr Amrita Mitra
3. Women's 25 K (Open) 1st -- Meher D' Mello ( 2 hours 27 minutes)

Photos from the event.

On a separate note, I have never seen so many men with bleeding nipples.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Bangalore Ultra: Pre Race

The Bangalore Ultra is tomorrow. I have registered for the 25 KM run, but I'm starting at 5 AM just to keep my options open -- the 25 KM run starts at 6 AM. Tonight I cooked my own "Mutter-Paneer" pasta for dinner and watched "Sprit of the Marathon" (once again).

Hope I have a good run tomorrow.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Google's Go Language First Impressions

Google recently announced the launch of a new programming language called: Go. Its creators are software heavy-weights like Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike and Ken Thompson. It's a C style language, it has garbage collection and claims to compile fast.

Its idiosyncrasies follow.
  1. Backward declaration: Instead of declaring a variable like "int a", you do "var a int".
  2. Type derivation with ":=". You can initialize variables and Go will derive its type for you. For example doing "a := 1.0" automatically initalizes "a" to a "float".
  3. Semicolons are not required at the end of each statement.
  4. The only looping construct available is the "for" statement. No "while" or "do-while".
  5. The parameters for the "for" and "if" statements don't need to be within parentheses (I'm shocked and crying)
  6. Unicode strings which are immutable.
  7. Pointers but no pointer arithmetic.
  8. Its compiler is currently not available for Windows -- only for Linux and Mac. Doubt if a cygwin port is available.
Maybe more later.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Long Runs and Charts

I always wondered how the guys at Science of Sport used to generate all the beautiful graphs in their analyses. The answer seems to be Microsoft Excel 2007. It generates amazing charts, unlike its predecessor

For example, the graph below shows my post-jaundice long runs. It was generated after playing around with the chart settings for 1 hour (not complaining, just wanted to check out all the options).

Ah ... pure bliss!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Fitness Update

Having recovered from jaundice, I was pretty afraid how much time it would take to get back to doing the distances I did while running and cycling. This weekend dispelled my fears.

Saturday: Cycled to Chikkatirupathi and back ~ 65 KM. Decent pace. All parts of the body were mostly pain-free, except my palms (no gloves) and butt, .

Sunday: Ran till Cubbon park and did one loop inside the park ~ 15 KM. Comfortable pace. Finished in 1:38.

In both cases I was apprehensive about whether I would be able to keep pace with my companions and be able to do the distance. Thankfully I was able to.

It has been a speedy recovery maybe because I was careful of not doing too much too soon (except maybe in the case of the cycling expedition -- it was the first time I took out my bike after the illness and did 65 KM).

To further adventures ... we march.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Quick Peep (Oasis)

Only bits and pieces sound like the original. Not too happy with what I have. I blame youtube for not having enough video lessons.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Stairway To Heaven (Led Zeppelin)

I recorded "Stairway To Heaven" by Led Zeppelin. It's the longest piece I have done till date.

Although I don't feel it was too tough, when faced by the camera I got the "heebie jeebies". My heart would be racing, my hands would be shaky, I would be perspiring (well that could also be because I switch off the fan while recording -- otherwise you can hear its constant hum resulting in bad audio).

So I had to do quite a few takes. I'm happy with what came out, but I feel that I play it much better when there is no camera. I just hope, going forward, I can deal with the camera-fright.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Usain Bolt Bowling

Bolt performs with his characteristic mild arrogance ... and delivers!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Predictably Irrational and Stack Overflow Careers

After finishing "Without Fear" I have picked up Dan Ariely's "Predictably Irrational". The book is on behavioral economics and, broadly speaking, tries to determine what influences human decisions which, if looked objectively, sometimes seem irrational. I'm not even through chapter 2 and find it an interesting read.

Jeff Atwood, the author of Coding Horror and one of the programmers behind Stack Overflow, had written a blog post describing the gist of the book. It was that post that prompted me to buy it.

In the post, while summarizing the 1st chapter of the book, Jeff wrote:
Realize that some premium options exist as decoys -- that is, they are there only to make the less expensive options look more appealing, because they're easy to compare. Don't make binding decisions solely based on how easy it is to compare two side-by-side options from the same vendor.

While reading another of his newer posts, I came to know that the Stack Overflow bunch have started a new site -- Stack Overflow Careers. The idea is to let active Stack Overflow members, who are looking for a job, post their resume on Stack Overflow Careers. The catch here is that in Stack Overflow Careers, the job-seekers will actually have to pay to make their resume available to the hiring-managers! Their reason:

When hiring managers search through CVs, they want to know that they’re looking at active, serious job applicants. If it were free to post a CV, a lot of applicants that weren’t looking for jobs, or who knew that they had no reasonable chance of getting a job, would post them, making it harder for the employers to find serious applicants.

Of course the other and maybe the real reason is so that Stack Overflow Careers can make money. Also, I'm sure that the other side, which looks at the CVs, also gets charged. Win, win, win!

But wait, how much does it cost? Well here are their rates:
  • If you’re a student, a 1 year membership is free
  • Until November 9th, 2009, a 3 year membership is $29
  • After November 10th, 2009, a 1 year membership is $99

See what they did there? The $99 option is a decoy (go and read Jeff's excerpt above), albeit a temporary one.

But I think the biggest trick which they are playing is making the service paid. That combined with their brand name is actually going to make people rush to it. Hell, I might try it out of curiosity!

To make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain.
-- Mark Twain

Fur Elise

I have been trying to play the classic piece "Fur Elise", by Beethoven, for almost a week now. Yes, you have heard it. Maybe when a car was reversing, maybe when a door bell rang, maybe when you were sitting in a fancy restaurant waiting for food ...

It's a soothing tune, composed to be played on the piano.

I don't think I have done justice to it. The least I can claim is to have captured my effort.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Without Fear -- Glaring Mistake?

On my flight from Bangalore to Delhi I finished reading the auto-biography of Gandhi and immediately picked up "Without Fear" -- a biography of Bhagat Singh by Kuldip Nayar. Apart from recounting the life stories of Bhagat Singh and his companions, the author tends to glorify the revolutionaries' role and importance, rather than let the readers form their own opinion.

One part of the book just seems plain wrong.

In page 64, when the author is recounting the details of the plans being set by the revolutionaries to bomb the legislative assembly, showcasing Bhagat Singh's frustrations, he writes:

... Bhagat Singh too was tired of violence being associated with them. Gandhi's description of them as 'irresponsible young men' irritated him.

Had Gandhi ever tried to sit around an evening fire with a peasant and tried to gauge what he thought? Had he spent a single evening in the company of a factory labourer and shared his views with him? The revolutionaries knew what the masses thought.

The two questions above, related to Gandhi, are posed rhetorically and are intended to make the reader believe that Gandhi didn't know the problems of peasants or the factory worker. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Gandhi led successful Satyagrahs in Champaran and Kheda (for the rights of peasants), and the mill workers' strike in Ahmedabad (for the rights of factory laborers). In all these three places Gandhi was amongst the people, trying to understand them, helping them. The author also doesn't substantiate his statement that "The revolutionaries knew what the masses thought."

Deeply disappointed.

Update: I stand corrected. The two questions posed are actually derived from Bhagat Singh's article "The Philosophy of the Bomb" under the section "DO THE MASSES BELIEVE IN NON-VIOLENCE". Reproduced below to give the complete context.

Gandhi has extended his tour limit to where a motorcar can take him, the practice of staying only with the richest people in the places visited, of spending most of his time on being complimented by his devotees in private and public, and of granting Darshan now and then to the illiterate masses whom he claims to understand so well, disqualifies him from claiming to know the mind of the masses.

No man can claim to know a people's mind by seeing them from the public platform and giving them Darshan and Updesh. He can at the most claim to have told the masses what he thinks about things. Has Gandhi, during recent years, mixed in the social life of the masses? Has he sat with the peasant round the evening fire and tried to know what he thinks? Has he passed a single evening in the company of a factory labourer and shared with him his vows? We have, and therefore we claim to know what the masses think.

We assure Gandhi that the average Indian, like the average human being, understands little of the fine theological niceties about Ahimsa and Loving one's enemy. The way of the world is like this. You have a friend: you love him, sometimes so much that you even die for him. You have an enemy: you shun him, you fight against him and, if possible, kill him.

As the section heading says, Bhagat Singh is trying to emphasize that the masses understand the means taken by the revolutionaries better than non-violence.

So yes, the questions related to Gandhi were thoughts of Bhagat Singh, but better context could have been provided by the author. I absolve the author of trying to mislead the reader, but still am skeptical of the charges made against Gandhi by Bhagat Singh.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Packington's Pound (Better Recording)

This time I recorded the video and audio separately. I used my digital camera to record the video and my Sansa Clip to record the audio. Once the recording was done I transferred the video and audio to the PC.

I prefer to start the audio recording before the video recording -- with my rudimentary equipment I can't do both simultaneously -- and end the video recording first. So there are portions in the audio track, both at the beginning and at the end, which need to be pruned. Also after pruning, the audio overlay has to be done correctly so that both video and audio are in step.

I did the pruning with help of Audacity. The audio overlay was done with Windows Movie Maker (if you have Windows, you will have it). Overall the tools did a decent job.

There are couple of mistakes in the guitaring (I'm not telling you where).

At around the 30 second mark I start banging the guitar into the Clip Microphone, and that has messed up the recording a bit, towards the end.

Transferring Recordings to PC from Sansa Clip

Most of my guitar videos have awful sound quality. This is because, while recording, the camera sits a bit far off and its mic isn't too great. So for my next cover (which is not ready yet) I decided to do the audio part of the recording on my Sansa Clip MP3 player, instead of my camera.

Although the recording came out good, I couldn't find a way to transfer the recording to my PC. I wanted this so that I could do an audio overlay for the video. Googling didn't yield any results.

I discovered a solution by myself and it's documented here.

Transferring your recording consists of 3 steps.

Step 1: Change the USB Mode Setting to MSC

By default the Sansa Clip USB Mode is set to "Auto" and that always defaults to MTP (Media Transfer Protocol). When you are in the MTP mode you can transfer music files from the PC to your Clip. But while in this mode you won't be able to see any of your recordings.

By changing the mode to MSC (Mass Storage Class) your Sansa Clip will mount as a USB mass storage device. In other words, just like any other flash drive.

To change the USB mode to MSC do the following:
  1. Go to the "Settings" page in the menu.
  2. Scroll down to "USB Mode".
  3. Select the "MSC" mode.

Step 2: Connect to PC

Pretty obvious. When you connect it, the device should mount as a disk drive and not a MTP device.

Step3: Transfer Recordings

Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the drive which says "SANSA CLIP". Inside that drive you will have a folder called "RECORD". Anything which you recorded will be a WAV file within a sub-folder called "VOICE". You can copy this recording to your machine.

Note: I didn't see the songs on my Sansa Clip when opened in the explorer. My guess is that you will have to change the mode back to "Auto" to transfer music files.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Packington's Pound -- Video

I made a video of me playing Packington's Pound. The recording is pretty bad. Leaving the fan on was a mistake, but even if it wasn't who could have stopped the honks and the neighbor's TV. Side note: I should get better recording equipment.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Packington's Pound

I always wanted to play a classical music piece on the guitar. So yesterday night, when I couldn't go to sleep, thinking I was pretty good at finger picking, I started (trying) to play various songs provided at classtab.org; only to find I was quite inadequate.

Thus, I googled for "easy classical songs" and "Packington's Pound" came up. After one night and one day of laborious practice, I now know the notes of the song but I'm still very choppy (easy ... yeah right!) Maybe once I'm decent enough, I will put up a video.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Routine Post

Obama won a Nobel and I have a cold. Here goes:

  • I have been cooking for almost three weeks now and it's been going good. I can do Dal, Sambar, Pulao/Biryani, and some vegetables. All my cooking is done on a small gas stove. There have been no major disasters in the kitchen yet (touch wood). In fact, I invited couple of friends over for dinner yesterday and they quite enjoyed it. I had cooked Dal, Egg Burji, Aloo Jeera, Rice and Semiya Paysam. All simple stuff and it came out well. Turns out, I enjoy cooking and cutting vegetables. Washing utensils: not so much.
  • The BSA Bangalore Cyclothon is tomorrow and unfortunately I will not be attending. Reason? On Monday, I decided to go for a morning run. As I was planning it to do in the office campus, I got up early (5:30 AM) and left. The morning was cold and I was not wearing a jacket. To add to that, there was no traffic and I was zipping on my bike. I ran a 5KM, but by the end of the day I had a sore throat. Fast forward to today and I still have a cold. Given my past sickness, I don't want to push it and thus will be sitting out of the event. Second in a row -- first was KTM.
  • I'm planning on applying for a MS again this year. Last year's debacle -- I applied and didn't get selected anywhere -- could be attributed to my confusion and procrastination. This year I'm not confused, just procrastinating.
  • I have had been playing Farmville the entire of last week. While I was in Delhi, I had started playing it, but gave up after three days thinking "what's the point?". I started again, watching my roommate play it everyday. I gave it up yesterday (again), thinking "there will be no end to it." Let my crops wilt, let my trees cry, let my animals die.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Split

Long long ago, I had opened a trading/demat account with ICICI Direct with the hopes of cashing in on the stock market. The stock market was just about starting to deal with the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the U.S (also known as the father of the current recession) and I thought I will buy low, sell high.

The way I purchased shares was simple and something which every other rookie does: ask the local stock guru for a purchase tip. Using that methodology I bought Bharti Airtel and Larsen & Toubro.

But then I wanted to buy some shares on my own. I mean, where's the originality of thought in just asking some allegedly smart folks and then buying shares? Where's the hard work? Where's the sweat and the pain? So, one day, when I generally felt like it, I purchased Reliance Communication and Kotak Gold (ETF). Of course, I did no research and both purchases were based on gut feeling that the stocks would go up.

Once the recession actually sunk in and the stock markets tumbling, I did the most convenient, Ostrich-eque, thing: I stopped looking at the value of my stock portfolio. ICICI used to send me statements and I used to shred them without looking. The companies, whose stock I owned, used to religiously send me their annual reports, and I would give that to the kabadiwala and earn 25p (or maybe less). I completely stopped following the stock market.

Circa September 2009 and I finish reading "One up on Wall Street" by Peter Lynch (courtesy my illness). Inspired, motivated, I opened my ICICI Direct online account; the market was catching up and I was optimistic about my stocks rebounding. Unfortunately, most of my stocks were in the red. The stocks recommended by the stock gurus were the reddest (40% losses in both).

After a lot of moping and cursing the gurus behind their back, I started researching on my reddest companies. Well, turned out that both Airtel and L&T had announced a 1:1 split in one of the past months -- the time I was emulating Rip Van Winkle. After a bit more rummaging around, I found out that my portfolio still showed the stock quantity as before the split. The price of the stock, though, was the one after the split!

No wonder the 40% loss!

After a bit more googling, I discovered that ICICI Direct doesn't update your portfolio after something like a stock split; you have to do that yourself!

The 40% losses turned to 15% gains. It's like discovering the 500 bucks, which you thought you had lost, but was actually hidden in one of your pockets.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Routine Post

You thought I would be gone for long, yet I continue to surprise ...
  • The Jaundice case is closed. Or so I thought. It seems that I have to be careful for many months to avoid relapse. And for that I have to start eating home food (why do you think I fell sick at the first place). As I never learnt to cook, except the occasional maggi and sandwich, my mom will not only be teaching me but also helping me set up my kitchen. Wonder how the cooking experiment will go, given my lack of patience. Maybe you will see me in the next Top Chef.
  • I finished reading the book called "Know Your Body". Published long long ago by Reader's Digest. Quite a simple yet enlightening read. Other than informing me about my innards, it repeatedly points out the most known yet ignored thing to keep your organs in shape: exercise, quit smoking, keep a balanced diet, don't be tensed. As my guitar teacher once aptly said, "All the information is available (on the internet), it's the application which is lacking."
  • I usually don't talk politics, but this one stuck out: the Congress' austerity drive. Shashi Tharoor's comments were highly irresponsible for a politician. Not just the "cattle-class" traveling, but also his reasons on why he didn't stay at Kerala Bhavan: he needed privacy and a gym. Also that he had already blogged about it days ago, thus the matter was closed. Mr Tharoor, it's the Bhavan of the state of whose capital's MP you are. I'm sure you can do something about its issues, rather than complain about it and shrug your shoulders. Also, maybe you should stop tweeting, as it's really not helping you in any way. With regards to the austerity drive itself, I'm undecided. Although the skeptic in me says that most likely they are acting in a penny-wise, pound-foolish manner.
  • Today I was reminded of an incident which happened an year ago. I was trying to get to Bangalore city station and, as is the case in Bangalore, none of the auto guys were willing to come (or ply only at exorbitantly high rates). One guy though stopped and also agreed to follow the meter reading -- despite the fact that it was "one and a half time"! Five minutes into the journey he says "Sir, please don't feel bad or angry, I want to play a game just to pass the time." Curious of what this was, I agreed. The game was nothing but a series of questions, to which he wanted ultimate answers. I only remember a few of his questions (in all there were 10):

    • Who are you?
    • Where are you?
    • Where are you going?
    • Where do you want to go?

    I wasn't in any philosophical mood at that time (rarely ever am I in that mood), so I gave the most obvious proximate answers (Rohit, Bangalore, City Station, City Station). Our fellow was, of course, not impressed; repeatedly telling me that these weren't the ultimate answers.

    I look around today with all the people facing quarter-life crises, asking the same questions and not being satisfied with their answers.
Stop thinking. Move forward!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


I had another liver function test yesterday and all things came out in the normal range. I'm cured! Yay!

Jaundice took from me more than a month of my time, a big chunk of my strength and stamina, and 2 KGs of my weight (maybe I will become faster). The only positive part being I managed to read a lot (6 books).

It will take another 2 weeks before I can start training again. Till then the only exercise I can do is take 20 minute walks (yuck). My first target would be the Bangalore Cyclothon on Oct 11th. It's a 50 KM ride and if it were two months ago, I wouldn't have been worried about finishing. Today, that's not the case.

Sometimes I feel that the tough part is not to push hard, but to hold back (t.w.s.s). And these coming 2 weeks will be hard.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The race I never ran

Today was supposed to be the day I ran my first full marathon. Sadly, during the time of the race, I was 1000 miles away sleeping and reading. Sad, anti-climatic, depressing.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Routine Post

and we are back
  • It's been over a week since I was diagnosed of jaundice and have since relocated, till I'm all better, to New Delhi. Although, I wasn't doing too good in Bangalore, I have been recuperating at a fast pace now. In fact for the past 4-5 days, I haven't been feeling weak or ill -- although my eyes are still a scary yellow. I wish to go back as soon as possible.
  • My participation in all the running/cycling events in the near future look bleak. Today, I was supposed to run a half marathon in Hyderabad, which ostensibly I didn't. The marathon at KTM is out of question. I surely can't run the 50 KM in the Bangalore Ultra. Now the Tour of Nilgiris also looks doubtful, although I hope I'm wrong.
  • In the meantime I have been doing a lot of reading (at least for my standards). I finished reading Jared Diamond's "Guns, germs, and steel" and am currently reading Ramachandra Guha's "India after Gandhi". "Guns, germs, and steel" concerns itself with the question "Why certain human socities ended up conquering or dominating others?" Whereas Guha's book is more closer to home and talks about contemporary Indian history. Both are excellent books and I would recommend it to everyone.
  • I have also been watching quite a bit of television -- which is a rarity since I don't own a TV in Bangalore. My favoured few channels are Star World, Discovery, and Travel and Living. Although I did chance upon seeing few of the Indian reality TV shows and was left quite scared.

Thursday, 20 August 2009


In my last run it seems that I overstrained myself. That night I had fever and the following night (yesterday), I got so weak that I couldn't get out of bed for most of the day. In fact I had to be rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night.

Fortunately, I seem to be recovering and am in much better shape today. To be realistic, I will not be able to regain my level of fitness by the time KTM arrives. Seeing how things are I won't be running the Full Marathon at KTM or the Hyderabad Half Marathon.

Disappointing, but that's life and I will live.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Tough Run

I’m an endurance runner. I shit out 100 meters like a trail of bunny droppings.

Today, that was not the case.

350 m into my scheduled 8KM run and I start getting side stitches. Three Hundred and Fifty Meters! And I was jogging at a pace of 9 KM/H! Nine Kilometers an Hour! Bad bad bad. The stabbing pain got so bad that even before I hit the 1 KM mark, I walked a bit (20-30s) before I started jogging again at my slow-ass pace.

At the end of 27 minutes, I had finished 4 KM. Half way mark. The pain had subsided quite a bit and I thought I could up the ante.

Next 4 KM I ran at a pace of 6:00/KM (10KM/H). It was not easy mind you. Again, the side stitches started before the end of the first KM, but I kept on going.

At the end of the next 24 minutes, I had finished the final 4 KM.

Total time: 51 minutes.

And yes, I was drained. Rather than finishing an 8 KM it felt as if I had run 30 KM. I was tired and inactive for the next two hours, before I got some energy to walk and talk.

This is extremely disappointing and frustrating. Before I fell ill, I was in the best shape of my life. I would have even said that I was ready to run the full marathon. A week before, I ran my 20 miler and finished strongly. Now I'm struggling with an 8KM.

Will I be able to run my first full marathon as scheduled? I don't know.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Usain Bolt's 100m World Record (9.58s)

First watch the video.

I don't own a TV, so this video is courtesy a friend who shared it on Facebook. I heard that, when this was being broadcast, none of the Indian sports channels were covering it. Apparently, while the 100 m sprint in Berlin was going on, DD sports was discussing how India's minister P. Chidambaram saw the Badmninton tournament by purchasing tickets after standing in the queue. And how he was not wearing a dhoti.

Informative? Very.

The good guys at Science of Sport have run a number of articles analyzing the performance. I'm sure they will have more to say -- including their predictions on whether any foul play was involved.

Tyson Gay must be the saddest person in the world right now. He ran his personal best. In fact he ran the third fastest time in the world ever ... and still lost to Bolt.

If you really observe the video above and compare Gay and Bolt, you will find a marked difference in each of their styles. Bolt has a longer stride and lower leg turn around rate, whereas Gay's leg turn around so fast that they are a blur.

Awesome athletics! Sucks that not many people in India are interested.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Power of 2

Given my past few days of sickness and the forthcoming marathon, I need to ramp up to fitness level - 1 ( level 1 being the highest) at a very fast pace. In accordance with that, my coming week's runs are scheduled to be like so:


Distance (KM)











Table 1. 17th-23rd Aug 2009, Week's Distance Goal.

I did a measly slow ass 5 KM run yesterday at NGV. I finished the distance in 30:33. Though it was mostly a slow run -- that was the plan -- I was basically flying the last 400 m or so (see graph below).

5 KM Pace Vs Distance Graph

And that was truly exhilarating. I feel running is freedom in its purest form. Thanks for bearing with me.

Friday, 14 August 2009

How important is warming up?

Coach Joe English along with coach Dean Hebert run an excellent website called running-advice.com . They tackle many running related issues ranging from nutrition, to training, to injuries, to a lot more. And all of this coaching experience is coming to you ... FOR FREE! Thank you, the internet lords.

If you haven't already, shine the tractor-beam of your RSS aggregator towards the aforementioned site and grab everything. Also, while you are at it, also go and watch all of their Desert Series videos on vimeo. The videos are fun to watch and insightful.

"But, hold the phone", you say, "I thought you were going to be talking about warming up and its importance, not about some website." Yes, yes, smart one ... we are. See as it turns out, I asked a question about the same on running-advice and it was featured in one of their posts. So there you go, here's what Coach Joe writes:
A reader named Rohit writes in with an super-duper excellent question that I am so glad was asked. Here’s the question:

“During a lot of my long runs, my fellow runners rarely warm up. Most of the time the attitude is, we will get warmed up while running and that warm up is only required on race day. I understand that warming up is important while doing intense training runs, like intervals or hills. But if I’m doing a long run, or an easy run, how important is warming up?”

First, let’s just get this out there. Warming up is absolutely essential and should be a part of every workout.

Read the rest at running-advice.com

I feel all important right now. Let me bask in this glory for a while.

A month to go and I fall sick

There is a month left to go before my planned first full marathon, and guess what ... I fall sick. For the past two days I have been running a temperature -- nothing too much; all around 100 F; no flu symptoms. Learning from my past mistakes, I saw the doctor right away and got medicines. I have been careful; on medication; and as of right now, the fever is not there.

Now, this has come at a very crucial stage. I could only do 1 training run out of the 4 in the week. There is a scheduled 14 mile long run on the weekend, but I'm not sure if my legs will have it to carry me through that distance. Also, do I really want to exert myself and do the 14 miler right away? I don't know.

But more importantly, I'm concerned as to how seriously this will have an affect on my performance in the Kaveri Trail Marathon.

I think it's fine that I didn't hit all my training goals this week. But the coming week's long run -- a 20+ miler -- is going to tell me a lot. The problem is, if I fail in that run, I will lack credible confidence going into the marathon -- not knowing whether I'm fit enough to finish the race.

Why? Because after the coming week is over we go into taper mode -- wherein the weekly running mileage falls and runners train less so that their legs are well rested for the marathon distance. The question really then will come down to, do I sacrifice on taper and lose out on physical strength but gain mentally? Or do I train hard in the taper weeks, and gain mentally (confidence), but lose out physically?

Trade-offs trade-offs, how I hate them.

All is not lost and as one great Bollywood hero once said, "Haar ke jeetne waale ko hi Baazigar kehte hain*" (screw you, if you don't understand Hindi).

To new challenges ... we march ... ONWARD!

*Of course, in the end our Baazigar friend has a very sorry demise, but let us not focus our attention on minor details.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Treadmill 20 Miler

Once upon a time, I didn't wake up on time and did a half marathon on the treadmill. Similar story today.

As soon as I woke up today morning, I knew something was wrong. I wasn't feeling sleepy -- which usually is not the case when you wake up really early. When I checked my phone, to look at the time, I saw it was dead. That moment, I also realized that the alarm hadn't rung. When I parted the curtains, I could see some ambient sunlight. Surely it wasn't 4:45 AM (my scheduled wake up time). Of course, it was in fact 6:00 AM.

When I put my phone on charge, I started getting messages and missed call alerts from my running companions querying my whereabouts. I responded telling them about my phone alarm fiasco -- sad but true.

But then, I wasn't going to just give in to circumstances. I wasn't going to say that the universe doesn't want me to run, so I will not run. Screw my phone! Screw the universe! For today's run, I ATE PASTA YESTERDAY NIGHT! And run I shall!

The idea of running it on the treadmill just came and I never questioned it. I guess having done the half-marathon on it instilled some confidence.

The bad part about running on the treadmill for so long is that it's excruciatingly boring. The good part though is that you don't really need to worry about water, food, electrolytes -- they are all right there, because ... well ... you aren't going anywhere, are you?

Long story short, I did the 20 miler (32KM) in 3:27:01 (inclusive of water, food, electrolyte breaks). I split the distance in 5KM intervals, wherein I would take water breaks. At each 10KM interval, I would munch on something as well. At the end I finished strong.

Oh and by the way, the real pain starts when you stop. If someone drew a line from my heel all the way to my neck, every muscle on that line was paining (the good pain though).

A good run. Onward!

P.S: I pay my humble respect to Pasta. Without your contributions, my today's run wouldn't have been possible.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

One year of running

Yesterday saw me celebrate one year of running. That day last year, I ran my first 5 KM as part of the training plan for my first half-marathon.
  • Total Mileage -- 1809 KM
  • Three Half Marathons, One 10K.
  • 3 Shoes
So much sweat and pain.

But that aside, I enjoy the sport for its sheer simplicity. The fact that you can take it anywhere you want with minimum hassles.

I enjoy the feeling which you get when you are on the final stretch, your shirt drenched, you can hear yourself heave; heart thumping, and then you decide to push a little bit more -- teeth clenched.

This year also introduced me to the excellent community of runners here in Bangalore. Believe me, Bangalore is the place to be running. Be it weather wise, the places to run, the people, and the beer.

Going forward, I'm looking to successfully complete my first full marathon at KTM (training is going good, thanks for asking). Following which I'm going to focus on developing speed.

Let's see how that goes. ONWARD!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Routine Post

Coming back after a long time ... (like Lance Armstrong and Michael Schumacher, but a much shorter period):
  • My training for the full marathon has been going good. I'm in the 9th week of training and I had a pretty fulfilling 30 KM run last Sunday. Everything went according to plan and I did the distance in just over 3 hours -- including water breaks. My prospects look good for the Kaveri Trail Marathon.
  • The dates for the 2009 Tour Of Nilgiris have been announced and I have decided to participate. Unlike last year's TFN, this time around the distances per day have been reduced to 80 KM from 150 KM. It still poses a challenge and should be fun. As part of the training, the longest distance I have done till date is 70KM. But I think 80KM shouldn't pose much of a problem. Of course, if you put hills in between, it's a totally different ball game.
  • I had been avidly following, for the first time in my life, the Tour De France. Lance Armstrong came back this year and gave a good performance. It was not a fairy tale ending for him, but he did manage a respectable 3rd place -- though no individual stage wins. The 1st place was taken by Alberto Contador, Lance's teammate and rival (oxymoron-ic, but true). Armstrong has already announced that he is coming back next year with Team Radioshack. My suspicion is that his team will have Mark Cavendish, the British sprinter, who won 6 stages in the tour this year. Here are some beautiful pictures from the event.
  • I have been reading Jared Diamond's : Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee. A book which answers "why humans are the way they are?" The book tackles the question by drawing from various sources: evolutionary biology, history, anthropology, archaeology, etc. In spite of having little knowledge about those subjects I find the book extremely readable.
That's all for now. Till next time, it's bye bye.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Cycling Trip To Chikkatirupati

Chikkatirupati is a town around 30 KM from Bangalore (Koramangala, to be precise). Yesterday, we -- a group of 4 cyclists -- decided to make a trip to the place.

To get there you first need to hit Sarjapur road; cross the outer ring road junction while continuing down Sarjapur Road; take a left somewhere ahead, and follow the road. As is obvious, I wasn't the one leading the pack (or good at giving directions). But fortunately for you, I had a GPS.

Here is a map:

Figure 1: Map -- Bangalore to Chikkatirupati.

Other than Sarjapur road you don't face too much traffic, as the roads are really bad and I guess no one wants to go to Chikkatirupati. The route is scenic, passing through villages; with farms on either side. People in the areas are quite amused at seeing these "weirdos" on bicycles. We had quite a few kids wave to us, saying "Hi" and "Bye". We reached Chikkatirupati in around 1 hr 40 min and proceeded to have breakfast.

There is a nice small breakfast joint inside the town, where you get Idly-Bonda, Coffee, Chitranna, and -- if you are not too early -- Dosa.

Figure 2: Breakfast at Chikkatirupati

After having breakfast we started the return journey. There was a strong headwind and there weren't too many downhills. Fortunately, the weather was pretty good. The return journey took us around 2 hours.

Total Mileage: 65 KM

  1. Using the gears on the front of the cycle for the first time and reaching close to 40 KM/H (38.3 KM/H to be precise).
  2. All the kids in the villages cheering as you pass them.
  3. The yummy bondas at the breakfast place.
  4. Just off Chikkatirupati a gentleman coming to us, when we were taking a water break, and asking, "Why did you cycle all the way from Bangalore?" Good question. Neeeeext.
  5. Finding out that there are some new muscles in my legs -- I'm sore.
  6. And finally, my longest cycling trip till date -- a good ride!

Friday, 26 June 2009

R.I.P Michael Jackson

Other than sketching these un-recognizable drawings on my whiteboard, I played couple of MJ songs ("Dangerous" and "They don't care about us") on the speaker during evening time.

As WSW tweeted earlier,
We have all tried to moonwalk once in our life.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Trip Report: Doddamakali Nature Camp

I and few friends of mine went to Doddamakali Nature Camp over the weekend. It's a jungle lodge on the banks of Kaveri around 130 KM from Bangalore. Other than enjoying the greenery, you can sip on Kingfisher Premium Lager Beer, jump into the waters of Kaveri, play volleyball, and do a bit of fishing.

Following are the details.

Onward Journey

The route is pretty straightforward
  1. Head towards the national park on Bannerghatta road.
  2. Take the right heading towards NICE road.
  3. Proceed around 7 KM on NICE and take the left to Kanakpura road.
  4. Enjoy the beautiful Kanakpura road (NH-209) for around 80 KM. You will pass Kanakpura ;keep on going.
  5. In between the road becomes a bit rugged, but it smoothens out soon. When you hit a "T" junction, take a left.
  6. Go around 7 KM and you will see a board saying "Doddamkali Fishing Camp" and asking you to take a left. Follow the board's directions.
  7. Head another 8 KM and you will reach near the camp.
Of course the actual camp is another 8.8 KM away. It's all loose gravel and controlling the bike becomes quite difficult. The last 2 KM are especially treacherous as it is all down hill. I managed to balance the bike successfully till the last moment, when I saw the camp; exulted; lost concentration; and the bike fell down.

Day One

The camp is set on the banks of the Kaveri river. On the other bank one can see hills and lot of greenery. The river itself has lots of rocks; lending more to the scenery.

Figure 1: Rocky Kaveri and the Hills.

There are 10 tent houses. Each of which can be occupied by 2 people, but more can fit in if needed. The tents houses also have attached bathrooms and one hammock. We booked the accomodation online.

Figure 2: Tent House.

After checking in, the first order of business was beer. The camp provides KF and Foster's at Rs 110/- for a 650 ml bottle. For non-drinkers you also get the usual soft drinks (bah!). We sipped on beer while enjoying the view.

Figure 3: Sipping on beer, whilst enjoying the view.

After the beer, we got us some life-jackets and dove into Kaveri. The water is pretty shallow on the bank, but gets suddenly deep. The life jackets are provided by the camp people and you don't need to pay anything extra for them.

Figure 4: Goofing around in Kaveri.

The swimming left us quite hungry and we proceeded for the lunch. The food was just OK. Mostly vegetarian, with one Chicken curry. The rice was good though. After the lunch we took a quick nap.

At 4:30 PM we woke up for Tea/Coffee. I liked their tea better than their coffee -- the coffee was made from instant coffee powder. We also got some Marie biscuits, which I don't like too much and didn't have any.

The next activity was the Corakel Ride. For the unintiated a corakel is a round boat made of wood. The guide took us through portions of the river, telling us where the crocodiles live(!).

Figure 5: Corakel Ride.

We followed up the Corakel ride with Joy Fishing. I'm not sure why it's called "Joy Fishing" and not just "Fishing". Basically what you do is that, you get a nylon thread at the end of which there is a hook. They give you some atta (dough) which you then put on the hook. Throw the hook into the water; hold onto the thread; and hope you catch something. Many times you will find that the atta is gone, but there is no fish caught in the hook. Apparently, it's your first time, but not the fishes'.

You don't get any fancy fishing equipment, but this is enough -- as proven by Alan (Figure 6).

NB: You will see many photos in which there are people who have caught HUGE fishes. Don't be intimidated by them.

NB: If you are lucky enough to catch a fish, you will have to throw it back into the water -- after posing for a photo, of course.

Figure 6: Alan catches one!

After the fishing expedition we headed back to our tent houses and freshened up. We were promised a bonfire and snacks in the evening. And we weren't dissappointed. The bonfire was started at around 7 PM, and we were served Bhajji, peanuts, and some chicken. Of course, there was beer as well.

Figure 7: Bonfire.

Once we were done with the snacks, we had dinner. Like the lunch, it was just OK. We had a light dinner and called it a day.

Day Two

The second day's activities were sparse, as we had to check out at 11 AM. The wake up call was at 6 AM, followed by morning tea. Just after tea, we started for a short trek (or as the forest guy called it a "truck"). The trek was towards the more rockier portion of the river. Although, we didn't take any life-jackets this time, we did go into the water and touched few rocks.

Figure 8: Morning Trek.

After the trek, we came back to the camp, and had breakfast. The breakfast, unlike the lunch and dinner, was quite good. The menu had Maggi, Bread/Omelet, and Poori Masala.

Once the breakfast was over, it was almost time to checkout and head back.

Return Journey

We packed up and started back at around 11:30 AM. The main concern was the 2 KM uphill stretch which was covered with loose gravel. Fortunately it wasn't as bad as when it was while coming down and was covered with ease.

We took the same route as we did while coming; took a couple of breaks in between; had lunch; and finally reached back at around about 5:00 PM.

A good trip.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

No More Juggling

Few days back I took up juggling. There were 3 stress balls lying nearby my office cubicle and I used to practice the 3 ball cascade, whenever I got the time. Of course, people noticed and the stress balls got a new owner -- ME. Given that I was just starting out, the juggling wasn't always smooth and I would drop the balls pretty frequently. So they had a tendency to get lost or go underneath tables, upon which I would ask the person seated to kick them out. Also, as I would keep them on my desk, people used to take them away -- sometimes because they were feeling stressed.

Now if you haven't already got it. I was the surrogate owner of three stress balls. They used to get kicked, lost, played with, and the thing they do with stress balls.

I leave it to the reader's imagination, how many awkward sentences were spoken and later corrected, as well as qualified, with the speaker referring to the juggling balls as "your balls".

No thank you, I don't want to juggle anymore.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Bicycle Commute: Second Impressions

Today I rode my bicycle to office for the second time. I wanted to do it last Friday itself but because of the trip to Hampi, things didn't go as planned.

Both the onward and the return rides were blissful. While going, I started early (6:30 AM) and reached office in half an hour. While coming back, there was a slight drizzle and although it took more time, it was a pleasant ride despite the traffic. The only casualty on the way back was my backpack, which got all muddy -- yes, I do have mudguards; maybe they are defunct.

Figure 1, Really Muddy Targus Backpack

This time around there were a bunch of things which I forgot to pack while commuting. So I have gone and made my own bicycle commute checklist to prevent future blunders.

Figure 2, Rohit's Bicycle Office Commute Checklist
(your mileage may differ)

Other Notes:
  1. Speed breakers are your friends -- it's fun to jump over them without slowing down.
  2. I feel much taller than rest of the traffic when on my cycle.
  3. There's no better feeling than when you switch gears; the chain snaps to the correct sprocket; the pedals move in sync with your feet -- neither too fast, nor with too much resistance.
  4. I feel much lighter and in more control when I'm on a cycle than when on a motorbike.