The first one- we give to Gaad

A few months ago, Prof. Dr. N. Vedachalam visited COEP for a series of interactive talks with the students regarding India's progress in space research as well as the future for academic enrichment within the country with colleges like ours being the nucleus. Through the efforts of the administration, we have been fortunate enough to hear many great speakers such as Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar over the last couple of years who come for some kind of review visit. But there was a weekend of talks among these that will remain impregnated in the minds of many students for a very long time.

Prof. Vedachalam is the former head of ISRO's Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) and has been part of the elite team of scientists who have driven India's development in indigenous space technology over the last 40 years or so. He was in college to deliver a series of three lectures, each of around 4 hours to the students. The ever-so-enthusiastic (not.) crowd started to filter in late as usual for the morning session. But within a matter of twenty minutes, it seemed certain that none of the 600 odd students would be leaving their seats. When Prof. V asked whether they would like to break for lunch, a unanimous 'no' echoed through the Auditorium and he went on with his inimitable style of technical story-telling. These weren't fairytales of course, but a comprehensive look at India's struggle to develop and implement its own space technology post independence. Prof. V's was typical of a senior faculty playing around with his young students, stopping in between to pose a question or too and then laugh off the ensuing silence by saying, "Don't worry, even after you have completed your PhD, you will not be able to answer that question because you simply didn't read the textbooks well enough in the Second Year".

As a part of the afternoon session, he spoke at length about ISRO's newest baby (Chandrayaan-I by then was done) - the second stage Cryogenic Rocket engine that had taken nearly two decades to develop. I remember some parts of what he spoke- shall make an effort to reproduce them.
(If you're interested, there's a copy of this entire lecture series at the Data Center : i. e. if you were foolish enough to sleep off at the hostel after an intense night of CS or were simply too bored to leave the confines of your home and the comforts of the TV )

Dr. Vedachalam. India's Cryogenic Rocket Technology.

" In the 70s, Dr. Kalam was a senior scientist at ISRO. We used to look up to him and Prof. Satish Dhawan a lot in those days. Prof. Dhawan would pose these problems to his students and the solution would come after a long brainstorming session but from the most miraculously simple sources. The first idea for the Payload housing came from large garbage bins on the streets.

When we were still struggling as a nation to establish ourself on the global map, Dr. Kalam had told us- put a block of concrete in space if you want! But put something there with an Indian flag. That was the kind of desperation in those days. By the late 80s, vokay, we had put a man in space. But none of the technology was India's. We were buying our rockets from the Russians who sold them to us at ridiculous prices. Americans were refusing us technology. We had no choice. One day, Prof. Dhawan addressed many of the scientists and researchers and declared- 'If they do not give it to us, we will develop it ourselves'. And after almost 15 years of continued efforts, we are scheduled to launch our own Cryo Rocket. This is how technology develops. When somebody refuses to share it with you- you must do it yourself.

And in our proposals to the Government, we always asked for around 2 times the project cost. Waii? (why) you will ask. We always planned for contingencies. If the first one failed, we could rectify some of the mistakes and develop a second one. After 700 seconds, massive software failure caused the first rocket (PSVL, 1993) to tumble in the Bay of Bengal. See, the first one- we give to Gaad (laughter in the crowd). We then tell ourselves- next one we must not fail (since we have already given to Gaad). And so the second launch was a success."

It was indeed very sad to see the GSLV D3 to plummet into the sea. Prof. Vedachalam had mentioned that the PSVL was well tested and very trustworthy- that's why we sent up Chandrayaan on it. Let us hope that the Cryo powered GSLV too overcomes the hurdles that has caused "partial failure" of this mission- there are reports that the Cryo did fire, but two of the auxiliary engines did not. And we can rest assured that "having given the first one to Gaad Almighty, we may succeed in our next endeavour".

Jai Hind

Escapades and Event Management

Swine Flu.
MindSpark 2009 (now one of India's largest Technical Festivals by participation)
Tags: (Unjustified) Arrogance, (Over) Enthusiasm, (Manic) Energy, (The Lack of) Open Book Exams.

It was fun setting up the show, swearing at people, sleeping very little and swearing at people again. Life has now become an effort to sleep, catch up with Acads and resurrect my failing personal life.

Notes to self during the 3 month journey:
  1. Delegate, only if you must- DIY!
  2. The civilized world DOES NOT KNOW the features of Word Processors
  3. MS Works does not work. .odt sucks. Stick with pirated versions of MS Office
  4. Shaking the Printer Cartridge will produce an additional output of 20 pages
  5. Spoon feeding is bad. It bites you back in the butt
  6. When driving back home after 2 a.m., not everyone can be trusted to follow lane discipline
  7. Lunch time is generally associated with sunset
  8. First identify a Mobile operator who can provide range through stone walled corridors AND THEN put your phone number on the website
  9. If you have scored in double digits in the midsem, there is no real need to walk across the subway to the MDH to check your marks. You already have more than what you deserve.
  10. Carry an extra set of clothes. You never know when its already tomorrow
  11. Never tell Bhat that you are going to set questions for Chakravyuh
  12. Smile at the professors, in a sad way- it helps grades and Sponsorship opportunities
  13. Buy a writing pad and write down a to-do list. It slips from your mind otherwise
  14. Do not lose the writing pad as mentioned in Note 13- it hurts
  15. Carry at least Rs. 10/- in your wallet. Even the bloody chai costs 5 bucks
I guess it would be fun to do it again. NOT.

Passing the baton (hurling away responsibility) to more enterprising and dynamic individuals is the only way to ensure sustainable development.

MindSpark 2009- Ignite your world.
College of Engineering, Pune

Poll Khol!

Back at Mood I this year, we got a chance to catch Indian Ocean LIVE. There were the usuals, Kandisa-Bandeh, of course but Rahul Ram volunteered to play a less popular but wonderful song called "Kaun". Sadly, our mature friends at IIT B responded with roars of disapproval and insisted on Bandeh once again. RR, being the gentleman he is, obliged. Then he proclaimed (and not asked, like earlier) that they would play something new- from a movie yet to be released.

Sone ki nagri ke sau sau hai Raja
Andhe Rajaon mein Kana Maharaja
Yahaan Dakoo ki raksa ?...karo na...? kare mere bhai
Gunde malang hai Minister ke ghar jamaii

?..Mere..? pair ka kankad hai O re bhai
Bandar madaari ke offcer hai mere bhai

Bhrashton ke ham hai aur Bhrasht hamare
Ek hi thali ke Chatte Batte saare
Jangal me mangal ki Reet hai hame pyaari
Aur Kalyug me kal ke samadhi ki tayyari

While the odd ? marks indicate that I either didn't hear properly or don't remember too well, the lyrics have been a big hit, personally. And with poll results coming out last evening, I thought it went well as background music as the curtain fell on the Elections of the world's largest successful democracy.

The people of India have been largely smart and very politically correct. They have ascertained a single party will assume power at the centre. They have eliminated any kind of instability and senseless horse-trading. And most importantly, they have ensured a healthy chance of their issues being given some thought, if not addressed immediately.

"The Congress has perhaps benefited from a fear among voters that an unclear mandate would make matters muddy at a time when tackling issues like the economic slowdown or the threat of terrorism mandates a firm and assured hand at the wheel. The BJP could not capitalise on the Congress's shortcomings and the common man was not in the mood for experiments. The ruling party seemed the best bet in the given circumstances. "

~TOI, 17th May

Permutations and combinations may dominate proceeding for the next few weeks over the distributions of portfolios. But 200+ seats on their own will probably see Congress aloof of any arm twisting from allies. Some of the persons and personalities voted into the Lok Sabha this time around definitely seem to be good choices for entrusting portfolios that need to be approached differently. Many of the first time voters like me, I'm sure, will hope for intelligent governance, steady progress and mature decision making that will set India apart on its journey in global sublimation.

ओ रि दुनिया

Piyush Mishra has written the lyrics for, sung and acted in Anurag Kashyap's Gulaal. This song, inspried from Guru Dutt's Pyaasa- Ye Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaaye To Kya Hai (originally sung by Mohammad Rafi) has continued to haunt me. My inccessant, besur chanting of the same has rendered reactions from shock to agony. While I will not make any efforts to sing for you today, I am in the process of translating the entire thing to English. It's been a little difficult given few of the Urdu phrases but hope to make some headway there soon. Until then:

O ri Duniya
Surmayi aankhon ke pyaalon ki duniya
Satrangi rangon gulaalon ki duniya..o duniya
Alsaayi sezon ke phoolon ki duniya
Angdaai tode kabootar ki duniya
Karwat le soyi haqueeqat ki duniya
Deewaani hoti tabeeyat ki duniya
Khwahish mein lipti zaroorat ki duniya
Insaan ke sapno ki neeyat ki duniya..o Duniya

O ri Duniya

ye duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai…

Mamta ki bikhri kahaani ki duniya
Behno ki siski jawaani ki duniya
Aadam ke Hawwaa se rishte ki duniya
Shaayar ke pheeke lafzon ki duniya

Ghalib ke Momin ke khwaabon ki duniya
Majaazon ke un inqualaabon ki duniya
Faiz Firaaq aur Saahir o Makhdoom
Mir ki Zauk ki Daagh ki duniya

Ye duniya agar…

Pal chhin mein baatein chali jaati hain hain
Pal chhin mein raatein chali jaati hain hain
Reh jaata hai jo savera wo dhoondhey
Jalte makaan mein basera wo dhoondhey
Jaisi bachi hai waisi ki waisi bachaa lo ye duniya
Apna samajhke apno ke jaisi uthaalo ye duniya

Chhut put si baaton mein jalne lagegi sambhaalo ye duniya…
Kat pit ke raaton mein palne lagegi sambhaalo ye duniya..

O ri Duniya…

Wo kahein hain ki duniya ye itni nahi hai
Sitaaron se aage jahaan aur bhi hain
Ye hum hi nahi hain wahaan aur bhi hain
Hamaari har ek baat hoti wahin hai

Hamein aitraaz nahi hai kahin bhi
Wo aalim hain faazil hain honge sahi hi
Magar falsafaa ye bigad jaata hai
Jo wo kehte hain

Aalim ye kehta wahaan Eeshwar hai
Faazil ye kehta wahaan Allah hai

Tumhari hai tum hi sambhalon ye duniya
Ye bujhte huye chand baasi charaaghon ki
Tumhaare ye kaale iraadon ki duniya…

(Managed to get the title in Devnagari- too bored to do the same to the entire text :P)

The Bridge That Sometimes Isn't

Finally, there is enough pent up frustration to diffuse the inertia of posting here- grades for the semester! While I have been away, there have been innumerable instances, tailor-made for mention on this blog, but have simply been suppressed by sheer laziness and the warmth of covers and great books and superlative movies. Recently, I've had Introduction to Psychology for a mandatory subject as a part of the degree course. And we've labeled a portion of the human brain as "dark" or "black" simply because an individual himself cannot tap its deepest secrets. Wisps of emotions are often delivered to the conscious being when confronted with similar dark and confusing circumstances. Here is where we come to the bridge.

Me and a friend were in charge of surveying a potentially good site for making astronomical observations- nestled within the typical central Maharashtra terrain and far enough from the lights and maddening haze of the city pollution. Around 50 kms from Pune, just off NH4, there is a road that leads off towards the foothills of the forts Rajgad and Torana. After being annoyed by the familiar, jarring noises so characteristic of this city and its people (and lets not forget their driving habits), it was a relief to get on to open expanses of the Highway. We were buoyed by the adrenaline of speed and kept alert by the embrace of the cold January night. We hit the detour to leave the highway towards our destination with vague directions and a hope that cell phones stowed in our pockets would rise to the challenge if we lost our way.

The lights deserted us almost as soon as we hit the interior road; the sharp outlines of the head lamp led us along. We concurred that we must make subtle but sure landmarks along our route so that they would prove useful while retracing our steps the same night and many similar ones to follow. This exercise after all, was nothing more than a reccee. Shadows of trees moved in pivoted arcs as the head lamp swept over them. Quickly, we realised that landmarking was useless unless we were to memorize technical bends on the road or cold rocks that adorned the road edges. The only other sharp pricks of white light ensued from the displays of both our cell phones (I'd volunteered to hang on to them for quick calls if needed- I was riding pillion). They read an identical, disdainful "No Coverage".

Fear(n): a feeling of dread, a sense of ominous foreboding. eg: Fear filled the boy's heart as the dog pounded on towards him.

My job was navigation. It would hardly have been a solace if I were to vocalise my discomfort, given the circumstances. So I did the only thing I could- psychologists call it the "fight or flight" mode- I made small talk. Duniya ki baatein. Random shit. We spoke of how tyre temperature affects the compund setting on F1 cars, of why the ecliptic seems to have shifted due to the gyroscopic wobble of the earth, of when the dude who taught us a common subject would wake up to the reality of mis-pronouncing the word "disc", of where the street food rates were having a downward trend. Hidden below the garb of the carefree navigator was a mind crouching in the corner of a darkened room. The road slipped cautiously beneath us as we were greeted (I'm not sure how much time later) by the fervish bobbing of torch-light. We'd made contact.

The night sky at the farm of the dude was beautiful. We were delighted to be greeted by such a quantum of intergalactic trash, usually lost in the smog overhead back home. Easily recognisable stars and constellations were now accompanied by their more shy cousins- the site and the sight seemed to be perfect. A hot chai later we were back on the road home. The apprehension that accompanied the ride to the farm had ebbed away a bit; I found myself a lot more relaxed and making conversation easily. We came around a bend and the bike skidded to a voilent halt. Rubber on the road, et al. The Grey Sith flicked the lights to high beam and back to low. He did it again. His hands left the handle and eased open the visor of the helmet. There was an intense unease in his stare. He shook his head.

The single beam of light in the night had illuminated a narrow bridge. It was sufficiently wide and seemed very much part of the road forward. "Dude, I could've sworn there wasn't a bridge on our way here". My mind had been temporarily numbed by the revelation. I hadn't seen it either. An intense battle raged between ego and logic, eventually won by the former. "Nahi yaar, tha naa, I think...". He responded with an expression of sombre superiority and deeper understanding of the mysterious world we live in. He shook his head again and stressed, "It wasn't here before- we've taken a wrong turn". That accusation was enough to trigger a "No way, this is the only road back". Dark looks were exchanged. I hadn't seen the bridge- it would have made the perfect landmark. He obviously hadn't seen it (or he shall laugh at me for the rest of time of having conned me into thinking that way and being prabhaavit and writing this post). We rode over its span, confused in unison and unsure of what to expect. Swarms of anxiety flitted across any empty pockets of the mind still uncluttered by dread.

We hit the highway soon enough and flew back in the cold winter air. I have visited the site around 5 times after our initial visit- there is of course only one road that can take me there. I have seen the bridge there evertime, eyeing me with an air of deep amusement. Many days later the Grey Sith confessed of being gripped by a similar sense of fear of the unknown that fateful evening. An emotion strong enough from preventing both of us registering the presence of the bridge that sometimes isn't there.

Read a more sensationalized account (a far more colourful account from The Sith himself ) here.

And then- look that way!

It truly feels euphoric! COEP, for the second time in two years and the third time in the last ten years has made it to the finals of Purushottam Karandak, the city's most prestigious college level drama competition. It has been around two decades since the title glimmered in the showcase at college. Under such circumstances, it feels good to know that we have a fighting chance.
So what does any of that have to do with this piece of literature? Well, I have been fortunate enough to be on that Purushottam team- and will now share what went on behind the scenes in the last few days before the first round show. The team of writers from college thought that it would help the flow of the storyline if we were to introduce a certain character who could bring out the transformation of the lead actor. And bless their holy stars (or you could wonder which cruel act of the devil led them to this juncture), they picked me. That was a gamble. With under a week to go to D-Day, it would have been catastrophic if for some reason that plan backfired. It didn't. The show went off well and I'm still alive.
So here we have an enthu newbie on stage who's horrid at acting. Well, its actually painful to see him amble, emote or simply talk on stage. In such a situation, the whole team must come to his help and lift him up from the dregs of mediocrity, self doubt and complete lack of talent. Imagine, trying to infuse talent into a 20 year old- but they did that. As I tried helplessly to learn up my lines, a hint here or a word of advice there were constantly at hand. Finally the situation got so desperate that they said
"We'll microdirect this. You learn your lines and leave the puppeteering to us"
What would otherwise have taken an accomplished stage performer no more than two hours, those poor souls tried to bring in my acting over 3 days. A brief set of instructions that I received during the course of one of our sittings follows:
Team Member: The diction is all wrong. You're not supposed to be sympathetic. You're the practical dude of the story. Hakuna Matata. You're the guy who made the NatGeo job. Bring that flamboyance and that arrogance into the role.
One: Ok, whatever that's supposed to mean??!!! Ok, I'll try. here goes.
( I try in vain. T shakes her head in despair)
T: Let's try that again shall we.
(I go at it again)
T: Never mind. Just say it the way I say it.
(and so i chirp along)
T: Okay. Now say "तू अस कस म्हनू शकतोस रे?" and then- look that way!
O: "तू अस कस म्हनू शकतोस रे?"
( this line is followed by a violent jerk of my head in the opposite direction- drawing scandalous looks from T)
T: Good
O: Yeah Right. Really?
T: That was great. Just do the same thing on stage and we'll get through this.
After similar such choreography (spiked generously with threats) I was able to not embarrass myself or the team on stage and the show went off without incident.


A jolt. A killer test. Free time. A back ache.

Perfect ingredients to instigate my insides to want to blurt on- thereby making me write a post again. I have been busy. Eighteen hour schedules; if you pretend to pretend- sleep just evades you. And now that the mood has been set for some complaining- it would seem like the right thing to do to rant on about a recent Maths lecture I had the good fortune of sitting through.

The entire discussion from this point on may be peppered with worthless insights on conventional education. It might also contain words or phrases that only the average engineering student could comprehend, even appreciate. Make no mistake, I would have it no other way.

So, Monday morning- late as usual for the 11:30 am lecture because of making the most callous of assumptions that it really only takes 14.53 minutes to make it to college from home when it really takes closer to 28. But in the face of danger (of expulsion from lecture) when witnessing the clock at home already reading 11:15, it pays to be optimistic. Let's not lose focus. Twas a Mathematics lecture and I was late. Sat down after muttering an apology I did not even mean at the most superficial level. There were strange symbols on the board. They looked to be associated with integral calculus. There were also some other unfamiliar but intimidating expressions. I chose to ignore them (for the time being). I looked over the entire board again. Nothing. Again I tried. In vain. There was just one possible explanation. I had walked into a class that clearly wasn't my year. But then all around were the same faces- exasperated, sleepy, disgusted, frustrated and simply bored. It was happening finally. The whole world was racing ahead too fast for me to keep pace with.

Twenty minutes had passed. The usual droning noise that emanated from very close to the board was now undulating with characteristic fervor. The derivation was nearing completion. But this time I thought, all hell has broken loose. What the eff is going on? How could it be that less that 24 hours ago I had registered just the prelude to this scenario but never saw the avalanche coming? How is it that the introduction of a simple exponent has now enabled the confusion etched onto the board to seem like lines of chalk alone and nothing else? Pure emptiness. Nirvana. Nirvana? It's times like these when doodling comes to the fore encapsulating the mind in all its recessive tendencies. Circles, spirals, boxes, all the albums of Pink Floyd, blotches, alphabets and anything more that could collectively fall (shamelessly) under the category creative juice were explored in the next part of the lecture. By this time of course, the differential operator and its direct consequence on what seemed to be the word "sin" was making its presence felt publicly. Sin, I thought. Is it sin not to feel even a shard of shame when the world around me is disintegrating and I'm doing nothing about it? Is is a sin that I find the two quarrelling freshers(as seen through the west window) more interesting rather than the chaos on the board? Is it a sin (Lord, tell me!) if I am able to convince myself that three weeks and two tests later all this will just be a bad dream, the contents of which I am never required to recall again?
Mind boggling mathematics. Crammed in a semester. 900 pages of text. 24 hours of survey before regurgitation. Zero utility of knowledge (under the callous assumption again that some has been gained through the course of the survey). Why man? Why can't we take this slow and steady? Why not add an extra month to the course? But no! Then that would mean a month less of vacation. One month less of absolute lethargy and negligible productivity. Instead, if that same time were used to pursue the "understanding" of a subject, imagine how much more could be delivered per individual. But come on, who needs deliverance and similar such hobnob.

And may it continue that way till nothing remains. Let us go to rest having fooled ourselves into thinking that one hundred percent is oh so synonymous with what I have done. We're all perfectly happy being mediocre.

Vive le Tour or Leave le Tour?

Again. Again. Its all that dope again. You thought it was over with Landis. You thought Rasmussen was the last of 'em. Vi-noooooooooooo! And then Beltran! Now Ricco. The champion of a monster mountain attack at 26km. The leader of the White Jersey. And latest addition to the most dubious list in Pro Cycling.

I hope the plague is not on again. Going into the Alps (the Alpe d'Huez being part of this year's edition) with just a second separating the top two contenders, a tantalising final week lies ahead. All we need now is one more positive result. One more blotch on the face of this sport. A sport that has for a hundred years personified what teamwork is all about. It has been the embodiment of sheer personal grit.

With drug use raising its ugly head again in cycling- one wonders when it will stop. Saunier-Duval have pulled out. That's a top team out halfway through the Tour. Why, why would you want a shot of EPO if you can climb like that man? Two stage wins in a week. Agreed, you're mostly skin and bones (and loads of concealed muscle), but you managed to crack the likes of Hincapie and Cadel Evans out there. I pray that was all you and not the EPO. I want to hear of a clean Tour. A hard fought tour. A fare Tour. A beautiful Tour.

Hot, Sweet and Cute

The frugal yet timely use of the above words by females all over the world in seemingly (to the male brain) unusual situations has led to my writing this. To the untrained eyes as well as ears- each of the exclamations will appear out of place; but only after sufficient deliberation (a process of self discovery) will one really appreciate the subtlety of the implications. Hot, sweet and cute make up the trident of impression and judgement as they are meted out to classify the male in question- a classification that lingers on only to ever be influenced by third party intervention or churlish cat fights.
So what exactly is required to be graded hot, sweet or for that matter cute? The answer is evasive but results of the research suggest the following:
  1. In a group of upto three girls, the first impression made on any one of them automatically becomes the default expression for the other two. This first impression must be expressed publicly for it to count. Its mere presence in the mind's eye qualifies as void.
  2. When the crowd is beyond three, your chances somewhat improve*. Once an opinion(not impression) has been made, a first level of inspection on their part is made. A series of giggles later the final judgement is passed. This judgement is considered to be unanimous in every sense and is final.
  3. Acts of service, manner of laughing, sense of dressing and accessories that accompany you are critical factors on which your HSC quotient depends.
  4. At no point in time must you try to fathom why it is that you have been associated with a particular adjective. Men have been driven as far as insanity in trying to answer such questions and have failed. Often, they find it easier to find a solution to the String Theory using celestial mechanics. Failure in this exercise brings with it repercussions that are no doubt severe. But the sheer helplessness to figure out what churns on within is a greater load to bare than not being able to solve one of the greatest Physics problems posed before mankind.
  5. There is this misconception among males that it is possible to alter the HSC quotient. Nothing you can do can ever change what you are (supposed to be). 6 packs, chiseled face blah blah blah- all worthless if you're already "sweet".
  6. Trying to be what you're not has led in many cases to incorrect branding (or so the other side say). It has to do with drastic behavioural change- what is commonly referred to as an attempt to "impress". It may momentarily be comforting to know you have earned yourself a better* tag. In the long run you will lose out in the race because they will perceive you as a "mistake"- the subconscious automatically directing the query of your whole personality to that first take!
In the final analysis what can be even called the moral of the story it would do man-kind a great deal of good to simply mind one's own business on the road and proceed to the intended destination without pausing to think. Somehow, one must learn to seal away the ears from those damned words that float over to corrupt the rational chain of thought. Or simply say:
Cocoa is Hot
Sugar is Sweet
A alarmingly large stuffed bear is (somehow) Cute
* Depends- whether you think cute is a better way of defining you that hot.
Disclaimer: All the statements that compose the body of this post are shrewd guesses and conclusions drawn on the basis of incorrect and insufficient analysis. If serious emotional scarring were to befall you due to your course of action on reading this post, the responsibility shall not be borne by the author in any way. The author of this post would like to stress on the fact that at no point of time does he understand the magical ways of the female brain. The author is also not a clinical psychologist or counsellor of any kind. If at any point of time you wish to differ with the author's opinion- feel free to do so. If you persist with your effort and try and convince the author you are right- you will lose that debate. The use of the above information in an unsupervised manner may lead to serious relationship problems. Discretion is advised.


The window of opportunity takes on new meaning when seen through the view-finder of the camera. For instance, the two photographs below were captured at just the right moment. They are exhibits in my continual efforts towards proficiency behind the camera.

1) Location: Dive Agar Beach, Konkan Coast

2) Location: Deer Park, Tirumala Hill Slopes, Karnataka.
Just won't pose!!!

My Dirty (Right) Foot

With the EURO on in full swing it inspires me (yes, I have given up the "one" tag since I realised my meagre vocabulary and dismal grammar do not permit such a luxury) to tell a tale about my exploits on a football pitch. But before that some key facts:
  • Approximate age at which intentional contact was first made with a football: 7 yrs (direct result being loss of 2 incisors- I was going for a header!!!)
  • Time for which I have been playing proper football: Around 3 years
  • Goals scored: none
  • Goals defended*: lost count

Being completely devoid of even an iota of skill, I often bank upon factors such as sheer dumb luck and opposition mistakes to justify my presence on the field. A direct fallout of this is that I tend to use the right foot more than my left in attempts to change the direction of rolling or movement (forget about dribbling people!!) of the ball. Hence on rainy days the right shoe is a lot dirtier when I get home. As a result of my phenomenal ball control I was assigned to the defensive line up as a full back. Eventually realising that this was still a major liability- "Tu ja goalie ban le". I was of course elated. Finally I had been accepted(pooh!). I had made myself a place, a niche even!(No one else was interested). So began my journey.

*Goals defended: Lost count Well, as my journey at the line began (I wouldn't move much, was generally never tired and would constantly bark instructions which bounced off the walls of the closest cement structure), it became evident that there was a spark there. Once in every ten goals scored through my guard, the ball would graze against some part of my body, causing it to deflect away from the intended target. A collection of all such instances are called saves. There have been innumerable such saves but not everyone endorses the above definition. They believe the GD count should be a bold zero.

The Road Ahead: You do realise I was made for this game. Therefore out of complete pity (read as utter awe in the light of skills displayed) I am occasionally allowed to sniff the midfield grass nowadays and often receive pats on the back for passing the ball to the right player. People even cheer if any pass ensuing from my (right, obviously) foot even sniffs the D-top. I see myself going a long way- a long way ahead!

Sweet Car-ess

Pedestrians face newer and bolder challenges nowadays on the streets. Wet streets, coupled with one crazy amateur on four wheels means that Life Insurance is now mandatory or your children suffer!!!

Only last evening, to add to the latest list of possibly tragic casualties, a rather plump woman had her ear nicked- literally- when the side view mirror of the car one was driving hit her (she was appreciably short; still not a strong enough eason to get a "kaan ke niiche"). The horrifying thrill of being behind the wheel gets accentuated when mortals wander too close or too fast. Complete apparent loss of control(the car is in [expletive] gear) is the emotion that comes to the fore and last evening was no different. "Stay Calm", Yeah right!; worthless advice- some poor soul is gonna see the light soon and stay calm is the best thing anyone can come up with. Why not try something like "TURN [EXPLETIVE] LEFT YOU MORON, CAN'T YOU SEE YOU'RE VEERING TO THE RIGHT TOO MUCH???!@!&*&#^*&#". Then again it depends who you have in the advice chair. Some fascinating scenarios (One has personally never been in the midst of any of the following, but the reaction would be no different; if fate ever is kind enough) have been concocted below:

1) The smartest kid in college:
Smart Guy: We're all gonna die.
One: Shut up!
SG: What was anyone playing with when they gave you the car?
One: I said shut the [expletive] up!
SG:{horrified expression} You just used a bad word!!
One: Nappy pants....
SG: I wan't out now
One: Fine, jump to your death then
{In the meanwhile, two pedestrians have almost been shown the door and a cyclist is having a tough time coming to terms with his possible recent paralysis}

2) A leading dermatosurgeon
Doc: Do you know you have blackheads on your nose? My clinic offers excellent treatment
One: Dumbass, the end is near- say your prayers!
Doc: Post traumatic scars can often be as damaging as the injury itself. Why not consider Lucid Cream- complete skin solutions.
One: Which part of 'you're gonna be wiped off the face of the earth' don't you understand???
Doc: Don't fight it. Acceptance is the first step
{Both the occupants of the motorised vehicle have, well, they've gone over- overboard that is; through the windshield!!. What's up, Doc??}

3) Avnish(*)
A: Enthu, tula kay vattay, exactly kay trajectory asel tya kutryachi. I mean exactly how high should he be hit so that he'll land in the lap of the dame at the end of the lane.
One: Dunno man.. Tu sang
A: Ajun thoda straighten kar. Then floor her (the car I mean) and just before impact turn on the wipers!
One: Righto captain.
{Showing complete lack of sense that is supposed to be so common among those of the human race, the car actually accelerates down a narrow country lane- all for the benifit of science. The guiding philospophy- a greater good is being pursued and the dame was overweight anyway}
*=>Avnish : Sorry about your explicit mention but often when gears are changed, one wonders whether its all that mechanically viable in the current scheme of things! [:P]}

So the final statistics seem to appear somewhat like this:
  • The odds that in walking for 1 km on Pune roads you will break a bone in your body= 15:1
  • The odds that what you break keeps you in bed(not the lucky laid type)= 5:1
  • The odds that the above case may be inflicted upon you with my addition to traffic= 50:1
  • The net change in your fortune= almost none

Its all as safe as it was before this post- if you consider a continual fight for survival as safe. Godspeed!

The I P L Song

With the Kings on top and Royals close behind
It seemed like sun would set as everyday
But there came a topple as the seam sang a tune
Theres more to the IPL than the willow's way
A ton rained on Mumbai Gilly giggle Gilly ho
And the Chargers could only adore
Yet it bodes that after all those drinks
The Challengers are hung over as before
With a slap on the map and a minus eleven cap
Theres no love lost among brothers
Riders of the Knight stranded in daylight
Punjab played on the problems of others
Daredevils play their their stunts soon it'll be a month
Of when Baa was displaced from her slot
At 158 Mc Cullum would have been proud
The K truly has officially lost its plot
Move over golden ball move over before a fall
Time wounds all heels, yeah even yours
They'll sing of a green with a pitch in between
And small childern will count six and fours
A snobbish British passtime will reign supreme
Yankees will cheer for a popcorn and beer
The only thing better than Kidman in the shower
Is a ball thats swept of the boundary clear!


The Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope at Khodad just outside of Narayangaon is one of those things that remind you of how smart mankind really is. Thirty monstrous dishes stand over 25 kilometers as they map the most intricate details of the Universe covering a cosmic expanse measuring millions of light years across. Neither the heat nor the dust storm blowing across the arid landscape managed to deterr the twenty odd students of our Astro Club from surveying all the details of the Antennas and control rooms.

As humour continued to ooze from the heat affected and academically tortured souls, the miracles of science had given way to a classic spoof of an advertisement on TV. The complete form is given below:

But the visit was also special because of a marvellous photo-op just before packing up. A small lotus bed lies just beyond the entrance. And it was here that nature was at her quiet best.

Photo Concept: Abba; Execution : One

A small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse

With the semester finally ridding itself of various levels of ugly vermin, the time had come once again to look heavenwards for yet another session of mingling with the bigger players. Patient research and complete lack of any source of self occupation had driven PK and his mates years ago into roaming barren country lanes for photonal solace. Finally, after some effort it seems they managed to locate at a distance of 40 kms from the city the perfect spot for astronomical exploits.

The maddening seclusion of this place really hits one when the sun dips down and the all consuming darkness remains true to its name. On a virtually moonless night (1/3rd phase- rising late at 0400) the soft shadows on the dusty earth were testament of what promised to be a fulfilling session of star gazing. For the shadows were inspired to existence by not the usual hazy blips in the night sky but sharp and majestic balls of hot gases that roared away an incomprehensible distance away. Tales of travel through the unknown occasionally flitted in and out as Betelgeuse set early in the evening setting up the stage for a magical night.

But the awestruck, the bored, the BTDT, the sleepy all looked forward to that late night shot of masala chai to keep spirits and eyelids high. So an attempt was made to light a fire. In the ensuing 45 minutes the few of us assigned this historic task realised why we need whirlwind geniuses every fifty years- because even after having gone through two assignments in Infinite Series as fuel (we hoped the frustration in the pages would feed the hungry fire more but were saddened to know that elements don't hold grudges when one really needs them to) the common man had learnt to make fire but not control it.

"... and news brought to you here on the sub-etha wave band, broadcasting around the galaxy around the clock," squawked a voice, "and we'll be saying a big hello to all intelligent life forms everywhere... and to everyone else out there, the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys"

And so three brave soldiers tried their hand (at a safe distance) to conquer and control that beasty rage and the volley of suggestions/ instructions to fill the cool night air were somewhat like this:

One: Arre yaar, ye kaise kaam dete hain hame.. Chai banao.. Useless [expletive]s. Chal main thoda lakdi dhoond lata hoon.
Sith: The trick is to keep the fire going... Just wait till the wood takes heat and then watch it burn.
Guru Diplomat: hmmm....[thoughtful amused look]
One: Here... now where's that lighter.. Ah yes.. Here goes
[Crackling sounds are heard in the background. The unmistakable smell of burning paper fills the air]
Sith: Shit! paper burns really fast!
Guru: Thoda vo dry grass try karte hain
Sith: Excellent.. We'll feed it like one of those coal furnaces.
[An envelope of smoke has now, well- enveloped the entire school courtyard where the mission is taking place- soft sounds of coughing from the hut nearby puncture the pristine silence of the night]
One: Vo kuch to oxygen ka problem rahega... More paper
[The last few lines of Assignment II are reduced to embers. Twenty minutes have passed and the water is showing no signs of agitation]
One: Apun kya karte.. [cough.. splutter..choke.. tears from eyes] aur thoda ladki marke dekhte hain]
Guru: You're going about this all wrong...[huffs and puffs and brings the straw to red hot state]
[entry of GPA gollum.. news from the paddock.. the concoction must be hot and palpable in ten minutes time]
Guru: Abhi dekho...main ye jalata hoon.. sab ekdum mast ho jayega.. [three pieces of traditional dried dung cakes are now fed into the frenzy.. the smoke and the plot both thicken]
Sith: Whats happening is that were not able to maintain fire temperature... [dips finger in water to test situation] 60 degrees... we have very little time.. it seems we'll have to feed the folks lukewarm tea
One: Are vo pani ke surface pe kala kala kya hai?
Guru: Straw paper and baki cheezon ka jala hua usme ud gaya hai..
Sith: No worries [grabs a sieve.. fishes out the debris] In this kinda temperatue no bacteria can survive.
Guru:[Nodding in agreement]
One:[Expression unclear]
Sith:[Elated at his own revelation]
One: They're here... I can see them coming.
Sith: Quick.. grab the premix and pour it in.. Before its too late.
[Estimated water temperature after an hour of exercise commencement- 80 degrees]
Guru: Main mix karta.. tu glass leke aa
[Sith obeys obediently]
One: Saala, chai ka rang aa gaya... kuch smell bhi aa raha hai..
Sith:[Visibly releived and glowing] I told you this would work
Guru: Itna udd mat.. We have not tasted it yet
One: Haan
Sith:[Mixed expression of anxiety and excitement] It'll be brilliant, I'm telling you
[By this time what remains below the vessel is a mound of ash and embers. There is confusion to the onlookers whether its the surface of the tea that is giving off heat or the smoke in all is glory. We're obviously pushing for the former case]
Sith:OY COME ON.. Chai is ready

And in this fashion potential poisoning was avoided and no deaths have been reported till this time. Opinions regarding the actual thing have been omitted from this post for the sheer number of [expletive]s used in the conversation that followed. A perfect end!!!