Thursday, 26 March 2009

Of exciting drinks, irritating mouse and switching gears between legs!

When I was at kindergarten, the teachers used to make all the children recite the names of months, counting numbers, maths tables, rhymes, colours and days of the week. The entire class of small, cute kids dressed in pretty uniforms and small shoes with long blue socks used to shout out whatever was taught at the top of their voices – it was kind of fun. Particularly, when reciting the days of the week, the expression on almost every child would be the same – “Sunday” would be told with so much of excitement and the tone would immediately turn sober for “Monday”. “Tuesday”, “Wednesday” and “Thursday” would be expressionless while “Friday” would have some cheerfulness. The day which would get the maximum voice and happiness would always be the last – “Saturday”. Every one of us would scream it on the top of our voice with a smile on the face.

Now, even after almost twenty years, I find that this feeling about weekend has not changed at all. Working at the IT industry makes the five day work week seem so boring, dull and routine. It is the same everyday – work, deadlines, meetings, etc. The excitement in life comes only on weekends. It is that time when we rediscover our lives. Sometimes I feel the whole industry just slogs and dies the five weekdays making money so that they can “live” for the two days that follow.

I spend most weekends relaxing at the cool comforts of my home and spending time with my loved ones. There would be so many other things planned for the week but the ones that finally executed would be the ones which excite me the most – reading that long-pending novel, watching the much- awaited movie, buying stuff waiting to be bought from a long time, and so on.

Last weekend was really fun. On Saturday, our gang of office friends met up at a colleague’s place for a small get together. Though his house was very far from my place, the exciting time spent along with a cool, icy apple drink on the way made it a memorable experience. The gang arrived late but we did manage to have a lot of fun. The lunch that we had at a nearby Andhra restaurant was spicy, economical and very filling – all of us hit the bed at our friend’s place and tried to catch a small nap as soon as we got back.

I had plans of buying a new desktop system for use at home, particularly for Ultra’s use for a long while now. In fact, most of the official time during the last week was spent surveying the probable and economical configurations which could be bought. Finally, I had narrowed it down to a particular configuration and planned to buy the same on Saturday. However, the delay in returning from the morning trip added with the Saturday night traffic at the heart of the city denied me a chance to make it to the computer store on time, leaving me disappointed and frustrated. But nevertheless, the exciting moments earlier in the day far outweighed the disappointment of not buying the computer. There was always a Sunday to do that. That’s the best part about weekends – if something you plan doesn’t happen on a Saturday, there’s always a Sunday to finish it :)

So, we (Ultra and me) headed to the city center very early on Sunday to buy the computer. It is interesting to note here that Ultra woke up early on a Sunday which he would never have done even if he had exams the next day. I guess, that’s the difference between passion and compulsion – the same reason which makes most of us shudder about a Monday morning. So, we headed to a nice shop and finally bought a very high end computer home – a long pending task was done. The only thing that remained was setting it all up.

We both finished our lunch in no time and headed staright for the computer setup. We thought we would finish in no time and play some games or test the huge monitor with some nice videos. But that was not to be. Some basic issue with the mouse and display hampered our speed. Finally with the help of our cousins, who too paid a surprise visit in the afternoon, we managed to boot up the brand new system.

I thought I would relax the whole evening after so much activity. But a sudden invitation came from school buddy Kulla for a dinner party which I would not miss at any cost – I would get a nice dinner for free and a chance to spend time with my close friends.

Soon, In found myself at Oie’s place doing what I love to do the most – drinking the trademark masala tea his mom prepares. There were six of us – Kulla, VSB, Oie, Tosi, gunda and me for the treat. It looked like it was going to rain so we took Gunda’s Maruti Esteem Car. Gunda drove and I sat in navigator’s seat. I really don’t know how the rest of the four managed to sqeeze in the back seats. But we had a nice time chatting while Gunda drove. We took the Uttarahalli road to reach Kanakpura Road and there were a lot of speed breakers. We had planned to visit “Holiday Village” a resort kind of restaurant off Kanakpura Road.

We reached the place at around 7 and settled down in our seats. It was a nice ambience covered with coconut leaves and there was swimming pool nearby. It seems they had a few games like TT, carrom which we could play for free and also snooker if we paid some money. But we dint have time for all that. We just got started with the food and juice. The food was good ans the service was ok. They took a lot of time to get the items but we dint mind it as we had a lot of stories to share. There was a professional who sang songs over there and to cater to a large hindi crowd, all he sang were some old bollywood songs. We wanted him to sing some nice kannada songs too and Tosi even went to him and requested for one. But he disappointed us.

Going back home was the best part of the day. Courtesy of some “big shots”, I got to drive Gunda’s Esteem car for the first time. I have driven only a few cars till now like the Omni, WagonR and Alto. So I felt this was the nicest that I have ever driven. The low suspension and the smart engine make driving this car a pleasure. This time, only three people sat at the back owing to full tummies and both Oie and Gunda managed to squeeze in the front of the car. We thought we will avoid the bumpy Uttarahalli road and instead took the NICE road – it was the ultimate drive ever. I was in fifth gear in no time at all and managed to touch an overwhelming speed of 140 kmph. I enjoyed every moment of it. And even at such high speed, there was not even a little bit of vibration which made the drive a pleasure. We were tempted to go on and on. Some of us even suggested we drive till Ramanagar and have coffee at midnight and come back. But since we had to go back to office the next day, we decided against it. Nevertheless, the drive was so much fun and a great experience. The funniest part of it was that Gunda was sitting with his legs around the gear and whenever I had to shift gears, I had to awkwardly place my hands in between :)

I reached home late night after a lot of chatting with them and hit the bed right away. One more exciting weekend had come to an end. I was now prepared for a hectic work week ahead knowing that I had lived my life fully during the weekend. The next morning, it was the same old Monday morning blues and the mundane office work but the joys and memories of the exciting weekend kept flashing in my mind all the while – like they have been doing all these years.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


I have had this post in mind for quite a long time now. I thought I would publish this atleast in time for “International Women’s Day” which happened last week. Even that did not happen. Finally, comforting myself that it is always better late than never, I am posting this piece:

A girl from my office is also my travel mate in cab. The other day we were having this discussion about salary in relation to tax and investments. I was telling her that in spite of both of us having the same base pay, she would get more salary at the end of the month because the government favored the fairer sex. Her immediate reaction was defense. She said that there were hardly a few number of female employees in the organization and the government was giving extra sops only to encourage more women in this field.

I nodded in agreement with this. It was indeed a good thing that the government gave a higher tax rebate for women. After all the sufferings the entire womankind has gone through for so many years, their efforts, dedication and hardwork were finally bearing results. They have endured so much pain, insult and wicked advances by lechers in this male-dominated society to finally establish themselves. I have seen so many women who have struggled and put up with so much of hardship just for the comfort and well being of their loved ones – Ma being one of them. They sacrifice their happiness to ensure that we are happy. No wonder then that behind every successful man, is a woman. I really admire them for their gentle, yet hardworking; caring, yet ambitious attitude.

But there was one another thing that the girl said that set me thinking – the number of females in the organisation is less and that’s one reason the taxes are reduced for them. This set me thinking. Do numbers really matter? To an extent, I felt yes. This is just to make all the ladies in office comfortable that their ratio is not too less. But apart from that, it really does not matter. In fact, after much thought, I felt that being less in number was actually good for the girls. You ask me why? Read on...

The lesser the number of girls, the more attention each one gets. Each girl is observed closely by many colleagues – the way they talk, their dressing style, their attitude – eveything. Seeking attention is one of the basic requirement of any human being – especially woman. So being less in number actually helps them – the teams look forward to having them in their projects; the guys look forward to get a chance to talk to them, probably ask them out; the ocassional mistakes that they make are not noticed as much as the others’ and they are always given first preference when requests are serviced. Their concerns and thoughts get voiced more easily than the bulk of the male colleagues. Aren’t all these things good ? Besides they get lots of choices as compared to their male counterparts. Add to this, the tax rebate that they get, the poor guy in office ends up feeling that girls have an unfair advantage over the guys.

Even after all these advantages the woman at workplace enjoys, and rightly so, I still feel that womankind as a whole are not given their true share. Nature has bestowed the power of creation to them. But the ever insecure male clan has always subjected women to harassment and pain. There are so many cases of crime against women these days, even in the so-called cultured and educated households. Atleast, this is slowly changing. I wish the change happens faster and we get to see a better world where women are treated with respect and care. I take this opportunity to thank all the women who have helped me be what I am today. Belated women’s day wishes

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Between Black and White

Today is Holi – the festival of colours. To each one of you I wish a very dazzling and a colourful holi. May all the hues of life make the world surrounding us a wonderful and joyous place to live in.

Between White and Black lie all the colours. And when I think of the colours on this special day, I am reminded of an adventure trip that I had been to a few days back along with the closest of my friends which got back the colours in my otherwise monochromatic life like no other in the recent days. I wanted to share the details of the trip from so many days and what better day to share than “Holi” day? So here goes:

Title of the Trip : White water Rafting in the Black river

Venue : River Kali – between Supa dam and Ambikanagar dams – Dandeli, Uttara Kannada district

How did we get there : Dandeli is 481 km by road from Bangalore. We took the NH4 from Bangalore to Dharwad ( via Tumkur, Chitradurga, Davangere, Haveri, Hubli) and then SH28 from Dharwad to Dandeli via Haliyal. In Dandeli, we went to “Jungle Lodges and Resorts Limited” to book rafting tickets. The car journey in itself qualifies for a post which will be put up shortly.

Date : 28 February 2009

Total Time : 3 hours (1.5 hours travel + 1.5 hours rafting)

The Team : Gunda, Oie, Tosi, Mama along with navigator Kishen

Cost : Rs. 1300/ per head
Photos : at the left side of this page

Verdict : Totally worth it! Must do for any adventure lover.

The river Kali in Uttara Kannada district is one of those elite rivers in India which defies the normal trend of flowing eastwards. It rises in western ghats and flows westwards towards the Arabian Sea. Kali is the name of a Hindu Godess but the literal sanskrit meaning of the word is “BLACK”. The name is derived from the dark colour of this river attributed to the manganese mineral in these area. The speed of this river is overwhelming and this has led to many dams being constructed along its short course to tap the energy in water and convert it to electricity - Supa, Ambikanagar, Kadra, Kodsalli, etc

The fast flowing river has many rapids at various points across its flow and our rafting trip covered eight such rapids. I was initially very apprehensive about this activity as I have heard rapids are very dangerous. After the trip I came back and did my own research to find out that rapids are divided into classes from one to six, with six being the fastest and most dangerous. Even the most experienced rafters/ swimmers would not survive in such a rapid. I had not known this before. Only thing that I knew then was that I was with a team with whom I was most comfortable and close since childhood. The kind of understanding we had for each other by being good friends since high school days was enough to prepare us for the most dangerous rapids.

We were taken in a jeep to the start point where a raft and navigator was ready for us. They put protective life jackets and helmets and gave us our paddles. We then entered into the river with the raft, little aware what awaited us next. The navigator gave us instructions on how to row forward, backward, get in the raft, sit out, and most importantly – synchronise with each other. We were even pushed out of the raft into the 50 feet deep water for sometime to relieve us of our fear of water and to test the life jackets. We sat in our rafts and rowed towards the first rapid….

Then it came. The first of the eight – the most dangerous, adventurous of them all. I now understand that it was a class 3 rapid. But all I remember of it was the white water gushing in our raft so quickly, engulfing everything in sight and loud, thrilling screams from all of us. This was called Eddie’s beard.

The second rapid was called stitch or division. Stitch because of the treacherous rocks which cause a stitch if we fall there; Division because the river divided into two streams at that point. Did we take the easier stream? We will never know. Then cam the third and fourth – Klaus swim and Stanley’s Squeeze. We just flowed along. It was fun. There was dense green forest on either sides of the river. There were some trees that grew in the middle of the water and our navigator was managing it well by controlling the direction while we rowed. There was this other team of rafters who managed to splash water on us from their paddles. We tried revenge – but could not get it right.

The vegetation got thicker and many bushes started obstructing the flow of the raft. It was here we encountered the fifth rapid. It was called “Garden Gate” and rightly so. The next rapid was truly amazing – “Garden of Eden”. It was in the truest sense of the word – milky white water flowing, lush green vegetaion on either side, just the twitter of birds and canopy all around. Not a single sign of human inhabitation around. This was indeed heaven on earth. It was sad that we had to keep our cameras back. But nature’s miracles had to be enjoyed naturally! The seventh rapid was called “Leopard hole”. All the rapids after the first one were relatively easy and negotiable. This one was no exception. We were again pushed into water for some time to float around for a while. It was here that we learned that crocodiles might be around.

The eighth and the final rapid was the most memorable and exciting of the lot. It was called “Smuggler’s Trove”. It was a class 2 rapid or so. But the most exciting feature here was we were made to row against the stream – not once but four exhilirating times. Each time with a different combination among we four sitting at the front. What we had to do was tough – row and row fast enough against the stream to counter the speed of the rapid and then jump back into the raft and stay there till the speeding water kicked us back into normal direction. There was a chance that the raft could topple. But we did not care. Each time, we rowed along with vigour and met the water head on and enjoyed the kick it gave us. The time where Tosi and Gunda sat at the front was the most exciting and the raft almost toppled – it was the moment of the trip for us. Somehow we manged to get back. The other team’s raft toppled and nature had taken revenge on our behalf :)

We rowed to the endpoint now hoping to find some animals. It was quiet for a while and all of a sudden, our navigator scared the devils out of us by making a loud noise with his paddle. We thought it was a crocodile and panicked while he had his share of laughter.

We finsihed the rafting adventure trip having had so much fun. We had dared to accomplish one of the toughest and costliest adventure sport. Most people would term it as conquering the river. But it is not the river that was conquered. It was just our fear of rafting in the river which had been allayed. In between the black of the river and white of the flow, we had found so many colourful memories that we would treasure for a long while.

PS: Crocodiles do not live near rapids. They are found only near dams. The whole crocodile story was added by Kishen just for the thrill of it. But you never know until you go and find out for yourself :)