Friday, October 16, 2009

The lost symbol- A review.

Doesn't this book cover look enticing?:P

I've always wondered why it's taken Dan Brown six odd years to pen another book.Angels and Demons was a very different read, yet engrossing in a way Da Vinci put him in the limelight in a big way. It was a great book, probably one of the best ever written. So one would definitely wonder, what was with the hiatus?

But as you read the Last Symbol, you'd really appreciate the amount of research into symbology, science, and art. The attention to detail is probably more captivating than his previous books.
The thing with Dan Brown is, even though he has drawn onto him, a fair share of criticism from cynics, who i think are just jealous of his writing skills, The Lost Symbol, like it's predecessors, will encourage some healthy debate among the masses.

The Characters-
Robert Langdon- His usual mystical self, now a bit more famous as a result of his previous escapades.His brain tinkering with symbology and it's different forms, interpreting shit where others probably don't see shit:). And always on the move. When he's toying with symbols, it's almost as though the reader is inside him, rooting for him. And considering that Mr Dan Brown ideas for about 12 future books featuring Langdon, i can't fathom the realm of possibilities.
I despise the theory of relativity even more!!

Mal'akh- This guy reminds me of Kevin Spacey in 'Seven'. No brutality to that extent though. Nevertheless, he is a genius in every sense, and often will baffle you as you read. But seriously, he's the weakest character in the book, even though in a sense, he's very mystical. You'll know as you read.:)

Peter Solomon- A brilliant man, very well cultured, 'Rich' in every sense. A man of immense power, A Mason of the highest degree, who's very passionate about his Brotherhood and the boundaries he draws about the extents he can go to in the interest of his Brotherhood. This book revolves around him.

Katherine Solomon- An amazing scientist, doing research on things that will change the way Mankind portrays Science. Her character reminds me of Sophie Neveu. Strong motivations and intentions, and that's all i'll say.

Warren Bellamy- He doesn't have that big a role to play. But he doesn't disappoint.

Sato- A C.I.A dame, you think a 4 feet 11 inch frame is not imposing, think again:P

This novel is on par with Da Vinci, if not better. There will be a few WTF's, but more whoa's , but the epilogue is very captivating. It evokes Imagery that even Da Vinci couldn't. This book is not about Symbology, art, science, God or Humans. It is something more.

As you read, you realise the amount of homework Brown's done with this. The only weak part is the character of Mal'akh, but all great books have weak characters.
The thing with good reads is that the characters never disappoint, the plots never goes astray. Be it Godfather, The Harry Potter series or The Fist of God, the plots have all been page turners.
As you read the final chapters, you'll applaud the book for what it is, and smile to yourself because, Dan Brown has pulled it off again.

P:S- Happy Diwali people, do read the book. You surely will see the 'light' in all this 'darkness'

Sunday, October 11, 2009

class trip, part 2:)

Before i proceed with my ramblings on the Mallali falls part of the trip, I'd like to mention a little joke our class guys shared before boarding ze bus. We had decided that the best we could do with the leftovers from food was to feed them to the dogs there:). We then observed how them scavengers savagely gulped down curd rice, with absolutely no regard for table manners.
Someone decided that the pickle shouldn't go to waste, so we left it in the open and joked about how the dogs would have loose stools for months:).
It was a good laugh, and even now, remembering that incident always brings a smile to my face. So much so that, i even do so in the most boring of classes, when i'm not playing bingo, staring at my watch or pretending to listen.
It was almost around 4 odd when we left the pushpagiri base. Just about 3km to Mallali, but we managed to reach only by 4.45, the reason for which is-

1) Our very experienced driver-bhai-saab, whose driving skills were almost obsolete in every sense.
2) The roads, which were mighty fine in that there was hardly a road:)
3) The 'placing a stone behind the rear wheel' method, which i've mentioned in the previous post. 4) He tried convincing us that the brake doesn't work if he doesn't drive in first gear on a down slope.

We stopped the bus about 3 km from the falls, at the only 'homely' home in the vicinity. A coorgi uncle told us that it was hardly a 2km trek. But one thing i've learnt in these places is that
'x' km= '2x' km:)
The trek was through some dense forest. The trail was clearly marked, very wide, mainly because of incessant usage by four wheel drives (who am i kidding). A while into our descent, there were two paths diverged in the green woods. Adhip and myself did not take the one less travelled by, and that did make all the difference:P. However, the others somehow managed to do so, and didn't realise they did for quite a while. (more on this later)
We could now hear the water roaring. I didn't have any expectations from these falls. It's not very well known, it's very remote, and hard to reach. However, I must say that it's quite a sight.

I've seen the Niagara up close in all its glory. But everytime I close my eyes and try conjuring up a vivid Image, my memory fails me. This is not the case with Mallali. It's sight is so mystical, with mountains in the background, Steep rock faces, Mist cover, The tree cover, and the clouds floating just above. An absolute beauty. In a way, the remoteness of this place actually makes it more mystical. Marvellous place to visit. A must.It's really a shame it's not promoted that well. But then again, isn't Niagara all about hype? I definitely think so. I regret us not having gone there in the morning itself.
It was getting dark, Nearly around 5:30 when we got a view of Mallali. It really doesn't seem like a 62 m drop! Bite me. I wanted to take in every moment. It was almost as though I didn't know where to look, at the roaring water, or the clouds above, the mist floating across, slowly covering the falls in a blanket, as if to say- You don't deserve to watch:)

A farmer nearby said that no one had crossed his path apart from the few of us. This was worrying. About twenty from our class had apparently gone the wrong way. (the detour at the beginning). Another very adventurous fellow decided to go descend further down, by making his own paths and inviting his own doom. I'm sure i'm speaking for everybody when i say that we were more tensed than we'd be during exams.
Meanwhile, Bus-driver-macha cantered along from the distance and told us that the Bus was stuck in slosh. The rear wheel was giving us heat. So, only one word now being processed by us.

About five of us struggled uphill towards the bus, and to our horror, considered coming to terms with the impending doom, and make alternate arrangements.
Around seven odd, the girls were back from their other 'trip', they did get to see the falls!( good for em). So a burden off our shoulders. But we kept wondering about the whereabouts of adventurous fellow. (Not using his name).
To our relief, he was back! And soon he found himself at the receiving end of some serious wrath,that went something like this-
#@^@HOGE@#$^@FUCK#%R@^@! THNK@# @@#$!!!!!!

Our bus was going nowhere. Nature had decided to fuck with us:). Our bus driver had a few ideas which he failed to implement. Now i was prepared for the worst. It was pitch dark, so Adarsh and myself decided to walk the girls back to that 'homely' home, and arrange for a tow truck or tractor. Adrenalin was pumping hard. We tried to act all Manly and fearless, but in reality, we were peeing in our pants!
But to our relief, the other ec boys managed to use some logic with inertia and momentum and the bus was released. So on we hopped onto the bus, joking about our little mis-adventure and how easily it could've screwed us up. We finally reached mysore by around eleven, and I soon realised that the comfort of sleep is more joyful than 'beauty' in any form:)

Conclusions and lessons learnt-
1) Life's a bitch sometimes
2) Life is fun sometimes.
3) Don't fuck with nature, it'll fuck you harder.
4) You give the term 'beauty' many meanings, and derive many meanings, but when you're actually encapsulated in something so real and fresh, you take in every moment. That's because you know 'beauty' when you see it
5) some memories are meant to be preserved forever, whilst some aren't:)
6) You try drawing a line between reality and frugality.
7) Paisa Vasool. 275 RS/- per head. Including 400 extra that we ended up paying driver for exorbitant diesel usage.
8) Laughter is contagious:)
9) Stray dogs copulate like rats! Someone please introduce contraceptives:P
10) The western ghats are out of this world.

P:S- Blogger's been acting like a bitch, so this post is still incomplete. Next post- missing parts.

Monday, October 5, 2009

class trip, part 1:)

On 13th September, about twenty six of us assembled in front of the college in a window of time extending from 4:30 to about 6:30 a.m. I guess the i don't have to mention punctuality or its different forms here. Our bus was late! And the driver sucked! He looked very inexperienced. (more on him later).

This time, we planned and actually worked things out just two days beforehand. All of us needed a break, and bad! I'm sure I'd be speaking for everyone here. Anything away from the clutter of the city works for me.

By the time we actually left Mysore, it was a little past seven. The plan we kept simple. A "trek" to the Pushpagiri peak and then a visit to Mallali falls, both in the district of Somwarpet, bordering Coorg.

On the bus, I realised there's no way to escape the chaos associated with antakshari, and so called 'introductions' at the front of a bus, and excuses for ragging. Something like mano-a-mano but more like many against one. It was so much fun. Imitating teachers, speaking about varied interests from alcohol, boyfriends,crushes, food, parents, pit-stops to answer nature's call, and even discussing about our uncertain futures. I think i should save all that for another post titled embarrassment:D. We stopped for breakfast at the bank of the gorgeous cauvery.
Shavige upit and kesari bath for breakfast:). Our first tryst with wilderness was a snake gliding effortlessly in the water. It was quite a sight especially for me, for i hadn't seen a snake in quite a while. Unfortunately, we couldn't take a pic. (You know how it is with these river currents:P).


We finished breakfast around ten odd, and it was another two hours before we reached the base. 40km in 2 hrs. Do the Maths:P So that's how bad the road was. At one bend, the road was cut off, probably because of incessant rains, and replaced by a few rocky patches, and stones placed cruelly on some slick mud, as if to say, here's your road:P. Our bad-ass driver was persistant not to continue forward. He even made it a point never to return again on this torrid road. What did he expect? A four lane highway through a ghat section?

On the way.

Apparently driver-macha frequents the Ooty route. But this is tough, no? After much insistance, he agreed to drive. On some steep sections, we were forced to push the bus using that 'placing a rock beneath the back tire' method. Ironical, considering we paid him to drive.:P
It was around 11.30 when we arrived at the base. It was a beautiful place. I'm sure these pictures don't do any justice. One doesn't look around and see the colour green in its different forms in all directions. This is a rarity, considering the colours we associate every other day, are to do with the city and it's incessant clutter.

Near the base

So here we were, at the base, ready for our trek. 8km to the peak, our guide said. Impossible shit! In the interest of the class ( In the interest of the girls), We decided (by we, i mean the 'tribe') to trek for about two hours and return back. The trek was not steep intially, but about halfway through, it was imminent that time was not on our side.
Pushpagiri peak in the distance.

The 'tribe' about 2.5 km from the peak

Meanwhile, the others who decided not to climb were having a gala time near the base. Some reptiles and amphibians were spotted:p

A pit viper- Anyone knows which sub-species?
( Photo courtesy Anjan Bhat K)


One thing i'd like to mention during the ascent. My mind wandered a bit over what would happen to someone who's meandering about alone, and is lost in the wilderness. Humans always hook onto something, anything that can give them hope, can boost their survival instincts. So i wondered, what if one is stuck here for days? From where will he pry some hope?. My body shuddered over the possibilities.
Respect doesn't come easily. But right then, it shot right up my ass!:P

So like i said, it was getting late, soin the interest of the 'class', we began our descent, Only to find out later about the slack our skin took from all the leeches. Those sons of bitches hold on for dear life. Where the fuck is the respect?:P
At about three odd, we were back at the base. The 'tribe', which i'm proud to say had a dame too (though i couldn't find a pic with her in it), got a round of applause from the rest of the clan. Only the mighty god knows why.
Over lunch, we talked about leeches, nature, the very sweet waters of the stream and what not.
Then we gave the leftovers to stray dogs, got back on the bus, and began our journey for the mystical Mallali falls. A journey it was indeed.

Well, that's for part 2.