Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Over a cup of tea!

It's been an hour since I got back home. Here I am, sitting in front of the computer and blasting away. A cup of tea in one hand, the other on the keyboard. My eyes are stretched, mostly because it isn't easy writing a 3 hour paper. But yet, I sporadically glance at the t.v and catch up on some good tennis. Federer was in action a while back and was leading 2 sets to nil, but soon, Rain battered the court and the covers were pulled over. There was a clear demarcation between the grey and blue areas of the sky. What's the use seeing something beautiful on t.v, i wonder, when we aren't actually there to see it in person and 'map' some glorious images in our mind. There is something about the orange of the clay that fascinates me. It gives Tennis, passion and competitiveness a whole new meaning. 
Last night, When I was actually supposed to study for today, I decided to catch Rafa Nadal in action. There's something about the way he plays that reflects on my mood swings. When he loses, that's a bad day for me!
When he wins and bites into those trophies, My day is made. I feel happy, fresh and steadfast. 
'Brighter than a thousand suns' is blasting full on. It is such a relevant song about war and it's complications. I especially like the lines

                                 Whatever would Robert have said to his God
                                                     About he made war with the Sun
                                                    E equals MC squared, you can't relate
                                                      How we made God with our hands.

 The song enters its riff sequence, and I finish my tea. Over the guitar solos and clatter of tennis balls being struck, I clearly catch the use of obsene kannada phrases out on the street. Out there in the park outside my window, The kids are endlessly playing cricket. They obviously play with money at stake. Beside the park, A couple of senior citizens are taking a walk, mindless of the profane language usage. On the top of my CPU, the ADSL modem is perpetually blinking. I am now reminded that I only have only three exams to ago, and then I'm an engineer! It's so hard to picture. A life you've known, one you've gotten used too, is going to end for real.
The other day, One of my classmates sent this message to a friend who'd just gotten an admit in UNSW, Sydney.
It went- 
'' Congrats man... I wish you have a wonderful time in australia... all the best for your future...we'll miss you... can't imagine a life without college and friends... can't believe it's almost over... we are getting a glimpse of the light house but the problem is that i am beginning to miss the sea..." A very emotional message at that. That very day, I tried telling myself that this chapter of life has to end somewhere, and we're soon to open the next chapter in Life. I just wish that the next two months would be the most memorable months for a long time. But the problem with good memories are that they're surely going to stay in our head, and we reminisce about them in the near future, A void is not going to be filled.

My mind now wanders for a while as 'Us and Them' starts playing.
Soon, I am reminded about the simplicity of Pink Floyd's music. I lay my cup on the table, switch off the t.v, increase the volume on the speakers, and soon, I'm in another World. Music is the simplest emotion!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day 2

Blogger is really unkind when it comes to uploading photos. There was this one instance when I put around 10 of em up before filling the post with 'text', but the damn thing just would not save. The same thing happened when I was writing a post about a previous trip to Kerala. I'd written about an eventful day with pictorial representation, but, I had to delete a picture 'cause It hadn't been loaded right. Unfortunately, the whole post got deleted and the draft was auto-saved. So I left it at that with some @@##$#TGE%##$$$ amidst other curses. Will someone please buy me a customised wordpress account?:P
Anyway, back to-

Day 2: Sunday, 25-04-10

The next morning, we were up very early, around six. The weather was pleasant, so we all decided to take a little walk down a nearby 'Rock Garden' or whatever the hell those things are called. I'm not quite a morning person, so my mood was pretty passive.

         It was nice to see a Map of India with P.O.K and Arunachal Pradesh too:P


The park itself is mighty huge. There are multiple sections that we couldn't cover due to time constraints. After nearly 3-4 km's, or about 1 and a half hours of walking, we decided that we'd leave.
We were supposed to meet the Assistant Engineer of the Dam at 9. The chap said that he'd go for a swim, have a quick breakfast and meet us at the I.B. 

Almatti Dam is at the edge of Bijapur and Bagalkot districts. It has a catchment area of 36,000 sq km, is about 1.5km in length and 50 m high. In other words, It is HUGE. The construction of the dam took about 3 years and 500 odd crores later, voila! When we looked into the reservoir, we could see blue water for miles and miles together. 
The A.E engineer met us near the top of the dam. Photography was prohibited, so we decided to adhere to that rule:)
He turned out to be quite a jovial and well learned fellow, and tried pretty hard to explain to us E&C engineers, the mechanics of a Dam. We saw how the crest gates could be manually or automatically controlled using PLC's.
We also visited the power generation unit at the toe of the dam and saw for ourselves a simulation of the Kaplan turbine action, among other things:).
It was a special visit, mostly because this is a restricted area.
It was the wrong time to visit. The fury of monsoon would have probably driven  the Dam into full-on action.

A swim in the dam backwaters:P

Later in the afternoon, the guys decided to take a swim in the backwaters. Time flew by, without much notice, so our plans for the afternoon were thrown off balance and offset. We hadn't had our breakfast, so it was a direct lunch in a nearby Kamat.
We then quickly drove to the ruins of Aihole, where we meandered about with blank looks on our faces. It was nearly 16:00 hours, and we heard that the Badami caves close for visitors at 6 p.m. It was clearly a mistake to leave such an amazing excavation without any appreciation for the architecture there, albeit we hoped that we could do Badami some justice.

Badami was th capital of the Chalukyas through 600-800 A.D. It has a mighty rich history. A quick visit to wikipedia would be helpful.
There are 4 caves, the first is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the 2nd to Vishnu, the 3rd to Maha-Vishnu, and the 4th to Jain Gurus.
We hired a local guide for rs 200/-, and boy did that help! He spoke in rich kannada, with traces of English whenever i drew a blank look. 

              Notice how Lord Shiva is 'ciphered' to be displaying 81 Bharatnatyam postures, with nine combinations on the right for each combination on the left. I was seriously all WTF on observing this. (Which I wouldn't have if it weren't for the guide)

The chalukyas here have asked us a question in the first sculpture snippet, having carving out the answers in the next two.
This sure does look like the Durbar back in the days. In fact, at one point, I imagined myself back in time, and there was something about this that can't be put in words or explained.

We were already late, It was 6.30 odd, so the cop there was on duty for obvious reasons:P
Throughout the course of the guide's incessant but useful blabber, One thing we could all notice was the stench of alcohol emancipating from his mouth. We all joked about how he wouldn't be able to tell us so much about Badami if it weren't for alcohol:)
My advice to all willing to visit this place- Spend an entire day there, Arrive early and take in as much as possible! 

On our way back to Ramdurg, we spoke of science, religion, the church, Maths and Life in those days. We appreciated the fact that the Chalukyas did everything in the name of God. They probably even thought that Science and Reason were God's way of saying they were in the right direction.:-B

We reached the I.B around 8, changed, and then had some more of that amazing $&$^^%^WTF%R$% doodhcold!. Dinner was a mundane activity, as we were all tired. Later that night, The other guys were busy watching Pollard bash C.S.K, although later, he did get out and Mumbai eventually lost. So Amen to that. It was good night for me. The A.C was in full zoom, I pulled a rug over myself and drifted into blissful oblivion:)

P.S- I'll probably write about Goa in the next post. As you may have noticed, It's 1.30 a.m, my hands are aching, my head's not working, and moreover, FEDex is in action at Madrid:D. That backhand is working again!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day 0 and 1

Day 0:  Friday,23-04-10

It had been a while since I'd been on a trip of sorts; The last one being Kerala back in January. Only one branch mate was on the planning committee this time,but with such numbers, odds were it'd never materialise. But in the 3rd week of April, We found a window of opportunity, in the form of our annual cultural fest JAYCIANA. So we cashed in on it with no qualms whatsoever, And I figured the only thing I missed was Parikrama's inaugural performance in Mysore, but that was marred by rains as I later learnt:)
So Just a day before our planned departure, we booked our railway tickets for a  sleeper journey on the Swarna Jyanti express from MYS-BLG (belgaum). Train was to depart at 8, so I figured I can easily start packing by 6 odd. I am quite clumsy when it comes to packing and I find it hard to keep track of stuff that has already gone into the bag. So, as always, I took my Mom's help and she helped me stuff all the essentials into a single unit.
Later in the evening, I went to the General store to buy some Gum, Polo, 'Mysore Sandal Soap' TM  and the essential Hand Sanitizer that comes in handy on Indian Railways:)

The Train was scheduled to depart at 8.10, so I took a drop around 7.45 from my uncle. Two others arrived just on time, I guess they assumed I.S.T principle applied here too. 
We had not planned what we'd see in the coming days. We just had an overview of things and we had to figure out the best option with available time and money. So with the usual chit-chat and banter exchange, time flew by:).
Soon, our neighbours started to switch their lights out so we followed suit.
I chose the middle berth, kept tossing and rolling for a while but sleep didn't come easy to me like it usually does. I used my travel bag as a temporary pillow; it was at an awkward height. This was the only place I thought was safe for my bag, as I'd kept my cell and cash in there. So I decided that Sleep was to be sacrificed:)

Day 1: Saturday, 24-04-10

I'm no insomniac so sleep did come around 3.30 and I woke up around 6.30, had some 'chai' which was extremely sweet.. We were passing through the Khanapura Forest Range just before Londa, the air felt fresh and the sights were lush green. It was around 8.30 when we reached Belgaum.
ShravanIAS's Uncle Pradeep was to meet us at the station, which was surprisingly neat and well kept. 
From there, we proceeded to the Inspection Bungalow that Uncle had arranged for us, had a quick bath, and then hopped onto a big-ass Bajaj Trax and proceeded to Pradeep Uncle's place. There, we met his father who is all of 99 years old, but still had a step about him. After a quick visit, we went to a fine little place called Ajanta's cafe. We had Puri kurma for breakfast, It was simply A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, so much so that we ordered two plates. Each.


After a heavy breakfast, we took a walk around the central square of Belgaum. The roads here are very narrow, almost non-existent, but are bustling with activity.

We took a stroll for a couple of hours, taking in the sights and sounds, savouring some Guava, Mango, and bearing with the heat:)
Soon, we were back on the trax and headed to a little town called Ramdurg, on the eastern edge of Belgaum District. It is believed that lord rama stayed in this place during his vanvasa hence the name. It was only a 2 hour drive. This region is very arid, comprising mainly wastelands and the occasional sugarcane plantations that apparently drained the water table.

On the way, we saw this very huge tree to the side of the road that is said to have medicinal value. Apparently, food placed beneath this tree would not go bad for days:)

                                                     Corn, anyone?

We reached Ramdurg around 2.30. Here we met up with Pradeep Uncle's brother, who is the M.L.A of Ramdurg. He had a delicious Jowar Roti lunch arranged for us. It was bliss.
Easily the best South Indian meal I've ever had. Everyone at that table from Mysore would probably re-iterate the same:p

This is called Killa Toregal, That's all i know, google didn't help:p

After lunch, we proceeded to have a view of the ancestral home under construction. 

                                             Everyone has a cellular phone:P

We then pondered for a while if we could visit Badami, Aihole 'cause it was in our itinerary, but then decided against it and pushed that plan to the next day. Later that evening, we walked to a Sugarcane plantation and had a look at how things worked in such an arid region, where borewells and pumps are farcical ideas considering the power crisis looming large.
The Sugarcane stalks were stacked up really high, and were swaying gallantly in the wind.

                                      This poor chap was telling us about all his problems in a dialect we couldn't quite catch. The farmers here were very courteous, they greeted us with a 'namaskara' almost every time. They were camera-friendly too:)

                              Perhaps we were interrupting their peaceful sojourn:P
After our little excursion, we sat by the side of a well and ate Mirchi bajjis with  onions, It was blissful:) We were actually pretty full with a heavy lunch still ballooning in our bellies, but this was one of those days where everything tasted so beautiful that we had to make room for more. 
We did also have some wonderful mandakki, and to top it all, some elneeru which was very warm yet had a cooling effect:)


After all this, we did return to Ramdurg to have a drink called Doodhcold, which is a I-cannot-put-to-words-wtf-is-this drink that i will talk about in detail later.
Around 7.30, we finally left Ramdurg to Almatti, which was to be our camp for the night. For dinner, I could only manage a packet of chips. We checked into the IB there, and sleep soon beckoned. :)