Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Zen habits

Very interesting site.. Zen habits Hopefully will put me back into action..

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Emptiness stared at me at 2:20 am.

Sleep had betrayed me and like one spurned, i was livid. Playing Kula Shaker, I tried to get back to my reality. Or was it a dream?

i did not know.

my world was about to turn upside down, inside out ... and all i could do was to watch helplessly. atleast initially...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hangzhou Chronicles : Curd has been successfully cultivated with packaged milk

In what can only be termed as a small spoonful for a Indian, a giant stomachful for Indiankind,
Sour curd has finally been home cultured in china..
on a momentous day, the picturesque town of Hangzhou was witness to the
legendary happenings in Binjiang district Huigang office of Huawei.
The skies were cloudy, and the winds were blowing, as the heavens wept in delight..
Sour Indian curd had finally been prepared..

The root / base curd for this was from the Indian kitchen on Nanshan Lu,
and the milk was taken free of cost from the 8:30 snacks.. :)
This was left in the room for 2 days and voila...!!! Sour curd was obtained..

Many people are aware of the feeble results that presented themselves when
the yogurt experiment was carried out in Nanjing in the cold months of Dec 2008.
The author still remembers the mockery he had to face when his experiment failed
miserably resulting in a sweetish white cousin of spoilt milk.. :)
but Hangzhou proved to be the catalyst that did the trick for the fermentation process.

What is usually obtained at 20 / 15 rmb from the indian restaurant is now available literally free and without any effort..

This can have tremendous impact on the health and well being of Indians in Hangzhou..
Especially, it is a blessing in disguise for south indian kind who wishes to travel to china.. :)

It means that only pickle or chutney powder is the necessity when loading up in India
and one does not need to worry about curry etc..
Talk about health food, sour curd is known to be a wonderful tonic for upset stomachs.

Availability of sour curd now opens up vast areas for untapped frontiers for Indian kind..
Repercussions of this tremendous invention are yet to be estimated and guaged.

Anyway, this day will forever be written in golden letters on the pages of Hangzhous history..

Monday, April 13, 2009

Day 2 part 2 extends into day 3 (conclusion)

loud noises and bright lights woke me up from a strange dream which i could not recall try as hard as i might.. it seemed like evening, and the lights in the room were on. arvind and sridhar were talking about the plan, with shiva adding something in between.. alternatives were being discussed, plans made, destroyed and remade. all of these guys had seen quite some risky projects to a successful conclusion and were using all that experience to decide upon a optimal approach to the goal.

going on a recap, it was saturday and we were in tirupati. we had started friday nite and managed to get tickets after a longish wait in the queue which started saturday early morning..after a rather heavy breakfast everyone had settled down for a well deserved nap, and now the planning was on for getting to the top of the hill and being in time for the darshan on sunday early morning.

my grumbling stomach made me skip the planning phase. partly it was fault of the heavy breakfast that i had greedily consumed and the midnight dinner of the past night. 2 idlis, 2 vadas, 1 dosa, 2 cups of tea.. polishing off multiple tumblers of sambar and chutney... i spent a lot of time in the loo contemplating all issues of economic and political importance, current affairs, state of the indian cricket team, things of office and other issues of national importance like what to eat for dinner.. that went on untill the lights were turned off.. which was strange in a 3 star hotel as claimed by the management of bhimas. on coming out of my thoughts and listening to the guffaws outside, i concluded that it was sridhar clowning around.. who can imagine a future system architect behaving like this.. kiddish.. thats what i call it.. junk behaviour as he would call it.. :)

after successfully ending my stint at the bhimas loo, sridhar went on to disrupt the well laid plans by bringing in some strange non-probable but scarry scenarios. so the plans which were well laid were thrown out of the window, and a new set of ideas and actions brought in.. we decided to park arvinds car at some safe place and climb the hills by foot, come back downstairs by bus, maybe taake a bath at the hotel, and then eat dinner and then ride up the hill, stay in the cottage that we had booked and sleep..

we started off with this plan in mind, mr broken sound box aka flying shirt aka GVV aka Gudaru aka shee kee aka shiva had to buy clothes... can you imagine? this guy did not even care to bring a spare undi.. "i will buy it in tirupati" he believes in promoting enterprise and local economy whereever he goes.. even in shenzhen he used to promote pizza hut and mac d which was strange cos considering it was china, he should have gone for chinese delicacies. but he also used to order and eat JIDAN CHOUFAN (egg fried rice) at the restaurant opposite bai cao yuan with such gusto that one would mistake him for a regular and mistake the damned yucky fried rice for egg biryani from hyderabad's most famous bawarchi. thats shiva.. he is the unknown, the unpredicatable, the man whos shirt magically flies off as soon as he enters the car and comes back on automagically when he come out in the public.

so the shopping was retro fitted into the schedule and on the way to the reliance mart, we got a call which promised better accomodation provided we got to Tirumala pretty quick.. as we were buying clothes for shiva, a couple of t-shirts caught my attention and arvind and me decided to buy them.. sridhar also joined in, and we made a lot of business for Anil Dhirubai Ambani or is it Mukesh Dhirubai Ambani who owns reliance mart? god knows.. anyway.. it went to the ambani family. who anyway were our customers.. :D..

so!!!!!!!!!!! the circle completed, we dropped our earlier plans of climbing up the hill, and decided to ride up..the security check was cleared with some difficulty.. as the lady at the checkpost kept on asking us to open this bag and that one.. i was ill prepared for this.. i was in my bermuda relying on these guys' plans of climbing up the hill, and i felt appropriate attire which did not hamper the movement of the breeze was ideally suited for the hot evening. it turned out to be my waterloo, as i had to get out of the car for the security check and come out wearing (pay attention now, this might be the next fashion statement) a formal full sleeve shirt pink and white stripes, and a military green bermuda with spaghetti lada to hold the damned thing up.

people all around.. security men and women equiped to deal with the naxal threat, carrying all kinds of guns and ammunition, tourists who had to stop at the security checkpost, men, women and (faar gaads sake) children.. all of them witnessed the spectacle of the man in the pink formal shirt with the green bermuda. at that moment i decided to shave my head to lose my identity and become one amongst the million other anonymous GUNDUS (gundu = shaved head, a lovely metaphor, a class of people, a stereotype, typically applied for people who visit tirupati, it could also be personification of the shaved head.. i.e, refering to the person as the shaved head. identity of the person becomes the shaved head.. sorry for the ramble..)

after the embarassing episode at the security checkpoint, which will go down the annals of tirupatis history as the day when the clown from bangalore caused a hilarious interlude in a otherwise serious and tense environment, arvind drove up the hill that would take us to tirumala. on the way the shades were brought out and some monkey pics were taken. monkeys being us. the sunset on the way up was so beautiful, and we stopped for a few snaps...

by the way all the pics are available on Arvinds orkut profile at the following location (http://www.orkut.co.in/Main#Album.aspx?uid=288845154220327809&aid=1238114398)

as we reached the peak, we caught hold of a fellow who was supposed to direct us to the cottage. he also arranged for us to get a few extra laddoos. 20 extra to be precise :D... that was a bonus, a bumper lottery. :D.. together with 2 laddoos per person that we would get tomorrow, it was a total of 30 laddoos.. with a faraway, dreamy look in my eye, i drooled profusely at this thought.. others shook me fearing me to have gone into a irreversible trance...

we went to the cottage that the unknown guy directed us to, atleast we tried to and i know for sure that he misdirected us. we got lost a few times on the way.. arvind found one familiar stretch of road which he immediatly pronounced to be leela-parking-1-ramp's twin. this stretch helped us decide that we were going in circles.

we went upto a few places asking people for 'sri pada' guesthouse. but no one could direct us to the lords feet. its kind of symbolic i feel, looking behind.. thats the way it is in life, only you can find your path.. people on the way will only confuse you, you have to take in all that they say, and then decide for yourself..

sridhar intimidated one guy who was having his usual late evening sit on the rock.

sridhar : "Sri padaa guest house?"
guy-on-rock (looking like a clam on the sea bed) : "telugu?"
sridhar : "avunu.. sri pada guest house telsa?"
guy-on-rock (now looking more like a sea cucumber) : "..."
sridhar : "emmeeee?"
guy-on-rock : "dum"
sridhar : "sri pada guest house.."
guy-on-rock (with a gleam of recognition) : "DUM"
sridhar : "i think he does not know.."
guy-on-rock (understandingly ): "dum, dum, dum..."
sridhar : "lets go.."

after attempting to digest this conversation, and trying to interpret the sea cucumber's in the light of various schools of abstract philosophy, we concluded that he might have a follower of zen school of thought, the dum being a local variant of the mu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mu_(negative))... considering the advaitic approach, the dum could be a cross reference to the most popular neti (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neti_neti).. though all others concluded him to be a crack pot (might be taken literally also i think..) [http://7777777s.com/ppframe_files/frame.htm] [http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/crackpot], i was of the opinion that he was a self realized soul or a person who was pretty close to the ultimate goal.. i wished to remain as a disciple at his feet but the thought of the laddoos did not let me go.. guess i was not ready to give up the temptations of the world and start my journey on the path..

eventually we managed to find the guest house, and after dumping the bags, we went out to get the laddoos from the special counter.. then we searched high and low for oily snacks and eventually found one place. we polished off his stock and also drank some badam milk. then we ate puffed rice (sridhar and me without the onion) and then went on to eat dosa and idli.. arvind wanted to do some shopping, while shiva, vinay and me went off to find a place to shave off our heads. we had a small scuffle with the guy who minds the chappals. he was in some strange mental state and was quite rude. after getting in we got scaared of the crowd and returned. the guy who had taken our chappals asked for rs 5 even though it was written in bold that it was a free chappal stand maintained by the temple.. corruption does not even let go of the holy or the pious. nothin shall escape the grip of kali.

we returned back to the room and spent a little time talking.. then after tucking in arvind and sridhar, the rest of us went again to the tonsuring place hoping for a slack in business which would mean a slightly lesser turnaround time. it was reasonable.. and we became baldies.. one had to give a rs 10 to the barber even though the board said in bold that it was free tonsure. else he would rip the hair out and you would live to regret it from the bottom of your heart or from the root of the hairs on your scalp rather.

by the time we finished the tonsuring, it was sunday morning 1:30 am. we returned home feeling all wierd on the head and took a bath.. woke up the sleepy heads and proceeded to the darshan. the queue was long as ever and we entered the queue at about 4:30 or so.. going though the labyrinth of twisty turny paths...

we finally entered the temple complex. the glittering gold and the shimmer of silver reflecting the just rising sun.. it all looked beautiful.. the crowd all merged at this point and it was basically a sea of humanity.. everyone being pushed forward, yet no one actively pushing or pulling.. a general force in the direction of the door that was the entry in to the temple. this force has no logical base, everywhere you see devotees.. some mumbling some prayer under their breath, some bowing thier hands and closing their eyes in gratitude, some shouting out loudly 'GOVINDAAA GOVINDAA', kids screaming, some asking their mom to carry them, and listening to mom trying to convince them that its only a little way remaining.. some devotees coming to ask for something, some already having gotten what they sought returning to offer whatever they could to express gratitude.. a sea.. and we were part of it.. waves passing through us, pushing us... soon we were inside and for a brief period we were able to look at the idol of Balaji.

for that brief moment everything stops...as you try to capture as much as possible in your minds eye.. feasting on the sight..after a long wait..so much twists and turns in the story..and then the moment is gone.. as you are pushed out to make room for the devotees behind you..

you are left in a daze as the experience is behind you and you are again back in open air....

rest of the journey through the temple and the laddoo complex is like an anti climax.. and you go through it in a matter of fact manner.. like something that has to be done..

but once the fresh laddoos come, another journey begins and the smell tantalizes you beyond hope and disappointment, hunger and thirst, sleep and dream, everything fades into oblivion as you savour the delightful sweetness of the prasad of the lord.. it makes you forget all the tiredness.. and you feel that all the effort was worth it... a reward that relieves you of all the stress and takes you to heavenly heights of bliss.. one forgets friend and foe and wants to consume all of the laddoo, but something prevents him and he decides to share his joy with his family and friend after returning to bangalore..

we returned to the cottage and decided to clear off.. shiva was keen on watching ARUNDHATI movie, but since it would take too much time and it will be too late when we return to bangalore giving rise to chances of night driving we decided to opt out of it.. we had to collect the caution deposit, for which we had to get a all clear certificate. the shameless bloke at the counter asked for 10 rs.. we took the all-clear statement to the andhra bank counter at the bus stop, and the guy refunded the caution deposit and in turn demanded 10 rs.. the rot was big.. there was no department left untouched. probably inflation and other macro-economic factors causing them to become corrupt..

a Rang-de-basanti style sridhar decided to write a complaint at the help me counter. and all details of corruption we mentioned and signed against.. addressed to the executive officer ttd. satisfied at doing our bit, we sat in the car and drifted off to sleep..

after getting down, first stop was at a delicious hotel whose waiters seemed to have sensed that the great vada gobblers were on the way. one of them said that there were no vadas. we got puris, dosas, idlis, and a host of chutneys, ginger, tamarind, coconut, and a few others also..

then we started the journey back rather shakily.. almost missing the route and going to chennai or hyderabad... once on the path, it was all smooth... some more pics were taken with the baldy and the shades... the masterpiece of the MORPHEUS CHRONICLE came out on this leg of the journey. this adorns my orkut profile (http://www.orkut.co.in/Main#Profile.aspx?rl=mp&uid=15730746938629520064)

as the journey back started, the demands for songs poured in, devD - emotional atyachaar.. which every one sung passionately... gulaal, oye lucky, and one other song that shiva liked which he wanted to set as his ring back tone but could not..

soon the rest drifted off to sleep, and i troubled arvind with ridiculous questions and comments.. my main aim was to ensure that he does not fall asleep driving... and i achieved it successfully, after a good 3 - 4 hours the others woke up as we were working through the complex issues confronting our nation, the corruption at the bureucracy, the inability of a normal person to fight an election with issues that matter to him, the way our life styles were going, the lack of involvement of normal people like us etc..

bangalore was closing in as we stopped at one restaurant for a late lunch at about 4 or so.. the food was bad..indicating that bangalore had indeed come closer.

as we navigated through the traffic and entered the city, it was time for good byes.. a eventful journey was drawing to a end.. and with hopes of another journey to another place which we could enjoy and write about, we parted..

this journey was very special, since it was so unplanned and spontaneous. only our will to forge on ahead and face the odds made the way. it took some effort and sacrifices also, we gave up our comfortable beds early in the mornings for standing in queue for the tickets without even a hope of getting it. mr broken sound boks shiva struggled on with us inspite of having a bad cold.. arvind was a first timer to tirupati and he maintained very calm and composed demeanour inspite of the bad roads wreaking havoc on his car.. vinay and sridhar had to bear the worst of my jokes and philosophical ramblings and had to work very hard against the instinctual pressure to throw me out of the car.. and me... me had to continue living after the striped pink formal full sleeve shirt with the green bermuda combination debacle which created a minor revolution at the security check post and which thankfully does not have any photographic evidence..

the end.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day two - Part 1

Scene 4 : snoree.. zzzzzz
Saturday morning 3 AM

The alarm started ringing. first impulse. to shut it up. then to look at time. It was 3 AM in the morning. I looked around trying to find out where I was. It was all dark and I felt like I was in a strange place. This bed was much harder.Memory returned slowly, I was in tirupati with the guys. It was Saturday morning and we were supposed to stand in the queue for buying tickets. I grabbed my phone and called Sridhar who was sleeping across the room. His phone started to ring. a very silly ring tone. very very silly. so silly that it woke up Arvind also. Then we decided to sleep for some more time.

Scene 4 .1: more snoree.. zzzzzz
Saturday morning 3.30 AM

better get up now. else you wont get darshan this time also.

Lights were on and Sridhar and Arvind were up and walking about. Shiva and Vinay were still down. i decided to wash up and get ready to get moving.
"Someone wake these people up.. or we will be late, " said Arvind. "i think its enough if we reach by 4 or so." Sridhar said. I eagerly tugged at Shivas blanket, "get up Shiva.. we wont get tickets like it happend last time"

slowly they woke up, and we took the car to the place where the counters would open.

Scene : 5 Ticket counter near the main bus stand in Tirupati
4 Am Saturday morning

As we moved past the defunct X-ray machine and rather careless security guards, we saw that the number of people that were there was larger than what we had seen last night. It was partially dark, partly lighted and one could see people lying around or dropping off to sleep propped up against the benches or the walls, all in an imaginary queue which started where they slept or sat or stood.. the entire population spectrum was represented, women, children, youth, senior citizen.. persons of all categories and backgrounds. A railway station kind of feel. a temporary place before people move on to their destinations. ticket counters closed, eager people establishing themselves well in in advance hoping to get a ticket. the number of tickets would be limited per day and hence this queuing.

in that darkness, we could not make out where the queue started or ended. "we can stand here." i suggested. "which one is the counter?" Arvind wanted to know. "these counters will be opened." Shiva said. "Might as well sleep there for some time." i said. "We should be in the queue and then we can sleep" Sridhar had his plans clear. "I will jump over the bench here, slowly one by one we can get in, sit on the bench and sleep." Shiva the courageous. "Dude they may get violent if we break the queue. also its not fair on the people sleeping behind us." the not so courageous me pretending morality. "its alright, since we dont know where the queue starts or ends, we are just trying to get a place to sit and nap. moreover the number of people here is quite small, they will all get tickets no matter we join in between or in the end." So saying Shiva befriended a bloke sitting in the queue and got in.

Since most of the time, a bus load of people would come and they would send a couple of representatives to come and wait in the queue letting the others wash up etc, its not uncommon to see a few peoples coming and joining in the middle of the queue. and one by one we slowly managed to squeeze into the queue and procure a seat on the bench. we had to wake up one rather sleepy gentleman to make room for our acrobatics of climbing over the dividing barrier and ploping on to the bench.

as we all settled, one by one we started dropping off.. each in his own comfortable position.. the fan turning reluctantly, the occassional mosquito managing to get past my defences and drinking my blood.

Scene 6 : in the queue still, not even a single inch progress, since the counters were closed still
7:30 AM saturday morning

"Damn this blood sucking mosquito." I was seriously pissed. that mosquito was totally targetting poor me. why couldnt it feed on Sridhar? I complained to Arvind "Sir, yeh banda mujhe hi target kar raha hai.. aap ko kyon nahi kaat ta?" "Tumhaara garam khoon hai nau jawaan.. isi liye.." Arvind says it like he is a great grand dad of multiple little Saraswats. Sridhar had managed to buy a couple of newspapers, and briefly there was a small fight for who would get what section. i mainly needed it to swat and discourage young mosquitoes who were after my young blood. i managed to get one eventually, but Vinay felt that it was a fluke, which was ofcourse not true. I had planned that strike, and by gaad, i had struck with vicious force and focus. it never stood a chance from the moment i detected a faint shadow of its flapping wings and heard its almost silent buzz. it was finally a success for me and i celebrated by showing around the bloody carcass in a rather triumphant manner. i wanted to do a small dance, and i tried to get up also. but was rather discouraged by the poor response from my companions (which was suprising cos that mosquito was a public menace and by getting rid of it i had avenged the multiple itchy boils on almost every elbow in a 2 km radius) and secondly by the sheer lack of space between the narrowly crammed benches.

as time was being killed along with unsuspecting and rather slow mosquitoes, Sridhar began talking rather hotly at a gentleman. "Hegri? ondu, yeradu jana idre ok,. aidu, hattu janranna tandre yellgohodu? aag dinda obbobranne serista iddira. neeve yochne maadi, idu sari naa?" the gist of it being, one particular person, who had sat in the queue was allowing so many people to get in. in spite of the fact that we ourselves had cut the queue, Sridhar was arguing with a strong belief that good was fully on his side and he could not lose. I also joined him ignoring my faint conscience which kept reminding me that we also had cut the line, but a good 3 hours before this gentleman and his long list of relatives. so the early bird probably got the benifit of the cut. "Yenri, idu sari naaa? namgenu illa, namge ticket sigutte, but hinde iddoru, 4 ghantege bandu nintiddare. neevu heege bandu bittre, paapa avru yen madodu?" which basically was an attempt to seek the goodness in him. stressing on him that there were people who were waiting since 4 AM for tickets, and becos of him and his relatives cutting the queue, the ones behind would not get it. we would get tickets since there were only about 50 people ahead of us. but we were concerned about someone deserving, who waited in the queue, who did not have any companion to save a place for him, that unknown face who probably would not feel so good and would ask questions of Balaji saying ki, in spite of standing in the queue so honestly, he did not get the tickets cos of some dishonest people getting in their relatives and friends. eventually, Sridhar calmed down. it was a matter of people looking at their own selves and thinking about other humans, if that courtesy is missing then one cant help them. today a man may be in a winning position becos of his so called street smartness, but tomorrow, he will be at the receiving end of things, then probably he will remember his mistakes and regret it. all part of the play of life ..

"If this were the North, then people would fight so much even if they are doing wrong, maa behen karne lagte dono." Arvind told us. "its quite common to break the queue and then fight."
"people forget the purpose, they only look at the ends, not the means with which they achieve those ends.."

I looked around, families sitting in small circles. with the bags and valuables in between, kids sleeping on their moms laps.. some kids playing, creating new games just like that. a person near a pillar, with his shirt off, cleaning his arm pits, and combing his hair.. basically using the whole hall as his rest room. the railway station smell was getting more strong as the number of people increased and probably started using the toilets.

security guards started popping up and doing the rounds; a shrill whistle indicating their presence. trying to make a organized queue out of the small islands of humanity that had come to visit the lord. they were used to seeing this everyday, and you could make out in their manerisms. there was no pity for the old, nor some care for the stumbling child, just form the queue, or he will blow the whistle and irritate the hell out of everyone present.

there was some movement behind the desk at the counter, and everyone rose with utter curiosity to see what was happening. there was a mini chaos as people got up and tried to move in all four direction at the same time, but that was resolved quickly as the security guard used his supreme power to tame the crowd.

the guy behind the counter seemed to be taking forever to start issuing the tickets. we watched the seconds ticking by so slowly. Nine AM seemed a millenium away as we waited. time being relative may not be absolutely true, but it is easily manipulated by the state of mind that you carry along with you.

Scene 7 : Counter opens
9:10 AM

"Started!!" Sridhar exclaimed. " but he is ex-PSU employee it seems. so slow and super-steady"

"OK, money for the ticket, i have a 1000 rupee note. it will be even for the 5 of us, since the ticket is 200." i ventured eager to posess the peice of printed paper in my hand which would ensure that i would get a darshan tomorrow morning.

"The queue does not seem to be moving at all." Arvind said,

"I hope the other counter does not start issuing tickets while this guy delays, then we wont get tickets.." Shiva said.

"That damn idiot.. wats wrong with him.." i switched over to panic mode

"no tension man, there will be about 750 tickets per counter. so it wont get over so fast."

Soon it was our turn at the counter, and as we got finger printed and photo graphed with an antique looking webcam, i realized that the first step was done. we had gotten the tickets. now, the second challenge, a place to stay. We had taken the tickets for the Archanaanantara Seva.

The darshan was for 4:00 AM the next morning (Sunday) which meant that we would either have to catch the morning bus to the top of the hill i.e. Tirumala and directly stand in the queue for Darshan, or travel up Saturday evening and stay in Tirumala Saturday night.

We decided to anyway try and book a room and moved to the the next queue for the accommodation. which we managed to clear after another half hour wait. The room cost 50 bucks with 350 as caution, refundable deposit. we could get only one room. the guy at the counter told us that to get 2 rooms, we would need to buy 2 separate tickets, which made no sense at all, but we moved on since it was a very short time that we would be sleeping anyway.

triumphantly, we started back to the hotel. Shiva's voice box had recovered by a good 60% and he was audible and intelligible again. we ordered food on arrival and devoured a whole host of idlis, vadas, dosas with sambar and chutney. we emptied the restaurant i think, becos when Sridhar tried to order more, they said, the breakfast section was closed for the day.

After the heavy breakfast, there were some noises being made about the plan, whether to walk, or drive up the hill, what options did we have, what alternatives were best etc.. but everyone felt that some sleep was needed, and all plans could be made after getting up whatever be the time. it was close to noon now, and a good 3-4 hours sleep would restore us to some reasonable shape. the wait in the queue and sleeping in a strange position had given me a nice body ache and i was all game for a solid nap.

Sridhar insisted on keeping the TV on with some telugu song playing. which was bad on his part cos i wanted some peace and quiet..

the blinds were drawn, the ac making a rather loud noise, the fans turning full speed, people with blankets covered, we drifted off slowly.. and slept peacefully.

(to be continueeeddd)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tirupati.. day 1.

Scene 1 : approaching the end of discussion at Ashoks cubicle.
Thursday evening : 4:30 PM

(loud noises in the background. Sridhar, Arvind, Shiva, Vinay, Mahanth , Neeraj discussing someting animatedly at Arvinds seat)

Ashok : "you can make this section more generic. do not mention interphonic etc. zyada details denge toh phir se har server ke liye update karna padega."

Me : "thik hai Rawatji.. i will take care of it."

Ashok : "Aur kaunse pending hain?"

Me : "Bas. ho gaye Rawatji.."

as i got up to return to my seat, i noticed a big bunch of people hanging around Arvinds seat and proceeded with caution to find out what was going on. if Mahanth and Sridhar were involved, then it could mean some solid discussion on the validity of a scenario which was causing a weird behavior in the system, which meant that both would continue arguing without noticing the passage of time, space and the life breath of other individuals. hence it would be prudent for nearby residents to avoid even glancing in that direction for the fear of getting sucked into the discussion and being forced to take sides in spite of all attempts to remain neutral.

Hence the obvious caution on my part. call it foresight or past experience.

looking at Senthils smiling face and hearing Arvinds laughter, i decided to investigate the situation. as soon as i was within earshot, Sridhar and Arvind both began speaking and it seemed their queries and statements were directed at me. worried that it was something of a technical nature and cursing myself for having been deceived by the smiles and the laughter, i said "whaaat?"

Arvind : "Vinayaka, we are planning to go to Tirupati, want to join?"
Me : "I'm ready. Who all? How? When?"
Sridhar : "Shiva, Arvind, me, Vinay and if you join, you"
Arvind : "we will take my car."
Shiva :"leaving tomorrow evening by 4"
me : "im game. but why so suddenly? also... i have one training at 2:30 so.. 4 might be difficult"
Arvind : "4:30 then. ok Five.. is that fine?"
me " should be fine.. but will we get darshan? last time i had gone, we did not get, i was so disappointed.."
Shiva : "Dont worry, we will reach there friday night, we will stand in the queue and get tickets saturday morning, and have darshan on sunday morning."
me : "how come out of the blue?"
Arvind : "senthil just returned from sabarimala and was telling us about it. and we thought we should visit tirupati."
me : "doesnt make sense. but fine."
Sridhar : "Done.. me, Shiva, Arvind, Vinayak and Vinay. Arvind is main driver, Vinay is backup driver. bring all things that are needed to office tomorrow morning. we will directly leave tomorrow evening from office."

Scene 2: At my house, getting ready to go to office.
Friday morning 9:15 am.

ah, i will not be able to punch in before 9:30. gone. one more late punch this month

where is that damned baniyan? must be in the almirah. where is the key to the almirah? why do you lock it you fool? isnt the main door lock enough? by the way, what can a thief expect to find in this? who wants your baniyans? and the damned thing is made of wood.. ply-bloody-wood. an axe, and no lock of yours is of any use.. throw away those keys man.. ah here it is. smell good? sniff sniff.. okk

should i pack and take the clothes now? maybe i can come in the afternoon and take it... then i can take the bike now, and bring it and keep it here in the afternoon. ok i will take the bike.

9:30 AM Still in the house looking for a decent washed and ironed shirt.

dammit.. no choice then, i will have to wear this wrinkled formal pink shirt. the ironed one i will pack and wear when visiting Balaji. once in a blue moon we visit him. and on that day if i go so untidy he may take offence..

9:35 AM ready to leave, change of mind

i wont take the bike. its better. i will have to finish off things, so wont have time in the afternoon to come home. pack pack pack..

9:45 AM on the road, catching the first autowalla whos looking for potential bakras to charge double

me : "Manipal Hospital battiraaaaa?"

Thickly set Auto fellow with 3 day stubble: "Yaaawwwn... Manipal hospitalllaaaaa? U-turn haki barbeku saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar. 30 rs agatte."

bloody m.....f.....
me : "ok.. fast hogappa, late aithu.."

Tring tring to Sridhar.
me : "Sridhara, pls tell Archana to tell Gowri that i would be late for training today."
Sridhar : "im walking to the officeVinayaka.. tell someone else.."
me : "i thought you were in office early as usual.. cheater.. byee."

9:54 AM After getting looted by the auto driver, paying 30 rs for a 12 rs fare, i reached Leela security check point

Security Guard (looking solid suspiciously at my bag): "Is mein kyaa hai sir?"

grrrrr.... getting late.... 10 more minutes and then i will have to apply for half day
Me : "kapda hai bhaiyya.. toothpaste, chaddi baniyaan, Tirupati jaane ka pilan banaya hai aaj shaam ko"

Security Guard : " ye zip nahi kholta kya?"

haai raam
me :"Woh extension hai bhaiyaa.. kholke dekhlo.. bag ko bada banata hai."

Security guard : "ok! thank you sir"

me : "Thank you bhaiyya."
delay kar diyaaaaaa . late ho jaegaaaa.. boo hooo.. gone half day..


me : "oy sridharaaa.... neenuu ille naa? bega security finish madake helo.. late aithuu"
Sridhar : "lets go..."

9:58 AM at the punch in machine which is refered to as the time machine in the internal memos circulated by the Chinese secretary, no doubt a mis translation of time keeping machine



me : "Abaaaaaaa.... just in"

Sridhar : "still 2 minutes were there.. the security could have taken his time.."

me : "maaaaddd... he could not have found me out if i were carrying some explosive... its silly rather.. just formality."

Just as i was about to plop down on my chair...
"Vinayakaaaa...." Arvind..

me : "Bolo sir..."

Arvind : "show me.."

me : "????????"

Arvind : "travel baaaaggg."

me : "ohhh... heh heh.. here it is.. wheres Shiva?"

Vinay : "Hes not yet come.. i thought the trip would be cancelled.. you guys came so late"

Archana : "Vinayak, training..."

me : "carry on.. i will catch up.."

Scene - 3 (In the training room)
Friday afternoon 4:30 PM

Ashish : "So a singleton class will have only one instance, no matter who calls it when. so many of real world applications are based on singleton classes... try and do this program as an exersize.. try to overload the equals method to find if the "

tring tring

me : "excuse me.... hello .."
Sridhar : "We are leaving.. come quickly or you will be left behind.."
me : "everyones ready?"
Sridhar : "we are going ... you have fun in training.. "
me : "wait.. im there.. one minute.."

me : "Gowri, something urgent. i have to go.. they are waiting.."
Gowri : "ok.."

4:31 PM
me :"lets go .. im here.."
Sridhar : "wait.."
me : "mad fellow.. i left the training to come here thinking i was late.. you are still not done.."

4:45 PM
Shiva : "i have switched off my machine. i wont allow you to work any more.. shutting down yours also.."
me : "......"

5:00 PM
Rajeshkumarvs : "I thought you guys were leaving at 4:30.. what happened.. project delayed?"
Sridhar : "we will most definitely leave by 8 "

5:10 PM
Arvind : "Chalo... Chalo.. lets go guys.."
Shiva(in a very bad broken voice) : "First stop my house, need to collect my bag.."
Arvind : "whats with the soundbox?"
Shiva : "dammu.. cold.."

As we started off on this rather sudden journey, i had several doubts in my mind.. whether we would be able to find our way to Tirupati, whether we would get darshan, whether we would be able to gel and have a fun time together.... but all that was put behind as we headed straight on old madras road on the way to Tirupati.. Vinay had a hand drawn map, in which Ayush had scribbled some diagrams also. It was lifted off wiki mapia

The road to Tirupati from Bangalore goes through kolar and then chittoor. Getting out of bangalore was as usual tedious. so much traffic. and on the way too, a lot of vehicles. a busy stretch. the road is getting converted from a 2 laner to a 6 laner and hence a lot of work ongoing and lot of diversions to be taken etc.

Arvind : "see.. how can i drive fast if i cant see the road? it seems like the road ends there.. i cant see beyond that point..
me : "its like the headlights are like the present moment.. you cant see the past which is darkness.. you cant look too forward into the future.. but the headlights..."
All four of them : "oh shut up.."
me : "just trying to tell you the philosophy behind it.."
All four of them : "No need.."

we stopped at the kamat's hotel halfway between bangalore and kolar.. and ate idlis, dosas, chilli pakodas.... Sridhar seemed to be on a juice only diet.. he was adequately warned that no stops will be given for any emergencies that arise with excessive consumption of liquids..

It was fully dark by the time we entered Kolar and a fork in the road caused a slight amount of panic in the car.
Arvind : "left? right?"
Shiva (broken voice): "Right.. im 99.9% sure its right. last time we went in this way."
Vinay : "We can ask some one.."
Arvind : "i will stop near that auto.. Sridhar ask him.."
Sridhar : "hello.. hello.. Tirupati yava kade?"
unknown auto driver: "aa rodalli hog beku sir.. stright aaa roadalle hogi.. straaighttt... straighttt 100 kms.."
me : "he was very keen on straight.."
Arvind : "we will take the road he tells us to, but we will reconfirm as we go ahead"
Sridhar (targeting an unsuspecting person waiting for the local bus) : "hello.. tirupati yav kade?"
unknown pedestrian : "ide road.. straight hogi.."
Arvind : "thats confirmed then.."
me : "Shiva krishnaaa.. 99.9 % sure? :D .. you will get us lost man.."

but one thing about the people of Kolar.. if you ask them about tirupati, you will most definitly get a "straight " answer out of them :D.

riding on the way, songs playing, chit chat on going about.. the kilometers melted under the swift, and we moved on quite fast. in between we saw a sparkly beam of laser going into the sky, cutting across the night a single green beam.. it was cute.. we all had our theories about it.. and each one probably had equal chances of being right or wrong..

as we reached chittoor, we again had to ask for directions and a friendly neighborhood milkman guided us all through chittoor till the road that took us out of it.. he was a friendly person.. i always maintain that people who drink milk are a optimistic lot.. it has calcium etc..

we reached tirupati without any incidents.. apart from the occasional yahoo who sped by on his splendor in a totally raash manner..

Tirupati itself is a small town. the temple and the town of Tirumala is located on a hill which is about 22 kms by winding road. we first bought some medicine and coffsills (brother of strepsills) for Shiva who was now communicating with us by writing messages on his cell phone. we checked the ticket counters to see the crowd and decided to return at 3:30 or so. the counters would open at 9, though some people were already sleeping on the benches waiting for the counters to open. patient lot.

we checked into a hotel, bhimas residency and took a 6 bed room .. though we were only 5. Some of us were hungry, and we decided to have a late dinner after a quick shower. All the while making plans about what time we would be waking up, and standing in the queue.

As friday ended, some of us set up the alarm on our mobile phones. all eager to stay in the queue and buy the tickets. a small prayer went out to Balaji, hoping that we would be fortunate enough to get darshan this time around.

(To be continueeeddd)