Friday, July 10, 2009

THE LAST POST...

Guys, I have been wanting to do this - close down the blog - for a long, long time now. Writing does not enthuse me any more. It's more of an ordeal. Words are never really forming in my head and even if they do, I have lost the ability to pen down. Writer's shock...

I am not gone from cyberland, though! Will read your blogs...

Thanks. Take care and good luck...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

AND THIS TOO SHALL PASS...

Last evening, the heat indoors and the resulting perspiration drove me out of my abode. The weather was very humid and the breeze almost zilch. A few minutes into my stroll, I stopped to investigate a random rustle of the leaves. It happened in patches until the beak appeared first, followed by the head, some feathers and finally the entire sparrow. Almost instantly, in the distance, something else caught my attention.

The sky was beginning to turn grey. And jutting out of nowhere was this huge electric pole, dwarfing all the trees and houses in its path. The tiled sloping red roofs; green, yellow and rusty leaves; the huge wirework; and the ominous clouds - all seemed to speak to me. I could, in that very moment, see time. With my head heavy and my vision blurred, I continued my walk. Only this time, I was shaken.

There was something deeply bothering me. Images were being scanned in my mind. Of those, one stood out. An artisan working on the Alhambra. This appeared in a television programme and the image was a reconstruction of how workers went about building this exotic palace. We had something in common. Time.

Time had watched him, while he was chiseling away the stones. Time witnessed the sculpting of those intricate carvings. But, it remained unmoved and impartial. Time inched on - second by second. Until time is here, with me, now.

But, the flurry of images continued. I imagined Akbar, while he thought and while he fought. I went further back, to the construction of the pyramids, how a commoner ate and worked on the mastabas. Time had watched human evolution in action. Time saw Ramapithecus and Australopithecus, then afarensis, habilis, erectus, among others, and us. It remained unmoved and impartial.

And however hard I tried to go back in time, it just kept on forging ahead, as if my existence did not matter. As if the human race, and the universe that contains it, did not matter. The insignificance troubled me.

Since morning, I've been reading on time warp and the slowing down of time. Extremely fascinating stuff. But, for now, let me just say that though time troubles me, am glad to have found some good company in it. And yes, this too, shall pass...

Friday, April 03, 2009

COCCI SIGNALS

Ludicrous or commonplace? Let me know if you've seen them too!

When I was young, I had this wonderful habit of watching clouds. The cumulus, stratus, cirrus... They could exactly represent what's on your mind, including its state. I felt that nature was trying to communicate something to me as I indulged in this pursuit.

And one day, when I was about four, I saw some circular objects floating in the air. They were small, about half a centimeter in diameter and transparent. One could barely make out their existence through their edges and presence of two-concentric circles. What a sight! It was absolutely mesmerizing! How did they come to be all of a sudden? I was curious and some more when I realised that they were following my line of vision! They glided, danced, swayed, and left me pondering over their existence!

To me, that was the sky sending out signals!

A few years later, in Biology class, I learnt about round-shaped bacteria or cocci. They looked so uncannily similar to my signals! Yikes! Could I see microbes, then? Was I blessed with some sort of a microscopic vision?

My questions were answered when I realised I could not even figure out who was sitting beside me in class! With metallic rims sitting on my nose, I dismissed the idea of being a walking-talking electron microscope.

I didn't spare Newton either. These have to be corpuscles, then! I was euphoric! Until I heard of the Wave Theory!

The cocci signals appear even today. Only difference being, I am now old enough to imagine these blobs and acknowledge the imagination (if I did imagine, that is, but which is not the case) and yet, human enough, to remain curious to decipher their presence.

Ludicrous or commonplace? Let me know if you've seen them too!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

THE FINAL MOMENT

A thought crossed my mind today. If, you were lying on your deathbed and before closing your eyes, you could see just one image of the past in your mind, what would that be? Would it be your most depressed moment? Happiest? An image of your family or friends? Something, more like, out of an old sepia-tinted photograph?

I made several attempts to visualise the scenario and seek the answer. To those who ask if this is really necessary, all I can say is perhaps, the exercise is a chance to prepare myself for the inevitable, whenever that maybe.

While questions linger, and as I ponder over them, I'm drawn to the word - Happiest. Prejudice? Possibly. I can't say, at this point in time, if this state of mind has either come and gone or yet to, in my life. If it is the former, then did I ever realise it? Strange, being aware makes you happier than (that moment itself, called) happiest! If it has not come my way, then would I recognise it when it does?

And what is this happiness? Such a relative-relative term. Like all other emotions. Such an unquantifiable and intangible entity. And happiest? How can you possibly measure happiest-ness? Recollect all those moments when you clutched your tummy, rolled on the floor, got your intestines knotted, experienced those tingly sensations? And well, ask yourself now, do you remember what made you behave so animatedly? Else the way you felt while sitting by the side of the window, at night, watching the purple hues of the sky... or the silent drizzle highlighted by a row of sodium vapour lamps? Bliss? There could be a gazillion ways to feel happy. In my opinion, to "realise" is, perhaps, the greatest. You could have a mental picture associated with it. But how many realisations in a lifetime and which one would rein supreme? And the corresponding image? This brings me back to my question.

Worse (or better!), am asking myself - Do you have to even think of such a moment? It may not exist after all. You could just pass away in your sleep and not know anything! Saves you from all the trouble, eh? Lol!

Monday, March 16, 2009

WE COULD ALWAYS BEGIN AGAIN...

Since morning, I've been thinking of my lecturer, Hema, in college where I pursued my under-graduation. She would teach us Mathematics - orally! Writing on the blackboard, according to her, was one big waste of time! And today, if she ever saw me ambling about - and strolling through my life - those would probably be the most blasphemous things ever. I can almost hear her say, "Wasting time like this? Wasting life like this? You can do something with your life, no?"

Chuckle!

Until my under-grad days, there was something or the other to keep me occupied. Studies, Science forum, Science courses, NIAS lectures... amazing! Those were my antioxidants preventing my brain from rusting away. I needed those doses, everyday. My gang of five would sit in the basketball court and discuss a million things under the sun. Without inhibitions. I matured in my thoughts. I grew more confident and aware of myself and things around me.

But, since then, I have not developed intellectually. Stunted and stagnated. People (which includes me) gather to speak about other people. People gather to speak about jobs in jeopardy. People gather to speak about themselves and their problems. No informative lectures. And discussions that mostly end up being making-a-jackass-of-you sessions (barring the amazing conversations with my roomie, Jags, PR, RS...).

But what stopped me from learning? I was run-over by a very silly person inside me who said, "You don't have to do anything with your life. Life has no purpose. Just idle away." I've been stuck with this pseudo-philosophy in my head and watching myself rotting away and being devoured by scavengers (read, depression). I've stopped learning, reading, writing, speaking, understanding. Tied down by a creeper called indifference. Watching a moss, called fear, growing layer by layer.

One thing remains intact from that day to this - my restlessness! A bliss, indeed!

I've been reading this book, Pale Blue Dot, for a pretty long time now. It's by Carl Sagan, also the author of Contact and Cosmos. Started with the e-book version of it last year but couldn't get beyond ten pages. I'm to be blamed, totally. Reasons? You just read them all.

But these days, I'm glued to the book. Lapping up every single word of it. Feeling every little idea it contains. Exhilarating! It's like knowledge dripping down on me. Gently. And this sentence struck me hard - "We could always begin again." What does one need to start life afresh? A passion? A direction? Some support? Lots of enthusiasm?

I've just got to keep this momentum rolling. I need to explore and introspect. May be I can hear Science calling out to me again. The last piece in the puzzle of my life, perhaps?

Chuckle!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

UTTARAKHAND - A (C)HILLY PARADISE - PART II - NAUKUCHIATAL

HALCYON NAUKUCHIATAL

A night ride by car might not be the wisest thing to do, in the mountainous terrains of Uttaranchal, but we didn't have much choice. We had to reach Naukuchiatal the same night and to keep us going was our cabbie - with 14 years experience behind him - and his tales of nights and leopards, trees and snowfalls. During this one hour journey from Kathgodam, we passed through the HMT Factory, caught a fleeting glimpse of Bhimtal, Sattal and Nainital by night, before zig-zagging our way to the top.



At half past midnight we were at Naukuchiatal. The temperature was well below 10 degrees Celsius when we reached The Lake Resort. Our camera addiction refused to fade away and we snapped a few more of our shelter for the next two nights.





With darkness holding Naukuchiatal (Nau-k(u)-chiya-taal) captive, we retired to our rooms, hoping morning would unfold to us, weary travelers, the magnificent nine-cornered lake.

It is believed that whoever sees all the nine corners at a single glance would attain Nirvana. But I'll tell you what, just a glance of the lake guarantees Nirvana.







The placid waters of the lake are enticing. The stillness grows through the day, creating a serene gargantuan mirror.



According to our cabbie, the lake's periphery runs for about four kilometres and makes for a great early morning walk. We went half-way and discovered several amazing faces of the lake.







October and March are the peak seasons and see a lot of tourists flocking to this paradise. What greeted us in December were these empty boats and a few, very few, birds!







Naukuchiatal also has its own paragliding base at Pandegaon for adventure sports enthusiasts. "But do so at your own risk madam." One statement from the cabbie and we decided to give it a skip! (Shame on us :D)

Next on our list was an NGO - Action for Environment and Preservation of Art & Nature (AEPAN) - that sells beautiful Kumaoni paintings. Unfamiliar with Kumaoni art, we didn't know what to expect when we went in. All we needed to do was to set our eyes on the lines set in red and blue cloths and follow the pattern. Mesmerising. We immersed ourselves in uniquely framed paintings of Gods and Goddesses, diyas, postcards, dolls, mufflers, shawls and lots more. These souvenirs are light to carry and lighter on your wallet.







We stopped briefly at the Hanuman and Vaishno Devi Temples, built beside each other. At about 50 feet, the Hanuman idol is indeed intimidating.



Tulsi Das' Hanuman Chaleesa wafted through the twilight air, rendered beautifully by the temple poojari and a couple of kids.



The entrance to the Vaishno Devi temple is through a gufa or cave (artificial one though). The cave was extremely dark with zero visibility. The temple also houses a Ram mandir and Radha-Krishna mandir.





The lake beckoned us again in the evening. But the cold made us retreat indoors.



We had covered lots more that day of the Lake District. We had been to the pristine Sattal and the mighty Bhimtal. All this with a massive neck pain!

By morning it was time to say goodbye to the nine-cornered lake and the beautiful Lake Resort. Hotel rating and other personal experiences in the next post. (That would be a short one, I promise!)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

UTTARAKHAND - A (C)HILLY PARADISE - PART I - DELHI TO KATHGODAM

DANCE OF THE STARS

Everything was in place. Tickets - booked. Food and lodging - checked. Thermals - packed. Accessories - stuffed. Three cameras - loaded. Spirits - charged. After all, it is not everyday that you'd plan a trip to Uttaranchal from a city down South!

Our first halt was Delhi. First week of December and chilly winds had not taken over India's capital city yet. Wide roads and countless flyovers greeted us. So did Delhi's chaotic traffic. Our train the next day was to Kathgodam (Kaat-go-daam), a town in the Nainital District of Uttarakhand. Trains do not ply beyond this point and one needs to travel by road to popular tourist destinations like Nainital, Bhimtal, Almora, among others.

The train chugged along and we had seven hours to spend.



As the journey progressed, the air grew nippy and windows were shuttered. Monkey-caps, shawls, jerkins and gloves found their rightful place. Despite our clumsy attire, we managed to have some fun with the cam. Here are a couple of photos, mostly night shots, of stars, planets and town lights, all this while the train was in motion! The dance of the stars - captured!





Interestingly, a couple of them assumed the shape of numbers!





Our train, Uttarkranthi Sampark Express, was running late by an hour. By the time it reached Kathgodam at 23:30 hours, besides us, there were not more than five people in the compartment. Creepy! Later on, our cabbie would tell us that not many people prefer this train. The sleeper, Ranikhet Express, brought in more tourists to Uttaranchal from Delhi.

With the cold numbing our bodies, we alighted from the train. The station was dark and we followed the rest of the herd to the exit where taxi-wallahs were waiting for prospective clients. It took our cab's hot-air blower to flush out the numbness off our bodies and to bring us back to our senses. After months of planning, finally, we were in Uttaranchal to catch a glimpse of the mighty Himalayas!

And we were not yet done for the day. A whole hour lay between us and Naukuchiatal...