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It was a blazing, scorching day yet again. Of late, the days had become unbelievably Bangalorish. Noon resembled heated Owens. The Sun God showed no hints of wearing down. It was the day of “Shivaratri”. Yet the Gods had no mercy on the devotees. But meet our protagonist, who is no devotee, nor is he an atheist. It was obvious for him to flinch, to the searing power of the sun once he stepped out of his guarded adobe. His day was planned. He had chosen the day to shop. What a dumb idea. Even more surprising was the location to shop at – avenue road and majestic. It would have taken a great deal of persuasion to convince even a fool, but our agonist didn’t need persuasion, and he was not alone either. 2 others were to join him! Talk of stupidity, you didn’t need another illustration. After what may seem as an agonizing outing, which he may politely say it was not exhausting, they even headed to SP Road! The way back was no cake walk either. The Gods had conspired against him. Who would expect the KR Market to be abuzz in such a hot Friday mid noon? Foreseeing the peril, he decided that his only escape was to fly over the chaos. He used the “Fly Over!”

He had skipped breakfast and even lunch. Who would have fathomed that he could survive without eating. Not that he was frail (well, he’s the opposite of frail); the only thing he loved was doing just that. Or was it the Lord’s will to let him know of his presence and make him know you are supposed to eat nothing on Shivaratri? That would have been cheesy. So, when he finally came to the aplomb shelter of his home, it clocked 4. Recapitulating the previous day’s college conversations, it dawned on him the program that they had agreed upon. Had his friends already forgotten the pact? Lately, none of these previously decided or planned programs were ever being realized. Would this one join the group of these never-conceived plans? As if in desperation, he texted his friends “MES at 6?”

But there was a bigger scheme of things unfolding. The phone rang for a couple of seconds. It was his uncle. He was coming over, by 6! So, he was torn between deciding what he wanted to do. It felt like being on the cliff. All he needed was a push, rest was gravity. The push came from his dad. “Go to the concert, you can catch up even tomorrow. As such, you won’t go to college.” Oh yeah, he still had 1 semester to finish his engineering.

It was sharp 6. So confident was he that none will turn up at the decided time, he left his home. At the venue, it was 6.15 and yet, no sign of his friends, nor Raghu Dixit. Yes, the concert was Raghu’s. What a sensation he had become in a short span. The recent songs of his in the movie “Just Maath Maathalli” were awesome. Waiting for his friends, all he did was watch the people around him. It was his field just two days ago. It was here where he played cricket. Now, a stage stands erect on where his pitch was supposed to be. Studying the surroundings, he noticed a few stands being built and a make-shift temple. Slowly, his friends started to arrive. It was almost 8 and 4 folk programs that the last one missed.

Once all together, they hunted for seats. People had started to swarm, if not for the function, for the free food. That has always been the case, isn’t it? With seats nowhere to be found, they perched on the stone benches besides the Basketball court. This was the farthest point from the stage, where a dance troupe was performing. Although the dance seemed good, neither he, nor his friends pretended to like it. They were engrossed in talks which had no bounds. These talks - which lecturers can’t understand the essence – continued till the programs changed for who-knows how many times. In between the talks, were two rounds of being in the line for free food. Would anyone believe him if he says the food were delicious and great? He didn’t care – he needed what he wanted, good food.

And where were Raghu Dixit and Sudeep? He eagerly awaited the arrival whilst laughing his hearts out at the comedians Richard Louis, Indushree and Mysore Anand. It was 11.30PM when the wait ended. The crowd went berserk when Raghu’s team and Sudeep made to the centre. He too felt the thrill. He had never been to a concert before. Although it was not as big as he had seen it on TV, it was big enough to make him realize how it feels to be at a concert. Raghu and Sudeep’s impromptu act was enough for the crowd to get excited. The whistles and applauds came rushing. The songs began, and he started to get to the rhythm of the evening’s gathering. He had heard most of the songs. But that didn’t matter, everything seemed different. From being seated, he began to stand, tapping his feet, waving his hands in air and jumping. While a chunk of the crowd started to disappear, he along with his friends, made way towards the stage. The speakers blasted the sound as if it had been assigned the job to make someone fall. There was no point of trying to just stand in front. It was frenzy. Never had he once imagined to be in a concert in the front jumping in the air to the beats. Never had he dreamed of singing in chorus with the crowd to Raghu’s songs. Be it his folk adapted songs like “Gudugudiya…” or “Kodagana koli…” or his movie songs like “Munjaane…” or “Ninna Poojege…”, he enjoyed to the brim.

His watch showed 2.30AM. Never had he returned from somewhere at that time. All along the way, he feared he would wake someone. He had a key, but he would wake up someone nonetheless. Ironically, it was his uncle, who was awake! After the awe-inspiring concert, now he was filled with guilt. And thus, his Shivaratri now complete, with no night’s sleep – Jaagarane!

Now, after three days post the concert, he is still in the same rhythm. The same rhythm has pushed him to write a piece for his blog which he has long lost his touch. Finishing his post and looking at its length, he starts to feel he would have to say “Jahapanah, tussi great ho…” to anyone who manages to read his post entirely!

Books to my rescue!

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As always is the case, I usually end up emerging from dust (!), just at the time you least expect me to! Well, merely not for you reading this, for me too… why, you ask? Amidst all the excitement of placements going on, most of my friends, if not all, are pretty much engrossed with R S Agarwal’s Aptitude books or Wren and Martin’s English Grammar (forgive me for my limited knowledge about these kinda books), here I am with this blog! Oh yeah, I forgot, Infosys has come to our campus for placements today – the first mass recruiter for our college!

Coming back to the topic of books, with me saying everyone are reading, it would be far from the truth to say I didn’t spend time reading. I spent most of the time reading. If you have read my previous blogs, you would have known by this time, which books I mean when I say ‘reading’. Yup, Novels.

It has always been a favorite pastime of mine, right from my schooling days. I am really very fortunate to have studied is a school, which provided me an access to so many of the spectacular books. But it is a pity that so few made use of them. Anyway, apart from all the crappy philosophy, let me get back to what made me restart this dormant blog again… 2 books.

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The first one is called “The Day of the Jackal”, written by Frederick Forsyth. It is, as usually the books I read, a thriller. And, no mere thriller, mind you. It’s a “keep you on the edge of the seat” kind of a thriller book.

The plot goes something like this… The year of 1963 in France. The Extremists want the President of France dead. With all their ‘other’ means failing to yield results thereby weakening the radicals, they seek the help of a professional killer from Britain. This assassin is the Jackal. The story moves on two separate tracks. One follows the Jackal and the other the detective put in command to trace the Jackal.

The seemingly simple plot of the book is so well sewn together that you will not feel like putting the book down. It is a unique kind of book where you know all characters to their true colours, unlike the other mystery books where you keep guessing. But the twists are in the pursuit of the Jackal. And take my word, they are not few. You will be in a spot as to which character to support as the story develops. It is a lengthy book to finish, but you will surely love the experience of reading it.

Now moving to the second, “Shutter Island”, by Dennis Lehane. This is the spookiest novel I have ever read. I have lost a night’s sleep over this book! This is the strangest one I have ever come across. If “The Day of the Jackal” was an edge of the seat thriller, this is a psychotic thriller that keeps you disturbing all the while you read.

The story begins with two US Federal Marshals assigned on duty to an island which houses a mental asylum for the criminally insane. A “dangerous” patient has managed to escape the mental institution. The Marshals are called for the investigation. But the plot starts to blot as pages fly by. The perplexing narration of the story and the mystery keeps you wanting to keep on reading. Once you start to think ‘oh yeah, now I know’, you will be dead wrong. This has to be one of the books that I longed not to put the book down till I finished. I absolutely loved it and suggest you to read this if you get your hands on this gem of a book.

Escapade to flood hit North Karnataka

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The movie Twister is very familiar to many. So are the many documentaries about storm chasing. What we cousins did was virtually the same – not that audacious though. It was supposed to be a trip to the temple towns Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami along with Gokak. The plans were good and everything had been set. Enthusiastically, the 6 of us – Me, Sumanth, Suni, Dinu, Ananda and Arvinda – gathered at the majestic bus stand for the 8:30 bus. The bus was right on the time – for the last time! The only thing that kept our sides from then on was bad luck.

After what seemed to me like a tea break, I woke up to find the bus to be stranded in Chitradurga, waiting for a mechanic to arrive. An hour or so evaporated. Finally, after the repair, I slept. Yet again, after a couple of hours of sleep, I woke up to see the bus being grounded. This time, a traffic jam! Mining lorries queued up for almost 2 Kms. By the time the bus moved, it was 8 in the morning and we still had half way to cover. Knowing that we would be a good half a day behind schedule, we reworked with the plan. But, our luck was such that whatever we decided would become futile. Ignoring the ill fate, we began to play Uno for the rest of the journey. The almost empty bus helped us. By 12:30 in the afternoon, we came to a place called Belur. We had a bridge to pass through. It was flooded. Remember I had said we were going to troubled places; well this was just the beginning. The entire North Karnataka was facing a flood situation. In fact, the places we were visiting were isolated. We got off the bus after 16 hours of journey. Wading through knee high flowing water, with our bags we reached the other side. Bad news awaited us. Another bridge, across river Mallaprabha, had been flooded. We booked an auto (what they called Tum Tum) as he promised us to take to Badami via a different route. But he said we should pass through 3 such small bridges. Taking our chances, we cashed our chips. The first two were a cake walk. Me and Dinu tested the ground and gave the go ahead for the auto to pass. But the third one was way too difficult for an auto. Dejected, we had to come back. The last of the cards we could play with was to catch a train. So, we went to a station called Mallapura. It was 3:45 by the time we reached there. Luck continued to elude us. We missed a train by 15 minutes. The next one was a good 2 hours later on. Rain started to pelt. The wind was chilly. The wind only grew and didn’t show any signs of slowing. Finally, at 6 in the evening, after 2 hours of enduring the harsh weather, we got into the train. For the first time in the day, we believed we would reach Badami. After crossing a few “pools” of water, we reached the hotel. The cozy beds awaited us. After eating our stomach’s full, we fell asleep – in relief.

The next day, the first thing we decided was, to return to Bangalore in the train that evening, if it continued to rain as it did the first day. But, the rain on the second day had lessened. In fact, it was a clear day, save for a few clouds. We booked a taxi and decided to visit Aihole and Pattadakal. Little did we know that they were isolated. Instead, we visited Mahakoota and Banashankari. The way to Mahakoota was cut off. I mean literally. A part of the road, under which the water used to flow, had chopped that part entirely. We had to pass on a “pipe-bridge” to reach the temple. Mahakoota is popularly known as the “Dakshina Kaashi”. The temple had a unique rustic feel. There was innumerable number of Shiva Lingas. After the visit and a brief photo session, we headed to Banashankari. Enroute, we started to receive calls – worried calls. The only news on TV was about North Karnataka. Everyone had become worried. But, the place where we were was quiet safe. In fact, we had started to enjoy this adventure. Once at Banashankari, we visited the temple and headed back. On our way back, we visited the bridge that had held us the first day. River Mallaprabha was in fury. The bridge’s portion was barely visible. The only part that we could see was the highest part of it – the pillars.

With the rain God showing mercy, we could see the Badami caves. The caves would have been seen in about half an hour had it not been for the guide. With the explanation, the caves seemed all the more beautiful. There were four caves. One is the Jain Basadi; one is for Shiva and two for Vishnu. Of the remarkable carvings, the Nataraja with 18 hands, Sheshaaseena, Shantha Narasimha, Vamana incarnation of Vishnu would remain etched in your minds for a long time. What’s special about the Nataraja sculpture is that it depicts the entire 81 postures described in Natyashastra by Bharata Muni (with permutation and combination with the 18 hands). Another wonderful notion was the Sheshaaseena. The posture portrayed, was how Pulakeshi, the king used to sit. So, what the people fathomed in those times was that the king was a human form of God.

After visiting all the caves, we visited the Bhootanatheshwara temple in the Agasthya Teertha Lake. This was the same temple where Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai get married in Guru. And after a short trek to the Upper Shivalaya, we were finished with Badami. The same day, we reached Alamatti. When we were almost there, it started to rain – for the first time that day!

The surprise package was Alamatti. We had thought of leaving Alamatti by 9, after seeing the Dam. But, it was not to be. We were told the park was a must see. Once there, we got to know, there were not one, but three parks to visit. Reluctantly, we got to the first one – Krishna Park. It was awesome. The statues that were displayed were very close to real life. Very realistic. The next one was the Lava Kusha Park. Being inaugurated only 10 days ago, it was beyond awesome. No prizes for guessing the theme of this park – story of Lava Kusha. The scenes displayed in this park were such that even the very minute details were taken care of. The dam from the park was a sight to behold. The last and the biggest of all, was the Rock Garden. With time running out, we wanted to finish this as soon as possible. But, yet again, things were not as we expected. This was huge. And good. An entire zoo had been created – in rock. There were even scenes of villages in one part. But the finale was the ultimate piece of creativity displayed. The view from atop was breathtaking – An Indian map at the center, with rays protruding out, like the sun.

What we had planned to leave Alamatti by 9, was now 12. We left for Gokak falls. By 3, we were in a Khanavali at Gokak. For the first time in 3 days, we tasted ‘Jola rotti’ and ‘sajje rotti’ – what we had waited to feed on. After eating to the brim, we headed to the much anticipated Gokak Falls. Another waterfall, Godachinmalki, was 12 Kms away from Gokak falls. So we decided to visit that first and then see Gokak falls. We had been told that we needed to trek through a couple of farms to reach the falls. With about 2 Kms to go, we had to wade through waist high fast flowing stream. Encouraged by the villagers, we crossed the stream and walked towards the falls. We were the only 6 people going towards the falls. Had we strayed, there was no help! The path too, didn’t show any mercy. Pools of water had to be passed through. Not to mention were the muddy path which was hard to set foot. But having gone through such trouble, the climax was thrilling enough. The sheer volume of water made a chill run down the spine. Standing at least a good 50 meters away, we were filled with a strange feeling of fright and ecstasy. Never had I seen such quantity of water. Relishing the scene, we had to hurry back. It was 5:15 in the evening. The walk back took nearly 40 minutes. By the time we reached Gokak Falls, it was 6. Darkness had slowly begun to encompass us. Gokak falls too was flowing to its fullest. The sound of the gushing water was intense. Sadly though, we could spend only a few moments here. With the return journey booked, we had to be in Hubli by 10:30. With no intentions of taking chances, we left Gokak by 7.

All we were hoping was a trip to the temples. What we got was an adventure that we had not even dreamt of. This was an experience of a lifetime. Here is a quote that reflects our trip in a nutshell.
An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered

Here is a link to some of the photos…

Tryst with KPL

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This post has been long overdue. So, let me begin with the lesser of the two boring experiences.

Just a couple of posts ago (that sounded pretty weird!) I had said how I had become so indifferent to the game called cricket. But, as it has always been, I find it hard to stick to my so called ideas. The party pooper this time – The KPL. Uncanny as you may feel, I pretty much liked it. The mainstay, something happening good for our very own people. Who would have heard of players like Mithun Beerala, Gaurav Dhiman and David Johnson prior to this? It was indeed a great platform for the local lads to polish their skills. And what better practice session could players like B. Akhil and Vinay Kumar, the regulars in The Bangalore Royal Challengers could have asked for.

Being a big cricketing fan, never having seen a match in a stadium before, was something I didn’t want to speak of. So when a friend of mine offered passes for the finals, I jumped on the idea. Earlier, there was a negative publicity about the total turnout for the matches. On the day of the finals, things were not as they would have wanted. Close to around 25000 people had gathered in the stadium.

Entering the stadium – it was a great sight to behold. The whole of the stadium was being lit up by four giant flood lights. The crowd was electric. The drummers, the cheer band and the audience – everyone were zealous. But things slowly began to fade – the batting was way below what all had expected. We had hopes for a McCullum innings from the first IPL. But it turned out to be a very plain 20 over game. We were so much distracted that we hardly watched the game. All we looked out for was fun and we had to find it somewhere else. There was this drummer, who would start to bang for each and every run. He’d be busy chatting with someone, yet, his sticks would be on the drum set. As the game got slower and slower, the more and more relaxed was he. Out of nowhere, he’d get his sticks and would again start pounding the drum. There was another peculiar guy – an old man. I guess he had a BP of about 250. Anyone who’d cross him was sure to get cursed. Such was his temper and if he had his ways, he would have kicked out a couple of players itself as we were seated near the long on and the fielder was blocking his line of sight! And not to mention about the innumerable number of good looking girls that passed us.

Be it cricket or not, we enjoyed to the brim. Well, that’s what a game like cricket does. Once there are people all around, the more the fun. Looking forward to see some matches again. And, I would like to thank for those willing to hand me free passes!

A trip that (almost) went awry...

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You remember reading so many of my posts related to trips or picnics. All of them till now had been like fairy tales – never any glitches, everything planned and executed to perfection. But that’s not how things remain always, right? So, here is the recent trip – which almost got out of hand to being a dud, but ultimately – “a happily ever after’’ ending.

The location this time was BR Hills. The crew – relatives from my father’s side. With some differences of opinion right from the word go, I had refrained myself from most of the decision making team. So, the plan was something like this: BR Hills, Dodda Sampige Mara, K Gudi Safari, Gopala Swamy Betta and then back to B’lore.

Being the first 2 day trip for my dad’s side relatives, there was no co-ordination. A trip, to be a success, has to be a well co-ordinated affair. The temple, at BR hills – we had to visit it three times. No one had prior knowledge on what to see and what to skip. Yet, no one cared to ask. We ended up missing Dodda Sampige Mara, which is said to be more than a thousand years old. To make things worse, when all were told to leave for safari by 7, by the time we came to K Gudi, it was 9.30 and the safari would be a futile attempt to view any wild animals. So, instead, we decided to go on a safari in Bandipur. But, with the luck we were running into, all we could see were a few bisons, deers and peacocks.

But, all was not wrong. The climate held back perfectly. Amidst all the rain pouring the previous days, it just stopped for these two days. Gopala Swamy Betta was good too. The driver (who surprisingly was the same one who had come with us for the Malnad Trip (Mega Trip 2)) suggested us to go to Nanjangud. Nanjundeshwara is our “mane devaru”. The irony is, the driver, who was a Christian, had to suggest us to go visit the temple! On the way back, we even crossed the Mysore Palace. And believe me when I say, there is no place more majestic than Mysore during Dasara. Just a round in the city lifted the spirits of every member in the bus. It was an exhilarating experience. So, be it a successful trip or a mixed bag like this, one thing is for certain – fun. That’s one thing that trip brings loads of.

Watch this space for the next trip – Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal……

Crybabies of Tennis

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First of all, congratulations to both Kim Clijsters and del Potro. These were the most unlikely ones to win this year’s US Open. This is the one tournament that I could never get to watch. With Nadal struggling to pull up his socks in being fit, I was sure that this would be Federer’s 6th straight win. Anybody who could have challenged Roger was Nadal. But with his injury taking a toll on him, he was very unlikely to live up to my expectations. Women’s section of this game is even more complex. It’s like the Williams sisters against everyone. So, I was pretty happy that I could miss this tournament.

But alas, the one tourney I miss in the year was riddled with controversies. The “foot-fault” dispute topped the list. Oh boy, you should have seen Serena (in case if you haven’t, that is). She was almost going to trample the line umpire. Poor umpire, got up and ran towards the chair umpire for cover, when Serena started to shout at her again. This was the first time that I ever saw someone being penalized for misconduct. With 23 grand slam titles and being the 2nd seeded player, she ought to have behaved in a more civilized way. It was a horrendous was to end an otherwise great match. I felt bad for Clijsters to win the match in such an awful way. The other shocking incident – the men’s final. Who’d have assumed Juan Martin del Porto to evict Federer from claiming his US open title? But the match was – once again, top notch. A five setter again. What surprised me this time was Federer losing his cool. Both the players fought with the chair umpire over a point.

But let me come to my point of writing this post. At the Wimbledon open, a year ago, Federer was betrayed with the 5th straight title. He cried! That was the day since I started to hate him. Okay, I agree, it was a hard pill to swallow. But, yet again, this year, when he won, he cried. I hated him more. It’s like, he wins or loses, he cries. This time around, Potro, after nailing Federer, rolled to the ground and cried. Kim Clijsters, after pounding a slow return from Wozniacki, falls to the ground. Her daughter, shouts from the audience. Guess what, she starts to cry! Common, what’s happening? I have never seen any sport, in which, anyone who wins starts to cry. After watching someone playing and fighting hard to win, I can’t see them cry, as if they didn’t expect to win at all. Grow up – that’s all I can say.