Monday, October 01, 2012

In Search of Self...

Every weekend or so when my better half is willing to be my outdoor companion, we set off.

As the subject line states, I am off with a purpose.I live for the outings and dream of living in a small thatched hut amongst the backdrop of the Mountains and Hills, with a fresh water Stream flowing close by, the gushing sound that will be my lullaby every night, the star lit sky my story teller.

Every morning would start with a cup of herbs, made with stream water, freshly picked from the vast offering of nature, brewed under a fire, lit by dry wood picked from the Woods.

Exercise routine will involve a trek up the mountain, a splendid view to look upon, the never changing landscape, guard to which I stand.

The daily challenges will not be absurd business forecasts, nor will they involve MIS's but would be simple to for food. Is it time for paddy, out shall I plant wheat, will the pumpkin ripen in time or shall there be gourd for dinner.

The gentle breeze, the strong winds, I shall have them for company, always, and as I dream on, I shall bluff myself that this day is not far...the way I bluff at an interview, stating that one day I will be a CEO.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

When superstitions get reinforced...

 When superstitions get reinforced...

It was the 5th of Feb 2010 and I was to see off my better half to the station; she was to leave for Hyderabad post noon to attend her sister’s wedding. As I needed to be mobile, I planned to ride my bike to the rail station alongside the auto.

I started a few seconds after the auto left and thus raced to catch up. But even after a good 3 miles, I could not spot the auto, and lot of things went through my mind as to whether I had missed them or was it that there was another route to the station.

Whatever the reason, I could not spot them and this worried me to no end, thus I raced with a heightened anxiety. I over sped many vehicles on this small road leading to the Lakshmisagar chowk, and was about to cross a speeding biker when a grey spotted tom cat crossed the biker’s path. This guy slowed down, enough to cross his shoulders, so as to prevent any mishappening from occurring; this is when I stepped on the brake and let the biker stay ahead.

Was it that the same superstition played on my mind or was it just that I realised that I was speeding and needed to slow down; whatever thoughts occurred that day, did manage to save the day for me. A few seconds later, a large black car appeared out of a side lane and the biker ahead of me was hit.

His bike skidded a few meters before coming to a halt. This was terrible and incomprehensible. Thankfully this guy was not hurt much and before there could be a conflict, I intercepted, making both the parties involved realise that the day was saved and that it could have been worse.

And guess what, all that racing was just a futile act and an outcome of irrational thinking. My wife arrived a few minutes after I reached the station, citing reason that they had to turn back as she realised that she was not carrying her cell phone.

So when such a thing as this occurs in your life, don’t bother about the superstition, but do stop & check yourself, as to, are you speeding or is there something that could have been done better and surely like me, you’ll all be much wiser.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Nature just unfolded unto me…

This winter morning seemed to be a blessing in disguise. Having lost several such weekday mornings this chilli winter to slumber, today I woke up with the sun rise.

I left Mariam sleeping (for which I had to pay, but that later) and went cycling.

We have a two type cycling plans, one for the weekdays and the other for the weekends. The weekday ones haven’t happened for quite sometime, while the weekend cycling is very much alive, where we cruise out of town.

Our weekday circuit takes us through a big village and then onto a road parallel to the Kuankhai river on one side and a canal on the other. Along the canals’ other bank are several small villages that stretch for the next 5 kilometres before hitting the highway perpendicularly. The outer half of the village is called the stinker, for these guys have something for the roads which they beautify with their nature call routines all along.

It was a chilli morning with the temperatures having come down to record levels, my hands and knuckles cold to the core, felt quite brittle. This was not going to stop me; the sleep is a bigger hurdle than any that I’ve faced in my life.
As I passed through the first village, there was not much of activity noticeable except for the local kiranawala and a laundry shop that catered to our colony.

Today somehow I felt not in touch with nature, as if the distance had increased over the days of my no-show. I however took to the Kuankhai river road still occupied with this thought although wanting to do a fast warm-up lap. My only companions were the stealthy babblers who are almost everywhere amongst the foliage and vegetation but only if you can catch their surreptitious movements. They are also called the ‘seven sisters’ since they are always found in the mentioned numbers. They are single coloured pretty birds who can scare you by their deadly looks. Never look into their eyes or they may bite you, had they any teeth. As I whizzed past the flora, there was not much that I could get a glimpse of better than the drongos who are black, in fact they describe the word black very well, blacker than the black, a beautiful glazy black, you cannot miss them. They are found on high wires, electric poles, tree tops; you can surely identify them by their forked tail. You can try and get close to these birds for they are urban bred and do not shy away that easily. Mostly perched on electric wires, they help clean up your streets. Observe them catch a fly or any small little flying insect with an expertise surely written into their genes.

As I turned to head back, I noticed billu in a flock, billu as in open billed stork, biggest Arial species visible in Bhubaneswar skies, about to make a landing on the other side of the river. They resemble the flying pterosaurs from Jurassic park in the way they make a landing and in many other ways such as their appearance. Surely someone in Hollywood has been inspired by their flight pattern; let me try describing to you their descent. The flock makes long circles around an identified patch of their possible landing and then slowly shifts their circular jig in the direction of their initial flight, in the same time gradually making their descent. They take their time and I mean it, landing in succession with lot of grace and harmony.

Proceeding ahead I made an abrupt stop by a neem tree by the road on the riverside upon hearing for the first time in two years the full call of one of the most shy and strikingly beautiful birds, the golden oriole. As the name says it all, the oriole is completely golden with one species having a touch of black, making it the winner of the most beautiful bird prize; their call is something like ‘pee-loo-loo’. She is most visible in winter and the trees of her choice are huge and dense trees like siris, peepal and banyan. All winter I have been spotting her with as much excitement as watching a new born baby; and have heard her regular call of ‘twue’, but today I was lucky to hear her sing.

I descended towards a patch of land on the river to first observe the winter ducks visible at a distance at the opposite riverbank. They were a first in this area. Not much was visible, even difficult to identify their colour and type; for glancing towards eastern side with the sun rising, was causing me to squint and all who have ever clicked a photo will tell you this ki it is not possible to get a good picture of the subject with his back to the sun, and the same is valid for the naked eye especially at distances.
I headed back to seek out my favourite golden oriole. I stood still, facing the canal side observing for movements on the trees by the road. There was a siris tree which surely would have initially lured the bird, and if I lingered long enough, I would surely get to see more than I asked for.

All of a sudden Nature unfolded unto me. It was like a world once invisible, was gradually revealing unto me its treasures. The surroundings quite peaceful and serene, I could now sense a lot of life here. With a little more concentration, I could now notice faint signs of flutter everywhere.

I spotted a woodpecker, a flameback carving a hole in a broken and dead portion of a tree trunk, a first ever in these lands. Then on the dried canal were perched two female koels about who nobody ever speaks, they are grey with polka dots all over and are very beautiful up close, but sadly only their male counterpart is much spoken of; or then you would have heard about the koel story just like the one in the movie ‘3 idiots’.

Then of course I spotted her, not just her but a pair and they were strikingly beautiful. It was a pair of black-hooded golden oriole. They were so strikingly beautiful, clearly visible with the sun at my behind, accentuating their varied colours. As I stood still, they carried on with their chores while I enjoyed God’s magical creations. This sisis tree was full of life with drongos, koels, babblers and bulbuls, with swallows flying high up and all this and more awaits the seeker, by an untrodden road.

And then I spotted a barbet which flew to a bush up-close. I was about to get to my bike when I sighted her on bare of-branch. What a rare sight, its colours visible in full, varied greens, a brown-headed barbet it was. These ones we can spot only on high dense trees, but this was my lucky day, I got to see her in lateral view and then it flew.

I headed back riding with verve, stopped again by another ‘twue’ and was lucky to get a passing glimpse of a flying Eurasian Golden Oriole. These ones have a little black on their wings and come with a regular pink beak and are obviously golden. Well this was one power packed morning.

As I passed by the village enroute to my colony, villagers were to be found in clusters by the tea wala, others in preparation for the hard day ahead, some others were half-naked with soap foam all over, taking a bath by a hand-pump on this chilli chilli morning while many others just idling away. Leaving with these last glimpses I cycled on, and whoa, by the gate of our colony, an Indian Roller, also known as ‘blue jay’ or ‘neel-kant’, greeted me. The morning could not have been better, neither could I have wished for more nor would I have wanted it any other way.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bhubaneswar to Pipili (Applique Village)

This weekend happened to be one of those days where dreams take the shape of reality. Mariam and I woke up by around 5:10 am, pretty early for a Sunday. For all who may have missed out on my wedding, Mariam is my spouse / friend / partner in crime & my better half who takes all my inflictions in good spirit.
Although the sun was visible in the eastern sky, Sunday morning turned out to be chilly just as per our expectation. Nature had dished out the perfect morning to go about our plan. We however had not made any preparations other than psychological, for this day. This led to a slight delay as the major task at hand was filling the tires with sufficient air that would last the journey and make our ride comfortable.
One would wonder what makes this journey so wonderful, but before that I’ll tell you a bit about Pipili. Pipili happens to be a small town 17 kilometres from Bhubaneswar & 22 from ours, made world famous because of the unique handicraft that its folks have mastered. Whenever you happen to ride past Pipili, your eyes will be left mesmerised by the bright multicoloured decoratives hanging from almost all shops that is so unique in colour & form that one has to stop and admire the beautiful handiwork. These that I talk of are articles that can be hung from ceilings, framed on walls, with varieties that extend to lampshades, tablecloth, letter holders, hand fans and even umbrellas.
Now that makes a wonderful weekend destination. One may wonder that if this place is so romantic, why this guy engages us by talking of hand pumps and cycle tires. Well that’s the point, our plan was to cycle to Pipili covering over 44 kilometres both ways.
Our gear included a winter jacket for Mariam, a track jacket for myself, two litres of water distributed in three bottles, some stuff to eat midway (in the likes of some cold chicken, potato fenugreek curry, some thekua – a dry Bihari preparation, and select dry fruits), an extra pair of socks for both of us, hankies, sunscreen lotion, good old Vicks, my camera with extra batteries and a haversack to hold some of these articles. Mariam’s bike has got a front basket, so that is where some of the handy stuff goes while mine has got gears (which I soon realised are not good for such marathon type outings).
By the time we started it was past 7 am and after just a few minutes on the road, I realised that carrying the haversack was a mistake. A lot more effort was required to paddle and the thing in itself was a bother. Well finally it ended up not on my shoulders, nor Mariam’s who was readily offering hers but on the back of my cycle which punished the bag in many ways (part of it got ripped by rubbing against the tire).
Our agreed highway rule was simple, that Mariam would lead and I would follow close, and unless required we will not break the momentum. I was of the inkling that frequent cut in my speed would be required to maintain a desired distance between the two of us; it was not to be so, Mariam was super energised and I really needed to push in order to keep pace. Initially we stopped for bio breaks & some purchase of the favourite energiser, half a dozen bananas.
The road was alright; except that it offered us no space and that it was a single lane each way with no dividers although this was the route to the Golden Beach City, Puri. Mariam led the track without any hassles being familiar with the route from our biking expedition to Puri sometime back. She however was irritated by the passing bikers who often offered a greeting seeing a female cyclist all geared up. We could have actually put boards on our bikes for more attention.
Our first actual halt came within an hour’s ride after passing Dhauli (remember the great battle of Panipat, a Buddhist memorial stands there today, but since I have not visited the place, I cannot provide you with more information), we took a dirt road leading to a village, stopping midway among the fields to have our well deserved Tiffin. Now we were not the only keen hungry ones, for a passing cow caught the whiff and stopped, giving me a side glance which I reciprocated and lo, it was by my side nosing at the food in my hand. I was aware that if I provided this guy (literal) with some of the chapatti, it would get even more determined.
Ready to share our breakfast, I offered her a piece of the chapatti, first by making her smell it and then throwing the piece at a distance, but this was no dog, she did not budge from her place. Rather I had to get up and offer her another piece and lead her to the earlier piece of chapatti. Getting our chance to have a few bites, we dug into our share of the much desired food. Some guy nudged at my shoulder, any guesses, oh! Mr. Guy not any more. She now was even more determined, chapatti being to her liking. She was now threatening to topple over our cycles, offering us no choice but to flee the place but not before having offered her some more of the chapatti and to the poor little partner who was too shy unlike this guy.
Cycling further up the road, we stopped just before the village and consumed our chicken & leftover chapatti. We clicked a few photos and by the time we took to the road, it was nearly an hour’s halt. Our eyes all set on Pipili, we completed the distance in record time. There was not much to do here other than shop and we were well prepared. We spent around 2000 bucks on colourful items feeding my hunger for shopping while poor Mariam could only stand by and suggest that we reduce our load. However it was all done in half hour and I promised Mariam that come whatever I’ll not be spending anymore on Applique work and I even promised her a chai. That was enough to keep her cool for the rest of the time, and even encourage her on agreeing to buy the umbrella.
The next task was to carry the load back home, what pain. Now since the purchases weighed more than the haversack, I decided to tie the pipili stuff onto my bike, the umbrella neatly tied onto the main front rod of the bike frame, sling the camera on my shoulders, put all water cans in Mariam’s basket and the almost empty haversack at the back of her bike. Now that the sun was high, we had to shed our jackets.
We found a nice spot to park the bikes, had special tea with black pepper, turned back to take a memorable picture of us four (two bikes + two bikers), halted for an hour’s time by the lake that we had earlier noticed, filled up our water cans and then by 1 pm we were on our return journey.
Now we had a different problem, our muscles hurt, and the road was a struggle what with the increased baggage and slightly inclined road. Funny, that whichever way we went, the road seemed to be inclined. Mariam on the lead, with slight signs of wariness, we headed on. The journey was less eventful and we needed a bio break but decided against it due to lack of appropriate place and then with time, it was not even required.
We occasionally stopped, mostly since I braked to take a picture and was out of Mariam’s sight, thus making her stop. We shared our thoughts while cycling which seemed to be very few and quite similar. We were mostly absorbed and engrossed by God’s creation upon which the road was laid, the either side of the road in green, golden and blue seemed to stretch endlessly forever. Such beauty was rarely admired for the passersby usually were racing with time.
The city of Bhubaneswar was now visible at a distance, and with that our time with God was running out fast. The worldly thoughts seemed to be rushing back and then our stomachs too growled. I said to Mariam that it would be wise if we eat and return to our nest since surely neither of us would be in any mood or mind to prepare a meal. We found an Oriya dhaba that served thali and also had a place to park our prized possessions.
On our way home which was another 6 to 7 kilometres, I promised Mariam a good cup of hot coffee for having accompanied me all through without a word of complaint. Once back around 4 pm, we took our cycles up the two floors and rushed in to empty our bladders. We changed and then that was it. Our second marathon for the day had begun. I finally managed to wake up Mariam at around 11:30 pm so that we could shift to our bedroom, and also did make that coffee in milk. I’ll say it once more, I finally managed to wake up Mariam at 7 am the next day; don’t take me otherwise after all I too needed an encouragement to wake up. Below are some cherishable moments captured in time.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lands where the Bulls go Wild

I just happened to be at the right place at the right time but at an unfortunate hour (office rush), few seconds I was there; I was a spectator to a most amazing event.

I was caught on a flyover, here in Bhubaneswar in what seemed to be a traffic jam. Since a biker never stops, I managed to squeeze closer to the traffic stopper which to my delight / surprise were two huge, I mean real huge Bulls who were drawn in a fierce battle and were surely after blood (can't say who would shed blood for the humans seemed to be insignificant wretched little things caught in the battle of the Titans.

And even the giant trucks that were, were stopped by these mammals locked in some hard talk. They swayed, they snorted, scared two scooterists to quit their vehicles and as I was excited & scared in the same moment of confrontation, I made a silly move to squeeze past the small gap that was momentarily made and what madness, the bulls were heading towards me and my bike (a Pulsar) that seemed so puny amongst them giants. The tail of one almost touch my bike and I had frozen by then and my adrenalin pumped blood, what a rush; I was fortunate since the bull the back of which kissed my bike gained dominance for a second enough to push its brutal foe away from me for a moment big enough to turn my bike and hide behind a neighbouring car (Wagon R).

This had done it and I decided to take my chances and quit the flyover that was a witness to the clash of the Titans.

As I parked my bike close to my workplace, I still shivered, was overjoyed too for having been there. A moment to cherish, a moment so big and unforgettable that I had to write about, and here I am writing as witnessed just half an hour back.

...I desired to be amongst the mountains, in the wild, beside the rivers & streams and when I couldn't, the Nature came calling right into the city.

Sunday, July 23, 2006



new postings will soon be put.

just adjusting to the new setup

lots to write.

soon to come


Saturday, April 15, 2006

An Unseeming Topic

I got on the train from Rajnandgaon, a city in Chattisgarh, India at around 12:30pm on the 30th day of March 2006. I was visiting my Dadi (Grandma) in a prompt decision. Wishing the journey to be exciting if not amazing, I bid farewell to the city.
Drowsily I climbed into the upper berth, a number 43 and tried to sleep in this one baking oven.
Giving up after a while, I sat up to see Mr.48, probably heading for Pune too (in our very own Azad Hind Express), starting to unpack his lunch. And lo, Behold! I saw a new innovative thing that he took out of his travelling bag.
Oh! So well designed, like any other design by man, the great Creator. An object of desire, a must have for all travellers; in fact the railways should give one free with each sleeper ticket.
Oh! What a lovely piece of Art, better fit to be nailed on the Wall. No not the innovation, but the head of the freak who came up with this. How am I writing Odes to this blasphemous, anti-appetizer and what not – of all the things in the world à a disposable ‘Thali’?
I believe man leaves no tables turned to see the complete and thorough destruction of Nature. Of all the things that one would or one could come up with, a disposable plastic Thali!
Where did it all start? Where did we go wrong? How have these plastics come to dominate and command over our miserable lives? Can we not move on, out of this dislikeable, disgusting and do-awayable, ecological disaster, a complete bad design, a disease worse than consumption of the 1800s, a self inflicted injury that is surreptiously closing in on us, like that, that which man fears most.....
Something that a poet said...
"The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armor against Fate;
Death lays his icy hand on kings:
Sceptre and Crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade."
...............James Shirley