Noun: unicorn 'yooni'korn An imaginary creature represented as a white horse with a long horn growing from its forehead. Though the popular image of the unicorn is that of a white horse differing only in the horn, the traditional unicorn has a billy-goat beard, a lion's tail, and cloven hoofs, which distinguish him from a horse. Interestingly, these modifications make the horned ungulate more realistic, since only cloven-hoofed animals have horns.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Blaming our leaders of the past

Time and again I have heard it - They don't appreciate Gandhi, They call Nehru a gigolo, They say Godse had done a great job, They blame Ambedkar for the prevalent "reservation" system in the country and what not -they blame all the national leaders of the past for the situation at present ... I am talking about my generation. We live in different times and those men were in a different time. Among all my friends and acquaintances a staggeringly high percentage believe that Gandhi was unfair and ineffective. They say his system was flawed and that if he hadn't been there we would have been free about 20 years earlier to 1947! There are some who say Nehru is responsible for the sorry state of affairs in the country. I have seen many people abuse Ambedkar and blaming him for the "reservation" system. What did Ambedkar do? He introduced reservations way back in 1950 and then gave the government a time span of 10 years to bring the backward classes on par with the rest of the society - What did the government do? They have kept on increasing the time span and post poned the removal of reservations to help sustain their vote banks. They all strived for the good of the nation in their own way - The leaders had clashes of ideologies like every body else in this world (Don't you have those petty differences in your office/college among peers?) I don't think there is any dark side ... If there is then everybody has one - Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar, Jinnah everyone has one - they were different times ... Way back in 1940s and 50s could anyone of us imagine the scope and effort involving in running an entire nation? Think about this - A year before I joined my organization it was taken over by a competitor and it took them a whole year and a half before the entire transistion was finished - we are talking here of an entity that housed about 5000 poeple - In the wake of 1947 we were a 30 crore nation! Mistakes are bound to happen because nobody ever had a problem to solve of that magnitude. We keep abusing the leaders of yesteryears for our misfortune today - but there is no one else to blame for the current ills that afflict the Indian society but us!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Feeling like August

Been an year on the job! Does that sound elated? No, I think it is more like "Been an year on the job ... Hmmm ..." - a sigh rather than a shriek. I completed one year and chugging along. It has been a complex one year where I learnt and unlearnt many things. Nothing excites me anymore and I don't do the things that excite me anymore ... Perhaps it was a case of too much too soon. I seem to be unsure of everything. Nothing seems to work to rejuvenate my zest for life. Life starts or rather starts dragging on a Monday morning every week only to end on a high every Friday night and the weekend seems to have whizzed past while the weekdays seem never ending. I have made as many visits to the doctor this one year that I have made in my entire life. May be I am feeling lonely - but then again, I enjoy being the master of my remote control! Life is not all that rosy that it seemed to be in the fall of 2005. What might have gone wrong? I am not sure of that either. Every time I see a man riding on a bullet thunderbird my heart cribs in pain that I didn't buy it when I wanted to because I had the engagement coming up and it burdens my heart still further now that I am debt ridden in EMIs and I know for a fact that I will never be able to own one as my marriage is coming up. I have bought many of the modern day convenience contraptions that did make life easy but something is missing in life ... Life has become hollow. Happiness seems to elude me. On the upside, In the last one year I have learnt to cook better and faster, turned unfit to fit and unfit to fit again (If you take the measure of waist as the index), discovered a new pastime called trekking which kept me occupied for most of my weekends last year, discovered a writer called Jeffrey Archer, Finally bought a copy of "English August" after searching for it in vain in the Sunday markets at Koti, Hyderabad and also at the leading book stores in Pune. I just want to leave all this rat race and go home ... i just want to sleep to my hearts content without about bothering about anything else!

Friday, February 23, 2007

2-Wheelers on express way!

With blatant disregard to the safety of others and that of their own - two wheelers driving around on the Mumbai-Pune express way (2-wheelers, 3-wheelers and pedestrians are not allowed on express way). Caught this on camera from atop Rajmachi point in Khandala with N73. One of the two wheelers is circled in red.

Friday, February 02, 2007


During the "Rang De Binary" dance competition - In the court yard of Residency club there was a huge banyan tree at the back ... All the lights combined with the twilight gave this tree an eerie look and I captured it with my N73.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A very "vegetarian" photograph about "non-vegetarian" stuff

After attending the "Rang De Binary" dance competition (I didn't participate - I was there as a guest). The dances were good and soothing. More than that they were like choreographed musical plays. After a couple of hours into the event hunger struck and one of my friends suggested a famous Irani outlet that served fabulous chicken biryani - Hyderabadi ishtlye called
"Blue Nile" in camp. It was a long time since I have set foot in a cafe and it was a far cry from the so called "posh" hotels which serve tasteless morsels under the name of biryani here at Pune. The dinner was made more memorable because of this one photograph that I took in the restaurant ...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New year

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Purandar fort

There was a gap after Raigad ... I didnt venture out across to other forts in the region as the winter has set in in these parts of the country and the land changed its hue from various shades of green to lighter shades of brown. It looks as though the land has lost its lustre! But I couldn't sit tight for long. One of my friends wanted to visit Uttarakshetra (Narayangaon Balaji temple) and I found that Purandar and Vajragad were nearby and coaxed him into coompanying me to those forts after the darshan of Balaji. Armed with the information collected from the internet I assumed that there was a well laid road to the top that would allow us to take our bikes to the base of the fort. About 20 kms from the temple towards Saswad we reach a place called Narayanpur which houses the famous Datta temple and a little later up on the same road you get a fork on the road that is adorned by color hoarding that indicates that you have to take a diversion towards Purandar (6 kms to the inside). Following that we were to the base of the hill in no time only to find that the road leading to the top was not a well laid road as was written but rather a path of stones. Yet we dared our bikes on that stone laden path all the way upto the base. The ride to the top was one of my most anxious rides as I was very tense through out the 3 km ride as there was nothing that would stop me from falling to my doom into the abyss below had my bike given away! When it was just nearing the top, the road seemed to be blown away in a land slide during the monsoon. Confronted with the option of either parking the bikes there or walking them across the land slide we decided to walk them. About 500 metres after that we were at the base standing opposite the statue of "Quilledaar" Veer Baji Muraar Deshpande. Parking our bikes at the military canteen and then refuelling ourselves with tea we started off towards the top of the fort. It was an easy climb to the top and the journey also had one of the most common questions that people ask on treks: "Why did Shivaji build these forts so high up?". First up Shivaji didnt build many of the forts - they were there since Satavahana period - He just refortified them and then used them effectively against the Mughals. He did build a lot new ones too. Second thing is that at such height you can have a view of about hundreds of miles around which lets you see any enemy force approaching. The fortification was intact and it was a good walk around the fort. There are steps leading to the fort but we took the wrong detour at the canteen only to find ourselves exerting harder to climb it up. While coming down we were able to locate the correct path. The steps start from south-east of the Purandareshwar temple which faces east. After coming down the hill and our way back to Pune we had a darshan at the Datta temple and the adjoining Narayaneshwar temple. I have the snaps ready but yet to digitize them.

Friday, December 01, 2006

What are parallel universes?

I answered this question on Yahoo! Answers and my reply was chosen as the best answer.

A parallel universe is one where everything is the same - we still live on earth, you and me exist and everything else and it is governed by the same laws of physics. The difference come in the path taken by your life basing on a particualr decision that you took.For example - At somepoint in my life I had to make a choice e.g. either pursue engineering or business management. I chose engineering in this Universe and currently I am content with being a software engineer. I took one road of the fork and I am in this universe. In a parallel universe I took the BusinessManagement road of the fork and probably I own a big business in a parallel universe. My assumption is every time you have to make a choice and you choose one in this universe there will always be a story of you running in parallel in the other universes (The number of universes will be equal to the number of choices you have in hand)

Here was the reason why the asker chose it as the best:

This answer is a deeply reflected one and it makes one think about the myriad dimensional universes that oprate in our lives .I will have to think about the isses raised in here. Meanwhile many thanks for your help.

Riots in Pune

The otherwise peaceful city of Pune erupted in Pune over the alleged desecration of a statue of BR Ambedkar ... Some parts of the city had curfew while some parts were partially hit. We had this by-the-hour updates by our operations manager who finally advised all of us in the office to leave home. I was oblivious to all this and was calmly pumping away in the gym (Yes, I am on fast track to fitness through diet and exercise - aim is to reduce my tummy and yet keep the same muscle mass - will tell you all how I did it once I succeed) when all this e-mail conversation took place. From the gym I went to the conference room to attend a meeting where I was surprised to find just two guys ... By the time the meeting was over we three were the only ones left in the office. Once outside the conf room the lights were out through out the building/ They even shut down the air conditioning system. I have never seen the office so deserted and it was just 8.30 PM!! Finally I left the building by about 8.45 PM only to find that I was one among the last software engineers to leave the Hinjewadi IT park - there wasn't another soul on the roads ... Who benefits from the riots? Neither you nor me - Perhaps the rioters themselves -
I heard they are paid for the rioting - But I know one thing for certain: There is one group that always profits whenever there is even a minor riot in Pune ... Thinking about Politicians? No not at all - I am talking about the the rude, idiotic, over-charging - autowallahs ... "Sir dange shuru ho gaye Sir - Bahut risk hogaa - 200 se kam mein nahi jaa sakte". Does fleecing me of a couple of hundred bucks avert the risk of riots? Especially when I am asking him for a location that wasn't affected by riots?

Yahoo! answers

These days I have a new pastime - answering the questions on answers.com - a service by Yahoo! It is cool, It is sauve, It even has features that you wish your company's discussion forum had ... I am hooked!

The New Thumsup Ad

"Muppai yellu gaa Thums up thaaguthunna - Kondarantaaru daanini taagadam thagginchaalani,
Inkondarantaaru ee vayasu lo naaku vishraanthi kaavalani! Motor cycle pi Araku asale vella koodadhani!! Nijaaniki Thumsup thaaginappudu naaku chaala aanandam kaluguthundhi - jorugaa parigethadam lo kalige anandam - Thumsup taagithe yekkuva kaalam jeevisthaano ledho naaku teliyadhu kaani okati maatram telusu - Aanandam tho aayusshu - Peruguthundani!"

Who ever has come up with this concept should be given an award for this year. Without the presence of the star (My beloved Chiru) the ad campaign still managed to capture my. Hats-Off of to the director. Also the ad focuses on the negative campaign against Colas. I don't mind the occassional glass of Cola even if it does contain a trace of pesticides - what the heck? Even vegetables today have alraming proportions of DDT!

Captain Jack Sparrow

Could you believe that I waited 4 months before I was able to get this snap? Sparrows used to frequent the balcony in my brother's home and every time I used to take the camera out to shoot one they used to fly off - It was on a very tired saturday evening (I had just come back from Sinhagad) that I was finally managed to shoot without disturbing its peace.

Konark bird park

I had the chance of seeing an Ostrich in flesh and blood during my Pune Darshan trip at the Konark bird sanctuary off Paud road. Photography is strictly prohibited here and yet I did manage to steal a couple of snaps of these rare birds like Ostrich, Emu and Cassowary.

Vetaal Tekdi

Vetaal Tekdi - the hill of the phantom. The place which I frequent when I need to burn of those excessive calories over the weekend. This snap was shot when the hill was at its peak in terms of greenish grandeur. It is brown now. Fall has set in. The paths have become dry and I am not afraid os slipping in the mud anymore. Whether green or brown it is still my "affordable" treadmill!

Pataleshwar caves

In the heart of Pune city amid the hustle and bustle of the JungliMaharaj road there lies this patch of land that is completely serene and indifferent to the surrounding noise as though it has built a "force field" around itself - Pataleshwar caves. These weredug up during excavation carried out in the area and hence the name. The caves house a temple of Lord Shiva with a magnificient Nandi opposite to the entrance. I went there on a rainy saturday morning which renders a mystic greenish hue to these photographs.

Mahabaleshwar - Table point

Need I say more about the beauty of this place? It was simply captivating ...
For a complete set of photographs drop by my yahoo album

Photographs digitized

Photographs digitised
Post Raigad, I took the time out to scan each of those good snaps and update my Yahoo album.

Visit to Fort Raigad

This was my best snap among the lot I shot at Raigad - The Ganga Sagar which was supposed to contain water from all the rivers across India which were brought specifically for the coronation of Chattrapathi Shivaji. This was the view of Ganga Sagar tank (taalaab) from Shivaji's palace.

Vist to fort Raigad

I went to Raigad with my brother's family to experience the ropeway. It was the first time that I felt I totally lost it. The journey was tedious - it was a good 160 kms from Pune - the warandhe ghat road didn't seem to end and the children were getting uneasy with all the constant bumping they were getting - courtesy of the bad road, I was getting worried about going back because it was already mid-day and we still didnt even have signs of having reached anywhere near Raigad! Finally we did manage to reach it and have lunch only to find out that the guys don't start the ropeway unless both the cubicles are filled to capacity (8 people in all). I lost precious sunlight (I was armed with my usual Canon locked and loaded along with an old Zenith also loaded for the occassion) because the guy didnt start the contraption until about 3.45 PM! The rope way ride was one hell of a ride! I was constantly thinking that the rope would crack and I would be hurled into the abyss below. I clenched my fists in anxiety and was looking only at eye-level and avoided looking into the valley. The most anxious moment came when the cube was nearing the top most point and it started emitting creaky noises and the cube was shaking - God! I was at a height of about 1400 ft. Finally we descended and got ourself a guide and that guy knew his craft - Just went about telling the history of the place and took us around the fort. The fort was great but it was getting darker and since both me and my brother had never been this far out on our car had our own apprehensions. So we came down via the same ropeway but decided to take another route back home via Paud road. This road was far better but was looking very very desolate - there was not another soul for miles together ... The last straw came when a buffalo jumped onto the road from nowhere and hit our car a little below the right fender rendering the car door unopenable!

The snaps came out nice ... But the CD which I bought at the fort about Raigad turned out to be a fake (They charged me a 100 bucks for that!)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Khandala Lonavla trip

It has been quite some time since I blogged about my journeys in and around Pune. since I will be going home tomorrow I thought I better blog it all up now. After Lohagad I lay low for a weekend and the next weekend my family came visiting. Mom, Dad, In-laws, Fiancee and sisters-in-law, All came here for a vacation (It is Dasera time and people down south get atleast a week off). When they all came here I planned to take them for a tour of hill stations around Pune like Khandala, Lonavla and Mahabaleshwar. I also planned for the Narayangaon Balaji temple as my in-laws were keen on visiting it. In the evenings I had to squeeze in shopping trips and dinner programs at branded outlets like McD or Pizzahut. All this hectic schedule left me drained but nonetheless I was enjoying myself. I even managed to take them to Dagduseth halwaai Ganapathi temple, Shaniwarwaada fort and konark bird park in that long weekend! Follow the next few posts and catch a glimpse of monsoon magic that bowled my family over and made them fall in love with Pune!

Friday, October 13, 2006


This is the e-mail I got from a friend today morning

Today i went to sation at 7:55 AM can u believe that there were 45 people in each line? 20 such lines but still i was hopeful that i would get a tatkal as this number reduced to 20 in just 45 minutes. Because every body (who wanted a delhi ticket) was returning without a ticket coz tatkal tickets were sold by that time but as ill luck would have it the server was so slow that for processing a ticket and printing it it was taking 15 minutes (per ticket) my turn came at 10:45 AM. by that time all the 100 tatkal tickets for konark were over and it entered into WL so i booked a ticket a bombay-hyd hussain sagar and hyd-vskp nizamabad exp (leaves sec'bad at 9:45 pm) ticket The first one is a tatkal i dont want to go tomorrow and waste another 2.5 hours. so u people carry on on thrursay. diwali time in pune rly station is horrible i have seen it last year and this year too.


Mr. Xxxxxxx

Consultancy Services Limited

This was my reply:

Not just the railway station - Maharashtra (stands for “The great state”) government itself is horrible – stupid policies and policing … Like they don’t care about the roads but want censor on what’s being shown in TV. The High Court just asked to stop screening adult movies at normal times and these bungling idiots blocked all the movie channels and now the high courts is mum about it … It doesn’t care about the misinterpretation of its order!! All that those idiotic traffic cops care about it is lifting your bike off the parking lot if your back tyre has just crossed the white line but the traffic police never care about improving parking facilities! When it comes to railway station – the clerk always comes late and because of the stone-age computers and printers that adorn these offices they take at least 10 minutes to resolve each customer request and it takes at least 2 minutes to print each ticket on that old “dot-matrix” which keeps screeching all through! (keee … Ki ki ki … Keee ki ki ki!). To rub salt on ones wounds all these idiots who care a damn about rules, write registration numbers on the number plates in Marathi (making it virtually impossible to read incase they hit and run) claim themselves to be the proud sons of Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj!!! How atrocious can it get? Did Shivaji ever ask the Shiv sainiks “Chalo sab logon par gundaa gardi karo!” ?? This is perhaps the first time in my life I am seeing so many “Jaakat naakas” (Octroi tax collection centers) that burden everybody right from the petty vegetable vendor to the software engineer who wants to buy some piece of furniture in the suburbs because it comes for a little less there. Well, in my state it doesn’t have this octroi and yet they maintain good roads and infrastructure. The cable wallahs are the worst parasites of the lot – They charge exorbitant amount in my locality but that was fine because they were beaming down almost 90 channels. Now a premium part of the pay-channel list (movie channels) are gone owing to the misinterpretation of the HC order and still they didn’t bring the subscription down to compensate that! There is nothing great (“Maha”) about Maharashtra except some people like Sachin khedekar, Milind gunaji and Varsha usgaonkar screaming “Maajha Maharashtra” in some mobile service provider ad! Pune is great – It would have been even better if these “Dharthi ke laal” stopped spitting the gutka and pan on the walls and roads!

For this post my friend replied:

my ramblings about" maha"rashtra Plusses: It is the most industrialized, most urbanized state in the country. ample resources of any kind.. excellent tourism potential it is perhaps the only state that has so much agricultural production despite being so much industrialized Minuses: Worst Governance of all time, Highly mis-managed state u find tax of every kind: higher sales tax, service tax, professional tax than any other state in India. but still, worst possible basic infrastructure.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lohgad a.k.a Lohagad trek

Rise and Shine
6 AM - "Get up, Get up ... It your big weekend after many boring weekends! Clear up your head, charge up the cell phone, wash your face, Keep the coffee kettle on the stove, boil the water for noodles, Call others, Pack the bag, Come on - Lots of stuff to do before 7 AM - Come on ! Get up!"

Loaded and ready
ERROR: Bike NOT Started
7 AM - "It is already 7 AM and you are ready to go - Shit, the bike doesn't start! Come on, Come on, Dont keep them waiting, Start up, Wake up from your sleep you lazy horse, Give it one final kick ... " Lo and behold! Bike stirs to life and cruises along to the meeting point at Convergys Office in Aundh.

Meeting point
Everybody's here all geared up! Lets go, Lets go - We have to be out of the city before 8 AM to avoid the rush hour traffic.

Missed it by a hair's breadth
ITI Road: Zooming past, Hey! Why is Chandra slowing down? Something's coming up, Ouch! watch out!! Duck, Swerve, Zoom ... That auto driver has no road sense man! Idiot turns right so fast without even giving a hand-signal!!

Breakfast on Paud road, Asking for directions along the way. "Damn my Marathi skills, Hindi seems to be of no use here! How will I ever reach Lohgad? It been like I have been riding my bike for eternity now! Crossed Jawan village, the farthest point to which you have ventured out till date from Pune in this direction. Hey, Look Tikona fort to the right, Tung fort to the left, Aah! There it is - Pawana dam, a land mark to suggest that I have been on the right track! Congratulations, time for a pit-stop. Discharge!"

"View is breath taking. Ah-Ah! Dont get lost in the scenary! The road has snaky curves and steep inclines. Be careful you fool! Fell down twice on this bike in as many weeks last month on the muddy and slippery Pune roads - This time the casualty could be serious!Huh! Back on plain road, No way Iam going to come this route when going back, the bike can't make it up that incline - Lets go back from Lonavla side"

Wrong detour
"Took the wrong turn - Forced a detour on the team! The guy screams "Lohgad? Seedha varti ahe!" Don't know. I see the fort ramparts on the hill beyond but the road seems to lead nowhere - What to do now? Let me ask this passer-by. Park my vehicle infront of the temple like he said and start climbing up? I don't see a path out there. Still not sure what to do. Its still your call. OK guys, lets park infront of this temple and start climbing"

The lost trek
"Ground is turning slippery here - Actually you are walking across a stream coming from the hills above, what else do you expect? Be careful you might slip"

Many detours later
"Here you are at the foot of the fort - Look at the steep incline of the fort wall - Oh no! Iam going to get a heart attack incase Iam to climb that! No way Iam going to do that. Hey! This villager seems to be a god-send, It is too good to be true! If what he says is correct there should be a road a little further up that leads directly to the fort steps"

Steps atlast
"Piece of cake - Hey! this climb is by far the most easiest compared to other forts" Made it atlast. Here it is - Ganseh Darwaaja, Now what's this next door? Is it Hanuman Darwaaja or Maha darwaaja? Lets go to the next door and check" - A few minutes later - "Yes we have a hanuman idol on this door - this is the Hanuman Darwaaja means the previous one got to be the Maha Darwaaja"

Marvel of engineering
"By Jove! The walls are still intact, This is unbelievable - There are walls, Then there are doors, There are steps that lead to those doors"

Born free
"Trying to catch some fish in the water tank so that they can adorn his fish bowl at home. To catch or not to catch - Either ways I am fine with it - Afterall Iam not going to eat that fish - They will be assured of good care and three square meals a day but in a tank of lesser size." Decided against it finally.

Vinchu kaata
"Scorpion's tail - People keep raving about it but I never thought it would be so magnificient that I would be dumbstruck at it splendor! If I climb down to the end of the tail will I be able to climb up? No you can't make it back besides it raining, If you slip on the rocks you will be in a point of no return"

Telugu, Telugu everywhere
"What happened? Every body seems to speak Telugu here, Kottha oka vintha ani mana vallandaru katta gattukuni vacchi padinattunnaaru! Yem maatlaadithe yevariki artham
ipothundho ani chuttoo choosukovaali!"

Zhunka bhakar and Poha
"This tastes really good! Two rotis are not sufficient - get me one more please"

Whose bikes are these?
People at the temple seem to be wondering who left those bikes there - "Some conspiracy theorist must have thought they were laden with explosives. They must have been real scared!"

Who owns these bungalows?
"Now that we have climbed from the difficult way to ascend to the top frmo Pawana nagar side, Lets find the easy way out to this fort. Proceed straight to Lonavla from the parking place. The way up to Lonavla is marked with lavish sprawling bungalows - Who owns them? Anybody who has money to splurge and land here seems to coming dead cheap"

Full throttle
"You are consistently doing a 90 on the bike - full throttle - Touched 105 momentarily. Bike released from bondage of Pune's bad roads. Racing like a through-bred. Accelerate, dipper, gear-down, accelerate, over take, zoom ..." constant pattern. Lonavla to Pune in 35 minutes flat!

The aftermath
"Body is aching, Yet Iam filled with good memories from the trek. Throw the wet jacket on the clothes line, remove those water filled shoes, switch on the hot water, turn on the shower, relax ..." thirty five minutes later - came out and took a fresh pair of clothes. Slipped into a dreamless peaceful slip early that evening only to be woken intermittently by Sandy's crying - but that's OK, woke up fresh the next morning.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Meggy in daddy's T-shirt

You keep hearing about "stepping into one's shoes" how about "trudging into one's T-shirt"? Here is Meggy in Daddy's T-shirt!

Sandy in a lungi

Sandy in a lungi - I was the one who decked him up in that attire.

My old cubicle

This was my old cubicle when our team was housed in STPI - Software Technology Parks of India, Maharashtra, building. Now we are into another office a little down the road which is called RedFort. Will be posting that cubicle's photo soon.

Me and Sandy

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Saturday night parking woes

Thinking that you have heard about Saturday night fever but what the hell is this Saturday night woes? Well, to say the least this is the misery inflicted upon hapless people who just want to eat in peace by taking home a take-away from places like Pizza Hut or a McD by all those software denizens that have been unleashed owing to the weekend - having been glued to their monitors the whole week! Pune roads are bad as it is but what makes it even more irritating is the fact that parking becomes a very big problem. Like the other day I went to PizzaHut near my apartment to get a take-away at about 7.45 PM or so and there was place for parking my bike and yet couldn't do so because the other bikes were parked in a hap hazard manner and didn't let me get to that empty slot. It all started the moment I spotted that empty slot and wading my towards it and lo and behold there is a smaller bike with a middle-aged woman sitting on it - seems her husband left to give the order while parking the bike across the entrance making my entry into the parking lot impossible! By the time that very knowledgeable an civic person came out with his take-away and allowed me in the empty slot was filled. Boo-hoo! I couldn't but do anything else other than stamping my feet on the ground in anger. Finally my weight training paid off as I found that there was a huge gap between two haphazardly parked two-wheelers but nobody wanted to set them straight and park their own. I lifted each of them and made place for my own bike. Order given and take-away delivered in 20 mins flat. Cam out of the PizzaHut only to find that there was no way out as the flow has increased and vehicles both two and four wheelers were parked all over the place in zig-zag patterns. I remembered that "find a way out" puzzles that I used to play with keen interest in the magazines and newspapers. I did eventually find a way out of that parking maze. I was inching my way across to that exit slowly avoiding getting any scratches on my bike and I was just 5 meters from the exit and BANG! there she was - one fat middle aged woman riding on a 2 wheeler - with not enough horse power to make it into the thirties once she starts riding - came and parked her bike right at my exit. The moment she came into view I asked her politely "Mam! Can you please wait a minute? I want to go out" she said very rudely "Go back the way you came and exit from the other end!" and locked her two wheeler and walked away as if it had nothing to do with her! I had to again play the "find a way out of the maze" and get out. The moment she walked away my anger knew no bounds and I actually thought of hitting that "pink" "scooty pep+" bike with mine. I am pretty sure that nothing would have happened to my bike but her fiber body endowed bike would have been damaged pretty badly! But lucky she was that I am not like I used to be about 4 years ago - she must have thought that I was thinking "Pink se pangaa nahi lene kaa!" like in that ad. But neither is she as cute as the bubbly Zeinta nor is her 2 wheeler as strong! Anyways I managed to get home before my take-away got cold.

The guy in the picture biting away into that burger is me - at McD - It was just a month after I came here to Pune. I haven't been to a McD or a KFC before that.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Brave Heart!

The next weekend after Sinhagad trek ...

God forbid you fall ill in Pune! I don't know about other big cities because I have never lived in cities other than my very dear twin-cities (Hyderabad and Secundrabad) but cost of living in Pune is high as it is and rising steadily. Back home in my place Doctors charge no more than 100 bucks for a consultation and they don't charge a follow-up consultation fee if the visit is in less than 15 days! The other day I woke up only to feel a searing pain in my left calf. It thought it was a muscle cramp and just went about doing my work thinking that it would subside. After 4 days it worsened still. I had no choice but to visit a doctor lest it was something serious. The doctor was a very experienced old man who examined my calf for a couple of minutes and pronounced gravely "Cellular Thrombosis!" as though he just passed a death sentence and as if to confuse me with his medical jargon. Perhaps he thought I was one of those innumerable software drones who lead a very happy life typing away on the keyboards to their pay checks and are blissfully ignorant about Biology either animal or plant or human! :) . But he was wrong. I did understand that he meant a blood clot in my leg! My real ailment surfaced when I was about to pay the consultation fee at the counter. I didn't know that I had a cardiac problem until I saw that his 5 minute examination was worth 350 bucks!! - My only offence: I admitted that I was a software engineer! He prescribed a sonograph to determine where exactly the clot was( And that cost me about 1300 bucks ). He asked me to come back and see him the next day with the test results. Armed with the test results I consulted him the next day morning only to be charged 150 for the follow-up consultation that lasted just better than 2 minutes. The doctor kept charging me 150 on each of my subsequent visits over the next two weeks. On my last visit that lasted less than a minute I was finally relieved to hear that I was completely cured. But by the time I was finished I realized that the bills totaled 3300 which included a 1000 for consultation fee alone!

In Pune it is not enough if you have an ailment to consult the doctor - You also need a brave heart!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sinhagad trek

The last two weeks seemed like eons of geological time to pass by. I embarked on a trek to Sinhagad on one of those Saturdays but was very unlucky because of the rain and heavy fog that engulfed the place - So no great photographs - the photo you are seeing on the right was taken from the digital camera of a friend who was extremely patient with his camera so as to shoot the images at all the right places at all the right spots. The fog, the rain, the chill, all made the trek a memorable one but the only complaint I have is that I could not photograph the extremely well preserved fort walls of Sinhagad as the valley was thick with fog. There was an area at the top most point in the fort where the wind was blowing so fiercely that I got the feeling that I was flying. All the small waterfalls near by became water-"ups" :) as they started shooting upwards towards the fort instead of flowing down into the valley. It was certainly not the most demanding treks but it was certainly the most trickiest treks with water flowing all along the path below my feet making me nervous to get every step right. Once on the top I was hungry like hell and was relieved to find myself treated to pitla bhakari (Jowar roti), kandha bhaaji (onion pakoda) and dahi (curd). We had hot roasted peanuts as well. As I wanted to explore the roadway to the fort also (So that I can come by bike another time) I came down by Jeep. Due to the incessant rains I was wet, trembling and exhausted by the time I came back home. Again a hot water bath came to my rescue ...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hanuman Tekdi

After lots of enquiries, I was finally able to locate the address of Hanuman Tekdi (hill) which is a favorite of joggers and located in the heart of the city. This small hill is surrounded by BMC College, Fergusson College and Symbiosis. Also on the Symbiosis side we can find Ambedkar museum. We can start our climb either from symbiosis side - from Senapti Bapat road or from the BMC college or Fergusson college. We parked our bike at the BMC college gate (two-wheelers not allowed inside college campus) and started our trek up this small hill. Once on the top the view was terrific. We could see Parvati at a distance. The glass and concrete marvels erected on Senapati Bapat road were also visible from the hill top in their full splendor in the morning sun. We got to the Symbiosis side, visited the museum and then went inside the Symbiosis institute to capture the bronze statue of "The Common Man" in my camera. Incidentally, Hanuman Tekdi was the place where there was a student initiative for rain water harvesting. On the way back we saw a small valley complete with a moss-filled pond that added to its beauty, right behind Symbiosis. There were Kingfishers flying across the pond, Lots of flowers and greenery all around. The hill is small but you get all the shots you need for photography as many as you would get in a trek on the Sahyadri hills.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Trek to Vitandgad

when I came to Pune almost 6 months back people were telling me about the beauty of trekking in the monsoons and how the clubs organize those treks. Monsoons arrived and suddenly the brown hued hills around pune came alive in green. I decided on embarking on a trek with a club called vadventure1 on Sunday, the 9th of July, 2006.
D-Day arrives
I have never been to a trek before and I was apprehensive about it. I started working out and made it a point to walk atleast 4 kms everyday in the morning since the last 3 weeks. I woke up at 5 AM in the morning, got ready, had noodles and coffee for breakfast, packed my back pack with lunch, water, camera and torch and I was off to the bus stop by 6 AM to catch a bus to Swargate, our meeting point.

Bumpy ride
I still don't get it why they write the bus number only in Marathi (or use Devanagari script) instead of the regular Roman numerals. I don't know Marathi neither am I conversant with the numerals. I waited for a bus to show up, just saw if Swargate was written on it and just hopped in. I have used PMT bus for travel only once and even there I didn't sit in the last row. This time I had no chance to sit towards the front of the bus as it was full. I eased myself into the last row only to find that it was very difficult to remain in seat as the driver was speeding and the potholes in Pune roads made me jump up and down in the seat. I was relieved when I finally
arrived at Swargate bus stop.

Drive to Jawan village
We took the ST bus to Jawan village near Pawana dam. The drive was very scenic and it was a hint of the things to come. It started raining while the bus was edging its way towards our destination. We got off at the village. There were about 40 people ready for the trek now. We had breakfast of Idli-Chutney at a loacl hut there. The icing on the cake was the hot tea served while it was drizzling outside. Wind cheaters up, Cameras locked and loaded, ready for the trek we made a circle and introduced ourselves to the group. We then started to the foot of the hill.

Walk across the paddy fields
The walk towards the foot of the hill was through paddy fields. At first I was worried about all the mud that was getting stuck to my shoes. Then suddenly I slipped and I was in ankle deep mud. My brand new Adidas changed from dark grey to dark brown. Now I was no longer worried. Just continued walking while clicking snaps in between. All around me were small waterfalls about 3-6 feet in height. It was intermittently raining with bursts of sunshine in between. The hill tops were covered in fog but oddly our target - Tikona fort or Vitandgad was clearly visible from the foot of the hill.

On higher grounds
The walk across the fields lead us to our first resting point a little above the fields. After that the walk was through bushes we came to the second resting point at a temple. A Gurudwara was also nearby. After resting for a while we started on the most difficult and terrifying part of the climb. Of all the things that I weighed before I embarked on the trek, I overlooked one thing - My morbid fear of heights (acrophobia). I overlooked it because it was lying dormant for several years and I haven't been to great heights in recent times. The steep incline, the valley on
either sides, the height all made life difficult for me and time and again I thought of quitting the trail and sitting it out while the rest climbed up. I was only able to complete the trek owing to the psychological push given by my friend Vijaypal and the organizer Nitin. If not for them I would have missed the view from the top.

While going up right at the base of the fort there was huge stone carving of Hanuman. Nitin told me that people still come here from the village below to pay their respects to him. I too pad my respects and took a snap of the God in his cute red avatar.

Why steps are high in forts?
Nitin gave me an explanation as to why steps are high in forts - to prevent animals both domestic and wild from climbing up. If the ascent is steep then if the enemy starts climbing up the steps they just need to dislodge the top one and send him down and the rest will all tumble down. He also told us that Shivaji made good use of these forts which were built by the Satavahanas. When I questioned the logic behind constructing these forts on the hill tops when the actual city and money are in the valley below he said that the fort was for the protection of persons and not the property.

Theory of Relativity
Climbing up from the base of the fort the steps became steeper and the height of the steps was about a foot and a half each. I was getting worried about the possibility of slipping. It was a little over 90 minutes since I started walking and already I was feeling like I had been walking since five hours. When I told the same to Nitin some trekker climbing ahead of me shouted down "Theory of Relativity"!

Crawling, Pushing, Hanging and hauling myself up, I made it to the top of the steps. There was this guy who was smoking wearing a red T-shirt with a Cheguvera print on it who remarked that I would die if I had been to the BhimaShankar trek. He was arguing with an odd sense of
logic when he said that he would drop his plastic water bottle on the road so that it would get picked up and get recycled rather than in the dustbin where it might not get recycled at all. While all this discussion was raging I was trying to go to the top most point of the fort. Incidentally there was a huge step on the way and that was the only place when Nitin had gladly accepted to give me a hand and pull me up to my relief (I was worried that my weight might pull him down).

Jeans are bad
Through this experience I learnt that jeans are bad for hill climbing treks. I walked towards the end of the top most point in the fort. The breeze was cool and soothing. Suddenly it started raining and we all decided to start the climb down to the base of the fort where there was a man-made cave to have lunch. That was when I noticed that Cheguvera was going into the temple of Lord Shiva present at the top of the fort with out removing his footwear and smoking a cigarette. I heard him say that God wouldn't mind.

Trek down was uneventful, it wasn't as bad as I imagined it would be because of the constant support and enthusiasm given by Vijaypal and Nitin. Finally I made it to the point where we took rest for second time while we were climbing up. After that I took a close up snap of a flower which I have never seen before - Nitin told me that it is used while worshipping lord Ganesh. We visited Chota Himkund, a gurudwara which was a replica of the Himkund gurudwara in the Himalayas. We were treated to wonderful tea by the master of the house which takes care of that gurudwara. It started raining like cats and dogs when we reached the foot of the hill and I missed several good shots because I couldn't get the camera out for the fear of rain water spoiling my lens.

The aftermath of the trek
We finally got on to the bus that brought us back to Pune. I alighted at Karve Road only to find that there were some riots going on at Deccan Gymkhana and there were no autos or buses available. I was finally able to coax an auto driver into taking me to Aundh but he charged me double the normal rate. I was home - all muddy and wet. It took me about 20 mins to clean my shoe while it took me another 20 mins to get cleaned up myself. There is no such refresher as a hot water bath after a hard day's toil to soothe your muscles.

I wouldn't have been able to complete this trek without the enthusiasm and help of Vijaypal and Nitin.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Pune Darshan

IMay 27th, 2006: Today I finally embarked on a journey across Pune city - to know the place where I live, better. I booked Pune Darshan. The trip started at 9 AM and ended at 6 PM . The trip was both demanding and yet exhilarating. I was always aware that Pune had a rich heritage. I was unaware as to where to start looking. Pune Darshan trip organized by PMT is very good endeavor in helping non-puneris understand Pune better ...

First point was Tilak museum in Narayan peth. This was the residence of LokManya Balgangadhar Tilak. It was also the publishing house of his newspaper Kesari. We can find life size models of Tilak in the museum. Looking from a distance you feel that indeed Tilak is reading in his study.

Second point was Shanivarwada fort. Already been there once. Built by the Peshwas, all that is left of the fort is its wall.

Then the third stop was Mahatma Phule wada - The once upon a time residence of Mahatma Jyoti Rao Phule, a social reformer of the early twentieth century. A passing reference is made to this great man in Nehru's Discovery of India. Located in the twisted and congested lanes of old Pune the house brought back the memories of my ancestral home in my village. It was remarkably well maintained but the department taking care of it should have put enough lighting inside the house to shine on the portraits and other artifacts that were housed inside.

Shinde Chaata - The temple of the Shindes
A magnificent temple tucked away inside a remote corner of the city in Wanowrie off NIBM road. This temple was built by the Shindes. I was in for a surprise when the guide told me that this was built by the family better know today as the Scindias (They moved to Madhya Pradesh and Shinde became Scindia). The most famous of them being MadhavaRao Scindia and Vasundhara Raje Scindia and the current scion Jyothiraditya Scindia.

Katraj snake park (Rajeev Gandhi Udyan)
Until I visited this snake park I never knew that there were 3 types in the turtle family - I always thought there were only two: Turtles and Tortoises. Here I met the third kind, Terrapins - These have webbed feet with claws protruding out of their fingers. Several species of snakes were on display inside. It was very touching to know that the scientist who was instrumental in setting up the park lost his hand due to a snake bite! It seems he still preaches that snakes are harmless and don't harm you unless provoked. I bought a WWF calendar inside the park that now adorns my desk in the office.

Sarasbag Ganesh temple
A very picturesque garden, a small lake in the middle. In the middle of the lake sits Lord Ganesh in his island abode. The temple is serene and cool. The specialty of the temple is that in all other Ganesh temples the snout is bent to the left hand side while here it is bent to the right hand side. Apart from that the temple houses a museum that has various types of Ganesh idols made from all sorts of materials on display. The temple and the garden are great but you have to stand the stench of the lake.

For lunch we halted at a nice little restaurant tucked way inside a quite corner of sarasbag.

Dr.Kalkar museum
This was one of the most elaborate and biggest one-man collections that I have seen. The exhibits were neatly arranged and information was posted alongside of each one. There was very cute Ganesha made out of utensils. Also they were planning to open a new wing in the museum - Mastani Palace - They literally cut out a piece from a palace in Kothrud and pasted it inside the museum as a tribute to the eternal love story of BajiRao-Mastani. When I heard that Sanjay Leela Bhansaali was making a film called BajiRaoMastani with Salman Khan in the lead, I had no clue what it was. Now thanks to the museum I understood that it was a love story between BajiRao, the Peshwa and his court dancer Mastani.

Konark bird sanctuary
About 20 mins away from the museum and outside the city on the Pune Mumbai highway lies a small resort tucked way in the hills. "Konark" is its name. Not until you get into the first aviary, do you realize that this small resort houses a huge collection of rare birds including macaques (giant parrots from south America whose cries are deafening), Ostriches (about 8-9 feet in height), Emus, Cassowary (a bird like the Ostrich except that it is found in Australia) and loads of other avian species. The money you spend on the entry fees (about 10 bucks) is worth every penny. This is private collection and owned by an ornithologist and photography is strictly prohibited (Though I did manage to get a few snaps of the Ostrich and Emu)

Ambedkar museum
The last stop on the tour after the arduous climb at Chatu shringi temple. This museum is very well maintained, neat, clean and has sufficient air conditioning and light. It houses the relics of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar along with the Bharat Ratna medallion that he was awarded along with his personal artifacts. It is adjacent to Symbiosis college in Senapati Bapat road. The entire halle is under a huge dome built in the shape of a Buddhist stupa but only here it was covered with blue cermaic tiles giving it a very modern look. The surrounding garden near the dome make it look like a piece straight out of StarTrek! What struck me was the fact nobody bothered to take his shoes off while entering into this dome that housed the remains of Dr. Ambedkar and even the staff at the museum were very laid back and didn't ask for that to be done.

By about 6.15 PM we were dropped back at Deccan busstop. During the course of the tour I had exposed a complete reel of photographs, bought Rs.200 worth of souvenirs and was exhausted. But I felt good because I now know the city and its heritage better.