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Aug. 24th, 2009

03:17 pm - Rearrange me till I'm sane.

My father and I  went up Rajgad, a medieval fort used around the 1500's for a day hike last sunday Aug 23 2009. ( Ganesh Chaturthi). It sits on top of a mountain about 4500 feet high. The way up was dry and slightly warm and humid in the treeline.  Thats my father on the last quarter of the way when the large stone hewn steps of the fort begin.  The top of the fort is hidden in the clouds.

After lunch and about an hour of exploring on the top of this mountain we decided to get down before it got dark.  It got dark alright as the clouds closed in and threatened to rain. This wasnt a bad thing in itself as the monsoon season is the best for hiking these forts.  The picture below is looking down on the plains when the clouds started coming down over our heads and soon engulfed the mountain.

It soon started raining, first a soft and gentle rain, enough to wet the red lateritic soil underfoot and then it grew into a heavy steady downpour that made little red rivers flow along the steep path down. The path wound its way amongst the hillside vegetation. It was about six feet at its widest. Walking down on the wet and slick path was almost impossible. I would slip and risked falling on the rocks exposed by previous years monsoons on either side. The water that flowed down this mountain every monsoon had cut small gullies about the center of this path. They were about the width of my foot at the narrowest and maybe four times that much at other places. Their depth was varying and were full of gushing red liquid.   But stepping through them I found the safest grip on the ground. Even then I had to focus as the path wound downwards steeply. I was thinking ahead, “Would the bridges on the way home be closed?”, “Would my car get all muddied with the lateritic mud that is hell to get out? “, Every time my mind wandered, I slipped and fell invariably. Not always hard, but enough to get my behind on the ground, usually in slow motion.   The fear of twisting an ankle or worse, brought forth a realization that no matter how easy and predictable the next fifteen feet down looked, not thinking about my next step would result in a fall that could have severe consequences.  (Baba was following me, slowly but surely and twice as carefully).

I had to keep my mind, for those two hours, on the next step I would take. This was not without exception. And each exception, without fail resulted in a fall. It was just uncanny, as soon as my thoughts wandered, "Is my cell phone getting  wet?", “Could there be flash floods?” and down I went . It was probably the best lesson I have had in terms of keeping focus. And it was real with very immediate consequences.

I will remember this all my life.  My legs and behind are still sore. As is the arm that broke my fall many times on sharp and rounded rocks that were all hard.

Mar. 17th, 2009

10:24 pm - outsourced out!

I got an SMS from a ex HR manager from my last company.  All this is happening in India.

"Shocking news! Bio**** shuts down IDC( Indian development center)".

This morning apparently the new CEO and the CFO who had flown down to Pune last week, announced that the center would be shutdown in light of the recession and only the one in california would continue to run.

So this night about 70 odd people are wondering where they will work.

Guess who had called up the person who had SMS'ed me? The chai wallah( the kid who worked as the office peon, serving tea. ) he called her at her new job asking of she had any positions for him.

The company however is doing extremely well, got 26 million in VC funds late last year.  But the indian office was not really performing.

oh well, I joined the company when there were 15 people in india including teh chai wallah and saw the company grow to 120 odd. 5 yeras ago. I got to see a lot of the world travelling on that job.

oh well. I hope people land on their feet.


Feb. 12th, 2009

10:48 pm - "Prehistoric garbage trucks have the city to themselves...."

"....all i can do is hand it to you, and your latest trick."  M. Knofler is good.

Thought Id give all you folks a quick update.

Jeebus is this what I have reduced myself to? "Quick updates .."? Take me now.

I have been obsessed with thinking about getting a Royal Enfield motorcycle.  A british motorcycle that was left behind and is still made lovingly in india.    A collegue of mine( Chris from RI) had told me when people at this point of life start looking for a motorcycle, it shows they have entered their mid life crisisssy zone.

I had a a revelation last evening.  levis and other brands sold in india are also made in India( very likely  the ones sold in the States are also made here) but they are  made for a "different price point".  They still cost the dollar equivalent of about USD 40 but the material etc is much lighter and the whole quality thing seems severely compromised.   And people buy them like there is no tomorrow.

Indian media is the pits. Of late they are trying hard to emulate the states or perhaps they are just stealing straight from US newspapers/tv media and writing stories that parallel recent US events.
For example:
US: 9/11
India: 26/11  ( they also want to have surgical nuclear strikes in pakistan. All (gods  minus allah) help us all.)

US: Enron
India : Satyam
( media has assumed that since india too had a failure in corporate governance that it is just like the states.)

US: "Sully" saves lives as he lands a full flight in the frigid Hudson after  birdstrikes kill his engines. he is the last man off and traverses his cabin twice to ensure everyone is off. He is a hero who shuns fame and unassumingly declares that all pilots are trained for such emergencies and he was just doing his job.

India: The indian presidents helicopter decides to land between two runways in Mumbai without notice to air traffic control.  An AirIndia flight about to start its take off has to abort.   Pilot responds correctly to air traffic control request to stop.  he applies brakes and stops.  media goes to town with headlines about a pilot , who heroically saved a plane full of passengers by keeping a cool head.  After snagging an interview with the pilot( he shuns fame)the media reports that he unassumingly answers in an interview that "...any pilot instructed to stop his take off run would have done the same."   Our very own "Sully". Coincidentally his name was "kohli".

I cant bear to read the morning paper. I read the trashiest glossy gossip section because it seems to be more truthful about what it is doing.  How eating papayas can make you feel younger.  or how i can tell if my spouse is having an affair.( "She wont be interested in sex") . WTF?????

so i have been reading TinTin comics before i go to bed. I highly recommend getting a hardbound three pack edition.  great artwork and very imaginative stories.  And you will feel you are twelve again.

this is such a negative post. 


Nov. 28th, 2008

09:28 pm - When do terrorists sleep?

Its been almost 48 hours since it started.  The guy holed up inside the Taj is sstill fighting.

maybe allah IS on his side!!!!

The latest numbers are 145 dead.

Nov. 27th, 2008

01:47 pm - Shoot to thrill , play to kill.

About three years or so ago I was In south Mumbai with a friend from Rhode island.  At the Oberoi.  The group of Rhode islanders visting India had then stepped off the dock at the Gateway of India and gone to Elephanta island.

The biggest problem facing them was the beggars.  They were very bothered and gave away their packed lunches and all the change they had.
That was then.

Now its a bunch of people who could take you hostage at even the most famous hotel in India

It is so unbeleivable to hear about what is happening.  I started following this when CNN reported 8 people dead in a shooting at Cama hospital.  That was at 11:00pm last night.  Now its up to 101 dead and 300 odd hurt.

Will post in greater detail about local reactions...quite interesting.


Nov. 9th, 2008

01:58 am - My monkey is frightened

My langur monkey.

From a photo I had taken two years ago.

Sep. 5th, 2008

07:23 pm - Youre not married because of the Delaroche.

Its been four months since I quit my last job.  I have been at my fathers house.  I went around with a digital camera and took some random pictures. 

People have blamed the Delaroche print of Lady Janes Execution as the reason why the feng shui in my house is upset and hence Im unmarried.  "Dont put up such pictures of women languishing in pain!".  It was partly in jest , I think.

Our letter box.

An open area behind my house, very green now after the monsoon.

My gate.


Waever birds nesting on this tree.  I hope noone discovers the nests and takes them away from the birds.

Ill fated Delaroche print.



Aug. 25th, 2008

02:56 pm - Never saw this signature on a post in a blog before....

"If you can read this, thank a teacher!,

If you are  reading this in English, thank a soldier!"

Jul. 2nd, 2008

07:36 pm - Old houses in the old city.

Pune has a variety of older houses. Typically two storied, dwellings on top and wooden shuttered shops below. They are usually constructed of wood and brick with some stone. The railings and balconies are of cast iron, often decorative, and roofs of terracotta tiles with recent repairs of corrugated tin. They used to line the streets with almost no gaps in between adjacent houses. Some were ancestral family homes, some single room tenements. Rickety, crumbling, sometimes ornate, but almost all certainly destined to be pulled down. They will disappear quietly.  

I have started to draw these houses when I can. I draw using pen and ink wash.  I draw directly to paper without any pencilling.  I also draw on site.  I sometimes screw up but it keeps me focused and its fun.  I am usually squatting or leaning in an uncomfortable pose in a street corner.  The local kids sometime ( it was the summer holidays) come to see what I am doing.  The boys are usually full of questions, the girls seem more sincere in their appreciative smiles when I am done.


Jul. 1st, 2008

07:27 pm - Walking with the warkari's

Last friday,  I woke up at 6:00 am and decided to join about 500,000 people total, who were walking from one town to another, 250km away in sort of a pilgrimage.  I walked about 15 km :).

This tradition has been going on since the last 300 years or so.  This walkathon is usually soon after the monsoon has set in and so its quite pleasant for the most part.  
The true participants belong a to a non denominational sect called the 'Warkari's".  This sect was formed in response to traditional caste based Hinduism and other mainstream religions by a man ( now deemed a saint) Gnyaneshwar( try and pronounce that...).  His followers have continued this tradition, of walking from a temple in a town called Alandi to another holy site called Pandharpur about 250 kms southeast of my city Pune.

So you essentially walk, the devotees are usually older( about 50 +), farmers, rural folk with not a lot to their name.
Both men and women,  they come from various villages all around western India,  they form 'Dindi's", like a contingent, they are numbered, and in no arbitrary order, the #1 Dindi has come from the same village and generations have participated in it, so on with all the other contingents.  There is a lot of chanting and clanging of small cymbals.  People singing devotional songs or just chanting the saints name.
The contingents also have a support system, trucks filled with food and other essentials follow them on their route for the 50 odd days it takes for the whole procession to reach the end.  

This is also known as the 'Palkhi', or palanquin. A bullock cart with about 200 kgs of silver decorations, carries the solid silver replica's of the footwear of the Saint Gnyaneshwar.

So I joined this event, it took me about 4 hours in all, I walked about six kms to join and then walked back about ten.

Some images.

A 'Dindi'.  This contingent is relatively small.

Drying clothes.  The long procession can be seen in the corner right hand.

Drums and cymbals,  these folks are wearing traditional clothing worn by rural people and farmers in western India,  the caps were called 'Gandhi' caps because he had introduced them during the struggle for indian independence from the british.

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