Sunday, December 27, 2009

A wonderful post by my friend Chandra

Don't miss on this post by my friend Chandra. Have put this link over here, since it has a reference to me B-)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Do I love her or Do I hate her?

Before you draw any conclusion, let me clarify that this post is not related to any female (or even to any male for that matter). Well, don’t get disappointed. The story is quite interesting. The story started in Jan 09 when I decided to purchase Sony Walkman in lieu of an Apple iPod. Let me not get into the details of my decision to choose Sony over Apple. The price tag of the Walky was Rs. 3500 and it had a 1 year warranty. Hardly had a week passed by since I purchased the Walky, when on one fine day, even after my continuous persuasion, my PC refused to detect it. The Walky wouldn’t boot up either. I went to the showroom and deposited the faulty equipment there. Four days after depositing, when I called up the showroom, the salesperson furnished me with the information that the defect is beyond repair and the piece will be replaced. The price of that model had climbed up to Rs 3990 by then. Well, a lot of follow-up phone calls and I finally got a brand new piece after 8-9 days. Fifteen days from that day, the left earphone decided to go on a “maun-vrat”. This time the showroom salesperson told me that earphones weren’t covered in the warranty. After lot pleadings, I finally managed to get the earphones replaced with a warning that next time I should not complain about earphones. But the destiny had different plans and after a few days, the right earphone decided to go on a “maun-vrat”. Later I came to know that all MP3 players come with very poor quality earphones to reduce the price tag and one is assumed to buy a pair of good quality earphones separately. In spite of the warning given by the showroom person last time, I did give an unsuccessful try to get them replaced. I purchased a pair of high quality Creative in-ear phones. The Sony-Creative combo was giving an awesome sound quality and great noise isolation. Everything was working fine, when on one fateful day in Nov 09, the Walky again refused to boot up. As if treating it as an untouchable, my PC also refused to detect it. The first thing I did was search for the warranty card. Good gracious, the warranty was valid till Jan 2010. I went to the showroom again and this time the showroom person asked me to contact the Sony service center directly. I think he might have been pissed off by my numerous phone calls and visits for single equipment. So, I went to the service center, which happened to be 12 kms from my place. I had almost started hating Sony when a miraculous thing happened. Four days after depositing the Walky, when I called up the service center, I was informed that the equipment was beyond repair and I’d be getting a replacement again. Wait, the story didn’t end there. The model that I owned (2 gb) had been deprecated and I got an upgraded model (4 gb with additional features, price tag Rs. 3990). Needless to say, I got the ear phones (the ones which I had almost trashed) replaced as well. Now, should I hate Sony for the poor quality of software in the older model or should I love Sony for getting me a high-end model for free. Well, I’m in a dilemma.

P.S.: I’m keeping my fingers crossed as the warranty ends in Jan 2010.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ek Number link for asli Nagpurians

I simply love Nagpuri slang words. Before I list out some of my favorite words, let me put my 2 cents on this topic. I think many of the words that Nagpurians speak have their origin from the fact that Nagpur was the capital of Madhya Bharat some time ago. That’s the reason why Hindi is still a widely spoken language in Nagpur. Many of the Marathi people, especially those from western Maharashtra and Marathwada find difficult to digest the fact when two “Maharashtrian” Nagpurians often converse in Hindi, instead of Marathi. I think they forget the fact the native language is largely impacted by the history and the geography of the region (Nagpur is geographically very close to Madhya Pradesh). I believe that rather than cribbing about each and everything, we should try to enjoy the uniqueness of the things. Anyways, speaking Marathi with a tinge of Hindi in it or vice versa, Nagpurians simple love doing this. Let me give you some examples.
Western Maharashtra Version: Kaay kartoys?
Hindi Version: Kya kar raha?
Nagpuri Version: Kaay karun rahila?
If you notice, “karun rahila” is taken from Hindi “kar raha”.
Sometimes these words sound very funny.
gheun ghya (le lijiye), deun dya (de dijiye), chalalo gelo (chale gaye).

Oops, I diverted from the topic. I wanted to list out some of my favorite Nagpur slang words:

kya bolte; ek number; hao kya; abbey; bey; allag sallag; angaar; apan; badmas; baitad; bavaji; phoknaadyaa; buari; bum; chhapda; bawa; chengad; fal fal karna; fek mat; jhaamal jhaamal karna; fatey tak; ghaape; jaana be; kaadya; kanpatna; konteme; mahol

Many more words with their meanings and usages can be found here:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Road Trip to Wayanad

Planning phase:
When software professionals get 3 consecutive long weekends, what do they do? Some workaholics go to office even on weekends, some go to their native places and the rest surrender themselves to the God of sleep. But there are a few restless species of this breed who hate to spend their weekends passively. Two species of this breed, Prat and Kaps decide to spend one of these 3 long weekends doing something adventurous since the other 2 weekends are already packed with some other plans. This long weekend falls on 26, 27, 28th Sept 2009, 28th Sept being Dussehra. So, starts the most hectic part - planning phase. Prat and Kaps being the initiators, have to take the responsibility of this stupendous task. Since almost all from Kaps’ friend circle have already planned to go their respective native places, Prat is left with the task of gathering a group of people from his friend circle. After a series of mail chains and phone calls, he succeeds in gathering a group of 6-7 people. Some people are going to join from Chennai and Hyderabad. Let’s see how people from this group relate to each other. Kaps is an outlier. Prat is connected to Prad and Prad is connected to the rest of the group. The next task is to decide the place to visit. After a lot of googleing and discussing with various people, Kaps pitches in for Wayanad. It being a 3 day weekend, he assumes that this is the best deal. Prat also agrees for this place enthusiastically. Prat proposes a weird idea of going on bikes. Being a risky idea, everybody rejects it straight away. So the search of cab, hotels, etc takes its course. In the meanwhile, an issue pops up. One of the persons from this group, who’s supposed to join the rest of the group from Hyderabad, had visited the place earlier and didn’t find it worth visiting. This starts kind of a debate over the place to visit. In the midst of all these debates and discussions, on the night of 24th, Prat has an intensive verbal altercation with Prad (the reason for which is still not known to Kaps). In the morning of 25th, Prat tells Kaps that he has broken the only link with the rest of the group and the other group is planning for a separate tour to some other place. Now what would the leftovers, Prat and Kaps do? Spend the whole weekend like normal software professionals? No way !!!! In the evening of 25th, Prat proposes his older idea of bike trip to Wayanad. Kaps is a bit hesitant about this idea, his bike being bought quite recently and is supposed to follow the speed limit. But he has to accept this idea, the only other option being spending the whole weekend like normal software professionals which his mind wouldn’t approve of. Kaps is also hesitant since there’s no plan in place, but Prat manages to convince Kaps that not much planning is required. Prat and Kaps go through a few blogs about Wayanad tour and it is decided that they should leave early morning on 26th, reach Wayanad in the evening, spend the next day in Wayanad and start the return journey in the morning of 26th to avoid riding in the evenings. It is decided that packing of the bags, taking printouts of the blogs will be done on the same day before going to sleep so that they can leave very early in the morning. Both of them are dead tired after a hectic office day and both hit the beds without packing and printouts, promising each other to get up at 5am the next day. Quite expected!

General info about Wayanad:
Wayanad is not a town or a city. It is the name of a large district with more than half a dozen towns. In all probability you would be heading to one of its three major towns, Sulthan Bathery, Kalpetta or Mananthavadi. There are three routes to reach Wayanad from Bangalore. In any case, one has to reach Mysore and from then onwards, the routes differ.
Route A : Bangalore - Mysore - Hunsur- Nagarhole - Kutta - Mananthavadi (Wayanad)
Route B: Bangalore - Mysore - HD Kote - Bavali - Mananthavadi ( Wayanad)
Route C: Bangalore - Mysore - Gundulpet - Munthanga - Sulthan Battery ( Wayanad)
From Kaps and Prat’s experience, one should never take route A and B, the road conditions being pathetic for almost half of the whole journey. Route C is the best deal. If one wants to bypass Mysore city (to avoid traffic), there is a bypass road that appears on your right after Srerangapatina town. This is the road you need to take to reach KRS (Brindavan Gardens) and Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary located near Mysore. Take the road towards Gundulpet, in other words National Highway 212. One can also get to NH 212 from the city centre (palace area).
Day 1:
In the morning of 25th, after a lot of alarm snoozing, Prat and Kaps wake up at 6 am. They hurriedly pack the bags, take the printouts and withdraw some cash from ATMs. They finally manage to leave the place by 7:15 am. Kaps is on his new Pulsar 180 and Prat is on his Apache RTR 160. Both of them set their respective trip meters to synchronize with each other (thanks to the digital speedometers both the bikes have). The engines start roaring and the not-so-planned journey begins. They start from Forum towards City Market to reach Mysore road. They take a wrong route near Corporation Circle and then after a couple of gyrations around corporation circle, they finally manage to touch the Mysore road. They decide to ride the bikes within the visible distance from each other, but the traffic on the Mysore road (it being the Dussehra season, and Mysore being famous for Dussehra celebrations) sets them in and they keep losing the track of each other and have to constantly make phone calls to each other about their whereabouts. They decide to visit near WonderLa and there they decide to ride independently and meet each other every 25 kms (this is where the trip functionality in digital speedometers come handy). They spot a deadly combo on the Mysore Highways: A Petrol pump and a McD.
They refill the empty petrol tanks and equally empty stomachs. Getting energized with that refreshment, they cruise towards Mysore. On the outskirts of Mysore, after asking a couple of local folks (which confuses them even more), they take the road inside the city. The drama of losing the correct route and asking the local folks continues and finally the duo manages to get on the correct way towards Nanajangud i.e. NH212. Mysore city to Nanjangud is about 23 km and Nanjangud to Gundlupet is about 35 km. The road is in a decent shape. It takes around 5 hours for the Bangalore - Myosre - Gundulpet stretch, including a couple of breaks in between. It’s well past the usual lunch time and the duo is dead hungry. At Gundulpet, they decide to take lunch at Hotel Pathan’s International. The restaurant is a decent one at reasonable rates. As they exit the town, the highway makes a right turn. The road at this junction goes toward Ooty. But to head towards Wayanad, one has to take the right turn. The duo had to ask the local folks since there was no direction-board at this junction. By this route, the duo will be entering Wayanad through Suthan Bathery. Gundulpet to Sultan Bathery distance is about 50km, mostly through the forest. Just before entering the forest, they spot a small Tourist Centre on the left side of the road. There they meet a person, Tipu, who hands them over a detailed map of Wayanad, suggests them a rough plan according to their schedule and also gives them contact numbers of various hotels in Wayanad. In about 15 minutes after leaving this place, the duo is about to experience what Kaps called an awesome ride of his lifetime. Imagine a dense teak forest with a curvaceous road laid out in the most improbable locations offering breathtaking sights and bird calls. The Bamboo shoots are rubbing each other and whining. It takes anything up to an hour till one crosses the forest. One should watch out for wildlife crossing the road. Inside the forest there are some rules
- No parking, no Picnic, No horn etc. A small river and a short bridge across it mark the Karnataka-Kerala border in the middle of the forest. There’s also a battery of check posts as they cross the forest. They also spot lots of typical Kerala style tea shops along the way. The whole ride through the forest on a well-laid road is unforgettable.
Somewhere at the end of the forest, they see an entrance to the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. But they decide to head to Sulthan Bathery right away. As soon as they reach Sulthan Bathery, they make calls to various hotels that Tipu had suggested and guess what! All the hotels are fully occupied. This is the last thing one expects when one rides all the way from Bangalore to Wayanad in a single day. After a lot of searching here and there, they finally manage to get a roomat Hotel Mint Flower. They check into the room, freshen up and grab a bite as they take some time to savour the fact that they rode continuously from Bangalore to Wayanad. They discuss with the receptionist about the places to visit. There they come to know that most of the tourist spots in Wayanad get closed by 5 pm and open only at 9 am. Since it’s already 4 pm, they are advised to visit Edakkal caves which is the nearest place from their place of stay. They have to rush since they need to get to the place before it closes.
After half-an-hour of hilly road riding and awesome scenery, they reach a place where onwards personal vehicles aren’t allowed. One has to rent an official Jeep of do a trek. It’s already 4:30pm and the Jeeps have stopped going up since it’s nearly the closing time at the caves. After a series of unsuccessful requests, the duo has to go back to the hotel and retire for the day. Not at all a good way to end a dead tiring day!
Day 1 journey: Bangalore-Mysore-Gundulpet-Sultan Bathery (Wayanad)+some more inside Wayanad (Edakkal caves)~300kms for the day
Day 2:
The plan for the rest of the days is as follows: Visit Meenmutty falls, then Edakkal caves, come back to hotel around 3 pm, freshen up, check out of the hotel, grab a bite, head towards Pulapally, get some hotel there and spend the night, visit Kuruva Island early next morning and head back to Bangalore as early as possible by route A. The event # 1 for the day is Meenmutty falls. Leave the hotel at 8 am after shower, breakfast. Head off for the Meenmutty falls. Tea gardens galore! Coffee plantations aplenty! Rolling hills covered with tea and coffee, interspersed with rubber trunks.
Enter Tamil Nadu after crossing a toll gate! Ghat road with small cottages and log cabins in isolation shows up and leads them into another, and now forgotten fantasy. Wrong Road !!! Go back a few kilometres and take the right diversion to a muddy dirt track. Reach a spot where bikes cannot go any further. A trail of unexpected events follows. One has to hire a Jeep to cross this 1.5 km of hell of a road. One can’t even imagine taking a bike on this road. Mud, potholes (much bigger than those on Bangalore roads), incline, boulders. Reach a place whereon one has to pay Rs. 300 for a guide for a group of upto 10 people to get through a 2 km of terrain trek. The duo is certainly disappointed since nobody had furnished them this info before. Keeping all the disappointment aside, they decide to go for the trek with the brand new clothes and shoes. The trails start and after a while the cursing about the terrain also starts. A muddy, slippery, rocky descent amidst a dense forest. Thank God, they have a guide to lead them. A few slips here and there and they can hear the sound of Meenmutty water falls in the distance. As they get closer and closer to the falls, the terrain gets dirtier. After immense toil, human will triumphs and they emerge to a most intoxicating sight called the Meenmutty falls. Voila! A rainbow at the bottom of the falls. That’s heck of a view. Water streams falling all over you, Kabani River falling in full force with a deafening sound, water gushing down the hilly rocks and you are at the bottom of the falls. All the efforts throughout the trip, totally worth it.
After spending a few golden moments at this heavenly abode, to go back is a worse torture than ever imagined. Breaks are taken every now and then. It takes more than double the time to go back than the onward trek. Amidst all this torture, they get a view of Chembra peak on their way. They had heard that Chembra peak is the highest peak in Wayanad and trekking to the Chembra peak is one of the risky tourist endeavours. Kaps decides to surpass this endeavour some day. Finally the destination is visible. Water is consumed in large quantities. Take a jeep back on the hell of a road again. Spent almost 3 hrs on Meenmutty falls. Take the bikes and cruise towards the next destination. Edakkal caves. The same spot that gave them a miss the other day. Reach the bottom of the caves whereon one has to hire a Jeep to reach the top. Reach the top and see so much rush out there. The gates are closed to avoid any unfortunate event due to an unexpectedly large crowd. The crowd is thicker than the one in Forum on weekends. Prat almost gives up and pleads Kaps to give this place a miss. But Kaps wouldn’t budge and finally manages to get the tickets amidst the filthy crowd a la Mumbai locals. The rock walls of caves contain some interesting carvings, which represent human and animal figures and objects of human use and symbols. The very next day’s TOI has this news.
After having seen the caves and their awe and terror inspiring geography, the duo heads back for the hotel. They manage to check out of the hotel within the stipulated time. The next destination for the day is Pulapally. No sooner had they covered 2-3 km from Sulthan bathery towards Pulapally than it started raining quite heavily. They take shelter in a dilapidated hut for some time and when rain appears to have lessened, they start their cautious ride to Pulapally, it being a forest area. It also turns out to be an awesome ride among the lovely woods, sweet bird chirps, nicely laid curvaceous roads and a tree house!
It has almost fallen dark when they reach Pulapally. They start searching for the hotels right away. It turns out to be a very small town wherein people hardly know foreign languages. As an evidence of how Indian travel industry is growing, there is apparently no hotel room available even in this small town. After a lot of hunting and a small debate, the duo decide to take a shelter in a yatri nivas, the conditions wherein are far from all the comforts. When they go for dinner at a hotel, people look at this foreign duo quite curiously. It took them all the skills of dumb charades to explain to the waiter to get some rice-sambar. Prat is a bit uncomfortable and not at all happy with the luxurious yatri niwas and the curious looks that people bore. Never mind, hit the bed and go to sleep.

Day 3:
Get up early in the morning at 7 am and cruise towards Kuruva Island. Take a right turn from the highway and a muddy, filthy 3 km road welcomes them. Praying all the time to God not to get the bike tyres punctured, reach the destination at 8:30 am only to come to know that the place will open at 9:30 am. Cross the river on a bamboo raft to reach the island, 950 acres of ever green forest on the tributaries of east flowing river Kabani. Far away from the disturbances of city life lies this heavenly place amidst a dense forest, rare species of birds and herbs. “From rush to lush” –Prat.
Spend approx an hour at this heavenly place and start the return journey. Once again pass the 3 km patchy road. What a nightmare! Keep asking local folks about the directions to Mysore. Have a breakfast at a bakery and ride on. Oops, that’s route B. Go back a few km, take the route to Kutta. The road condition is pathetic. Reach Kutta after a lot of cursing and ask for the route to Nagarhole. Holy shit! Two wheelers are not allowed to enter this route. Can you imagine the feeling of riding back on that holy crap called a road? The feeling literally shudders the duo. Then comes the rescuer. A good-hearted human being tells them an alternate route to reach Mysore. The route is of course longer than the planned one, but the duo is ready to take any route except the one just travelled. Ride on a not-so-good road and finally reach a highway. Conclusion: Never take route A and B. Guess what! The duo is in some part of Coorg. Thank God, the road condition is good. Cruise towards Mysore on this lovely road among woods. The duo has almost forgotten about the hunger, thirst. The only aim is to reach Bangalore before dusk. After riding on horrific roads, these highways seem like a piece of cake. Cruise at 110 kmph. Take a stop at Mysore, grab a couple of chocolates and some water, take a bypass around Mysore city. See the crowd going towards Vrindavan gardens, it being the Dussehra day. Cruise on the Mysore-Bangalore highway. Start imaginary races with other bikers. Take a few breaks here and there and finally reach Bangalore. The body is sore after such a hectic day. Take shower, grab some food and surrender to the God of sleep.
Day 3 journey: Kuruva Island – Kutta - Mysore – Bangalore including lost ways ~ 320km.
                                                        The Duo that rocked Wayanad!
Twenty years hence if I wonder if I lived my life to the max, this trip will be on the list for sure.
Signing off,

Saturday, August 29, 2009

GATE to the Heaven

After getting a very good rank in GATE'06, I've got various queries from a lot of GATE aspirants. After giving the same set of answers to all of them for the last 3 years, my brain was looking for an easier way to convey my thoughts to a wide audience. And Eureka !!! Here's the blog post, the epitome of my experiences with GATE.

When I got into an engineering college, it didn't take much time for me to realize that I'd need something in addition to a bachelor's degree. The hot favorite options at that time were MS from abroad and CAT. I opted for the third option which very few of my colleagues opted for: GATE. The major reason behind opting for this not-so-popular option was "Revenge". Yes, you read it right. It was revenge against all the IITs which denied me admission by a very small margin in JEE. I had to get into it or something better. So, I knocked on the GATE to take the revenge.

Planning well ahead of the time really helps, believe me. In the second year of my engineering studies, I had made up my mind to bang the GATE. With the availability of application forms of GATE'05 in the third year of my engg, the revenge resurrected in my mind. I hurriedly went to the bank, bought the application form, filled it up, sent it right away and went to sleep only to get up a week before the actual GATE exam. Since I had invested some money in the application procedure, I thought that it was my moral responsibility to prepare a bit for the exam. I went through the the GATE syllabus and was astonished to see that more than 80% of the GATE syllabus wasn't covered in my engg curriculum so far. That acted as a catalyst to my laziness and I gave up the thought of any preparation. But there was some ray of hope. THE most favorite topic. The weightage of this topic was around 15% and most of the syllabus in this section was covered so far. So, I revised all the formulae in the span of 3-4 days. On that much preparation, I wrote GATE'05 and got a decent 88 percentile. I wasn't bothered about this result given the amount of preparation. Now, time for some gyaan.

Gyaan Session 1: All the GATE aspirants who are still in college, decide early. Go through the syllabus and mark the topics in textbooks at the start of each semester and give special attention to these topics during your semester studies. This will save a lot of your time while revising these topics for GATE preparation. Also, do attempt the GATE in your 3rd year. This will familiarize you with the exam pattern and will give you the feel of the actual exam day to say the least.
Gyaan Session 2: My way of preparing for a mathematical subject is jotting down in brief the formulae which I am not confident of recalling till the exam day on a sheet of paper. A quick glance at this sheet a few minutes before the exam takes you totally in that subject mode.

Ok, back to my life. All this while, my life was changing a lot. At the end of the third year, placement season started. I got the offers from the very first two companies. In the final year, with a couple of jobs in hand and in the company of jigri hostel friends, I was having a rollicking time. Those were the best days of my life :) Life was interrupted when the availability of application forms of GATE'06 was announced. I did all the formalities of the application procedure and then got busy with the 7th sem exams. Life took a real turn when after the 7th sem exam got over (this was in Dec 05), due to some family reasons and a bit of revenge process running in the background of mind, I decided to stay back in the hostel for the vacation. I had almost two months of time at my hand. I prepared for 4-5 hours daily.

Gyaan Session 3: Preparing from the same textbooks that you used for your semester studies saves a lot of precious time. I didn't join any coaching class or test series. But got to hear from a few people that most of them are junk, especially the study material they provide. Frankly speaking, I didn't solve a single objective question during the preparation. But solving those does help to some extent. Try to get hold of old GATE papers.

I took GATE on the exam day. I don't remember to have a very good feeling at the end of the exam. Following the divine advice 'karm karo, fal ki chinta mat karo', I totally forgot about the GATE and enjoyed the final days of my engg life. In the midst of my confusion on which one of the two companies to join, the most dramatic day of my life dawned. 15th March, 2006. GATE results were to be declared on that day. But more than the results, I was excited about the holi celebrations which happened to be on the same day. Hostel holi is a divine experience in itself. Hardly had I got up in the morning that day and come out of my room, when I was fully drenched with colored water and the gulal all over my body to the extent of not recognizing myself. I joined the gang right away. After playing color and dancing (Ganpati dance, in particular) for a couple of hours, I went to a friend's room (Chandu's den, our adda) and casually opened the gate result site which wouldn't respond to my repetitive requests. After attempting for 10-15 mins, I gave up as Juhu beach was eagerly awaiting us. We went to Juhu beach and had the time of our lives, this being our last holi at the hostel. After returning to the hostel, all of us gathered at the adda. I tried the results site which after a number of unsuccessful attempts, did open with the following message: NOT QUALIFIED. To be very frank, I wasn't very much disappointed. I never had expectations from this result, so I was ready for anything. But my friends, jigri's as they are, were very much disappointed. I tried to cheer their mood up but they kept asking me to search for the admit card and cross-check the registration number. I saw no point in that because I distinctly remembered the number. But to keep their heart, I tried searching that piece of paper in my room, a final year engg student's hostel room. You can imagine what the probability of finding that piece of paper would be. After unearthing all the existing pieces of papers in the room, I finally got hold of the admit card. And guess what, the number I remembered was CORRECT. But the only difference was that I remembered the application no. and one was supposed to enter the registration number in the results site. I again went to our adda, where the mehfil was still lingering on. I entered the NEW number and hit the return key. The browser was fetching the info from an IIT server and a dozen pairs of eyes were eagerly awaiting that info. I was lost in some deep thought and was brought back to the reality by a loud shriek of the whole mehfil. I glanced at the computer monitor and I couldn't believe that HTML page. That Godly browser had fetched the lottery of my destiny...All India Rank 7. The GATE had opened, the revenge was taken. We submerged ourselves in the celebrations. Without much confusion, I took admission in my dream college, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. I've finished my studies at IISc and now I am working with a multinational company. A lot of today's work is pending and I'm totally lost in those sweet memories. Nostalgia at its best!

Gyaan session 4: Always remember that application no. is different from registration no. :)