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Sandeep 's World >> Thinkin' Aloud
Monday, 28 April 2008
Before Kicking the Bucket!

A week back I saw a post on Devilz Abode, about the movie "Bucket List" and he tagged me to write about my "Bucket List" - the things I would like to do before "Kicking the Bucket". My first reaction was that I would like to do things that interest me then and there, rather than making a "Bucket List" and waiting ... but ... on second thoughts ... what will I do if I know that I cant survive for long? I do have a lot of things that I would like to do before going down!

Now, why would I not do all that right now? I guess, its a combination of money, responsibilities and expectations. Once u dont have any of these things, I can surely pursue my list :)

In the movie, Edward Cole (Jack Nicolson) is a millionaire and hence funding was never an issue for him and Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman). So, for the sake of this post, lets assume that I have enough money ... lets say all the money I can earn in the next ten years, if my career goes in a good shape.

Things I should do:

My first priority goes to my parents. There are three things I would like to do for them:

  1. Setup my beachside apartment at Kozhikode and deposit a good amount in their bank account, so that they can live a comfortable life with a view of the Sea :)
  2. But, I doubt they'll be interested in staying over at an apartment. They would like a larger property to keep them busy. I always had a thing or two for Wayanad. Lets say couple of acres and a house @ Mananthavadi or Meppadi. If they find Wayanad too far to travel, may be Muthappanpuzha!
  3. A comfortable car for travelling around ... say a Honda Civic with a good loyal driver. I know that "loyalty" is something I can never be sure of. But, lets hope that having enough in their bank accounts can buy atleast some "loyalty".

My second priority, I hope will accompany me for all the things I want to do. I'll concentrate on giving her a good time which she can cherish for the rest of her life after I 'kick the bucket'! What says Paaroo?

One more thing I want to do is apologize a person whom I've hurt :( Dont really know what else I can do for her, but I'll surely do whatever I can.

Lets go for the preparations now:

A bike: I'd been a biking enthusiast for a long time, atleast till responsibilities took over and my CBZ started showing signs of senility. I switched over to Maruti Versa then, but deep inside, I've always prefered bikes and the thrills of speeding! To not get limited in the speed aspect, I will go for the fastest available - a Hayabuza :) Well ... people may say that I shud go for a cruiser, suited for long rides, but I've never liked any cruiser bikes (including our own bullets), may be with a possible exception of Avenger. If getting a foreign bike (or getting it serviced here while on a long road trip) is an issue, I may go for Bajaj Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi or even an Bajaj Avenger DTS-i 200. I believe all these are good compromises between fast light weight bikes and heavy / sluggish cruisers.

Camera and Lenses: Now that I have enough money, I would go for the very best - Canon EOS 1Ds and a slew of lenses. Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L for  portraits, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L and Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS for general purpose and then exchange my current telephoto lens, Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L with a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS, so that I can combine it with a 2X converter for a much better reach and Image Stabilization. Am extremely happy with the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L macro I have :) Now, all these lenses and camera would atleast cost me abt 15K US $ (Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS is singly abt $6.5K and thats why I settled for the f/5.6 non IS version for now)!

Bike Trip around India: I will take about three to four months for a trip around India. First being the Bengaluru - Chennai and Chennai - Vishakapatnam leg, which I've already done. Past Vizag, I would like to explore some of the beaches in Orissa, Puri and Konark. Couple of days around Kolkota and I'll head to the North.

Cherrapunji, Kaziranga national park, stops for couple of tribal festivals, Khajuraho temple, a visit to Kanchenjunga, near Darjeeling and a drive along the Leh - Ladakh highway is the minimal I would want to do here. Also, there is a skiing resort in Uttaranachal where I would want to stay back for a few days.

I dont mind skipping Delhi, Agra and Gwalior, since I've been to these places before, but would surely head to Amritsar and visit the golden temple, head towards Srinagar and some places in Jammu (dunno what all is possible here, now) and then to Wagah border.

A few days in Jaipur and Udaipur, may be a camel safari and Bharathpur bird sanctuary would summarize Rajasthan. Next, I would drive around Gujarat, Kuch region till Surat and then along the cost to Mumbai to spend a few days in this happening city.

Here on, its pretty much chartered waters for me. I've already done Mumabi - Pune - Mangalore, Kochi all the way till Kanyakumari. So, I'll head towards Nagpur and then to Chhattisgarh. The places I want to see here is Chitrakoot waterfalls and couple of their wonderful national parks, famous for spotting tigers and other wild cats. Time to head back towards south and I would atleast like to cover Ajantha / Ellora, Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal / Pattadakallu and Bijapur before reaching back in Bengaluru.

Treks to be Done: Time to be back in South and more treks. The places I've missed all this time have to be there in my bucket list :)

  • Anamudi: Obtaining trek permission to Anamudi would be a tough thingie
  • Agasthyakoodam: Is open only during Feb
  • Vavulmala: Vavulmala had been teasing me during my treks to Chembra, Mukurthi and Vellarimala and is surely atleast a four day effort
  • Kodai - Munnar: Missed joining a trek organized by Chennai Trekkers, but this one is surely due
  • Narasimhaparvatha: Again, this one remained in my list coz of permission issues due to Naxal presence

Vintage India: These were a few things I wanted to see and spend some time with the camera: Jallikkatu in Tamilnadu, the process of Paddy harvesting all the way to sperating rice from Chaffe, a full Kathakali performace right from the makeup stage, a Theyyam/Thira performance (the folk arts in Kerala) and a day with the Fishermen

Treks around Bengaluru: Lemme make it simple ... these are a few places around Bengaluru. I want to trek to all these places and write about it. Ideally I would like to camp on the hill top for whichever places and spend a night under the stars:

  • Savandurga: I'd been there once, but was lost en route and spent a night in the jungle :)
  • Rangaswamy Betta: I'd been here once, but with a group. I want to glee enough information during a second trip and provide it in my site
  • Siddarabetta: Same as Rangaswamy betta
  • Madhugiri, Antharagange, Makalidurga, Kalawara Betta aka Skandhagiri, Sivaganga, Devarayana Durga: Never been to any of this. I would want to collect enough information about these places and write about it in my site

Going International: Now, there are a few places I want to be all over the world.

  • Paris: One city I always wanted to go! Now that am there, I would also like to check out London and Rome, also pay a visit to Switzerland and the leaning tower of Pizza
  • Great Wall of China: Heard that its possible to walk all the way along this. Can I?
  • The Great Pyramid: And ofcourse, a trip around and near Egypt to check out the Sahara and sone other famous monuments
  • Serengeti National Park: Have seen so many wonderful pictures from this place and is there in my dream list. Would want to spend a few days here and get some good shots :)
  • Iguaza and Victoria falls: These are the worlds largest falls and I had been drooling over the picture :) Lemme decide which is better!
  • Cambodia and the great temple there ... when I am at it, some other cool locations around Singapore and Malaysia

Adventure Sports: Make no mistake, I have done a few of them already, like Bungee jumping, para sailing ... etc. But, my bucket list has more exotic items like Bungee Jumping @ Angel Falls, White Water rafting in Amazon, Black Water rafting in the caves of Australia, Skydiving and treks in Alaska, Grand Canyon and to Everest Base Camp.

At the end of it all I would return to stay with my Amma Achan and may be try my hand @ farming!

Hmmm ... I know the list has become too long :) I would probably need a lifetime to cover all this! So ... here is my Bucket List.

Now, the tag rule says, I need to pass it on. I wud pass it on to Preethu (ofcourse), Rejilz, Vishal, Saritha and Dhanya! Thanks for giving it to me Devilz, I enjoyed making the list!

Posted by usandeep at 10:30 PM
Updated: Monday, 2 February 2009 11:25 PM
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Friday, 11 April 2008
A Welcome Note...

The information screen at the counter showed that the Lufthansa LH 0754 is "On Time" and the ETA is 12:05. He thought for a while and coined the expansion for ETA - must be Expected Time of Arrival. Once the mystery was solved, he started wondering what he'll do when she comes out - Hide in the crowd and give her a surprise ... Stretch the arms so that she can run in ... or Lift her up in the air in a tight hug :) Its been a count down which started a month before, when she booked her tickets, and culminating in this wait at the airport arrival. And there he was ... with just about half an hour to go and waiting impatiently at a vantage point, offering a full view of people walking out!

A bevy of pretty airhostesses walked by his front and one of them had a cute smile and a lovely gait. He remembered one of those days when they were sitting in Cafe Coffee Day and chatting non-stop. In between, she asked if they cud exchange seats. He didnt quite liked facing the wall but still agreed. After a while, couple of girls sat near them and his eyes turned involuntarily towards them. In a minute he felt that piercing pinch of hers and the warning that "I made u sit the other side and u still staring at other girls? Am going home!" He looked away from the air hostesses and smiled :) Naah ... he shouldnt be doing this now! Its just ten minutes more now and he should be a good boy!

A little later, people started coming out and his heart started beating faster. Every minute seemed longer to him and she could come out any time now :) Thats when that spoilsport security guy came out and started asking everybody to step out of the walkway and go behind the railing. Everybody ignored him for a while ... but his voice became sterner every minute and another security personal joined him brandishing a cane to shoo the people away. Slowly, but surely, people started moving out of the walkway and behind the railing.

He soon found another vantage point, outside the railing, from where he could see people coming out and booked his place there. But, wherez she? Almost every passenger from the Lufthansa flight seemed to have come out and it was already half an hour past ETA. She had called him from Frankfurt and there was no chance that she cud've missed the flight or anything. Guess, its the customs guys. They would have caught her ... aaaahh. These guys are so greedy and they'd want their share for every electronics item in the bag. Crap! She'll have to shell out some money now to get out of there!

Another group of airhostesses walked in wearing the Kingfisher uniform. One of them was a little taller than usual - may be abt 5'8" - and had dusky complexion, looking hot. She reminded him of Sheethal Mallar, on whom he had a crush on for a long time. No doubt, Kingfisher has the best airhostesses! He watched her cat walking towards the stairs and then moving up.

People already started getting back to the walkway and now his view was getting blocked. A grumpy looking old man came right in front of him and started standing there. Aaaahh ... where are the security guys when I needed them? And wherez she??? It was almost 45 minutes now since the flight landed and he was getting increasingly impatient. He started thinking abt the things they were planning to do ... once she was back. A movie was for sure :) He has not watched any of the new releases coz she wanted to watch them with him! And yeah ... tomorrow evening @ 13th floor restaurant, enjoying the view of Bengaluru city! He also had to restart his morning jogging and exercise routine. His thoughts were interrupted by a loud sound from the rear side of the old man standing in front of him followed by a foul smell. Aaaaahhh ... this man is indeed a pain!

He took a stroll out still keeping the walkway in his sight. It was past 1'O clock now and his eyes started drooping. Wherez this girl now? He had warned her not to do too much shopping and end up getting caught by the customs guys. Wish she listened to his warning. He remembered that there is one of her colleagues whoz traveling with him. Hope, he has some sense and helps her out with the luggage. Half an hour he returned to the earlier spot. The crowd had increased by then, but luckily, the old man had left. He managed to get some space to stand by, though not with a good view, from where he can make out if she comes out.

The only entertainment he had was the pretty airhostesses walking by and he thanked god that she was not around :) This time, it was a group in a blue uniform and one of the faces looked familiar. Is this blue GoIndigo? ... yeah, then this girl was the same girl he had seen during his last trip to Delhi! He could remember that she had a christian name, but just couldnt recollect the exact name!

Finally, at 1.30, the wait was over. He saw her and another guy coming out of the terminal with their luggages and before he could hide to give her a surprise she saw him :) He walked towards her and gave a smile to her colleague ... held her arm and took the luggage trolley: "Hellllooooo .... this is Vivek ... his luggage was caught by the customs guys and that took us the time!". "Ohhh ... ok", he said, while stretching his hands to him for a shake hand. "They had crossed my luggage too ... but I wiped it using a wet tissue :) and told him to do the same. HE DIDNT LISTEN!" she said with a beaming smile, clinging to his hand!

Half an hour later, they had dumped all the luggage into the car and heading out of the airport and she said: "Did u wait for a long time sweeto? I told that dumbo to wipe the cross mark but he didnt and finally had to pay them 500 rupees ... and the luggage itself arrived late ...". He smiled and said "Its ok sweeto! Lets go home now!"

Posted by usandeep at 7:54 PM
Updated: Friday, 11 April 2008 8:08 PM
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Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Have been watching this being thrown around for a few days now and it finally reached me via Preethu :) Am filling it to avoid bouts of emotional blackmail ;-)

1. LAST MOVIE YOU SAW IN A THEATER? Taare Zameen Par, amazing movie from an (the only one) amazing Khan

2. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING? Book???? Guess the last one I read was Wireless Networks a few years ago, only coz I had to figure out some stuff at work :(

3. FAVORITE BOARD GAME? Chess ... the last time I played it, I barely managed to escape against 7 year old Achu :( and wowed to never play against him

4. FAVORITE MAGAZINE? Balarama, Poompatta, Eureka, Sasthrakeralam, Chitrabhumi, Nana, Mangalam, Manorama in chronological order

5. FAVORITE SMELLS? Pear Glace :) Now dont ask me whats it ;-) And ofcourse, the smell of rain, especially the one after a few hot days!

6. FAVORITE SOUND? Sound of waves with u in the middle :) sound of streams inside an otherwise quite forest, sound of birds chirruping

7. WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD? Being unable to help when somebody needs u

8. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU WAKE? How much more time do I have before I REALLY HAVE TO wake up?

9. FAVORITE FAST FOOD PLACE? Am not much of a fast food guy and the only place I can think of is Juice Junction

10. FUTURE CHILD'S NAME? Its a secret ... clue: its a name from Puranas and also the name of a beautiful malayalam movie :)

11. FINISH THIS STATEMENT. "IF I HAD A LOT OF MONEY I'D...? Take a long sabbatical, pack my bags / camera and drive arnd to all the places I always wanted to go :)

12. DO YOU DRIVE FAST? Ofcourse! As fast as I can :) and atleast some are scared to sit behind me. I believe, I've mellowed down a bit nowadays - more to do with my bike / car getting old!

13. DO YOU SLEEP WITH A STUFFED ANIMAL? Animals? May be ... I like being mauled ;-) Stuffed??? Nah!

14. STORMS-COOL OR SCARY? Luv them :) Try riding at 100kmph+ on a bike without wearing a helmet and stretch ur arms wide :) One of the coolest thing to do!

15. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR? For the record, Maruti Versa and already made very gud use of it! But deep inside, I am more of a biker than a car guy ... so my real answer wud be CBZ!

16. FAVORITE DRINK? Bejoy's and Maaza were my favs for a long time. Dont find Bejoy's anywhere nowadays and I got bored of Maaza. Nowadays I try different fruit juice cans from Tropicana and Real ... Peach, Lychie, Pineapple, Grapes. Apart from these, strawberry milk shake.

17. FINISH THIS STATEMENT, "IF I HAD THE TIME I WOULD ..... do everything I do ... a little more :) I hate people saying "I dont have time" and try not to say it myself

18. DO YOU EAT THE STEMS ON BROCCOLI? I eat almost everything ... why not stems of Broccoli?

19. IF YOU COULD DYE YOUR HAIR ANY COLOR, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR CHOICE? If I cud??? Who can stop u from dying UR OWN HAIR? I can .. and I've done it before (golden brown and darker brown). Its just a matter of trying other colors now :)

20. NAME ALL THE DIFFERENT CITIES/TOWNS YOU HAVE LIVED IN? I assume its atleast for a 3 month period. Then its only Kozhikode (till graduation) and Bengaluru (till now)

21. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? I watch Cricket, Tennis and sometimes F1 and athletics

22. ONE NICE THING ABOUT THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU. Shez the sweetest ... and the leechiest :)

23. WHAT'S UNDER YOUR BED? Suitcase, a tent, tripod, camera bag ...

24. WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE BORN AS YOURSELF AGAIN? Sure ... but can I keep the lessons I learnt ;-) ?

25. MORNING PERSON, OR NIGHT OWL? Usually morning person ... night owl when there is time pressure (like a release) or too much fun (like a get together)


27. FAVORITE PLACE TO RELAX? On the top of a hill ... or a beach side

28. FAVORITE PIE? The only pie I liked is PI (3.1415). Isnt that a cool number?

29. FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Black current! Yummeee!

30. OF ALL THE PEOPLE YOU TAGGED THIS TO, WHO'S MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND FIRST? I generally dont forward mails unless its very different / new :) and this one most of the people around have already done it. Unless, somebody want to try it out ... the trail ends here for me :)

Posted by usandeep at 12:05 PM
Updated: Thursday, 10 April 2008 5:24 PM
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Wednesday, 26 March 2008
A Drive through the past ...

It all started with a dream - I was arguing with Neeraj about who is a better driver. In his typical style, he kept saying that he would never make a mistake and I found it hard to refute! My only point was that I was more experienced with the four wheel and then he challenged me for a race - me in a car and he with a bike. Thats when I woke up! An uneasy feeling gripped me when I remembered that I had dreamt about Neeraj even on the previous day - he was watching me driving from the passenger seat and giving me comments like ... take a li'l more to right so that u can overtake as soon as the bus passes ... and ... move to 3rd gear when u have to slow down so that u can get gud pickup soon after ... was enjoying the rush of adrenalin and stepping more on to the gas pedal, when I woke up.

I remembered Neeraj's house at Pongadu ... our stay there, the pond, the 'Ayyappa' temple, the vast paddy fields and the river ... his Amma's warmth and affection ... its been a while since I'd been there. Infact its been a while I even thought about Neeraj or his parents. I was having a relaxed time for almost a week now, at my home town on a vaccation. May be ... its the similarities between my ancestral house and Neeraj's house @ Pongadu ... that I suddenly dreamt about him.

For the remaining few days I just could not get him and his house out of my head ... so much so that I decided to drive via Pongadu during the return journey to my workplace @ Vandiyuru. Amma welcomed me with the same warmth and affection she had always shown. She enquired about my health and was a little concerned if my leg was alright. She sounded worried when I told her that I am planning to drive to Vandiyuru in the evening ... that too alone.

Achan changed the topic right then and enquired about how things are at my end ... work ... marriage plans and I finally mentioned dreaming about Neeraj. He acceded to my thoughts that the dreams may have been due to the similarities of the surroundings and my sub conscience picking on this. He went on with the subject and even told me that things like changing the bed position ... etc may actually result in dreams. Then I remembered re-arranging the room a little bit and moving the bed towards the window and had dreamt about Neeraj on the same day. Achan said that Neeraj used to keep the bed close to the window and it may have been the case when I visited ... which infact was right!

While leaving, Amma again asked me to take care and drive carefuly. I assured her that "I will" and "I've been driving up and down quite often". Suddenly, her eyes filled up and with a tinge of sadness she recalled that Neeraj used to say the same: "He would say that he was the best driver .. and see what happened. One mistake ... and we ended up staying alone here! Do u remember how many times I warned u two from going there in that bike?". Saying this, she almost burst in to tears. I promised her that they are never alone and said to myself that I'll visit them more often. When I was leaving their compound, she reminded me again about being careful ... and I assured her that I will be careful.

My return journey was via the same roads we took that day .. during our bike trip. Neeraj started off with a whirlwind drive ... taking only about 40 minutes to reach the beginning of the ghat roads at Malamedu. We had a close shave at a bridge passing between two jeeps and he insisted that he had seen the jeep and had overtaken in spite of it! He also insisted that he will drive up the ghats, 'since I was not experienced enough'. I protested a lot and he finally handed over the bike to me almost towards the end of the ghats. Post the ghats, I did have a point to prove and reached the Melkadu wildlife sanctuary limits in about half an hour and continued at the same pace even on the narrow roads inside the sanctuary.

The roads inside the Melkadu sanctuary was newly laid and wider by now. I found it much more comfortable, especially in the four wheeler. Last time, the road was very narrow and in some places non-existent. I slightly got out of the road, in to the gravel once in a sharp turn, when Neeraj warned me to be careful and I said I did it purposefully to get a wider curvature. Minutes later ... at a sharper S-curve ... in to the gravel ... skidding and crashing into a tree ...

I lost my conscious as soon as it happened ... and was later told that I was saved, with just a fracture in the leg, due to the helmet and a car passing by, which took me to the nearby hospital and alerted our families. People had already assumed that it was Neeraj who was riding ... coz its only Neeraj who could drive this fast and rash! I could never tell the truth to anyone and never again drove a bike!

It was not easy to recognize the spot, where the disaster happened, but I eventually did. Stopped there and looked out for my friend ... apologised ... for my rashness, immaturity to try and match his skills, his life and most importantly for his disgrace .... he was indeed a very good driver who could drive very fast and still not make any mistakes ... the one mistake which is now attributed to him by everybody else was actually mine!

Posted by usandeep at 12:01 AM
Updated: Saturday, 29 March 2008 2:41 PM
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Saturday, 15 March 2008
My First Love Affair

It was only my first week in this office, but the umpteenth time I noticed her eyeing me ... and I cudnt resist telling Sanjay: "Hey ... I think ..."
Sanjay: "What?" ... he followed my gaze and spotted the lady walking towards the table with her food tray and understood what I was looking at ... "Thats Sunitha!"
Me: "I think ... shez giving me glances!"
Sanjay's eyes widened, "Wow !!! So .. u r the next victim!"
I had to take my eyes off her and listen to Sanjay carefully, "Ehh ... What??"
Sanjay smiled ... and opened up the bag of rumours abt 'Sunitha', concluding with the gyst that "She has probably slept with half the guys here!".
All I asked was "Did u ...?"
Sanjay avoided my question and just said: "Everybody in this office knows abt her ... and will recommend u to stay away! But ... i know it'll be difficult!"
Now ... that was something ... what a reputation! I gave another glance at the femme-fatal, her long shapely legs and ample curves ... she seemed to have noticed my stare and gave me a teasing smile ... I knew it'll be difficult to stay away!

In the following days I discovered that Sanjay was not the only person who had this opinion about Sunitha. Most of our female colleagues looked at her with contempt and I heard them saying things ranging from "She acts wierd in meetings" to a more explicit "She flirts with her boss to get a promotion!". Most of the male colleagues pretended that she was nothing short of a '&^$&@$#%*@' and they had no business with her, while accusing every other guy to be her boy friend. My own observations was not very contradicting either. She wore provocative dresses almost always and had naughty flirtatious ways with most men ... the way she ambles and her posture was atleast suggestive, if not anything else! No wonder she became a regular visitor in my dirty fantasies! But, I'd always been nervous with woman and never gathered the courage to walk up to her and talk!

The ice melted only when I was assigned to a new project and moved to her team, directly reporting to her. Actually, thats when I realized that she was senior to me and was a little embarassed facing her! She surely noticed how nervous I was with her and looked as if she enjoyed my discomfort. It didnt take me a lot of time to realize what is "weird" about her in meetings. She had this habit of whistling a li'l loud during meetings. One of the explanations people had for this "weird" behaviour was that she cannot stand not being in the lime light, even if she is not leading the discussion. Yeah ... abt the other rumour, the boss was surely a big flirt and keeps flirting with every other woman in the team! Guess, she is the only one who entertains him and enjoys it!

Even though we forged a decent working relation, she never stopped teasing me. Every time she openly refers to me as the 'handsome young man', strokes my hair playfully or comes dangerously close to me, I would blush and cudnt help inhaling her raw aroma or stealing a glance at her assets. Boy ... this was torture. In my dreams and fantasies, I practised taking a step forward so many times, but wud invariably freeze when she was around.

Things took a huge turn, on a friday noon, when she suggested heading to a nearby restaurant instead of our food court. She said she was lazy to take her car out and would prefer coming with me in my bike! For the first time in my life, my pillion seat was occupied by a lady and she made sure I enjoyed every bit of the ride. Leaning forward, almost touching me and filling my nose strils with her smell. I did everything a chivalrous man would do for his special woman. Holding the door open, pulling out the chair open for her ... everything I knew existed and she seemed to enjoy the special attention :)

That was only a beginning .... of regular lunches in restaurants and longer coffee breaks. Others, including Sanjay, gave me meaningful, teasing smiles but I learned to ignore them over time. I knew, I was in love with her and didnt care what her reputation was ... didnt care that she was elder to me and spoke a language that my mother will never understand. Obviously, she knew how much I wanted her and we finally started meeting outside office hours - once a movie over the weekend, couple of dinners and later some home cooked food at her place! Alone at her house, my heartbeat became faster and faster with every teasing smile and every time she came near me. I was sweating profusely, more because of nervousness and she suggested going to the A/C bedroom after lunch. Once, inside the room, with she only an armstretch away, I finally took the step that I was practising all these days. One slight pull towards me and she offered no resistance. In fact, she quickly realized that it was unchartered waters for me and assumed the role of a good teacher ... I hope that I was a good student, since the teacher looked happy in the end :)

I felt like I was at the top of the world and told her that I would love to spend the rest of my life with her and didnt care about anything else. She said that I hardly know anything about her and went on to tell me that she was divorced once and isnt sure of starting a married life all over again. This was a little suprise to me, but I was unperturbed and insisted that I dont care about her past. She ended the topic with "lets see how it goes". In the next couple of weeks, I visited her and stayed over pretty much regularly, only to get more and more convinced about spending the rest of my life with her.

Things changed dramatically once our project got over and I was moved to a different team. She seemed to be busy in her new role and didnt have much time for me, so number of our meetings came down. But, I still worshipped her and was hoping that once the projects get over she'll spend time with me. All hopes shattered when I saw a new photo album of hers (must say I was peeking in her online album), a trip to Goa with three of her new team mates, all guys! I wanted to confront her, but the truth was that she will not be happy getting married to me and leading a homely life. She surely wanted a little more eventful life and I may not be able to provide her that. Now, it was only a matter of time before we drifted apart and almost stopped talking to each other.

Couple of months later, with a few new joinees in our team, we were lunching at the food court. I was explaing to the new joinees about the facilities in our office, when I noticed one of the guys looking at something. Turning around, I realized whom his eyes were following and everybody had a laugh, except me! I didnt know if I should say "Wow ... So u r the next victim!"

PS: I should say this is purely a work of imagination. Though, narrated in 1st person, the central character has nothing to do with me or my thoughts / opinions on women or relationships.

Posted by usandeep at 12:32 PM
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Sunday, 17 February 2008
Part II of 'A memorable evening!'

He had a pleasant smile in his face, though clearly uncomfortable with the dirty looking sheet in that dingy one bedroom house. She came and sat next to him and held his hands with a pleasing smile, trying hard to emulate a good host and make him comfortable!

He: "Hmmm ... I told u I wanted to go to a clean place .... and now u r charging me Rs. 500 for this place ...."
She interrupted him: "Not me ... aunty ...", she was referring to the dark, burly lady who recieved them at the door and straight away asked for Rs. 500 as rent!
He: "But ... I can get a better room in a hotel for much less!" ... he complained!
She just smiled to this and started flirting with her hands. It didnt take him much time to start doing the same! His fingers traced lines on her body and buttons opened up ...
"You smell good ..." he commented on her musky smell ... inhaling it deeply. She liked it ... someone commenting on her smell rather than her assets!

He was still content tracing lines and she started wondering why he is in any hurry to get 'good' returns for what he paid! At one point a li'l sound escaped her and he smiled: "Do u like it". She just pulled him towards her and wrapped her legs around his.

It took a lot more time before he started fumbling with the hooks. He was just forraying into unchartered waters when they heard a knock and the voice of the dark, burly lady calling her name. She quickly got up and saying "Just a minute ...", sprinted out, not bothering to pick up her cloths, but a towel one her way out!

When she came back a few minutes later, he was lying down lost in his thoughts. She tip toed in and silently slipped next to him.
He, with a smile: "What ... my time is over"
She, looking at the watch: "Almost ..."
He, still had a smile: "Ok ..."
She, curling towards him: "No hurry ... unless u want to go"
He didnt say anything, but silently and intensly looked at her and she felt weak after a very very long time!

The ring of his mobile interrupted their conversation and she reluctantly moved away to pick it up and handed over to him, noting the name "Chipki" flashing in the mobile display. He took the call with a grumpy sounding "Hello".
"Hello ... where r u?" a sweet voice from the other side asked.
"At office ..." he had a blank expression while uttering that.
"Had dinner?".
"Nope ..."
"Wanna come ... I'll cook!"
"Hmmm ..." ... he hesitated.
"I am sorry baaba ... pleezzzzz!" ... she pleaded.
"Ok ... " he said after some more hesitation, but still sounded grumpy.
"Thnx ... am waiting" and she kept the phone, obviously sounding a lot happy ...

He stayed silent for a few minutes and then silently picked up his stuff from the table, getting ready to leave. She looked at her watch, it was just past 10 and queried "Can u drop me back?"
He, looking a bit surprised: "At this time, will anybody be there now?"
She, with a smile "Why not ... there'll be people till 11."
He: "Ok ..."

10 minutes later, he slowed down again, and stopped his car near the sidewalk, for her to get down.
She: "Thanks ..."
He: "U too ..."
She: "Take care ... and dont go to anyone else!"
He ... just smiled.
She: "Keep her happy" and with the nicest and brightest of her smile closed the door and walked away.
He watched her for a while, started the car and drove away!

Posted by usandeep at 12:49 PM
Updated: Sunday, 17 February 2008 1:06 PM
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Wednesday, 6 February 2008
A memorable evening!

He slowed the car and scanned all the girls standing there, some in very gaudy dresses and extremely garish makeup, which repelled him. His eyes finally rested on one, with some taste, a yellow printed saree, with normal looking makeup, tall and reasonably good looking. Like the rest of them she was also watching him intently. He stopped the car next to her and signalled her to come near. She obliged with a curious smile and twinkling eyes.
He: "How much?"
She: "Fifteen hundred"
He looked surprised, more at her western accent than at the price: "For, how long?"
She: "Two hours"
He: "You have a place?"
She: "Yes, independent house"
He: "I dont want to come to a shady place"
She: "No, its neat"
He: "Ok ... and two hours is two hours! Without including travel time"
She: "Ok"
He opened the door and she got in while he scrutinized her once again from head to toe. Hmmm ... she looked good ... he thought!

Meanwhile, she was looking at the watch, it is already 9 and two hours would mean, she cannot come back before 11. Its done for the day! "Which way?", he asked, she pointed to take a right from the next signal and then asked for the money.
"Whats the hurry? Am not running away without paying you ... atleast lemme see ur place and make sure its neat."
"Its neat and you have to pay in advance", she insisted. He dug out his vallet from his jeans pocket and handed over two five hundred rupee notes to her and said "the rest after reaching there" and she agreed.

Then he asked her name, and she said "Sweety".
He: "Crap, I am asking the real name ... not ur nick name!"
She smiled and told her real name. Then he picked up his phone and asked her for her number.
"Why do u want it?" she hesitated.
"May be I can call u again ... or may be take u out. I will give u mine as well"
"I dont generally give out my phone numbers, had problems with people calling repeatedly before"
"Do I look like one who has the time to stalk you?" he smiled.
"How would I know!" she smiled too ... but gave out her number. He saved it in his mobile and then picked up a visiting card and handed over to her. She scrutinized it closely before dropping it in her handbag.
"Now, do I sound like someone who wouldnt stalk you" He smiled again. She chose to ignore the question and asked "Are you married?"
He: "No"
She: "Ok, Girl friends?"
He: "None .... now"
She: "Ok!", she now had an understanding smile.
He: "I wanted to do something crazy" looking a bit embarrassed
She: "Ok" and touched his hand with hers. He smiled.

It took them about 10 more minutes to reach her place and that was good enough time to have a decent chat. He talked about his last girl friend and she talked about how she gets double income as a nurse in day time. It was surprising for him "Doesnt people at ur hospital know what u do in the night?"
She: "Not yet"
He: "Wow ... is the income from this too high and worth the risk?"
She: "Hmm ... yes ... as just a nurse I didnt have enough for myself, forget sending money home. This place is too costly to leave. Now things are good!"
He thought about the usual movie scenario, where the heroine earned only to feed her child! Far from it!
She continued: "Except for the police!"
He: "Have u been caught?"
She: "yeah ... so many times". He looked sympathetic and she felt good about sharing her adventure.
He: "That doesnt stop u?"
She: "Oye ... they just want their share and is happy, as long as we give it to them"
He: "Hmmm ..." he nodded!

PS: This is to be continued

Posted by usandeep at 11:53 AM
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Tuesday, 20 November 2007
Thoughts under the same roof

He was happy ... his best friend had come back from US ... and straight away to his place ... He was always in awe of his friend: for the laughs he generates with his little sis, parents and even his wife. Everybody seemed to like him ... and his unending reserves of energy! He was badly missed when not around.

He knew his little sis had a crush on his friend and always wondered if the interest was mutual. Wud've been gr8 if it is ... He looked around to his wife for an opinion; she was reading something and playing with her mobile at the same time. He went back to his thoughts ...

They were happy too ... to see their son's best friend after a long gap. They always wanted him to be part of their family and never lost a chance to mention it. They knew their daughter adored him ... and hoped that he was interested too! She is about to complete her college. It was time to bring it before his parents. What an alliance it would be!

She was ecstatic to see her man back ... and the mobile kept making clicking sounds ... message after message:

She: "I think everybody slept ... my door is open!"

He: "Ur brother is in next room. I dont want to be thrown out."

She: "Ok ... I will come there then!"

He: "Nah ... not today"



She: "Hmmm ... will u come to college tomorrow?"

He: "What time?"


It went on for another hour ... He mite have been tired with all the travel ... she thought ... and slowly drifted to sleep still dreaming abt him sneaking into her room ...

He had no choice but to disappoint her this time ... coz he cudnt have had two women in his room at the same time! But he was more receptive to another set of text messages!

She: "Slept?"

He: "Nah ... Waiting for u!"

She: ":-) I cant wait to be with u"

He: ":-) ... isnt he still awake?"

She: "He'll be asleep soon ... and wudnt get up. Keep the door open"

He: "The door is already open"

He always liked taking risks. What better than this one?

An hour later ... a silhoutte came out of one of the rooms, gave one last look at her husband to make sure he is asleep and rushed to the adjacent room. The door closed behind her!

Posted by usandeep at 7:22 PM
Updated: Saturday, 23 February 2008 10:53 AM
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Sunday, 18 November 2007
Part II of 'Another Boy and Girl Story'!

Outcaste doesnt get up before 9 and he was snoring loudly when Fan #1 walked into his room ... with a mobile and the princess on its other end!

"Can u come to class early today? ... I have something for u!" The outcaste cringed ... "What?? Its only 7 now! Lemme sleep! I'll see u in the evening" ... "Plzzzzzz" ... she pleaded ... the outcaste scratched his head in despair! "What is this now??"

He soon discovered what it was! With the whole class singing "Happy Birthday to u ...", the board decorated with his name written on it ... and a cake waiting ... it slowly dawned on him! Poor guy, never ever celebrated his birthday in his life! Nobody ever remembered it ... including him! This was too much and he stood there with his jaws open!

In the middle of all this, he saw the princess, everybody else's princess till then ... and now only his!

"U smell good..." The princess crooned, later in the day, with her face buried in the curve of his neck. "I smell of sweat ..." shrugged the Outcaste, "... deo is over ..." The princess burst into laughter ... and moved in closer ... "U wont understand ... I luv the way U smell ... I luv everything abt u ... U'll never understand". Ofcourse, the outcaste didnt understand what she likes about him ... but his eyes twinkled ... his shoulder broadened ... and he decided to never buy the deo again!

Posted by usandeep at 5:33 PM
Updated: Tuesday, 19 February 2008 12:18 AM
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Friday, 16 November 2007
An Honour!
I got to you from

I'ts around 2AM, and as it happens once every few months (it's getting more frequent these past couple of years) I've hovered over verdant forests and majestic acclivities, swooped into deep gorges and zoomed up over jagged ridges, twisted the lat-long grid 360degrees a few times till I get a headache, extracting every last information bit the current resolution GoogleEarth can offer on potential new routes up ....

And in between soothing my aching joints and pacifying my aching heart I did the next thing I always do on such occassions - Google for "Chembra", "Anakkampoyil", and ....

And I chanced upon you trip report, and I knew I must write to you. I was the life and soul of the Adventure Club in REC Calicut circa '89/'93. And I and my equally dim-witted and numb-skulled group of maniacs had spent our REC days, first discovering the little hamlet of Anakkampoyil with no telephone pole no electric pole no plastic no plastic bottle, then the charming walk to Muthapanpuzha, then onto the jungles and then two frigging years discovering a route to Vavalmala.

Being good engineers and blossoming men, we refused to ask for directions, and we suffered mightily. We planned and plotted and dreamt of all possible lines of attack standing in the MB and from lecture halls, staring at the looming phantomhead of Vavalmala surging in the horizon. We dissected the planes the gorges and the shoulders looking for a route up. And we did summer trips, peak-monsoon treks, 2-man alpine attacks, 12-man British expeditions.

Many a times did we escape certain death and maiming on this noble endeavour fuelled by extra tankfuls of testosterone and adrenaline and not inconvenienced by mere common sense and any primal need for survival:

The first time almost stepping off into olichuchattam at midnight - we at the vanguard  of mallu adventuredom, when adventure was a word that got you thrown out of decent mallu homes, kitted out in PVC soled shoes and boxy airbags filled with ironed creased polyester-blend trousers and shirts got stranded on the wrongside of the olichuchattam rockface at dusk. And there were 12 hopelessly inexperienced climbers - a few with spare left feet - plastered across 40 vertical feet of rock and ledges and slippery grass, with 4 weak torches showing the way at 10PM on a chill night, accompnaied by furtive heavy movement of animals in the forest below - possibly famished life-forms awaiting an easy meal.

The second time when Subra actually stepped off a huge boulder in pitch-dark during our first epic emergency descent on a monsoon night, escaping a soggy, frozen, leech infested death after three unsuccessful hours trying to build a fire in a campsite between the jungle gloom and a precipice. And to think it had all started as a carefully planned monsoon attack on the summit!!

The third when Pmurthy and I almost took a basejump from vavalmala while we were crawling speedily along the long 3-feet high animal tunnels among the bamboo thickets, and piling into each other at the stunningly sudden appearance of grey nothingness almost under our nose.

The fourth time, which really would have been a fittingly heroic death to all concerned - from starvation, exhaustion and inebriation - during our wildly successful vaval summit attack. Another meticulously planned trip when the food ran out and 5 of us survived on a couple of banana and two large bottle of whiskey - we figured the latter can count as a malted beverage - for a day and half.

The fifth time when a football sized rock came shooting down the trail next to the cave, missed four of us and smashed into a sack full of banana, jam, bread and a filthy costly borrowed digital camera - which was discovered intact in a sackful of banana-pineapple jam-bread soup forming a concrete with powdered glass from jam bottles.

The sixth when Pmurthy and I had to crawl as much of our anatomy into our rucksacks to survive a dusk to dawn thundershower on the exposed summit ridge - the lighting was so bright we could see the colors of flowers a 100feet away.

Yet, despite being very good engineers and blossoming strong silent types, we did achieve the summit a few times. Reaching the summit ridge and retreating to the cave in '91. Reaching the summit on an epic 4-day struggle in '92. I and Pmurthy, going back from Bangalore first time after graduation, successfully executing a strategic retreat from half-way up on day-1 to launch a strong counter-attack on day-2 and climb all the way, in '95. And last, when I tortured my newly attached first-wife-cum-unwitting-former-girlfriend, two supermen from Ozone whose rucksacks were bigger than my tent, and a couple of pals all the way to the summit ridge in '99.

Life was good, running the adventure club with large and active membership in Motorola, starting the Numbskulls club in Sasken etc. Then cruel misfortune befell my life. I got ambitious. I got prosperous. Busy. First wife. Second job. Third job. First kid. Fourth job. Shit, wife is still same. First house. Fifth job. Second car. Second kid ...what second kid? You must be crazy....

Now, on one of those contemplative evenings, when I'm massaging my poor tunnelling carpals lovingly back to life, adjusting my much suffering rear end to a more comfortable and cooler position on the chair, under the nourishing glow of the laptop LCD panel, my gaze trying to penetrate the glass-curtain in the far end of a row of closely packed sensory-deprivation-chambers, the devil starts working on my mind.

That little voice whispering - of plodding those aana & kaatti (bison in local lingo) dung strewn tracks, of the spring in the knee joints when you reach level ground after a long had climb, of scoring ancient lichen off the short stout trees on the ridge to mark return trail, of the dew-wet grass and creepers razoring across forearms and face, and ...ahem... of a new life, in a size 38 jeans, with a new wife....

And on those evenings I go back to GoogleEarth. By now I have located every landmark on the route till almost to the ridge. Now I'm trying to work out the mother of all deep-jungle treks in Western Ghats, starting in Meppadi, getting over two peaks and landing up in Anakkampoyil - or if I'm ambitious, maybe even a third ridge and down to Pulloorampara!! Ah, this will be the stuff of legend.

It feels so so so very good to see that someone has done the trail and written about it. I tried to pass all my tribal knowledge before I left REC, but there were no serious trekkers left by then to pass the baton to. IMHO that 25 or so square miles contain some of the densest, wildest jungles left in India. After spending 6years on that mountain even the supposedly fabled Kodai route was pretty tame for me.

2008 has been declared - as were the previous two - as the year of my first big trek for the 21st Century. And the first big one will be Vavalmala. I will get in touch.

The best hiking season for the western slopes of the western Ghats- barring any serious global warming disruption since '99 - is during the mid-summer showers in early May. Good water, no leeches, cloud cover, perfect lighting for photography.

I'm hungry. I must eat now. Prose after midnight (like bathroom singing) is a highly satisfying exercise in verbal (au(o)ral) diaorrhea. No wonder I got hungry.

- Roby Paul Kurien -
ECE, Class of '93

Posted by usandeep at 5:20 AM
Updated: Saturday, 17 November 2007 12:57 PM
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2008 Sandeep Unnimadhavan