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Sandeep 's World >> Thinkin' Aloud
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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Monday, 12 November 2007
Another Boy and Girl Story!

The boy is an outcaste ... Born Tamilian ... Brought up in Delhi .... so both Tamilians and Delhites doesnt like him. Being a lazy punk .. the rest of the world too!

Girl is nothing short of a princess ... Born Tamilian ... Brought up in Delhi ... so both Tamilians and Delhites love her. Smart and classy ... and as a side note she is beautiful too! Ofcourse, her being smart and classy doesnt have anything to do with how she looks! Some cynics keep telling that she is a little too pompous ... haa ... dont believe them!

On a sleepy afternoon in the class, the princess decides to have some fun. So, she walks up to fan #1 and asks him 'Fan #1, Y do u keep wearing formals all the time? How boring! U know what? U should try out something cooler'.

Fan #1 is all confused ... he was remembering the last time when the princess told him that he was always well dressed! How can she do this now??? But anyways ... he did say 'Yeah ... Guess u r rite!'

With this, the princess turns her attention to Fan #2. One naughty look of hers and he already started blushing! He blushed a lot more after hearing 'Hey ... u got a new pimple .... Hmmm ... Do u know when u start having pimples?' He wanted to say a lot but only managed to smile, failing miserably to hide his shyness and the rest of the fan club laughed out loud ... some rolling on the floor!

Next in line was our boy, who is an out caste and hasnt taken membership in any fan clubs. To everybodies surprise, the girl walks up to him and says 'Hi' in the sweetest of tones. The boy, though a little astonished, manages the civility to say 'Hi' and looks straight at her beautiful and playful eyes.

'Who all are there in ur family?' The princess indeed has plans to get chummy with the out caste.
'Mom, Dad, One elder brother, a younger brother and two younger sisters.' The out caste replies at the most civilized tone he could manage.

Now, the princess is surprised at the possibility of such a small family! 'Wow!!! But thats too small ... U know what I have 10 sisters and 11 brothers!' Ofcourse, the whole world knows that the girl is the only princess and the 10 sisters and 11 brothers are her doggies and cats! The fan club bursts out in laughter and the out caste by now looked annoyed. Looser ... the fan club thought ... why cant he just laugh for a good joke?

But, the boy is not used to keeping quiet so fast ... and thats why he is an outcaste. He waits till the laugh subsides and then retorts 'Cool .... so ur father has a machine gun or what?'

The fan club is stunned and so is the princess. The fan club exclaims 'How could you say such a preposterous thing? And that too to our princess???

The out caste ... who is by now irreversibly out caste, gets up with a smile, fixes his stare back on the princess, takes his bag and without blinking his eye lids, walks out of the class.

While the fan club is running up to the Princess to console her, the Princess was trying real hard to hide a smile!

PS: Any similarities with any one dead or alive is pure coincidence!

Posted by usandeep at 10:58 PM
Updated: Monday, 19 November 2007 9:31 AM
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Friday, 8 June 2007
One week with Rebecca

Ananth peeped out of the window …. They were floating above a bed of clouds. In the far end … near the horizon, there was a mountain … a huge white cloud. Sun’s rays were coming right through it, making it shine like a diamond. Beautiful … he thought … and wished Rebecca was with him … sitting next to him and gazing at the clouds at awe … holding on to his hands as if she was a little child. Soon he cud feel the smell of jasmine flowers … the smell of hers! He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. It wasn’t far …. Just two more hrs … to land in Paris. He cud imagine her curling up against his shoulders as he kisses her forehead and felt a burning desire to pull her towards him.

He remembered, his last day with her … the day she had to leave for Paris. When nobody was around she jumped at him, hugging him tightly and started sobbing. “I don’t want to go …” Ananth felt his throat drying up. Her eyes were already a pool when she lounged forward to kiss him … a mad deep kiss …. leaving him breathless.

A day later … she called up from Paris and broke into tears … again. “I don’t want to be here …. Cant live without u!” and Ananth had a tough time convincing her otherwise. It was just six months … maximum a year … he had told.

These things wud never work out the way you expect … for it’s more than a year that he had been waiting for her to return. God knows … when she will be able to! Ananth had run out of all his excuses. He knew no more ways to comfort her … he knew no more ways to comfort himself … having long realized that “He too … cant live without her!”

Ananth had a week in Paris. Long awaited one week … where he can gift her some fond memories … gift himself some fond memories, which can take them both thro’ their remaining days of separation. One week with Rebecca! He once again peeped out of the window … the aircraft had gone past that shining white cloud in the horizon. But, he cud still see it behind and wanted Rebecca to see it too. He picked up his camera … trying to imagine the way she’ll gaze at those clouds … He cudnt wait … for his one week with Rebecca!

Martin’s fingers crawled its way back around her neck and down. Hmmm … he is at it again… and she had no power to stop him …. for the third time that day. She stared into his crystal green  ... naughty … all conquering eyes. Soon ... got lost in its depth, while he whispered sweet nothings in her ears. They cuddled once again in the bed. Isn’t it too cold to get out?

As she was curling up against his shoulders, he whispered to her: “Don’t u have to pick up ur friend from India?” Rebecca was still for a second, stared at him for a while, but soon it changed to a smirk … and then she told with an annoyed expression: “So … now u want me to go … is it?” threatening to hit his face. They both laughed … as he pulled her tightly towards him: “Nooo …. Who wud want u to go?” and kissed her … a mad deep kiss …. leaving her breathless!

[This story was concieved when the flight was landing in Paris airport and written partly in the Paris Airport and the rest in Paris - Atlanta flight :-) And published in San Jose]

Posted by usandeep at 10:01 AM
Updated: Tuesday, 19 February 2008 12:16 AM
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Saturday, 2 June 2007
From septimal ... to octal!

I noticed Indulekha on the first day of our class. Guess, everybody did … and who wudnt? … she was a class apart. Long beautiful eyes, where you can get lost, Wild, curly, hair upto her shoulders, long flawless pair of legs, which she likes to show off, by wearing skirts, and an impeccable figure any girl would die for. What was she doing there in an Engineering class??? Nobody knew … She shud’ve been in Mahabharatha … as the cause of the epic war, in Ramayana as Ravana’s object of desire or in Illiad as Paris’s love. I remembered the Malayalam verse I heard : "നാരികള്‍ നാരികള്‍ നാശത്തിന്‍ നാരായ വേരുകള്‍!" Which loosely translates to "Women Women, the root cause of all destruction!"

Since, all the freshers were disallowed by seniors, even to grow a moustache, going and talking to a girl was out of question. Seniors use to visit our class every now and then. Most of them targeting Indulekha … asking her all the irrelevant questions like "What’s ur name?", "Where are u from?" and "How much marks did u get for 10th?" It was rumored that some of the guys even asked her to come to the class early or to the canteen for an elongated ragging session, but did not proceed anywhere beyond paying for her lunch. Only use of all these incessant ‘ragging’ sessions were that, all of us knew her biodata byheart.

It took abt half of the first year for the guys in our class, including me, to build up the courage to go and talk to her. And … by the time anybody cud really claim paying for her coffee, juice, ice creams or any other possible eatables … she was spotted in the lover’s valley with Jayakrishnan. Not once, twice but frequently .. chatting for hours!!! Who the hell is Jayakrishnan??? Not the tallest, darkest, handsomest or charmingest guy in our class who was tipped to have won the race. But, probably the quietest, front bencher, who answers every question of ours with a smile … was till then spotted mainly in two places, the computer lab and the library. He was very nice to everybody and greeted all with an innocent smile. But, the only reason why somebody wud talk to him, till now, was for the assignment sheets, once his is finished people will borrow them and use it to fill up their own. Is she using him for the same purpose? Everybody panicked, the seniors who had ignored him till then, ended up stopping him at all odd places and odd hours and questioning him for long times. All the questioning ended up in his innocent smile and nobody cud really conclude what these meetings were all abt!

Meanwhile, some of the people took up different strategies, like our Manoj Kumar, spending hours with the dictionary to compile a love letter which ended up in a direct reply from her "Sorry Manoj, I am not ready for anything like this now." Next day he was spotted in the arrack shop having tapioca and fish curry! Another example was Mathew Kuriakose, trying to send her a bouquet on Valentine’s day, only to find that she had gone home for a few days! In any case, she was unanimously elected the rose queen of the year, with a total of 514 roses sent to her on Valentine’s day. When somebody asked Jayakrishnan abt this, the response was the usual smile along with the fact that 514 is the smallest non-trivial number which cud be expressed in the form N3 + N1/3 (the exact interpretation of his statement and the proof is left to the reader). Gosh … I had to believe this coz the person who started of the story, cudn’t have thought of this himself!

Well … with that, people mostly gave up on Indulekha … She was either already committed to Jayakrishnan or she is not planning to get committed to anyone. There were surely a lot of people looking at her with admiration from a distance, but never worked up the courage to go beyond that. In the coming year, a new rose queen arrived and Jayakrishnan deduced that the number of roses she got was "1000 in septimal number system and hence a special number." When a naive 'what that means?' followed by the interviewer, the answer was his usual smile and a straightforward "I always liked the number 7, I kind of identify myself with #7, and if we had used septimal system, a Kilo wud've been 343!" Ofcourse, the interviewer wud've been more interested in Jayakrishnan's reaction abt more mundane things like y Indulekha isn’t the rose queen this year? Or, will anybody ever break her record of 514 roses? Ofcourse, the couple were continued to be seen in lover’s valley as well as in more obvious places like library and computer lab.

I was also looked at with a li'l jealousy by many when the lab groups were re-arranged based on alphabetic order, with myself and Indulekha ending up as lab mates. After the initial ice-breaking she came across as a warm and friendly person, with high intellect levels. No wonder she fell for Jayakrishnan and his theories on septimal number system.

Little did I realize then, that my life was abt to change. A woman as special as Indulekha was difficult to fall for. Once, the initial awe was gone, I was soon at ease with her. She also seemed to like me and looked comfortable with me around. As days passed my longing for her started growing and became also un-controllable. I took the first step, by calling her out for coffee after a lab session, which soon became a regular affair. Once she gave me a "മയില്‍‌പീലി" (mayilpeeli, peacock's feather in malayalam, Can anybody translate this to English?), saying that it was from a set presented by her dad when she was a kid. She had 12 of them and she had been giving it only to very special people in her life. After giving one each to Jayakrishnan and myself she still had 4 of them left. It was not bad being the 8th important person in her life. The "മയില്‍‌പീലി" was as beautiful and colorful as her. It symbolized that our friendship is reaching new levels and I did keep it a treasure. Well … I may once talk abt how our relationship grew, but my story is now abt Jayakrishnan and Indulekha. Lets not digress now.

During all these days, Indulekha opened up a lot, including her relationship with Jayakrishnan. She had a lot of admiration for Jayakrishnan, had been sharing most of her time with him and taking his opinion on a lot of things, but their relationship till date had never been romantic. It happened so that Indulekha had to face lesser love letters and proposals and even red roses, once she was linked with him and both of them conveniently encouraged the rumours and never denied them. Needless to say, that I saw my chances growing exponentially once all these were revealed. I was the only person who knew abt this and decided to keep quiet abt this.

Finally, on that fateful day, when I proposed to Indulekha and she agreed to consider it after we both get a job, provided there are no stories in the college till then, I visited Jayakrishnan in his room. The door was half closed and Jayakrishnan was lying with his head on a copy of the book, 'What is Mathematics?' I tapped on his shoulder and he woke up. His eyes were red and he looked as if he wasn't well. On my enquiry he told its just a 'headache' and the state of excitement that I was in I didn’t pursue further. I had to tell him abt my proposal and her acceptance, to which he responded with "Indu already called me", but I continued to tell him all abt our meeting, my decision to not tell this to anyone else and the plans to announce it only next year! He listened to all my plans and congratulated me. But, during all this time, not even once … did I realize the reasons for Jayakrishnan identifying himself with #7, Not even once … did I notice the "മയില്‍‌പീലി" popping out of 'What is mathematics?' Not even once … I doubted, why Jayakrishnan was looking pale and didn’t have that innocent, disarming smile on his face now!!!

[This story was first written in Malayalam during my 5th semester BTech, under the title, "ജയകൃഷ്ണന്‍റെ ചിരി" (Jayakrishnante Chiri, meaning Jayakrishnan's smile) and rewritten when I was taking a break from reading 'What is Mathematics?' Hope that explains a lot of things :-) Ofcourse ... any similarities with anyone dead or alive is purely .. coincidental ;-)]

Posted by usandeep at 10:01 AM
Updated: Sunday, 2 March 2008 2:50 PM
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