Another one...

Another year gone past... something that I've heard about time flying looks true after all. Well, what an eventful year this has been! The first thing that comes to my mind is my tenth standard board exams. I rememebr how we laboured under the books, and how one fine morning we found ourselves staring at the question paper from the ICSE board. All that seems like a decade ago - such is the scale of things that happened. Well, after the exams I decided to immerse myself in the very centre of enjoyment but as luck would have I got selected for the Finals of the National Talent Search Exam(NTSE) which demanded my burying myself in a few herculean books all through till the middle of the hols. And so curse I did. I grumbled and studied.

Ah leave out the boring part...Then in early April I bought my digicam and the Nomad with the Digicam was born! What a beauty it was - the Canon Powershot! I took it with me on my first railfanning-cum-IR photograpy trip to aunt's house in Madurai, but via a beautiful route that I had chosen. And ended up with a fine collection of pics and sweet memories. I started this blog also about this time - hurray! After coming back I immersed myself in hesitant preparation of the NTSE and then took another trip to Coimbatore (rail pics here!) to visit grandparents and cousins. Five days there flew past like five minutes and there I was heading to Ernakulam for the NTSE finals behind a "whistler" WDM2 from ERS shed. The return journey was behind another super whistler from ED shed. And messed up the exam... they might have as well not given me the question paper...

The much awaited ICSE results came out. Though I did not get what I expected, I got over the disappointment of the rather less-than-expected 92% easily. School started... ahh! what fun! Imagine the fun that comes from being completely relaxed in school and watching movies at School(yeah!) after a hectic 10th!

Onam vacations after the 1st terminal exams. Started off again! To Rajapalayam (where we hadnt been for a verry long tme) Had a nice time and I squeezed in my bit of railfanning too in the meagre one day we got at madurai - pics here. What a trip!

Then slowly came the First National Aerospace Olympiad - my first time of a fairly large amount of newspaper publicity! As I have already written a looong trip report on it I don't wanna elaborate. Interested people may read the latter and check out the large number of photos.

Days narrowed down... and now there's the last! But what's the big deal? We run on forever in the tracks of time and there's seldom time to look back and get all weepy about it. But then there's the internet and for me there's anotherbloggerbloke.blogspot.com...

And Happy New Year, everyone


The zodaic is bull (er.. i dont meanTaurus)

I have never cared for it. By the way, I was born on September 21, which zodiac-maniacs(nice word!) would remember as the exact transition period between virgo and libra. Well when I was small, I had thought that I belonged to the class of the Balance as I wasn't very sure of the dates(of the Zodiac, not my b'day). So libra it was till a few years ago, I discovered to my surprise that I belonged to the class of that Lady. But I was not very happy being Virgo. To really put this thing to test, i hesitatingly looked up a few character-analysis thingies based on the zodiac and found many things (specific ones, not the commonplace "Smart guy, good feller" description) in both Virgo and Libra sort-of were true for me. So I therefore remain on the border, with free will to criticise or brag about any of them to the other.

And while we're at it, I think I'd better take these zodiacal stuff that is applicable to me and hurl it into the plastic basket in the corner.

'Coz, I DON'T GIVE A DAMN! Phah! Some lady, some balalnce, some bull, what not...


An aromatic appointment

They say you should see the dentist every six months or twice a year (both being the same). Well, I concentrated on the better things in life for six years that I didnt even know what a dentist looked like (okay okay, a little bit of exaggeration doesnt hurt!) till a few hours back. My kid sister had been visiting the dentist for quite sometime now, as she had developed a cavity in her tooth (due to her lack of control on eating). Now, somehow my mom became aware that I had skillfully(or otherwise) avoided a visit to the guardian of the teeth and dragged me along with my sister.

This dentist, she happens to be the mother of a young guy in my school, and knows me well. But that wasnt what prompts me to say that this wa the only time where I wasnt bored waiting in a clinic. The real reason lay in the activity that took place at regular intervals in front of the house. The house stands on the road that runs alongside the Trivandrum-Quilon mainline and is a few hundred metres away from the Trivandrum Central Station home-signal. This was a diesel-lovers' paradise. Especialy so in the evenings and mornings, as lots of trains arrive and depart within a short interval. Screaming WDM2s roared and went chug-a-chugga-chugga-chug, spewing out the irresistibly aromatic diesel smoke (there, you are doubting my sanity now). Okay okay, enough of trains. Fine.

The dentist found two small cavities and one big bad cavity in my lower teeth and filled the latter without hurting me much. Over. I came out of the clinic and watched an ED WDM2 go past, headlights on. Snapping back to my senses after it had disappeared, I spat out the wad of cotton wool the dentist had told me to keep between my teeth, hailed an auto and went home.

Now the point of this post is this: What exactly is the point?


How the exams went

Physics: Got a WDM2 due to the regular WDP4 having suffered a problem in the turbocharger. WDM2 blasts past at MPS, puts up a top show and finishes the journey quite early. Excellent work!

English (Lit.): WDP4 is back... puts up a decent show, but not very impressive.

Maths: Uh oh... Tricky ghat section and steep gradients... a tree brach falls and causes minor damages to radiator and long-hood. WDG2 called for rescue and does a clumsy job...

English (Gen.): Good ol' WDP4 SCREAMS past terrified people... held up at many red signals but accelerates like crazy and tries to make up lost time. This is GOD!

Env. Studies: Looong stretch of plain desert and scrub - same things all around... loooong boring journey at a moderate speed.

Computer:(Wednesday)Awesome show by WDP4! No hurdles at all... green all the way!

Chemistry: (Friday) (Forecast: Tough route... very tough. I suppose I'll need two WDP4s and a WDG4-banker for this)

Yes... the forecast was true. Even two WDP4s couldnt handle the job well. A flat spot in the wheel, sparks during braking, frequent brake pipe pressure problems, and reds all the way. Whew! Had a real tough time even getting the two beasts to the loco shed after getting the train to teh destination. DAMN!


Up and down the motherland... on a high!

WARNING: This is essentially a backup of memories from my mind's RAM. Also, this is meant for a large variety of readers, from close relatives to train-crazy railfan-buddies. As such, there could be many portions that are intentionally meant to satisfy the needs of my railfan-friends or my classmates. So please don't get pissed off or bored. Just skip the parts that you find incomprehensible (especially certain words in CAPS)...

It all began with a flashy poster put up on our school's notice board, announcing the debut of the National Aerospace Olympiad. In a nutshell, a team of six from each school was asked to write a forty-page long report on 'India's Space Journey: Aryabhatta to Chandrayaan-I'. Simple. But it turned out to be quite a herculean task condensing all we knew into a mere forty page affair. I made ample use of Photoshop and managed to come up with a collage-cum-flamboyant-work-of-art for use as our front page. We printed it out on glossy paper and Kishor's printer handled the job excellently. To say the least, the report was ready in the last minute. What happened later was a dream...blurred recollections of our stiff-upper-lip-Principal calling me and announcing with a straight face that we got selected, then the next 15-minute-presentation-with-80-slides-followed-by-a-splendid-questioning-round too went off well.

Ah... well, I think I'll skip the rest of the bleat and go straight to the Trivandrum-Chandigarh trip and the subsequent competition, for I can imagine some readers waiting with a bit of lead piping outside my house if I go beating about the bush too much.

DAY 1: October 22nd
Well, we took the 2625 Kerala Exp from Trivandrum. We had the AS5 coach, faaaaaaaaaar away from the ERS WDM3A at the helm. I settled down in our coach (the other five students and our Vice-Principal were the rest), my mind still resounding with the repeated instructions from my parents - "Dont stand at the door when the train is moving" "Dont get lost trying to photograph exotic locos" "Take care of your belongings" "Give up your silly railfanning for once", etc. Finally, we took off from the crowd of anxious parents, waving sisters, smiling brothers and THUS BEGAN THE GRAND JOURNEY UP THE MOTHERLAND!

The WDM3A was doing a good job. I had initially planned on taking pictures through the violet AC-window-glass itself by adjusting the camera's white balance. But as luck would have it, we got the dirtiest window ever, and the dirt was between the two glass layers, so even a heavy downpour of rain would never heal it. Hari(fellow railfan-cum-classmate) and I were quite dejected at the sight of it. Around the time the train reached Quilon, we managed to gather enough pluck to go and stand near the door, not at it. I took a good snap as the train rounded a HUGE curve, and surprisingly, I got the whole train on it along with the splendid greenery that Kerala is famous for. At Ernakulam(ERS) we broke free of the fear and cautiously stood at the door and shot a few WAP4s and some WAM4s that had strayed into the trip shed. The surprise loco was AJJ's "Barbie Doll" WAM4. She looked quite cute in the silver-pink-indigo livery.

At ERS, loco reversal and loco switching(from diesel to electric) take place. we got a new ED WAP4 at the other side(the side close to us - we were the 4th coach or so). In a short while, the P4 blew its (as Shanx says) "punctured harmonium" horn and we took off. In a flash we realised that Mishel and Avinesh had got off to buy a few books at the stations and were nowhere to be seen now. Frantic cell-phone calls did no good, as they had them switched off(I wonder why people do that). Finally, Mishel himself called us and said that they were in some coach far off, but fortunately in the same train. Quite an adventurous start, that was. Nothing more happened on that day. Lazy bums, we decided to start studying only the next day. At around 2000 hrs, we rolled into Coimbatore, my birthplace. My aunty, one of my uncles, and my little cousin were waiting for me there. After a nice long talk(the train halted for a long time since we were early) I hauled the bag of goodies which my aunt had given for crunching during the journey, said goodbye and had my dinner inside.
Each state or region has its own characteristic smell, and Tamil Nadu had a very fresh, grassy smell after a good North-East monsoon. (I just LOVE that smell!). Fell asleep after sometime...

Next day morning, I woke up to the sound of my mbile-phone alarm and woke up Hari too, and we took our cams and proceeded to the door for a great day of railfanning. Little did I know that that very day was going to be the best day of railfanning so far in my life! We started decently by snapping the rising sun. Slowly, our lenses turned to WAG5s and WAP4s. A short while later, we grew reckless and shot every passing train(each of which had different liveried or even different classes, of locos). We tried to study a bit, all of us, but were in no serious mood to. We did study, but that was for a short while. At about 11 o'clock, we rumbled over the Krishna river, which had a loooong bridge atop it, and seconds later, we entered my favourite station enroute - Vijayawada(BZA). The station is very picrturesque - green hills very close, long rakes of freight below the maze of cantenary wires. To top it all, this was a train-spotter's paradise... BZA had it all - WAP4s from ED, LGD, AJJ; WAM4s from AJJ, BZA itself; WAG5s from various sheds, and the lovely tigerface WAG7s. IT was a sumptuous electric feast out there. A few brown MLY WDM2s lazed in the sunlight, and a unique WDS6 "Jamuna", freshly painted, looking like some vintage ALCo, was also present. BZA being a "Clean-Train-Station", the coach was disinfected with pesticides and also washed a bit. We were running rather late after BZA, and to top it, we were held up at some lonely station - Mehboobabad, where we met face to face with the King of electric Freight: the WAG9. I was standing at the door and happened to glance back. I hurried inside and called Hari, who was all perked up when he saw the green and yellow locomotive. we trundled about for some time and were held up again at Kesamudram. We were crossed by a very fast train hauled by a dirty LGD WAP4. I happened to look back and saw the WAG9 approaching. Took a good photo and also a video as we left the station, overtaking it. We then sped past varied places, through arid scrubland , surprisingly dotted with many cemeteries (Hari was pissed off at this, but don't ask me why) That would've been the end of the day's railfanning but for the stop at Ramgundam. A few shots of GTL, KZJ, and MLY WDM2s followed. It grew dark outide and we settled down and started preparing for the quizzes, et al.

I was woken up early next morning by Hari, much before the others even thought of stirring. A groggy glance at my watch signalled 6 am. Anyways, I was biting cold outside and both of us put on our sweaters and 'monkey-caps' and proceeded to the door. The scenery in Madhya Pradesh - near Bhopal - was pretty good. The presence of plenty of trees was a welcome relief from the awful thorny bushes that are part and parcel of TN and AP landscapes. The sun came up and the railfanning started. Now it was the time of the Jhansi(JHS) shed locomotives. WAG5s started appearing. We stretched our legs at Bina Jn. After a while, we rumbled into Jhansi. The approach to the station is quite interesting. First, there is a longish curve to the left(when one is facing the loco). THen comes the JHS Diesel loco shed. (we spent some time here and we six guys were debating over whether a dog - whose head was on the ground - was dead or was killed by tribals and eaten). Then comes the JHS yard, full of locos - WAG5s from Ludhiana, WDM3D(Katni shed!), WDM2s from JHS and lots of puny WDS4s. An uneventful day followed. We were expecting WAP5s but only saw them at NDLS. We never saw a white(WAP5 or WAP7) in Agra or Mathura or even Nizamuddin! Anyway, we arrived at NDLS rather late and managed to haul all our luggage to the exit, where VP's (short for Vice Principal) contacts were awaiting us. A quick intro, a quick dumping of bags into the Innova and the Zen, and we were off. However, the place we were about to stay didnt please us much. A certain "Standard Hotel" in Daryaganj, Old Delhi. Anyways, we got decent rooms, and I proceeded to recharge my camera's dead batteries. Avinesh was on a high after getting a socket to charge his MP3-player. I was trying to get some sleep, but found myself going to Mishels' room; and all of us started watching TV. I desperately wanted to sleep, so I borrowed Avinesh's MP3 player and fell asleep to Bon Jovi's "Have a nice day".

Woke up at about 5 o'clock to fell a gurgling sound inside my ear and a painful stinging now and then. I thought it was my ear unclogging, as it was clogged the day before. However the irritation became nbearable and I had to conclude that there was some insect, probably a bloody mosquito or something inside. I hurriedly put on my jacket and called on VP, who accompanied me to a 'Dr. Shroff's hospital' nearby. An ENT, Mrs. Dhawan, good lady, took the infernal insect out (it turned out to be something about the size of a small cockroach) while I hurled my foulest curses at it. At about 1430 we were taken in two cars to the New Delhi station. Hauling my least-portable if not least-bearable luggage through the 12 platforms was a task in itself. we (read Hari and I) were overjoyed to see a WAP5 at the head of the Chandigarh(CDG) Janshatabdi, but a little disappointed on not getting the usual WAP7. Anyway, we got a dirty non-Janshat. coach and a window in which there was water in between the two glasses! Providence is least rewarding to people in need. Anyway, I dismissed all my ideas of shooting pics from the door as
1. WAP5 can really pull your lungs our by going fast and braking quickly;
2. I spotted Semi-Automatic-rifle-bearing RPF cops and I didnt want to make a mess of my life by getting jailed at 16;
3. It was dark and foggy outside
Anyway, we reached Chandigarh (but not before I enjoyed life for sometime by standing at the door for 5 mins) and one of our team mates was still to come out of the toilet. We waited for him and after 10 mins or so he came out with a look of someone who had had a hard day at the office.

Then came the fun part. We were squezed into a blue autorickshaw. God! WAP5 was nothing before this. The guy flew past traffic, whizzed past latest cars and reached us bang on time in front of Hotel Balaji, which was to be our stead in Chandigarh. Well, I suppose everyone knows Chandigarh is a 'planned city' and is called "City beautiful". Well the thing I liked about it was the raods... all wide, straight and neat. But the buildings were very monotonous. And our Hotel Balaji fed us nice, soft rotis and paneer butter masala. I fell asleep soon to the sounds of some movie (where some "nigga people"(as Avinesh put it) break into a bank and steal money and radioactive gems(!), blah blah blah...)

We had to get ready to go to the Auditorium by about 12 noon, so we had a quick breakfast at Balaji's itself and got ready. I suppose we were radical in choosing not to wear our school uniforms that day and we are, right? So we went in jeans , denim jackets and what not. Anyway, at noon we were whisked away in a stupid bus (whose seats could just come off the floor if the bus rounded a curve fast - and they did!); waited for other schools also to come, out of which many took their own time; and finally, we landed bump in front of the auditorium which was to be our place for the next 2 days.

The inaugural speech was presented by the guy Dr. DP Sabharwal himself, and he went on about India's acheivements et al, and I think i saw Kishor standing in 'attention' after he finished...heheh... Anyway, we had the prelims of the quizzes due and we managed it well. we (mishel, avinesh and I) thought we had messed up the Intelligence quiz(which was a four page, 1hr long affair, which we were supposed to do in 20 mins; I suppose the guy who set it couldnt have done so) Whatevah... The hall was pretty cold - that we noticed from Day one. Hari also tried his hand at the sketching competition that day.

The results of the prelims of the quizzes were announced. We also had a visual round; after that, our school was the only one to qualify in all the three quiz-finals. we then had the painting competition - for which yours truly had gone and tried out scratching the paper(and got the second place for it... muhahaha!)

Lunch absolutely sucked. Big time. Some packed thingy with nothing to eat properly... the panner curry was sweet! What the .... Afternoon, we had the finals of the three quizzes and we won two of them(Space and Intelligence) and came out third in the Awareness quiz. bah! it wasnt an awareness quiz at all...more like a commercial quiz and musings of a nostalgic Hindi-biased freak asking questions on old Hindi SERIALS(!) and their SPONSORS(!!!) Anyway, the other teams were pretty convinced we would be the overall first, but we werent very sure of it as we were worried about the presentation.

That evening we were taken to the Rock garden in CDG(I suppose this needs no intro). We messed about for a while, took soem really beautiful photographs(beautiful people included!) and went to some place belonging to the Air-force for a cultural programme. We decided to make up a very patriotic skit that would woo the judges, so we made up the same, and at the last moment, also sang a malayalam poem(Pora Pora naalil naalil...). The description of the day would be incomplete without a word about Bhavans Vidyalay, Chandigarh. To begin with, these people were there beside us in the intelligence quiz. During the quiz, a part of the answer for a question was displayed on the screen, not accidentally, but unknowingly - ie., a folder having a name similar to the answer of a particular question was shown. It was the buzzer round, so we took the chance and said both the answers correctly. At this time, the Bhavan's Vidyalay guys(to be specific, two guys and a girl) got pissed off and complained about the folder to the quizmaster, who was smart and replied, " It was a buzzer round. If u had also seen it, y didnt U press the buzzer?" Quite true, eh? Anyway, WE WERE AHEAD OF EVERYONE EVEN IF THOSE TWO ANSWERS WERE NOT CONSIDERED. So much for that. Now, after the cultural programme, we had dinner late at night and we were permitted to launch a rocket model that we made(only we had something like that - HAIL!) as they didnt allow us to lauch it during the presentation the next day. This thing, it shot up, and landed straight onto the plate of that girl from Bhavans Vidyalay. Talk about coincidece and targets! We mumbled our serious apologies and she was quite okay. Soon after, our VP came upto us and asked us cheekily, "How did u manage to take it to the correct target?" to which we replied "Father, our rocket is definitely male!"
Nice ending to a good day. Upon reaching the hotel, we practised and rehearsed our presentation and I copied all my pics onto Kishor's laptop and burnt a CD from it. Safe!

Woke up early and had the same breakfast with the extremely watery tea-which-was-brewed-in-an-aquarium to make a mess of my stomach. Anyway, we had to draw lots for the order of the presentation, and Kishor, spiritality personified, thinking all others, save he, had bad luck dripping from their sorry hands, proceeded to draw the lot himself. It turned out to be a uninteresting number 8. we saw all the presentations, which were about the same as ours but Apeejay school, Jalandhar had done a wonderful job... If any of them is reading this, hats off to the guys who did it! Well, about our presentation, it went well (and fortunately it was immediately after luch, so we thought the effect of the better presentations would be worn off the judges). We handled the question-answer round very decently. However, I was really nervous about the guys from the Apeejay school, as they had also qualified for some quiz and could beat us and walk off with the first. By the time the presentations were over, it was time for the finale... the results. Mr. Sabharwal kept us waiting by releasing his new book for space quiz. In the end, he started off giving mementos too all the participating schools. We noticed that our school and Apeejay school were not called to the stage. So it became obvious - we were the runners up if not the first. Then came the sweet, heartthumping moment... Mr. Sabharwal announced, "Well I shall not be keeping u waiting any more... i call upon the runners up...Apeejay Shool, jalandhar!" Our heart jumped in joy... this was the best moment of all... Coming all the way from the tip of South india and walking away with the FIRST PLACE!!! All the rest was a dream.. being called upon the stage... being congratulated, photographed, interviewed by reporters... whew! We had a HUGE stack of prizes, so we decided to skip the trip to Pinjore gardens and boarded the dingy, smoking bus again... but in an entirely different mood altogether.
Mishel's granpa's friend at Chandigarh had come to see us and took us to a nice South Indian restaurant for a really good 'homely' supper. Walking our way bacl to the hotel, we did a great lot of 'bird'watching(ahem...). That night my mobile was as busy as never before.. cousins, freinds, and our PRINCIPAL! Festivity at its best... we watched 'The Mummy returns' and slept off........

We UNFORTUNATELY couldnt go to Delhi on the Kalka Shatabdi so we had to contented with a rickety, but fast bus to Delhi. Kishor totally confused a few of us by giving extremely vague if not misleading directions to where he was, when all the while he was very near to where we were standing. VP got pissed off at our inability to turn up puntually at any place and kept muttering all the while. But we were all grateful to the good man he was, for accompanying us and arranging accomodation, transport et al in Delhi. The sardarji who was driving the "Chandigad-Dhilli" bus was, I suppose, an experienced hand., He lifted both hands off the wheel, reached for his cooling glasses, put them on, and continued driving withi one hand on the wheel and the other holding a bar beside the window...cool, huh? We reached Delhi at about 3 o'clock and proceeded to go out for luch and do a bit of shopping and/or sightseeing. We went to a McDonalds eatery and had some pathetic food, which did the worst job of satisfying my appetite. Son after, Kishor proceeded with Vp for gaping at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, red Fort, etc and the others and I went to shop and to check out the Metro. We did a stupid job of shopping... bought a watch for my sister and a jacket for myself. After sometime wasted there, we went down the steps of the metro station at Rajiv Chowk(aka Connaught Place) The Metro station was awesome, looking just like some International Airport, plus rifle-clad RPFs. We purchased tickets to the Central Sectretariat station (about 5 mins away), because the man behind the counter thought we wanted to see the city (but we wanted to see the city from the Metro - so we wanted to go thru the elevated regions of the track) and the route turned out to be totally underground. Anyway, the ride was awesome to say the least... superb acceleration! We got off at Central Secrt. and purchased tickets back to Rajiv Chowk, where our cabby was waiting for us. Only after friends told me about the seriousness of it and how close I was to being imprisoned if the cops caught me shoting the metro that I really felt scared. Anyway I was cautious while photographing! After all this entertainment, we trundled into our rooms and packed our bags for tomorrow. Mishel's uncle came to see us and took us to a restaurant for dinner, where we had the customary dosa, et al. After reaching our rooms, I finally decided to put the ear-drops (prescribed by that Doc at Daryaganj) because I thought I'd consult her once again to know whether everything was fine with my auditory organ before I left for Trivandrum. The ear drops blocked my ear completely so I slept soon.

A great trip and now time to go back... WE were to take the 2626 Kerala exp back to TVC. At around 1000hrs we were dropped at NDLS railway station by VP's friends. We tahnked them and proceeded up the huge flight of steps and broke our backs walking a few hundred yards to pf-6. Some shunter brought in the train and we jumped in gratefully. The porter charged Rs100 for carrying our bulky luggage and prizes and depositing the same in the coach. At ssharp 1130 the slight tug told us we were off. NDLS to Faridabad is very very boring... as the train rumbles on verrry slowly through crowded "Tilak bridge", some-other-bridge and a few slum-dwellings. All along, there are about four tracks parallel to ours and a few EMUs carry humanity rather disgracefully. Spotted a few WAP5 and some commonplace locos. THree WAG9s were spotted at Agra, Bina and some other place.

DAY 10
Woke up and thought I'd now switch to shooting scenery rather than locos now. Since the train was near Ramgundam, I shot a few pics of the factories and the thermal powerstations. One thing noteworthy was that after Antri(forgot where it was; this noting was based on a memo I had set in my mobile) the up and down-lines separate for a long sistance, and just outside Sandalpur station, ther was a huge and awesome curve in the down line... We almost saw the track which we had come from, beside us! Nothing more happened.

DAY 11
Last day in the train! I had set the alarm in my mobile to go ff at 0445 since the train passes through Coimbatore at 0500 hrs and I wanted to see it before we returned home. When it rang, I was too sleepy, and switched it off. When i did wake up at about 0600, we had oly reached Coimbatore North(CBF). So I lodged onto the door and waited. Coimbatore came and went. Then came the section I was waiting for...the Walayar ghat section on the Kerala-TN border. I knew it would be looking the best-ever in this season of a good monsoon. And boy, did it look BEAUTIFUL! Took a lot of pics from the door. Watching from the window and ennjoying from the open door are completely different. Once we reached Palghat, I returned to the cool interiors of my coach.

Once we had reached Kerala, a rather sad feeling came over me. I was disappointed that everything was over so soon. Now to return to the same boring life again... school, studies, exams...damn! I lay down and tried to sleep. Couldnt. So woke up and played cards. Nothing more happened till Quilon. At Quilon, I got the opportunity to shoot the only loco that had been missing all throughout - the YDM4! I got a charging YDM4 at the helm of the Quilon-tenkasi passr. Watching it disappear into the mountains far away brought back sweet memories of my summer trip through this line. The fact that this route(QLN-Tenkasi) is nestled in the heart of the Western Ghats and looks so far away from humanity and cities makes it seem all the more far away from the concrete buildings and iron mess of the contemporary world. God bless the British who took so much pain to build this line. After about an hour, we reached TVC... back home and were given a grand reception at school. Thus ended a wonderful, awesome trip which will always remain indelible in my memories, to treasure forever.



HA!!! Just when you thought I was probably dead and were about to dismiss this blog for dead, I'm BACK!!!

This time, it was a 10-day trip to Chandiigarh for the National Aerospace Olympiad. Had a GREAT time railfanning and having fun with friends.

Trip reprt to follow immediately... So HAVE THE PATIENCE TO WAIT!



“NAILED YOU, BUSTER!!!” he shouts out, triumphant at having finally overthrown his foe. He then does a war dance around the room, much to his dog’s amazement (who has been a silent witness to all the killings). Our hero finally snaps back to reality and turns off his computer.

Common scene, huh? Since the time decent computers were invented, games have had their time. And now, during the reign of 6800 ultra’s and 4GB DDR2 sticks, well…

It all started with the making of small, harmless games like Pac man, Dave, Prince of Persia, etc. No blood, no gore, no anti-aliasing, no anisotropic filtering, no frills, or any such bells and whistles. Just beeps and saccharine-sweet characters. What started with small 320 x 240 resolutioned (pardon the misuse of the word) games has now grown into a gruesome world of violence and gore. Today, the games do the kids more harm than good (and the computer has its own share of worries as well…) Now, it’s the reign of first-person-shooters. For the very very few who are hearing the word(s) for the first time, let me tell you that in such a game, you either see the gun’s rear or the rear silhouette of the shooter (a.k.a ourselves). From what I gather (the word ‘gather’ occurs in place of ‘have played’ because I have a humble 16MB graphics card), these games run as follows:

Some bad guy (mostly an alien or some such deformed creature) has taken over the world and has begun to show its bad face to the people. We, the good guys need to go put an end to the bad nut’s euphoria. During the course of such a process we encounter unsightly, sick, hideous, repulsive, revolting(etc.) creatures and we (obviously) have to shoot ‘em down. And it goes on…

Frankly, I don’t understand the thrill and/or gain in just wandering about in mazes, dark, ill-lit tunnels, deserted Pre-Cambrian-era-like places and making meat out of anyone who comes in your way. And how the heck can a small kid kill another guy with just 2-3 frantic shots from his hand-pistol??? One need not need to be a psychiatrist to know that adolescents have a high level of curiosity. Add to that the fact that they are being given incorrect information and have access to games meant for ‘mature players’, and you have the perfect recipe for disaster. By the way, it’s all because of these dumb games that small (and large) kids morph into bloodthirsty monsters and go on the rampage in real life, killing for ‘the fun of it’. No doubt, those scums were inspired by shooters like Doom, Max Payne, Mafia, Manhunt, et cetera et cetera…

All the same, I do play harmless games, the ones played for recreation and not for re-creation (of trouble). But as of now, nothing can be done… So keep gaming, till -


The writer's nightmare

The pen, it seems, was the best of all writing inventions in the history of mankind.


But what came with it is the most unwelcome accessory. What came to safeguard the object mightier than the sword, had made the pen (and the mortals using it) to bow down in resignation.

By the way, I?m speaking about the pen-cap.

This small sheath of plastic (or metal) has turned out to be a pen wielder?s nightmare. Personally, I believe that its real job comes more in the line of getting lost and be sworn at when found hours later. Apart from one?s temper, this happens to be the object that one tends to lose most of the time. I feel that it is not getting due respect nowadays (no that it used to, earlier). Anyway, treat it with respect and you may be sure that you?ll be left alone (pun unintended). This is in connection with what happens scores of times, but is usually blamed on something else. You are writing something furiously. It turns out to be a Herculean piece of work for a human. After some minutes of labouring, you feel tired and want to give it a break. Incidentally, you happen to be writing with a fountain pen (one of those affairs which tend to throw up, or get dried up, if left unattended for long). Suddenly you realise that the wicked cap is missing. It is not on the floor, nor is it on the pen or on any part of you. Fed up, you put everything aside and get up.

The cap falls out of your lap and makes a dive for the floor. Invariably, it bounces up and vanishes into thin air.

An hour is spent in searching for it, and finally, you manage to find another (ill-fitting) cap and shut the pen up with it. Next morning, you find the old one lying beside you on the bed, smirking away.

The resulting storm of abuses does no good. The pen?s cap is the evil that needs to be looked after; the pen?s best friend and the fragile nib?s bodyguard.

Not to mention, a constant source of frustrated exercise.


Story of lost friends

After sixteen full years of largely satisfactory existence on this planet, I turn around and look back longingly at some moments, the memories of which have accompanied me throughout this small but significant journey down the road.

It is with this feeling that I sit before the blessed machine(which has been part and parcel of my life for five years, more or less in one piece). There are some people, things who have flashed past your life, rather insignificantly, if not wholly so... Lying on my bed, looking at the bright leaves of the nearby coconut palms swaying in the noon breeze, I suddenly remembered a few lost friends. Most of these are people whom I had not interacted with, or if I had, just for a few minutes. Now, as my fingers flow over the keys, one by one, memories meander towards me, like long drawn notes of a soulful raaga on a violin...

My first railfanning-cum-photography trip - on the Quilon-Sengottai metre gauge line. Once a busy, very important route, it now lies abandoned, covered with weeds, with barely five trains a day, all crawling at an average of 35-40 kmph...yet significant in its own way. We were held up for a crossing at a station - Kottarakkara. I was readying my camera for a good shoot of token-exchange between the incoming train and the station staff. Just then a small, grating voice, "anna, anna.." I looked down the window. A beggar boy clad in a torn shirt, holding out his hand pleadingly. Moved, as I usually am, I was about to ask my mum for a coin or so, when I saw the crossing train approach. I shook off my thoughts and, with all concentration, managed a nice shot of token exchange. After a short time, our train took off. That was when I remembered the boy at the window. Without wasting a second, I opened my mum's bag, took ot a coin and handed it down to the boy, who accepted it greatfully. I helped him in my small way... that was enough for me... I dunno where he is now, I dont know his name. But wherever he is, I hope he is happy.

It was the time I moved to my new house a few miles from the city. I was in the second standard. Playing on the fresh sand that was covering the virgin garden, I found... a snail. After a few days of playing with it and trying to feed it, one day my granny unknowingly swept it out of the compound. I realised this some two days later and, running outside the house and looking for it among the dust lining the base of the compound wall, I saw it being eaten by ants. Heart-broken, I shook the predators off and put it back in the garden. I presume I must have forgotten all about it after a while... but this sunny noon, it just came to me like some ghost of long-ago.

(There some more... but I dont have the time to complete this right away)

There. Insignificant flashes, mere strips out of the big chiunk of life, small and stupid, yet luminous enough to be eternal.



It seems what goes up must come down. Quite.I wonder if there is something like 'What goes in must be made to come out'.
Or so it looks from the small cloudy drops on the road.
If there is one thing unique to people who make me wince at the sight of them, it's the way they spit nonchalantly on the road, on the sides of electric posts, along dusty sideways and out of vehicles.

It drives me mad...seriously! I feel like slicing their lips off in disgust. But then, it would be wrong to group all spitters as one. There are three types of them:

1) The nonchalant spuer: Cool as a cucumber, he lets the world go its way, while he dexterously brings the disgusting thing up his wretched throat and, in a swift move that easily escapes the notice of humanity around him, shoots it out towards the nearest lamp-post

2) The sound-and-fury man: He lets the whole world watch his exploits. With skill, he extracts the juice out of the paan he is chewing. He then arches back, HRROoAAAAACK! PTOO! (repeat as necessary).

3) The exhaust-heavy-automobile: This species lives on some sort of liquid fuel and runs on an engine which is propelled by its exhaust. He continuously irrigates the path on which he treads by spitting out furiously at regular intervals.

The size and shape varies... From the small, grey drop on the road to the stinking red swotches on anyting vertical along the roads.

Right ho, we come to the end of this small... oh, wait a minute.



The human touch... of love

Everyone is behind his or her bit of glass, hardened up for the world. But inwardly, we are mere molluscs.

You(a boy) and your friend (say it's a girl) have known each other since the very pink of childhood. Now you are a teenager and she is also one. Why is it that you cannot just run upto her and hug her just like you did umpteen times when you were little? Why cant two little kids that kissed each other, do the same ten or fifteen years later?

Love is being mistaken everywhere. Just what DO people think of love? As a cactus that builds up in the minds of two people and invariably forces them to elope? Why has everyone forgotten the beautiful concept of just plain affection... the human touch? A pat on the shoulder, a smile, a hug... As a friend put it, "I want to put my arms around a girl or just give a friendly pat on the back without being accused of sexual hassasment. I want to put my arms around my buddies without them questioning my sexuality."

Since when has the world lost its mind? We are not robots, nor are we wooden toys. Admit it, no one can live without that bit of humaneness. Come to think of it, what have we got to shrink from? I want to hold hands with, put my arms around my friends freely, whatever their sex may be. The touch of a caring boy feels the same as that of a caring girl, the touch that says "I'm there for you". I bet everyone inwardly would be craving for the same. So why do we harden ourselves up? TO convince God that his creations were an utter failure? To not distinguish ourseles from our own creations, the robots?

We live in a world where human touch is limited to straight-faced handshakes, formal gestures and hard-hearts.It's the damn society... I crave for the world where we are not restrained by social barriers, where everyone can walk together, talk, laugh, live together like friends, true loving friends. I need that relationship, that touch... so do you.


The Inequalities of Inequality

A piece of thetched coconut lining on a pair of stilts shaped like an X. Rough, stony floor beneath. Under the meagre shade the above contraption provides against the hot summer sun, sits a dark, hunched figure clad in a lungi and a blouse. Mounds of rock cut into big gravel pieces lie heaped up to the sides. The woman works the whole day breaking the hard rock pieces into small pebble-sized stones one by one...

The morning sun filters through the thick forests of the Vindhya. A block of huts stirs awake. A couple of men take water for breakfast and set out into the jungle, gathering wood. Afternoon, they walk fifteen kilometres barefoot over the hot cruel ballast that covers the railway line, to the market, to sell the firewood. Then it's the same trudge back to their homes, carrying the few food or money they were lucky to earn...

The hot, dry deserts of Sudan. A small dark bundle of flesh, slowly crawls towards a UN food camp, located one kilometre away. A vulture keeps guard over what is soon going to be his meal. This setting - the child and the vulture - was shot by a photographer, who won the 1994 Pulitzer prize. Click to view full size
No one knows what happened to the child, including the photographer, who left the scene immediately. He commited suicide three months later due to depression.

The slums of Chennai. The noon sun hits its annual-high. Huts with asbestos roofs literally threaten to go up in fire. The misery-stricken residents swarm out on the beaches, unsure of what is going to happen to them. And far away, in a cool concrete building, enjoying the chill draught of four Air-conditioners, sits a fat politician, chewing placidly on beetel leaves and completely oblivious of what his own 'makkal' are going through.

What have we done to deserve all what we have... and what haven't they done not to get what we get?

Oh the inequalities of inequality...


My heart leaps at the sight of the popup
"Local folders has one mail message";
The phone beeps
"One message received";
Yahoo messenger exclaims
So-and-so "is online";
My blog proclaims
"Five comments";

A dream? Watching, waiting, hoping
For that contact, for that doping
Silence to end...
Another day, another hope
A piece, a chunk, a drop
Out of the swift-flowing waters
Of eternity...
A talk here, there a chat,
With some unknown friend that
Dwells far away, Over?
Wasting the precious gems of
A sparkling jewel in dreamy repose.

Books lie scattered dust-gathering;
The restless music rises, echoing
The reverberating pangs of loneliness
Mind mindless, time timeless...
Nothing can scour the depths, another apart,
Of a waiting, lonely heart;
A soul parched, separated from someone loved.
One thought falling into another,
Meandering its way through the grey-matter
Clouded with time, yet vivid, lusturous...
Oh, for some words... silence is torturous!

The same letters read over again
Conversations recalled; I would fain,
From you, have torn my mind apart
But cannot; the memories fail to depart...


Bodi Beckons

Bodi Beckons

The previous weekend was one in which I was one with the greenery and the green beasts. What had initially started as a relative-fanning trip with my part mostly restricted to night-train travel and watching trains at my cousin's house in Madurai (that too only for just one full day) grew into a joyous railfanning trip with my camera being in the constantly excited state.

It was the last day of my First-terminal exams at school. I was scheduled to depart from Trivandrum for Madurai(MDU) at 2020 hrs by the perpetually late-running QLN(Quilon)-MDU pass. After much hesitation I gathered up enought pluck to ask my mum to see if we could try out the MDU-Bodinayakkanur(BDNK) branch. After having seen many pics and read about it in the group, and inspired by former-visitors-of-this-line Ranganath Eunny and John Lacey, I thought I should give it a try. My mother knew of my intentions and said she would consider it. It's working, I thought. Meanwhile, I went through the SR website and saw that there were two trains a day to Bodi and two back. But the whole journey takes 6 hrs from MDU to Bodi.

Countdown... we (my mother, my little railfan-in-the-making-if-not-already sister and I) reached TVC at about 1930 hrs. AFter a lngish wait, the pass trundled into pf2 15 mins late. The gentleman at the helm should have been a GOC WDM2 but I saw that it was an ED WDM2 #18484. The GOC man was trailing behind dead (another loco failure, I suppose). The ED loco had shiny metal plates for its road number unlike the normal painted numbers. We were some third coach from the last. So I had a real feast after Nagercoil (where the loco reverses). The ED guy was heavy smoker and a whistler(Napier/ABB turbo). All night I lay in the berth listening to the symphony by the WDM2. We arrived in Madurai at around 0440 in the morning, a full hour early!

At Madurai, my cousin's house is in a very superb location. Paddy fields stretch for many kms on one side, and the MDU-Virudunagar line flows on the right. MACL signals on both sides of the line within visibility limit fortell activity. Though this is a single line and the trafiic experienced comes nowhere near that in places like TVC, railfanning from the open terrace is quite interesting. Everyday at around 0720 a BOXN coal-wagon with coal flying about in all directions chugs past with twin locos in charge. Watching them is quite a sight. This particular time, I could see the locos smoking a kilometer away. At first, I thought something was on fire or that some dry field had been torched. However, the sight of twin GOC WDM2s (the trailing one was a Jumbo) was awesome, with smoke belching out of them. I took a long video of them. Shall upload them when time permits.

On Monday (4th Sept) we had planned to take the morning pass (dep. 0750 from MDU) to Bodinayakkanur and return by about two in the afternoon. However my mother had some purchasing to do and she considered (and it was quite true from a non-railfan point of view) six hours of watching her teenage son photograph trains & semaphores and travelling in a wooden-seated groundnut-strewn passenger a collosal waste of time. To top it all, we had to return the same night... so getting caught in some God-forsaken route would be the last thing one would want. So she persuaded me see her point(which was hard to miss) and assured me that we would do this line in our next vacations. I reluctantly agreed. At around 8 o'clock in the morning, I was still musing on the terrace silently. My auntie and she discussed he prospect of taking a bus to Bodi and taking the train back to MDU from there. However due to lack of time we didnt go ahead with it. After a small debate on compromises like taking the train to half the way and returning from there, I said I'd rather do this line later than make sacrifices. Later, mum was still softening. Finally we hit upon a solid decision - take the afternoon pass from MDU, reach Bodi, take a fast bus and reach MDU around 7.45 or 8 pm.

So...... thats was how it all started.

We reached MDU station at around 1345 hrs. "Golden Rocker" YDM4 #6481 was at the helm of the MDU-BDNk pass. This gentleman, I would later see, was a very heavy smoker with a steam-loco-like high tone, making me wonder if he was a YP in disguise. In the BG sidings, TNP WDM7 #11008 which runs on Biodiesel was shunting rakes. At 1440 the hi-tone sounded and we jerked off. I tried to chat with the young assistant but he seemed very business-like and almost irritated at my constant queries about tokens, ghat section, etc. Once out of the station, the MG line runs parallel to the BG lines south of MDU for some 400 metres and then veers sharply off to the right. Once we did that, our chief notched the YDM4 up and we literally galloped (Yeah, thats exactly what it felt like. The swaying was forward-backward). The beast up front had a faintly, yet obvious whistling-turbo like the BG-whistlers; and man, did he smoke! The aroma of the exhaust (and the LOOOUD purring) hit me in my face (and ears, respectively :o) ) and reminded me of why we Diesel lovers have a soft-corner for the ALCo family. We galloped at a slow pace through many slum-areas. I was waiting for the mountains to come.

Madurai - Bodinayakkanur line is a very old MG line constructed before independence. The chief traffic along this line is cardamom, not humans. There is only one train at a time on this route but still tokens are exchanged and semaphores continue to salute (they are Upper Quadrant) us as we trundle at about 40-45 km/h through the varied scenery.
After about 8 or 10 km, the lofty mountains appeared as grey shadows in the horizon. From here they accompany you all the way through the line. There are only three major stops here- Usilampatti, Andipatti, and Teni. All the rest are flag stops. However, I didnt see anyone flagging the train, and neither did the driver, so we chose not to stop at those places. All these stops may be called stations if just a station board, no loop line, no level ground and no signals can be called a station.The station boards were nothing but yellow wooden boards on stilts with all the black paint that was the name peeled off, leaving nothing but yellowish boards. God knows what the names were. However, my auntie remembers reading an article in the Hindu Sunday magazine about this line, and she says that it was said that this line wont be converted anywhere in the near future, as the present traffic is mainly cardamom (which wouldnt grumble whatever the gauge of the track might be). So - all MG buffs, we have a real treasure here.

Before Usilampatti, we saw the signal sighting board (the one with diagonal black and yellow stripes), and soon, the distant home signal (the fishtailed, yellow-armed UQ) came into view and the chief slowed down seeing that it was at caution. After sometime, the home signal came into view and it was at danger. "What the heck" I thought. With only one train through this line, I didnt see any sane reason for a home signal to be at danger. I suppose our driver thought much about the same and he kept giving out little blasts of the low-tone. After 2-3 minutes the signal slooooowwwly lifted and gave us the half-salute (caution- the 45 degrees up position). We notched up and slowly trundled into USLP. There were quite a few young guys on the platform watching the token being passed, and one very enthusiastic guy in the second coach was taking pictures of it for the IRFCA gallery :o)
We then throbbed through some very beautiful stretches of mountains and rock-cuttings which reminded me of the Quilon-Sengottai route (http://greatindianrailway.fotopic.net/c967335.html). I liked very much the quaint signal cabins along this route ... just bare sheds with no concrete stuff...reminds you that humble is beautiful. Another thing i noticed.. one of the fishtailed distant signals was at 45 degrees position and had THREE glass plates on it. Is this similar to the double-yellow-light attention signal or what? I have never seen this position before.

*sigh* Just check out the photos (i uploaded them in the unregistered upload, wait till they get approved)... cant describe the route in words. Its awesome... in every aspect!

We reached Andipatti after sometime. Later, we throbbed into Teni. This is a very beautiful station, and reminded me of Aryankavu in the QLN-Sengottai ghat section, the only difference being Aryankavu is nestled close in the hills but Teni is much more open. We got down here because I had to take the bus back to MDU so that we could be back in time for the train back home. *sniff* I swore that next time I'd do the whole route.

And so, Bodi beckons... its magical charm lies forever in the hearts of people who have done this beautiful line through the hills.

PS: Photos from this trip can be found in the album "Bodi Beckons" at my online gallery.


Those unknown, brave men at the helm...

Just how many of you have thought, during your train journeys, about the two men at the front? The two people to whom you hand over the safety of your very lives the moment you board the train?

Visit the awesome post by my friend here...

After reading that you might realise what goes behind it all...


This is for you bastards...



I am a connectivity addict. Computers, internet, mobile-phone, blogs, email, Orkut... anything that keeps me connected is enough. I usually start any holiday by jumping out of bed and switching on the PC in my room, which is blessed with a fat pipe (256k broadband). As the system boots up, modem initialises and connects to the omnipotent internet, I briush my teeth and do all the necessary obligations. A few clicks, a few taps, I have completed my morning ritual of checking mail and scraps (orkut!)... The rest of the day sees me coming atleast five-times a day and staying online for aleast 3 hours a day.

This connectivity addiction that is slowly creeping into me, people say, is bad. Others have their lips sealed. But I am addicted for ever (or so I gather). I have my blog, my friends in Orkut, my fellow-railfans in IRFCA, fellow geeks in techie-groups, chums in Yahoo messenger, and other friends' blogs to go through.

Music! I cant live without this, frankly. Whether with my speakers on all full blast, or shaking my head at some beautiful song over the headphones, or lying on the bed composing some dreamy tune in my mind, or singing in the bathroom to drive away boredom, or singing loudly in the classroom (the guys sitting nearby join as time - and music - passes) my mind flows freely over the keys of the piano, over the frets of the guitar, and over the fingerboard of the violin. I find my 15 GB of songs too meagre... I find the internet too slow... the woes are endless.

Damn... I made this post as boring as never before. Oh, I cant do anything more. This craps dwells in the mighty server of blogspot.com. Another black spot in my largely spotless (honestly!) blog... Dash it, I sound like I'm drugged...ok, let me remove my headphones.

Another day... another post... another irreversible chunk out of an infinitesimally fast paced life...........


Summarised, precise introduction to an often lengthy block of text... TITLE!

Mankind just falls for hi-fi language. Here are some hi-funda stuff cooked up for some commonplace words we use.

# The complete, soverign, authoritative, undisputable solution to a hitherto-unsolved problem: The answer
# Current-electricity starting/stoppage controller: Switch
# Thermally exploded maize-cereal kernels: Popcorn
# Non-euclidean geometry of the plane: Geometry
# Meaningful communication-intended sentences passes through/without wires from one Commonly operated Device particularly useful for trade, education and research to another such electronic computing device either automatically or as per human instruction electronically: Guess what... EMAIL!!!

Please contribute more... DONT lift them from any websites... make them up yourself(as I did) and post them as comments.

Servile letters

Dear Sir,

I humbly beg to request a kind favour from your esteemed self. Due to unavoidable circumstances, I was compelled to shift the point of my residence from the following correspondece address:

Green Valley,
Golf-Court Road,
New Delhi.

The new point of my hence shifted residence, I humbly present before you:

Apartment no.24A,
Ambedkar Marg,
New Delhi.

I hereby place my small humble request before you. I request you to kindly change my residential address as mentioned in your company's records for the subscription to The Smokers' Digest, to this new address that I have mentioned above in this letter dated the 5th of August 2006. This shall be of very great help to myself and to the postman.

I therefore, humbly beg to request your esteemed self to subject his letter to your kind consideration and do the needful at the earliest possible.

Thanking you,

What the hell is the point of all this formal, buttoned-upto-the throat manner and this awful, undue, unsolicited, absolutely unnecessary cringing and crawling 'before your esteemed omnipotence'? I fail to understand how a very humble, almost servile attitude can invoke the 'kind consideration' of the reader. Tut! these are just subtle nuances of language. Hand the above letter to a busy man and he'll just throw it in your face and yell, "What the heck is the point of this letter?"

The same letter could be written as follows:

Dear Sir,

I request you to change my subscription address of The Smoker's Digest from the following:
Green Valley,
Golf-Court Road,
New Delhi.

To the following address:
Apartment no.24A,
Ambedkar Marg,
New Delhi.

Please do the needful at the earliest.

Thank you,
(A more intelligent) X.


PS: Paper is really precious... more so is time.


All was still, save the creaky rotation of a dusty ceiling fan churning stale air again and again onto the floor. The fire in the kitchen had burned out, leaving only smouldering logs, which gave forth long chains of smoke continually meandering through the air, into the room and going out through the half-closed window.

He paused and listened. Nothing.

The owner, fortunately, had decided to sleep early that night.

Somewhere nearby, drops of water dripped from the hole in the roof, onto the coir mat. It would only be minutes before he would emerge out of his mission successfully. He had a vague idea where the thing he was seeking might be. He twitched nervously; holding his breath, he slowly inched his way into the room...into the dark. Sniffing the musty air silently, he creeped into a corner of the room...it would be safe there.

A sudden sound made him retreat into the shadows. The figure on the bed turned over, muttering something. After a while it got up and reached for the water jug. He heard the sound of water splashing into a tumbler, and a satisfied sigh produced by the owner's respiratory system after it drained the cup. He waited till all was still again.

He knew he had to make a fast move... his instincts, trained by dozens of such similarly crucial encounters, told him of something to watch out for; and he knew better to ignore it. His only fear had been the watchman, or rather, a fat bloke with a stick who kept watch over the two-roomed house, and often slept through his job. Now that he could hear what he thought might have been the snore of the watcher, he was relaxed. Working calmly and quietly, he made his way to the other room. He could sense the object nearby. he focussed his mind on it...gripping his senses, he made his way to what he thought was the box in which the owner kept it. He grew wxcited.. it was somewhere very close! He thought to himself..."Yeah, it's somewhere here... I can get it now...And- wait a minute, what's that? Oh my--"


The watchman threw his stick to the ground and flung the dead rat out.


To all those 'modernisation' fans out there...

Here is my reply to all those who feel that diesel locos pollute too much and that electric locomotives are the future...in India.



From (1) and (2), we can infer...

HA!!!!!!! Diesel RULZ!!!


So you wanna go camping?

Recently a friend asked me whether I liked to camp in our school. By the way, our school is very awesome place. It has places suited for everything, from studies to camping. The latter was a very green, quiet place ideal for a night out. I pondered on what might be the next best thing. And within no time, I came up with the answer.

WARNING: Ok, maybe I'm mad...
TIP: I'm a railnut.

If you still didnt get it, the following paragraphs of this post are for railfans, who, eventhough having travelled in trains more than a thousand times, still jump at the sight and sound of a locomotive... if you are not one, head out and read something else.

The answer was... near a ghat-section railway line! What other place than that to have all the fun of nature's omnipresence, watch trains, AND (considering the fact that MOST beautiful ghat sections are not electrified in India) have the adrenaline rush on hearing a screaming WDM2 chug and crash through the forests everyday! Think of the photography opportunities on a little-to-medium traffic line on a a scenic forest route like the one below (shot by my friend who is also a railnut like me) I like it so much that it's my current desktop wallpaper.

A pic comes here usually, but now i dunno what happened
For your info, this place is Walayar on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border.

Imagine the quiet solitude of the forest line...all of a sudden a distant chug reverberates through the forest, the rails start whining...The sound grows louder...Crashing through the vegetation, showing off its magnificient face, thunders a twin WDM2 set, hauling the afternoon freight... it passes by, restoring the forest to its silence, (I quote Ruskin Bond) 'leaving only a plume of smoke to drift lazily over the tall sheesham trees'.

Being one with nature and the smokin' steel monsters...both equally entertaining.

To have a nice ending, here are two photos I took off a train on the ghat section between Quilon and Sengottai... Hope you like them.

PS: if you like these pics, visit my railway gallery here


Blog - gag

It's been quite some time since I'd posted something on this site o'mine. The reason? The idiotic cyber-squad of the Govt. Of India. Recently, following the Mumbai 'blasts which shook the world' [resonance ;) ], it suddenly occurred some dude in the department that they had been causing great inconveniences for a while on only normal spheres of life of the people, and had ignored the technological side completely. The guy finds that he cannot sleep due to this realisation and spends the night tossing, turning and racking his brain on what to disturb in the IT field...and out of the blue, it dawns... BLOGS!

The next day, he walks straight to the cyber-squad and braces them of the situation - terrorists using BLOGS(!) to communicate within themselves...The cyber squad, having been almost reduced to the conditon of swatting files on the computers in the office, playing minesweeper (with cheats), and counting the number of pipes in the 3D pipes screensaver of their computers due to no work, jump at the opportunity of making their presence felt in the nation. In no time, all internet serrvice providers are ordered to shut down 'two blogs'(thats the number which they told the reporters) which they believed were terrorists' hog. The ISPs, unfortunately, dont have the facility to block just a few subdomains of 'blogspot.com' and inform the govt. of the same. The concerned guys in the govt, lazy semi-literate idiots, give order to bloack all subdomains of blogspot.com; and due to that, millions of bloggers across India found themselves staring at an "Unable to display page" error one fine morning.

As for me, I had just twiddled around with the template of this blog, (and had succeeded in removing the 'I power Blogger' logo in the sidebar:) ) a day ago, so I thought this might have been due to a forced restriction against removing that icon from the template. So I had to delete the template, and pick a new one, goto all the trouble of changing the looks, the links, adding special stuff...

Still out of luck... I got the same error message. And the very next day, I happen to see the news item "Bloggers furious over Govt's 'gag' on blogs". I heaved a sigh of relef...and here I am now.

The WDM2 has started smokin' again! Outta the way, everyone!!!


Splitting heads and tunnel vision

My human-body system began to work weirdly today.

In the evening, that is. At about four-thirty, I started to perceive a strange flickering
towards the right corner of my right eye. This gradually grew and finally I ended up being
unable to see properly what I was focussing on. For the biology blokes, here's a more vivid description: I felt as though there was a blind spot on top of my usual yellow spot in the eye.

The feeling was frightening: I couldnt read anything from a slight distance, couldnt recognise faces of people from far, and, worse still, I saw everything I looked at - only
half clear. Seriously... I panicked. I washed my eyes a couple of times. Slowly it began to
clear out. By the time I heaved a sigh of relief, my eyes did the reverse of what they did - I began to experience a sort of 'tunnel vision'. I could only see things if I looked at them alone... I mean, focus solely on them. All other things you see through the corner of the eyes were very blurred, almost invisible. I SWEAR I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP. THIS REALLY

After a long time, that cleared. Nothing to worry (but considering the fact that the power
of the glasses I wear is -6.5, it means much...)

Quite. But the worst was yet to come... after a few minutes, I experienced THE MOST INFERNAL
HEADACHE ever! My God, it was literally splitting my head from ear to ear. I lay back in the seat of my bus (I was on my way home) groaning with pain. I felt like something was digging into both the sides of my head with a spoon, sloowwwwwwwwly... Dunno why, but I almost let out tears (ALMOST, okay?).
Hours late, the blasted pain ceased as suddenly as it had come. I swear this was the most painful bus-ride I had ever taken since I was born. My head could rather have blown to pieces than undergo such an eruptive headache.

Since then (that was three hours ago), I'm watching my system cautiously. I'm sitting on top of a dormant volcano...or rather, I'm the volcano.

So there. You've wasted your precious time reading this crap.

The thin, black thingy on your table is... A TRAITOR!!!

Of all things on earth, the wicked floppy is the most frustrating and evil thing ever. Apart from being traditionally black, there is that evil grin on its face which, at first glance, tells you that this object is not decent. A bad day with a floppy wont get worse. They have a ritual of perpetual treason against their owner, or someone who depends on them.

Mankind, since the time of invention of computers, has been at war with floppies... trying their best to appease them, so that they remain faithful all their life. You have to treat a floppy with very great respect and not abuse it any manner(atleast in front of it), otherwise, man! you're in for some hardcore data loss! First it was the huge 5.25 inch demons, and now it has shrunk to the size of a 3.5 inch devil. But their consistent betrayal has never wavered.

Take this common situation... you have to carry a very important document (in the good old .doc format) to your workplace and you put the tiny file in one of those floppies sitting on your desk. Everything goes okay, and you even do a double check on your computer. The floppy remains VERY VERY honest, noiseless.. As soon as you pop the dismal demon into the workplace computer, the cunning piece of plastic begins its dirty work. It starts resisting motion inside the dive, so that you hear 'chik''chik' noises coming outta your drive. Somehow, you manage to keep the computer steady and make your way to the A: drive. The beginsd the great wait... the whole process of reading takes about 15 mins. Then comes up the heart stopping error message: "General Failure reading drive". Your first reaction would be "Hey, who's that General Failure and why is he reading MY drive?"

You're jolted back to your senses and suddenly you realize what a dirty underhand double-crosser thing a floppy disk is........

I've been waiting for that moment. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and gals, lets prepare to mass-boycott the traitor floppy disk - and replace them with honest, faithful, straightforward storage media (the USB flash drive, for instance)... Let evil be wiped out from the entire face of the technological world... and floppies be burnt, buried in an unmarked grave and be trodden over by elephants.



The curse of the present society

A small house situated in the far end of a torturously narrow lane... hundreds of pairs of shoes and socks-one in one direction and its mate in another... Stagnant air... Hundreds of voices chattering at various pitches... A hand scribbling at the whiteboard...

An urban tuition home.

Half the room is filled with girls and half with boys. Both specimens cruelly separated from each other by feet of distance... Both sections are talking to themselves alone and totally ignoring the other, save occasional glances at the other side. familiar scene, huh? Typical of Indian separatist attitude.

Ok, let me drive in the point more clearly by means of an example: Last year was the peak of the hunting-for-girlfriends mood in our batch. Suddenly, everyone who seemed to go to tuitions, especially popular ones and where members of the fairer sex had also joined, looked like they had got a girlfriend. Some of us - the 'unprevileged' people turned green eyed...guys here were talking posessively of such a lot of girls, and how that one was 'his' and how the other was originally that guy's but now the other guy's. One fine occasion, we had the oppportunity to ask one of our 'previleged' about his newfound 'girlfriend'. The idiot seemed to know nothing much about her. Eventually we asked him what he talked to her if he didnt know anything much about her. His answer dashed all our opinions about those stupids...HE HADN'T EVEN TALKED TO HER YET!!!

Such is the pitiable state of human-to-human interaction in this cursed society...

In a land where, I have observed, some schools have SEPARATE ENTRANCES for each gender.(I dunno what they do about the herma's; maybe they take the most obvious characteristic into consideration, or maybe they let him/her enter by a random gate every day, I'm not sure). Worse is the case in boys-only or girls-only schools... Heck, if you dont have both sexes in a school, chances are that the people you churn out of it will make a fool out of themselves in the society. Here's a typical example: One of my close friends and I were asked to collect something from other school students. This guy was nervous (yeah!) to talk to a student from a girls-only school (our is a boys-only school) and spent an hour preparing what to ask her(the student). Finally the guy backs out...

...dont have the mood to complete... will complete this later...

Through the landscape... far into the horizon

The shutterbug and the travel-bug bite me every school-vacation. A desire to take a break from the same old boring life, internet, computers, school, studies... let go of connectivity and lose myself down some plains of agricultural India, enjoying the rocking pace of a metre-gauge train... cool breeze hitting me in my face. Around me, in the green plains, humanity wakes up and goes about like clockwork... to the same fields, to do the same work, at the same hours...

A desire to go about different places, meet different people... all that I often dream about during the boring hours of a lunch break in my school in urban Trivandrum...

I'm sitting in the doorway of a quaint metre gauge train somewhere in South India... Pulling outside the crowded station, the loco notches up and the aroma of diesel smoke hits me in my face. Lush green paddy fields appear alongside the track; sugarcane fields, coconut trees... and a quaint semaphore signal giving 'clear' to the long brown, green-headed snake cruising through the chill, windy landscape... Faint silhouettes of hills appear in the front. The sun rises up, crimson-orange-red to greet the morning. Little children playing in the streams that quench the thirst of the green, waving fields - food to the teeming millions... The melodious twin tones of the Golden Rocker up front playing symphony with the purring powerpack, the clikkety-clack of the wheels rising above the harsh whisle of the breeze in my ears. Slow moving trees far away, smoke rising up from some village far out on the horizon... Some song of a long-forgotten band in my ears... I dream of rain...I dream of gardens in the desert sand...Fields of gold... No tunnels, no stations crowded with humanity, no stench of sweat, no cigarette smoke... Just going on and on into the pleasant morning, onto the bright afternoon... no hurry, no tension, no worries, no homework... Utopia... Small haystacks, cattle, little boys and girls waving at the passing train...with innocent hearts...On to the unchanging countryside, untouched by modernisation... quaint bridges over still waters...

Into the horizon...coasting into the evening, watching the sun set into the hills yonder.... my feet warm, face cool, mind calm, and heart full...


Horlicks Fest, my foot!

Parental Adivsory: Accidental (though not unintentional) Explicit Content
Its Saturday... my most loved day of the week... At about nine in the morning, I'm rudely pushed into a claustrophibia-inducing place teeming with humanity. Apart from the big crowd of hulking guys, there are also gals, so I think, 'What a nice place to socialize!'. But there is no time for such stuff - I'm in the midst (and so are the poor guys and gals around me) of the world's most ILL ORGANISED, LOW-BUDGET, FOUTH RATE event...

...The HORLICKS Fest(ugh!)...

The bloomin' event took place in Tagore theatre, Trivandrum (where Tagore comes into the picture, I dunno; anyway, he's squirming in his grave now). They started off with a vain display of their blasted drink - 'Horlicks' [the die-hard malayalees pronounce it as 'whore-licks'] and how it made kids Taller, Stronger and Sharper and stuff likethat. Then the real thing started.Started... in a way. The host was one egg in a suit who was, I bet, paid to praise Horlicks(henceforth referred to as H - what a name!) The *#@%&*% called us kids and made us repeat their slogan like monkeys. None of school guys did - there's our dignity. Anyway we got to see pretty soon how urgently they needed money and how it made them do such a miserable task.

By the way, I swore that I would write something about our group song (or rather, the lack of it). Our school principal, some weeks ago, suddenly came to the conclusion that the 11th and the 12th stds were not to be allowed to moon classes in the name of practice for the H fest. So he issued a decree stating the same, and the group song, which the 11th and the 12th were assigned to sing, was handed over to the 10th. The tenth, the lazy pile of cheesy baboon arses! They played the fool all the while, and sudddenly of Friday evening, while going home late from school, one of those stupid rascals remembers that they've got to do the grp.song. The mull over it for sometime, and forget it entirely.Finally, it's up to the 12th and the 11th. Well, whadda we do? We spent one hour arguing over what song to sing. and we chose after a long time - Boulevard of broken dreams by Green Day (we had just 2 more hrs to go) Then half an hour is wasted for deciding what instruments we'll take onto the stage, and seeing that we have none right then (thanks to the 10th) we go and beg from our chums in other schools. They, with all generosity, place them at our feet... and we start practising... I decide not to play the keyboard, as the guitar (played by my friend 'Riddle') is more than enough. All through this we are standing in the hot sun, singing for all we're worth, with Riddle in the corner, leaning on a wall, yours truly on his left, Riddle's girlfriend 'Jay' from St. Thomas school(those guys gave us the instruments) on his right, and all the other group members surrounding us. We go on singing for some time, Riddle furiously plucking chords with a coin, but then suddenly the third string of his guitar(it's his for the time-being) goes twang and nearly puts his eye out. I rush off to find our friends from St. Thomas. They are nowhere to be seen. So I tell the gist of the whole matter to Jay(who seems to be the only person there), who laughs but manages to find one of her schoolmates who give us the SECOND string of an ELECTRIC guitar...cool, huh? So the odds: No song, no instruments, half an hour to practise, third string broken, second string of an electric guitar given, coin instead of a plectrum, Riddle's right arm (having been butted into by another classmate's shoulder) in a bandage... etc. Well, we sang, and the guitar was hardly heard onstage, thanks to some mothafuckr fiddling with the accoustics, and I still have doubts whether the judges understood our song. Anyway, we lost. ...Sht...

Then came the most frustrating thing... We, having participated in the group music, could not write the quiz prelims, which took place simultaneously (sIMULTANEOUSLY!-think of the genius who arranged this). Howver there was a repeat quiz for people like us, and by the time we got there, a one-eyebrowed buffalo in a suit grunted to us that it was all filled up. We tried to push, but in vain. My quiz partner, being the kinda decent-profile people, just muttered angrily, while people nearby got really angry and there was quite an amount of Language being heard ;) Anyway, I cursed the one-eyebrowed fkr and all his associates and wished that they spend the rest of their lives in hell, roasted like ants over a slow fire. And here's something for you to laugh - the original quiz prelims AND the one I was talking about had EXACTLY THE SAME QUESTIONS. So any dud could ask his chum the questions and write this thing. MEanwhile, all of us homo-sapiens were thirslty, and all those vile-mounds-of-petrified-llama-crap's had with them was their very own health drink -Horlicks. Drinking that while you are thirsty is like commiting suicide. Horlicks, my foot! Tacky container of reeky drain clogs. Disgraceful box of contaminated bat guano. Bad breathed collection of embarrassing hippo vomit.....

I crawled into a stupid looking canopy, where I gathered that English essay was conducted. We played penfight with ourselves for sometime, then commented on how mean were they to leave the lights on at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and not switch the bloody fans on. Finally a guy came with some green papers and told us that we had 1 hr to write 'somthing fun' on Rights and responsibilities. All the while some idiot kept hailing us over the PA system, whose speakers were stuffed into every nook and corner of that dismal shelter. We wrote something... Finally we stuffed our papers up the guy's nose and exited.

By the time they had announced the results of the quiz, the event called 'Search' was already over, without anyone's knowledge. This time I got really furious... I just picked up my bag and walked out of that mouldy ol' coffin where some wormy idiot decided to host his Hfest. I hailed an auto, paid up 30 rupees to go to my home (I feel it was worth that money).
What with an idiotic stinkin' totaly disorganised function that had me wasting half of my precious Saturday...



Of critics and what they appreciate

The transition from studying harmless straightforward poems that accept any reasoning possible to highly simple poems which have heavy philosophical double entetre lurking in them has been really painful.

Just in case anyone doesnt make head or tail of this, I have with me an example-for-idiots:
Take the Wordsworth bloke and his daffodil-poem. Even a simple man can comprehend what he means to say - the guy was walking down something, and all of a sudden, he saw a cloud of daffodils. Quaint.

Now take the case of the plus-one/plus-two standard poems...actually poems arent branded just like that - either the poet was very close to someone in the Syllabus setting board, or someone in the latter was inspired by it (provided the inspiration was sufficient enough to make him conjure up a different meaning). All of these poems sound exceedingly simple at first glance, or sound highly uncomprehendable. Anyway, the study involves the most hated stage called 'Critical Appreciation' which relies on one's ability to see false things and hidden intentions through every word and line of the poem.

To demonstrate, take the simple rhyme: "Twinkle twinkle, little star"...let's go line-by-line:

Line 1: 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star'
Appreciation: 1)Childhood tendency to repeat words, apparently inspired by parents' efforts to make children talk by repeating words like Mum, Dad, Come, etc.
2)Children's tendency to think of everything in terms of their own diminuitive size.

Line 2: 'How I wonder what you are'
Appreciation: 1) Steadiness: the child is not in a haste to make any decision regarding what exactly the star is.
2) Childhood innocence

Line 3: 'Up above the world so high'
Appreciation: 1) Ambition of others
2) Ability of judgement of one's true position of the world.
3) Humility

Line 4: 'Like a diamond in the sky'
Appreciation: 1)The intelligent child make similies and metaphors better than adults.
2)Childhood fantasy of imagining a simple star made of molecules of 2 simple proton & 2 electrons as a complex allotrope of Carbon-12.
3)Childhood inability - not being to think of anything beyond the blue sky.

Appreciation as a whole: The poet(ess) has vividly portrayed all the common characteristics of an innocent child, while rhyming the poem in a-a, b-b style. This is a masterpeice of an understanding of the young human mind.

The last word: What if a CHILD had written this thing?


Waat Eees this?

Waaat eees yuvar naym? Oh, you aaar veree Engleesh! Good, good!

It's the typical Kerala Manglish(my friends will be cursing me here for use of that cliche word, but its unavoidable).

A heterogenous mixture of Malayalam and whatever English one has learned-in-any-way-whatsoever, mixed according to the whims and fancies of the speaker, this language is fun to hear and imitate. Strictly, there are no rules. The speaker uses any opportunity provided (by vowel-sounds in English), to increase his intimacy with his mother tongue, Malayalam, by dubbing the original sounds with the typical, elongated Malayalam sounds.

Another batch of speakers (apart from moving English language to tears), directly transalate native Malayalam to English word-by-word on the fly. Examples are:

Mohan Kumar where is? (from: Mohan Kumar evide?)
Yellow line do not cross (from: Manja vara kadakkaruthu)
Road is very traffic (from: Road bayangara traffic aanu)
Once upon a time, once upon a time (instead of: One at a time, one at a time - but this is very rare.)

The list goes on... And if you understand them, you either know Malayalam, or you speak that kinda language.

C'mon its time to get back to the classic Trivandrum greeting - "Enthirede? Sokam thanne?"

PS: The above grapic is based on one from the newspaper The Hindu, whcih had an article about this topic, loooong back.

My quest for connectivity

This time of the month is a very heartening, in gact, happy time for me, and also for the many poor folks who have been forced into purchasing BSNl's Plan 250 Broadband connection.

Oh, right... let me go from top to bootom.

BSNL - India's 'No.1 Telecom Company' launched its broadband shemes a couple of years back. The entry level plan is:

You pay Rs.250 per month for a apeed of 256 kbps
You get '24 hrs' connectivity

Sounds good... but lets look deeper...

You pay Rs. 250 per month for a max of (256 divided by 8) KBps
You get 24 hrs connectivity, (which even any dial up thing gives), but that stops with connectivity alone. You can, transfer on a measly 400 MB per month. That comes close to only 14 MB a day. People who really know how much they actually browse a month will just throw back their heads and laugh. (To give u a rough estimate, moderate browsing for about 3 hours a day takes away 15-20 MB outta your total tranfer limit.

Just plain F***kers, arent they? To tell u the truth, I decided to try it out, and found my account over by the 15th of every month...And that brings us back to the intention behind my first sentence.

As for other plans, dont even look into them... Extravagant, that it. You pay 500 bucks a month, and they give you 1GB limit.Thats really extreme. If you just want to do shopping or go to church, you have the option of either buying a baby tricycle or going for a Porche/Mercedes Benz. Thats the gist of it. As for reverting back to your plain ol' dial up, just forget it... You VERY well know what it means.

The BSNl's stinginess/wickedness doesnt end just here. Before I go on, a small warning.

The following sentences can make the faint-of-heart people among you die of laughter. That is not to mean that sad people, undertakers, everything-is-a-stupid-joke-for-me kinda people are to read this... Do it at your own risk. Neither am I nor is blogger.com responsible for any consequences(read: stitch, stroke, death, fits, etc) resulting from unsolicited reading of the following textual content.

Yeah... the wickedness... I got myself a GPRS phone and good humouredly enquired about BSNL's little-known GPRS service. I had a shock - they offer 4MB of download PER MONTH! That's like (I'm going hysterical) 15 minutes of hmoderate-heavy browsing... AND, you gotta pay Rs.300 a month for those precious 15 minutes! %@&%%$#*%$&$#@@#&%^&^##&%^$^%$%$##

I didnt stop there. Airtel offered unlimited GPRS for just 400 per month. I thought I'd try it out. But oh, for malignant Fate! Suddenly the question - "Why the hell isnt anybody in Kerala(or anybody I know) using Airtel's cell phone connection atleast? I queried a few, and one of them even came to me with his old Airtel simcard to my house. The encounter ran something like this:

Him:So u wanna go for Airtel.
Me: Yeah.
Him:Ok, what place is this?
Me: Huh?
Him: What is the name of the place in which we are currently standing now?
(He sounds irritated, so I decide not to answer 'Earth')
Me: Sreevaraham (thats where I live)
Him: Chk this out...
(he open his old mobile, and switches it on, and it gives the desktop. He turns the screen toweards me)
Me: Oh shit!

It displayed (with its superior GPS capabilities), the name of the current place as a place 1 or 2 kms away from my place. And I, for god's sake, live right in the heart of the city!!!

I shouldnt end this posting without a good poke atr BSNL's rivals - Asianet Cable tv broadband. From the way their offers come, it seems they are in ACUTE shortage of money, and are willing to give you a computer (and their house, too, most probably in the coming years) if only you sign up for their broadband service. As for the speed - forget it - Its slower than good ol' dialup.

Thats it for now. And for your info, NEVER EVER take these techno stuff in India seriously... Unless you enjoy boring holes in your pocket. Deep holes.



Hello World()

These damn blogger people desperately wanted me to post something... So here we are...


Whew! Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V at work again...

Thats it for now. Will start sensible posting later...