5.31.2008

Up, up and away: Part Two

If you have missed the earlier parts: Part 1

******** DAY 2: Amritsar sojourn ********

At the breakfast table we met the other families and I met a few people of my age-group. One girl of my age, two elder girls, four elder boys and another girl who closely resembled someone I knew but couldnt remember; besides a few younger kids belonging to my sister's age group :) Anyway, after having had our fill we proceeded to the Golden temple. We were split into two coaches and rumbled for an hour though the very very very dusty roads of Amritsar.

Amritsar is a peculiar town. it looks quite unkempt during the day. Everywhere you look, you see unfinished houses, bricks exposed, unpainted, half constructed, walls without plaster, shops painted only on the business side of them, etc. Quite unlike what I had seen anywhere. And the roads, Oh my God... it would have been like driving through traffic in a sandstorm. I really felt sorry for the people living there.
We reached a sort of (dusty) parking space for the (dusty) tourist buses and bought some (dusty) kerchiefs to cover our (dusty!)heads before we were to be allowed into the Golden temple. We then boarded climbed a tonga led by a young lad who seemed to have difficulty controlling the pony(or whatever it was). The tonga creaked and jingled as it passed over rough bumps and stones on the dusty road. The words of Ruskin Bond (from "The Story of lost friends") immediately come to mind: Hood sinking, wheels slipping...the entire contraption always about to collapse, disintegrate; but never quite doing so
We reached the Golden temple in a few minutes and spent a lot of time inside the grand structure, a fine piece of architecture. Even the floor-work is excellent - clean, simple designs on marble.

The next stop was Jallianwala Bagh. The (now)restored garden is coldly reminiscent of the cool hands that so unhumanely pressed the trigger to open fire upon hundreds of innocent people. At around noon we proceeded back to the hotel for lunch and then took off to the Wagah border.

At that border between India and Pakistan, the usual exercise of taking down the flags at sunset has been modified for the enjoyment of the public. We arrived amidst a very thick crowd (and a whole load of flying dust) and fought our way to the seats. I pushed around and finally managed to find myself a seat overlooking the road which passes between the countries' borders.
A lot of patriotic songs were blared over the speakers on the Indian side and the energetic part of the crowd (viz., ladies and children ;) got down to the road and danced to the music. Nothing like that happened on the Pak side. Since the crowd was thick on our side, anyone who stood up and (unknowingly) obstructed the view of the people behind was immediately shouted at. People who continued standing inspite of protests from behind were showered with liberal doses of water from the water-bottles of those behind. Inspite of all these squabbles the patriotic feeling there was awesome... something one should experience to understand. At sunset, the flags of both the countried were broght down gracefully and taken away by the respective border-forces (BSF in our case and Pakistan Rangers in their case), amidst loud cheering for each country from the respective sides.

After negotiating the flying dust, we boarded our buses which took us to ASR railway station after dinner. Since we were late, we just had time to board the Golden Temple mail to NDLS. From the pickup and performance, I guessed it was a WAP4 at the helm. But next morning I would discover to my surprise that it was a TKD based WDM3A that put up the superb performance! Anyway after the tiring day it was time for a good sleep and I retired to the cramped two-berth, end-cubicle of HA1.

******** DAY 3: Leaving the motherland ********

Morning found our train ambling slowly through the outskirts of Delhi. It had rained heavily the previous night and all the tracks and rolling stock were wet and shining. I went to the door and enjoyed the cool breeze. A few of our youngster group were up and about and I spent some time talking with some of them - T, J and M, often drifting off midway to ogle at some WAG9 or a WAP7 ;) hehe. Later I went off to have some tea and was drinking it by the doorway of the coach (we were just cruising at some 40-45 kmph) when I spotted A - the girl who reminded me of someone-whom-I-could-not-remember, combing her hair or so by the wash basin mirror. I then remembered - Amy Lee! lead singer of Evanescence... there was something in her face that reminded me of Amy Lee.

Our whole group then got down at NDLS station and made our way to a guest house for freshing up before we proceeded to the airport for the flight to Kuala Lumpur. We had a kinda sick lunch at the guest house before we made our way to Sarojini nagar market for some quick shopping with superb bargaining. I got myself a black GnR tshirt and was satisfied :)

It was already evening as we entered Indira Gandhi international airport. Since our tour operator had some connection/agreement with Srilankan airlines, we were to take the SriLankan Airlines flight to Colombo, spend the night there and then take the SriLankan(again) flight to Kuala Lumpur(KL, as it is known for obvious simplicity). Since we had plenty of time before boarding, we (ie, youngsters) sat together under the freezing air-con vent in one corner of the lounge and played dumb-charades, acting out extrememly difficult movie-names like "Collateral Damage", "Double Jeopardy", etc :) When it was time, we boarded the flight.

Disclaimer: Personal opinion below: if you might be offended in any way, I don't give a damn
Srilankan airlines is the most repulsive airline I have ever traveled in. Right from the cabin crew - yucky airhostesses in some weird outfit to hulking stewards with shaven heads... and the food, oh my God! Dry rice, dry curry(yeah, DRY) to some weird looking things in trays formed part of the VEGETARIAN meal! Maybe they put disembodied insects in the non-veg meal. The only thing that seemed good onboard was the wine and the beer, (I refrained from drinking the beer... didnt want to go alcoholic at seventeen :) but the wine did some good to my stomach and prevented any urge to puke :) The ride was bumpy thanks to the low cloud cover and I slept till we bumped down at Colombo somewhere around 2230 hrs.

After the tideous process of filling in the immigration slips (the airline provided accomodation till the next morning flight) we plonked ourselves into a really comfortable volvo bus that took us to our resting place for the night.

... Continue to Part three...

5.29.2008

Up, up and away : Part one

*cough*

Ten days out of home... and some ten thousand kms. Did a dash across the motherland, across the deep blue waters of the Indian ocean and skimmed across the tropical sands of Malaysia and Singapore. Saw a lot of food - from awesome to replusive - and tasted some of them. Met a lot of people.. And finally crash-landed with a cough, cold and a deaf right ear... well, more on those later :)

*cough* *wheeze* *cough*

******** DAY 1: The Delhi-Dash ********

The whole trip was part of a holiday package which entitled officers working in the same bank as my dad, to travel to the above mentioned places. The only condition being (rather weird) - you had to touch the farthest bank region from here, and while on the return journey, you could visit Singapore and Malaysia. We were travelling in a group of about 15 or so families.

Date- 18-May08... time-0400 hrs: All baggage packed and ready. My sis all excited about the trip.. I was feeling sleepy and excited too.

The tour operator, 'Holiday Shop' had arranged for a car to convey us from home to Trivandrum Airport. A cool, pleasant ride at speeds around 80-90 kmph ensued, with the roaring diesel engine of the Indica doing a good job with the five passengers and all that baggage. At the domestic terminal of the airport, people were fighting sleep as we waited near in a queue at the baggage check-in counter. The guy behind the counter was an arsehole, and managed to screw up everybody's boarding pass. Even with everyone giving him hard stares, he made sure our queue moved the slowest. Finally after a lot of WTF(form my part) and what-the-hells(from other people) we got our baggage tagged, passed through the security check area and went up to the lounge. After a cup of scalding tea (sold at the scalding price of Rs.20 a cup), the announcement crackled over the PA system for all passengers of the IC 466 to board the aircraft.

The plane was a small one - Airbus A320 - with the usual 3 + 3 seating in each row. Our whole tour group included around 15 families, who were to board at various places to come to Delhi. The group from Trivandrum thus boarded the aircraft and awaited the take-off.

I myself was flying after a long time, the last time being when I was kinda small - in 2000 or so. The aircraft taxied for sometime about the small TRV airport, before halting in front of the runway for takeoff. The captain's voice came over - "Cabincrewgetreadyfortakeoff". What happened in the next few minutes is something I'd never grow tired of. The huge fuel-guzzling jet engines of the aircraft roared, and an invisible force pulled us like a million horses. The roar grew louder and the plane shook for a moment before nosing up into the air like some huge bird of prey. We pitched and yawed for sometime, keeping near the coastline. Looking down I could see nothing but lush greenery everywhere, which ended in a small yellow sandy strip near the sea. No wonder foreigners who visit kerala say "I've never seen India so green!" This was the ultimate testimony.

Back inside the plane, our small crew consisted of the pilot, the co pilot (a lady with the same name as my sis :) two stewardesses and a very smart-looking steward. Some time later, We crossed the western ghats and ZAP! all the greenery disappeared in a flash as we entered Tamil nadu, never to reappear in its full glory again as we passed the whole of India... that's the beauty of Kerala for you.

A light snack, then a full fledged breakfast - idly, vadai, fruits, fruit-drink, etc - all went down the digestive tracks quickly. Since the weather over most of the country was clear, it was pretty much a live Google Earth show up in the plane. After sometime I walked up to one of the cabin crew and inquired if I could visit the cockpit while flying. He answered that it wasn't allowed in these days. A fine plan foiled. Anyway I had nothing else to do except switch on my music player and watch the dry land go by below...

At around noon we reached New delhi airport. Due to some VIP activity going on below, the aircraft had to circle for about 20 mins over the airport (much to the dismay of some passengers who started puking into their bags the moment the big bird flipped to its side) The horizon outside tilted up and the rivers seemed to be coming from some huge hills. I was enjoying every moment of the extreme angles and g-forces... fortunately my digestive tracts remained intact. Oye bhaisaab, No puking if you are enjoying :D

Finally the big bird landed smoothly down the clouds into the blazing hot runway and taxied for a long time into the domestic terminal. The moment I got out I was shocked.. Something like a 45 or 50 degrees heat wave struck me in my face and did a full loop inside the auditory canals. But then a side glance told me my current position - right behind one of the jet engines :) Anyway with the infamous 'loo' of Delhi blowing around, there wasnt much of a difference outside the vicinity of the engines either :D Our pilots then alighted - the captain, a well built guy and his copilot was a tall, gorgeous very smart looking lady.

One thing strikes you if you visit north India at this time - dust. (yeah, that 'strikes' was a pun, heh). It's inside everything - from yourself to what you eat and what you see. You have dust-roti for breakfast, dust-rice for lunch and dust tea for tea.

Even leaf tea tastes like dust tea.

*yawn* *silence*

Ok gentlemen, I stop these terrible jokes of mine and continue...

Well, we swam through the dust and boarded a very nice air con bus and traveled for about an hour to reach our lunching pit-stop - Andhra bhavan restaurant. The crowd there was plain bad and we met our other half (of the group) there; they had arrived the previous night. After some spicy mash of rice, puri, various curry and stuff, our stomachs gave forth happy gurgles and away we set on a short sightseeing tour.

Since Malaysia and Singapore, not Delhi was our main aim, we did just a little bit of sightseeing. Indira Gandhi museum - #1,Safdarjung Road - the official residence of the former Prime minister of India, where she was assassinated has been converted into a very neat little museum featuring her life and her articles. Right from news clippings to pictures drawn by Rajiv Gandhi when he was a child, not to mention lots of photographs, everyday items used by them, last robes(still smeared with blood) worn when they were assassinated, etc. I couldnt help feeling how smart R. Gandhi must have looked at that time and how those people could think of putting such a fellow human to death. (Disclaimer: no political propaganda/opinion expressed here)

Firing in self defence is one thing. Killing a person you know, in cold blood is quite a different thing. Yet another it is to understand the mysterious complexities of the human brain...

Next stop was the India gate. The heat was unbearable and it was only a matter of time before we ran back to the cool interior of the coach. We were to catch the evening Amritsar Shatabdi to Amritsar. We whiled our time away, the coach taking us through the Parliament, North Block, South Block, Rashtrapati Bhawan, Janpath Road, etc etc. Finally at around 1530 hrs we crawled into NDLS station. The crowd there was overwhelming and the station hadnt changed a bit from the last time I went there. Same bloody dirty tracks, same myriad of electric locos(that's all right Sid, you know me), not a single diesel loco except for a tumbledown WDS4B making strange noises as it clambered about the platforms, shunting rakes from all over the country. I couldnt help comparing this station with Trivandrum Central. No, there isnt half of the traffic there as in NDLS, but the place is neat and walkable. Locos neatly lined up, a variety of diesels and electrics, clean coaches, and no little girl saying "maa, susu aayegi, kya karoon?" and her mother replying "Teek hai beti, platform mein kaam karo!" (not even in malayalam). Though Kerala is one of the most densely populated states in India, you wont find a single person crapping outside in public. The railway line passes beside houses a vast majority of the time in southern Kerala yet I've never seen a person doing his/her early morning ritual near the tracks - that's the social development of kerala for you (statistical reports say the social development of people here is alike to that of modernised contries). As for economic development, you might as well go hang yourself off the nearest cliff. The problem with kerala is everyone is damn educated and wants to have his or her own bloody way in everything... so nothing proceeds in the way of development. *sigh*

Back to Delhi. We were waiting at Pf #1 for the ASR shatabdi. Earlier researches (by yours truly) had revealed the presence of LHB coaches (unlike the usual azure-blue coaches - ask anyone who has traveled in the ASR shatabdi, Bhopal Shat., Howrah Rajadhani, or Bombay Raj., etc and you'll know) for the train. The sceduled departure time was 1635 hrs. At 1625 the WDS4B shunter brought in a shatabdi express rake. It had the usual cream-blue Shatabdi (non LHB) coaches and I knew this wasn't the one. A few of our co -groupers were fooled (naturally - non railfans ;) into thinkin this was the train and were about to jump in when I told them this wasnt the one(besides, there was a board that said -"Darjeeling shatabdi" but it was not easily visible - I spotted it because I looked for it :D ), and in a few seconds the train reversed with the shunter loco pilot giving a sheepish smile :p Then at 1630 hrs the LHB rake pulled in smartly behind the same nutty shunter. I jumped in, frustrated because there wasnt any time to check out the loco... I had ascertained from fellow railfans that this was gonna be a WAP7-hauled train, and it was my first ride behind India's most powerful loco class. A high tone sounded at 1650(late by 15 mins already) and we crawled out of NDLS, wended our way through slums, garbage heaps and various small stations. I went out to the doorway after sometime and found it blocked with some big boxes.. damn.. these northie Shatabdi trains never let anyone take a peek out. Finally I came upon one that was not blocked and managed to get a glimpse of our loco... much to my surprise (and indignation) - it was a WAP5 and not the WAP7... a case of an odd link, exactly on my day of travel. I thought, "oh well what the hell". I told my sis that it was a P5 and not her favourite. She wasnt too let-down anyway since she had never travelled on the WAP5 too, whereas I had.

After about 1715 or so we picked up spped with the white beast in front determined to make mincemeat out of the clean LHB rake. Inside, there were no jolts and no sounds of the track, so it was quite boring. i went and stood by the door and had the real feel... The wind outside roared as the train flew over the tracks at a hundred and ten kilometres an hour. It was quite frightening to stand by the door, so I sat on the small stool-like contraption near it and watched the dust flying as we thundered past stations. What a loco!
Then it was back to the cool smooth boring interiors of the coach. Food seemed to be the prime thing in the train. It arrived every half an hour or so.. something or the other to chew on :) After dinner I went to the doorway and enjoyed the cool breeze. It got very boring after sometime (this is what happens when you have an electric loco at the front - no sounds, no smoke, nothing), so I slept off inside.

I woke up as we arrived, very late, into a sleepy Amritsar station. Half asleep, we dumped our bags into yet another tourist coach and slept till we reached our place of stay for the night - Hotel Khyber Continental. Nice big one. We entered our rooms and i slept like a log till next morning.

...Continue to Part two...

5.18.2008

Hitting the skies... for a change!

From today, I shall be away on a week+ long holiday to Singapore and Malaysia. I have scheduled the posting of this blog entry, which means, I'm on the plane right now :)
Which also implies, no blog entry till the 28th.

(Ranga, your tag is pending and it's the first thing on my mind after I return :)

5.13.2008

Cuz' gets coupled!

I've got to set this down before the memories and the details fade away... this was long pending.

On the 31st of August 2007, two hands were joined in holy matrimony amidst showers of flowers, prayers, blessings and loud kettimelam. Hand-1 belongs to my cousin cum blogger Niranjani(aka Mathangi) and Hand2 belongs to her sweetheart Sundar.

Of course, anyone who lives in India knows how colourful and festive a typical south Indian wedding can get. This was, my first ever 'complete and exhaustive' attendance at such an event, the rest similar cases being confined to the when-i-was-small(WIWS) period. The big event was at a cultural-centre in the midst of busy Chennai.

We (viz, dad, mom, sis and I) kicked off from home and took the evening 2696 Chennai SF. As is customary I went and checked out the loco. Erode WAP4 #22580 (aka. Sid's loco hehe). We were soon doing MPS (read, 90kmph as is permitted by Kerala tracks which try to follow undulating shapes whenever possible), going up and down steep gradients like some huge roller coaster. I then remembered with a shock that I had forgotten to pack my camera's batteries.. but there was nothing gained in worrying over that now... more on that later. Night fell, and I turned in at around 2200 hrs.

I sleep very little on a train, waking continuously to look at my watch and trying to guess where we were, Daybreak found us pulling into Jolarpettai Jn. JTJ is a kinda big station for a less prominent town. But since it's a junction, the station is biggish. Had some watery tea while standing on the platform and waiting for the amber. Soon the starter turned to amber and away we pulled. A WDG3A 'Shakti' and some usual DMs were standing in a kind of yard, but besides that, and a coal rake, there wasnt much activity there. We rocked out through katpadi, blasted at top speed across numerous little towns(accompanied with lots of dust-flying :) and slowed down and halted at Vyasarpadi, only to pull out half and hour later and stop again at MAS outer. Then slowwly, grudgingly, the 20-something coach rake pulled into some end platform of Chennai central.

We checked in at our place of stay and a quick wash later, took the EMU from Egmore to West Mambalam. The marriage-hall was a pleasant little place, with a huge 'stage' and two rooms labelled "Bride" and "Bridegroom" on the sides of it. After a quick chat with aunties.etc, our party headed straight to the former.

The door opened and my cousin's sister (in other words, my cousin too) peeped out. "Helooo" said some member of the family(could be my mom or sis, dont remember). "Hai.. vaanga vaanga" She turned inside and called out to Mathangi "Hey, Sriram has come", and I knew I had arrived :)

My cousin and I were meeting after a long time. Former meetings also belonged to the WIWS period and recently we had discovered each other's existence over the internet, but besides chatting, this was the first real-life meet and obviously I was looking forward to it.

Well, after a quick exchange of pleasantries we were out of that room and mom got down to chatting with her cousins about 'those good ol' days' and dad went out for a walk with another uncle, when I started feeling bored. I told my mom I could be found in the 'Bride's room ;) and headed for it, but not without my little sis insisting on her coming along. So my cousin(s) and I started talking and stuff till it was time for her to change her attire as it was time for the Nichiyadartham(hope I've spelt it right!). Dad came back and then I suddenly remembered my camera battery. Anyway, the function had started and I clicked one pic when the damn camera lens retracted and I stared into the letters, "Change the batteries". I hurried out and to my luck I found a paan shop nearby which sold Duracell Alkaline Batteries. The owner seemed not to have heard of them, but I spotted a couple of them hanging from a dingy wall and pointed at them. Fortunately they worked. Back at the mandapam, it was getting late and it was time for the reception. In hurried Mathangi for another attire change and emerged out a completely different person, thanks to her beautician who seemed to be an expert in erasing all her beauty and making her look like a completely different person ;)

The reception saw a great deal of guests, and over all that merry din of voices chatting, old thaathas talking, and a mandolin playing popular songs out of the CD player, the couple sat on throned chairs and had a nice time standing up, meeting people, accepting gifts and posing with them for photographs. I was now determined to cover the whole event and my camera had a lot of work. The day ended with catching a train back to Egmore and sleeping like a log back at the bed.

The day of the marriage saw me getting up early, walking into Egmore, which is a lovely little station. Its entrance, complete with British architecture is strikingly similar to the entrance to Trivandrum Central and reflects the common hand of the British who built them. Its arched roof over the tracks and plarform oozes with what some people call, with a faraway twinkle in their eyes, "The Golden age of steam". Eventhough I was born too late to hear a whistle blow or see coal being shovelled into a steam loco, I could in a sense feel something what they meant :) Three WDM3D locos were waiting with some trains.. never seen so many together. We caught an EMU to West Mambalam and entered the mandapam. Everything was set and rocking for the big day. The place was packed with relatives and friends (one of them a Frenchman, a friend of the bride's father,and whose first time it was at an Indian wedding). The bride's father, a nice uncle of mine, had lent me his camera charger the previous night, and I thus had my cam all charged and ready :)

As per the long survived custom, the groom(G) sets out for his "kaashi yatra"(or so) clad in dhoti and complete with a walking cane, when the Bride's father stops him on the way and offers his daughter for marriage. G then accepts happily (choice between a long journey for some pilgrimage and a beautiful wife isn't that difficult, is it ;) and comes into the mandapam. Then, to make things difficult, the bride(B) is hoisted aloft somebody's shoulders (just for fun) and G tries to garland her. Here, Mathangi was hoisted aloft another strong cousin's shoulder, and boy was she high up! G tried to garland her but she was unreachable, so her altitude is decreased by a few inches, upon which G succeeds. Then it is the same with B. The whole thing is a humourous and pleasant affair, which adds to the lovable atmosphere around the whole event :)

Then B and G sit on the oonjal (swing) while a lot of formailites go on... I really dont remember what exactly each event was for and what went on, but they were repeatedly given something to eat from many relatives(ladies being the key players in this event). Then somebody sang Radha kalyanam... vaibhogame... while the couple rocked on the swing. All the while, cameras, mobile-phones and camcorders were kept busy. At one point I counted ten optical devices excluding mine :)

Then B and G head back into the hall for some homams (pujas involving fire). All through the event, Sundar(ie, G) had made fun out of the whole thing by repeating what the priest was chanting to him in a way which made Mathangi want to laugh, but all she could do was to suppress her chuckles and sit smiling on stage.

After that followed another attire-change for the couple during which her grandmother called me and asked me to get the first photo of the decked-up bride. I obliged and clicked the beautifully dressed up lady before she was to be wedded.

Then came the climax of the whole ceremonies - the tying of the knot - which is done by the groom, while the bride sits on her father's lap. During this part, which took place in the raised, stage-like place in the hall, only the couple, their parents and very close relatives + the priest, plus media people (ie, people wielding cameras ;) were allowed on the stage-like thingy. Flashing my camera, I got myself into a vantage spot from where I could catch all that was going on.

After a few rituals (which undoubtedly have meaning but about which I am in the dark about), the time came for the knot-tying. I gave my cousin a thumbs up... she smiled back but was looking rather blank...(her mind was blank, she told me later - I wonder what it would be like, at that big turning point of one's life) and moments later, the sacred knot was tied by Sundar amidst flowers and prayers and loud 'kettimelam'- the nadaswaram guy playing that familiar tune, as he must have done before hundreds of happy gatherings all over the state.

After this, and a few minutes later, friends poured in to see the couple and congratulated them and got shot(from a cam!) along with them. Then follows lunch... when the couple sit together and feed each other food and relatives stand by and smile and say what a pretty sight it is, etc. Later, as everyone has had their fill of rice, avial, pappad(or appalam as it is called in Tamil), sambhar, rasam, mor, not to forget lots of payasam, old men slowly wade out with friends and burp, exclaiming - "Saappad romba pramaadam!" and "Samayal Jor!" ("Food and/or cooking was excellent"), while their female contemporaries stuff their mouth with beetel and supari and look like vampires for the rest of the evening :)

There is a brief lull from this time at noon to the evening when there remains one last festivity. Meanwhile I had some eplans of buying an portable music player(cum USB drive) and one of my aunties had fixed up her friend, who runs an electronics shop to meet me. We(my aunt and I) took an auto to her address, which was just a block away, but the auto-driver took an extrememly circuitous route, blaming the police for declaring 'one-ways' everywhere. Anyway I chose a 2GB Transcend player and it was scheduled to be delivered sometime in the afternoon at the hall itself. So I was left alone with a wad of cash, expecting my gift when the rest of my folks wwent shopping through the slushy streets of Ranganathan street.

I looked around the hall... two oldies sleeping yonder, with the nadaswaram troopers for company. A couple of women chewing on beetel and chatting softly... besides, my usual 'gang'(comprising a few of more or less similarly aged cousins) was absent due to various inconveniences. So I loafed about for sometime, when it started to get extremely boring, to top it all the fact that I was leaving tonight made me irritated. I suddenly had this idea and I strode off to the B's room and was accepteed in without much security checks ;) The rest of the afternoon was spent there, showing the pics from the cam or just chatting. There was a friend of hers from Calcutta too, who obviously didnt understand Tamil, so the whole conversation went in English. Later, time approached for the penultimate piece of the ceremony - known as Nalungu, so I left the room to give Mathangi time for yet another attire change.

The Nalungu undoubtedly had a fixed purpose in the old days(when people were married at a young age), but now it has been reduced to mere silly fun, serving maybe just as an ice-breaker(or whatever) between the new-to-each-other B & G. However even that was unnecessary in this case, as here, both B and G had known each other for a long time and had worked together for years. Yet the thing happened with a light-spritied air. I forgot the chronology of events, but here is a vague idea of what happens:

Scene 1: B and G sit on opposite sides on a carpet, facing each other. B's relatives sit on her side, while G's take his side. (Some relatives switch sides for fun). A harmless start - B and G are asked to sing a song. Here, after much persuasion, B sang the Sanskrit sloka-cum-song "Mudhakaraatha modhakam.." in a tiny voice :)
G was much more gallant... He took off with Paartha mudhal naaley.. ("The first time I saw you.." - a recent Tamil movie song) and received much applause!

Scene 2: A coconut is rolled onto the field between the two. Activities include trying to force it from each other's hands, and stuf... The muscular G was no match for B in such physical challenges. (Sorry B, but this was the case :)

Scene 3: The most obsolete thing. A pappad is tried to be broken over B's head by G while she ducks. A hit scores while a miss is boo-ed at. Same with G.

Then the spotlight passed to some relatives on the side of G and B. A lady on Sundar's side sang some classical pieces (his side was a very musical family) and some other lady showcased some mimickry performances. After all that, some lull followed and the event managers (elderly ladies and men) decided to wind it up. The crowd rose.

Some packing followed in my folks' room, getting everything ready for the return journey. I was depressed as is the feeling when you're leaving, to go back to school... exams and stuff. I went down carrying some suitcase when Mathangi beckoned to me, and introduced me to Sundar... I later came to know that he was a drummer too :) Then she and I talked for sometime and it was time for me to leave. I was feeling awful. Besides, this was my last un-scholarly activity/trip before I was to plunge into six months of nothing but study for the exams. Anyway I said goodbye with a stiff upper lip and left, along with that Calcutta friend of hers in a car to MAS. It took us about an hour to dodge traffic and in between that, our taxi driver was booked by the cops for something.. I think it was parking or driving without his uniform or some such thing. We then made our way into a thickly populated MAS station. The Chennai-Trivandrum mail to TVC was pushed into some platform (It was impossible to say, what with the damn crowd) and I boarded it and sat for half an hour swatting mosquitoes till the coach batteries were switched on. (Mom still thought that you had to attach the loco to the rake for the lights to be switched on, but she finally accepted the fact that it was so in the old days of vacuum braked(brown)-rakes and that now every coach is self generating).

It was an extremely smooth and fast ride to Arakkonam, when I dropped off to sleep and woke up at ERN the next day.. a couple of hours later, entered home and it was back to reality,

5.11.2008

Two years down the lane

As of May 4, 2008, this blog successfully completes two years of largely successful existence in Cyberia. I started a blog just to see what it was, but couldnt find a thing to write on it. Two months later, inspired by the 'crap' (as he terms it) on Tushar's blog and that on Asti's, I thought, Heck, I can blog more than plain crap! and so it happened :) Thanks for the push guys. And today, I'm happy that my blogging has inspired atleast one guy to start blogging.

Ok, enough of blowing(the literal meaning) my own trumpet.

Log:
Another hot sunday afternoon, May.
Mood: Crawling
Listening to: Iron Maiden - Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Thoughts: BSNL's broadband, despite having the best speed, sucks. It does.
Sub-thoughts: Gotta hit the rails sometime soon >:)

5.10.2008

Wohooo!

Oh boy ohboyohboy! I finally got this BIG upgrade! Seven years with the same ol' dabba... And now, to a blindingly fast slick new beast :)

New config (not all that hot anyway, good enough)-Old config given in brackets...
# Intel Core 2 Duo 2.67 Ghz "Wolfdale" with 6MB L2cache (Intel P4 1.5Ghz with 256 KB negligible L2 cache)

# Intel D31 Motherboard - not v.happy with this though :| (Asus P4BM)

# 2GB DDR-II 800Mhz RAM (128 MB SDRAM heh)
# 512MB XFX Geforce 8500GT GPU (16MB nVidia Vanta)

and finally...
# Kubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy" (Windows xp prof. haha)


(Near-virgin desktop... have to set things up a bit.. and install compiz!)

WOOT!

5.02.2008

Stack Error: Core dumped

0600 hrs: Wake up, toss and turn over to the other side. Continue sleeping.
1000 hrs: Wake up, get out of the bed and switch on the bloody box. Head over for a leak.

10 mins later(time t=0): 'Microsoft Windows XP professional' (whee)
t=10 mins: 'One of your disks needs to be checked for fidelity. *gasp* It's really not necessary, but it's strongly recommended that you head over to the fridge, have a couple of drinks and come back after an hour.'

t=65 mins: *hic*
t=70: 'welcome'
t=75: *Startup sound plays*
t=80: 'It's now safe to start using windows' (yipee)



t=81: 'explorer.exe not responding... rundll32.exe has been called in to tackle the situation. DO NOT PANIC'
t=82: 'Starting CPR...'
t=83: &#$&$@#
t=84: 'Rundll32.exe has performed an illegal operation(killed explorer.exe) and will be terminated'
t=90: 'terminator.exe not responding. Back up'

*I run to the door*

t=91: 'User need not panic. Previous System Message(tm) meant "save a copy of all essential files so that they can be used later"
t=92: 'terminator.exe will be back... please stand by'
t=100: 'the_messiah.exe executing...cleaning up errors'
t=101: 'warning: BG will not be responsible for anything that happens on this system(tm) running Microsoft (tm) Windows (R) xp Professional(c).'

t=102: 'System recovery successful. You may now continue using this computer. Do not attempt any hard tasks on your computer for two days. System still in Microsoft ICU (tm).'
t=103: 'Your mouse has moved. Microsoft (tm) Windows (R) xp Professional(c) must be restarted for the changes to take effect. Restarting...'


*sigh* All because I have no broadband transfer left to download linux.
Fuck!

(After certain dire threats misgivings between Tushar(aka Mudd) and me, I hereby proclaim that the screenshot posted above was lifted off uncyclopedia.org. But that was because Printscreen didnt work for me(windoze hung like a ..um..convict) when MY computer was displaying a similar instance.)