Thursday, December 22, 2005


Originally uploaded by binux.
Two weeks ago, we went on a team outing from Kodiak. We stayed at Silent Valley Resorts which is on the route to Kudremukh. The highlight of the trip was the trek to BallalRayanaDurga peak. This is a moderate trek that can be done in about 2 to 3 hours if you know the trail. We took longer than that due to a small misadventure. A cowherd warned us in time that the trail we were attempting initially was dangerous. The views from the top were spectacular. There is a dilapilated fort at the top. It looked like it is a popular camping spot though there wasn't anyone else doing the trek on the day we went. If you are interested, book a cottage at Silent Valley Resorts and ask anyone there to guide you. The trek starts at Horekhan estate which is about 20 km from the resort. The trekking trail continues beyond BallalRayanaDurga to Bandaje falls. We didn't attempt this part since we were already late and the cowherd had warned us about bears and bisons on the trail.

The resort is pretty good. The pool looks inviting in the pictures but it was quite dirty during our stay. We plunged in despite the muck and the frogs and had a good time. Kamath and Ramu couldn't see much without their glasses. I guess I could've enjoyed as much as they did without my 20/20 vision.

The complete photo album is on my flickr page.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bats 'n Balls... ;)

Captures from around the rented house that I was staying in recently.

There are plenty of these bats around the place. Always seem to be nibbling on some strange berry like fruit. Their business hours start in the evening. This particular one made the porch light holder its office (no clue where it roosts in the day). Harmless creature, except for the mess it created every night right at the door step. On the day I took this shot, he didn't notice us coming in. Had to set the flash and focus manually. The focus assist lamp would have disturbed the fellow otherwise. There's one visiting our balcony in the new house too.

Had my camera handy when this one passed by one day. When you get opportunities like this, you realize why camera startup times, focus speeds and shutter lag are important.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Quite a number of people reviewing my documents at work ask me about the tool I use for the drawings. I use an SVG editor. Here are some links from WikiPedia, Adobe and W3C on SVG. The editor I use is Inkscape. Check out the Inkscape gallery for the amazing stuff you can do with this tool.

Yes, it's available for Windows too.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Google Chat and SIP

Google's IM and Voice Chat service was launched today. Their service uses open standards for instant messaging. That means I can pretty much use any client with XMPP/Jabber support to connect. The voice calls are signaled using a proprietary protocol as of now but they do plan to document it and to support SIP later. More about that in the Google Chat Developer's FAQ.

I use gaim for IM and I was able to connect to Google chat with it. Gaim supports multiple protocols like Yahoo, MSN, ICQ and AOL so I don't have to run multiple clients. While Google has released their own client for Windows, they do provide links to other clients like gaim that can be used with their network. Although gaim supports Yahoo and MSN, they had to reverse engineer these protocols. Once in a while these networks change their protocol and the gaim developers have to crack the changes and release updates to let users connect again. While Yahoo and MSN try hard to lock users to their networks and officially released clients, Google allows any client and is also making efforts to let you make voice calls to users on other providers (Earthlink and Gizmo to start with). Trust Google to shake things up when they venture into a new field.

Monday, August 22, 2005


malad_west: goo
malad_west: goo
malad_west: d
malad_west: d ka phat gaya
binu5ue: kya?
binu5ue: yeh d kaun hai?
malad_west: D is a key on my keyboard.

Happens to sleep deprived individuals especially when chatting with Malad.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Evening Sky

Originally uploaded by binux.
Got this shot from the terrace on Sunday evening. You can see the Moon and Venus in this one. Any idea if the meteor showers on 12th will be visible in India?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Want a Pet?

If you are to believe some sites, pigs make very good pets. It seems they are easier to train than dogs. Interested? You can pick up your new pet from the ones in the pic. They are in a vacant plot close to my current home.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Lakshadweep HOWTO

If you maintain a list of things to do before you conk off, add visiting Laksha dweep somewhere at the top. After the disappointment at Karwar where I couldn't go snorkelling due to the weather, I was looking for an opportunity to give it a shot again. In Lakshadweep I got more than what I wished for.

Getting There
There are two options. If sea sickness is not a problem, you can get there by ship from Cochin or Calicut. The journey by ship takes about 22 hours. There are four ships that make the trip to Lakshadweep. One of them has cabins. On the others, you will have to sit through the entire journey. Cabin costs about 1500 rupees, seating is cheaper.

The other option is the Indian Airlines flight from Cochin. It costs 5500 rupees one way per passenger. Don't expect apex fares early bookings. The plane is a 12 seater Dornier. You have to book well in advance since this is the only flight as of now. Air Deccan is planning to operate flights from Cochin to Agatti soon. Expect the fares to be half of what IA charges. The flight duration is about 1.5 hours.

If you have sea sickness, by all means take the flight in both directions. If you want travel by ship to be a part of the holiday experience, do take the flight in one direction so you don't miss the beautiful aerial view of the islands.

Stay Options
Bangaram Islands Resort is apparently the best place to stay in Lakshadweep. The beach is excellent. You can see all shades of blue and green in the lagoons around this island. The tariff is steep. It takes half an hour by boat to reach Bangaram from the airport on Agatti island.

I chose the Agatti Island resort for my honeymoon mainly for the affordability and good reviews from my friend Mayank. This resort is right next to the airport on Agatti island. A 3 nights, 4 days package in April cost me 18,000 rupees for the two of us. This included all meals, a fishing trip, glass bottom boating and a trip to Bangaram island. Add about 2000 rupees for the guided diving and snorkelling off Bangaram island. Unlike Bangaram island, Agatti island has a population of about 7000. The resort's beach is private.

Lakshadweep tourism organizes diving trips to the islands. You will have to stay on board a ship on these trips. The ship will dock near some of the islands during the trip. There is a resort on Kadamat island too. You'll have to enquire about these options since I've only been to Agatti and Bangaram.


The season is from October to April. After April, it gets windy and the sea gets rough. The resorts stay open during the off season too and the tariff is usually half of the season tariff. The best time to be there is in December or January when the temperatures are within limits. By April it does get vey warm there (about 32 degrees).

Things To Do

At Agatti island, you can go for a swim in the sea. The waters off the island are crystal clear due to the coral reefs which break the waves. Even if you can't swim you can pick up a life vest and float about. Kayaking in the calm waters is another option. The resort has bicycles on hire if you are interested in a visit to the inhabited parts of Agatti. You don't have to worry about losing your way there, there is only one road on the island. The resort arranges for a fishing trip in the lagoon and a glass bottom boat trip. The glass bottom boat has glass windows at the bottom. You can catch a glimpse of the colourful aquatic life below when the boat goes over the coral reefs.

The main attraction though is snorkelling and diving. The good part is that you needn't know swimming for these activities. For snorkelling, you can put on a life jacket and float around wearing a glass mask. A tube from the mask stays above water to let you breath. If you can swim, you can can go on your own to the corals that are a few metres away from the beach and enjoy the underwater view. If you can't swim, you can get someone to guide you there. Guided snorkelling will cost you about 500 rupees. This is not part of the package. For the more adventurous, there are introductory guided diving lessons off Bangaram island (need not be a swimmer for this). The corals there are teeming with aquatic life. The multi-coloured tropical fish there seem to be straight from Finding Nemo. You can also dive off a ship wreck near Bangaram islands. If you have sea sickness take some pills along since the boat ride can get rough at places.

Plan well in advance if you are interested in making this trip. Getting the flight tickets to Agatti isn't easy and the resorts have some paperwork to do for the permits to visit the islands. You might get a discount on the regular tariff if you use a reference. I used Mayank's reference to knock off 10% from the tariffs. Feel free to use my reference :)

A Lot Can Happen Over Coffee

That's the Cafe Coffee Day slogan.

It was a cold rainy evening yesterday, perfect for a hot cup of coffee. Preethi and I went to the new Cafe Coffee Day outlet near our home. We ordered a cafe mocha and a hot chocolate. The waiter asked, "Vanilla or fresh cream?". Both of us chose fresh cream. When we got the bill, things didn't seem to add up. It turned out that the fresh cream toppings were add-ons and cost an additional 30 rupees. Not an amount to complain so much about, but it would have been much better if they had asked something like, "Would you like to add a vanilla or cream topping to that?"

On our way out, I told Preethi, "A loot can happen over coffee."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Ankhein, Ankhen, Aankhen ...

I've settled into a life without television. Thursday nights are an exception though. Preethi and I spend Thursday nights at my parents' place to catch Ankhen (she's got addicted too.)

The latest happenings involve a kingdom named Jabbar. Kangaroo has taken over the kingdom as General K N Garo. Last week's episode had the Ankhen team in a brainstorming session where an Einstein in the team went from "K N Garo" to "Ka Na Garo" and figured it all out. It was only bettered by a boat chase scene done entirely in the studio with cheap props. The serial is very interestingly poised at the moment with the Colonel having penetrated Kangaro's hideout.

Meanwhile, the fan club is growing. Kamath, Mohan and Subhash are regulars now. Kamath did some research on the web (apparently looking for boxed DVD sets of the first season) and stumbled upon some links. One of the links he found says that the serial has 52 one hour episodes, so the fun should last for an year. Here are the links: - End of page has the number of episodes planned. - The serial's synopsis at the Sagar TV site. - Profile of the director, Amrit Sagar. Note that Ankhen is the top serial on DD. - Another blogger who got hooked.

Excerpt from an interview with Prem Sagar found by Mohan:

Are you surprised with the success of your serial Ankhen on DD National which has been climbing peaks of popularity?

The Sagar family was at its peak in Bollywood after giving a row of hits like Arzoo, Ankhen, Geet, Lalkar. It, however, surprised everyone by venturing into the world of television. The decision invited a lot of criticism. Now, the third generation scions of the Sagar family - Amrit and Shakti Sagar - are still keeping the flag aloft with their latest hit serial Ankhen. These young boys have returned from Hollywood after imbibing the latest tools and techniques. When they saw their grandfather (Ramanand Sagar)'s film Ankhen, they expressed a desire to convert it into a TV serial.

Through Ankhen, we have advocated the view that that there is a need to be perceptive; keep our ears and eyes open in these trying times. There is a need to be alert in this age of terrorism wherein there is a constant threat from insiders. We cannot depend on the military and the police alone.

Ankhen, which is airing on the 10 pm slot on Thursdays had a TRP of 10.8 (23 February to 1 March) and 11.5 (2 March to 8 March). The serial has already won awards and has captured the imagination of the people in these troubled times. Good content with a soul always sells irrespective of cricket mania or war-related pre-occupations.

Unrelated stuff: - Hilarious review of Baba.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Honeymoon Trip

I'm back from my honeymoon trip. The trip took us to Wayanad, Lakshadweep, Munnar and Bison Wells. From 12 metres below the sea in the coral reefs around Lakshadweep to 7000 ft above sea level, lost in the clouds at Bison Wells, there's a lot to blog about in the coming days. Here are the photos meanwhile:

Agatti Island, Lakshadweep
Bison Wells, Off Kodaikanal
Munnar, Kerala

Thursday, April 07, 2005


Sad that you can't get to watch Plan 9 From Outer Space? Relax, there's something on DD National just for you. The "so bad it's good" serial is called Ankhein and it airs on DD National at 10:00 pm every Thursday. It's about a colonel and his team of five commandos called Ankhein who protect the nation from the evil-doers Carlos and Kangaroo (who are always getting drunk next to a pool and laughing out loud).

Describing a full episode with all its flaws will require a dedicated website. I'm sure the serial will attain cult status soon and one will spring up. Here are some interesting sequences from the last two episodes.

All fight scenes in the serial are amazing. In yesterday's episode, two commandos barge into a room with terrorists and disarm them. One of the terrorists kicks a chair towards the commandos. The chair falls well short of the commandos but for some reason they both fall down and the terrorists rush out of the room.

The commandos give them a chase in the hotel. They stop the pursuit to warn the other commandos waiting outside the hotel. Guess how they communicate? Using mobile phones. The terrorists have a good lead by the time the commandos are done calling their team members one at a time on their mobiles. When the two disarmed terrorists come out of the hotel's rear exit, they are confronted by a commando in position to shoot them. Usually even when they have guns and are in a good position to shoot the commandos, the terrorists yell "Aiyeee" and run towards the commandos to give them target practice. But in this scene, the unarmed terrorists throw stones at the commando and bring him down.

Yesterday's episode even had a direct confrontation between the colonel and Carlos. Carlos and Kangaroo hire a guy named Sanjay Patil to eliminate the colonel. The colonel is asked to come down to a playground unarmed and unaccompanied if he wants to meet the terrorist behind the recent attacks. The colonel obliges and comes down to the ground to prove he is no coward (just plain stupid). Patil runs out with a gun and then a long dialogue starts. That gives time for two commandos to spring our and disarm Patil. Carlos and Kangaroo who have come to watch the show, come out of their hideout and ask the commandos to put down their guns. They are not holding anyone hostage and they haven't come from behind. Yet, the commandos immediately say, "OK" and put their guns down (duh?). The dialogues continue, and for some reason Carlos is always urging Patil to stop talking and shoot the colonel (though he can do that himself). Anyway, after many more dialogues and some more characters popping up, Carlos is wounded, all the commandos are safe and Patil (who changes his mind after his girlfriend appears on the scene and pleads with him) is shot while valiantly shielding the colonel. The director and writers must have excellent mind control. It is obvious that they have selectively put that part of the brain which deals with logic and reasoning (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) to sleep when creating this masterpiece. You are expected to suspend these functions too when watching it.

After the shootout, when Ankhein is chasing the wounded Carlos and his gang, you see an animated helicopter. Is this the first television serial in the Who Framed Roger Rabbit genre? No, that's the chopper coming in to rescue Carlos. They couldn't afford a real helicopter and they probably couldn't find stock footage of real helicopters.

There's much more: obviously fake disguises, cheap plastic guns, Ramayan style bullet going through the air shots (the serial is produced by Ramananand Sagar), brightly coloured bombs that will daze their victims if they don't explode, green rubber balls for grenades, crowds that converge when they panic and the all important truth drug. It's very easy viewing despite all this. All characters helpfully talk out loud to make their intentions very clear. The colonel explains his deductions very lucidly, like how he noticed that the pan masala packets with drugs were labelled Khoyeja (get lost) instead of genuine Khayeja (eat on) pan masala. Concepts like the truth drug or even how conference calls work are explained very well (The How Stuff Works site needs to get a clue from these guys). Usually, one of the extras will have the same doubts that you have and the villains will patiently explain everything to them. The only thing unexplained is how they managed to get a slot on national television.

So remember, Thursdays at 10, exclusively on DD National. Even the urea and banian ads during the breaks are enjoyable.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Public Transport

Taking a cue from Kamath, I'm trying out public transport these days. The experience so far is pretty decent. The commute takes a little longer. It takes about one hour now in either direction, but it's stress free. No more getting bugged with signals that take an eternity to change, two wheelers cutting across dangerously or autos poking their wheels to jam your way.

It did take some time to get used to it. The boards have destinations written in Kannada only. Even though I can read a little bit of Kannada, I still couldn't read the boards fast enough. I have to use context to figure out most words. For example, on the day Veerappan was shot, a Kannada paper's headline read Veerappan something. Context didn't help me get the word since I was told later that the headline was "Veerappan Phinish". Even if I do manage to read the destination I still wouldn't have a clue if the bus to Mangammanpalya, Attibele or Chandapura goes through Sarjapur road. But most passengers are helpful if you ask them. On the first day I waited for about half an hour at the the wrong bus stop till someone finally told me that buses that stop there only go towards ShivajiNagar and Airport. By the third day I had the routes and the stops figured out. I still have to ask when I see unfamiliar numbers.

Most of the time I've been lucky, getting a bus right till the quarters. On some days I have to walk a bit, but that's good. With a daily pass for 25 rupees, you can hop on to any bus. From HSR it takes one hop to the new Shanti Nagar depot and another from there to Richmond road. The bus depot is well organized, with separate lanes for buses on different routes. So I know that all buses in a particular lane will go up to Koramangala, after which I can switch again if required. Kamath tells me that when the roads are badly jammed you can walk across the jammed intersection and hop on to another bus.

On some days the bus ride is pretty entertaining. One day, the opposite seat had a man trying hard to get a few winks of sleep. Next to him was his nemesis, a guy chattering on his mobile. The groggy chap would occasionally raise his eyelids with supreme effort and reply to some of the motormouth's questions on the phone. None of this seemed to affect mobile addict though. Yesterday there was an altercation between two people that went into a tight loop with each one asking the other, "Neenu Yaru?" (Who're YOU?). When one bystander tried to resolve the deadlock, he was in turn asked "Neenu Yaru?" (Who're YOU to intercede?). It all ended with neither of them getting an answer when one of them had to get down at his stop. I wish my phone had an FM tuner for the not so interesting days.

Let's see how long this new found enthusiasm to reduce the traffic density in Bengaluru lasts.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sweet Sixteen

The Google India Code Jam final round was held in Bangalore last Saturday. Among the fifty finalists, there were a good number of contestants who had been flown in from Singapore. Most of the finalist were students. The contest was held in two Reliance Webworlds in Cunningham road and CMH road. This time the problems were tougher than those in the qualifiers, though the time limit was increased to two hours. The first problem was related to web crawling. You are given a list of URLs that the crawler traversed first. The second list contains URLs crawled from the pages in the first list. Each URL would be preceded by an index into the page in the first list. These URLs would be relative to the URLs in the first list (can contain ../). A third list contained URLs found in pages in the second list. The aim was to find the total number of unique pages in the list. This took some time to finish.

The second problem involved finding the path with the shortest number of turns between two points in a 500x500 matrix. All the roads in the matrix were specified by their start and end coordinates. This problem was far too tedious to attempt in the remaining time. One had to find all the intersections of the roads and construct a graph. After determining the edges on which the points lay you had to find all possible paths between the two points and get the one with the minimum turns. In case two paths had the same number of turns, there was a crazy sorting criterion for resolving the order. I wasted some time on this before giving up and moving to the next problem.

The last problem was a battle game. You are given a certain number of armies in your territory. Your opponent has three territories and the number of armies in those territories is also given. When you attack any of your opponent's territories, there are probabilities for 2 to 3 possible outcomes (you lose 2 armies, he loses none, both lose one and so on). If you win a territory, you need to post one of your armies in the territory before attacking the next one. Depending on the sequence of the attack, the probability of winning would change. The aim was to determine probability of the best winning strategy. I coded up a solution with a recursive algorithm to this one, but it was far too buggy. I ran out of time while debugging it. No regrets though since I'm not sure if the algo would have worked even if all the bugs were thrashed out.

Luckily for me, there were hardly any submissions for the second and third problems. Based on the submission time for the first problem, I was at the 16th position. After the contest ended at 1:30, everyone went to the Google office for lunch and technical talks. Lunch was good and the tech talks were interesting. The first talk was about the page rank algorithm. Spammers are always coming up with ways to get the Googlebot to rank them higher and Google is always looking at ways to counter their moves through changes in their page ranking system. The next talk was about the massive Google cluster and their cluster file system. I think they did a good job of convincing everyone that Google is the place to be in if you want to do interesting work in computer science.

The awards ceremony was next. I was relieved to know I had retained the 16th position after the system tests. That means a cheque for 25 K (minus the taxman's share :( ). There was a dinner in the evening at the Taj where I got to chat with some of the other contestants and the hosts.

It was a great experience. Google intends to interview finalists who are interested in a job with them. I have declined the interview for now.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Engaging Week

On Tuesday I got a mail asking me to confirm my participation in the code jam finals. That kept me grinning for a while. But on Wednesday I was grinning from ear to ear all through the day. I think I still am. I'm now formally engaged to be married to Preethi.

The engagement was a family affair at Preethi's home. Her uncle asked everyone present if there were any objections to the match. How could there be? Anyway, I glanced menacingly across the room just to be sure (OK. I'm kidding). After that both our horoscopes were tied into a bundle and presented to my uncle and the date of the wedding was announced. Simple. The wedding is on the morning of April 22nd (9 to 9:15 am) in Bangalore. No more details here. That should get some of you to write to me. You'll see me soon with the invitations.

Engagement snaps here:

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Google Code Jam Update

The final results are out. Here's the link. I'm number 51, the guy on the fence. The good news is that if any one among the top 50 cannot confirm his/her participation in the onsite round in Bangalore, I'm in. Since a good number of the finalists are from Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, I guess I still have a decent chance of making it.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Google India Code Jam

I made it into the first round of 500 qualifiers in the Google India Code Jam. That kept me busy for a while. The round to select the top 50 was held today. The results aren't officially out yet, but I'm at number 52 now, missing the top 50 by the narrowest of margins. What makes it really hurt is that I did pretty good today and could have been placed 15th but for a case I hadn't considered in one problem.

There were three programs to be submitted within the alloted time of 1 hour and 15 minutes. The points allotted to any solution depended on how quickly you submitted the solution.

The first problem for 250 points was very simple. There's a mechanical display that displays binary number numbers up to 32767 from a counter. The display gears that wear out for each binary digit flip. Given any two numbers, you had to calculate the wear in the display when counting between them. Pretty simple. Got a pretty good score on this one.

The second problem for 700 points had a 11x11 chessboard. You are given the position of rooks and bishops on the board in a format like "2 5 Rook", "4 8 Bishop". Up to 50 pieces can be given. You have to return the number of squares on the board that are controlled by the pieces. If a bishop or rook come in path of each other, the number of squares controlled comes down since the line of attack is blocked. Scored well on this one too. Doesn't require much thinking to code up a solution to this one.

In the last problem for 900 points you are given a sequence of integers. You need to determine the minimum number of changes required in the series to make the it an arithmetic progression. For example if you are given a sequence like
"100 -90 130 175 800 225 -10 275 30", the sequence you can make with minimum changes is "100 125 150 175 200 225 250 275 300" changing numbers at positions 2, 3, 5, 7 and 9. So the result is 5 changes. This was my waterloo. I coded up a solution that would work fine with series like this one. When I submitted the solution, I had totalled 1386 points with 30 minutes to spare (45 minutes for three programs).

At the end of the coding round, I was placed 15th, making it comfortably in the top 50. Next it was the challenge round for another 15 minutes. In this phase you can view the source code of the nine other contestants in your room and challenge them. If you provide a test case that fails, you gain 50 points, else you lose 25. I did find a valid challenge but couldn't get the 50 points since another guy challeged the same code successfully just before I did.

The system tests began next and went on for an hour. My solution for the third problem failed for a case like this "999 2 998 4 997 6 996 7 -999 9 10". This could be made into a series like "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11" with 8 changes which is the minimum required. My solution however considered a transformation to "999 998.5 998 997.5 997 996.5 996 995.5 995 994.5 994" and returned 7 instead. If only I had ignored progressions with non integer increments I would be beaming right now. The thing with the code jam is that even if your solution fails one case, you lose all points for the submission. This mistake cost me 650 points and I slipped to the 52nd position. I missed the top 50 by 6 points. Could have made it with the 50 points from the challenge. The only hope now is if at least two contestants from the top 50 cannot confirm their participation in the final round in Bangalore.

Shit happens.

Friday, January 21, 2005


Anil organized a trip to Bellikal this weekend. There were five of us
in the group: Anil and Poornima, Mandya muscleman Mohan, ace
photographer and PVR Gold Class patron Manjula and me of course. Before
I ramble on, here are the photos from the trip:

My album on flickr

Manjula's photos on webshots

The Silver Stone Estate

Bellikal (belli = silver, kal = stone in Kannada) is a tea estate off
the steep Kalhatti ghat road to Ooty from Bandipur. The place is
unspoilt and not frequented by tourists. No one stays at the estate
full time. The estate owner, Mr. Pannalal comes down to host the
occasional visitors. Panna is a nature lover and seeing Anil's
unbounded enthusiasm for nature and wildlife, agreed to come over this
weekend to host the five of us.

Accommodation was in a portion of an ancient estate house built by the
Britishers. The place has no tarred roads, electricity or telephone
lines. The estate adjoins the Mudumalai and Bandipur forests. The lake
in the estate is a major water source for the surrounding areas and
attracts wild animals in the evenings. The tea plantation covers only a
part of the estate lands. The rest of the land has been forested and it
is frequented by bears, bisons and even elephants.

Day 1

On the first day the travel weary gang had a nap on the rocks at a view
point in the estate. After the refreshing nap we went bird watching.
Manjula got some great shots of the birds around the estate. Birds seen
in the estate included the shrike, wood peckers, bulbuls, drongo,
morning dove and the crow pheasant. After the bird watching session we
went to a view point overlooking the Moyar plateau. While returning we
spotted a bison at a distance. The first day's experience was pretty
good, marred only by some Jiddu-babble from Anil. The beautiful
environs inspired Anil to give his unwilling audience a spontaneous
discourse on the universal mind and the self. The night was very cold.
So cold that Mohan couldn't do a Salman on this trip.

Day 2

The next day, the water was freezing. Anil and I entered into a pact to
not bathe over the next two days. Manjula walked off alone to the lake
early in the morning to get some great shots of the lake at dawn. At
this time no one realized the dangers of wandering about alone near the
lake. Though Panna had warned us about the bears and bisons that roam
the estate, we thought he was being overcautious. After breakfast, we
trekked along the estate boundaries to the adjoining hills. Panna
showed us the droppings of many animals including that of a tiger. The
path also had bushes trampled by elephants. At one point we could hear
a barking deer nearby but we couldn't spot it.

Wild Things

In the evening, we set out again to the sunset point. A little
downhill, we spotted a bear near a farm. Though it was at a good
distance away, the thrill of spotting an animal in the wild cannot be
matched by watching the same creature at close quarters in an
enclosure. Anil missed this sight since he had wandered off to the
lake. At this point we realized the dangers of venturing out alone. It
was very close to one of the trails to the sunset point. We hurried to
the lake since the bear was climbing as it foraged and it would soon be
near the path that we took. As we were returning, Chandru, our driver,
noticed some movement in the pine forest near the lake. A little later
Manjula noticed the pine tree tops swaying deep in the forest. This was
an amazing moment. Only an elephant coming towards the lake could push
the trees around like that. Mohan borrowed a jacket in panic to cover
his white t-shirt (elephants don't like white). As we waited, hiding at
the opposite end of the lake, we saw not one, but five elephants come
out and drink from the lake. It was quite dark and we couldn't
photograph them. This was the high point of the trip. After we
returned, all plans for a star gazing session from the viewpoint were
scrapped. Our star gazing guide Mohan was too shaken anyway.


The next day we started our tiring trip back to Bangalore. This was
another adventure. The driver was speeding like a maniac to be on time
for another trip in the evening. We stopped at Mysore for lunch. Mysore
is beautiful and calm. I think I'll join the gang at Kodiak that is
planning to settle in Mysore.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Tandoor Again

Go to Yahoo! search and type "Sanjeev Kapoor Tandoor". Check out the first result. Neat eh? I just hope I don't get to hear from anyone's lawyers.
Before you ask, I didn't go around typing keywords on search engines to find out. Vanity has its limits. I just happened to notice that one of the visitors to my blog came from from Yahoo. Yep, I track visitors with statscounter. A little vanity is allowed :)
Strangely, google hasn't indexed my blog, and google owns blogspot.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Recycling ...

If I should die before I wake
All my bone and sinew take
Put me in the compost pile
To decompose me for a while

Worms, water, sun will have their way,
Returning me to common clay
All that I am will feed the trees
The plants, the fishes in the seas

When radishes and corn you munch
You'll be having me for lunch
And then excrete me with a grin
Chortling "There goes Lee again!"

--Lee Hayes