Monday, July 27, 2009

:-( Despair

We all claim ourselves to be "different". But how many of us actually walk-the-talk?? Here's a reality check.

We all (at least some of us) have Motivational or Inspirational posters in our respective work-places, home, school etc. But the question here is: why only motivational posters? Why not demotivators? Why not some dark sarcasm at your place, poking fun of everything that you do and everything you are involved in? Why not glorify the darker side of life?
Sounds like a good idea? Well... like most good ideas, this one has been taken too. is the perfect demotivator website. Here, you not only can buy demotivating posters but also get demotivating calenders, coffee mugs, photo frames, cards, laptop skins, T-shirts (how can you not have T-shirts), PoV glasses et al.
Its a true Pessimist's haven. Its the Elixir for all those miserable dysfunctional souls. As the site claims, its a relentless pursuit of dejection.

Oh.. they also have a Customer Disservice, where you can register you insensitive complaints about how less demotivated you have been about the products these guys have to offer. So go on and despair all you like and be the proudest Pessimist in the world.

Knock knock!!! Who's there? Its recession. Come right in and make yourself comfortable.

Yeah... that's right. Recession is the buzzword, the in-thing, the flavor of the season. Everybody's talking about it like they own it. Never mind, they have the vaguest idea about the whole damn thing. The CNBC's and the NDTV Profits are inundated with every well-combed entrepreneur worth his salt, counting the eggs that did not hatch, thanks to the Recession. These recession-hit-Armani-clad-honchos are strewing sentences around well-rehearsed phrases like global crisis, economic downturn, sluggish recovery, quarterly projections, emerging economies et al making them sound like a true market analyst.

After hearing them rattle for a couple minutes until the Anchor shuts them up, you do tend to feel sorry for them. The recession can wreck havoc in your life. If not for the fashionable recession, that CEO would have gone in for that few million dollar yatch or - if you are Vikram Pundit - that $50m Corporate Jet, or even buy one of those man-made islands in Dubai. Life can be so unfair on some people at times.
May God give them the courage to embezzle a few more million dollars... and NOT GET CAUGHT!!!

As for lesser mortals like yours truly, I absofrikkinlutely LOVE this recession. To start with, the word in itself has got a nice ring to it. Something that adds the jing to the bang. But most importantly, I love recession because it makes others as poor as me. I'm no longer alone in the dungeons of the financial strata. Suddenly, its fashionable to be a cheapskate.

Common dude, please pay for the drinks tonight. I havent got a fuckin-increment this fuckin-year and im fuckin-broke!!!

Putting the blame on Recession has become the latest fad. Come to think of it, for any worldly problem you can take refuge in recession. Anything and everything under the sun, can be attributed to recession.

Hey baby, you are home early! Did you get the groceries I asked you to get?
Oh sorry baby. I forgot. This bloody recession is bothering me so much, I just cant think of anything else.

Congratulations!. You have done a great job this financial year. Your deliverables have been far more than expected.
So can I expect a raise? No. Its recession time. But seeing your competence we can give you additional responsibilities.

Papa, I don't like this print. Why cant we see Ice-Age3 in the multiplex?
Coz recession is going on beta.
Which screen?
All screens...

In fact, the answer to any why question can be recession.

Why are you working so late son?
Coz its recession.
Why don't you spend some time at home?
Coz its recession.
Why are you so lazy these days?
Coz its recession.
Why don't you eat some healthy food?
Coz its recession.
Saabji, why is there so many clothes to wash today?
Coz its recession.
Why didn't the watchman open the lift door for me today?
Coz its recession.

Another reason why you gotta love the recession is for that second-famous-four-letter-word: SALE.
And just as how SALE is not a stand-alone word (as its followed with 2 more SALES - SALE SALE SALE), SALEs are not restricted to one particular retailer. Its like a deadly infectious virus that spreads to all near and not-so-dear. Within no time of one retailer putting up the SALE the rest follow like a herd of sheep.
As a general principle Ive decided to shop only when there's a SALE around.

In fact, retailers are not the only ones to join the SALE bandwagon. Everybody from massage-parlours to landlords to real estate developers to the-shop-round-the-corner are all leaving no stone unturned to keep their customer base intact.
Recession also means longer Happy Hours at your favorite hang-out bar. Talking about bars and recession, it was noted that during the Great Depression of 1931, the ONLY business that boomed was the Liquor Industry. Apparently people drank more to over their "depression" thus making the cash registers ring in the bars. Pfbt!! Does one really need a reason to drink??? Crazy Americans!!!! And this time round, looks like they don't even have money to buy liquor, a result of self-inflicted Frankenstein-ism.

Its easy to make out that, most Indians are loving this recession. The very fact that the most stupidly-lavish Bollywood movies are running to moderately-packed PVRs is evidence to this claim, not forgetting the fact that liquor always runs dry at the end of the day in every bar.

Hence I call out to all my brethren, to come live this wonderful Recession. Shop-until-you-drop never sounded more plausible. Do remember that, Recession is a limited offer God Himself sends from up above. So utilize the opportunity and lighten the load in your back-pocket and fill-up your home instead with stuff you have only dreamt about.

PS: These are the views of a guy who's staring at a half-full glass!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nandi Hills, Bangalore

There could not have been a more ominous start to the day than this. The odometer read 666 and a broken helmet visor to go with it. I was very tempted to call it a day, even before it began. But I fought the devil in me and off we went. 68 kms later we found ourselves 1400 mts above sea level atop the majestic Nandi Hills. At 7:30 in the morning we were rubbing our palms together to protect ourselves from the freezing cold. Even before we had reached the foot hill, Nandi Hills had a heavenly look about it, as in, its peak was totally englufed in the clouds. Once atop the hill, you get a similar feeling of heavenli-ness. What looks like a mist is actually clouds hovering around, above and below you.

The drive up the hill has been a smooth one, thanks to a recently-well-laid road. Once you enter the (Tipu Sultan's) Fort Gate, two-wheelers are not allowed beyond this point. Though 4 wheelers can choose to go, further up. I really dont know why this is so, but thats the way it is. Right after you enter the premises of the Fort, there's the Tipu Sultan's Lodge on the left. Its a tiny little red building which is unfortunately locked down and pushed into obscurity. Not surprising, considering the sad state of monuments in India.

We then proceeded to walk along the exterior fort wall. The views from here were quite breath-taking. I was particularly looking for the Tipu's Drop from where Tipu Sultan apparently pushed-off his prisoners. But we found quite a number of places which could easily qualify to be called a drop-off place. It started to get quite breezy now. The higher we climed, the cooler and more ferocious it became. It took quite a lot of courage on our part to stand at few of these drop-offs and take pictures. As we climbed even further, there was a point where there was no obstructions to flow of wind. This made matters worse. Every 30-odd seconds there would be a burst of wind that will hit you so hard, you would be pushed back-or-forth a step. You need to very careful at this point, one wrong step and you would experience what an Abyss is!!! The wind here makes so much noise that you cant hear the person talking next to you. And Im NOT exaggerating here.

We then moved on explore some more of the Nandi Hills. We went in search of the source of the Akravathy River and found it. Unfortunately for us there wasn't even a single drop of water there!!! Once again we were off to explore the place. But from here on we found ourselves walking in circles...literally. The whole topography of the area started to become very hazy and confusing and we kept coming back to the same place again and again. There was a huge christmas tree which we christened as our Radar, as we seemed to be going round and round it. But the weather was still so pleasant (though a little sunny) that we really didn't mind the walk. Finally after loitering around the hilltop for about 4 hours, we started to make our way back to the parking lot. The ride downhill was smooth. One gentle push from the top and you can avoid switching on the ignition till you reach Ground Zero (as in zero mts above sea-level :-) )

On our way back, we were thanking the stars for coming here early in the morning, because the view now was not all that appealing as it was early in the morning.

Getting-there: Mekhri Circle -> Hebbal Flyover -> BIAL -> 7 Kms later -> Look to the left for a signboard in English.
Must-Do: Reach the hilltop as early as possible, preferably before Sunrise.
Must-Don't: Adding to the trash.
Cuidado: Food-snatching monkeys and walking around the edges of the cliffs, friendly-looking locals eager to help and then ask for their rewards.
Roads: Very Good.

My Rating: 5/10

Monday, July 06, 2009

Muthyalamaduvu, Bangalore.

The idea of going to Muthyalamaduvu sounded interesting for the following reasons:
1. It has a waterfall surrounded by dense forests.
2. Its just 40 kms from Bangalore.
3. The best way to beat the monotony of my mundane life.

I found that July may not be the right time to go to this place. August, with the monsoons in all its fury, is definitely a good time to watch the waterfall. Yet, I was determined to go ahead with the idea. I called-in a good ol' friend around noon and we set out around 2PM with enough protection for the rain...just in case!!!

Bannerghatta Road is the exit out of the city. The road is decent, once you leave the city behind. The only problem was the countless number of speed-breakers. Its a real pity that you cannot drive on the fifth gear for more than 15 minutes at a stretch. The first milestone we were looking for was Anekal. After you cross Anakel, unless you are a little careful, you might miss a signboard on the right that directs you to a resort somewhere near Muthyalamaduvu. Our worst fears of bad roads, or rather no roads became a reality, when we saw a muddy and slushy road ahead. There was no pukka road for at least half a kilometer. And then to our relief we found a freshly laid road ahead of us which can put the Bannerghatta Road to shame. From here it was a much smoother ride of about 5-6 kms. Soon the landscape started changing, and we knew we were getting closer to our destination.

After a Rs.30 Tollgate ticket and a Rs.20 Parking Ticket, we started to make our way down to where the waterfall is. The long and winding descent of steps finally ended near the foot of what was supposed to be the Muthyalamaduvu waterfalls. The term Waterfalls is highly over-rated out here. What we saw there was a tiny streak of water trickling down, as if somebody had left a tap open somewhere up there. This was a major disappointment. I knew better not to expect much water, but I was not ready to see No-Water.

After a bit of curse-the-world we decided to just limber around. Luckily, we found a pathway that apparently lead to the top of the mountain on the other side and we decided to trek it. Confident that my past few weeks of working-out would make the trek a piece of cake, we set forward to conquer the mountain ahead of us. All that hours spent on the treadmill seemed no match to the rough terrain here. By the time we reached the top, our huffing and puffing made it impossible to speak for a while. Its only then we witnessed the true beauty of the place. As far as the eye could see, it was nothing but mountains all around us.

We selected our respective rocky thrones and just sat that in complete silence. When the mind and heart is taking-in the sights, the mouth just shuts!!! A little while later we spotted some dark clouds gathering miles ahead of us. It was too far away to bother us. We didn't want to leave the place just yet. How often do you get to spend time like this. The camera kept clicking for a while even as the dark clouds became darker. We couldn't say if it was raining or if it was just gloomy. We were just starting to walk down when we got our answer. The rain hit us so hard and so suddenly, that we were instantly drenched even as we tried to beat the rains in a one-on-one bout. But we were badly beaten by the Rain Gods. Battle weary and soaking wet, we reached the foot of the hill (but not before clicking a few more pics) and took shelter from the ravaging rains for a good three-quarters of an hour.

The waterfall which was a trickle just an hour before is now looking very menacing. We took pictures again to distinguish the Before and After the Rains. The once-dry-forest now resembled a tropical rain forest. Everything changed around here so quickly. It was as if the Rain Gods heard us cribbing and just unleashed His wrath on us. And ain't we glad He did!!! The whole trip suddenly turned to be one of the best short trips of my life. It was definitely going to be a memorable one too.

Even after having got all that we wanted from the trip, we still dared to dream for more. The weather was perfect for some HOT Mirchi Bhajjis and Cool Thumbs-Up. Well, this was a day we could ask for heaven on Earth and get it. Hell yeah, we got some "OOOL Drinks" and Michi Bhajjis and Alu Bondas on the way back. We came back home an hr and half later, soaking wet, physically exhausted, near-broken backs and head full of memories to last a life-time.

Getting There: Take the Bannerghatta Road out of Bangalore. Follow route to OTIS Factor->Bannerghatta Bus Depot-> Anekal. Keep an eye-out to the right, for signboards leading to Muthyalamaduvu.
Must-Do: Trek the hillock up to the other side. Have yummilicious bhajjis on the way back.
Must-Don't: Carry Food and litter around. You can get food all along the way.
Trekking Difficulty: 1.5/5
Useless Advice: Curse the Rain-Gods if there isn't much water.
Must-Click: Mummy Daddy Residential Laoyout right after a major temple.
My Rating: 6/10 (Thanks to the Rains)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Hogenakkal Falls, Tamil Nadu - Karnataka Border

The best thing about living in Bangalore is that you can get-away from it when you feel like it. The choices are aplenty for those in love with nature. One such get-away is the Hogenakkal Falls in the disputed Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border. Conveniently situated 180 kms from Bangalore city, Hogenakkal is the ideal place to spend your lazy Sundays. Hogenakkal gets its name from Hoge (meaning Smoke in Kannada) and Kal (meaning Rock) because here when water hits the rocks it looks like smoke.

Hogenakkal is part of river Cauvery, and like the river, Hogenakkal is also embroiled in the controversy involving Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Its only when you visit the place would you realise why its being so fiercely fought-over. Its definitely a proud possession, whoever can claim it.

The road to Hogenakkal is one of the best Ive travelled in recent memory. Its pretty much straight and a really smooth ride all way to Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu. Once you leave Electronic City behind you, you feel you've left India behind. The road from here is easily comparable to any of the Interstates in the US... well, except that there are only two lanes here. The median on the highway is very well maintained. One could see plants with colorful flowers almost the entire distance of our journey.

It took us roughly about 4 hours to reach our destination, with one breakfast stop in between. Breakfast at Ghar Dhaba, a.k.a A2B was edible. By the time we reached our destination it was 12:30 and blazing hot. This proved to be a dampener of the spirits. Add to that the umpteen number of tollgates already made a dent in our wallets and spirits. Here's a quick look at the charges:

Tamil Nadu Checkpost: Rs 650 (Apparently a Must for rented private vehicle).
Highway Tollgate: Rs 40.
Hogenakkal Forest Entry: Rs. 30
Parking: Rs 30.

Despite all this, we kept the spirits up and proceeded towards the Falls. The only way to reach the Falls is through the round boats. When asked about the rates, we were in for another shocker. Rs. 1000 for a boat. Past experiences tell me that this is way too much to pay. So we began to bargain, and then haggling and finally threatened quit the whole idea, before they settled down for Rs. 500 a boat. And since there were 6 of us we went in for 2 boats. Quite honestly I think they were trying to rip us because of the two Goras in our team. (LOL... I think I can hear one Miss Jane Morrison cursing me right now. Hahaha)

By the end of all the haggling we were totally demotivated and just wanted to finish the whole goddamn trip and go home. Before we got down to the foot of the cliff from where we started the boat ride towards the Falls, we got an actual glimpse of the Falls from right on top of the Falls. Even from the safety of the rocks it looked quite ferocious. No wonder they call it the Niagra of India. So after spending some time at the Canadian side(Tamil Nadu) of Hogenakkal we decided to take the Maid of the Mist (our round boats) and watch the falls from the American side (Karnataka).

We were told by the Oarsman that, August is the best time to visit the Falls here. Because then the water would be way too much and way too dangerous. But it makes for a beautiful sight, which only made us wonder the "real thing" . Inching closer towards the Falls in the safety of our round boats we were already a little cheered up after the disappointment from all the haggling.

The experience of getting closer to the mini Falls (you wouldn't dare go near the main Falls) and getting wet is something that has to be experienced and no amount of words justify the real excitement. After that adrenaline rush, the oarsman steers you away to much calmer waters, and somewhere over here, you reach the Karnataka border. Some fictitious border here 'separates TN from KA. Away from the roaring waterfalls, there's a mini beach where we all got down to stretch while the Oarsman de-watered the boat.

The ride back was much slower as we were going against the current, and somehow we sympathized with the Oarsman for the amount he initially asked. On the way back one would also find the most frivolous way of spending Rs.10. We noticed a man standing atop the cliff as if he was ready to jump. We on our part waved at him and started cheering him to jump. To our surprise the oarsman tells us that if you wave a Rs.10 at him he will jump for you. And that was the end of our cheering.

That also brought our boat ride to an end. At the end of it all, I could see 6 contented and somewhat tired souls ready to hit the road again..... IF only we could spot our driver, who went missing for a good half hour. On the way back we drove into Dharmapuri district for a late lunch. The food at Meenakshi Bhavan was quite filling and satisfying. I particularly liked my Vegetable Fried Rice. The ride back felt quicker as none of us could stay awake.

I don't know about the others, but Im definitely going back to Hogenakkal in August, to watch Cauvery in full fury.

Must-Do: Take the boat ride to one of the mini-falls and get totally drenched.
Must-Don't: Buy chips and water bottles in a supposedly "plastic-free-zone".
Exercise Caution: Rippers disguised as Oarsmen. Taking Goras along :-).

My Rating: 6/10