Friday, July 22, 2011

An Adventure Trail Through Nature: Camp Ganga Riviera, Rishikesh

Today is the 22nd of July, 2011 and this entry makes its way to my blog especially for three people who have become very important in my life over the past months- Mr Himanshu Dubey, Mr Rohit Jakhu and Mr Sahil Madan.

Well, I shouldn’t call it ‘past months’. It should in fact be ‘three days’. The three days that made a complete difference. The three days that the four of us would never be able to forget in our entire lifetime. The three days when we chose to live life to the utmost in the ways we wanted to. The three days when nothing else and nobody else mattered. The three days because of which, today we know each other so well. The three days that we spent on our maiden adventure voyage to Rishikesh.

It had all begun due to a casual conversation with one of our faculty at college. And yes, we were too excited and even though we were warned by our families against going for such an ‘adventurous trip’, we couldn’t resist. We gave no heed to the advices received, and that made all the difference.

Starting from the moment we took the orange bus from Pushp Vihar Bus Stop to Red Fort, right till the end when the auto brought us from Kashmere Gate ISBT to home- the complete 80-hours that we spent together stand unexplainable and unscathed in our memories, something which probably just the four of us can comprehend and understand.

May it be the planning of the whole thing, attempting of the unthinkable adventures, coming over our worst fears, or discovering new dimensions of friendship- everything came across the four of us in those three days.

How we complained about the so-called-volvo bus and then the a/c froze us, how we felt about cruelty to animals and the increasing deforestation, how we loved having no contact with the world for over 24 hours, how we discussed our lives while waiting for the wonderful food at the camp with nobody but stars watching us so close-by, how we loved the hospitality being meted out to us in a strange land by people who had not known us for more than a few hours, how we discovered that even 6 feet is a very high altitude, how we walked in the middle of the forest and rested in the most natural settings, how we learnt to live with kerosene lanterns for a night at a place which hasn’t seen electricity ever, and not to forget of course, how we faced our worst fears in adventure sports which rarely people dare to undertake- that was our life at Camp Ganga Riviera, 40 kilometers uphill Rishikesh.

Seeing waves as huge as that of the sea in the middle of a river, which are trying to swallow us raw and whole- well, not a scene that anybody would ever fantasise about but which we saw materialising right in front of our eyes. A time when you are praying to God that let all be well, let everyone be safe- that was a time we faced when we were struggling to reach our raft which had almost been overpowered by nature’s fury and we were being carried away by the river away from life, literally.

In the end, yes, this was all fun. These were what made the memories. These were the things that made the memories so strong that we never wanted to come back from that place- a place which we had known for so little number of hours.

And about writing this blog entry so late and today’s day bearing significance? Well, it is because it was today’s date that I set myself the deadline for completing my Project Rishikesh- a project which I had envisioned on our bus trip back to Delhi. A project which I had started planning and working on the very day we returned, and a project which today stands ‘shelved’. I have not been able to complete it; in fact I should say that I haven’t made much progress with it at all. And I had raised the expectation level of the three of you to such high altitudes that declaring it to be unfinished and being unable to progress with it, makes me feel guilty today.

It was difficult for me to learn Adobe Premiere Pro and convert video-codecs to include in Windows MovieMaker. And so, my idea of the audio and video incorporated multimedia e-tabloid didn’t see the light of day. Nor was the 24-page magazine able to fulfil its aim of serving as a souvenir. And neither did the over 200-slide powered presentation, that promised to give the world a complete tour of what we faced and what we did (in a R L Stine’s Goosebumps book style) with interactive links, audios, videos and first-hand experiences, face completion. I am really sorry my friends that I couldn’t keep my promise and I am even more sorry for the fact that to compensate for not being able to do anything, I am doing what I can always do very easily- write a blog entry.

I wouldn’t say that I have failed in my endeavour. It’s all in the state of mind and the ‘shelved’ project might come to the foray anytime when I feel like relishing the wonderful time we spent together.

I am sometimes awestruck by a thought and have pondered upon it lot many times-

While waiting for our bus at Pushp Vihar that night, did the four of us know that by the time we see this bus-stop again, our lives would be so much more intertwined together, and untangling which wouldn't be possible or desired?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It all ends, when you think it does!

Yeah, this seems to be a very metaphorical and philosophical title, but sorry, it’s not. It is quite literal and crazy in fact!

Yeah, so tell me, did you guess from the title what this entry is going to be all about? If yes, then brilliant! If no, well, what can I say (may be, ‘You are dumb’ could be a nice understatement!) just read on…

Probably this is one rare time when I am writing a blog entry with a pre-decided entry-title. Well, for all those of you who didn’t guess, ‘It all ends 7.15’ is the tagline of the latest Harry Potter movie- The Deathly Hallows Part 2, that released last Friday and which has already broken all opening weekend box-office records!

I still remember it was a Friday evening, the 7th of January 2005, when I saw the first Harry Potter movie. I had got the CD from a classmate who was a big Potter fan herself and was literally, crazy about anything related to Harry! (Miss Potter, surely you are smiling right now if you are reading this. Right? Hehe…) I don’t remember how I had gotten interested in the series, but somehow I had entered the Potter universe. Prior to watching the first movie, I had had no idea at all what Harry Potter was all about. And my father had accompanied me in seeing the movie- well, that was the only one! And then he had got the next two parts for me also. (Yes, there were just three movies then! Feels weird when I think of it now!)

Then I borrowed the first book of the series from my friend and started reading it. I was finding the first chapter (whose only last two pages feature in the movie) very boring. I did get through till the end of the book and by then my Dad had got the first four books for me. My Potter collection had just begun. It didn’t take me long to finish the four books- hardly a month. (Judging the fact that I was in class 7 at that time, I think this is something worth of an achievement, don’t you think so? ;))

In class, my friend and I used to have long discussions about anything related to Harry Potter. She used to impart Potter-gyan to me. And proved to be my everything-Potter encyclopaedia, a website which I follow till date for all Harry Potter news and developments. Dad got the fifth book for me but my exams were approaching. Although I was extremely keen on reading the book, my Mom told me that I should read the book only when my exams end and because I was a very obedient boy then (as if I am not, now! Ain’t I?) I kept guessing what Order, a Phoenix could give for a whole month! I remember how excited I was on the day when the exams got over and I finally discovered what the Order of the Phoenix actually meant!

And then my very own Potter encyclopaedia came into existence! I borrowed the name from some online site and named it as The Potter Pensive. It was well appreciated of course and I was proud of my work!

The Potter spread in my portfolio along with The Potter Pensive.
See the newspaper clippings in the background?
This was a time when the 6th book- The Half-Blood Prince was yet to come and the 4th movie- The Goblet of Fire was under filming. I used to collect all the newspaper clippings related to Harry that came in the newspaper (and I continued this practice till mid-2008!). I had never imagined that these would come in handy at a future time for designing my portfolio (May 2010)!

My sister had gifted me a very bad quality pirated version of the Goblet of Fire movie on my birthday that year. I was so excited that I had forgotten all about the to-be-held party and seen the movie first although half the scenes were missing and a baby could be heard crying in the other half! (Well, residing in a place where the majority of the people are alien to Harry Potter, you can’t expect the cinema hall to carry the movie on its release or anytime after that!)

Times were changing fast and I had grown to be a die-hard Potter fan in a matter of weeks! I read, revised and re-read the books! By the end of Class 10 (that was 2008) I had read the seven Harry Potter books four times each and planned a revision the next year as well (which has not fructified yet).

(Of course there was a time when my passwords used to be things like harrypotter and deathlyhallows…haha…)

But it was not the books that had the major impact on me. It was the DVDs of the Potter movies that I looked forward to most and still do. Because had it not been for the Prisoner of Azkaban movie Special 2-disc edition DVD which I got as a gift from my Uncle in the U.S., today I wouldn’t have been chasing a dream of movie-making. The Behind-the-Scenes Special Feature disc is what I look forward to more than the movie itself!

Deathly Hallows Part 2:
Opening weekend: $481.5 million worldwide breaking the previous record held by The Dark Knight!
Advance bookings worth $32 million that broke the previous record of Eclipse.

The numbers speak volumes for themselves and this is only the opening weekend!

I haven’t seen the movie yet and am in no hurry. Because for me, Harry Potter is where it all began, and it will all end only when I think it should. And that is for sure not so soon!

And by ‘end’, I presume you understand that I mean the final movie. Well, no! And neither is it J K Rowling’s latest revelation of Pottermore… It is in fact, something that started thanks to a DVD and I still have a long way to reach it…

Have you seen the movie already? Well, then you know exactly how it all ends. Do share your views on anything Potter-ish you like, in the comments...

See you soon, and surely not nineteen years later...Yea, all is well. :-)

P.S.: Shame on you if you don’t know what Pottermore is, Google it right now!
P.S. 2: Yes, I am a crazy Potter fan and I am proud of it! I doubt if you understood the 'See you soon...' sentence above.
P.S. 3: With 1123 words, this is one of the longest entries I have ever written, 15 words ahead of my November 2010’s Deathly Hallows Part 1- after movie experience! Truly, It all ends, when you think it does!
And P.S. 4: It’s still not available in the market! Haha... :D

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kingfisher you ruined my T3 experience

You plan for a trip home for a full month and are double excited because you will be on your first visit to the largest airport terminal in the country, and everything goes as planned till the moment you enter the airport, after which things go crazily wrong- how would you feel? Angry? Disappointed?

Well, I felt both, when I went through one of the most harrowing experience at the Indira Gandhi International Airport's new Terminal 3, today morning.

On my insistence, my ticket was booked in a Kingfisher Red flight to Bhubaneshwar because I wanted to see the grandeur of Terminal 3. I was all excited and since days I had been researching on the web, gathering all possible information regarding it and seeing videos on youtube. Finally this morning, I reached the airport and entered the terminal building, an hour prior to the scheduled departure of my flight.

5.30 AM: I entered Terminal 3 of the IGI Airport.
Checked the scheduled flights screen and saw the status of my flight (Kingfisher Red, Flight # IT-3349: Check-in Open
Joined the single queue serving the 14 Kingfisher check-in counters.

5.30- 5.50 AM: Announcements for urgent check-in for flights to Bangalore and Kolkata are made.

5.50 AM: I am finally able to reach the check in counter.
My ticket and ID are verified. I am given the ‘tag’ for the hand baggage.
I am asked if I need a Window or an Aisle seat. I say I need a Window seat, and add that the seat (29-F) has been pre-booked. I am told that no seat has been pre-booked. I am asked if I have any luggage. I say yes, and hand over my suitcase. Next, I am told that I need to go to counter #12 immediately so that the check-in can be done.

I proceed to counter #12 with my luggage. I hand over my ticket and then I am told that check-in has been closed and I am late and I need to go and re-book my ticket!

There are already other passengers who are protesting for the same reason. We are told that an announcement was made for the Bhubaneswar flight and check-in closed at 5.45 AM.

Everyone protest that no such announcement had been made since 5.30, when they joined the queue. We are referred to talk to the manager who is not available for the next 15 minutes.

We talk to the manager and tell him what happened. The manager Mr Sunny says he made the announcement himself and is not ready to accept the fact that we were standing in the queue. He blames us and says that “You reached late”.

A group of 9 people, a family of 3 and I were at least thirteen people who were affected by this completely untrue fact that was being imposed on us. I met many more people who faced the same problem, at the re-booking counter. In total there were at least 20-25 people who had been affected.

The other Kingfisher employees who we talked to were not at all ready to listen to our pleas. They started fighting and blaming us!

After all that happened and which lasted for over an hour, I finally left the airport around 7.15 AM. Ever exited an airport from its departure terminal? It's an experience in its own! Haha...try it.

I am just hoping that this incident finds its way to the media somehow! Let the crooks be screwed!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

An Embarrassment at the Last Resort

This entry comes by pushing one of its forerunners into the bay of ‘to-be completed’ entries because this entry would have more prominence the sooner it is written by me and published. Keeping with my resolution that I would write a blog entry for every news-story of mine that gets published on the internet during my internship, here I am with an entry with the publication of my third story.

Well, working for this story wasn’t as easy as the previous two, although I wouldn’t say this one is my best. The previous two were surely much better! But for this story, yes, I had to work harder.

One fine Wednesday morning, I left home early for the School of Open Learning at the Delhi University’s North Campus. I got an appointment with the Executive Registrar but due to some reasons he was not willing to talk and he referred me to the assistant registrar who was busy at that moment and would get free only after an hour and a half.

Waiting in the scorching June heat at mid-day was not a good idea for sure. I was suggested to drop the idea of the story and move ahead with another idea. But, this story had to go ahead.

I entered the room of the person I had been referred to and the main chair was empty. There was one man sitting on the chair near it, in front of the computer. I went ahead to talk to him, introduced myself and said I had been referred to the registrar and asked when I could meet him. Well, there are some embarrassing moments! The person I was talking to right now, turned out to be the person who I had been referred to!

A small interview followed and then a few conversations with some aspirants and I was out of the place.

Today finally, the story gets published. Seeing my name published on so many websites actually feels good and encourages me to write even more.

And, adding to that, type Distance Learning- a last resort for Delhi students on Google and check any of the links that you find!

Hoping for another byline story soon in these last few days of my internship.

I hope you are having a good time reading my stories and more importantly, my blog! Hehe…
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