Saturday, December 22, 2012

If the internet survived 21/12

Post writing date and time: December 20, 2012, 00:01 IST

The doomsday 21/12 begins at: December 20, 2012, 17:31 IST

This post scheduled to be up on my blog on: December 22, 2012, 17:31 IST (because this would be when all the time zones in the world would have reached 22nd December 2012)

If you are a human, of my kind, the homo sapiens, reading this and you know what all this is: Congratulations! You survived the doomsday. And probably you are laughing right now reading all this and imagining that till yesterday some part of you believed that the doomsday had the slightest chance of happening and you not surviving it. And now, even if it has happened, you have survived.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

If winter has come, can spring be far behind?

This article was first published in Jhankaar 2012, the annual printed literature of MBICEM in February 2012.

On a wintry morning as I sit staring at my facebook wall, I think about my blog. I haven’t had a new blog entry in two weeks! I come across Shelley’s famous poem’s last lines- If winter has come, can spring be far behind? Can I try writing a blog entry on this topic? I take up the challenge. 

Photo Credit: Sahil Ahuja; Location: Fatehpur Sikri
This was a common comprehension passage in the English exams in school. Being well aware of the literary meaning behind the lines, I struggle to force my mind to think out-of-the-box, to give the lines a creative new meaning.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Aage ka kya socha hai?

Continuing my two week old trend of getting up past 9 in the morning after not hearing when my three alarms ring and then rushing to get ready and reach college, this morning as I walked the 200 odd footsteps to my institute, a sudden realization dawned on me. I took my phone out and updated my facebook status immediately: This is officially my last day to a regular class in undergrad college.

This is an old picture. Taken at Rishikesh. June 2011.
Somehow just realizing this small but significant thing brought a nostalgic smile on my face. The Delhi winters are getting cooler and the sweatshirts and hoodies are out. As I put my hands back into my pockets and braved the chilly morning, I entered the institute. Yes! Those 200 footsteps are a long enough distance for the lazy me!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Two Trails, Two Tales

It’s been a long time since I actually wrote a proper blog entry with all my focus, considering how engaged this semester is keeping me with assignments and other college work. On Diwali day, I uploaded a picture and made it a photo-blog and all of it, just for the sake of getting a new entry uploaded here. I had no idea that two days from then, I would have followed two different trails and would have two amazing tales to tell.

Trail One:
Welcome to Yamuna Expressway!
Post-Diwali day, as per my Uncle’s plans, we had to set out on the newly opened Yamuna Expressway in our new Ertiga for Brindavan for a day trip. As has always happened with his plans, instead of 6 in the morning, we left at 10.30. So no more traffic-less roads and getting out of Delhi via Noida and Greater Noida and to the Yamuna Expressway took us over one and a half hours. And then, the amazing journey began. Eventfully, we never reached Brindavan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Photo Blog: Happy 'Gothic' Diwali!

Just yesterday in college I was discussing about 'goth' with a friend. I woke up this morning and my cousin showed me this candle that had melted overnight. A few good clicks and slight PhotoShop later, here is the result. 

Celebrate a safe and cracker-less festival today. Happy 'gothic' Diwali! :D

P.S.: This is my first attempt at real photography. How's it? Do leave your comments.

P.S.2: Today is going to be my 8th cracker-less Diwali. How about you?

Monday, October 22, 2012

F.R.I.E.N.D.S. F.O.R. L.I.F.E.

People who have watched the famous American sit-com would surely find the above title style something they know. Yeah, this post is about ‘Friends’ but no, this ain’t about ‘the’ F.R.I.E.N.D.S. It’s something much closer home.

Over the past month I have seen three new releases on their release weekends at the cheapest prices possible. Barfi!, Heroine and most recently, Student of the Year, at Regal Cinemas, CP. I was at CP and had nothing to do and so watching Barfi! happened to happen and it was a great experience. Heroine was planned and a wait for two and half days later, watching the movie was disappointing. I had no plans for this weekend and that resulted in me waking up past noon yesterday and going for an evening show of Student of the Year.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Film enthusiasts, I look up to your help

Being in a mass communication course at the graduate level has taught me a lot regarding the media in the past couple of years, things which probably I wouldn’t have ever dreamt of otherwise. Starting from learning that a newspaper has so many ‘named-body parts’ and how the TRP battles continue to getting to use a professional video camera for the first time and making weekly TV broadcasts, it has been a fun experience throughout. Right now, being in the final year of the course, the subjects of study are no longer what I might call ‘easy’ but they surely are more thought-provoking and expected to be studied by ‘matured’ individuals (I doubt if I can call myself one of that!)

As part of one of my subjects, Media Research, I am expected to perform a research on a topic of my choice in the media industry and submit my thesis at the end of the semester for the evaluation. Having decided early enough that my research would be something based on ‘films’, it had taken me more than a month’s time to get my topic approved and finalized. I chose to do a study on the adaptations of literary works in Indian cinema.

The topic did sound interesting. It took me another month to get some hands-on data related to it and accordingly formulate my questionnaire. I chose a relatively small sample size and chose to focus on people who fall into one of the following categories:
a. Indian film lovers/haters or people with good knowledge regarding Indian cinema.
b. Students/Faculty/Alumni of film-making institutes like FTII, SRFTI, AAFT etc.
c. Film journalists/critics/review writers etc.
d. People working in the film industry.

It may sound easy, but getting to the people in the above categories hasn’t been an easy task and over more than a week’s time, I have been able to snowball and get my questionnaire filled by hardly a hundredth of my sample size. Although these few people who have filled in, are all big-wigs in the media industry, but for a research of this size I do require more number of filled-in questionnaires. Quality and quantity both play a vital role here.

So, it is in this regard that I speak to you, dear reader- if you fall into any of the categories mentioned above then you are requested to please visit the following link and fill in the short objective questionnaire. Also, if you know somebody who might qualify, please do get them to fill the form as well or let me know about them. Click here for the link.

If you are on facebook, and if you are reading this post before the end of November, then you might like answering this survey question as well.

Do leave your comments in the section below to share your views regarding my topic. Every opinion matters here. Thank you :)

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Movies, Masti and the Mahal

There are moments in everyone’s life when we just want to sit, stare at nothingness and introspect. This is one of those moments for me. I opened my blog after a long time today and realized that it’s been almost a month since I wrote a new entry. So what is it that has been keeping me this busy, that I am unable to do what I have always loved doing? A lot, I think and smile.

Take '12- that's the film society. This is a picture during the latest episode- 4th October 2012.
A month ago, we launched the official film society of our college. We have screenings of films every Thursday followed by discussions. Apart from this, we also started a 20-minute weekly broadcast on the TV sets that have been put up on each floor in my college building. These 20-minute shows are conceptualized, shot, edited and played by us every week and for the first time now I am able to understand the huge pressure that goes in to run a successful TV channel 24x7!

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Name's Bourne- Melbourne

“So Melbourne? Is it bourne as in ‘Bourne Ultimatum’ or ‘Bourneville’ or ‘Bournvita’?” my friend laughed.
“I don’t know. It’s that city somewhere in Australia. The one where Chak De was shot.”
“ what about it?” 
“Anything interesting... I am writing my first imaginative travel blog entry and it needs to include my dream tour of the city and I know nothing about the place.” 
“I am not sure but I think the place has got something to do with penguins…” 
“Penguins? Are you sure? Weren’t penguins confined to Antarctica?” 
“Yes. That’s why I am not sure. Check wiki.”
The conversation with my friend lasted just a few minutes. The impact of it is this blog entry. I Googled ‘Penguins in Melbourne’ and hola! Yes! There are penguins in Australia! Amazing new discovery. I am proud of myself! Haha…

Friday, August 31, 2012

In Memoriam...

It’s not a common occurrence that I am at college and writing an entry for my blog. Yes! I am trying to control my excitement. You ask why? For the second time today, I am wondering what to write for the World Bloggers’ Day Celebration Blog Writing Contest that I am a part of, right now!

The OC of the 1st World Bloggers' Day in MBICEM
I joined MBICEM two years ago. Within a week of being part of ‘college’, I was in the main Organising Committee for the 1st Bloggers’ Day Celebration on 31st August 2010. It had been an awesome experience. For the first time in over two years of blogging, my blog and my skills as a writer had been tested and appreciated. I remember spending a sleepless night before the event, because I couldn’t think of any topic to write my entry on. It had been a big cause of dilemma. It’s been two years since that eventful day...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Love OR Arranged- It's complicated!

In July, I was at home and had the rare opportunity to be glued to the television set when my mom was watching Bade Ache Lagte Hain on Sony. It was during one of the commercials then, that I first saw the ad for the upcoming show, Love Marriage ya Arranged Marriage. Being a media college student and with my recent experience of working with a news channel, the moment I saw the ad, I was sure of one thing- The effect of the youth in influencing the decisions of a popular entertainment channel is immense and everyone is now learning to play effective TRP games. Haha…

It was a matter of great surprise for me when I opened IndiBlogger that night and found a new contest by Sony waiting for me to present my views about it: Would you prefer a Love Marriage or an Arranged Marriage? I was amazed and subsequently, have spent almost an entire month in trying to decide my take on the subject.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Being 'that' Senior

08:44 PM

On a friend’s recommendation, just recently I started adding people who I didn’t know personally, on my facebook friend list. These are people who I have heard a lot about, people I know exist, people I know are friends of friends and trustable. A few of these included alumni from my college- ones I have never personally known but have heard a lot about from seniors and the faculty, the ones who have done wonderful work and so, are worth being part of the memory books of people I talk to.

I was just going through the profiles of 2-3 of these new ‘friends’ of mine when I stumbled upon their blogs. It feels great when you find someone, who you have always only heard about, sharing a common interest with you. Within minutes, I was going through these two particular blogs (Check here: 1 & 2) of my ‘seniors’ from college and I had no idea when over an hour’s time had passed while I was reading the entries and clicking the ‘Older Posts’ tab at the bottom of each page.

Monday, August 20, 2012

5 'Hoaxes' you ought to know about

There are so many things we believe to be true just because we have heard it somewhere or read it somewhere. But probably, a little research would tell us that this might not be actually what we are being led to believe. In the past few months I have been making a list of such ‘hoaxes’ and here I present to you five of the top ‘make-believe’ situations that I have been in. If you are on facebook (there isn’t a reason why you shouldn’t be there), then I am sure you would have come across some of these at some point of time.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

So this is what I did at Times Now

This entry has waited a really long time and right now, as I sit in this almost empty compartment of my train to Delhi and reading a special book, I am urged to use the time and finally write it.

I joined Times Now as an intern on 4th of June. Four days later I was sitting in office late at night and had penned, what were, my ‘first thoughts’ regarding the place. (If interested, you can check it here) What hadn’t been a part of the entry was my assessment regarding the days I spent there and of course, since it was in the very first week, it didn’t carry any of the light details of my experiences in the next five weeks. Yeah, I am going to write all the normal stuff- how good I felt, what a wonderful experience it was, the amazing people I met, blah, blah, blah… There might be small bits of info that you would find amusing and unexpected to read. But well, you have been warned! Continue reading at your own time’s risk [:D]

I completed writing my summer training report a few days back and thanks to that, I have already written a few good paragraphs about my experiences. But considering that it is an official report, I was careful not to be too personal in it. But this is my blog and I have got all the rights to brag about whatever I wish and so here goes the stuff, (well almost all of it!) [;)]

Saturday, July 28, 2012

When You-know-who grew too tall at London 2012

He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is reborn. His creator is distracted and reading Peter Pan. Wow! Oh, didn't get it? Read on and enjoy...:D

Although I observed very keenly the proceedings leading to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October 2010, I was unable to attend or watch the Opening Ceremony of the event as I happened to be travelling by train at the very precise time when the event unfolded. This was probably the time when I started following news and especially sports news and the events of significance. And so, there wasn't any doubt that I would be following the events leading up to the London 2012 Olympics quite keenly. For instance, watching the Opening Ceremony LIVE on television was not going to be an opportunity that I would miss this time.

The Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Games.
And I personally love this picture. Looks as if it is straight out of a video game! Source: Internet
A quick Google search later, I had set my alarm at 1 AM, 28th of July 2012, to remind me to switch on the TV and see my first ever LIVE Opening Ceremony for an Olympic Game. I sat on the bean bag, laptop on my left downloading the episodes of Prison Break and the remote in my right hand switching through all the sports channels. Oh well, this is India. Why am I not looking for Doordarshan?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Two Trains and a Stampede

With my 6-week internship at Times Now over, I took the Rajdhani Express from New Delhi to Bhubaneswar on Sunday night. This train journey had way too many ‘first-timers’ for me, than I had possibly imagined. But before I get into all that, here are a little background details:

Considering the fact that my internship schedule couldn’t be finalized early, there was no way I could have got my tickets booked on time and when finally it was done, Rajdhani was the only train where there was some hope of getting a confirmed one. The booking status showed ‘RAC’ but it was confirmed well in advance. On Sunday morning I woke up to check my PNR status and got to know that the train will be departing 4 hours and 5 minutes late from New Delhi today. A little research later, I knew the details. (Interested? Check TOI here) Charts Prepared and then the bad news- I was allotted a middle berth! Why not an Upper or Side Upper? How will I sit-eat-read-sleep without being disturbed?

I was free and was not in the mood to sleep and I had my camera. Curtains drawn, let's click! :D
If you noticed, this is a side-upper berth and to clarify- This is a collage from photos from an earlier trip, not the one I am talking about right now.
Anyways, I was on the train at the scheduled 9.15 PM departure. I was on time, but the train was not and more than that, the unforgettable experience of the past few minutes had made me wonder for some time if I would even be able to reach the station on time. Rewind...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hurr..Hurr..In Attendance at My first Bloggers' Meet

Naah...this day didn't start just like any other day. I woke with the excitement all building up towards the big event of the day. Falling asleep the previous night had been difficult because the one event which I had wanted to be part of six months ago (but had missed) was now happening again and I was surely going to be a part of it this time. Yes, I am talking about the bloggers' meet being conducted by IndiBlogger on Sunday, June 10, 2012 in association with Spice Mobiles #SecureAndroid at The Park Hotel, Connaught Place, New Delhi.

My sister and I reached Rajiv Chowk Metro Station at the planned time. Here I was going to meet my first blogger friend, Aditya Bhasin, and then move together to the venue.

Never lose the way, even when there aren't two to choose from
The three of us entered The Park. It's good to have someone with you to guide you to the rightful place even if the navigation isn't difficult at all. Aditya had been to the HP Indiblogger's meet last December and so he knew exactly how things are going to be here. A signboard directed us to the first floor where preparations were on to prepare the place for the Spice meet. The area was buzz with bloggers huddled together in small groups eagerly awaiting the doors to be thrown open for what they were soon going to know was the biggest ever congregation of bloggers under one roof in the capital.

Friday, July 06, 2012

When the silent and mystic rains arrive...

So the rain Gods have finally showed their sympathies and showered the first boughs of rain in the national capital. I was returning from New Delhi Railway Station after my sister's train left for Bhubaneswar (I am sure she would describe her first journey alone at her blog in a good way once she is home) when the sky started growing dark. The radio stations were buzz with the latest 'rain' updates from across the city and I found my camera swinging to action.

The red lights attempting to signal the darkening clouds above the capital and probably passing our message:
"Let's reach home and then you rain". This picture is taken on Aurobindo Marg, near Green Park Metro Station
"Let's reach home and then it should rain," my Uncle prayed, "or we are going to be stuck in the traffic for a long time." The first rains actually bring out all the loopholes in the MCD's plans and 'corrective measures' taken over the past year.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Amazing Gangs of Spidermen at Times Centre, Wasseypur?

While leaving office on Friday, when I took the elevator, one of my colleagues asked me “So Antarik, what’s the plan for the weekend?” I replied immediately, “Spiderman” with a grin on my face. But truly, ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ was what my first choice was for the next time I go for a movie, thanks to the many “Oh, you haven’t seen GoW yet?” s. Not to forget, my roomie from hostel enquiring, “Is this India’s next Oscar nomination?” I took the rickshaw to cover the 1.39 kilometre stretch to Noida Sector 18 Metro Station (as opposed to the 1.95 kilometre distance to the Sector 16 Station- one which I don’t know why, everyone at my workplace seems to think is a shorter distance [Source: Google Earth]) A thought crossed my mind “I am one who can ignore college and every other work and instead go and watch each and every movie that comes out on the very day of its release and never get bored or tired but rather enjoy and learn. In fact, it would feel amazing to see newly released movies back-to-back.  Just one condition: Finance me! Haha…”

Screenshots of the Google Earth Distance Calculator showing the 1.39 and 1.95 km distances

After struggling for an hour and a half to ‘desaturate’ part of a photo on photoshop (yeah, that’s how bad I am on the software although I have been trained to use it) so as to put it as my next display picture on facebook, I went to sleep on Friday night at 1.40 AM. With no intention to wake up early, my eyes finally opened and I left the bed at mid-day Saturday. I have no idea what was going on in my mind, but somehow I felt like opening my laptop and checking the PVR Priya show timings for the day. I took a quick glance at the shows and told my sister, “Get ready. We are leaving in 20 minutes.” Well, yes, this would happen if luck favours us. But what exactly was on my mind?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ferrari + Oreo + Papa = This post

There are two things which have prompted me to write this entry. One, the inconsequential sequence of events that my life witnessed today and two, some more thoughts which you will come to know if you go through this entire entry carefully. So, what was special about today’s ‘inconsequential events’? Well, there were quite a few things which happened unexpectedly today, the conclusion of which was reason enough to convince me that all this deserves a blog entry tonight.

After two weeks of internship at Times Now, I am proud to proclaim one thing: Waking up when the alarm rings in the morning, whatever the time might be (8 or 11), is impossible for me! I have to press the snooze button 3 or 4 times (at least) and when there is just enough time left to get ready (and by this time I am realizing that I am going to be late yet again today), I finally force myself up from the bed. Today’s morning was no different. But yeah, the later part of the day was.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Yet another ‘milestone’ day

No secrets. No creeping to look for what’s coming. No eavesdropping required. Here’s no suspense. Today I celebrate the completion of the fourth year of my tryst with getting into the world of blogging. Yea…it’s celebration time!! :D

If you come by my blog often, then you have probably already observed that the entire look- layout, design and format- of the blog has gone through a complete makeover. You can now browse through the blog using three different methods: 1. Category of Interest, 2. Popularity of Posts and 3. Chronological Date.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Good stories have no frontiers

The time is 10.12.56 PM by the big red digital clock display on my far right. The white wall in front of me has five words on it: "Good stories have no frontiers". 20 LCD screens have as many news channels running on them simultaneously on the wall right behind me. On my left is a glass wall which at this time is showing me my own reflection thanks to the dark night sky outside. This entire huge hall with its walls and carpets all of just two shades- red and blue- houses me on one blue reclining chair in front of this computer terminal where I am sitting and typing this blog entry. I am doing my summer internship, sitting on the second floor of the Times Centre at the Film City in Noida.

The Times Centre, Film City, Noida. (Photographed from the backside)
It is very rare that I type a blog entry directly on blogger or for that matter, anywhere apart from my laptop. Lack of any immediate work and the fact that my supervisors have left for the day [;)], prompted me to click a few pictures and write a blog entry with my initial experience of this huge place.

Yeah, I mean it when I use the word "huge".

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How I ‘flew’ and landed in Journalism

My entry into the field of Journalism two years ago was completely dramatic. Dumbledore would have said, “It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” But well, in this particular case of mine, it was a matter of pure ‘chance’ supplemented with a very little ‘choice’ which I am going to talk about here. Exactly two years ago on this day, 30th May 2010, at 7 PM, I sat in the waiting hall of the Biju Patnaik Airport at Bhubaneswar waiting to take my maiden flight to Delhi.

My boarding pass- Yes, proof!
The train tickets had not been confirmed and at the last minute tatkal tickets in Duronto Express had been booked for me, my father and my grandmother. The train would be reaching Delhi early in the morning of 31st and I had my entrance exam scheduled at 10 AM that day. A little research later, my uncle called in to inform us that this particular Duronto had the habit of reaching its destination around 6 hours late every time. This implied that I was going to miss my entrance exam if I took the train. Extreme last minute changes resulted in my ticket being booked in IndiGo flight 6E-258 from Bhubaneswar to Delhi for 30th, so that I could appear for my exam next day.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Internet is Fun, isn't it?

When you have a smartphone and Vodafone provides you a wonderful internet surfing connection while you are on the go- in the metro while travelling to college or in the boring lectures at the back bench- anywhere and everywhere at all times, life can never be boring. Check out this short video and imagine how difficult life would be if you do not have this life-saver with you- the internet. (Watch it in full screen with your speakers on)

If the above video doesn't work, here is the direct YouTube link: 

Yeah, I know my exams are going on and most of you, my regular readers, would be wondering how I get the time to do all this stuff. Well, this idea had been running in my brain since almost two weeks but I had no idea how to implement it. I woke up last evening from an unexpected long nap and this sudden brainwave had me opening Adobe Premiere Pro and working on the recently gained knowledge of the software (thanks to my BJMC programme) for 6 straight hours before I had the idea-to-screen implemented. I hope I have been successful in it. You be the judge and decide!

And in case you were wondering why I have made this video all of a sudden, let me tell you. This is my entry to the ‘Internet is Fun’ Contest by Vodafone on IndiBlogger. Check the Vodafone site here:

P.S.: I know I do not own a smart phone yet! I am happy with my unbreakable Spice QT55! :P
P.S.2: Congratulate me! This is my first ever 'video-blog'! :D

Monday, May 14, 2012

Going Places- Part 3

These are places which I have been to in the recent years, at a time when I actually remember things and not rely on wikitravel for writing the forgotten info. Take a look and now with the digital age adventing, some nice pictures as well deserve your attention.

The Deccan Odyssey
I have been to Maharashtra a few times after my aunt got married and moved to Aurangabad. The sole thing I knew about Aurangabad was that it housed the world famous Ajanta Caves. My knowledge ended here before I had visited the place. I haven’t been to the Taj Mahal yet but I have been to the lesser known duplicate Taj Mahal- Bibi-ka-Maqbara. Nirala Bazar, being close to where my aunt lives, is a market place which I have been to every single time that I have been in Aurangabad. Ajanta Caves are located at a little distance from Aurangabad (a little over 100 kms to be precise) and visiting the place was a great feeling. No, not for seeing the cave paintings, but for being at a historic site that I could now proclaim I had visited!

In October 2005, we had taken a road trip of many places across Maharashtra, similar to our Karnataka trip three years ago. Our trip had started from Aurangabad with the first halt at Shirdi. We halted for the night at Triambakeshwar, near Nashik and witnessed the overcrowded Sangam. Subsequent locations on our itinerary included Matheran (As my luck would have it, the toy train was closed due to landslide. I did walk on the track from the car point to Matheran and I stood stubborn at the baseless fact that it snowed here in the winters), Alibag (I was sure I saw the cottages where Jassi stayed in her visit to Alibag in the serial), Murud (the motorboat ride on the sea to visit the Fort- wow!) and of course, my dream ride on the Mumbai-Pune expressway at 140 kmph! One of my visits to Aurangabad (I can’t recall when) took me to Shani Signapore- the place which my grandmother had described as one with no doors and windows in any house.

My most recent trip to the state was to Pune in June 2010. My admission at Symbiosis Institute of Design was what had got me to the place. Although I cleared all the tests, I never took the admission offer and instead moved to Delhi. During my brief stay at the place, what I was awestruck with was probably the unique architecture of each building. I did visit the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) but due to unavailability of an appointment, could only make it till the gates of my dream institute!

Another trip to Maharashtra is surely on my cards. The one when Mayanagri Mumbai comes calling…!

The City Beautiful
I visited Chandigarh when I was in Class 12 in November 2009. It was my first road trip from Delhi. The two-day trip that included visiting most of the places at the most beautifully planned city that I have ever seen remains glued to my memory. The roads at right angles with maps at all road crossings plus the green cover, it was something worth seeing to believe in one of the fastest growing metro-cities of the country. Our visit started from the Rock Garden and then taking an open top HoHo bus ride to Sukhna Lake, boating there and then visiting the Chandigarh Carnival before moving to the city centre. Deja-Vu took over me when I saw the concrete floored and colourful-fountain covered main shopping plaza. Was such a clean place actually part of India? It was difficult to believe. Day 2 of our trip included visiting the nearby Yadavendra Gardens- Seven floors of beautiful garden space. Wow! I had loved it. Fighting the urge to drive to Shimla, which is not very far off from here, must have been difficult for my uncle. Another trip to this beautiful place isn’t something I would like to miss any time soon.

When adventure beckons
Rishikesh, yeah, my most unforgettable trip till date. The trip about which I have written so many times over the past year. Whether it is the unexpected and sudden planning or the life-threatening rafting or literally drowning in the Ganga, this 3-day trip (the first one for me without my family) can never possibly be erased from my memories. I read an article recently in The Times of India Crest Edition and it said ‘Rafting in Rishikesh was for novices. Zanskar was for more thrill lovers’. Well, I am sure that a trip to Leh isn’t going to remain a dream for long now.

Jai Mata Di
Right from the time I had joined college, I used to hear some friend or the other talking about his/her trip to Vaishnodevi. All I knew about the place was from a mythology serial that my sister used to watch a few years ago where the goddess in the form of a little girl, climbs up a mountain while being chased by a demon and then inside a cave, kills him. I also remembered seeing a song video at the end of Rangoli on Doordarshan when I was a kid- that of a lady holding her son and climbing the hills to reach the temple in the caves while chanting Jai Mata Di. So when I got this chance to visit the shrine, I was overwhelmed. More than seeing the Goddess inside a cave, I was interested in two other things- covering the whole 12 km distance and back by foot and crawling inside a cave to reach the shrine. The first wish was accomplished successfully, but the second one left me disappointed as the original cave had been closed for the general public years ago. Next is the tale of me getting lost there in the middle of the night. That’s a story you ought to read (check the third paragraph at the link) and well, (don’t) laugh!

Another trip to Vaishnodevi? Yeah. By helicopter and when it is snowing. ;)

So that brings an end to my ‘travel sperm’ entries. There have been a lot more places that I have been to including Ooty when I was just a year old and remember nothing of. Probably these anecdotes would find a place here sometime later. Right now, I think I have bored you enough by ‘Going Places’ and hopefully, the stock of watermelons and juices and ice-creams haven’t ended in your fridge. The Delhi heat is taking a toll over me and I am wondering Where next?

Missed the previous entries? Check them out here: Travel Sperm, Part 1, Part 2.

Do tell me how your experience has been while reading these entries of mine and beating the summer heat. Have an experience to any of these places to share? I am all ears.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Going Places- Part 2

Keeping in continuation with my ‘travel sperm’ entries, this is the second one in line. Yeah, I have grown up a little since I went to the places in Part 1. But still, here you will find a lot of things that would show the wanderings of a young mind and probably will make you laugh. Enjoy them!

Tamil Nadu Trip
My first trip to Tamil Nadu was a religious one with my maternal grandparents in March 2002. We started from Bangalore and went to Madurai. Apart from the Meenakshi Temple and a palace/fort which had many coloured glasses, I can’t recall anything about this place. This was also the time when we used to go to the STD booth to call home and let people know that we are fine. Yeah, the time before the advent of mobile phones into every hand.

From Madurai we had taken a bus journey to Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari. The Pamban Bridge on the Bay of Bengal had fascinated me. How could people build a bridge on the sea? I had wondered. I had read somewhere that the main temple of Rameshwaram had the longest corridor. And so, every corridor I saw in the temple, I exclaimed that it was the longest corridor that I had read about! I was also hopeful of going to the beach and finding the ‘floating stones’. Yeah, the ones which Lord Ram had used to build the bridge to Lanka. I was so disappointed when I learnt that there was no such actual bridge which connected to Sri lanka!! I did buy and get some of the ‘floating stones’ home! I was elated :)

The trip to Kanyakumari was even more anticipated by me. I had just recently studied in one of my English lessons about Kanyakumari and the Vivekanand Rock Memorial. I also knew that this was the bottom most part of India where three seas meet. So, when we reached the holy spot near the sea, I enquired why I couldn’t see three different seas. It looked like a normal beach!! I was disappointed! A motor-boat ride to the Vivekanand Rock Memorial was the next stop. I always thought the huge statue on the rock was that of Vivekanand. I was shocked to learn that the statue of Vivekanand was instead inside the big hall! Haha…

I have been to Tamil Nadu on subsequent trips. One was in 2007, when I was in class 10, to Pondicherry. The place had been amazing, although I was shocked to see that there was no beach where I could go and stand in the water! The roads at right angles amazed me. I loved learning the little French during the trip. Probably the only word I remember now is ‘Rue’. It means ‘lane’, right?

My most recent visit to the state was in 2008. It was my first long distance train trip alone. My family was at Vellore and during the Diwali vacation I went to visit them. Although every day used to begin with a trip to the huge CMC campus, I remember going to some tourist places in the town including the Golden Temple and the Vellore Fort.

Karnataka Trip
My very first recollection of anything related to Karnataka is a wooden toy train which my grandparents got me from Mysore around 12 years back. I still have it safe and secure in my room. As per my first Karnataka trip, it was to Bangalore in March 2002. My maternal uncle resides in Bangalore and that is the reason of my so many frequent trips to the place. On this first visit, apart from visiting the usual tourist destinations in the city which included the Lalbagh Botanical Garden, the all-lighted Vidhan Soudha, the huge statue of Lord Shiva which one had to enter to see the various ‘lingams’ at one place, Wonder La, the big banyan tree- Doda-alada-mara (I loved saying this as a tongue twister) and many more which I am unable to recollect right now, what I remember vividly and one which I looked forward to in all my subsequent visits to the city was ‘Kemp Fort’. I am not sure if the huge shopping destination exists now or not, but for a 10 year old, visiting a huge castle was something really huge. I had just loved it! This was also the trip when I first got to know that Bangalore had K.R.Puram and Delhi had R.K.Puram and R.K.Puram was the place which housed DPS and which was going to be my dream school 5 years hence! :D

My next visit to Karnataka was in October the same year with my parents. This was going to be a week long road trip of places all over the state. So we started from Bangalore and went on to visit Hospet, Hampi, Badami, Mangalore and many more places which I think if I look at the map of Karnataka I would be able to recollect easily. The Jog Falls with the four different falls (Raja, Rani, Rocket and Roarer) is vividly imprinted in my memory. Then there was Udupi, which according to my father is the birthplace of the ‘Dosa’. He intended to try the native dosa but due to lack of time and a dosa-providing restaurant nearby, he couldn’t. St. Mary’s Island was another beautiful place we visited. ‘Ye to TV ke beach ki tarah dikh raha hai’, I had remarked happily. Climbing the 600+ steps at Shravanbelagola and then our ambassador going out of fuel in the middle of the jungle on the highway are a few moments which I fail to let go off from my memories.

I had been to Bangalore for the last time in October 2008. That was a short trip for me from Vellore so as to catch the train to Delhi. There is still a lot that remains to be seen in Bangalore and hopefully I shall be making another trip to the city soon.

Keep an eye for the next and probably last post in this series which would describe some of my recent explorations of the places of the country. Till then, keep filling your fridge with more juices and fruits and beat the summer heat. Tada! :)

Update: Look here for Part 3.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Going Places- Part 1

So bags packed? Watermelon and camera ready? Your favourite ice-cream brick stocked in the fridge? Good. Starting off with the first post of my ‘travel sperm’ diary, I bring to you few destinations which constitute the earliest travel memories for me. Enjoy the young me in the pics!

(Don’t know what I am talking about? Click here)

The Rajasthan Odyssey
I have been to a lot of places in Rajasthan over several trips. The earliest one was in 1998 when I was in Class 1. Udaipur. Yeah, I have very faint memories from that trip. A few things which I do have some photographic memories of include the Udaipur Lake and the huge palace. I think we even visited Chhittorgarh. Actually we did. A photograph of me standing in front of the Vijay Stambh proves it!

Then there was this visit to Mount Abu. My father had been influenced by the Brahma Kumaris and so he had taken us to Mt. Abu in 2006. The lectures at the Ashram were boring of course but Rajasthan’s only hill station had a beauty about itself. I remember climbing the many hundred steps to reach the town top at Guru Shikhar, the view at the sunset point, the Nakki Lake and of course the beautiful Brahma Kumaris campus.

The only trip, of which I have an ample memory of, is probably the trip to Jaipur that I took with my relatives last October. Starting right from the City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, ISCKON Temple to Chokhi Dhani, light and sound show at Amber Fort and Jaigarh Fort, the three day car-trip from Delhi is beautifully etched in my memory. (Well, the cops in Jaipur do have a keen eye. I didn’t have the seat belt on and it cost us 500 bucks!)

Another trip to Rajasthan is awaited by me- one which would include camping in the desert. Amidst the dunes and camels and an oasis, it should be fun!

The Trip to the Hills- Darjeeling and Gangtok
Darjeeling yeah! The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of this beautiful hill station is disappointment. Disappointment of a young train lover of not being able to travel on the toy train!

I visited Darjeeling and Gangtok in 1999 with mine and a childhood friend’s families. The trip had started from Sambalpur, my hometown, via Calcutta and Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling (By bus and not toy train) and Gangtok (by jeep). We had been to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, had travelled by the cable car (which I think was shut down for many years after that), took the dangerously winding downhill road to the rock garden in a Maruti Omni, clicked pictures with the toy train at Batasia Loop and our parents got into the tea-planters get-up at one of the tea gardens.

The visit to the Tsongmo Lake in Gangtok is one which I would remember every time I visit a hill station. Two reasons- One, due to the cold, all the exposed areas of my body including my face (the parts that the monkey cap didn’t cover) and a hand had swelled. That was when I was told that I am not suitable to visit very cold places. (Talk about my dream of having a huge bungalow in a snow-covered hill resort!!) And the second and bigger reason- I lost the Tazo inside my Lays packet! (Well, if you are wondering, I still have my entire Tazo collection at home! Don’t laugh!)

Another important thing about this trip- I could never forget in any of my Geography classes that Kanchenjunga is in the Sikkim-Nepal border, is the third highest mountain peak in the world (and of course, is beautiful). I am surely going to make another trip to Darjeeling sometime in my life and shall make sure I travel by the Toy Train! [;)]

Manchester of the East
A Google search told me that Ahmedabad is termed as Manchester of the East due to its huge textile industry. I never went to Ahmedabad to visit the place. It just happened to be a train-change mediator station while we were going to Mt. Abu in 2006. The brief one-day stay on our way to and from Mt. Abu at Ahmedabad wasn’t anything less memorable. We saw the laser-show at the musical fountain (I don’t remember at which place) which was amazing. It was this visit when I got to know that there was a big temple called ‘Akshardham’ in Gandhinagar where there had been a terrorist attack recently. We never visited the temple but at least I was excited to visit the Akshardham temple at Delhi after that.

We had also visited the Sabarmati Ashram, the zoo (which I had found really boring and small after being to the NandanKanan zoo just few weeks ago) and I had cried in vain for persuading my parents to buy me the recent Harry Potter movie DVD. Haha… (Now I own all 8 DVDs of the series! [cruel smile] )

(Almost all the photos in the slideshow are photos of printed photos and so the clarity is missing)

Have you been to any of these places? If yes, how was your experience? Do share with me. Keep an eye for the next post in this series with some more amazing destinations in India. :)

Update: Look here for Part 2 and Part 3.

Monday, May 07, 2012

I am a travel sperm!

Well, if you have seen Vicky Donor then you probably aren’t surprised with the title to this post. Having seen the movie last week, when I updated a status on facebook, my friends had some great adjectives for me- thinker sperm, omg! sperm and so on. I was on second thoughts. I am not sure about these, but yeah, one adjective that truly defines me is (in Dr. Chaddha’s terminology) a travel sperm. Yeah, I love travelling and seeing places!

At 'Freeze' Ice Lounge, West Gate
Mall, Rajouri Garden- 27.04.12
“There are three types of travellers in India. Those who go on religious trails, people who travel to fulfil social or familial obligations and lastly, the group that travels to satiate an emptiness in their gut- that of exploring the unknown.” On reading these lines in Sunday’s HT Shopper South Delhi, I categorized myself into a fourth category- one which includes all the three previously mentioned categories. Yeah, I love travelling. Whether it is for religious visits, familial obligations (I hardly have any of those at this age) or the adventure trips, travelling and seeing places is what matters to me. The fact that my father loves visiting places as well is probably the reason I inherited the ‘travel sperm’.

The travel sperm has taken me to many beautiful locations across India and I have an amazingly wonderful memory of most of these which I would love to share with you and I am sure you are going to enjoy them.

I originally planned this entry to be a single slightly long post with loads of pictures. When I was less than mid-way through writing the post, I realized that I had reached nearly 1800 words and along with the pictures this was going to become a really long post. So I thought of dividing this post into several parts, each with a new travel destination in India where the travel sperm has taken me to in the 20 years of my life. Keep an eye open for the punches I have tried to include as distant memories in each of the destinations. ;)

Of course the list doesn’t include many places where I have been to- Delhi, many parts of Odisha- probably because I have been living/visiting these places so frequently since I was born that these places do not actually count in the list of places I have gone on a trip to. But if I start writing about these, I am surely going to have a lot to write and considering the fact that these places constitute a very delicate part in my heart, they deserve special and dedicated entries from me.

I have realized over the past few days that the quality of my blog posts is degrading, thanks to me getting confined to a ‘topic given to me’ and writing for various contests (something I have been very bad at always). So I have decided not to attempt another forced-topic blog entry for any contest unless I am completely passionate about writing for it. My semester is over and exams are a few days away and there is not much to study. This implies I have got some great vella time in the days to come and yeah, some wonderful work-ideas are lying stagnant at the back of my head right now. I hope some of them get to see the light of day over the next few days. Till then, keep an eye for some ‘good’ entries here on second thoughts. 

Get your sunglasses, Charge the camera batteries, Cut the watermelon and Pack your bags and take a virtual tour from the air-conditioned comforts of your bedroom to many destinations across India to beat the summer heat.

Bon voyage! :D

Update: Here are the links to my series of entries: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

My Most Memorable Epoch

The last few hours have been weird. All I have been doing is open facebook, check the non-existent new notifications, poke a few friends, see random photo albums, open my blog and wonder why the number of hits isn’t increasing, lie on bed and wonder what to do next, read the newspaper (or only skim through it), watch some of the memorable videos I have made, and that is it. What’s wrong, I wondered. I played some random songs in the media player when even starting with the fourth season of Friends wasn’t helpful.

Yesterday, I was telling one of my friends about the websites I have designed over the past years. I opened one of them, the one I dedicated to my DPS hostel mates two years back. With songs playing in the background, I went through the various posts I had made there. Went on reading stuff, seeing the photos, reminiscing the good time we had together. This is probably the one thing which when I think of even today, brings back all the wonderful old memories and I miss the time.

I took my phone in hand and opened the contacts list to contact any of the five special people. The first one is having his university exams till 14th. The second one has just reached home and is enjoying time with his family. The third one has chosen to vanish from being in touch. The fourth’s cell is out-of-coverage area and I haven’t had any telephonic conversation with the fifth since probably my last birthday (except a few texts) and so I texted him. I got no response. And I willed to talk to nobody else.

Now while I was going through my writings regarding my hostel life and these five people, I was surprised. I had forgotten so many things. And these were stuff which according to me two years ago ‘are unforgettable’. Things, moments, memories that I classified into the most memorable times I had. I was reminded of so many things. I was very happy. My blog writing and other ‘useless’ stuff’s writing wasn’t going in vain after all. If not for others, at least for me, these are acting as catalytic agents to recall and remember the small details of the time I spent with these five very special people of my life.

I spent twelve years at DAV Burla but none of the memories from that time seem very close to me. Two years of college life have passed and there is just one more to go before college ends, and I don’t know yet how I am going to recollect the enjoyable time I am having right now with my friends. But yeah, one thing has been certain. Although it’s been over two years since I steppedout of the DPS VK Boys’ Hostel on the 26th of March 2010, till today, there hasn’t been a time when I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed talking about the two years I spent there. I just love that time, the people, the memories, everything. This has been the topic of my blog entries so many times, and still I never feel that it is now becoming redundant to write the same things over and over again. It hardly matters to me if people perceive me as an over-senti-type guy when I write these kinds of entries. For all I know, these have been the best people life brought my way.

I haven’t met Venky, Love and Mangu in two years. I last saw Siddharth on April 17 last year. I have met Amrit a few times over the past months. These rare meetings are blissful. They are a ready reckoner of the fact that time once gone is gone but moments spent together are blissful memories.

I miss you doston. I am still waiting for the day when all six of us would meet up, catch up on all that is happening in our lives and just sit together and smile at each other reminiscing the days gone by and planning the next big adventure. The Principal’s office this time…eh? [;)]

PS: Google defines 'Epoch' as a period of time in history or a person's life, typically one marked by notable events or particular characteristics.
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