About the Blog

This is my diary....what I make sense of, around me. You'll find short prose on contemporary topics that interest me. What can you expect - Best adjectives? …. hmm occasionally, tossed around flowery verbs ?…. Nope, haiku-like super-brevity? … I try to. Thanks for dropping by & hope to see you again

August 28, 2010

Bisale calling

My journey began after a good night’s rest at the colonial Munzerabad club in the verdant hills surrounded city of Sakleshpur. It is said that the British were quite fond of this place & took to it for its scenic beauty and Hilly terrain for tea cultivation while spending pastime in Hunting and other activities. The club still retains the colonial flavor and the numerous animal trophies and the group photos of Englishmen assembled here are mute testimony to its past.

Earlier that morning, Patil emerged from the fog & mist covered roads of Sakleshpur to join me on the trip. Patil a veteran forest official of the lower clerical rung had put in more than 25 years in the forest dept and for the last few years was posted at Hassan. Like any good forest official he knew the topography well and could roll out amazing facts & figures of all the surrounding forests effortlessly.

It was work related matter that had brought me to Sakleshpur, a 5 hour drive from Bangalore. The trip so far had been a pleasurable one, the route (NH48) wound its way through picturesque Malnad region. A brief stopover at Hassan where I had a meeting with the Forest officials is when I first met Patil. During our luncheon conversation he convinced me to make good this visit with a trip to Bisale forest.

Munzerabad club boasts of more than a century old History. It was established in 1893 by one Englishman by name Middleton, a coffee planter from Ceylon who came seeking fortune and adventure to the jungles of Malnad. It is said that an officer of the East India Co brought him to these virgin ghats here and told him to take the jungle from this hill to that, and from that hill there to this hill here for no tax at all, but to remit quarter of the earnings to the government.

True to its colonial character, one can find several Horn-bearing skulls of wild game that these planters indulged during their leisure time here. The club log book bears such names as Crawford, Radcliffe, Young, Middleton (junior) and mundane details like missing cutlery, the minimum whiskey that should be stocked, and such earthly matters of it’s hey days.

After refueling at the only petrol bunk in this hill town we drove down the winding roads and not long before the city could slip by we approached the fort of Tipu sultan facing the imposing Western Ghats. A trip atop the fort requires climbing about 100 stairs but the effort is well rewarded with some of the most scenic panoramic views of the western Ghats. The fort stood as if in brazen defiance of Mother Nature whose writ runs large and wide in these western Ghats .

Our route to Bisale forest made its way through a narrow stretch of tarred road that progressively got worse after several twists & turns running through isolated hamlets in the undulating hills. Buoyed by the onset of Monsoon, several small waterfalls along the way had come to life. Try as I might to soak in the beauty of the surrounding nature but for Patil’s incessant chatter distracted me to no small extent.

One of his stories unfolded in these very thick Jungles. Three software engineers from Bangalore decide to go on a trek here, apparently without the knowledge of the local forest authorities. Soon they lost their way in the Hills and went missing for several months. Only to be found accidentally one day by a forest watcher on a reconnaissance trip in the Jungles. Their remains in a skeletal state , identified by a gold locket that was still hanging from one of the bodies . Such is the thickness of these Forests where even the forest officials carefully tread.

We slowly made progress on our way to what patil kept describing as the ‘Beauty Spot’. The car by now tilted and swayed like a ship in stormy sea waters making its way through gaping craters on the road. The incessant rains in these western ghats had taken its toll on the tarred roads and after a while it was quite apparent that the stones & gravel were all left of it.

Deep in the forest where it is difficult to find road posts or signs and with the path challenging you every mile we finally came to a spot which overlooked a steep valley. The forest department had managed to put a large board at the entrance that described the flora & fauna of the surrounding area. As I entered the fenced area , I realized that the dept had taken efforts to make it a picnic spot with seating arrangements and a nice observatory perched on the steep slope overlooking the valley.

Sir it is a picturesque deep river valley and offers rich hilly forest terrain view from this point . The breathtaking valleys, regal looking meandering river and the splendid scenic beauty of the thick Bisale forest make it an awesome experience” patil had mentioned while drawing my interest to this spot.

But after an arduous trip all we got to see was a thick white blanket of mist surrounding the valley from this vantage point . All we could hear was the quite murmur of the Kumaradhara river flowing down the valley. We hung around there for a while & started back disappointed; none of us had imagined that the mist would have played spoilsport on a such a lovely rain drenched day.


August 20, 2010

Of white Ass, Striped suits & Business etiquettes

You have heard of the proverbial white elephant but another of its ilk (very close in the animal kingdom) with similar characteristics greeted me and Sreehari (my colleague who took this picture precariously perched on his motorcycle with amused onlookers) during lunch hour in one of the by lanes of Malleshwaram recently. Resplendently white, this donkey made me ponder about the injustice that English language has done by ignoring it to the idiomatic pedestal that has been reserved for Elephas maximus. If the Greeks could associate this animal with Dionysus, the god of wine, the English could have done it better is my argument.

White elephant is described for “something that is large and unwieldy and is either a nuisance or expensive to keep up”. Its etymology is traced to the King of Siam's (Thailand where they are found) who had this reputed practice of awarding a white elephant to a courtier who had fallen out of favor. A white elephant was considered sacred and couldn't be put to work, so the upkeep of the animal would ruin its owner.

So if a white elephant was no more than an expensive burden but what would be its equivalent for a white Ass? I pondered. Here is a well known hard working beast that is commonly used for transport whether riding, pack transport, pulling carts or for farm tillage, threshing, raising water, milling, and other jobs- would be unfair to find a similar analogy as that of white elephant. So I try to find an equivalent in the world of cubiclenama (for starters this is a word used by Sidin Vadakut for a column in Mint, he describes it as a place “to look at the pleasures and perils of the workplace”). And and it turns out to be a typical CEO turned evangelist who could be best described as follows.

This once upon a time CEO puffs up at every given opportunity to put his outdated corporate karmic history on record. Even if his current role is far removed from it. This guy doesn’t realise his that his current situation is akin to that of an aging Bollywood Heroine who has fallen out of favour with the producers. He desperately tries to cling to the spotlight by ‘buying’ news space as the purveyor of his current pet theme (addressing Industry minnows as angel incarnate), on other lean days he cries for attention with his incessant twitter posted on LinkedIn. It is a different matter that his past corporate profile is a cruel anathema to the segment he now swears by ( a bit like Rambo acting now as Baba Ramdev). His photo is Darth Vader school of facial expression personified that almost says “ Hey,been there done that “ types. But people who have worked with him know that this countenance is one side of it , the other side is ghoulishly scary one when in foul mood- he is infant terrible tearing up everything that the subordinates came up with and stomping up & down on the shreds. On other similar days he would relentlessly clamor for the life of an employee who did not comply with his whims & fancies.

Such is this “Dr.Jekyll–now-Dr.Hardy-later” honcho, but ignoring all this I tried to introduce him to someone I thought was complimenting his Business proposition & was mutually beneficial as a Business contact. But for reasons I am yet to fathom, this jacko doesn't even bother to respond. As though I stood to gain from it! The person I was introducing runs a Software company in Bangalore that offers innovative IT products & offerings on a service model for small companies.

In another instance, a Sr level candidate and ex-colleague I had referred met him at some place in Mumbai. But this twiddle-dee striped suit was so engrossed with his Blackberry throughout the interview period that he rarely made eye contact with this candidate or showed basic courtesies in a face-to-face meeting. This irritated candidate later told me that he came out of a meeting with a Blackberry device!

So Mr.Fancy CEO turned god-knows-what , here is the epithet that goes to you for proving what it takes to be a white Ass .

August 14, 2010

Bus- de’

Friends are showing off their brand new cars on Facebook & Orkut, and egging them are Banks that put hoardings asking them to ‘drive their dreams’. It is another commonly known fact that more than 75% of these cars on the roads are on borrowed money (read loans) i.,e these dreams are valid till the next monthly installment gets paid. Yet as more people pour on to the streets with their new fancy cars ,my immediate reaction is not to say ‘bus kar’ but say ‘Bus-de’.

The other day Montek Singh made this point poignantly clear while speaking to Karan Thapar on Devils advocate. He said one of the underlying objectives of the recent fuel hike was to nudge people to adopt to public transport. I guess he & others in the planning commission were taking note of the fact that there has been a sharp spurt in privately owned vehicles in India (it has increased from 6.8 million in 2003-04 to 12 million in 2009-10).

On the roads the signs of these strains are already clearly visible; increasing commuting times, diminishing parking spaces but more importantly ,as a local newspaper highlighted increasing stress in driving. Bangalore Mirror, the local newspaper had a cover story recently that struck immediate chord with me . It showed how randomly selected drivers, with sensors & biomedical readers attached to their bodies showed a spike in their BP levels as they drove through dense traffic areas in the city.

Urban public transport in metros like Bangalore has certainly gone up several notches with the introduction of modern efficient buses. Bangalore may not have a bus rapid transport system (BRTS) like Delhi or Ahmadabad but I certainly find no dearth of good Buses that drop me to the office & back. And for precisely for the reason the newspaper reported I have increasingly taken to BMTC. I know it may not completely remove the car out of the equation but as long as I find a Volvo picking me up & dropping me in close proximity to Home and office I see very many good reasons to adopt with regular frequency.

So Montek may be formulating fuel price policies but it is BMTC and their efficient facilities that has been a clincher. So try out this concept of Bus day & see how much of a difference it makes to diffuse stress levels. You could also making a big difference not only to the city but to your lifestyle as well.

August 4, 2010


The universe does not revolve around us, what happened if it did ? To get an approximate idea watch the movie ‘The Truman show’ . Can it be real that an unwitting man’s entire life has been a TV reality show ? May be not in real life but with Twitter we are getting close. And unlike the plot in Truman show the exact opposite might be happening here (i.e, people constantly projecting their lives to outside world). The other notable difference being that it is a web reality show instead of a TV reality show.

I am seeing certain ‘Twitter’ obsessed people constantly updating their status – about being struck in traffic jam, about seeing some picture or meeting somebody, traveling, about some temple , some song in their mind, blah, blah, blah. I don’t know whether to call it twittering or incessant crowing but they are certainly projecting a minute by minute account of their lives to this web reality show.

Coming back to the movie, it finally explores the theme ‘whether a person can be a pawn in some grand experiment or a prisoner in an alien world than it is to anything in our current "reality TV" obsessed culture’. Going by the current Hollywood themes like ‘inception’ it certainly could be in the world of Twitter.

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