June 30, 2008 @ 5:13 am
We found ourselves, suddenly, on a trip to Ladakh. Back now and updates here should resume soon.
More on the trip and other observations coming soon.
We found ourselves, suddenly, on a trip to Ladakh. Back now and updates here should resume soon.
More on the trip and other observations coming soon.
On Saturday, Mrs. DhiOnlyOne and I set out to a place called Kadavanthi which is located within the Chikmaglur district. The place is around 300 kms from Bangalore, going via Hassan, Belur and Chikmaglur.
The road is surprisingly very good for long stretches and the weather played the perfect host all the way long. Stopping for some excellent idlis midway, we reached Kadavanthi at around 2:00 pm.
The place where we stayed is located atop a hill and set amidst a huge coffee plantation. Needless to say, coffee bean smells abound here. The cottages were located on a slightly flattened out land which overlooks the expanse of mountains, valleys and low-drifting clouds.
This is a picture of our cottages which have benches on the opposite side, facing the valley.
One of the apprehensions I always have about such forest-y areas is the kind of creepy crawlers that I might have to encounter. Of course, Mrs. DhiOnlyOne too has such apprehensions but at least she has a daring and strong husband to rely on. Me? What can I rely on? Except try and pray fervently for nothing to crawl on my bed in the night or to fall on my back while I am not noticing. That fear of course does not deter me from photographing some never-before-seen bugs and insects.
The evening brought with it a bonfire, barbecue and some beer on the hills. (That last phrase does not refer to the quantity of beer, but more on the location of its consumption). After some decent homely food (which was so homely that it also had brinjal on the menu – and I dislike brinjal, if you didn’t get it), it was time to allow the crickets outside to take over your peace of mind.
Thankfully, we didn’t encounter any insects until the morning dawned which made us realize that we are amidst nature, and goddammit, we should have a stronger sense of acceptance – insects, spiders and what not. So, early morning armed with my camera I managed to ignore some of the butterflies twittering around and took in this view of the mountains. After this, it was a short trek to the top of a mountain (through some really dense forest area) and clicking of some more photographs to make the huffing and puffing seem worthwhile. We also had a dog following us and we were told her name was Ruby. I managed to crack a joke that if this dog fell on the railing, it would be “Ruby on Rails“. No one quite got it and that is one of the dangers of being geeky to the point of being funny. Mrs. DhiOnlyOne was still recovering from the shock that the husband she relied on was himself running away from all the scary sketches made by the forest trees. Probably humour wasn’t on her mind, not quite yet. Anyway, I managed to get back from the trek in one piece and was the first to the breakfast table.
Post breakfast, we had to bid adieu to this lovely place (yep, I slowly started falling in love with the concept called nature and forests) and we set off to see the historical temples of Belur and Halebid. Civilization is always nice. This is the entry to the temple at Belur, along with the majestic flag set up by the people who built this place (who else eh?).
The huge statue of Nandi has been spoilt by many visitors who have scratched and left marks on this work of art. In fact, take a look at this picture where some one appears to have practiced his/her geometry on the nearest canvas available.
Nature showed us her best while we stayed at the coffee estate. Belur and Halebid’s temples seemed like our entry to the superior creative judge, if present, and showed that creation is not just Nature’s forte. We are now back in good old Bangalore, a lot more refreshed than what we had hoped for! Enjoy, ladies and gentlemen.
It has been quite hectic over the past few days, with work taking center-stage. This post is more about what else has managed to squeeze-in the recent past.
I managed to start and stop midway V.S. Naipaul’s India – A Million Mutinies Now. The reason why I stopped it was because it was getting a bit too condescending about everything related to India. I am not suggesting that everything is great here; but it is definitely not the way Naipaul makes it seem. To contrast it, I plan to start reading Nehru’s Discovery of India. I have watched the television series and fell in love with its title track. (Listen to it, its just ethereal).
We managed to watch Sarkar Raj, which I absolutely loved and many others didn’t quite like it. For me, Big B rocked. He is far beyond any of his peers and steals the show in this movie. A highly recommended watch, at least for Amitabh Bachhan’s performance.
A play we caught a week ago was White Lilies. Quite boring and a very dull ensemble on stage. The play comprised of three short stories, all three involving two characters who discover more about each other’s past lives and thoughts. In case it tours your city, try and avoid.
Time to get back to work. Have a great day, ladies and gentlemen. And oh yes, do remember to fill some feedback for us. Please
Soliciting some quick feedback. I have been working on the design and content of this blog quite keenly over the past few weeks. You might have noticed a lot of changes in the way various modules are re-arranged and displayed.
I would love to hear from you on what you think this blog should be all about – design, content and all that. For this, I request you to fill the following survey (just 5 questions – it will barely take a minute!) and help me in making this place better for all:
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
Have you ever wondered if sometimes what you say is what you truly believe? Maybe you have a certain opinion but are not able to express it either because it is politically incorrect or you are just not sure how you feel about the subject. Here’s a way to find out!
There is a study being conducted at Harvard known as the Implicit Association Test, or IAT. This was originally developed as a way to explore the unconscious roots of thinking and feeling, but now also offers a website to interested people to gain greater awareness of their deep-rooted preferences and beliefs.
A very interesting concept, it “demonstrates the conscious-unconscious divergences (between ‘speak your mind’ and ‘know your mind’) much more convincingly than has been possible with previous methods.” The basic premise here is that you may take longer to respond or make mistakes when asked to associate things you do not believe in or are not comfortable with. For example, you may believe you have no age bias and have equal preferences for the old and the young, but in the test you may tend to associate more good things with the young or take longer to respond when bad and young are clubbed together. This will clearly indicate your bias for the young.
The website has country specific tests, and in the India section there are IATs relating to religion, race, caste, and other slightly controversial topics as well.
The IAT Test claims to measure implicit attitudes that people are either unwilling or unable to express. Go ahead, find out if you have one. The results may surprise you!
As I had mentioned some days ago, I lost my mobile phone at one of the Cafe Coffee Day (commonly, and irritatingly called CCD these days) outlets. The phone I lost was a Nokia N72 and the only reason I was frustrated was that it had various applications installed which had made my life a little simpler. One of them was an application called mCheck which allowed me to make my bill payments directly from the phone. The another most used application on that phone was the Gmail app and the Opera mini browser.
Therefore, I was very keen on ensuring that my next phone also supports applications, which are predominantly made for the Symbian operating system. After doing a 10 minute research (to be correct, the research was outsourced to a friend and a colleague who logged on to the net and figured out the best possible features for my budget), I went ahead and bought the Sony Ericsson K530i. This phone is surprisingly power-packed with tons of features and yet sports a small and sleek design.
Some of the features that I really “dig” (to use CCD parlance) about this phone:
1. It has a Symbian operating system, hence you can run many third party applications.
2. It has a built-in RSS reader. For me, the Google reader is the next most accessed product after mail and blogs. I absolutely love having this RSS reader in my phone.
3. It supports 3G. Of course, this is premature, but just for kicks I am happy that this phone would support a video conference whenever our networks become 3G ready.
4. The software that comes with the phone is, simply put, extremely utilitarian. I have never found it this easy to synchronize my contacts and calendar appointments from my PC to my phone.
5. The built-in suite of applications include Music, Photo and Video editing software, which is basic, but quite handy to use.
6. It comes with the basic set of tools that are nowadays essential for any mobile phone – a camera, music player, speaker phone support and handset support.
A bank for street children, run by street children! Huh, say that again?? Yes, that’s true! There is a bank in Delhi that is run by and for street children.
Aided by a local charity, this “bare-bone” bank, just like its clients, provides a haven for these rag pickers and street hawkers to stash their meagre earnings for safe-keeping. In the absence of such a mechanism, these earnings are easily lost in thefts, smoking and drug addictions. The kind of lifestyle these kids lead is just not amenable for saving up!
According to this well-written article, there are more than 10 million such kids on the streets of India. Most of these children have fled their homes to escape abuse and poverty, and come to metros like Delhi, just to relive their horrors. Not only does the Children’s Development Bank teach valuable lessons in saving and planning to these kids, it also gives them a chance to realise their dreams. They can apply for a loan here once they turn 15, to start their businesses or continue schooling.
You must also read the article to understand the dreams of these children. Whether future doctors or tea stall owners, they might help bring some perspective in our lives, and all that we aim for.
Related to Dhionlyone’s previous post on why all radio channels play the same music and nothing else, there was an E&Y survey article in the Mint a few days back that gave a reasonable explanation for the same. The issue here is that TRAI allows every station only a single frequency in each location. With this constraint in place, and all of them wanting to grab the same customer pie, these stations don’t have much choice (or imagination) than to play the same songs and air the same kind of programs that appear to have mass appeal.
According to the survey, the most popular items are bollywood songs and least popular are English songs and quiz shows. No wonder radio channels seem to avoid the latter like the plague. Allowing stations to broadcast on multiple channels would allow more scope for diversification and enable them to cater to niche segments and tastes. With more freedom in this domain, they would be more willing to experiment, hopefully.
Also, as we know, FM radio channels are currently banned from broadcasting news, which again limits their scope of offerings. TRAI has now recommended that these channels be allowed to broadcast news using content from AIR, Doordarshan and some other authorised news agencies, which is certainly good ‘news’ for people like me!
Find the link for the last bit of news here.
Commuting with the radio switched on can become cumbersome at times. More so when all radio stations play the same songs all the the time and there is absolutely no substance dished out by any of the over-excited RJs.
Over the past few days, however, I listen to the radio in anticipation of this beautiful song that has caught my fancy. It is from the movie Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Nah and I must say it is simply awesome.
Click here to listen to the song (the video is nothing much to write about).
On an unrelated note, why does none of the radio stations do anything other than play songs? Why not some half hour (atleast!) opinions on serious issues or even debates on various topics?
While reading an article that explored the role of languages in heritage preservation, a number of questions flooded my mind. While I cannot post the link here (it was an independent article) let me try to put forth these questions to you. Perhaps you have some interesting thoughts to share on these.
The first question that came to my mind is how many Indians in this day and age still speak in their “mother tongue” (a term that must be totally Indian in any case)? How many can read or write or even largely understand it?
It is a fact that in the modern age of globalization, it doesn’t really pay to learn your language. It does not help you in making a living and it certainly does not help you in gaining popularity with friends, peers and colleagues. So what is the use of wasting your time on such an activity, one may ask!
Well that one needs to be answered thus. What do you think you are losing when you lose touch with your native language? The ability to converse and interact with a few people who can only speak in that language? Those people are a minority for sure, but they are people who can teach you important things about life. The elders in any community are a treasure trove of knowledge and experience, which needs to be passed on from generation to generation for any civilization to progress.
Let us also spend some thought on the cultural aspects of losing a language. Each language is a complex collection of millions of words, phrases, metaphors and the likes. Think of all the stories that are woven with such beautiful tools at hand. Each language reflects the thoughts, beliefs and value system of the regions and peoples who use it and have done so for centuries. Imagine all the nuances of that culture that have got ingrained into that language to define its unique character. You are losing all this and much more.
When I was a kid, I would eagerly wait for my father to tell me bedtime stories in our language. Those are stories I still cherish as I never found them in any of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales or other literature that we were regularly exposed to at school. Besides adding to my story repertoire, they gave me a different perspective from the fairy tales where the prince and princess lived happily ever after.
The literature that is written in any language gets obsolete with its declining usage. Just to get an outlook, I imagine what would happen to all the books that is written in English when, probably centuries later, it’ll no longer be the coolest language around!
The question I really want to probe is what direction the culture takes with the shift of a language. I wonder if people’s way of thinking also changes once they adopt a foreign language. I know a lot of people in my generation (including me) who even think in English, and I wonder if this is the reason why the youth are often not able to connect with their parents or elders, and not able to express their views and understand theirs’. Is this what causes generations to drift apart so rapidly now?
In the end, I just wonder what is the right amount of exposure to one’s native language that is needed in the coming generations to adapt to the changing world around them without losing their grounding in their roots. And how we can play a role in nurturing this balance.