Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Google knows me! Get your blog in Google's radar

These days you cannot not know Google.

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About Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG)

Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major global markets. Google's targeted advertising program provides businesses of all sizes with measurable results, while enhancing the overall web experience for users. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit www.google.com.
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And this place where I ramble along, my blog, now comes under Google's radar!

Google for "aniket anikhindi" and you'll find the URL of this blog on the first page of results. This way, one can ensure that on searching for some specific words (called keywords) like a name for example, would result in Google managing to hit your blog.

How to achieve this:

o Edit your blog's template
o Search for the html tag "$BlogPageTitle$"
o Just below this tag, paste the four lines below:

META NAME="Description" CONTENT="brief description of your blog"
META NAME="Title" CONTENT="title of your blog"
meta name="robots" content="index,follow"
META NAME="KEYWORDS" CONTENT="comma, separated, keywords"

o In the four lines above, the italicised text is supposed to be replaced by what is indicated by the text.
o Line number 3 above should be copied verbatim (note that there is no italicised text there).
o Enclose each of the 4 lines above in angular parentheses (they are supposed to be html tags when you put them in the blog template).
o Once you edit your template and add these lines as mentioned above, and save it, it will take a maximum of 3 weeks for Google to be able to list your blog on searching for desired keywords.

Other popular search engines like Yahoo! would also be able to search for your blog after you add the above html code in your template. But these days the term 'search engine' has been deprecated. The shorter and compact name is 'google'.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

If you know what "All Hands" meetings mean

Well, they call them "All Hands" meetings. Whose hands? Why all when the maximum can be 2? Well, when you work in a firm where hands happen to be the only external part of body being used, the above term starts making some sense. Let me shape it.

One fine day some management guru took a potion and decided to coin a term for a meeting he would have with all people directly reporting to him, and their direct reports, and theirs.. till the leaf of the tree was reached. Such a meeting would be called an "All Hands" meeting. To my horror, all those above me (poor leaf node) in the management chain drank that potion, ultimately resulting in me having to attend a lot of those meetings. An empty mind is a writer's trash can. I composed a song once. It requested me yesterday to attain immortality. That's how it found it's way here... (Sing aloud)

Title: Can I go $^@# myself??
Result of extreme boredom at one particular "All Hands" Meeting

It was yet another one of those
I had no option so I chose
To be there and get hit
By some sophisticated bullshit

Someone get me outta here [real fast]
I dont certainly belong here
Dont you feel like asking yourself..
Can I please go $^@# myself??

I was just looking around
Found all fools on the same ground
Some dozing some worth slapping
In their seats nodding to the yapping

[CHORUS] * 1

Dont you really feel like a fool?
You would rather be at home and drool
Yes, they were all there, right up to the CEO
All thinking it was something real "YO"

[CHORUS] * 2

Can I please go $^@# myself??
fade away...

The lyrics are ready, I'm planning to compose the music myself too. Anyone ready to lend their voice?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Tag, I'm it

Tag, I'm it...

First there were chain letters. Then there were chain emails. And now, this. In the name of being a good sport:

Four Jobs I've Had
1. Being Agony Uncle
2. Being a Professor
3. Irritating mom
4. Installing VRTSob

Four Movies To Watch Repeatedly
1. Fight Club
2. Terminator II: Judgement Day
3. Memento
4. Into Thin Air

Four Cities of Residence
1. Pune, India
2. Kano, Nigeria
3. Manali, India
4. Mumbai, India

Four Favorite TV Shows
1. SouthPark
2. The Great Indian Comedy Show
3. Late Night - Conan O' Brien
4. The Great Indian Laughter Challenge

Four Vacation Destinations
1. Everest Region, Nepal
2. Himachal Pradesh, North India
3. Goa
4. Sahyadris, Maharashtra

Four Web Sites I Visit Daily
1. Gmail
2. Manjit's blog
3. Nikhil's blog
4. orkut

Four Favorite Foods
1. Chicken Biryani @ Blue Nile
2. Pithla Bhakri @ Sinhagad
3. Steak Burger @ Burger King
4. Aloo Paratha @ Home

Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now
1. Dhak chi Bahiri Rock Face
2. KonkanKada, Harishchandragad
3. Baga Beach, Goa
4. Everest Base Camp

Four Bloggers who have to answer this else a Yamaha will be called an Ahamay. Or weird looking insects will be devoured by everyone in the next year.
1. Nikhil
2. Atul Gore
3. Atul Nulkar
4. Manjit

Hehe, one is already covered ;) Secured a link of my chain already.

Coincidence.. repitition.. mystery - fun and embarassment

DISCLAIMER: This has happened in real life, and resemblance to any character, living or dead, is not at all happenstance. Story is completely real, even though it might seem surreal to some of you. I am not responsible for that. Some names have been changed to honour privacy, that's about it. And now let me continue :)

My name is not changed. In first person singular, its "I" :) In third person it's "Aniket".

Situation: Monsoons, Sunday afternoon, 1500 hours. I am sleeping. Cell phone rings. I wake up, caller's number looks familiar though recalling right away results in a failure. Green button in action, receiver next to my ear.

I: Hello?
Mr. Kumar: Aniket, this is Mr. Kumar, Dilip's dad.
(Dilip is my pal, so I need to be alert while answering)
I: Yes tell me.
Mr. Kumar: Aniket, actually Dilip was supposed to send you regular updates via email. What did he say in the email you received? You had told me that Dilip had mailed you. It's been a while since I have heard from him.
I: Well.. err.. Mr. Kumar, you see, what I will do is get in touch with you tomorrow. It so happens that I did not check my email in 2 days.
Mr. Kumar: Okay Aniket, call me back and let me know.
I: Sure. Hangs up.

I am totally clueless about what is happening. Reason being I hadn't talked to Dilip for weeks now. Neither with his dad. So which email are we talking about? I thought like sleeping again, but when a friend's dad calls you, the least you should do is gather correct information and reply back. I start punching in numbers furiously, those who I and Dilip know in common, are called up. The first thing I ask is about Dilip's whereabouts and if he is in good shape. None of the common friends happens to know about any ill happenings per se. So far so good.

ONE DAY LATER (Monday). My office:
Emails shot off to more people whom I know in common with Dilip. Numerous offline messages sent to Dilip on Yahoo! messenger. By evening, I am waiting in desperation for Dilip's response. Progress so far: One friend tells me he is currently in the United States. And I get frustrated. Dilip's parents expect a feedback from me, and Dilip hasn't even told me where to look for. End of Monday, no response from Dilip. I call up Mr. Kumar twice, can't get through. I don't try further.

SIX DAYS LATER (Saturday) My home:
By now, Dilip has responded to my offline messages, conveying me that he is the United States, coated with an apology. Dilip doesn't know of my telecon with his dad as yet. Saturday evening - raining heavily. Cell phone rings, Mr. Kumar calling. The number is not stored yet, but the digits were etched in my memory.

I: Hello?
Mr. Kumar: Aniket.. this is Mr. Kumar. So..
(I cut him short)
I: Yes Mr. Kumar, I actually had a word with Dilip. He is..
(Mr. Kumar cuts me short)
Mr. Kumar: Yes, how is he?
I: He is doing fine. He said he will keep sending regular updates.
Mr. Kumar: Yes yes, you had told me. So did you get the batteries? More importantly, last time you'd said that the other one would be cost effective. Can you get the one you think is better? Please try and get them tomorrow. I'll be waiting. Hangs up.

I could not make head or tail of what Mr. Kumar said. I wanted to say "huh?" but then I couldn't. After all, I could be at fault here. Simply because I did not ask Dilip what all I was supposed to do in his absence. Please note, the previous sentence was in full sarcasm. You can expect Dilip to forget the most important of things and shrug it off saying "Oops". Hall of shame.

ONE DAY LATER (Sunday) My home:
It's pouring heavily. 1030 am, I clearly recall. Sitting in my balcony, I was lazing. Cell phone rings. Yes, you guessed it right.

I: Yes Mr. Kumar?
Mr. Kumar: When are you coming over Aniket?
I: Err.. well.. how about noon? Or maybe in an hour's time if it is urgent?
Mr. Kumar: Ya. I'll be waiting.
I: Okay. Hangs up.
I carelessly forgot. Time is 1600. As you would have guessed, the cell phone rings.

I: I am..
(cut short)
Mr. Kumar: Aniket, it is raining heavily right now. It is okay if you cannot make it now. Maybe next Sunday. And thanks for the information you gave about Dilip from his email as well as resolving the cost issue of the batteries. Get the one that costs lesser as we discussed.
I: Well, okay!
Mr. Kumar: Ya. Hangs up.

Goes without saying that I am extremely perplexed at what's happening. I am being told that I gave some information. I was also finding it a bit weird that I discussed something about the lesser cost. The cost issue was indeed brought up in the previous conversation, but then there was no conclusion. Everything seems to be in place except me finally giving those batteries. I did not give it a thought, simply went ahead and got 4 AA Duracell batteries. Next time he'd call me, I would immediately go to Dilip's place and hand them over.

TWO DAYS LATER (Tuesday) My office:
Cell phone rings (Can we abbreviate this to CPR? Next time onwards).

I: Yes Mr. Kumar!
Mr. Kumar: Hey Aniket, thanks for the batteries. It's good that you got them right away. Thanks!
I: Wha...
(cut short)
Mr. Kumar: Hangs up.

Good adjectives to describe my state at this point: Bewildered, flummoxed, awestruck.

FEW DAYS LATER. I continue to be in the same state mentioned above. No transition. I chat with Dilip on Yahoo!. As I state the facts, he goes into splits and uses up all emoticons Yahoo! has to offer to express extreme amusement. Plot thickens for me, his amusement makes me think laterally - was this all a cooked up plan between dad and son to fool a friend or something? Seems difficult given the level of familiarity I had with his dad. Dilip reveals it finally. A thing that was very basic. Which I had forgotten, but owing to it the fun part extended over a period of time. And the coincidences made it further funny for all of us. Except for Mr. Kumar, who was seemingly a bit embarassed about the whole thing. Reasons:

o There was another Aniket in the picture (Aniket Aryamane)
o Cell phone name sorting technology. Dilip, before embarking to the US, had added my number to his dad's contact list. In alphabetical order, I started preceding Aniket Aryamane since I was listed as "Aniket (EBC)" - note the parentheses.
o The tasks to be done and Dilip's whereabouts were being asked to me
o Aniket Aryamane was doing all the tasks expected by Mr. Kumar, and sending over the info, on a daily basis
o I was getting updates (the why's how's and thanks too) on my cell

And it all finally ended. I bashed up Dilip (using words of course). He continued to laugh eternally. Our friends did too.

My state transition diagram:
Cool (before things happened) -> Tense (Dilip's whereabouts not known) -> Anxious (what to get, when to do tasks, which ones to start with!) -> Bewildered (me not doing anything and receiving thanks from time to time) -> Normalcy Restored (after Aniket Aryamane's facts were brought to light).

Further interesting facts:
o I am yet to meet Aniket Aryamane in person, the one who was responsible for my bewildered state
o I am yet to speak with Mr. Kumar after all that happened (both of us are equally embarassed about how we reacted to things)
o LAST BUT NOT THE LEAST: I still have the 4 AA batteries for Dilip :D

When are you collecting them from me Dilip?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Everest footages

Some URLs tend to get lost.. Such posts help in reviving them.

Footage clips at 5 important places on Southridge Route - Khumbu IceFall (19,000 ft), Camp II (21,300 ft), Lhotse Face (24,500 ft), Camp IV (26,000 ft), Everest Summit (29,035 ft)
Surving Everest - 50th Anniversary Everest Expedition

Footages on the SouthCol route, with animated route tracking of Lukla - EBC, EBC - Camp1, Camp1 - Camp2, Camp2 - Camp3, Camp3 - Camp4, Camp4 - Summit.
Interactive climb of Everest - Discovery Channel

More to follow as and when I get them...

Monday, January 16, 2006

India at war: Who goes in 1 down..

By the time India reaches 350, with Sehwag having hit the second fastest double ton and Dravid having opened the openings and complementing him with a watchful ton, the temperature in the Indian dressing room suddenly swells up. Reason: Many cricket players notice their kits are missing. A discussion ensues. Laxman, Sachin, Pathan are already padded up. Ganguly gets surprised, looks at Pathan. Curtains raise.

ganguly : sachin, what's the matter?
tendulkar : matter? nothing dada.. why are you not watching the match?
ganguly : i saw agarkar carrying 2 kits in a very funny way.
laxman : sachin, you were saying something about front foot defence?
tendulkar : arre, i said "front foot offence" done by dada..

kumble walks in with harbhajan. kumble tosses a coin, calls head, harbhajan appears pleased when the result is a tail.

harbhajan : hehe, i won. can i go now?
kumble : i don't think so. you need to wait this time too.
harbhajan : this is cheating.
kumble : i've bowled 5.3 overs more than you, and have taken 2 wickets as compared to your 0.

ganguly : harbhajan, tell me what's going on here.
harbhajan : dada.. i cannot lie to you. please ask kumble. (harbhajan walks out).
ganguly : what's up anil?
kumble : we were deciding who goes in next because both captain and vice captain are not here.

tendulkar : aaila, laxman, look who's talking.
kumble : sachin, you've scored your 35th already. it's time i went 1 down. bhajji just agreed.
laxman : don't you all see the score card? rahul clearly told i was to go in 1 down.
sachin : aaila plane.. (all of them look skywards, sachin swaps his name with laxman on the electronic scoreboard)
laxman : (looks at scoreboard, appears awed) sachin this is cheating. i'll wait till you come to hyderabad (walks out).

pathan : dada.. do you think your new stance is going to help you? why don't you watch me score a ton first and then play?
ganguly : if the code of conduct was not in place, i would have hit you with my bengali bat.
pathan : you have a bat too? i thought you were taken in to complement inzamam's running.
ganguly : sachin, do you think this is the right treatment i deserve?
tendulkar : aaila, in 32 overs pathan bowled only 2 no balls. you bowled 3 in 6 overs saurav.
ganguly : (eats roshogulla) umm.. (walks out).

tendulkar : (winks at pathan. they exchange a hi5). your 2 down position is fixed irfan.
pathan : thanks sachin bhai (walks out).
tendulkar : (rearranges centre guard, bends a bit and gets up). aaila, time to call dravid back.

meanwhile, agarkar has sold the kits of dhoni and yuvraj to inzamam and salman butt respectively.

kumble : sachin, dravid is from karnataka and i dont think he would favour a mumbai player against me.
tendulkar : it takes visa power anil. if i don't back dravid, kiran more and greg chappell will send a long email.
kumble : but you gave away 18 runs in just 2 overs.
tendulkar : main kaun hoon? main kahan hoon? [who am i? where am i?]
kumble : yes, till you recover, i will pad up and go out to bat.
tendulkar : do you want me to vote against you during the selection session?
kumble : sachin, you are a batsman, not a selector. let us ask chappell.
tendulkar : aaila, so you think seniority comes with no pros?

75 overs of the Indian Innings have been bowled, Sehwag mercilessly reaches 247. India reaches a staggering 403/0. Light is offered to Dravid and Sehwag.

dravid : time for snacks viru.
sehwag : captain, don't you want to see me make a 300 today itself?
dravid : (speaks in english, and too fast at that. viru can't understand)
sehwag : ma ne kaha hai 300 banana (mom has told to score 300)
dravid : no i dont want bananas. chalo [let's go] (sehwag follows).

As the excitement grows, India have already made 456/0. Kamran Akmal (the wicket keeper) comes to bowl, with Pakistan choosing to not have a wicket keeper. Akmal strikes on the first ball. Dravid dances down the wicket, slips down, hurts himself. Akmal runs fast, fetches the ball, and gets the bails off. Umpire rules Dravid out, choosing to decide the mode of dismissal later.

Now the excitement in the Indian dressing room has reached its limit. Sachin Tendulkar is padded up, and is ready to step out. He is walking down the steps in the pavilion. Another padded up person is walking just behind him. Sachin does not sense him. Just as Sachin is about to enter the ground, the tall person says "aaila plane". Sachin looks skywards. People think that's because of his usual habit of getting used to the light. The person who was padded up takes advantage of the fact, enters the ground before Sachin. And that person has donned the Indian outfit, so Sachin is forced to retreat, by rule.

Fierce as ever, he takes a wild stance in the dressing room and yells out for Chappell. The rest of the team comes out of nowhere and they start laughing. Sachin, perplexed, looks at the score board. Greg has gone in 1 down!! The rest of the team shouts in unison "aaila, plane". Curtains.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Chicken first or egg first?

Yeah right.

In the dictionary, chicken first. For breakfast, egg first. And more importantly, in the question above, chicken first! In a race, eggs cannot move by themselves, and if they at all can, then more often than not the it'll be chicken first.

Chicken first or egg first? How do I read that question? Fine, let me be illogical enough and understand that question - after all, I am supposed to be smart enough to read your context, correct?

Let's solve this one by the elimination technique. And let's try and apply only science, no 'creationist' theories like "God made chicken first".

By evolution theory, a chicken (or any species for that matter) would have resulted as a matter of mutation (genetics), which would have taken place over a large period of time. Therefore, the question cannot be solved by evolution theory since the principle of speciation says that evolution does not occur in units, but is a slow transition. Therefore neither the chicken came first nor the egg. Evolution theory failed to answer this. Let's proceed on.

This should make us go back and look at the problem once again. Chicken first or egg first. Hmm.. A chicken egg right? Which means question to be framed is "Chicken first or chicken egg first?". To lay a chicken egg, a chicken should exist. And for a chicken to exist, a chicken egg should exist. Recursions, if not handled carefully, result in corrupting systems. Computers as well as human.

One valid logical solution to this problem is that chickens do not exist. Case rested.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Today is the correct day and date to post this. That should tell you what the subject line means. If not, go here.

After joining my new team (changing teams in the same workplace), it's taken me close to 2 months to send out an email to the whole team. How very contrary to my personality. Now that did not happen because of any problem, but I decided to play wait and watch this time around. In the earlier team, the spotlight was on me from the day I entered. After more than 3 years in the same company, I prefer to see how this team behaves. Won't be long till I behave like myself.

Coming back, I've sent out the first explanation sort of thing of the work that I have put in till now. And this team does not have an alias (strange!), so I just sent it out to a list to whom the team manager sends out the weekly conference call email. I don't even know if I was to involve all those folk, but then that's how I improve my communication - by initiating a dialogue if the other party does not.

So I'm all set folk. Friday the 13th is the date I've sent out my first email. Am I afraid? Naah. Am I worried? Nope. Am I thinking about it? Umm.. It's done, thought, and wrote it here. Now I have to rush for Subhadeep's bachelor's party. People will be frustrated because of my delay, but this work got postponed because I was out of office yesterday.

It just shows that I do not care about dates and I probably could have come over on Saturday to send over that all-important-first-email. Balls to urban legends and folklore who hype about Paraskevidekatriaphobia.

Colgate Quiz

Today Aatish suggested that I should be having images in my posts too. I told him that I concurred, except that I was lazy. So let me shed some lazyness. And start with a quiz, I don't really give a damn if it sounds cheap - who is giving me points here anyways?

Opening a new tab/window and referring to popular search engines highlights your impotence (no, not that one).

So here goes...

Q1. What are the features of the following version of the Colgate toothpaste (see image below)?

A1. 'Soothes', 'Builds increasing protection against shocks of pain', 'Provides long term relief with regular use'.

If you are already getting the drift, good enough. I encourage everyone to continue in the same potent form (I knew you'd wanted to get done with this fast ;) )

Q2. Why is Colgate more advanced than Durex?

A2. For the extremely uninitiated ones and the ones who might have somehow missed out on this, go get a life.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Because it's there

Speaking of trekking and mountaineering, there have been instances when people and friends have asked me why I love trekking so much. I do so for my reasons - it's an activity that helps one to be in the 'present'. Your mind wanders, and you could find yourself hurtling down and badly injured. Trekking gives me a sense of achievement and peace.

Till 1945 or so North Face (in Tibet) was the only route to summit Everest - Top Of The World. Nepal had not opened her gates to foreigners, which meant attempting a South Face summit was out of question. Comparitively, summitting via South Face is easier, clearly indicated by the data at hand (including route maps, statistics etcetera).

And there was this mountaineer named George Leigh Mallory, who was about to set foot for conquering Mt. Everest. Dated back in 1923-24. Being a task that was never achieved, making such an attempt certainly seemed hazardous. In an interview with The New York Times, Mallory was asked: "Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?". He replied what now is a world famous quote: "Because it's there!"

Those words inspired one Robert W. Service, and he has quoted it in his poem Dauntless Quest. I'm pulling out the first verse of the poem where the quote lies:

Why seek to scale Mount Everest,
Queen of the air?
Why strive to crown that cruel crest
And deathward dare?
Said Mallory of dauntless quest:
"Because it's there."

George Leigh Mallory teamed up with Andrew Irvine on the fatal 1924 expedition to Everest. They never returned, and 75 years later, on May 2 1999, George Leigh Mallory's body was found on the slopes of Everest. Because he never returned back, the entire mountaineering community has been debating till date whether Mallory could have been the first person to summit Everest. More so because all evidences of the 1999 expedition led by Eric Simonson point to his death occuring while descending Everest.

Though I would not like to drive the discussion as to whether he was able to summit Everest or not, being a core trekker and an aspiring mountaineer, I salute his efforts.

A bunch of people have formed something called as a Mars Society, and they explain on their home page as to why humans should be sent to Mars: 'Because it's there', with due credits to Mallory. Hehe :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Midnight mayhem

0215. Am ensuring that the exception handling code is being written correctly. Damn, you need a break, don't you? Hadn't really caught up on the blogs of friends as of late. Read Nikhil's latest post, and almost all that Darshana had written. Art is embedded within that female.

From Nikhil's blog, leapt on to Goti's blog and read a coupla articles there. He is supposed to be in India any moment now. Let's see if we can do any trek(s) together. Trek freak meeting another trek freak after all. Another good blog was Raghu's blog.

Had a chat with Manjit today. And Googled too. To learn how to get my blog listed on a Google search for "Aniket Anikhindi" or few keywords that I am interested in. Have done the required html coding. Manjit says Google takes 2 odd weeks to register. Also registered my blog on blogwise. They are going to take 27 days to process my request.

Have tuned in to some Hindi songs of yesteryear. No, not Kishore Kumar. With 'new' songs bombarding you at a frequency that would put neutrons in a nuclear fission at shame, 'Shahar Ki Ladki' and 'Rang Rang Mere Rang Rang Mein' very well are yesteryear songs.

0233. Work beckons. Will I am done with TransporterLocal.cpp, TransporterRemote.cpp, and was about to finish long back, till I realised that I'd missed out on CompressionMgr.cpp. Enough for you guys right?

Forgot to mention - I have developed cold today, and its getting worse by the hour. Reason unknown. Dabur Chywanprash dose is on daily, but the immunity system could not handle some newer virus. And yes, SYMC had hit $19.9401 today.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Arrogance is strength - Jon Krakauer versus Anatoli Boukreev

Anup casually pointed me to an article on the death of the legendary climber Anatoli Boukreev. After returning from our Everest Base Camp trek in 2004, we have never needed a reason to get started on mountaineering related discussions. Anup, Vinod and I, the EBC 2004 gang, have exchanged gigantic volumes of text on these discussions. Today's topic started with Anatoli Boukreev's death, and then about what a legend he was.

A little about 'supplementary oxygen':
More than 95% of those who do mountaineering (excluding people like Sherpas who reside in mountains), make use of supplementary oxygen while climbing at high altitudes. At about 5356 metres above sea level, the oxygen content in air is reduced by half as compared to that at sea level. And we are barely at Mount Everest Base Camp now. 50% of normal oxygen intake. 8850 metres ASL, oxygen content in air is reduced to a third of what is found at sea level. That's top-of-the-world, 33% of normal oxygen. Oxygen canisters come into picture at roughly 7500 metres to ensure that the climber does not suffer from hypoxia. Climbers have often reported of hallucinations at extreme altitudes too.

Getting back to Anatoli Boukreev. And Jon Krakauer. And arrogance. Well, reams of pages, several hundred sites, audio versions, videos and movies have been dedicated to the 1996 Everest tragedy. From there sprung the much publicised book Into Thin Air penned by Jon Krakauer, the representative of the 'Outside' magazine. Jon Krakauer summitted Everest, and so did Anatoli Boukreev, on that particular 10th of May. It was the behaviour of Anatoli on that day that Jon attempts to refute, and Anatoli defends. This is worth a read, and for mountain lovers, following the links is just another wonderful thing.

In a nutshell, the issue goes thus:
Facts: Jon Krakauer is a climber, on his maiden Everest attempt, client of an expedition led by an experienced Rob Hall. Anatoli Boukreev is a genius climber, playing guide of an expedition led by another experienced person Scott Fischer. Both expeditions chose May 10, 1996 as their summit day, along side a few other expeditions. Being a guide, Anatoli Boukreev (a) decided to climb down the summit ahead of his clients and (b) chose to summit without supplementary oxygen. Jon strongly objected to both these points (in his book) and later expressed in print that he found Anatoli arrogant for not accepting what he thought were mistakes. Readers might also be interested in reading the correspondence about clarifications from Jon Krakauer about the Everest Revelations in his book Into Thin Air.

On a side note, I must say I am damn impressed by the climbing resume of Anatoli Boukreev. You must not miss it. It takes that type of a resume to be really arrogant, and say 'balls to you'.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The impulsive trip to Mumbai

You know, they are really random, and that is what makes things even more interesting. I am speaking about impulses, and the exhilaration that results after one follows those impulses. Here is a description about an impulse trip I went on, on the 2nd day of the year of 2006.

On the evening of the 1st day of 2006, I'd been to Nikhil's place and from there we went on to watch a movie I'd watched just the day before. Midway through, Nikhil did not feel like watching it through till the end, so we both left. After spending enough time dining at Hotel Pride, we were on our way home. That's when I suddenly asked Nikhil if he was interested in going to Sinhagad. He said he was never averse to the concept of following random impulses, and so we headed on. Note the time: 0130 hours.

Enroute Sinhagad, there is a beautiful lake, the Khadakvasla lake, and Nikhil suggested we stop there instead of going all the way up to Sinhagad. It was beautiful there, a chilly starry night, the sound of water lapping, and we puffing on Marlboro Lights. In the excitement of the surroundings there, I got yet another impulse. I asked Nikhil if he'd mind going to Mumbai (Bombay). Without batting an eyelid, Nikhil called up Faizaan, our friend who stays at Colaba. 0230 hours. We told him we would reach his place by 0530 hours, which was the time he generally gets up everyday.

We finished the cigarettes we were smoking, and sat in the car, me on the wheel. In no time we were on the Pune - Mumbai Expressway, with the likes of Bob Marley, Bob Seger, Enya, Neil Diamond and Elliot Smith giving us company. At such times I really feel that having one's own vehicle becomes such an enabler (if such a word were to exist). But that's hardly something I want to write about. We had an interesting discussion on the philosophy of Vedanta (self-realization). Not something that I would really mention in this post, maybe in some other post, but it certainly was intriguing enought to keep both of us awake during the night drive. Cruising at an unbroken 80 kmph all through, we were in Mumbai at the exact hour we had committed. No hassles in finding our way to Faizaan's place.

I'll take a moment here to describe where Faizaan stays and that the area he resides in, can itself be a reason to go to Mumbai. In the plush locality of Colaba, Faizaan stays in an apartment which has something like 31 odd stories. Bang next to the grand Taj President Hotel, his apartment looks like a royale one, and from his 10th floor house, what one gets to see is nothing short of 'auussome' (say this aloud to understand what it means). I have been spending close to 2 months of every single year of my childhood in this fabulous city called Mumbai, and that's what draws me to there, all I need is some small reason. An impulse is anyways good enough a reason :)

We went to Faizaan's place, and 0530 hours is the time when he goes around for a walk/jog/run. Nikhil looked ready to accompany him, but I said I needed to catch some sleep. Twas mandatory that I did it. Faizaan played some pieces on his nylon string (classical) guitar. He had to complete writing some sheet music as part of his homework too. Nikhil and Faizaan have taken a fancy towards classical guitaring these days. The music served as a catalyst in putting me to sleep (being frank enough, I was not in a position to admire it then, moreover, I did not know how much I could appreciate it).

3 hours of sleep followed, with Nikhil following suit once I made the decision. Sure was a funny thing to reach Mumbai and sleep without really enjoying the time. But being very frank, sleep is something I cannot avoid, and we had to drive back soon given the fact that Faizaan could not take a day off from work. I had already made my mind that I would be taking a day off from work, Nikhil was contemplating his chances (a futile exercise). We woke up at 1000 hours, and as soon as we left Faizaan's house, the accident prone Nikhil managed to kick a dustbin down the staircase. He offered to clear the mess, but after the sweeper denied twice over, Nikhil left it at that. We then proceeded for a quick breakfast in an Irani eatery (Hotel Persian). Nikhil's second fumble resulted in almost all the pepper from the pepper container being dropped on his omlette. He had the guts to put it back in the container, but I believe it was a fit act for a "Grade III Restaurant" as per the rating of Mumbai Municipal Corporation. Not that the place was too bad, but I hope you get the point.

We then dropped Faizaan at Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus [CST] (formerly Victoria Terminus [VT]), from where he was going to take a train to his workplace. Bang opposite the station, there was this music shop called "Planet M", from where Nikhil wanted to buy some music. It took us half an hour to search for a parking spot, firstly because all adjoining lanes in that place had police stations and the press office of Times of India. Secondly, I was being a bit too skeptic in parking at some odd place because on my previous trip to Mumbai, my car was towed away. We finally managed to squeeze in the car in a pay-and-park place, in a sort of risky manner. We then drank coconut juice, and proceeded on to "Planet M" after having a couple of smokes. Nikhil did end up buying quite some music - Eric Clapton, R.E.M etc, though he was not too pleased with the stock. Neither was I.

After ruling out the wishes of me shopping for old coins in the Fort Area and Nikhil ruling out his wish for buying a cell phone, we were set on our way back. I took the wheel again, given that I was amply awake. This time, we took a long-ish route to get out of Mumbai, because I missed to take a turn. It proved to be a boon in disguise and we managed to evade the Chembur traffic bottleneck. This time Eric Clapton and R.E.M gave us company, credit to the music bought by Nikhil. I was trying to keep up with an Optra Chevrolet on the Expressway, and at least managed to keep it in close distance, but that meant my average speed was over 120 kmph. We reached Pune in less than 2 hours! Before exiting Mumbai, the direction boards were showing "Goa"... No, we did not really go Goa, but you know what I thought!

We had no formal lunch as such, so we ended up going at Hotel Sun n Sand. After all, we had to end in a grand way what we had started in a grand way, from Hotel Pride the previous night. Another reason was that it was past 0330 hours, which was past the lunch time of all hotels. Only a 5-star hotel would offer us some food at that hour. An interesting discussion with a stranger was the highlight of the lunch at Hotel Sun n Sand.

The stranger was from the elder generation (past 60 on the first look). Sitting on the table next to us, that person initiated the unsolicited dialogue. He mentioned that he was from Agra, and was interested in knowing places in Pune that were entertaining as such. There were questions from our side as to what was he particularly interested in. We questioned, he answered in monosyllables (with a smile on his face that seemed to hide something). Spirituality? No. Historical places? No. Forts or such things? No. Amusement parks sorts? No. After we ran out of options, Nikhil finally asked in the most sarcastic tone - "Women?". Old man now felt at peace. After 5/6 shots, Nikhil managed to hit bulls eye. Old man described how money did not matter to him, and how he had seen sites on the Internet that lured people and the likes. Disgusted, Nikhil told him to approach a rickshaw (a three seater public transport vehicle commonly seen in India) and go to Budhwar Peth, the red light area in Pune. We did not really deliberate much on this later, and decided to finally return home after 19 hours of leaving home the previous night.

I dropped Nikhil home, parked the car, and before knowing what the time was, retired to bed, to wake up 15 hours later! All sleep cycles completed in one shot, I was ready to greet the working week. Long live random impulses!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

This movie defines "cult classic" - Fight Club

I would be the zillionth writer quoting this, or may be zillion times zillion. But you know, that's why there have been the zillion ones before this, and in all probabilities will be more.

This is how wikipedia defines 'cult classic':
"A cult classic is a cultural artifact (e.g. a movie or TV show) or group of works (e.g. songs by a certain band) that may not achieve widespread mainstream popularity but does attract a cult following, i.e. devoted, even fanatical, attention from a select group".

Well, for those who have not seen this movie, I would still say you are very lucky. I'd advise you to read Chuck Palahniuk's novel (Fight Club) on which this movie is based. If you are not interested in reading, never mind, see the movie. It is equally well made. There are umpteen things I could quote about this movie, but I do not want to. As a start point, refer to Fight Club's IMDb page.

There is enough trivia that you can find about this movie on the Internet that can satisfy you for a lifetime. The more I read the more I find. And the same is true of the movie. The more number of times you see the more you find.

Forgive me, Tyler, for violating rule 1 and 2 of Fight Club. Here are the 8 golden rules of Fight Club:

#1 - The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club.

#2 - The second rule of Fight Club is, you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.

#3 - If someone says stop, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over.

#4 - Two guys to a fight.

#5 - One fight at a time.

#6 - No shirts, no shoes.

#7 - Fights will go on as long as they have to.

#8 - If this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight.

Happy reading, happy watching. At the end of this, I am tending to realise that I have blogged this more for myself than for anyone else ;)