Antargange Trek..

23 06 2008

Pure Exhiliaration is the word of the day. Thanks for the insistence of a sweet pal, which made me head for this trek instead of watching ‘Dasavatharam’ or indulging in window shopping.

This is the first time that I tried ‘Bangalore Mountaineering Club’ and I must say that I am pleasantly surprised by the experience. We boarded the bus at 8 AM at K.R. Puram busstop and I was surprised to see 50 plus people in the bus, given the short notice. I guess the quality of the companionship in the group made all the difference to this trekking experience.

The trip started with around 90 minutes of bus journey from Bangalore to reach Kolar. We caught up with the breakfast at ShanthiSagar in Kolar which is around 3 km from the ‘Antargange’ location. We reached the place in no time and there was a pack of stairs leading up to the temple. We were welcomed by loads of monkeys, and the pleasant sunny breeze warmed us for the trek ahead.

We reached the Antargange temple after a little climb of stairs, and I already had doubts forming in my mind, if the trek actually is over before it even began. The temple is filled with serene silence and the group is abuzz with action for the impending climb. Making the temple as our base camp, we started the trek with Janak playing the lead trekker and Neeraj trailing to support the cozy climbers.

The path is paved with sand, rock, thorns and the sun, in his blazing glory, wasn’t playing the good Samaritan. Yet, undaunted, many were climbing ahead, one step at a time, in a quiet determination to discover the terrain. I really marvelled at the energy of the crowd in climbing and cave exploring in the region. By noon, we reached the peak of a mountain(if I can call it that) and were ready to go for cave exploration after a relaxed lunch on the peak of a mountain by the side of a small brook filled with chilled water. Cold feet takes a different meaning when you get to rest by dipping feet in chilled water on the top of a mountain in sooting breeze after a hectic trek uphill.

The beauty of mingling with a group in an organized trek, is the sheer experience of encountering different people with different choices and interests. There would be some exploring the untrodden path, some who would take time around to smell the roses and savour the scenary around, while some who run ahead in childlike enthusiam of scaling the peak ahead only to discover that there is no dearth of rocks. Everyone discovering his or her own private definition of solitude and enjoyment amidst wilderness and sun.

If the climb uphill through the rocks in no definite path was a journey on its own, filled with a different thrill of navigating through the boulders that challenge your endurance, the cave exploration post lunch unleashed the childlike exuberance of discovering the unknown. Armed with a naive faith that the dark holds no terror, we all went through the natural caves, to discover our own recess for solitude amidst the mammoth rocks that are resting since centuries. Those rocks filled with small crevices are loaded with umpteen challenges. Often, finding a way ahead in the maze of boulders becomes daunting as the chances of hitting a dead end means reinventing the wheel once again. The wild flowers with their gentle fragrance, and the natural caves with their cold soothing embrace did offer some sanctury against the sultry weather. We did learn some gymnastics, prodding ourselves though the closely nested rocks to reach no definite destination in an easy pace.

The view from the top is breath taking! Enveloped by sand, rock, sky and sun, the town of Kolar looks serene and calm. All I could feel was numbing contentment. With so many people sharing the joy of experience, the thought that lingered in that moment was, ‘who said its lonely at the top?’. 🙂 I was in for a treat while getting down. We discovered a small well with pristine sweet water and I relived the fantasy of a village gal by drawing water from the well and enjoying its sweet taste in primitive fashion. With loads of memories and sated satisfaction, we headed for Bangalore playing Antakshari enroute with the new found pals. We sealed off the day with a quiet dinner at Malgudi and bid our farewell. I had my much needed break, and I confess this, even though the after effects of the trek still remain in my hoarse throat and aching muscles.





Matters of Insignificance…

27 05 2008

My morning calm was perturbed by a really insignificant matter today. For those who know me only through this online medium, one of my queer little idiosyncrasies include punctuality. The time on my watch is always 10 minutes ahead, and on the top of it, I try to make it five minutes in advance to the Time I have in mind. So, if I plan for an 7:30 AM morning walk to office, negotiations are rarely allowed.

Most (almost all) of my mornings are heavily dosed with a random discipline of adherence to some schedule, which sounds logical only through retrospective justification. And so was today. My dependence on another person delayed my morning walk at 7:30 by 40 minutes which took me through a phase of disquiet and I ended up taking the cab instead. Just because there was a mismatch between what happened and what I had scheduled to happen, I was jolted out of my composure and couldn’t appreciate the beauty of the moment.

Learning to live in the beauty of the present seems like an eternal pursuit indeed.





My Ebook Collection…

22 05 2008

As I have promised, here is the list of the ebooks from the TIME top 100 Novels list that I have in my personal collection. If you are interested in having any of these,just click on the name for the rapidshare link, or  just drop me a comment with your email ID, and I would be able to email the book for you. 🙂

A disclaimer here: I am encouraging the usage of Ebooks indeed, though I would prefer the silent rapture of being immersed in a physical book any day. Yet, if we look at the availability and access to these modern classics, most of these are rare treasures that are hard to come my way over a breezy shopping fest. And I don’t believe that these 100 Novels are the best of the literature ever produced, for some of my most cherished books like Life Of Pi, Alchemist, Kite Runner, The Stranger, Fountain Head, Alice In Wonderland are still treasured even if they are not hailed in any literary short lists. However, I still see this as an opportunity to discover new worlds that are ensconced in these books.

I am hoping to update this list, as and when I acquire more books. If you come across any of the books that are not listed here and are part of the TIME collection, please do share. 🙂

For the lucky ones for whom this link works, all the below books can be downloaded as a single file. 🙂

  1. The Adventures of Augie March By Saul Bellow
  2. American Pastoral By Philip Roth
  3. An American Tragedy By Theodore Dreiser
  4. Animal Farm By George Orwell
  5. Appointment in Samarra By John O’Hara
  6. At Swim-Two-Birds By Flann O’Brien
  7. Atonement By Ian McEwan
  8. Beloved By Toni Morrison
  9. The Big Sleep By Raymond Chandler
  10. The Blind Assassin By Margaret Atwood
  11. Blood Meridian By Cormac McCarthy
  12. Brideshead Revisited By Evelyn Waugh
  13. The Bridge of San Luis Rey By Thornton Wilder
  14. Catch-22 By Joseph Heller
  15. The Catcher in the Rye By J.D. Salinger
  16. A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burgess
  17. The Crying of Lot 49 By Thomas Pynchon
  18. Death Comes for the Archbishop By Willa Cather
  19. A Death in the Family By James Agee
  20. Gone With the Wind By Margaret Mitchell
  21. Gravity’s Rainbow By Thomas Pynchon
  22. The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald
  23. A Handful of Dust By Evelyn Waugh
  24. A House for Mr. Biswas By V.S. Naipaul
  25. I, Claudius By Robert Graves
  26. Infinite Jest By David Foster Wallace
  27. Invisible Man By Ralph Ellison
  28. Light in August By William Faulkner
  29. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe By C.S. Lewis
  30. Lolita By Vladimir Nabokov
  31. Lord of the Flies By William Golding
  32. The Lord of the Rings By J.R.R. Tolkien
  33. Midnight’s Children By Salman Rushdie
  34. Money By Martin Amis
  35. Mrs. Dalloway By Virginia Woolf
  36. Naked Lunch By William Burroughs
  37. Neuromancer By William Gibson
  38. 1984 By George Orwell
  39. On the Road By Jack Kerouac
  40. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest By Ken Kesey
  41. Pale Fire By Vladimir Nabokov
  42. A Passage to India By E.M. Forster
  43. Portnoy’s Complaint By Philip Roth
  44. The Power and the Glory By Graham Greene
  45. Slaughterhouse-Five By Kurt Vonnegut
  46. The Sound and the Fury By William Faulkner
  47. The Sun Also Rises By Ernest Hemingway
  48. Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe
  49. To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee
  50. Tropic of Cancer By Henry Miller
  51. Watchmen By Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
  52. White Noise By Don DeLillo
  53. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  54. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
  55. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  56. Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
  57. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
  58. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
  59. Play it as it Lays by Joan Didion
  60. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
  61. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  62. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

P.S. For those who are list hungry, Susheel shared 1001 books list, which can also be found here. Worth checking out. 🙂





The Fires Within..

18 05 2008

When Was The Last Time That I Did Something For the First Time?

I attended a dance performance by Natyalakshana, called ‘The Fires Within’ which was sponsored by Bosch Cultural Events at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall this Friday. For those who were wondering about my new found interest in traditional art forms, I have to ascribe due credit to those unconventional inspirations that result from boredom.

And how glad I was that my whim took me there. How I thanked my friends for their exotic and audacious suggestion to take me there! The show was a beautiful symphony of music, dance and art, where flying feet gave voice to age old legends. The legendary poems represented are selected verses from Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Gitanjali’, Bharathiyar’s ‘Dikku Theriyada Katil’ and a few selection of Mirza Ghalib’s poetry in Kathak. I loved the ‘Dikku Theriyada Katil’ and Ghalib’s poetry representation, where I felt that the dancers delivered a magnificent justice to the poems.

Shama and Sanjay’s ‘Dikku Theriyada Katil’ and Hari and Chandana’s ‘Mirza Ghalib piece’ had a delicate balance of perfection and expression and they held me in rapture through out. The dance drama that followed, called Tagore’s ‘Tasher Desh’ was a little bit disappointing, but the blame rests with my expectations which reached the sky by the end of the first two performances. If I have to define the experience, words would surely fail me as I am running short of superlatives. I could never realize that poetry could be so brilliantly enticing and soul wrenching. I was swaying in a world, so out of myself and the feeling is liberating. I believe that the credit of those beautiful moments goes to those on back stage as well. A special mention for Usha Venkateshwaran, the director of Natyalakshana who choreographed and produced the dances. Simone for the wonderful sway of lights and Sri Gurumurthy and Ustad Faizal Khan for their mellifluous music.

This event did make me reflect on my opinions towards conventional art forms. For to achieve perfection in blending, a music so divine, a dance that lent life to poetry and expressions that tugged heart, it must either have been Divine’s grace or years’ practice. It did teach me a thing or two about the immense beauty that’s submerged in Indian tradition and art. Like a welcome summer rain, my heart kissed the joy and danced along enticed in the magical world of dance, music and poetry. A worthy life long memory that’s for me for keeps.

Here are the translations in English for the Ghalib’s poetry that’s recited in the Event.

“O God Thy blessings on the soul
Whose name just came to my lips.
And as I willed that it be sung,
My speech rained kisses on my tongue.

These images drawn by Thee to make
Thine grand image, this world
Stand there like supplicants bowed in prayer:
Their burden they can’t bear.

The Fire in me, it rages high,
Though I be bound in chains.
The chain rings bounce,for they are light
Like hair all curled by flame

No simile matches her playfulness
And her quick-silver, passionate ways,
For, lighting lacks, by far, her play
And her temper is hotter than a blaze.

It is the nature of love, no doubt:
A kind of freak fire, which
You cannot start just when you wish,
Nor can you put it out.

A fire is raging in my heart
On this lonely night
My own shadow doth run from me
A smoke from fire takes flight.

It is ages since my beloved’s feet
Did cross this poor threshold.
So let her, with her twinkling cups,
Light up my dark abode.

My bustling crowd of desires
Each took my breath away!
Though I could quench many, many of them,
Yet millions remain un-slaked.





Frog Princess…

15 05 2008

And there is a special reason behind this title. 🙂 Its a personal moment of happiness for me, as one of my pals found his frog princess over the virtual world. There is an aura of happiness around me, a sense of mirth that surrounds one when something good happens to people you care for. Mood of the moment is commanded by bliss, and here I retire with prayers wishing the best for him.





A Testimonial Of Love…

26 04 2008

Sometimes I wonder that’s what love in life is. Love and its longing weaves a lilting yearning in my life that I seldom pause to wonder at the magic of love that I subconsciously indulge in. Love that’s giving, love that can make a prophet, martyr or a seer out of a self centered person. Yet, at times I cant help but ponder if love is selfish. When those really close loved ones ask for a testimonial of love. I feel like saying that love is not a piece of cake where each may lay their claim. Yet, its that obligation of relationship that makes me play along. Especially when I really believe in the strength of their affection. Something in that mental makeup of mine votes for that obligation that springs from love over privatism(or the joy that results from celebtrating my individuality). May be, its true. We all change for the ones we love. 

True to my stars, I can seldom differentiate between love and friendship, as I think one feeds on another. Sometimes, I tilt much towards the latter, as it taught me how to give without expectations and about being there in times of need. Yet, if I have to sum life in a few words, its always family, friends and a chance of self-expression.





A Take On Beauty..

10 03 2008

This post is dedicated to Anita Roddick for she led my personal favorite campaign on Self Esteem called ‘The Ruby Campaign’. Ruby was a realistically and generously proportioned doll that tried to mock the all so perfect Barbie which hammered the young girl generation in to getting into that perfect shape at any cost and there by falling prey to eating disorders, bulimia etc. Being a part of the very cosmetics industry, Anita champions an ethical revolution by quoting, “It makes me angry, not only because it is a male-dominated industry built on creating needs that don’t exist, but because it seems to have decided that it needs to make women unhappy about their appearances. It plays on self-doubt and insecurity about image and ageing by projecting impossible ideals of youth and beauty.” Though am a self confessed prude, I cant resist posting the Ruby posters over here for the benefit of folks who are discovering Ruby right now.

Some facts that the Ruby Campaign highlights is

“# There are 3 billion women who don’t look like super models and only eight who do.
# Marilyn Monroe wore a size 14.
# If Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.
# The average woman weighs 144 lbs and wears between a 12-14.
# Scaled to life size, a Barbie doll would be 7’2″. She would have a 40″ bust, a 22″ waist and 36″ hips.
# One out of every four college-aged women has an eating disorder.
# A psychological study in 1995 found that three minutes spent looking at a fashion magazine caused 70 percent of women to feel depressed, guilty, and shameful.”

Ruby kind of explores in a deep way the notions of beauty, desirability and the society induced guilt which propagate unwholesome psychological needs of beauty. And now men are not left either in that pursuit of unreasonable Adonis. With all media going gaga about the chiseled muscle men, many of the guys are pumping their Testosterone in those high intensity workouts for that perfect V shape. Yesterday, in one of those engaging discussions with my pal, I had my first brush with this guilt in a guy. Though it gives a grim satisfaction if I consider those issues of equality in dark humor, I couldn’t digest my friends going through this phenomenon without an awareness of the baggage that they carry. If we are chiseling ourselves for being good enough and attractive to that illusionary partners, we are piling our subconscious under a mountain of guilt and inferiority complex. And tell me this. How can I expect to be loved for what I can be, if I don’t love myself for what I am? For love with oneself is expressed in the way we relate to humanity. Unless I am comfortable with myself and accept myself for what I am, I can never accept the other person for what he or she is. I would burden him or her with unreasonable expectations and may build pressure on them to live up to my love, almost expecting them to pay a price for a chance at a relationship with me.

Guess, I need to clarify here, as I have indeed suggested diet plans for a couple of my friends while advising them to keep their weight in check. I did so, as I experimented with myself with various diets and I indeed believe that holistic life includes being right sized for flexibility, health and activity. I do believe that a well balanced holistic lifestyle attuned to nature wouldn’t store excess fat or flab on body. Yet, we are the way we are based on the trade offs and the choices we made. I am comfortable with what I am and I won’t let some external entity alter my views on beauty, femininity or the acceptability or desirability of myself. To put it simply, I use or try things based on my interest or curiosity and not because ‘I am worth it’.

If I look at the entire process and concept of beautification, I feel that its an attempt by all of us to be loved and accepted a little more. Isn’t it? Yet, my appeal for all is to do it for oneself and internalize that idea of beauty that you have after keen reflection. I hate to see anyone being plagued by a concept called alienation: of being a part of the world you don’t want to be in and working for a goal that you can’t own in heart for societal or for ‘the significant other’s’ sake. We all try to change for those we love, yet do keep this in mind. Those who reciprocate wouldn’t care whether we are good enough and those who don’t doesn’t matter. Falling in love with oneself, and wearing that narcissistic hat once in a while is a great way to catch that conceptual perfect unicorn for yourself. Cherish all that is you, coz you are unique in our own special way just like everyone else is and noone can take that from you.

Here’s my favorite Darren Hayes’s “Good Enough” song for you all. I loved this song both for its lyrics and the music. 🙂

“If I woke up late
Couldn’t get out of bed
If I bought you a cafe latte instead
If I lied when I said
32 inches was the size of my waist
And can I admit
Every once in a while
Even though I dig alternative style
Occasionally
I can be caught dancin’ to Brittany
And can I confess
That art house doesn’t turn me on
But I like every single thing that Speilberg’s done

Could I be good enough
Could I be good enough
If the going got worse
And the worse got rough
The days became endless
And harder than tough
I’d be good enough
Better than best
Would be simply to be good enough
If everything I give
Doesn’t seem like a lot
If it’s all that I got
Baby tell that could be good enough “