Friday, December 23, 2005

An Entertaining Science Book...

Hang on, did I key the title correctly ?? I mean, look at it. "An Entertaining Science Book'.. when was a book on science ever entertaining ?? interesting, yes but entertaining ??.. How many of us found science at school n college entertaining ?.. Newton's laws of motion, oxidation and reduction reactions, chloroplasts and photosynthesis etc etc.. all this was fine, people made careers out of these and other such disciplines.. but still 'entertaining' does not quite fill in.. but thankfully, the book I am reading is of that rare combination.. people who have read it already might know what I am talking abt.. yes it is 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' by Bill Bryson..

Now when I first saw this book at an exhibition a few months back, I was fascinated by the title. I thought, how can anyone write a history, albeit short, of just about everything, much less in a 600 page book ? This, and a quick glance, made me buy the book.. and rightly so, since it is more a reference book rather than something that is borrowed from a friend, read once and then returned..

Ok.. coming to the book.. as the title suggests, its a good narration of how many things and disciplines that we see around us have evolved.. it includes things as infinite as the universe as well as cells, chloroplasts on the other end of the scale..the beauty of all this is that the author has kept the narration simple without going into too much of terminology.. and of course, since this is a book about 'history of science'.. he goes well into how things developed into what they are.. with a good sense of humour thrown in.. for me, the best part of the book is how he has converted scientific quantities and numbers into something that we laymen can imagine.. for eg the fact that Pluto is 'x' million miles away from the Sun may not seem much, but when the author says that from the surface of Pluto, the Sun would appear the size of a pin-head, things begin falling into place and we can grasp the enormity of space much better... with numerous other examples, the author has ensured that scientific dimensions like distances, mass, pressures etc do not remain mere figures with some unit attached to it but are something that we can describe in terms of objects around us.. this makes the book even more entertaining and helps us remember..

So to finish, heres something for the collectors shelf, go ahead and buy it..


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Day out @ Wankhede

Had gone to the Wankhede stadium here in Mumbai on Monday for the India-SA ODI.. Managed to buy tickets by using the 'connections' :-) and went to the ground after a gap of 7 years.. The first thing that strikes you when you take that walk from Churchgate station to the ground is the absolute carnival atmosphere.. thousands of people of all types (the fashionable youth, the middle aged gentlemen with their families and even pretty young ladies :-).. add to it the tricoloured banners which were being sold outside, people painting the tricolour on your cheeks for a paltyr 5 bucks.. all of this testimony to the amazing magnetic power that the game has..
I reached there at 1.45 pm and had to rush to the stands to ensure that I got a place to sit.. the gates open at around 11 am and people start tricking in immediately.. I was just in time... another 10 min delay and I would have had to spent 8 agonizing hours standing.. then I discovered the reason why.. some 10000 ppl had apparently got in with fake tickets... so a stadium with an offical seating capacity of around 42000 was packed with 55000 screaming fans... as with all other public places, trains etc in India (and esp in Mumbai) there were ppl, ppl, ppl everywhere.. and after a time it really gets suffocating.. which brings me to another point.. the Wankhede is an absolutely dull stadium without any charm.. it is actually not befitting Mumbai's status as the cricket capital of India (and after Pawar's win - the BCCI HQ).. it needs something to rival the Eden Gardens... but having said that, things would not change.. you would still have 120 thousand packed against the capacity of 100 thousand.. this happens only in India !!!!

As for the match itself, it was great fun.. Pathan got us off to a great start by taking few early wickets (esp Smith)... that immediately ensured the crowd got into a good mood early on... and when in a good mood, there are few crowds to rival those in Mumbai.. for once, even though they are less in numbers than the ones in Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai.. they have wonderful synchronizations.. so the 'Sachiinnn Sachhinnn' ' Ganpati Bappa Moryaaaaa' can be heard loud and clear on the TV.. the Mexican wave also started in right earnest... and to their credit, the Men in Blue kept up the pressure (especially the fielding was at its athletic best).. and finally restricted the Proteas to 221..

During the supper break went to the canteen and it was absolute mayhem... people were literally falling over each other to get whatever grub was avaliable.. and all of it was over in 15 minutes.. and the loo was no better.. had to wait 10 minutes in a line to relieve myself.. the vendors of course, had a field day... a 350 ml Pepsi glass at 30 bucks, a chocobar icecream at 40 bucks but still a lot of takers.. one guy even had the nerve to come with a jar of 'mineral' water and proclaim 'Ek Glass sirf dus rupaye main'... finally managed to get a grill sandwich and a pepsi and went back to the stands.. by that time the lights were on in full glow and the stadium was a sight..

The Indian innings opened with the Sachin chants as Mumbai's favourite son came out to open the innings.. and he started off with a bang against Ntini and Pollock.. soon Sehwag joined in the fun and the crowd went wild... but Sehwag fell first followed by Sachin on just the first ball after drinks.. but thankfully for the crowd, the skipper played one of his trademark innings and Yuvraj played a gem of an innings to seal the victory...

So thus my proud record was maintained.. have now watched 2 tests and 2 ODIs at the Wankhede and India have won all of them... but more than that its the sheer experience of being at the venue of the match... its something else !!!!

Ciao for now

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Eighteen Months...

Just a small one here... finished eighteen months on the job last weekend.. in some sense, have come some distance.. After considering that a large proportion of my peers are into their second or third jobs, and given the feeling of restlessness, frustration and even anger sometimes that were a part of me the initial few months, I seem to have survived pretty well.. I guess what they say about time being the biggest healer has got more than a grain of truth.. those initial feelings have been replaced by ones of calmness, peace and at times, even blatant and cold indifference .... and while thoughts of switching over have always been in my mind, those are still just thoughts.. and so here I am, 18 months down the line, going on with the same old routine...

That great Marathi author and playwright P L Deshpande once said 'Nokri mhanje lagnyachya baayko sarkhi, dusri changli mhanun pahili sodaychi nahi.. shevti saglya nokrya aani saglya baayka saarkhyach' (Your job is like your lawfully wedded wife... you dont leave them just because the other is better.. finally all jobs , and all women, are pretty much the same :-).. so keeping that in mind, here I sign off, to hit the sack, get ready for another day at the same ol job.....


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Ohhhh.... Aaahhh.... and finally, satisfaction unlimited !!!!

Okie.. so I admit the title was pretty arbit... that goes with the title of this blog.. many of you might have thought of many different things on reading the title :-)... anyways, the title is about the only arbit thing in the post.. cause this post is about something that has got me hooked on over the past couple of months...

First.. a short quiz... at what time of the day am I at my happiest ??? any guesses ?... getting up in the morning ? no-no.. going to bed at night ? well to an extent yes, that is when I look forward to hitting the sack and having a peaceful nite's sleep, but that is not when I am at my happiest.. going to office ???? well, ur kidding me, thats about the worst time of my day... well then what is it ? Well, it roughly happens at around 7.30 am in the morning.. when I walk out, sweat pouring, body aching et all, from the GYM... but, though the body might be aching all over, the mind and heart is at its most happiest and satisfied.... hence the title of this post..

Though I started working out just a couple of months back, it has quickly become one of the most important activities for me. Of course, there were umpteen instances in the past when, driven purely by enthu, where I decided to start jogging or working out in the gym, only to peacefully quit it in a few days. Doesnt it happen with most of us ??? :-) I remember I used to go jogging @ Shivaji Park near my residence both after my 12th Std exams and also when I came back from Bangalore after MBA. Even at IIMB, there was a phase when I used to jog around the campus and also indulge in a bit of badminton.. but all those were passing phases.. very soon, life came back to normal. Studies, job etc took over and the jogging shoes went back to the attic.

So now, I have realised that its nothing but a mental thing.. which, mind you, is very hard to overcome.. like with most other things in life, it takes feirce desire and hard discipline to back that desire.. not that I have got that though.. its still a pain getting up early in the morning... and my attendance at the gym is roughly about 50%.. but hopefully would get to the morning someday wherein I would spring out of bed, jump into my casuals and hop of now, am just glad I made a start :)

So finally, some gyaan: Try the gym if you havent, and trust me, it works wonders not just for the body but also for the mind.. :)

Till the next

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A trip well enjoyed !!!!.. Final Part

We woke up on Sunday morning to the sound of the early morning waves and the sight of the first sun rays of the day peering over from the hills to the east... felt great to poke out of the tent and see the wonderful early morning sight of the beach.. a few passers by looked on.. unable to comprehend why this pack of six vagabonds chose to spent a night on the beach when there was a full fledged resort right besides the beach.. :-) we quickly set about dismantling the tent.. and as with the erecting of the tent, pulling it down was also quick and neat... the entire tent (base of 6ft by 8ft and a height of 6 ft) alongwith accessories got neatly into a small handbag.. ready to be taken anywhere and everywhere.. its a reflection of the great love for the outdoors that people abroad have that you have such wonderful accessories being made there.... a camping trip in India is something most of us (even those in their teens and early 20s) simply cannot relate to.. but things are changing slowly and the spirit of adventure is slowly taking root in our psyche...

Once having packed our stuff, it was time to say goodbye to Ganpatipule and the resort.. got ready and headed straight for a quick breakfast.. then finally left the place to the tune of the "bye-bye bye-bye" ad of VIP... from there on we took a 40 km detour to the sea fort of Jaigad... this was used mainly as a vantage point to keep watch over the Jaigad port which was once a busy port on the Konkan coast.. this fort lies at the mouth of the Sangameshwar river, thus forming an excellent natural harbour for ships to enter and dock.. even on that day, we saw plenty of fishing boats all set to enter the sea for their daily catch.. the view of the sea (from above 500 ft or so) is spectacular.. you can actually see different shades of blue in the water below.. add to that boats and small ships of all sizes adorned the sea.. it all makes up for quite a scene.. plus there is a lighthouse there that works even till today..

From there, it was back to the pavilion.. began the long drive back to Mumbai.. by then most of us were half-dead and promptly went off to sleep in the car... but the pathetic state of the highway (mostly near Panvel) ensured that this did not happen.. finally we pulled in to Mumbai at around 8 pm on Sunday... with memories of a wonderful weekend gone by and the hope that such occassions would not be few and fare between... Hope to go on another such weekend very soon !!!!!

Ciao for now

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A trip well enjoyed !!!! - Part Two...

The first thing we did on landing was to change our plans !!!.. the sight of the blue waters and the sparkling sand was simply irresistible.. so instead of taking an afternoon siesta as decided, we went straight to our rooms, changed and hit the beach within 15 minutes of landing... there we were, in the mid-day heat, enjoying ourselves on the long and deserted beach with not a soul in sight... felt simply great to have the waves refresh you.. and mind you, we are talking here of one of the cleanest water you could find at any beach (tho horribly salty :) .. the fun and games continued for more than an hour before we finally quit for the time being.. then lunch was followed by the delayed afternoon doze...

Early in the evening we visited the famous Ganpati temple there (hence the name Ganpatipule).. a very neat little temple.. situated just besides the sea.. so close, in fact, that at high tide the waves almost reach the entrance of the main temple block.. this is a oft-visited place... the idol here is over 400 yrs old and is supposed to have sprung from the soil... an odd fact that someone told me there.. the idol there faces the west (which I confirmed) which is an exception, at many other temples, the idol actually faces the east (havent checked that out)...

After the visit we were back to, where else, the beach just in time for the sunset.. the golden rays of the evening sun literally turned the beach into a shade of gold... the beaches stretches for a few miles.. so an ideal place to take a long walk (with 'someone' would be ideal :-) in knee-deep water... having done that we came to perhaps the best part of the trip... one of us had bought along a tent from the US (a neat little portable tent).. this was the first time it was being put to use... so we set off building the tent... must say the apparatus was quite simple and 'use-it-yourself' kind... just a quick read of the instruction manual and the tent was up in about 15 min flat... passersby looked on quizically, surprisingly and somewhat amusingly as we put up the tent..

Then, as the sun gave way to the twilight hours, we simply put up a mattress outside and lay down on the beach... as we lay there, the crescent of the moon appeared on the western horizon alongwith the bright Venus.. and before long, the sky was filled with stars.. this, according to me, is the best part of visiting a village... the number of stars you see is simply astounding... makes the night sky appear all the more intimidating.. add to that, the sound of the waves, the reflection of the moon in the water.. all make for a special sight.... try being alone on any beach (not the ones in the city) at night.. you will know what I mean.. we counted some 15 odd shooting stars that night.. had I known this before I would have kept my wish-list ready.. :) nevertheless, managed to ask what I wanted the most... aage bhagwan maalik ..

Soon it was time for dinner.. we simply took out the drinks... went back to the resort restaurent and asked for starters to accompany the booze... and also asked for all kinds of 'jugaad'... candles, bottle openers, ice, matchsticks .. u name it :)... the guy at the restaurent was exasperated by your demands.. but he managed most of the things and deserved the hefty tip that we gave him :-)

At around 10, the booze session started.. the beach guard saw us going down to the beach with the stuff and asked us to stay off the beach at night... but still we managed to reach our tent.. I got a sense of how it must have been during the blackouts that happen during wartime.. here we were, 6 of us in a small tent having dinner in candlelight with darkness all around the tent.. taking care that the tent and the light inside it were not seen by anyone.. to add to that, the dogs around smelt the food and a pack of them soon promptly gathered around the tent.... all in all pretty errie ... the usual songs followed.. Jagjit, Kishore n the like... after the starters were devoured, it was time for 'moon-bathing' again :)... Lying on a beach with a glass in hand in the middle of the night was something which I frankly had not imagined myself ever.. felt great though.. the fun and games lasted till around 3 before four of us went back to the tent and hit the sack (the tent was actually big enough to hold 4 persons sleeping)...

Last part to follow soon...


Monday, October 10, 2005

A trip well enjoyed !!!! - Part One..

Let me begin my blogging on a good note.. by describing something nice that I finally got after a long wait... a nice weekend getaway :) .. after working day in n day out (not that I put in too many hrs of work :) this is something that really gets you going..

so the past weekend I finally said 'to hell with the work' and packed my bags for a weekend trip to a serene place called Ganpatipule on the west coast of India about 150 km north of Goa... went alongwith my office friends... all like-minded souls bored to death by the monotony of work and wishing for some adventure in life..

With a round trip of nearly 800 kms to do in 2 days we started really early on Saturday at arnd 4 am !!!!!... did not fancy myself (or the others) to get up so early but still we managed it.. and a good thing also... coz since we started early we had an empty highway to ourselves... as the sun appeared on the eastern horizon we were far far away from this maddening city and its drab life.. almost felt like being freed from jail... :)

The road is itself wonderful... passing through quite a few 'ghats', the long and winding road offers spectaular views of the Sahadyris to your left and the plains to your right.. and for the most part it was a pretty good here... (one thing I must say.. the general highways in the countryside have improved over the past few years.. not withstanding the Western Exp Highway right in the heart of the city :-)).. At around noon we finally closed in on Ganpatipule... the final 20 kms are just tooo goodd... you are driving west.. there are coconut trees on both sides of the road and on the horizon in front you can almost feel the sea in the distance but it is cleverly hidden from view... with the last 3 kms left the sea makes a spectacular appearance... the first sight of it (see pic) makes you absolutely crazy... so finally we pulled in at the MTDC resort at around 12.30 pm after a eight-hour drive...

More to follow in the next installment.... so stay tuned !!!! :-)


Welcome !!!

Helloo all... welcome to my blogging site.. 'your space on the net' as they call it :-) .. certainly is a great way to pen your thoughts and have ppl read it too....
so hope to keep on writing all kinds of stuff... from the good to the bad to the completely arbit to the downright ridiculuous.. :-) and hope that you will keep on visiting...

ciao till my first actual post..