Friday, March 2, 2012

Must learn a lesson

A friend of mine commented, "You haven't blogged since a long time, may be you haven't traveled any place new lately."

My blogging frequency has reduced. I many times think up of a lot of stuff to write, but alas... procrastination takes it all away. Anyways, today's blog is spontaneous, and it is not a travelogue.

Time and again, we slip into this mode of uncertainty. Uncertainty about the future is something which disturbs almost everyone. And when the future is linked with people around you, responsibility increases manifold. Lately, I have been exceptionally fickle minded about certain things, which has adversely affected my loved ones.

I am pissed off with myself. I want to stick to what I have in mind, and not get influenced by people's opinions. People opine based on their experience. But experiences are specific cases, and should not be generalized. One must listen to a lot of stuff, but act only according to one's beliefs. I must learn to listen to my inner voice, and act on it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

In Bruges

This post has nothing Collin Farrell's movie. I always devote significant time in thinking for an apt title for my posts, but this one came pretty easily. Apart from the fact that I actually went to Bruges, the article is likely to have more hits with this title.

So it all began with I getting a nice deal for the company, and to my delight, the project kick-off meeting was scheduled in Brussels. Thus, I got respite from the dusty plains of Middle East countries, and was totally looking forward to visit Europe... yeah.

The only problem was that the temperatures in the first week of November have traditionally always been in single digits (deg celsius). But thanks to global warming, even at 11 in the night, the temperature never went below 14 deg celsius.

The famous Belgian lace work

I went with my colleague, and we were determined to finish our meeting as soon as possible. We successfully concluded the meeting in 1.5 days, and secured 2.5 days for bhraman. Work wise, this was an excellent learning experience. The project consultants admitted that they were not in favour of working with Indian suppliers, as they have not heard of good experiences. But, they were quite happy (at least they said so) to see our preparation and clarity on the project. My 'french' also played a major role in getting really good terms with them. The unofficial minutes of meeting finally had the names of 6 brands of beer which one must taste in Brussels.

KWAK in the KWAK glass. They have different serving glasses for different brands of beer.

In Brussels, I experienced the rich European culture. It was so good. The climate itself had a very fresh feel to itself. My friend Srideep told me of US, "if you plan something in US, things will work, you will never have to worry about a plan B". I experienced something similar in Brussels.

Automium in background of a model structure in Mini-Europe

Even with my broken french, I could swiftly negotiate with people, get to stations, travel in buses / trams / metros, without getting lost. It was all so smooth. In Brussels, we saw the Grand Place, Manneken Pis, Grand Place, Mini-Europe, Automium, and Casino Viage. I tasted almost more than 10 brands of beer, and KWAK and BELLE-VUE stand out of the lot. The restaurants were all so warm, with excellent ambiance.

The last day, I was determined to go out of Brussels, on my own. I did not want a guided tour. I visited a local vegetable / cheese / meat / fish market in the morning, and then started off to Bruges. We reached there in about a couple of hours. No inconvenience at all. Bruges is known as the Venice of north. I have not seen Venice, but Bruges was impressive in it's own spirit. Not so big town, great restaurants, plenty of tourists, canals and boating... and yes musicians. In my four days in Bressels, I saw a violinist play mozart, a guitarist playing the nylon strings at the Grand Place, a group performing in a corner in Bruges, and a couple playing harp and guitar on the banks of canals in Bruges. I had never heard harp playing, but the sweetness of sound was magical.

Couple playing harp and guitar

The most outstanding thing to drink in case you have cold - Vin Chaud (Hot Wine)

For details, you can call me up, because I don't think I will ever be bored of telling in detail about this trip of mine to people. I am glad I had this opportunity, and look forward to a better and stronger European connection in the future... fingers crossed.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My trip to the countryside

Well, for a change, I was in Pipavav for a day.

I started from Vadodara on Saturday evening, to reach Bhavnagar late in the night, to find Mamme waiting for me. My flatmate Anil remarked that this seems to be some sort of a meeting of estranged lovers, meeting each other in a place totally unknown and renting a room for the night to catch up with each other's lives. It was all pretty much true, except the lovers part.

We stayed in a hotel, spoke about a lot of stuff going on in our lives. The next morning, we left for Pipavav at 6, to reach there at 11. The weather was awesome, the greenery was soothing, the breeze was refreshing. We ate at the punjabi dhaba, popularly known as the "Container" because of its location. I went to Mamme's office, and the best part... I was given a guided tour of the ship, the first one to be launched from the Pipavav port.

The tea stall of the Dhaba, hidden behind the stack of containers

Rudder of the ship, and notice the size of people on the yellow bridge

Chains used to anchor the ship

You can never imagine how big these cargo ships are... you have to actually see one to believe it. Most of us see the floating mammoths. Being science students, most of us know that anything that floats, has a lot of volume submerged... but again the point is, you have to see to actually believe it. THE THING WAS MASSIVE. In fact, there were 2 ships, The Golder Bull, and The Golder Suek. Both were equally big, more than 200m long. The process of floating the ship started on Sunday, at 3 in afternoon.. and I and Mamme watched the process start, standing on the deck of the Suek.

After the whole ship experience, where I felt very proud to be an engineer, and actually got inspired to remain in core sector, we marched on to the "city center" tea stall. The whole day, it was drizzling, and we enjoyed getting wet slowly. The shoes I was wearing did not fit my big feet, and after the whole experience, returning back to the dorms, a drink seemed to be a perfect way to conclude the fine proceedings of the day. Me, Mamme, and a senior from our insti sat down and asked the question.. "Have I made it large". The answer almost always was NO.

We rode our way to Rajula, on a pulsar. I rode swiftly.. under influence. It was mesmerizing. The evening was still fresh from the day's rains, the roads still damp. Herds of cows passed us, mud splashed all around our feet, riding on the road with green fields on the sides, made me feel as if I was riding in some fairy land. Some more talks at the bus stop, and it was time for me to say good bye to Mamme, but I am sure the bugger will be there at my place sooner than I begin to miss him.

Finally, i was thinking of a way to end this post.. when I got the message from Mamme, "It's floating".

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The third visit

Kuwait feels like home. I know the airport. I know the person who is going to be at the counter to book my cab for the hotel. I know the hotel location where I am going to stay. My computer remembers the network to access the internet. Even my android knows that. The receptionist and the restaurant lady are familiar. I know the best thing on the menu in the hotel cafe is hot chocolate. The room layout is always exactly the same. Hard rock cafe is always visible from my room window. I know what I will be eating in the morning breakfast. I know what to expect in lunch. I know the people whom I am going to deal with all through the day.

Kuwait is not exactly the place where one could be surprised. The same boring weather, the same boring people, no noise on the roads (except that of the vehicles). I probably find the perfect order of the things a bit disturbing. So I thought of making the evening a bit unusual. After speaking to my family back home, I decided to make the most of the evening, which could be the last evening in Kuwait for a long time to come. At around 8, I started off from the hotel in search of a local sweets shop. I had no vehicle at my disposal, hence I started the walk. One hour after intense walking through unknown streets, I gave up on the search. I decided to turn towards the ocean, where I saw people play in the sand and in the sea... and I made up my mind. By 10, I was done with my dinner (one plate grilled salmon with cheese, and one cranberry juice). I walked back to my room (10 min walk from the beach), kept my wallet and phone inside. With only the hotel card (used to open the door), I set out towards the beach. My love for the sea water made the proposition of a night swim irresistible. I took off my clothes (expect for the shorts) and dived into the chilled waters. There is nothing better in the world than to be absorbed by the immense power of the sea, to feel the waves against your body, and to be humbled by the sheer potential of the water.

I walked by to my room with my underwear drenched, and my soul soaked.

Harley Davidson at the HRC

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Great Depression

No, this is not an article on economics, and has nothing to do with America. It is solely based on the experiences of a person who came near, very near to the place where they have HUGE reserves of the precious liquid, oil.

I got into the plane; I looked around, all working class people, I got depressed. The air hostess asked me for my drinks preference, I asked for red wine, got it in a plastic glass, I got depressed. My legs ached due to cramped space in the Jet airways plane Boeing 737, I got depressed. None of the passengers had dedicated screens for entertainment on the way, I got depressed. I got down at the airport, walked through the immigration and stuff. On my way out, I saw no duty free liquor shops, I got depressed. I found the taxi driver, got into the taxi, it was a Mercedes, I got depressed.

I saw the wide 8 lane roads, cars moving at 120kmph, I got depressed. I saw no 2 wheelers on the road, I got depressed. I went to the avenues mall, soon to be the largest in Middle East, I got depressed. I saw the flawless beauty of the gulf, but most of them in veils, I got depressed. I saw teenagers, almost kids, driving SUVs I got depressed.

I went to the hard rock cafe, no alcohol was being served, another Gujrat, I got depressed. I was roaming around near the beach, right next to a sea side hotel, and a Kuwaiti lady comes and asks whether I work at the hotel. I got depressed. She considered me as one of the thousands of drivers, waiters, labours, from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, who speak hindi.

Still, the assault was not over. Sridhar, the guy who accompanied me to various clients told me that on the Kuwait’s 50th independence day, the locals (only the citizens) got 1000 KD each, as gift from the government. Well, that is equivalent to almost 1.8 lacs INR... for free! If that was not enough, they gave away 14 month’s ration free to all the citizens. I got very depressed.

The journey continued, and as soon as I was getting accustomed to the infinite wealth around me, Sridhar drove his car (Honda Accord) to the petrol pump, asked for a full tank. He paid 4.8 KD (approx 850 INR) for 65 litres of petrol, I got super depressed. That was like 13rs./litre, against the 62rs./litre, which I get in India.

I got back to Mumbai, the familiar cacophony of the vehicles and people. The auto drivers, the congested roads, the liquor shops, the normal looking people, Katrina Kaif on the bill boards (the only flawless beauty), no AC, the noise of horns, the indiscipline of the traffic, and all of a sudden I find myself smiling. The gloom was lifted, the cheer was back. I was home. There is an enjoyment in the deliberateness of life, which I could now feel, and I was happy again.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I got Leh-ed

Yeah, I am back with a bang.

Last week, I went to Ladakh, with Doodh, Dedh, Mayur, Bachha. I have had many outings with my friends during my four years of college, but this one was special in many ways:
  • One has time in the student life, now I have money, god knows when will be the time, when I have both.
  • This trip was impeccably planned, and yet, every plan failed.
  • It will be long before I meet Dedh again, he is flying to US shortly.
  • I missed a lot of people, who should have been on the trip.
  • We had beautiful locations for photographs and videos.

Anyways, I will be putting a detailed description of my trip, and I promise a video compilations by the year end, of all the moments we have captured on this trip. For now, I will leave some snaps!

Biker gang (we plan to conquer the Himalayas on Enfields)

Ek atoot rishta

Dharmachakra at the hind

The Gompa pose

The way forward

Sunday, April 25, 2010

CSK, the happening!

When I wrote the the last post, Chennai was the second last team in the heap. Now, its one of the top 2. Miracles can happen, and one is very evident here.

In the second half of the tournament, thanks to the emergence of Ashwin, Bollinger, and Vijay, we are again in the finals, claiming our stake for the championship. Also the consistency of Raina, Badri's patient play, Dhoni 's resurgence, have facilitated the cause. And I wish, the team wins tonight.

I am getting very sentimental about IPL being over. I don't care about the controversies, they are side shows. But, the tournament has been fun. The discussions with my friends, the fellow supporters, and also with die hard opponents of CSK, have been electric. From tomorrow, there will surely be a void in our lives. With this, I wish to see a fighting contest tonight, and may the best team win.