Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Nandi Hills...Trekkers Joy!

Nandi Hills
Location: 30 Kms from Bengaluru on the Hyderabad highway
Conveyance: Unfortunately, own vehicle, I haven't seen any public transport on the way. There are buses till one point and from there, auto rickshaws I guess! Cycling enthusiasts can cycle till there(but can't trek!!)
Take these along: Biscuits, water and dry fruits. There is nothing around!
The Nandi Hills!

For those from Bengaluru and surrounding places, who are going for trekking in the Himalayas, there is this wonderful place called Nandi hills which can be used for practice. The hill looks like a bull it seems. Good enough! Those, serious about trekking, do not take the usual routine route which everyone follows. There is one hill called, Skandagiri(source:unknown) which once had a small size fort. The normal route is simple and might take an hour to reach the peak. The different and difficult path takes longer and is quite enjoyable. At one point, you get struck with no rock offering proper grip to hold. At one point, the path is extremely thin and full of thorns. You cannot escape but get pricked by these thorns a multiple places. Then there are rocks as smooth as, I don't know, but they are smooth and the thing is, once you start climbing there is no going back the same way except there might be rolling down the same way. Not something we want to happen!
Will look gorgeous when its green!!

As steep as it seems to be!!

Then there is this merger with the routine route. Here, one can find the remains of an old, small fort, if you want to call it one. There are people selling nice buttermilk. Some more easy trekking, you will reach the peak. All throughout the journey upwards and even from the top, it is very scenic. Especially just before the harvest time, when there is this green carpet down. It's beautiful. The wind is very strong here. Probably because there are few hills which are slightly apart! Two old structures are on the top. There is a temple and a big Nandi outside and a small Nandi inside the temple!! Can spend half an hour or so until you get bored of the continuous strong wind and return. Its very important that one takes the routine route to go down. 
Beautiful & the pond has 'Doctor Fish!!'

Then, two Kms in the return journey, there are places to see. Famous civil engineer and Bharatratna, Sir.M.Viswesvarayya's birth place is here and there is a bea..utiful temple of Bhoganandiswara. Especially the Kalyani is superb. One can, apart from the peace in a rush-less temple, get this "Fish Pedicure" by Doctor Fish in the pool of the temple!! I can bet that after the long trek, one gets very very hungry and the temple offers free Prasad(food) to all. It's delicious. And hot too, plus, you will be definitely hungry. All this finishes by the afternoon. By around three or four, one can reach the heart of Bengaluru. This is recommended for a one-day entertainment!

Caution: Go, only if you are fit for and will enjoy trekking. Start in Bengaluru by around six am. Eat a heavy breakfast and go. If you feel you should not eat before trekking, be prepared to get nothing to eat after the trek as well (you could take food packets if you wish!). Most importantly, wear proper shoes and never sandals. Do not hesitate to remove shoes at some places.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Two Shocks in a Single Day

HALA Madrid. Vamos Real!!
I support FC Real Madrid because I like it and also my favourite athlete, Rafael Nadal supports it. I am a fan of Swansea city FC actually and a follower of the Manchester United football club too. In the champions league finals yesterday, I really thought it was Atletico Madrid which might win even before the match. Of course, eighty nine minutes into the match too, no one would have believed that Real Madrid would emerge as the winners had they switched off their television sets then. Real Madrid made up for not winning the Spanish league this year too!
Sergio Ramos got the equaliser in the extra time! What a drama the next half an hour was! I am really happy for Gareth bale (its impossible to forget his goal in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona) and Christiano Ronaldo(playing in front of his home crowd!) for scoring in the finals. They are the best pair this European season. The top scorer of the Champions League, Ronaldo with 17 goals will get the Ballon d'or this time. I am suhttp://surya108.blogspot.in/2014/05/two-shocks-in-single-day.htmlre. But the most wonderful thing in the match was the equaliser by Ramos. Superb shock, really a wonderful one!

What the hell!!
"Indian Premier League is time waste. The matches are too dramatic. IPL is no more fun. It is not cricket!" These were the dialogues I used to hear from my friends always. Some of them even stopped watching IPL. I never agreed with them. I always felt it to be enjoyable and genuine. I used to follow every edition of IPL closely. I did this year too...untill today. Until I got the news that "impossible has now become possible!" Chasing down 190 in 14 overs??!! Somehow, it fails to leave a positive remark. This is unbelievable. I even heard that sportsmanship was compromised in the process of winning!! Well, now I agree with my friends. I am watching IPL no longer. saddest part is, a great man, a cricketing legend and a gentleman, Rahul Dravid has a part, hopefully a passive one. Until last year, I was unable to see him play those paddle sweeps and scoop shots. Now, I cannot see him lose his cool, throw down his cap and do drama for stupid club matches. If Ganguly did that, there is some meaning. He has done it for the country too. But not Dravid. It is just shocking!! So, please come out of that Mr.Jammy.

The difference between the two dramas is the following. Whether matches were genuine or not is not the question. But, the entertainment provided by the UEFA Champions League final match between the football clubs from the city of Madrid was way better and much believable and legitimate than the match between Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians in IPL. Yes, they are two different games. And I strongly disagree with those who compare these two matches. I am talking about the kind of entertainment they provided. Where the football match impressed extraordinarily with one single goal at the right time, the cricket match failed to make people (ones like me) believe that is as much worth!! 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Air Conditioned Helmets!!

Well, half of the useful innovations have come from research in defense and sports. The Global Positioning System, quantum computing and nanofabrics are examples. It's well known, I guess that the defense research is spearheaded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, USA. And, in sports, innovation is most required and possible in FormulaOne.

The Edgewood Chemical Biological Center of the US Army came up with the idea of an air conditioned fan for soldiers to 'beat the heat' in battles. There is a battery at the back of the helmet. A fan pulls in the air and filters are arranged so that good air sweeps across the face evenly, inside the helmet. While exhaling, it gets interesting.The air valve closes, and the helmet gets over pressurised as   This system was developed to use less power. Even the weight of the helmet could be reduced. Helmets are also made of Kevlar, the same one used to make bullet proof vests.
All helmets are not as safe as the F1 helmets!! :( :(

Point is, once developed, this technology could be used in Formula One too. The F1 drivers are no different from astronauts except that they only fly but don't float!! Safety first! From the shoe to the suit to the helmet, care is taken in design. The F1 helmets need to be extremely light(Lewis Hamilton would not want more head weight!) and strong at the same time. They are made of Kevlar and a layer of carbon fiber and most importantly, fire resistant, Aramide(for fire resistance, drivers first cover themselves from head to toe; from Balaclava to Socks with Nomex, a low weight, fire proof material). The visor is made of polycarbonate strips which can be removed one by one if necessary. Of course, there is an air filter too, to not allow huge particles enter the helmet onto the face!

In F1, especially, with new norms and rules coming up almost every year, the teams have to design fast cars and win under these regulations. For this, the weight and height of the driver matters so much that if not driving, the driver would be at the gym only! Also, the heat inside the car matters too, so much that drivers get heat acclimatisation  training to adjust to those conditions and not "get cooked" inside the car! So, how about an air conditioned helmet for Formula One.

I actually got this idea two years back but could not continue due to economic issues :p :p. Well, I am not saying that the DARPA consulted me for the cool helmets!! Just, I want to make one. Using some mild coolants, not like dry ice or something. No, I do not want to freeze the insides of the helmet. But a coolant, which, when the air is sucked in, makes it just cooler than the surrounding temperatures, I hope!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Being a Good Samaritan!!

Should rather be saying, 'not being a good samaritan.' With the Bharatiya Janata Party led National Democratic Alliance forming a "strong-stable" government at the center in India, its neighbour, Pakistan is more in the news than India. Oh wait, the BJP has won three out of the six parliamentary seats in Jammu and Kashmir. Arch rivals(in cricket too!), it is quite horribly interesting to see what the relation between the two countries is going to be like!
Shake hands!!?

The BJP has already said that they cannot talk in the midst of bomb blasts, guns and pistols. Heated discussion took place already between the former BJP president, Nitin Gadkari and a Pakistan Analyst, Tariq Pirzada, whose accent says he is obviously not living in Pakistan. Interesting thing is, when the Indian counterpart said 'no-tolerance' for terror export, the pakistani said that they are a nuclear power and would not resist to nuke Delhi. Looks like they are desperate. Recent torturing of Hindus in Pakistan and the news that Dawood Ibrahim has fled might be an indication.

But being neighbours, both India and pakistan should be knowing that helping each other is much better than fighting it out. But with pakistan violating the 'cease-fire' rule every fortnight, the Indian defence might be keen on hitting back, especially when the newly elected government trumpeted this promise on their way to power. The border defense is a very important issue. Since the central government now is solely organised by a right-wing party, terrorist groups might be more enthusiastic about entering India! Any border is to be keenly watched.

That is an intelligent step by the Indian Prime Minister designate, Narendra Modi to invite the Pakistan PM, Nawaz Shariff to his oath taking ceremony. The ball is in his court now. Such gestures should hopefully lead to good terms but not increased rivalry.
Guns or Roses? Indo-pakistan relations are going to be very interesting. And they are very much necessary to be followed by the citizens of either countries. C'mon, we should know what our neighbours are up to!! Both the countries should take careful steps. Especially Pakistan. Pakistan should know more than enough to end their 'cease-fire' violations. Just do not make the "Forget Kashmir, let's save Karachi" joke real. 
Source: eenadu.net(27/5/2014)

Good Samaritan?? In your dreams!!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Venkatappa Art Gallery, a steal for nice history!!

With the Cubbon park, the Viswesvarayya Science Museum, the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Planetarium around, the Venkatappa Art Gallery might not feature on 'must-visit' list of those who plan to go around the city of Bengaluru. But, this museum and art gallery are definitely worth going and taking a look! Definitely it is a steal for nice sculptures, paintings and antiquities at four rupees an entry ticket.

First, in the ground floor, it is excavation findings like pottery, stones and iron tools from Mohenjodaro and also surrounding areas. Items from the Mauryan age, Chalukya age, Satavahana dynasty and the Mayura Sharma, the first kannada king of Coorg. Of course, like any other museum in India, there are the swords, knives, blades, shields and cannon shells. I wonder, why do we not find things like a yarn spinning machine, or a printing machine. There were pot making things and others but, somehow I feel that Indians spent time mostly fighting. Even if we see our Puranas too, they are all full of wars! Of course, we were quite developed in that field(not anymore!!)

Then, in the first floor, one can see various music instruments like Coorg drum, Kinara Veena, Makhara Veena, bagpipe, Nagaswaras, flute etc.. of those times (which time? Don't ask!) Then, there are good paintings of Rama Pattabhisheka (swearing-in ceremony of Ram as king), Gajendra Moksh and an extraordinary set of paintings which describe the entire Ramayana. There are paintings from various times like the Mughal, Mysore, Amer, Kaushambhi, Vijayanagar etc..
There are sculptures of Buddha, Siva, Ganesha, Dhanvantari, Surya, Durga etc.. from various dynasties especially the Vijayanagar dynasty.

Then, since it is a government museum, you get archaeological publications to buy. Then, there is a nice cafeteria offering snacks and meals at reasonable rates. There is McDonald's opposite the art gallery. So, one can plan to go here during lunch time. There is nice tree cover too.
By the way, entry is not allowed into the museum when there is a power cut!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Beginning of the Exit!!

After a month of stretching and straining, finally the elections have ended. I was too excited to write about anything else and most of my articles since November were about politics only. Such was the impact of these elections. There is no doubt that these elections have a significant place for themselves in the history of our nation. Never before was an election this keenly followed!! I have seen two elections back in 2004 and 2009 but I have not seen so much campaigning in any of those elections. Probably there really is a wave, maybe a pro-Modi or an anti-congress. Whichever it is, we know who is going to benefit from it.

The moment elections end, various companies, especially the media start their 'exit polls.' They try to predict who the winner is in the elections by taking opinions from those who voted, calling this a survey. They might not be exactly correct. But these exit polls tell the pulse of the voters. Of course, it doesn't take me the pain of surveying, sampling, plotting, finding T-factor, S-factor etc.etc. to predict who is going to win this season. The exit poll surveys all give a huge badgap. They for example, predict 257-340 seats for one party. Hell! That is almost a hundred numbers apart. What precision is there in this? Is it useful at all?

Utter Blunders!!
A professor at the Institute for Mathematical Sciences once said that thought the sample size is generally small, these surveys are done area-wise, caste-wise(unfortunate), religion-wise(unfortunate), work-wise. When such large varieties of samples are taken, one need not worry about the sample size. There are errors. That is anyway there. Also, the exit poll predictions have had been disastrous since times unknown. But, it is okay, people need to pass time before the results are out and television channels have to grab that opportunity especially with huge competition from the sports channels!!

India must have voted for betterment. I did. Not the exit polls, the results are just round the corner. The country has seen a presidential kind of campaigning this time. With single-man shows dominating in general for most political parties. This is not bad. I don't know if it's good. But whoever goes to that central bungalow in 7, Race course road should do good to the nation. I seriously hope for a strong and stable government, unlike Arvind Kejriwal!!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Poor ECI...!

The returning officer of the Varanasi parliamentary constituency is probably the one Modi's rivals are despising more than Narendra Modi himself. The RO should have realised that he was about to commit a big mistake before denying permission to Modi for addressing public through a rally. He would have, by now. The wily prime ministerial aspirant has used this as a wonderful opportunity in his course to 7, Race Course Road, Panchavati, Delhi.

No body needs to grant him permission to walk down to his office in Varanasi. He did just that. Got off his helicopter and went down to his office. Just that his 10-20 minute drive took him 5 hours because of the crowd that gathered there. No speeches. No rule breaking. He only showed his disappointment in the Election Commission of India. His colleagues did the rest. Satyagraha and all. This probably got Narendra Modi more media coverage than if he was granted permission. This would definitely affect the far east regions of Uttar Pradesh and far west regions of Bihar which are going for polls on May 12. All thanks to the poor Election Commission of India.
But the thing is, Rahul Gandhi was granted permission for a rally on the last day of campaigning. So was Arvind Kejriwal. What denied the BJP leader from campaigning was the question that was raised. As Arun Jaitley said, "If ECI cannot provide security, do not conduct the polls. If polls are being conducted, let every one exercise their right to campaign." The election commissioner however is still backing his man. But this is a "democracy" and anyone can try their luck. He however, quotes security reasons.

In India, people who feature on the 'hit list' of terrorist or naxalite groups are given tight security. Of course, many others are also given, but not as tight security as these few enjoy (I mean not enjoy in the routine sense, what is there for people to enjoy being on the hit list!!) The President is guarded by a special regiment of the armed forces. Regarding the Prime Minister, after Indira Gandhi's assassination, a Special Protection Group (SPG) was formed to take care of only the Prime Minister of India. And Rajiv Gandhi's assassination proved the need for a strong protection for the PM. It is, now.
But, there are four more people who are protected by the SPG. Indian National Congress president, Sonia Gandhi and vice president, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka vadra and Robert Vadra. Point is, when the ECI granted permission for Rahul Gandhi who is under a threat as much as the Prime Minister to hold an election rally, why not to Narendra Modi, with a Z+ security which is technically lesser than the SPG??

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Votes for Sale!!

I am always skeptical about democracy. Because, the thought of democracy brings into my mind a coalition government, parties trying to please other parties for power and hence corruption. Democracy means to manipulate one's mind, literate or illiterate. Democracy means business. Democracy means to sell one's vote for money, liquor, gold, sarees, shares and maybe in a desert, water!! Democracy means those who follow all the above mentioned practices and the **** fools who accept them have a say in who is to lead the country.

Democracy means criminals. Mass hysterics. Mind manipulators. References! One is asking for votes referring to their great grand father, grand mother and father. Another person has gone even further. He is advertising his political party using his dead father's name and consoling people as if they have no other sorrow in the world other than crying for his dead dad who was corrupt to the core (and a bad jack in every other aspect too, if you ask me!!) Actually, it is much easier to manipulate the minds of the literate. Or the youth to that matter. Just rope in a doctor or a doctorate for contesting in elections or quit your Indian Revenue Service (IRS) job and hold a broom. The so called educated think you are the Messiah who came to solve all their problems.

The best meaning. Democracy means polarisation. Caste-based, religion-based, Race-based, Region-based, language-based. Name it, you get it!! There are thousand and one ways to polarise Indians. The politicians are successful in discovering a ten thousand ideas! The most used word to fool people is 'Secular.' I can bet that there are not as many secular parties in the country as much as the number of letters in that word!!
No body wants to educate people. By educate, I mean, make them think. Because once educated, it is difficult to polarise people in the above lines! Development? No way! The media creates various versions of development for printing in their papers each day! One day, I read in a famous English daily that in the Vajpayee government, building highways led to economic development. But the same paper the next day criticises the present battalion of Vajpayee camp that, building cities or roads will not help a Muslim in a desert?! It is like asking what good will be done to West Bengal by settling the Kaveri river dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu!!

Source: Media.indiatimes.in
Well, river reminds me of flow. Everything in the universe can be treated as a fluid. Even money and alcohol. In the south, in coastal Andhra which is going for elections today, money and alcohol are flowing faster than the MiG-6. Especially, with the most corrupt person in the country(world??) contesting there. I mean, there are people, who are aiming to be the head of the state who have gone to jail for fake company frauds and share holding frauds and awaiting court verdict on several other cases. Even after becoming the chief minister, that person may end up in jail!! Yet, people who do not think about anything other than the pinkish note they get for voting to this guy or about Jonny Walker are the ones deciding who to rule India.
How else do we describe democracy as?  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Fine Stroke of Democracy!!

"Vote is not a way to express our feelings. It is a tool to better ourselves!!"

All those voting for the first time were busy uploading their "selfies" on social networking sites. Whether they really voted out of interest in electing a good government or out of interest in uploading pictures is in their hands! Well, it is much better than stupid birthday photos with cake smeared all over the face! That feel as if we are a Sebastain Vettel occupying the podium after a grand prix is impeccable!! Interested or not, this country offers us that one valuable thing every now and then. That one stroke of ink on our nail means a lot in the largest democracy the world is seeing. The vote is indeed a tool to better ourselves!


The two houses of parliament, the members of assemblies, parliament, state representatives, the panchayat raj, wow, how else do I describe the most wonderful place, the vertical mirror for democracy?!? Such a great democracy that even a chaiwala can dream of leading the country! Not bad at all. Keeping up with the American way of cobbler to prez way I guess! Unfortunately, I am not a great fan of democracy. Not that democracy is bad, in fact it is a boon we tend to neglect but it is the sadness that people of all kinds have a say in the government to be formed.

Atleast six out of every ten people in a particular constituency will not be able to tell who their Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) or their Member of parliament (MP) is! Why MLA and MP, I would not be surprised if eight out of every ten do not even know which constituency they fall under or even the meaning of constituency! Do such people's opinion matter for a country so bad to come out of many lagging issues? Sadly, yes. Every tom dick and harry can cast his/her vote and then upload photos for maximum likes!

The true symbol for democracy!

The reason why I am able to write this article freely without any fear is one example of a successful democracy. I am proud of it. No doubt in that. But, I am also quite skeptical about it. The reason, I am sure that unless a stable government forms at the helm of power, the country cannot move forward into development. This is impossible in a democracy, in a coalition, which is full of wants! One should remember that by voting, we are not only punishing the offenders but ourselves too for committing a mistake earlier!!
Democracy can ensure criticism, freedom and equality but can it ensure a good, stable government? Does it guarantee growth? economic stability? self sustainability? Well, the rise of a Hitler, a Churchill, a Reagan tell otherwise!!

Below is the pledge stuck outside every polling booth in the country. What difference can it make? Does this bring about a strong, stable government? A thought...

"We the citizens of India do hereby pledge while keeping full faith in democracy that we will maintain confines of our country’s democratic traditions and exercise our franchise maintaining dignity of free, fair and peaceful elections without consideration of religion, class, caste, community, language or any inducement."