Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Like a diamond in the sky ...

Going to Pune on the last weekend was memorable for many reasons. Firstly, because I had loads of fun there as always. But this time around even the night time journey both to and fro was equally memorable. We did not get tickets on time for the onward journey and hence at the eleventh hour, we had to book seats in the LAST ROW of a private bus. Needless to say ... the bus driver took all possible care that I should not be able to sleep. and this time he was aided by the on-going transporter's strike which kept his competitors (the unruly truck drivers) out of his way. So the twists, turns and potholes on the road were just too trivial to hinder his deter to take me to Pune UNSLEPT.

One thing that was fortunate for me was that my seat was a window seat and I had some scope of entertainment and I spent the night going back to my childhood days and doing what I used to do regularly as a kid ... watch the stars. This past Saturday night was the first time after (probably) months when I was seeing the sky full of stars, absolutely no clouds! I don’t know why but I have always had an amazing (and unexplainable) fascination for the stars ever since I was a kid! Not that I am an expert in star gazing, I don’t even know most of the constellations. I just know the very popular and typical ones like the pole star, Orion, Cassiopeia etc. And that too because in one of the treks I had been to, someone had bestowed that knowledge on me. Around 13-14 years ago I remember the time when my house was single storied and I used to enjoy sleeping on the terrace during summers. Summers "then " being vacations, I was never worried about getting up early in the morning and so I used to spend hours just looking at stars and finding patterns, or you can say finding my own constellations Also since I was fond of "join the dots to complete the picture" kinda puzzles then, the stars almost provided me a scratch pad that I could scribble on ...!

Years later, in my first house in h'bad I used to sleep on the terrace to escape the heat captured in the four walls of my house. And hence the sleeping child used to wake up again! Even today I get some kind of a secure feeling when I see the sky full of stars. And may be that’s just another reason why I dislike the monsoons! I won't be a hypocrite and boast about saying that stars are like my friends and that they talk to me etc... No they don’t! But then when you are alone, the existence of so many active and energetic bodies covering your head does give you a feeling of security, doesn't it! Have you ever laid down on your back gazing at the millions of diamonds scattered on the blanket of night? It is such a grand feeling! Bodies from so far in the universe where only human thoughts can reach at a hands distance, right above you!

Later as I grew up and studied the physics behind these infinite sources of energies my interest about stars grew even further. But what keeps them really close to my heart is a little childhood myth. I was told in stories in my childhood, that people close to you who pass away, go to the skies where the Gods reside and become stars! Fortunately for me, all people I have been close to are right by my side throughout my life. But then this childhood myth makes me even fonder towards these sparkles, because I know that’s where I came from and that’s where I am finally destined to go!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

A weekend in Pune ... EVERY weekend in Pune

If I tell some one that I enjoy going home on weekends from where I work ... firstly people might just say - "So what's the big deal? Anyone would want to". But when say I work in Hyderabad and go home to Pune on almost every weekend eyebrows do go up!!

Its almost a year and a half now since I have shifted to Hyderabad but I still go home religiously on every possible weekend. The seasons of nature, the means of transport, lack of company at times ... nothing has enough potential to cause me to rethink about going to Pune on a weekend.

I agree that train is the best possible means of transport for this activity. Actually the best means of transport would obviously be a flight. But as I iterated it is not a "Possible" means of transport in India and more so there are no convinient flights between HYD and PUNE. The flight from HYD to PUNE which should have been in the evening (so that I could have reached home Friday evening) is actually in the morning and the vice versa is also (most unfortunately) true. So unless there is a real emergency, flight is out of question.

Coming back to Indian Railways ... Second Class travel in a train can be real fun if you have company. Also you can get some (much deserved) sound sleep. But trains between HYD and PUNE take a longer route as compared to road transport and hence take a little more than 12 hours for a NORMAL journeys (normal because you can expect unexpected delays ). Instead if you take a bus you can travel the same distance in almost 9-10 hours. So if I start from HYD at 8.00 pm on a Friday evening, I am home for breakfast on Saturday morning (morning as in 6.30 - 7.00 am). By train its almost 10.00 - 10.30 am to get home. On the way back too train departs from Pune station at 7.15 pm on Sunday evening. So I have to leave home by 6.15 pm which mean I have to blow off the entire of my Sunday evening AND a dinner at home. Else if I take APSRTC volvo I can be at home till 8.30 pm on Sunday and yet reach Hyderabad before 6.30 am on Monday. The train reached Hyderabad after 7.30 am ... so bottomline is "APSRTC VOlvo is THE best and most economical means of transport to travel between Pune and Hyderabad".

Those 36-38 hours that I get in Pune - there are soooooo many things to do ... So here's an account of what I would TYPICALLY do in these 36-38. Saturday mornings begin with my especial cup of water-less pure-milk chai and good गरम पोळी-भाजी (if भाजी it is ready, else with anything available from तूप-साखर, sauce[tomato/tamrind], jam, any चटणी ... almost anything ready at home). I specifically said GOOD गरम पोळी poli because I do get गरम पोळी in HYD too This is usually followed by a hour long of phone calls to a few close friends (typically Shantya, Bhushan, Amol, Samy and/or Paatya) deciding on plans of how we can utilize the 36-38 hours the best . Morning time was spent in the laboratory with mom, trying to see what all happened in the last week and helping mom to plan things for the week to come. Late afternoon, I usually spend at home with my Grandmother. I have started collecting VCDs/DVDs of old marathi films/plays lately. So we usually watch a play/film together. The satisfactions she gains by seeing me home is worth all the trouble it caused to be at home. This is usually followed by a visit to maternal grandparents and then to the शनि-मारूती देऊळ (since its a Saturday). More than faith or belief, I look at it more as a discipline that I need to follow every saturday.

Saturday dinner is usually out, may be at some family friends' place or with my friends !! And if dinner is NOT with my friends I have to meet them at Relax/CCD for a late night coffee. The issue is Shantya has his CAT classes in the evening on Saturday so this imperative meeting has to be in the night. Thus my saturday actually ends early Sunday morning because after going home at almost 1.00 am in the night, I just cannot keep my hands of the comp to check my mails.

Despite the late night home-coming I am up early on Sunday morning. If there are plans like Sinhagad, its really really early , else its usually around 7.00 am. If Sinhagad does not happen, there is some nice breakfast at home or at my mama's place. After some lazying around, TV etc. its time for a अभ्यांग स्नान . Sunday lunch is usually later because of the heavy breakfast in the morning. And it HAS TO BE followed by a good (and well deserved, well justified) nap because if you haven't realized yet, I miss sound sleep on three nights of a week - Friday, Saturday AND Sunday ... Sunday evening is a nice time since usually friends drop home just in time to see me off. The plan is usually to enjoy some पोहे-चहा (IT IS NOT चहा-पोहे you see) or भेळ or उपमा.

Then comes the most difficult phase. Packing and preparing to get back to Hyderabad. But its almost a routine for me now ... yes ... even the sad feeling of leaving home for just another week is also a routine. Home is home and ... Pune is Pune!!! Come what may ... NOTHING in the world can EVER substitute that.

For the first 3-4 months in HYD, I was staying alone and so not many people in Microsoft knew about my weekend trips. But ever since Kushal has joined my team at Microsoft "Oh my God, Alok travels to Pune every weekend!!!" is a normal gesture that I get from people around .

Ask someone who does this every weekend - its not an easy thing to do. Believe me, a seat in a bus (a semi-sleeper bus ... ya rrrrite) is not an ideal place to spend two nights in a week. But look at the incentive for doing so ... satisfaction that my grandparents and parents get on seeing me, spending some good moments with some really close friends, home cooked food (in addition to Relax पाव-भाजी, भेळ, पोहे, कच्छी दाबेली at times) ... I think the pain is all worth it. End of the day, its something more than material comforts that make you happy ... isn't it!!!

आणि साक्षात पु.ल. म्हणतात ना की - पुणे आणि मुंबई सोडलं तर जगात बघण्यासारखं तरी काय आहे म्हणा ...

Friday, August 06, 2004

Good things do come to an end

About 3-4 months ago ... I wouldn't have imagined that Ajit Datar who's doing his Master's in the US of A would come to India and do an internship at Microsoft IDC for 2 month. He just asked me if it was possible, I followed up with the HR and it happened. Ajit came here 2 months ago ... and we have had a great time here. Unfortunately my landlord did not permit him to stay in my house for this long so he had to be put up elsewhere with some other friends.

It was change, in general, for me from the same ol' routine that I had been living for the last so many weeks. I suddenly found that I had someone to help me in cooking (though he used half a bowl of oil for one omlet on a non-stick pan ). I had regular company while travelling to Pune every weekend (though something almost always went wrong when he was travelling with me). I found a friend, whose leg I could pull regularly. Unfortunately ... one such prank resulted in a wide-spread forest-fire of rumors for Ajit and probably he'll never forgive me for that! ) Ajit joined the R-RAS team here and that gave us another "data point" to pick on him with ... (try to say R-RAS fast and see what it sounds like ... so Ajit was working on R-RAS[say it fast])

I somehow feel that he is a confused individual. Because for most of my questions he had a standard answer - I don't know. He kept complaining about not getting diced tomatoes in India but also enjoyed the awesome Guntur Idli at Chutney's. He keeps talking about "Duluth मध्ये असं असतं ..." but also likes Avdoot Gupte's गरजा महाराष्ट्र माझा. He kept asking me "Alok, how's life" everyday at lunch and expected that my answer today should be more positive than yesterday. and verrrrry rarely when I was late for something I was rendered incredibile (AND THAT DOES NOT MEAN LACK OF CREDIBILITY ... OK? )

He completes his training today and will go back home and then to Duluth to complete his MS. On one front as I envy him that he is going to stay at home in Pune now on for a some time, I somehow also feel sad that a new-found good friend is going to go away. Never mind ... I do accept the fact that all good thing come to an end!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

मराठी माणसा जागा हो

अमोल कडून inspiration घेऊन मराठीमध्ये blog करतो आहे. :) जरा अवघड जातं आहे, पण हळूहळू होईल सवय.

सही वाटतं आहे. आपण हल्ली स्वतःच्या कामात इतके व्यस्त असतो की आपण आपल्याच मराठीचा वापर लिहिण्या-वाचण्यासाठी सोडाच पण बोलण्यासाठी सुध्दा घर सोडून इतर ठिकाणी क्वचितच करतो. Chat करतांना सुध्दा आपल्याला बोलायचं असतं मराठीमध्ये पण type करतो english alphabets मध्ये. मराठी मध्ये हाताने काही लिहून तर युगं झाली. आता कागद-पेन घेऊन बसलो तरी कितपत झेपेल शंका वाटते. पण keyboard वर मराठी मध्ये लिहिण्याची ही पध्दत आवडली.

एकदम शाळेत शिकलेलं "अ" ला काना "आ" आठवतंय :) कारण type करण्याचा speed जबरदस्तच आहे :) पण मजा येतेय.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Height of Procrastination

I created an account on blogger around a month ago ... but writing a blog after ages. :)
Kept on pushing it forward ...
Hope to post some important daily NOTHINGS here regularly :)