Thursday, December 28, 2017

A story of a snowfall

We are a bunch of snow deprived people.

In 2007 I started working as a software developer in my hometown Pune, India. Not everyone will admit it but being freshly out of college and starting a job in software, means you are halfway through your dream of going abroad and seeing amazing places. Well, at least Facebook (Orkut back in those days) made me believe that.

So, one year down the line when I missed few chances to go abroad, it was the biggest turn down for me. The positive thing though was I made some great friends in my company. One of my friend and then colleague, Atul came up with the idea of going to see the Himalayas. He found out one group - YHAI[1], which is a non-profit entity. They organize highly subsidized adventure tours[2] for the young all over India basically at dirt cheap rates. We unanimously voted for it and thus born another dream. The Himalayas.. snow covered mountains so gigantic that it dwarfs every other hill I had seen in my life.

The news spread and few more friends and acquaintances showed interest in joining us. We decided that we would go by the end of December when snowing starts in the region.

We booked the trek of Dalhousie[3](Himachal Pradesh) for 8 of us 2 months prior to Christmas. Since it was early booking, we could easily get confirmed seats on a Train.

We could hardly contain our excitement because, for all of us, it was going to be the first snowfall. We completed the arduous journey of more than 2000 Kilometers first by train and then by bus and reached Dalhousie. We joined a large group of 40 trekkers.

During our 6 days of the trek, Kalatop mountain was the place where we were supposed to see and experience snow. We already had researched, and seen these photos of the place.

(Kalatop looked like this on the internet)

On the 3rd day as I remember, we were there. It was 31st December 2008. Since for most of us, the cold weather and terrain were far different than our hometown, the trek was tough. But the with the group energy and prospects of seeing the snow for the first time we persisted.

But as fate would have it, there were no signs of snow. The place looked like this.

Gorgeous, isn't it? Not for us. We were there for the snow you see. So at the night when the other people in the group was celebrating and welcoming the new year, we a bunch of sour guys locked ourselves in a room and played cards until past midnight. We were laughing and making jokes about how we bought the snow gears which proved useless.

The next stop was Khajjiar [4]which looked like this.

Yeah, I know.. picture perfect. But, where is the snow?

Most of us were contemplating fleeing the trek and go on a journey on our own to those distant mountains where we would play in the snow. One actually acted upon it. Mustafa, the most disappointing among us made an excuse to the trek leader and went away in a private cab which could take him to an icy place.

The rest of us reluctantly marched forward with all of the vanished enthusiasm. I remember on the last day of the trek I even stood up and when everyone was sharing their experiences that how they greatly enjoyed the trek, I, on the other hand, whined and whined in front of all that how disappointed I was that the trek organizers had put fake pictures on the brochures.

The trek leader assured me that it was just a flick of a nature that it did not snow during our time there and it must have been delayed by few days. In order to calm me down, he literally blessed (or cursed) me that if I come next year, I will see so much snow that I might wish that I had never wished to see the snow in the first place.

Of course, we enjoyed in the Himalayas (the Pirpanjal ranges[5]) being there for the first time. We had more than what we asked for. But we were ungrateful I guess. To rub salt in the wound, Mustafa, who had gone by his own, had some pictures of him playing in the snow.

Next Year Christmas 2009.

We will not go quietly into the night, we will not vanish without a fight. [6]

This time we were in Tawang[7], 2000 Kilometers to the east from where we were last year. A yearlong yearning to accomplish what we missed last time. This time it was the much deliberate plan. The same pack of wolves, now more experienced to the cold climate and to the world in general. We booked everything on our own. This time there was no trek group, no agency. If we don't see the snow, we were ready to go far and beyond. Since we were richer than last year, we went by air to Guwahati, Assam. First flight for us. Wow, that was exciting. We saw a giant rhino for the first time in Kaziranga national park[8]. First ride on elephant back and hopefully the first snowfall.

The day we entered Arunachal Pradesh[9], the sunrise state of India, the anticipation was so high. We had hired an SUV and as we started gaining altitude we saw frost first on plants. Everyone's faces lightened up.

And when we crossed Sela Pass, we saw a frozen lake there. First Frozen lake. We danced and skidded on the hard top of a water body. How freaking cool is that. But the wait was not over yet.

It was 30 December 2010. We were at Tawang - a historic place. Every inch of this land is a legend of valour and sacrifice. This place has become sacred with the blood of soldiers of the Indian Army who defended it in the 1962 Sino-Indian war.

We were leaving the next day back to Guwahati on a two-day long journey. "Is this it? is nature going to delude us again?" I thought.

It was cold 30th night of December. We went into slumber in a warm room. In the morning a friend came yelling inside my room. He pulled the bedsheets apart, a cold breeze of the morning sent a chill down my spine. I was about to swear at him and he shouted, IT's SNOWING OUTSIDE!!

It was unbelievable, we rushed to the window, saw it for the first time. Tiny specks of heaven, they were falling like a silent piece of music. A tear of joy rolled down my face. We hugged each other, we were laughing, crying making noises. The next thing we did was put on our jackets, shoes, and gloves. We rushed through the town's roads. The snow was becoming thicker, everything was covered in white. The cars, the houses, the aisles.

We came across a backyard of a closed school and saw that a whole veranda was covered with thick snow. Perfect place to make snowballs.

And we played and played till our feet went numb. The holy land had blessed us.

Realization of the prophecy.

By the afternoon of the 31st December 2009, we were ready with our bags packed. Tired but satisfied. The snowfall was still on. We were watching each other's happy faces. Our driver who was local told that we better hurry as we needed to cover a long distance in a treacherous terrain.

We started the journey back home. While crossing a post called Jaswant Garh - named after a legendary warrior of the Indian Army[10], we were stopped by the patrol and were advised to return. What we thought was the regular snowfall was actually an unusual blizzard which had blocked Sela pass. The happy faces turned into worried ones as our flight bookings were at stake. We requested them to let us through but the Army guys told that they would take no responsibility whatsoever if something ominous happens. We decided to listen to them and went back to Tawang which was 80 Kilometers the wrong way.

While getting back we had to get off the vehicle several times and push it through the snow-covered roads which were indistinguishable from the terrain. At first, it seemed like a fun and we even got some videos. Later when the snow entered the shoes and made our feet cold, we knew what it's like to live there.

(Even when we were walking behind the car for miles, I quite didn’t have enough of the snow. The guy carrying the mountain on snow is me)

We were already tired but pushed and pushed. All the time the words of the trek leader echoing in my ears "You will get so much snow, you will wish you that hadn't wished to see the snow".

It was 31st December for rest of the world, for us, it was the night we slept like there was no tomorrow.

The next day we started early. The driver had the impossible job of driving for straight 14 hours stretch. We bought some ropes from a hardware shop which we used whenever the car started to slide on the road. Once we crossed Sela pass, we thanked the Army personnel a million times as it was fully covered with thick snow from yesterday. Had we stuck there in the night, it could have very well been the last night of our lives.

Our driver was an awesome chap. He did it. We sure got our flight.

That was the most memorable 31st December. I did not celebrate it the traditional way, but boy it was worth it.

I went to Ladakh [11]a few years later, went on to live in Europe for a year. I saw all the seasons. Whenever it snowed, I relived the moment I saw it the first time. I appreciate that every weather and every terrain has the beauty of its own. We missed appreciating the beauty of Dalhousie in anticipation of what we wanted to see. Maybe in life, we do the same. Maybe that is why they ask to live in the moment. In the grand scheme of events, everything is okay.. everything is going to be fine.


[1] Youth Hostels Association of India - Wikipedia
[2] Participate at YHAI National Level Adventure Programs organized by National Office
[4] Khajjiar - Wikipedia
[5] Pir Panjal Range - Wikipedia
[6] Quotes from "Independence Day"
[7] Tawang district - Wikipedia
[8] Kaziranga National Park - Wikipedia
[9] Tawang district - Wikipedia
[10] Jaswant Singh Rawat - Wikipedia
[11] Ladakh - Wikipedia


Posted as an answer to a question on Quora.Com

Monday, December 25, 2017

The one with the Beef Biryani

I accidentally ate beef.

I once was travelling around south Karnataka, India with my friend Omkar, Martin and Kelly - exchange students who were from England.

Martin had his camera ready to click almost all the time and seemed particularly amazed whenever he saw cows on the road. When we were crossing Bandipur national park we happened to spot some deer grazing near the highway and I was excited because it must be the first time I had seen deer in the wild. I looked at Martin who was rather indifferent and didn’t bother to even touch the camera. I asked him that back in the city he was taking so many pictures of the animals and was there anything wrong now. What he said particularly struck me. He said that he sees deer in his backyards in England all the time, it was ‘the cows in the city streets’ that interested him more.

(This photo is Martin’s actual Facebook album)
We arrived in Ooty quite late in the evening and it was almost past the dinner time. So there were not so many restaurants open. We saw a place which seemed okayish. They had Beef Biryani and some other stuff on the menu ( It was before the nationwide ban on beef). Since I am from Maharashtra where most of the Hindu people don’t eat beef and eating beef is a considered as a borderline sin, I preferred to eat veg Biryani instead of my favourite dish - Chicken Biryani in such a restaurant. I asked the waiter if they had veg biryani. He nodded which I considered as yes. Omkar and Martin ordered something else which I don’t remember exactly.

When I was halfway through finishing my meal, I noticed that there were small pieces of meat in my Biryani. To me, it was okay if it was chicken and I assumed it was chicken. I called the waiter and since I didn’t want to make a big scene there, told him that he mistakenly has mixed some of the chicken biryani in my dish which was okay. He calmly said that it was no Chicken and actual pieces of beef as he just scraped the rice from the beef biryani carefully avoiding the meat pieces, thus making it a vegetarian dish. I was like - what did he just say..?

I almost had finished my meal and the waiter was standing there as if nothing had happened. I was pissed. I returned the remaining stuff and waited for few seconds to ‘digest’ what I had just done. Omkar was smiling at me but Martin started laughing hysterically. He knew from somewhere that I did something which was forbidden in my religion. He started pulling my leg as how I just missed my chance to go heaven and I was no more a Hindu and how my family would abandon me if they came to know.

Though I was disappointed, surprisingly I did not feel shocked or ashamed. After a few brief bank moments, I was fine. I told him it was okay. I said that I did not eat it knowingly and sure God would understand. He too seemed astonished that I did not create a big fuss out of it.

That was the only time I ate beef. Never again. Not because God would punish me, I know she has better things to do than taking notes of who eats what, it’s because I need to draw the line what I can and cannot eat. It made a good memory. My family and friends have a good laugh about it anytime anyone mentions it.
This was originally posted on Quora by me as an answer to the question : Whats the weirdest way your fast food order got messed up?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

पाश्चात्य मालिकांचे अनोखे विश्व - २

भाग १ लिहून काही वर्षे झाली. त्यानंतर पाहिलेल्या या मालिका. (प्रथम संस्करण १२-११-२०१७)


ही मालिका अगदी अनपेक्षित पणे मिळाली. किंडल बुक्स साठी मिळालेल्या पेन ड्राईव मध्ये हा फोल्डर होता. त्यात सीझन १ चा पहिला भाग चालू केला तर एचबीओ च्या मालिकांची गूढ सुरुवात होते तसे काही दिसले. म्हंटले बघूया.

वेस्ट वर्ल्ड हे भविष्यातले एक थीम पार्क आहे. तिथे एकोणिसाव्या शतकाच्या उत्तरार्धातली दक्षिण-पश्चिम अमेरिका उभी केलीये. या थीम पार्क मधली पात्रे खरी खुरी माणसे नसून अतिप्रगत रोबॉट्स आहेत. या यंत्रमानवांना असे काही बनवण्यात आलय की ते हुबेहूब माणसांसारखी झालीयेत.

त्यांना वेदना होतात, आनंद होतो, झोप येते, ते स्वप्न पाहतात, त्यांना तहान भूक लागते, वार केला तर ते मरतात देखील. त्यात कुणी सैनिक आहेत, कुणी काऊबॉय, कुणी खुनी दरोडेखोर कुणी तर नगर रक्षक. कुणी वेश्या आहेत तर कुणी चांगल्या घरच्या सुसंस्कृत मुली. साप, घोडे, कुत्रे हे प्राणी देखील यंत्रच. या सर्वांच्या अस्तित्वाचे एकच कारण - त्या पार्क मध्ये येणाऱ्या पर्यटकांचे मनोरंजन करणे.

या यंत्रमानवांना स्वतः विचार करण्याची निर्णय घेण्याची मुभा आहे. पर्यटकांना जिवंत अनुभव मिळण्यासाठी ती एक युक्ती आहे. पण सर्व यंत्रमानवांच्या प्रोग्राम मध्ये त्यांना स्वत:ची अशी एक आंतरिक ओढ (Core Drive) सेट करून दिलेली आहे. त्यामुळे ते जो काही निर्णय घेतील, त्यात फार काही मोठा बदल घडण्याची शक्यता नाहीच.

पर्यटक हजारो डॉलर मोजून इथे येतात, या पात्राभोवती रचलेल्या एखाद्या कथासूत्राचा भाग होतात. खून, दरोडे, मार्यामार्या, द्वंद, संभोग, युद्ध करतात. स्वप्नातही कल्पना न केलेले आयुष्य मोजक्या दिवसांकरता जगतात. या पर्यटकांना 'गेस्ट' तर यंत्रमानव पात्रांना 'होस्ट' असे स्पष्ट विभाजन आहे. 'होस्ट' कधी गेस्ट ला इजा करू शकत नाहीत आणि या नियमाला पर्याय नाही. पण गेस्ट या यंत्रमानवांना कितीही प्रमाणात इजा पोचवू शकतात. त्यातूनच या पर्यटकांच्या कोणत्याही, मग त्या विकृत का असेना, अशा इच्छा तृप्त करण्याची व्यवस्था केली गेलीये.

कथासूत्रादरम्यान मारले गेलेल्या यांत्रामानवांना परत फॉरम्याट करून पार्क मध्ये सोडले जाते आहे. तेच आयुष्य तेच कथासूत्र जगण्यासाठी. जणू काही त्यांची या जन्म मरणाचा फेर्यातून कधी मुक्तता नाही.

या यंत्रमानवांचा निर्माता डॉ रॉबर्ट फोर्ड (अँथनी हॉपकिन्स) हा एक अवलिया आहे. कथासूत्राची मांडणी, प्रोग्रामिंग टीम चे नेतृत्व ते पार्क च्या आतील लहान लहान तपशील याच्यात त्याची भावनिक आणि वैचारिक गुंतवणूक आहे. तो स्वतःला या जगाचा निर्माता म्हणवून घेतो. अशा प्रकारचे यंत्रमानव तयार केल्यामुळे त्याच्यात एक प्रकारची घमेंड आहे आणि त्यामुळेच तो कुणालाही जुमानण्या पलीकडे पोचला आहे.

अशा या पार्क मध्ये काही रोबॉट्स मध्ये "चुकून" नवीन अपडेट्स जातात. त्यामुळे ही यांत्रिक पात्रे सजग होतात. आपल्याला या कधी न संपणार्या वेदनेच्या फेर्यात अडकवले गेले आहे याची त्यांना जाणीव होऊ लागते. स्वत्वाच्या शोधाची इच्छा आणि सदसदविवेकबुद्धी जागृत झाल्यामुळे त्यांची लेखकांनी ठरवून दिलेली कथासूत्रे बदलू लागतात. हे असे का होते आणि त्याच्यामागे कोण असते हा या मालिकेचे मध्यवर्ती रहस्य आहे.

सुरुवातीचे भाग पाहताना या मालिकेच्या निर्मात्यांनी बळे बळेच खूप बौद्धिक वगैरे करण्याचा केविलवाणा प्रयत्न केल्याची भावना होते. पण जसे जसे कथानक उलगडते तसे तसे त्यातले कंगोरे लक्षात येवून आपण काहीतरी भन्नाट बघतोय याची जाणीव होते. काय खरे काय मिथ्या, आयुष्याचा अर्थ आणि सर्वाचे सार शोधण्याची धडपड, भारतीय संस्कृतीत असलेल्या पुनर्जन्म, मोक्ष या संकल्पना आणि त्याचा अर्थ लावण्याची प्रक्रिया दिसून येते.

नोलन बंधूंची निर्मिती आहे त्यामुळे ओघानेच आले की ही मालिका खरेच डोक्याला ताण असणार. (चांगल्या अर्थाने) कलाकारांचा अभिनय अतिशय सुंदर आहे, छायाचित्रण अप्रतिम. मागच्या वर्षी (२०१६) ला हिचा पहिला ऋतू आला. अजून दुसरा सीझन आलेला नाहीये.

ब्रेकिंग बॅड

मॉडर्न फॅमिली




Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Grandma and the Dr. Pandurang Kumbhar Clinic at Nagar-Munnoli

This post is a reference to my review on Google Maps. I couldn't post it all there because of the size limit there. I hope that this review helps people who want to take their loved ones to Dr. Kumbhar's clinic.

I took my grandmother (85 years old, Pune) to Dr. Pandurang Kumbhar's clinic for her paralysis treatment.

My grandmother suffered a paralysis stroke on 20th Nov 2016. She just felt numbness in her right arm around dawn and waited for us to wake up. She told us that she is not able to move her right arm at all. Since she was able to speak normally, we thought it could be a temporary numbness. When even after 4 hours she was unable to move, we rushed to the hospital.

Doctors started treatment and told us that it was a paralysis stroke and her 90% of her right arm and 60-70% of her right leg was paralyzed. The doctor mentioned that the earlier patients get treatment in such case, the better they have a chance of recovery.

She spent next 1 week in the hospital with medicines, injections, and physiotherapist regularly working on her condition. We saw next to none improvement.

My mother came to know about Dr. Pandurang Kumbhar's clinic from WhatsApp post. We decided to take her there. Since it was a long journey, I did not take my hatchback but arranged an Innova so that she could be laid back on mattress comfortably. We started from home on Saturday around 10.30PM. We reached to Nagarmunnoli via Kolhapur-Nippani-Chikkodi at 3.45 AM. We registered my grandmother's name at the person at the clinic, there were around 48 patients ahead of us. We waited in the car till our number was called. Since the clinic was in a small place. I had to check for every 15 minutes for our turn.

They started to attend to patients as early as 4.30 AM. Our turn came at around 7.30AM. We moved our car near to the clinic as other people who had been attended already were leaving and vacating the parking spot near the clinic. It was reserved for the ongoing numbers.

I had to carry my grandmother in my arms. Most people were using bed sheets, rugs to carry the patients. The doctor asked questions like "How long she was sick?" "Which part of the body was paralyzed?" It was too much rush inside. There were 2-3 persons checking patients, I couldn't tell which one was Dr. Pandurang Kumbhar.
They asked us to get her blood tested. The lab was inside the clinic. We took her there. Fortunately, it had few beds where my grandma rested and my I, mother and my uncle waited.

After 30 minutes, we went inside the clinic again. The doctor saw the reports. They (assistants) gave injections to her on the left and right hips and one in the paralyzed arm. The doctor gave prescription and list of things which to be included and avoided from her diet. He assured that she will be alright. Even in the chaotic clinic, his words of hope felt like a symphony. He also said that we had to bring her once in every 10 days for 5 times to complete the treatment.

The fees were Rs.500. Plus Rs.400 for the blood test. The medicines were of Rs.1400 which were available in the dispensary attached to the clinic. They didn't accept any debit/credit card. We were prepared. My mother had managed the cash somehow because it wasn't a month since demonetization.

We started back around 9.30 AM and reached Pune in the evening. My grandma felt fine. She even sat with us instead of sleeping on the mattress throughout the 6-hour long journey. In the evening, I applied the oil the doctor had prescribed and also gave her the tonics.

I am a skeptic and honestly was doubtful that we could get any positive results compared to the hospital treatment. But.. in the evening, the same day after we returned from Chikkodi, she moved her paralyzed arm. She also bent it from the elbow. It was not less than a miracle. My logical mind could not believe what I had just seen.

We took her 3 times in total before she couldn't take the long journey very well. However, we saw significant improvement in her after each visit. She started to walk slowly, she started to move wrist and fingers and could apply gentle pressure to the exercise ball.

Every time they had the same 3 injections. Only the blood test wasn't done again. Doctor changed her oils and tonics each time. I should also mention that we continued with the medicines given in the hospital along with the Dr.Kumbhar's medicines. We also continued to visit the Hospital doctor where she was treated as soon as she suffered the stroke. Dr. Kiran Shaha on Villoo Poonawala hospital, Hadapsar was most kind and attended my grandmother nicely. Dr. Kiran Shaha actually suggested that we should not take my grandmother to such a distant clinic which in a hope to find a cure. He was of the opinion that medicines along with physiotherapy can only improve my grandma's health. He had good intentions. Considering that my grandma had to suffer the long journeys only to leave Dr.Kumbhar's treatment unfinished, Dr. Kiran Shaha's suggestions were reasonable.

I am mentioning important points here.
0. The clinic is closed on Wednesdays. Call them to know timings and holidays. Numbers are mentioned in one of the replies to a comment on this post.

1. Reach around 2.30-3.30 AM at the clinic. Register your name. They don't take an appointment on phone, so you have to reach early in the morning.

2. Take the patient there in a comfortable vehicle, preferably in an ambulance. The road till Nippani is good, but after that, it's still under construction.

3. If you can manage, spend a night before there. There are hotels, Lodges in Nippani which is 25-30 Km far from Nagar-Munnoli.

4. There is too much crowd at the clinic. People park their vehicles wherever they get a place on the side of the road. They check 20-30 patients per hour. Still, because of the sheer number of patients you have to wait longer if you register your name late. Reach early.

5. Toilets - The clinic has arranged a couple of them, but they are not enough. Carry tissue papers and water and use the fields around if you have to. No Shame.

6. I would suggest continuing modern medicines also along with Dr. Pandurang Kumbhar's medicines.

7. Regular massage with the oils and physiotherapy is a must. My grandmother showed considerable improvement even after the first visit and it kept on improving.

8. This may sound unbelievable, but during our third visit, I rented an OLA cab which had yellow transport number plate. When we were crossing Maharashtra-Karnataka border, we had to stop at the road tax booth on Karnataka side. The clerk there demanded Rs.8500 (Eight thousand) to let us enter. He said that if the cab was to enter Karnataka, it had to pay tax for an entire year. We were shocked. It was 3.30 AM in the morning with my sick grandmother in the cab. We told the clerk that we are going to Nagar-Munnoli and there is an elderly patient with us. He said that if Police stops us, it would be our responsibility. We couldn't figure out if he was messing with us. The driver chickened out saying that the Police would confiscate his cab. We had to travel back to Kolhapure (80 Km backward) and hire a Tata Sumo with a white number plate. There was a family with a similar issue and they shared the vehicle with us. It was the testing time for me. I almost lost my cool to the clerk but kept it together somehow. So please check this shit before taking a yellow number plate car.

I will add some more photos of the place.

My grandma is no more. Even we were really hopeful seeing her slow but gradual improvement, her condition deteriorated when she fell off and broke her thigh bone in February 2017. She survived through multiple hospitalizations, and a surgery. Finally, when dementia got hold of her, we lost all of our hopes and prepared our minds to let her go. She passed away on 11th August 2017. I miss her every day. The only consolation I have is the feeling that I and my mother took every possible measure to improve her conditions. My grandma was a strong, independent woman with a taste for good living.

Take care of your parents and grandparents. I wish your loved ones good health and peace of mind.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Witnessing history as it happens.

Saturday, 3rd September 2016.

A small dot on the world map. It's been a few weeks since I've arrived in Singapore. I must have heard about Singapore first time while my history lessons. The place where Subhash Chandra Bose took command of the Indian National Army.
In later years I heard more and more about this small dot. Most of it from my friends who had been here. Also, my mother visited Singapore a few years ago during her Thai-Malay-Singapore tour.
I knew that Singapore is a garden city and a financial hub of South East Asia.

Yes, all that I have heard is true. It's a beautiful global city. Awe-inspiring skylines, disciplined people, excellent public transport - obvious signs of a developed nation. I wasn't surprised. Perhaps you wouldn't be amazed if it isn't your first time in a developed nation. Thanks to a segment in one of the Marathi dailies, Sakal, I have coined a term for this obvious and rather uninteresting travel experience as "The Muktapeeth Shock".

Why is that? because in this segment called Muktapeeth, it had become a trend for oldies to publish their experiences of the first time travel to Europe or the US which contained unexceptional, insipid comparison on how they found the foreign country disciplined and clean and how people were friendly and blah blah. Yes, we appreciate you traveled far and beyond borders for the first time, however, someone else had already written what you are trying to tell now. Needless to say, the online comments section were full of brutal and insulting remarks on how the paper urgently needs to stop publishing these frequent "Travel logs".
Mostly I read this segment for the hilarious comments, but I think it did one good thing. It taught me that when I travel, I should try and reach beyond obvious. I try to do that at times. Okay, at least I don't bore someone with the Muktapeeth Shock.

Okay.. Singapore - beyond obvious. 

By God's grace, I got a chance to witness two special events in last few days.

1. Singapore won its first ever Olympic Gold medal in the Rio Olympics.

2. Haze over Singapore.

and I think I will witness a 3rd special event - The Singapore Formula One Grand Prix.

Singapore has gone mad for their wonderkid - Joseph Schooling who managed to secure a gold medal in Singapore's 51 years of existence as a country and that too by beating the legendary swimmer and his idol- Micheal Phelps.

There are congratulatory posters everywhere, news segments praising his extraordinary feat. Even our landlord wouldn't stop mentioning his name all the time. The taxis in Singapore carried a marquee - "Our Pride J Schooling" on their boards.

The second one was the Haze.
Image courtesy - The Telegraph. It is similar to this for last few days. 
On 26th August, when I left the metro station, I noticed that there was considerable smoke in the air. It was uniform and everywhere. So, I suspected if there must be a large fire nearby. It was strange.

In the lunchtime, the smoke was still there. One of my colleagues in the office, who is in Singapore for many years told me this - This haze was indeed from a fire. It was smoke spreading over Singapore from the fires of the rain-forests in Sumatra - hundreds of kilometers in the east. He said that it's quite common during August and September. Even the government issues statutory warnings and asks people not to leave homes for a few days when the haze is dense.

It immediately connected dots in my mind. I recalled the Petroleum Engineering lessons in Kapfenberg when he said "Palm Oil". A sudden gush of excitement rushed inside me. Indonesia has been burning their rain-forests for palm plantation so that they can supply the ever-increasing demand for palm oil to produce biodiesel.

I am excited by this feeling of experiencing something first hand after I had heard about it at the other end of the world. This is as close as I can get to my favorite hero - Indiana Jones.


On a side note. It was a totally freaking experience to see that a totally benign fruit called Durian is banned from public transport. It's a lot like jackfruit that we see in India but smaller. I could never gather the courage to taste it. Next time Singapore.


Friday, September 1, 2017

गाभार्यातला देव आणि वाट पाहणारा कोहली.

आपला देश हा विविधतेनेने नटलेला आहे वगैरे वगैरे.. सर्व जातीधर्माचे, विचारसरणीचे , बहुभाषिक लोक गुण्यागोविंदाने राहतात वगैरे वगैरे.. हे असली वाक्य शाळेच्या पुस्तकांमध्ये आणि भाषणांमध्ये कितीदा ऐकली असतील?
थोडीफार अक्कल आल्यापासून आपल्या शहरातून (म्हणजे बेडकाच्या विहिरीतून म्हणा हवेतर) बाहेर फिरताना लक्षात आले की भारत देश हे खतरनाक वेगळे रसायन आहे. खरच आपल्या प्रांतामध्ये कमालीचे वेगळेपण आहे.
लोक बोलतात वेगळे, चालीरीती वेगळ्या, भाषा चित्र-विचित्र.. तरी हा देश एकत्र राहिला किंवा ठेवला कसा?

युरोप मध्ये गेल्यावर पहिल्यांदा त्या "वाह काय शिस्त आहे, काय स्वच्छता आहे.." टिपिकल मुक्तपीठ शॉक मधून बाहेर पडल्यावर तिथल्या शहरांची आणि लोकांचा एक ठराविक साचा लक्षात आला.
मला असे म्हणायचे नाही की युरोप विविध नाही. अतिशय सुंदर आणि निरनिराळ्या रंगांनी रंगलेला आहे. भाषा आणि चालीरीती खूप वेगवेगळ्या आहेत. पण म्हणूनच तो तितक्याच प्रकारच्या स्वतंत्र देशांनी बनलेला आहे.
पण या देशांचा धर्म एकसारखा, मूळ स्वभाव वैशिष्ट्य सारखीच. उदा. जर्मनी ऑस्ट्रिया मध्ये अभिवादन करताना "गुटेन मोर्गेन, गुटेन टाग, सेर्वुस" म्हणणार "डांकं" म्हणल्यावर "बिटं" म्हणणार.. तर पोलंड मध्ये अभिवादनाला "जीन दोब्रं, दोब्री जेन्या, चयेष",
आभाराला "जिंकूया, जिंकी" आणि त्यानंतर विनम्रतेने "प्रोषे" म्हणायची पद्धत. याच प्रकारची पद्धत संपूर्ण युरोपमध्ये आढळेल. शब्द बदलले की काम झाले. अगदी लहान मुलांपासून तर आजिबाइन्पर्यन्त एकसमान लोक असेच वागतात.
 युरोपियनांना या सवयी अंगवळणी पडल्या असल्या तरी भारतीय म्हणून प्रत्येक वेळा इतकं विनम्र राहणं एकदम कृत्रिम वाटायचं, वाटतं.

 हा.. तर.. सांगायचा मुद्दा असा की युरोप तसा भारताच्या तुलनेत बर्यापैकी एकसंध आहे. तरीपण युरोपियन युनियन मध्ये राहणे सुद्धा या लोकांच्या जीवावर येते. आर्थिक आणि राजकीय कारणांमुळे इयु कसेबसे तग धरून आहे.
आपला देश मारे जरी "जगातील सर्वात मोठी लोकशाही" म्हणून मिरवत असला तरी "युनियन ऑफ इंडिया" मध्ये राहायचे की नाही हा प्रश्न विचारणे पण गुन्हा आहे. कारण- हीच आर्थिक आणि राजकीय कारणे. खरेतर मी थोडा सेपरेतेरीयन विचारसरणीचाच होतो तरुणपणी.
म्हणजे तरुण आहे अजूनही.. पण त्यातल्या त्यात कोवळ्या वयात. माझ्यावर युरोपियन मॉडेल चा जास्तच प्रभाव होता. पण जशी जशी अक्कल आली तसे कळतंय की भारताने एक राहणे आपल्या अस्तित्वासाठी (अस्मितेसाठी नव्हे) गरजेचे आहे.
इयु, NATO सारखे मॉडेल वगैरे ठीक आहे हो.. पण तेवढे प्रगल्भ न आपले प्रांत आहेत न त्यांचे नेतृत्व.

भारताचे शत्रू पण बरेच आहेत. आपले शेजारी पण शत्रूच. श्रीलंका, इंडोनेशिया, चीन ने ७१ च्या युद्धामध्ये पाकिस्तान ची मदत केली. पाकिस्तान ७१ च्या युद्धाच्या बदल्याच्या आगीत एक दिवस जळून जाईन. चीन आपले वर्चस्व राखण्याच्या नादामध्ये कुठल्याही थराला जाऊ शकतो.
अशामध्ये त्यांना या भारताच्या विविधतेचा आणि बळाने म्हणा, स्वेच्छेने म्हणा वा नाईलाजाने म्हणा असलेल्या एकीचा तिरस्कार वाटणे स्वाभाविक आहे. त्याच वेळी या गोष्टीला ते संधी म्हणून बघतात हे पण ओघाने आलेच. त्यामुळेच या "संधीचा" वापर करण्याची संधी ते वेळोवेळी शोधत असतात.

मी पाकिस्तानी मुलांबरोबर राहिलोय. विश्वास ठेवा.. ते आपल्या सारखेच आहेत. पण पराभवाचे विष पचवणे सोपे नसते. त्यातला चांगल्यात चांगल्या लोकांनाही भारताचे वाईट झाले तर आनंदच होईल. [१ तारिक फतेह]

तर मग कोहली देवळासमोर काय करतोय?

हे चक्क विसरलोय. हा लेख कदाचित १-२ वर्षापूर्वी असाच सोडून दिला होता लिहिता लिहिता. थोडाफार अंदाज आहे कशावर नक्की लिहित होतो ते. लक्षात आल्यावर परत लिहीन.

Friday, July 7, 2017

केल्याने भाषांतर - २

केल्याने भाषांतर - १ च्या पुढे -

हनुमानाची श्रीरामावर अतूट श्रद्धा असण्यामागे काय कारण होते?

हनुमान वानरांमध्ये अतिशय बुद्धिमान, प्रामाणिक आणि बलशाली होता. त्यामुळे त्याच्या एवढा किंबहुना जास्त योग्य असा गुरु वा आदर्श त्याला त्याच्या बालपणी मिळाला नाही. रामायणात हनुमांचे दत्तक पिता केसरी यांचा क्वचित उल्लेख आढळतो. यावरून मारुतीला वडिलांचे फार मार्गदर्शन लाभले असे दिसत नाही. त्यामुळे आपल्या खर्या शक्तीची प्रचीती त्याला लहानपणी आली नसावी.

युवा मारुतीला आधी वाली आणि नंतर सुग्रीवाचे मार्गदर्शन मिळाले असावे. पण या दोघांपैकी कुणीही अतिशय प्रामाणिक आणि नैतिक अशा मारुतीवर प्रभाव पाडू शकला असावा असे वाटत नाही.

जेव्हा मारुती श्रीरामाला भेटला, त्याला आपण आयुष्यामध्ये काय शोधत होतो याची तत्क्षणी प्रचीती झाली. वानर जमातीला अयोध्येच्या साम्राज्याची कल्पना होती, पण या साम्राज्याचा सर्वेसर्वा इतका विनयशील असावा अशी त्यांनी कधी कल्पना केली नव्हती. श्रीरामामध्ये असलेली  दया, मृदुता, प्रामाणिकता आणि शौर्य मारुतीला आधी कोणातही दिसले नव्हते.

अशा जगामध्ये जिथे भाऊ भाऊ एकमेकांच्या जीवावर उठले होते आणि एक भाऊ दुसर्याच्या भार्येला बळजबरीने घेवून गेला होता (वाली-सुग्रीव), मारुतीला श्रीराम अचंबित करून गेला. ज्याने स्वखुशीने साम्राज्याचा त्याग केला, ज्याचे भाऊ त्याच्यावर अतिशय प्रेम करत होते अशा श्रीरामावर तो भाळला नसता तर नवल.
बहुपत्नीत्व समाजमान्य असताना आणि भावाची पत्नी (रोमा) देखील पळवून नेणाऱ्या वालीसारख्या राजा समोर असताना सीतेप्रती रामाची निष्ठा त्याच्यासाठी अगम्य होती.

अशा श्रीरामासाठी अशा रामराज्यासाठी मारुती त्याचे आयुष्य अर्पण करायला तयार झाला. राम हा मारुतीसाठी तोच महापुरुष होता ज्याचे मार्गदर्शन मिळण्याची जणू त्याने जीवनभर वाट पाहिली होती. श्रीरामाच्या रुपात त्याला ध्येय आणि प्रेरणा मिळाली.

जो कोणी भेटेल त्याची भक्ती आणि असीम निष्ठा मिळवेल असे गुण श्रीरामामध्ये होते. त्याच्या अशा गुणांमुळेच त्याचे तिन्ही भाऊ रामावर अतिशय प्रेम करायचे. रामाबरोबर येण्यासाठी लक्ष्मणाने सर्वस्वाचा त्याग केला. सीतेने रामासाठी वनवास भोगला आणि समाजाचे अन्याय सहन केले. भरतही रामाबरोबर वनात आला पण रामाचे शब्द शीरोधार्य मानून अयोध्येचे प्रशासन सांभाळले तेही राम परत येईपर्यंत अयोध्येत न येता. रामाची प्रजा देखील रामामागे वनात निघाली होती व रामाने समजूत काढली तेव्हाच परत गेली. एवढेच काय तर इतर वेळी उग्र असे विश्वामित्र पण रामासाठी मृदू व्हायचे.

थोडक्यात, राम हा असा महामानव होता जो प्रत्येक मनुष्यातले उत्तमोत्तम बाहेर आणायचा. यात आश्चर्य नाही की मारुतीला अशा मानवाबद्दल नैसर्गिक ओढ वाटली. हनुमानाची नम्रता आणि शुचिता रामाबरोबर एकरूप झाली. हनुमानाची निष्ठा रामच्या विनयात आणि श्रीरामाची निष्ठा मारुतीच्या विनम्रतेमध्ये विलीन झाली. दोन विनयशील, प्रामाणिक आणि कुशाग्र, पित्यास पारखे जीव एकमेकांना भेटले आणि अतूट झाले.
मूळ इंग्रजी लेखाचे मराठी स्वैर भाषांतर.
मूळ लेख - बालाजी विश्वनाथन, Quora.Com


केल्याने भाषांतर - १

भाषेचा मला आहे लळा. नाही म्हणजे १ वर्ष जर्मन, १ वर्ष रशियन, ६ महिने पोलिश, साधारण इयत्ता पाचवीपासून इंग्रजीवर वर्चस्वासाठी चाललेली झुंज, श्लोक स्पष्टपणे वाचता येती एवढे संकृत असा सगळा एकूण चिवडा झाला आहे. हिंदी वाल्यांना त्यांच्यात भाषेत गप्प करण्याएवढी हिंदी बरी आहे. एक तरी परकी भाषा अस्खलित बोलता यावी हे अजूनही ध्येय आहेच.

बर्याचदा हॉलीवूड पिच्चर मध्ये कुणी जर्मन, रशियन किंवा पोलिश बोलले आणि त्यातले २-३ शब्द जरी कळले तर काय जाम भारी वाटते. किंवा घरामध्ये पूजा असताना संस्कृत श्लोक न अडखळता वाचल्यावर घरातले कौतुकाने बघतात तेव्हा जरा हुरूप येतो. संस्कृत आणि रशियन, पोलिश, जर्मन यांच्यातल्या साम्याविषयी ऐकून होतो. पण त्याची स्वतः प्रचीती जेव्हा घेतली तेव्हा जो आश्चर्यमिश्रीत आनंद झाला त्याला तोड नाही.

ज्ञान पण चक्रवाढ व्याजाप्रमाणे असते म्हणे. म्हणजे अज्ञानही तसेच असणार. मग नक्की माझे ज्ञान वाढतंय की अज्ञान? असो..

मराठी माझी चांगली आहे. पण आता इंग्लिश चा एवढा शिरकाव झालाय की शुद्ध मराठी बोलले की लोक भुवया वर करतात. काहींना तर हसू आवरत नाही. लहानपणी माझी फार गोची व्हायची. शाळा भावे स्कूल, सदाशिव पेठ आणि राहायला पोलीस कोलोनी, वानवडी. तिथे शेजारी आख्या महाराष्ट्रातली अठरापगड कुटुंबे. त्यांची भाषा आणि माझ्या बोलीभाषेत कमालीचा फरक पडायचा. मग शाळेत माझी भाषा त्यांना बहुजनांची वाटायची आणि घरी-शेजारी मी ब्राह्मणाची भाषा बोलतो म्हणून हसू व्हायचे. Not feeling home anywhere ची भावना तिथून चालू झाली असावी.

बालाजी विश्वनाथन चे वरील प्रोफाईल पेज
काल परवा एक प्रयोग करून बघितला. बालाजी विश्वनाथन हा माझा कोरा (Quora.Com) वरचा आवडता लेखक. त्याचे खूप सारे लेख (उत्तरे) इतकी माहितीपूर्ण असतात की त्याला तोड नाही. पठ्ठ्या संगणक तज्ञ असून त्याच्या ज्ञानाची पसारा आणि भरारी अचंभित करणारी आहे. महर्षी सारखी उपाधी जुन्या काळी कुणाला देत असतील याची कल्पना बालाजी कडे बघून येते.

तर प्रयोग म्हणजे बालाजी च्या मला आवडलेल्या एका उत्तराचे भाषांतर करून बघितले. राम आणि हनुमानाच्या नात्यावर केलेल्या भाष्याचे इंग्लिश मधून केलेले मराठी भाषांतर. पण इंग्लिश चा महिमा की माझ्या मराठी च्या ज्ञानाच्या मर्यादा.. भाषांतरित लेखाला मूळ लेखाची सर नाही. मराठीचा पूर्ण आदर राखून मला असे वाटते की इंग्लिश मराठीपेक्षा खूप सूचक (expressive) आहे. हे भाषांतर आणि मूळ लेखाचा दुवा दुसर्या भागात.

केल्याने भाषांतर - २


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Epic Haircut

Haircut in Pune, India at my regular barbershop- Rs. 60 = 90 Cents
Haircut in Kapfenberg, Austria - 20 Euro - So I was told.

"Let's save some money, what worse could happen?" This soliloquy have had me doing things which I sometimes regretted later.

I was in FH Joanneum, Kapfenberg Austria for my Erasmus semester. This town albeit small has most facilities available. Breathtakingly beautiful, It's situated in the eastern extensions of Alps.
It has a small castle atop a mountain, a river carrying crystal clear water, a rail route which is well connected to Florence to Zurich to Vienna and Prague. But being in Austria, it also means that it is more expensive than rest of Europe.

[image courtesy - Bruck-Kapfenberg Steiermark - Familienort Österreich]

So when I went there after my summer break around end of September last year from Pune, India, I had already applied few money saving tricks. One of which was having a fine haircut so as to defer the next haircut as long as possible.
[My haircut in November 2016 - Clicked at Pisa, Italy.]
It worked for October and November. Around mid of December, all the Austrian students in our hostel went to their hometowns for Christmas. The hostel had only a few foreign students. Those must be the most silent days of my life. In such ambience, mind tricks you doing something adventurous which you have never done before.

My hair had grown to extents where I had to cut them. I was told by some of my hostel mates that Haircut means making hole in the pocket as it costs them 15-20 Euros. Some get it cut from their room mates to save that money. I invented different plan. I searched on google "How to get self haircut". Google gave me few links out of which I chose this one -

"Pretty impressive.. I think I got this.. Let's do it, what worse could happen? If something goes wrong we will go to the proper saloon before anyone could notice it" I thought. Perfect.. So the very next morning, I woke up pretty early so I will have the bathroom for myself. I was excited and couldn't wait to see the look on my roommates faces when I would flaunt my work when they wake up. They would think that they wasted their money when they could have also done the same for last few years. This thought gave me Goosebumps.

I got a pair of scissors, a comb and a trimmer. I laid old news papers in the bathroom and on basin so as to make the cleaning stuff easy. I did not want a single hair on bathroom floor left afterwards.

There was some adjustments I needed to do. I did not have a hand held mirror. So I removed a panel from the toiletries shelf. I was ready. As suggested in the video, I started nice and slow over the ears. Consciously checking for the left right mirror image adjustments. Carefully clipped layers after layers in a tapering fashion. The sides looked nice. Then I started on top and cut it like a pro.

The last part, back of the head was tricky. This was the toughest part as suggested by the youtuber. So, with intuition and makeshift work of the mirror I started giving it a taper shape. After few strokes.. moment of truth.. did I make it right?

I couldn't see back of my head, so I got my phone, recorded the video of back of my head and saw it..

What I had done.. it looked like rats had chewed upon my hair. There were patches of hairs and bare scalp peeking through it. That was the ugliest thing I had seen since I was there in that heavenly country.

All the enthusiasm vanished.. I did not leave any scope to do the damage control. No hairstylist could repair it. “I will have to go bald.. and I cannot even make the excuse of some family rituals at Tirupati Balaji. Winter is coming.. what if my head cannot sustain the cold temperatures without the cover of hair?” I panicked. After few moments of blackout gathered myself up.
[My hostel premises in December - January]
I went to my Ethiopian roommate. I woke him up.. He looked at me, then back of my head, supressed his laughter and without saying much started doing what was the only option. He trimmed back of my head with the trimmer and rest I did. I was looking like a wrestler. Those were the times I realized how it feels in cold without the protection of hair. It took me two months the entire snowfall season to get back to normal.

[Clicked in Bruges, Belgium a few weeks after my epic work of art.]
Later I came to know that some hairstyle saloons in Kapfenberg offered haircut to a price as low as 9 Euros.
No, the haircut did not make me cry.. this information did.


Published on Quora -

Monday, September 5, 2016

I have informed you thusly

Following is the response to an answer for a question - Why did China invade India in 1962? on posted on May 15, 2015. I knew PM's strategies to woe china will not work, so I have informed you thusly - one of my favourite Sheldon Cooper[1] quotes.

First of all, nice to hear from a Chinese. I thought you guys are not allowed to write your opinions freely on internet. Myth busted.

In the first half of the answer, you mentioned how tiny was the 1962 war for China. In the second half, there comes the Chinese soldier's account. You see why it was a big deal for us. We lost considerable number of soldiers in that war. The war which was just a conflict for China, exposed India's defence limitations and humiliated the Indians. It has scarred China's image for every Indian. Pakistan could gather courage to invade India in 1965 due to 1962.

The 1962 war was really small for us too, considering the geographical extents. However, the way Chinese invaded Tibet and India unexpectedly, has left a deep sense of doubt in Indian minds regarding Chinese intentions.

Today, Honestly, I feel that China uses the border tactics to create pressure on Indian leadership to open Indian markets for Chinese goods. It's more like an economic nerve now. Once in a  while Chinese soldiers come inside Ladakh, the leadership claims Arunachal Pradesh and on the other front they try to push their products in Indian market seeking more favorable deals from the Indian government in exchange of being quiet on the border.

You guys are over producing. Admit it, you want markets to sell your stuff. Today's world, no one wants to rule over a land by conventional means. They want  to rule with economics. The country who sells more product in India essentially is draining resources from India.

Now, Indian PM comes with idea of 'Make in India' to drain less resources from India. Brilliant idea!.. I don't think he's going to succeed in China. Why would Chinese want to 'Make In India' if they have all the raw resources and people in their country? So, Indian PM shuts Indian market for Chinese goods.. oh but wait, he cannot do that.. Chinese will start claiming AP and parts of Ladakh.

I appreciate Chinese tactics. It's not good for my country, but good for you guys. And also, having a shrewd and powerful neighbour to compete against, is improving India's defence and gameplan also. Better than having a lousy and annoying religious nut neighbour.

On a lighter note, due to 1962 war, Mr. Ratan Tata (Former chairman of the Tata conglomerate) had a breakup with his American girlfriend and remained single till date.
The American girl thought that the sino-Indian war was a full scale invasion and refused to come along with Mr. Ratan Tata to India.

1. The big bang theory - Sheldon Cooper - I have told you thusly.

When Ratan Tata was quizzed about his love life in an interview to CNN International's Talk Asia programme, he said, "I was probably the most serious was when I was working in the US and the only reason we didn't get married was that I came back to India and she was to follow me. That was the year of the Indo-Chinese conflict. This conflict in the snowy, uninhabited part of the Himalayas was seen in the United States as a major war between India and China and so, she didn't come and finally got married in the US thereafter." Little is known about that American lady in Tata's life. In 1962, Tata returned to India because of his grandmother's ill health.