Jan Lokpal Revolution at Freedom Park

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Today on 21st of August 2011 I went to Freedom Park along with my friends Nikhil Ramaswamy and Ishaan Biswas to be the part of arguably the biggest revolution in India’s history since Independence Day in 1947. After decades India is at crucial crossroads where the path chosen by its people will help to cure the greatest panacea of corruption it faces today.

It was  heart warming to see so many people from all walks of life peacefully protesting for their cause. Gandhiji’s ideal still live in us, we just need to be reminded of them. This time Anna Hazare is up for the task. I tried to capture what little I could of this historic moment through my camera.

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Hercules Ryders Act 110 plus:Cycle, cycle all the way up and down…

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My latest possession is my new Hercules Ryders Act 11o plus. I will be uploading a detailed review of it soon. As of now I am loving it. Did 85 km on the very next day I got it. So far it is responding amazingly and is a pleasure to ride and instant attention grabber from onlookers where ever I go.

I never thought I would be so attracted to the idea of cycling. I had a cycle which I used for 6 years and wished the day would come soon when I get to ride a motorbike. But last fall my friend Nikhil Ramaswamy started cycling and introduced me to the ubercool new breed of cycles which sets your heart pulsating by its looks.

I love to inculcate healthy activities and take care to be physically fit. So it didn’t take much to get attracted to a cycle on which one can easily do longer distances, 50 km plus. Among the benefits of cycling I can think of following:

  • Cyclist stays physically fit without spending extra time and money in Gym.
  • One can reach their office or other places in almost the same time and at times faster when wading through heavy traffic in cities like Bangalore and Mumbai.
  • Roadbikes and Hybrid bikes can reach upto 60 kms per hour and one cycle at an average speed of 20 kms easily with some practice.
  • You save the environment.
  • It attracts as much attention as a Porsche would do. With people even on bikes and cars making enquiry how much it costed :).
  • Those with extra money can spend upto INR 200 thousand starting from INR 7k.
  • One can easily detach wheels from the frame and can hitchhike to far off places.
  • You get to experience things and notice hither to unknown things in your surroundings and it is the fastest way to get acquainted to a new city’s routes.
  • If lot of people start cycling traffic congestion can be avoided.

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Disadvantages like sweating are very minor for me to consider and I can anyways take a shower in my office.

The decision to cycle was even more easier in Bangalore because there are already thousands who cycle to work and for leisure or adventure. Once you decide to cycle next thing  is which cycle to buy as there are different cycle types viz. Roadbike, Mountain Bike & Hybrid Bike.  Within each type you have cycles of various prices and brands. Among the most famous are Canondale, Trek, Schwinn, Ducati, GT and our very own Indian Hercules.

It was a tough decision to choose the cycle. One can very easily get enchanted by the macho mountain bikes but they are slow on roads and take extra effort to cycle. Then there are Roadbikes which are super slick, light and reach very high speed but are very costly. Hybrid cycles was the answer to my quest and it very well purposed my needs. My friend Nikhil was able to convince me to go for it. I had my heart set on a mountain bike but his only question , “Will you be fine when I outdo you on the roads on my hybrid bike”. Then and there my decision was made and I am cherishing it so far.

I was faced with two options Hercules and Schwinn. While Schwinn is a foreign brand and has amazing looks with great models it was tad bit costly for my budget. So I settled down for the second best the Hercules Ryder’s Act series. Although Act 110 plus is out of production now, I was able to procure one from RR cycles, Ulsoor, Bangalore.

Great looks and a sturdy alloy frame with light weight lends it speed and strength. It is designed for the Indian roads and gives a nice comfortable ride. The bike was designed in India and is manufactured and imported from China from where all the rest of the bikes are imported. The handle bar can be rotated from racing mode to comfortable seating position and can be easily adjusted as per your need and likability. It has the Shimano Ascera gears with 3*8 combination and can make you climb 50 degrees inclines with some effort.

It has quick release on both front and back wheels so that one can take out the wheels and put it in the  back of the car and go to far off places where adventure awaits you. The seat post can also be easily adjusted with your hands using the quick release. The Innova tyres with nylon butyl tubes can go over weeks without any refilling the air. It has a large diameter and thin wheels which give you greater speeds. Most times I overtake cars and motorbikes on roads. But Bangalore is a hill hole and it is difficult to maintain high speeds for long as very soon you will meet and incline.

One can get cool accessories for the cycle like helmet, front light and rear light which makes it even more funky. Helmet is a must so that people respect you on streets. A car or bus driver can easily spot you with your helmet and is extra careful maneuvering around you. So far I have cycles 3 times to my office which is 40 km from my home. With all the attention I get on streets and the joy my cycle gives me I am simply loving it…

A night on the Goddamn Bull

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I am in Bangalore for my college internship. Bangalore is a great city and fell in love with it within two days. Its salubrious climate is undoubtedly the best any Indian city can offer. Bangalore food, streets, people and culture is amazing. Moreover I have a awesome Penthouse to stay from where I get a beautiful view of the city.

For quite some time I had been planning to go around on the streets on Bangalore during the midnight and further. But the first plan of a cycling trip overnight on Bangalore streets didn’t materialize so as all my previous trip this one was made in spur of a moment as soon I got a call from my friend Harmohit Toor, an amazing photographer. So we went around Bangalore streets on his Bullet Machismo 1997.

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I quote Harmohit,” When you are on it you are a King, but pulling it you look like a jackass.” Despite its roaring amazing sound the bike can be a pain when it stops every now and then. Ok no more on that. But certainly it is  a beauty and sets a man’s heart pulsating when it passes by.

Dear Harry wanted to have chicken so I took him to MM Road, Frazer Town which has the best non veg Restaurant in Bangalore- ‘Richie’s’ or ‘Rahhaman’ Family Restaurant. Due to Ramadaan there were a hoard of shops lined my the street offering some exotic and exquisite non veg cuisine from Middle East and best of Indian Muslim cuisine. Special mention to Seekh Kabab. Harry wanted to have Butter Chicken but we were so full trying different delicacies that we couldn’t have it. Later that night around 4 we stopped by shady restaurant as we damn hungry and ate butter chicken there . It was good.

We set off to capture Vidhan Soudha as I expected it to be beautifully lit with external lighting. But unfortunately there was no lighting besides the whole area was dug up due to Metro construction and couldn’t get any good vantage point. Some has rightly said Necessity is mother of all Invention. Dear Harry was struck with the idea of clicking the Macho Bullet. Fortunately Harry had an extra ‘chotu’ (small) tripod and hence all my shots are from ground level. For those who don’t know Tripod is essential during night photography.

Once we started we were amazed by the results we got. I had a torch which I used to paint the bike with light and gave nice results. I hope you guys like it.


Yet another Mumbai Holiday

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I thought I am fed of Mumbai. But every time I come to this city I meet new people and have new experiences…From racing with the “Papey ji” to narrow escapes on Mumbai roads, from Football with local raudy boys to Biking with good old friend Aditya and interesting observations about my very own city. I think I can very well write a thesis on it.

Listening to the tales of young boys of 12 I feel at times they are advanced in so many respects ( censored :P)…I must have been countless times to Marine Drive and no wonder this one street represents Mumbai completely.From Love birds by the sea, Chana Jor garam , Jazz Bar, fancy street cars to beautiful cityscape it all dazzles and certainly sparkles after a mug of beer…

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Perhaps last few clicks in college

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Last sem could be my last semester since I might not go back to campus. These were some last clicks for BITS Pilani’s placement brochure. It is been a great journey and hope I return back…

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Kutiyattam@BITS Pilani

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Last semester SPICMACAY organized an yet another beautiful classical dance performance. This time Kutiyattam. I have never heard of Kutiyattam so I was curious.

It is the most oldest Sanskrit theatre art form surviving for 2000 years now. It is traditionally performed in Kerala and has been recognized by UNESCO as the Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The word means combined acting and has been used for temple worship as a theatrical dance performance.  Kudiyattam face make up is similar to Kathakali but in Kudiyatttam female roles or done by women only unlike Kathakali where men do both parts.

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I reached 10 minutes late and by then I could see the audience was already captivated and sat clapping every now and then. It didn’t take seconds to realize that it was a great show. More than the physical movements of the bodies the stories were conveyed using the facial expressions and eyes. She really held the pace of every one’s heart by her slow moves. Towards the end of show I realized how much little I know of India’s great culture and its art forms.

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Holi in Vrindawan, Day 2 of trip…

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The cry baby by this time had decided to go back to Pilani but as soon we got the reservation to Mathura he changed his mind. So again we hopped on to the train and moved closer and closer to our destination with every train whistle.  We reached Mathura station at 7.30 am and had ‘Dahi-Jalebi’ and Kachori in breakfast. We catched a tempo to take us to Krsna Janamasthali at Mathura. It is believed to be the birth place of Lord Krsna by Hindus.

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The temple is huge and with security greater than even at an airport. What is remarkable is the temple shares wall with an elegant mosque built by Mughal ruler Jehangir.  The mosque is called the Juma or Jama masjid and was built by Nabir Khan then governor of Aurangjeb adjacent to the temple complex of Lord Krishna. Since Hindu and Muslim riots during Independence,  it has been a craddle of trouble and tension between Hindu and Muslim. But if you now look at it in a broader way it is the perfect embodiment of confluence Hindu & Muslim traditions and its coexistence. It presents a unique example of religious tolerance and magananimity which still holds India of such stark differences and gigantic proportions. Although there remain elements from time to time who try to disrupt the harmony. What people often present that temples were brought down by Muslim despots in India due to religious bigotry is debatable. As it is widely accepted that Mughal adopted Indian traditions and allowed religions of all faith to propagate. Akbar was a great patron of art and had numerous Hindus in his court. Only person to fall out of line is perhaps Aurangzed who is associated with Vandalism of temples. But even Aurangzeb never carried out the persecution of non-Muslims. A thing widely common in civilised Europe throughout the history. Whatever may be the history, to based our actions today in mistakes of our past is fraught with doom. First we gave up our lives to have Independence and now we end lives to spoil the very fruit we have now. Such is the destructive nature of humans!

We then headed to Vishal’s Guruji’s Ashram in Vrindawan. As soon as our tempo entered the town it was engulfed with enthusiastic and zealous people of Vrindawan showering dry colours on everyone. Their zeal filled our hearts with joy and we knew straightway that we were at the right place. By the time we reached Guruji’s Ashram we were all pink faced with colours.

The Ashram was a nice building with good rooms. It looked more like a guest house than an Ashram. The receptionist was  an eccentric and mischievous old man who narrated his colourful youth life with great pride. His stories left us embarrassed.

In the evening we went out on the streets and headed towards Banke Bihari and Radha Swamy temple. There was a maddening crowd on the streets all coloured and dying to have a glimpse of Banke Bihari ( Lord Krishna ). I had wrapped my camera with many layers of polythene to avoid the water and then jumped into the crowd to take pictures. I think this was the most dangerous of all situations for my loyal camera. The excitement and the craze can only be experienced by being at Vrindawan and is beyond words. If you haven’t been to Vrindawan you haven’t witnessed how Bhakti can be give you a high unparalleled by the any booze. Like me there were hundreds of shutterbugs. I felt sorry for my camera after seeing there imported rain bags for camera. It was foolhardy to use my camera like that but it paid.

The streets were lined with best of northern India’s Chat cuisine and were as delicious as their sight was mouth watering. Vishal was craving to try everything and so was I. So we gorged on as much of variety we can stuff in our stomach.  While coming back we met a German with whom we instantly struck a chord and promised each other that we will enjoy the next day together. We decided to meet at 4.30 pm. Unfortunately none of us woke up. I wonder whether the guy came and waited for us…