Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Craziest things to do in a Cyclone...

Cyclone is coming! Just imagine all the crazy things you could do in a cyclone! Here are some!

Do a Oppan Gangnam Style:

You could do that part of Oppan Gangnam style where a huge fan blows wind at him and he eats foam! All you need is a blue jacket, someone to spray a foam can at you and a hope that you don’t get blown away.

Bungee Jumping:

Find a high bridge or tie a long pole across the hostel from the even wing to the odd wing and jump off from it. The wind will make you feel like you are flyyyyyiinggg...

Get Some Wings:

Well your KFC chicken wings won’t work here. You will need something bigger. May be try catching a vulture, steal its wings and jump off the roof of BT department. If you can fly, you will do a great service to science. If you can’t, well you tried and science will remember you forever :P

Do a Felix Baumgartner:

Take a hot air balloon (a tutorial on maneuvering a hot air balloon in a storm can be found in any biography of Richard Brenson), go on top of the cloud (9th one preferably) and jump off. You might not breach Mach 1, but you will definitely breach a few layers of soil after falling on earth.


Make a huge kite, grab it and go to St. Thomas Mount, and jump off towards the airport with it. Hope that you don’t collide with a flight. You can then enter the airport, hijack a kingfisher flight (they are anyways out of use) and fly away…

Get some Trampolines:

A whole lot of ideas above involved jumping off… So let’s jump up now. Get some trampolines. Use your basic kinematics to find out how far a distance you should place them so that you jump from one to reach the next one. You could do this wearing a space suit, record a video and send it to NASA saying it was taken in Neptune :P

Do a Titanic:

Build a titanic, well a 1000 times scaled down version of it, and stand in front of it with your arms widely spread. James Cameron would be very proud of you.


If you ever wanted to sail alongside sharks, this could be your chance. Since the sharks would be busy running away for their lives, you could surf alongside them.


You could ride a cycle till the main gate, from where you could break into a car and drive it through the ECR road to Pondicherry. (If you can of course :P)

Sleep on the roof:

If you want to “feel” the cyclone up close and personal(in which case, a certain prof in Dept. of Electrical Engineering would be very happy with you), you could go to the roof and sleep there. Then you could measure the luminous intensity of lightening and the breakdown voltages of air, and think of harvesting power from lightening.

Tie yourself to a wind mill:

If you ever wanted to experience a centrifuge but do not have access to NASA or a Lockheed Martin facility, you could tie yourself to a wind mill. You will experience the centrifuge with zero carbon footprint and hence doing a bit for yourself and for the earth :P

Most of it came up during a fruitful mess discussion with Vaibhav. There were a lot of shady stuff as well, of course I am not going to tell them here :P

The Plan of Action:
As Ironman would have said, the plan of action, is action! Take a hot air balloon and go to the 9th cloud and jump off. After falling through the 9 clouds, engage wings. If you are able to fly great! If not, engage parachute and fall exactly next to a cycle in IIT Madras. Break open the cycle and ride it till main gate. From there drive a car to St. Thomas Mount, where your para-glide would be waiting for you. Jump off the cliff, dodge as many flights as you can, and enter the airport. Break open a plane (kingfisher preferably) and fly away. After a proper take off, shift to auto pilot with a course towards the center of cyclone (somewhere between Cuddalore and Nellore) and do a bungee jumping from the plane (you can have the James Bond (Skyfall) or Jason Bourne theme playing in the background). Keep yourself taut to the plane until you arrive on top of Nellore. On top of Nellore, cut the ropes and jump into the sea. Your surf board would be waiting there for you. Surf alongside sharks till you reach your Titanic. Now sail the Titanic to Chennai, and arrive at Besant Nagar beach. From there, you could tie a sail to a mast on a surf board and sail on land towards insti. After reaching insti, you could ask your friends to spray foam at you and you could do the Oppan Ganganam style.  Then you could go and sleep on the roof of your hostel and think about what you have done!


You could just stay indoors, put peace, and do yourselves a favor by not putting yourselves in danger and probably read one of my experiences in a real cyclone here and stay safe :) 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Some fond childhood memories of Dussehra...

Dussehra, also known as Durga Puja, is one of the biggest festivals in Odisha. For me though, it was more like that time of the year with 10 days of school holidays, awesome food, huge pandals with amazing blinking lights and patterns made out of them. Societies in Odisha have a great knack of pulling of such beautiful pandals that you would be really amazed just by seeing their size and their beauty. They would be themed, sometimes the Titanic, sometimes the Taj, sometimes the pandals would be covered with obsolete 5 and 10 paise coins, the whole pandal, the size of a 7-8 storey building of it. The major ones will have amazing work of gold and silver, and one in Cuttack where the Goddess would be made completely of silver every year. Its really so inspiring to see the creativity and dedication of the workers in making these pandals just for the sake of a few days. Then they would be decorated with lights about 500m radius around it. So essentially, 70% of the roads in Bhubaneswar would be decorated in lights.
The first few days of the holiday would be spent with my parents visiting these amazing pandals in Bhubaneswar. About the 6th or 7th day of Dussehra, we would go to my grandparents place. Both my grandparents live in a quaint little place called Jagatsinghpur, about 60km from Bhubaneswar. At my paternal grand parents place, me with my cousins, and my father, would go for fishing! We would play cricket for like 6 hours out of 10 hours of daylight, and the rest would be spent eating and pulling each others leg. At my maternal grandparents place as well, it would be my uncles and aunts instead of my cousins. There, there is this culture that everyone gives everyone delicacies specially made for Dussehra, things like Kakara Pitha, Nimki, varieties of sweets especially Laddu and Rasgulla etc. (Heaven!! :D) And since both my grandparents come from a background of Zamindaars, they have a huge list of people to give. (even better :D). And hence cooks, just to make all these, would come. A makeshift kitchen would be set up in the backyard, where the cooks, typically 2, would continuously keep making stuff for us for about 2 and half days and they would be continuously consumed or given away. There were just too many people who would visit my grandparents. I, on the other hand would stay put at the makeshift kitchen. I just loved watching them being made, in those huge kadhais and of course popping in one or two at times :D. Whether it was the aroma, or the color or them taking shape, I don't know. But I just loved watching them being made. I was like the food inspector, every lot of whatever was made, had to pass through me first :D.  When laddus were made, I would don the hat of the chef trying to give the laddus their shape. I had this signature style of shaping the laddus (any shape but spherical :P) that every one who saw it, knew I was the one who made it :D

On the 8th day of the Dussehra, or the Durga-Ashtami, a huge puja is held. Everyone would have to wear new, its just so childish now, but the feeling then was amazing. Then the 10th day would be the day when the "victory of good over evil" or the Vijaydasami happened. This is the day when an huge effigy of Raavan would be burnt. Unlike I guess the rest of India, Jagatsinghpur has this amazing tradition of all gods coming together and watching over when lord Ram killed Ravana. Wherever Dussehra is celebrated, pandals have either Goddess Durga or Lord Ram or sometimes Ravana. But in Jagatsinghpur, you will find pandals of lord Krishna, Ganesh and Shiv as well. And on the Vijaydasami day, during the evening, at a huge ground in front of the office of the district collector, there will be the effigy of Ravana ready, lord Ram would be straight in front of him, all the other gods and goddesses would encircle them standing on huge trucks. It's just so magical, as if it were happening in heaven. And the effigy would be burnt up with rockets, and I would count the number of them. It would go on for about ten minutes (I would have given up counting by 5 :P), and then there would be this feeling that something good happened over something evil. Some evil died. And that is the ultimate spirit of Dussehra isn't it?! 

More amazing pictures of Dussehra at Bhubaneswar can be seen here (Courtesy: "Stunning Bhubaneswar" fb page):
2012 and 2010 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Weekends Out

I always put in a lot of thought on the way I start my blog posts but for this, I have already thought for three days and I have truly no better (or worse.. readers discretion required :P) way of starting it. Everything about these trips were so awesome that I really can't pick one particular moment to start off from.

It was all out of the blue one day when we decided we would go somewhere awesome for the whole weekend. The first obvious choice was Ooty. But then also came up the suggestion of Yercaud and Hogenakkal. Ultimately, it was decided that we would go for Yercaud and Hogenakkal...

Yercaud and Hogenakkal

We started off on 22nd June at 11:00pm (even though it incredibly became 1:30am of 23rd and Manoj had to play hide and seek at Bangalore Central, but just for the records, Dino, we were not late :P). We had hired a bus with a robot as a driver (trust me a robot would have done a better job in terms of knowing places in Bangalore). Well nevertheless, we finally boarded the bus and started off. As if on a mission to not sleep, we started off playing multi-lingual antaksheri. 

In antaksheri, there are three types of people. One who does not sing at all. Second, the normal people who sing when they get a nice song and playback for others for the rest of the time. And then there is Pranitha, the living database of songs. Have her against you, and you are deemed to be doomed. Well the doom went on for two to three hours more, when every song in Telugu seemed to be ending with either, ल, म, or र. Finding myself completely out of songs, I slept off. Sometimes while sleeping, you dream about waking up amidst something awesome, may be a heap of chocolate (gold if I were uncle Scrooge), or inside Disney land may be. But I woke up to this...

And to say the least, it was breathtakingly amazing. We had started ascending to Yercaud. The views around were awesome. I had heard of the beauty of the Eastern Ghats before, but this was the first hand experience and it was beautiful. 

We reached Yercaud at around 8:30 in the morning. We had already booked the hotel, so went there straight and after getting freshened up, and after some amazing Dosas and Idlys and Vadas and cups of Coffee at Sarvana Bhavan nearby, we hit the road. First we went to  the Karadiyur View point. The roads to the place were a bit steep and our robot couldn't drive. After pushing the bus so many times, we finally decided to walk the whole of last 2km and asked the bus to go and stay put at the place. After walking for about an hour, we finally reached the place and it was totally awesome.

Then after lunch, we went to the boat house at Yercaud. Ironically, hardly anyone of us knew swimming. Thankfully we had life jackets. Here we had a ball which was supposed to be thrown at each other in order to wet each other. Basically we were in 4 different pedal boats and each boat was a team trying to wet others with the ball.

After the boating, we went to Pagoda point. Here is where the funda of front, side and top views came up. Side view was the amazing view of the hills, front view was the temple and Nitish who saw the top view, and here's Nitish... Tadaaaaaa

All character(s) appearing in the Image below are undeniably non fictitious. Resemblance to any person dead alive or in a state of pure awkwardness right now is totally intentional :P

<lower part has been censored after negotiations>
<PS: Can be made available on further negotiations :P>

After Pagoda point, we came back to our hotel. After a game of Poker, we had our dinner. Later in the night, it was wolf time! We started playing at about10:30pm. With 15 people playing, each game was bound to take a lot of time. But it was fun! The biggest highlight of the game was when Dinesh was wolf and came out as a Cop, Priyasha being the real cop. It has been since then that Priyasha and Dinesh are Jaani Dushman, that whenever we played wolf since then, each would point at the other, even when bloddy both are wolves. Valluru as usual "I am the wolf, kill me". Vaibhav was the god and quite literally so. Sidharth was pulling stunners after stunners with his acting. It went on till about 5am in the morning when we decided to get freshened up and start off for Hogenakkal straight away. Everyone went to their rooms and as soon as in the rooms, everyone felt asleep except only for Chitra, who actually got ready immediately and was waiting for all the other people to get ready without actually knowing everyone's already deep asleep... 

Well, finally at around 7:30am, we had our breakfast and started off for Hogenakkal. This time in the bus playing Literature and Contact. Finally we reached Hogenakkal at around noon. Unlike Yercaud, Hogenakkal was very dirty, with the smell of fried fish all around and people sans the sense of educated social etiquettes. To put it in IIT-M lingo, the place sucked, so much so that we were actually planning to leave then and there and head back to Bangalore. But just for the sake of having gone thus far, we continued towards the waterfall. Hogenakkal is apparently called the Niagra of India, but unfortunately because of the summer, the main water fall was just about 6 feets wide and was disappointing but then we went for boating and that was truly heavenly and gave some of the best memories of the trip. 
The 'tokri' boat..

The mime Rajnikant..

The cave..

After this we were on our way back to Bangalore. It was during this when I said out of the blue that lets go for Ooty next weekend. When you have crazy people like Dinesh, Sunaina (order is debatable and more importantly negotiable with me :P) followed by Pranitha followed by me of course, this out of the blue statement was like a spark to some of the most volatile gases, It had to catch fire... We stopped once for a lunchinner and got back to Bangalore exactly 48 hours after we had started this amazing trip.  
And then on Tuesday itself we decide, we are going to Ooty the following weekend...


The planning happened to be quite similar. We had hired a traveller, this time with child driving (technically cause he cried when we didn't feed him on time). We started off at around midnight of 29th June, again playing multi-lingual antaksheri in the bus. At around 4 o'clock in the morning we reached Mysore, and incidentally, the child parked the bus very close to Mysore palace in order to take a nap. So we all nocturnal creatures, except for Manoj and his partner(s) :P went walking to the front of the palace. It was lit beautifully and was in its full grandeur. 

Then at around 6 O'clock, we reached the gates of Bandipur national park. The gates were closed so had to wait for half an hour or so, and then entered Bandipur national park and passed through some really interesting animals...
A bison..



And of course...

We reached Ooty at around 10:30am, got freshened up in the hotel and immediately went for the highest peak in the Nilgiris, the Doddabetta Peak. After this, we headed for the rose garden, and seeing roses in summer was like being in a dream. It was a beautifully maintained park and very scenic. 

 And after a lot of craziness and pictures like jumping jacks,

We headed for the tea museum. After getting enlightened about the process of making tea (yeah as if anyone remembers anything :P) we bought chocolates and teas, of course the randomness, the craziness continued. 

Then we went to the Ooty lake. Unfortunately, this time, we forgot to get a ball (no puns intended), so instead we spent time talking and admiring the nature and of course the craziness, throwing water and crashing into each other. And then there was the bubble blowing session, and Sunaina made her statement for the day if you guys remember. We took some infinite pictures.. poor Abhinav.

We went back to the hotel at about 5pm, where I crashed straight away. When I woke up, I was informed about Manoj's enlightenment about the statement " **** like a horse ". Later in the night after an amazing dinner while it was raining outside and coffee at CCD with a lot of fart, we started off with wolf again. And well, on the first game itself we had two cops again and they were none other than Dinesh and Priyasha yet again, and two games later both of them accused each other despite both being wolves. Even though most of the games were marred due to various reasons it was still a great session, with the highlights being Dinesh always wanted to be a wolf so much so that he would exchange his villager cards. I finally got to become a wolf, Pranitha finally got to become a villager. Only one out of the 6 games we tried to play actually ended up properly but still it was fun!

Next day morning we went to Coonoor first. We were supposed to go to places called Dolphins nose and Lambs rock. We did go to two lambs on a rock...                 But no one really knows if that was supposed to be the lambs rock, though the lambs were convincingly possessive about the rock. The place though was really good. We were literally on cloud 9 (we didn't actually count the clouds :P). Then there was the beautiful tea garden and the greenery all around due to the garden. We were already late so decided to skip Dolphins nose and headed for Sarkar palace where we had to do the most important bit of shopping.. chocolates. :-)   After which we headed for the Pykara falls.

After an amazing veg buffet, we went to the Ooty wax world which you could say was the Madam Tussaud of Ooty. It was small alright but the craftsmanship was amazing, showcasing some of the prominent figures of our freedom struggle, current leaders and some with a great social message. it had a small market of scented candles and we bought some.

At Pykara falls, Abhinav scripted a movie in which there was a entry, and then there was a dance scene, a chasing sequence, there would have been an Item number but we were missing Nitish, which all went helter skelter. Trust me Abhinav, had I been able to walk then, you would have already got an Oscar :P Although the movie didn't really happen, we did get to see a lot of action, and romance in the woods :P

Then the bloody child made us walk for one and half km to reach Pykara lake. Here we again went for boating, this time though we went in motor powered boats, truly admiring the nature. And of course the craziness..
The Titanic pose.. (I wonder if you both enacted the scenes after this one too :P)

The Captain Jack Sparrow pose..

Then we got down at Gudalur to get refilled, where we did not find a single restaurant which could serve anything other than Idly and Dosa. So we had to live on Banana chips and Soan Papdi thanks to Abhinav, Manoj and Valluru. After refreshments, we started playing contact. This by far was the best game of contact that we played. Later we stopped in a Dhaba at Mysore for dinner at around 10:30pm and then continued on our way back to Bangalore. As if even god didn't want this beautiful trip to end, the bus broke down twice on the way. We finally reached Bangalore at around 4O'clock in the morning of  2nd July.

These trips were like some of the best days of my life. Honestly its not the destination that matters, its the company that really matters. One more person that I really need to thank here is my manager/mentor. Himank Shankar, who let me take leave on Saturdays. No matter how maggu and workaholic IIT kgp people are, they are very good at their hearts and that's an honest generalization guys :-)