XXIII

Yes!  That time of the year again…  Time for reflections.

I started off the last year desperately attempting to make a fresh start.  The ladakh trip did wonders to infuse just that.  And then I was off to the US of A.  A chance encounter on the plane kickstarted a very very eventful period of five months.  What started with an exclamation mark ended with a question mark.

Academically, it has been the toughest year by far.  Although Surathkal will always be special, it holds no candle to the last one year on this front.  But tagging along with this has been a feeling of loneliness and depression.  The question mark came at a wrong time too.  All this should make one stronger, but it is tough to pull yourself up over a prolonged period of time…

The birthday summarized it all.  Low key.  It has been a year of quietly soldiering on.

I am waiting for the warm smell of dosas in my mother’s kitchen in a month’s time now.

The sun will rise again in 3 months time…

December 13th

I remember this day fondly.

Now that’s a different way to look at it!

Today started off like any other Thursday.  Math class painfully early in the day – at 9:45AM.  (OK, you can judge me).  My roomie preferred to sleep at home instead.  I half thought of doing the same, but grudgingly went for class.  Thankfully so!

As I was travelling on the bus, I was thinking about something funny which was on one of the question papers.  ‘Hot tomato sauce at 80C is poured onto meatballs which are at 20C.  The meatballs are cooked when their surface temperature reaches 50C.  Assuming the meatballs to be spherical balls with a conductivity k, estimate how long it takes for them to be cooked.’  🙂

This wouldn’t even hold a candle to what was about to transpire in the math class…  About 45 minutes into the class when most people had switched off, the professor suddenly wrote this on the board:

“HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO COOK A POTATO?”

She then proceeded to outline the steps:

1) Heat equation with initial and boundary data.

2) Write problem at steady state + transient part.

3) Separation of variables – solve ODEs.

4) Put it together and expand in eigen functions to satisfy initial conditions.

Assume that it is a 1-D problem.  L/D << 1.

Potato starts at room temperature = 20C.

Throw them into boiling water = 100C.

The potato is cooked when all pieces are at 75C atleast.

Given:  Heat diffusivity, k = 0.0025, L = 1.5

By this time, most of us were FULLY awake. 🙂  We were thinking about all the time we had eaten French fries and realized what all went into making them… 😛  Some people were also hotly debating whether this problem could be applied for French fries.  ‘Hey the potatoes are being thrown into hot water here, not oil!  So it is French Blanches!’  Some others were wondering how accurate the modeling of a potato as a perfect ellipse was.  Some others really academic types started thinking about how to model a more complex case like potato wedges, where L/D << 1 didn’t hold.  Someone’s phone rang to the ringtone ‘baahon ke darmiyan! do pyaar mil rahe hain…‘.

Meanwhile, I was in splits!  I mean, if you want to know if a potato is cooked, stick a fork into it!  Stick a fork in me, I am done with math! 😀

The first one

I’ve been wanting to write this one for sometime now.  It has been inspired.

It was a bright and clear Saturday morning. (My Bulwer-Lytton entry…)  The summer of 2001 in Bangalore.  The place – Venkatesh tuitions.

I had reached early and was looking down at passersby from the terrace where the classes were held.  Equations involving acids, bases and salts were running all through my head.  Normally, I am not one who stares into the distance often while turning the pages of a textbook in my head.  But the Socratic method or sometimes, a far more brutal form of questioning employed by the teacher was the reason behind this ritual before every class.  A hospital right across the road added to the graveness while also subtly telling me about the consequences if the ritual was not performed.

A white Maruti 800 drew up.

My gaze subconsciously shifted to this new animate entity on the road, which seemed like an aberration on the still array which was the lazy Saturday morning.  The door opened and out stepped a person.  My brain registered this person like it would have registered a random person in a crowd of a 1000.

But, only for a brief instant.

The toss of her hair as the sunlight played through it, the discernable warmth on the face, the confidence in the walk…  Acids, bases and salts were quickly replaced by this peri.  Even the wave of goodbye to her dad seemed graceful.  She seemed to float in the air as she made her way up to the terrace.  A beautiful smile was on her face.

Yup!  It was my first crush! 🙂

Chithranna

Firstly, for the uninitiated, chithranna means lemon rice, but in colloquial usage, it means an assortment of things.

I am now in the US of A.  I left Indian shores on the 8th of this month by a firang airline (my mom absolutely wouldn’t let me book Air India even though it was a good 12k cheaper!).  Anyway, I assumed that I’d atleast get to fly in some style.  The German airline for the first leg of my journey didn’t have room for my legs.  (For those of you who understand, it was even worse than Durgamba/Ideal).  My food consisted of a poor attempt at making upma!  EEEEEYUCH!  I slept through most of the first leg, somehow.

Frankfurt airport is HUGE.  While  waiting for my connecting flight, I managed to lose 5 dollars in a phone card vending machine and anger an airport authority for the simple reason that I was trying to go to a different terminal.  Hell! I was just trying to see off a friend who had a different connection!  As, Obelix would have put it, These Germans are crazy!

The next leg was on an American flight.  I used to sometimes wonder why Americans prefer to call inflight helpers as flight attendants instead of airhostesses.  I had thought that it was because of perceived sexist connotations.  But no people!  It is because most of these flight attendants are males!  I had to live with the sight of a 40 something balding man smiling at me while handing out my meals…  That wasn’t all – the AC had a leak, the wiring for my reading light was screwed, the vegetarian meal consisted of just some vegetables and worst of all, the toilet door came off!  WOW!

Once I reached the US of A, I heard junta who had travelled by Air India had nice food and had a TV screen all to themselves even in economy…  Yeah, I did tear my hair. 🙂

Over the last one week, I’ve been in the process of settling down in my new place.  One of the first things that struck me was how cordial people are here.  I mean, imagine a bus driver smile and wish you good morning in India!  I had also been on a trip to Washington DC.  The White House is kutty, tiny, exceedingly small and anything but majestic.  Honestly people, Vidhana Soudha ki jai!

A lot of other things have happened over the past week.  New people, new place, tons of forms to fill out, tons of things to sign up for etc., etc.  Basically its been chithranna.  Which also reminds me btw:

I made Chithranna! 🙂

PS:  My mom was later vindicated because some AI flyers missed their connection! Hmm…

Slander

Before I begin this post, two things about me:

1)  I am a dosa FREAK.  If offered Penelope Cruz and a masala dosa, I’d choose the latter.

2)  The dosa/masala dosa referred to in point 1 refers ONLY to those that are made in Bangalore’s and Mysore’s darshinis.  Nothing else matters.  Really.

I had been to Gurgaon today.  After making my way through the floors of Central, I reached the food court at the top.  Even before I set foot into the food court, a familiar smell wafted through the air.  ‘No! It can’t be!’, I thought, for I smelled the same wonderful smell that Dosa Camp in Jayanagar in Bangalore is associated with (and one that is hard wired into me now).  I straightaway ran to the counter and scanned the menu.  75 bucks for a Mysore masala dosa it said.  (Yes Bangaloreans, here dosas cost significantly more…)

Having ordered one, I decided to engage myself in another wonderful pastime, watching a batch of dosas being made.  And then it began.

The moron of a chef first took the batter and spread it like it was a contest of how much area of the tawa one can cover with batter.  An utter violation already – A MYSORE MASALA DOSA IS NEVER PAPER THIN!  After the palya had gone in, the genius folded it and, hold your breath, cut it into 6 pieces.  A MYSORE MASALA DOSA IS NOT A WANNABE SPRING ROLL!  When the plate containing this mess was handed to me I shot a desperate and utterly cynical ‘Is this Mysore Masala Dosa?!’ at the chef.  He didn’t catch the point.  Just a blank nod of the head.  Every expletive that I knew came rushing to my head.

The dosa was like a ragged, squirming leper instead of the majestic warrior that it was supposed to be.  Excuse the description, but you get the drift… 🙂  The chutney and sambar were deplorable as well.  The place called itself ‘Not just dosas’.  Damn!!! I should have understood right away!

STATUTORY WARNING:  If you are hungry in Delhi and Gurgaon, please please stick to parathas/pronthas and chaat.

XXII

A year ago, i wrote this.  It was a truly wonderful day and will remain so always.  But little did I know then about the wonderful year that was ahead of me.

A year is a long time.  A melange of events occur.  But this one was special.  It was one where I experienced the whole gamut of emotions from zenith to nadir.

A high adrenaline, fist-pumping type win.

A highly satisfying pedantic experience.

The bliss one gets upon seeing alacrity in others’ faces, something that I was responsible for.

The ultimate of surprise, unexpected triumphs.

The well founded joy at having fulfilled a personal goal.

The ‘floating 10 feet above the air’ feeling one gets on being smitten.

The mental strength developed from strong bonds of friendship forged over the year.

The utter grief of parting.

The agony of defeat.

The cruel realization of dark visages.

It has been an amazing year.  Hope the next one is just as special.

To the ‘year of maximum change’.  A toast to myself.

Condi

Yes! That’s what I am going to be. I have seen/heard some “amazing” things in the last week and couldn’t help being condi… (condi = condescending)

First, this photo:

Yup! I am talking about the “pepes” 🙂 This actually set me thinking about all the places I had seen words spelled wrongly – spelled just as people mispronounce it phonetically. The funniest ones are in hotel menus. Gobi Manchurian is invariably slandered. The one which takes the worst hiding is the word “Chinese”. Although, the one that I remember most fondly is Malai Gupta!!! 🙂

Onto item number 2. This time it is something that I heard on the news channel Samay. Incidentally, I had been forced into watching all inane free-to-air channels for the whole week thanks to the cable operator’s policy. This happened in the aftermath of the Jaipur blasts. This young, upcoming channel tried to do a professional take on the blasts and had a really enthusiastic guy in the studio interacting with a reporter at Jaipur. A few usual questions were shot and equally usual replies were made, until one question caught my fancy. The studio guy asks the reporter “kaisi awaaz aayi?“…

Now this is what the reporter could have said:

1) Roll back the years and do a totally child-like rendition of “BOOOOOM!”

2) Launch into fits of explosive laughter at the utterly dumb question and hope that the studio guy will get an idea.

3) What the hell! Have a proper go at the studio guy. A novel way to increase the TRP ratings.

Just when I was recovering from the stomach cramps that I had developed, the studio guy shoots another question: “kitni awaaz aayi?” 😀

OK. And now for the grand finale! Creme de la creme. The icing on the cake. A photo again:

I saw this priceless board on the way to Almora. I did not stay at this place btw… Please gimme your comments ppl! 😀

Pensive

Every cloud has a silver lining.  Every bright sunny sky also has a dark cloud lurking.  It appears quietly.  Suddenly.

Now what if the dark cloud also happens to be dear for other reasons?  Between Scylla and Charybdis…

A recent forward on palmistry proclaimed that I make judgmental errors.  I made a choice.  The flame has to singe something.

Life.

Purple

Its been quite some time. Its been eventful. Have travelled across the country, faced an Adrian-Larry-Robert encounter and become rich! 🙂

There have been some gems along the way too. The holy man at Varanasi who preferred to listen to the Bhool Bhulaiya version of Hare Krishna Hare Ram, the signboard at Atari which said International Railway Station, “angreji sharaab signboards all over north India’s highways…

Cutting to the recent past. The following has been inspired by a Varun N R…

(on two separate occasions)

Step 1: Throw hands up in the air and shout “Yesssssssss!!!!”

Step 2: Jump off the chair and do a stylish air kick, while throwing your head back and pumping your fists.

Step 3: Put your right leg out and adopt a stable pose for the mad head banging that is about to follow.

Step 4: Mentally play the song “Its a beautiful day…” and head bang madly.

Step 5: Run outside and look at the normal unseeming world…

A high five and an Oh So Unbelievable thing…

😀

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