Saturday, December 26, 2009

spaced out world

well, it finally happened.
in spite of the denials by the Indian arm, worldspace will shut down the india operations on 31 december.

as a radio enthusiast - from school days, as a short wave listener, and one of the early subscribers of the then free service, it is sad to hear of a radio station folding up..

the initial doubts on the sustainability of this service were somewhat addressed when worldspace went paid. at least there was a revenue stream.
when i saw that they were also promoting events, felt that this could be a route to exclusive content, that could be monetized.

not sure what went wrong. maybe there were too many channels started too quickly.
maybe the costs of sourcing music was high.
maybe the subscriber base was not growing. it was interesting to note that the tie up with airtel got them more subscribers recently than direct subscriptions.

i hope that someone else would be able to revive this wonderful service and enhance the USPs.

this adds to my list of new things to do in the new year.
maybe internet radio.

do you know of any good internet radio guides?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Night trek in the forest

this may also be called, thekkady, part 2!

i had the opportunity to take a night trek in the thekkady forest. it was a 3 hour trek in the jungle at night, with escorts.

with two escorts, one as the guide and the other with a rifle, it felt quite secure.
till we were deeper into the forest and almost cut off from the road and human sounds.


you can hear our footsteps also, if you listen closely.

we were asked to sign some declarations that we are doing this with full awareness of the dangers of the jungle and that we are solely responsible for anything that might happen to us etc etc etc - that increased the excitement.
While we were probably never too far from the roads, but the fact that the guards did not carry any radios made me feel a little insecure.
when asked,the guide said that they can always use the cell phone!
that was reassuring that were were not really out in the wilderness, but a region with cell tower visibility!

anyway, we saw mouse deer, barking deer, sambar deer, a fruit bat that was comfortable inside a hollow, a porcupine in a hurry etc.

the overall experience was very good, as every member of the trekking party - that was limited to 5 -  also had very powerful torches, with a warning that we shoudl be very careful and watch out for snakes etc.

the kerala tourism department with the foirest departmetn has set up many eco-tourism initiatives.
if you are interested in the activities in and around thekkady, you can visit their site.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Just back from a three day visit to thekkady, this post is mostly about the eco-tourism in kerala.
it was good to see that this sector, even within the government department [of forests], is getting organized.

we had taken a train to madurai and then traveled by road to thekkady. we had taken the day leisurely in madurai and by the time we got near thekkady, it was sunset time - a glimpse below..

this time, i wanted to capture most of the visit in a video, so do not have many pictures to share here,
this is a period after the monsoons, so the landscape was lush and green - with some traces of rain in places.
good period for trekking.
among the places we visited were - the chellarkoil, with views of tamilnadu and kerala and a steep waterfall. while on the cliff, one can see the vertical drop and the flat land below.
ramakalmedu, another spot with windmills, a huge statue of a couple as well as view points.

a day long safari-trek-boating in Gavi kept us busy.
a couple of waterfalls, with one at Kullar,  where one could go near the water and the thick forests provided good relief from the reasonably hot sun.

or the noisy rush of water along the road:

With all these lovely places, it was a pity that we could not go for the boat rides on periyar lake that have been stopped after the recent tragedy. we could only see the anchored boats.

but one very interesting experience, was a night trek along with the 'jungle patrol' - three hours long, in the jungle gave an opportunity to see more wildlife than during the treks and the jeep safari.
more on that the next time..

Sunday, November 29, 2009

straight on the roads

one more post on road behavior..

soon after moving to bangalore - almost 20 years now - i had to depend on others to get directions to go from one place to another, as i was not familiar with the roads.

one lesson i learnt very soon was to not ask for directions when there was more than one person together.
the problem was that in bangalore, there are multiple routes to reach point B from point A. in many cases you have the option of choosing one of the many roads at a junction [more on that in a bit].

When there is more than one person, everyone will be very eager to help. and they can not easily agree what directions to give you. one would say - this is the shortest route, while another might say that another option would be the fastest and a third would say that for a two wheeler, it is better to go in a third road etc etc etc.
in all this, you and your question would become just incidental and each one would want to substantiate their position.

so, i try to find a single person - a shopkeeper, an auto driver or even a lone pedestrian, to ask for directions nowadays.

with multiple roads meeting at a junction - such as the south end cirlce, no two roads would align at a normal 'straight' angle - of 90 or 180 degree. while giving directions, one would say 'go straight' - leaving you wondering which is the straight road!

One view from the BTIS camera of the South End circle in Bangalore.
what takes the cake in getting directions is to figure out how one would take a turn at a dead end!
that is only till you figure out a dead end need not be a dead end, but a T-junction.

in an earlier post, i had mentioned that many road names need qualifiers. it is not just with road names.
recently, i was to meet someone visiting bangalore at the kumaraswamy layout bus stand,  - which was close to where he was staying.

after a lot of difficulty and figuring out the right turn to take  [as my directions were to go straight, when, in deed i needed to make a deep left - as most of the traffic flowed and not go by the geometric straight, which led me to a 'dead end'!], i got to know that there were TWO bus stands in kumaraswamy layout!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Road Names in bangalore

One of the many things that have intrigued and amused me about bangalore are the road names.

the fist such name that i head was 'double road'.
back when, this name represented the first 'double' or divided raod, aka KH Road - possibly the only such road then.
subsequently any divided road seems to be called a double road, with a prefix or suffix of the neighborhood, such as indiranagar double road or lalbagh double road..

another category of road names is also amusing - roads named by their width. 80-feet road or 100-feet road are common names. my first impression was that this was the length of the road! used to wonder why someone would want to name such short roads - till we moved our office to an 80-feet road.

recently i noticed a board for a road called Hosa road - or 'new' road. wonder how long this will stay unique or whether we will have more hosa roads with prefixes and suffixes.

one example of a possibility of running out of road names: i have heard of three roads - Hosur Road, Marigowda Road and Siddapura Road - all called Hosur Road!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Roadside temples ..2

i showed you the cluster of temples that are present at a intersection near my home in the last post.
how could these have developed?

the following sequence will provide you with one of the ways of how a roadside temple starts and grows..
first, pick a spot.

then, find a deity

make a shelter

make it more permanent

and make it an institution

now, you have not only created an organization, but also managed to grab a good area of public land with sufficient diversity in the Gods, that can start attracting devotees.

not all roadside temples would have had such ulterior motives.

it could well have been a way to increase public awareness and acceptable social behavior of not littering..
as in this case!

the presence of many God pictures do not seem to have had any effect on the littering of garbage around!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Roadside temples..

Recently, I was very happy when i saw this supreme court directive.
i think that this has been long overdue. while i think that there should be places of worship and local gatherings for social occasions, the sentiments of people are being exploited by vested interests.
i have written earlier on some of the roadside temples that have come up as illegal structures.
i want to share some recent developments close to where i stay.
30082009(005)this was a temple that was located among the dwellings that were cleared to make way for a – hotel / multiplex / hypermarket and… a skating rink with real ice!
the others got fair cash compensations and alternate sites, though located a little far away, but bigger than what they had here.
the road is also scheduled for widening and it is a matter of time that this temple may also have to be removed or relocated.
diagonally opposite this temple is another, a more established one – as it seems to have been built on private land.
RoadTemple08 as if this was not enough, the third corner of the T-intersection had a couple of smaller temples that have started growing..
more on that in the next post.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Deepavali

May the festival of light bring everyone the best of health, wealth and happiness..

Sarve janAh suKino BavanTu

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Harihar 2

this is about another interesting location in harihar..

an oriental style


built by a brahmin

using a deity he found in the river.

Friday, October 2, 2009

harihareswara temple

from my earlier post, if you got a [wrong!] idea that the reason for me going to davanegere was the benne dose, sorry to disappoint you.

i had some other work in that area and was using davanagere as a base.

one other town i visited was Harihar, on the banks of the thungabadhra.
architecturally, i saw something very old - a few centuries old - as well as something very new, both places of worship.

the first was the harihareswara temple.
the following pictures should give you an idea of the exquisite architecture.
the entrance was pretty unimpressive and does not give you an indication of what is inside.

the sanctum sanatorium indicated that the structure has been maintained, but not too well.
the location is declared as a heritage site and comes under the archeology department. this has also impacted the funds for the upkeep of the temple.

the hall with pillars in front shows how the structure - of limestone? - has weathered well through the centuries and still stays shining, without any paint!

the structure of some of the stupas were also different.

this snapshot describes the story of the origins of this temple.

i will share the details of the modern church in my next post.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Benne Dose

It was a refreshing break for a couple of days from the city bustle.
off on an assignment, that took me to Davanegere - the home of the famed Benne Dose.

Having heard about the benne dose, we told the cab driver to take us to a genuine - not a star rated hotel - for authentic benne dose the first evening.
Sorry sir, no benne dose in the evening, he said.
makes sense, we thought, imagining oodles of butter on the Dosa that may be difficult to digest in the night.

so, we decided to get up early morning the next day and have BD for breakfast - so that we could still make it to our meeting in time.

we went to the Sagar Benne Dose eatery - that was also referred in wikipedia - with a lot of anticipation.

we were probably the first customers and the service was lethargic - somewhat like saying, why are you bothering us so early in the morning..

the place was very small, and if one looked at the way water was served, one would not want to eat there!
the cooking platform was very clean.

soon, we got our benne dose!
contrary to our expectation, the dose was not greasy - at least not as greasy as we thought it would be.

the taste was --- well, very good!
only half way through the dosa did i remember to take a picture.. what is missing in this is what i had eaten..

it was served with mashed potatoes, with a few onions sprinkled. no masala!
we topped it with a kali dosa [more like a set dosa] and another benne dose..

there was no wash basin, one had to wipe ones hands on pieces of old newspaper, that were cut in small rectangles and kept on the tables.
i guess it was the best way to take the grease out!

for all that, i was not feeling heavy - and had a normal appetite for lunch.

the next day, i wanted to try another variant of the benne dose - the open benne dose.. in a different place.

this also came with the mashed potato and thick coconut chutney.
there was a generous sprinkling of 'paruppu podi'.

again, the taste was yummy!

wish you had also been there :-)
p.s. as it was a rushed trip, we missed the 'chilli bhajji' that was made only in the late afternoons..
maybe next time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Today is Pillayar Chaturthi - or, more widely known as Ganesha.
right from my school days, i had a fascination for ganesha.
from street corner temples to the one on BIG street [a very narrow street in triplicane, madras] to the huge 'mukkuruni' ganesha in the meenakshi temple in madurai, i am amazed at the multitude of ways of representing ganesha in graphical forms..
from simple modern strokes to traditional renderings, from simple sitting posture to riding a bike - one can find ganesha representations limited only by one's imagination.

i have always felt that ganesha is the first god of IT - with his own mouse!

our home also has a reasonable collection of ganeshas.
or the specialized forms - such as the one to ward off the 'evei eye'

or wall murals like


have you come across any special forms of Ganesha?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

the water concern

Having grown up in Chennai - in the peak of the water shortage years, i have many memories of spending many hours a day - at odd hours, that too - on gathering water.

when water supply was limited to alternate days, we still needed to pump water as the pressure was very low.
i had to learn the mechanics of the pump - and associated techniques. 
for priming - when the water level went down, including taking out the washer and softening it, if it went dry etc, or replacing it with a new one, when the old one wore out.

then there came the more modern versions like this:
we also had to wait for the water tanker and a camaraderie developed among neighbors till the water tanker came and competition when the tanker arrived, to ensure that each family got sufficient water.
i notice that water is also important for politics, where i see that even 'emerging' slums get water supplied in tankers by the local politician towards the welfare of that colony.
recently, when i was looking at the finalists of the engineering contests organized by mondialogo - one of the interesting initiatives that i have been following for the last couple of years -  

noticed that the largest number of entries were related to - what else, water!
not only the Indian entries, but also from other countries!

Some of the smart investors in India have been investing in water. 
as one of the economic theories go, the next major conflicts in the world are likely to be over water!

what is your take on water?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Eclipsed Bangalore

i read how Thomas Friedman - the author of Hot, Flat and Crowded found a scene of an inaugural puja done for a flyover in Hyderabad, somewhat amazing.
his amazement was due to the fact that modernity and tradition co-existed without being felt as contradictions.

that is not only in hyderabad.
bangalore, for all the modernity and influence of foreign cultures - thanks to the IT boom - still has not forgotten old convictions.

i see this every time during an eclipse.
Bangaloreans love food. even on days of bandhs, the first establishments to open and do near normal business soon after.

but, eclipse days are different. not only are the food spots empty, so are the streets.
the fear of being exposed to harmful rays keeps people indoors.

the scenes on the 'mini forest' stretch, which is packed on other days, with morning walkers looked like this:
the stretch inside one of the segments that has many walkers looked like this.

the laughter club, very active and very regular also like this:

just reinforces the byline of an old documentary that India is a place where centuries co-exist!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mukkani and Sidr Honey..

after a couple of years, got to eat jackfruit grown at home [in chennai].
the last of the fruits this season, was waiting when i went to chennai a couple of weeks ago.
thugh it looked small - it was ready for consumtption in a couple of days.

the day i cut it, we also had the last of the mangoes for the season.

the trio of Mango - jackfruit  - banana [Maa - pala - Vazhai] is called Mukkani [or three fruits].

my mom used to cook almost all parts of the jackfruit.
the fruit, of course - can be eaten by itself or with honey! though both are sweet, this combination is divine!
the seeds are also edible and make sambar taste better.

the skin - once the thorny outside and the stringy inside are removed - is still fleshy and can be used to make a gravy based 'koottu'.

that day was also special because i got to taste the 'sidr' honey - a speciality honey from yemen.
supposedly the most expensive honey - the consistency and aroma are really out of the world. [you might have guessed that i like honey :-)]

you can find some more details here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Birds in the balcony

the last few weeks have been quite hectic, and have been away from this blog.
while i have a few topics that i want to write about, am waiting for the thoughts to organize themselves.
and some apt pictures :-)

it was a refreshing break this morning to see some mynahs in the balcony garden.

they have been coming regularly in the last few weeks - possibly after they located a source for some worms? in the home composting tower - called khamba.
a simple system of three sections that make compost out of kitchen and organic waste at home.

more recently, a small bird feed tray was added, though that could not have been the cause - as it gets too hot in the sun and the seeds get wet in the rain.

but, whatever was the reason, it is good to see emboldened birds that are not afraid of us and move about freely.

very relaxing.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


the power availability today was pretty bad.
sunday. carpenters working at home.
trying to ignore the nail banging and sawing noises, i tried to drown myself in a book [on the origins of scientology and dianetics - more on that in some later post] sitting in the balcony among some plants..

so much for the preamble for the rambling thoughts this time..

first sight that caught my attention:
this is NOT one of the pictures from the recent trip to kabini. or any other wildlife park..
these are, i guess, domesticated cows and buffaloes, that have been left free to graze - encroaching on sn unprotected [in spite of the compound wall] BDA allotted plot.

so, the next thought was about other encroachments that i could spot around me..
This one, right next to where the buffaloes grazed - has been land under dispute between BDA and some other litigants.
the last court ruling was in favor of the BDA, and soon after they had also put up some fencing.
but soon after, the fences were tampered with first.
and segments began to disappear.
then, in one corder - quite a vantage point as it is on bannerghatta road and in a fairly heavy traffic spot, a small 'nursery' sprang up, with some potted plants for sale.
over a few months the business grew and occupied more and more space to cater to the increased volume.
diversification was the next step for growth - and got into selling Terra cota pots as well as cement pots.
backward integration, for this business meant making their own cement pots which needed more space.

the picture you see above shows the 'factory' and a portion of the road behind, if you look carefully.

with connections to the local councilor - who, i was told is also the supplier of water in tankers regularly, for this business, in addition to, i can extrapolate, of protection money, a couple of attempts to dislodge this activity have been unsuccessful.

talking of fences, at kabini, i saw a private farmhouse having an electrified fence. i guess the other extreme of being selfish, after encroaching on the wildlife territory.
howard hughes and michael jackson also fell in that category.

p.s. i watched the move slumdog millionaire on TV last night. i could relate to the comments made by some segments that the movie portrays some negative aspects of our society - but my comment is that we cannot ignore that under the guise of always being only politically correct.
we have our heritage as well as the successes in the modern world, but let us not simply wish away the negative aspects that need to be fixed as well.