Thursday, January 31, 2013


Been clueless about the events happening in our country. Somewhere in the east, Mr. Rushdie is banned from entering a city and down south a movie is being banned. 

Where is that country which boasted itself to be secular, tolerant and other blah blah blah? I feel betrayed that what they taught us in school about the great India is all false. Political aspirations and goals are marring the sensibility of people. Where is religious tolerance? A movie being banned for portraying Taliban as what they are? Which muslim Indian national is even closely related to the Taliban? 

What did Rushdie do to be banned from entering Kolkata? Who owns the city to ban him? Look at the fun! One side; you are banning a movie to protect the interest of a minority religious community whereas the other side, a person belonging to the same minority religious community is being banned. 

I can't help but laugh out loud, louder at the game being played. We prove, time and again that there is no wicked hypocrites than us. In all terms - social inequality, religious intolerance, gender discrimination, racial tolerance, economic transparency - the list goes on and on. Whom are we fooling by portraying a secular and tolerant India? 

Theories like even with so many problems, we go on everyday is a total bull crap - don't fool others and don't fool yourselves. Few years ago, people were mature to handle criticisms, they were truly secular and tolerant. Few months ago, I read a report in the Bangalore edition of TOI the light of Digambar saints. People are so ignorant of the sect and the practices that they harass them on the road! How pathetic can it get. 

And another article was about how the story of Punyakoti is being manipulated by the saffron brigade in school text books. Read the story in the link and you will get the moral of the story. But the moral is twisted in text books today to show the tiger vowed not to eat cows anymore. These are just a couple of examples as to what is happening everyday in our great country. 

We are not going back in time definitely; few years ago, people were more mature and tolerant. Our views, our practices are all going narrow each day. God bless India! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The After Effects and rest of Bangkok

By day 3, we were pretty much aware of how to be on guard at Bangkok. We realized the best to do is take a taxi and negotiate on the fare upfront or use the public transport. The bus fares are expensive; so the best and comfortable way was taxi. Though most places were in the vicinity of Khao San, it still mattered to know the place.

Khao San was kind of the center of places; it was just 2 km away from the banks of Chao Praya river. The river is the lifeline of the city; its an important waterway and clustered around it are the financial centers. Beautiful and legendary temples like Wat Pho and Wat Arun are on the banks of Chao Praya. The famous long tailed boats and floating markets are worth the visit.

And so we decided to walk to places closer after having our lessons learnt. But it turned out that the habit continued thereafter to every place we visited. Got our exercise and experienced the place up close which we couldnt have otherwise.One mode of transport we missed was the metro rail and the rail journey but there were no plans to visit the financial districts of Bangkok.

Oh yeah one thing we often take for granted is food. We claim to try new cuisines and enjoy the food but in reality its one hell of a challenge. Relishing a simple kadak chai was a luxury, yeah we did find an Indian restaurant to get our daily dose of chai. It was good after a long hard day to unwind with a cup of hot masala chai and pakodis before we guzzled on beers.

The staff in most Indian restaurants; we learnt later, were from Myanmar. They speak good Hindi and watched every evening South Indian movies. One claimed how much they liked the dance and fight sequences :) Well, India is going far off places.

The Amulet market near the Chao Praya river. - People scrounge for Buddhist and other amulets in the market all along the street along Chao Praya. There are wide range of amulets being sold by hundreds of vendors. People search for sacred ones that could probably bring them good luck and there are amulets for all reasons - prosperity, family, child, so on. Its nice to see people search among the endless trays of amulets for the perfect one.

The Buddhist image at Wat Pho - one of the oldest learning centers. This is the oldest and largest reclining Buddha in Thailand. Its 46 mts long and 15 mts high and represents Buddha attaining nirvana. The temple of Wat Pho is a learning center for Thai traditional massage and one could be treated here.

The feet of the Buddha - 3 mts long. Inlaid with mother of pearl, it displays 108 different Buddhist symbols.

In front of the statue are 108 collection bowls in which you can drop a coin each for good luck.  

Colorful chedis

Vimanmek Mansion - former royal palace. Its the largest teak palace in the world. The palace is a museum displaying the royal household's items, clothes, weapons and other things of interest. Photography is prohibited inside, and visitors are expected to dress appropriately.

The Abhishek Throne Hall - now a museum in the Dusit palace complex.

Ananta Samakhom Throne hall - a former reception hall in the Dusit palace complex. It now serves as a museum mainly displaying the royal school of silk and craft's paintings and weaving.

The Chao Praya River and the skylines of Bangkok

Settlements and homes along the river.

Floating markets. It was noon and hence the vendors were less. I have heard that the market bustles with activity in the early morning.

The Bangkok signature long tailed boat criss crossing the river; convenient way to travel

The temple of Dawn - Wat Arun along the river.

The central prang which is Khmer style. The tower is encrusted with bits of broken porcelain and seashells which had been used earlier as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China.

The climb is narrow and steep to the balcony of the tower. The view is worth

View of the Grand Palace and the Chang Pier

The climb

Close up of porcelain work of art.

One more

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Expressions of Life

I was riding my scooter on my way home this evening. You know you need all the senses and much more to be alert when riding on Indian road; Bangalore road are known to be more notorious.

I had to screech by apply my right brake when I saw two women with plastic pots startled. I did not get angry or loose my cool, instead I laughed. It was amusing since I got reminded of Tom & Jerry. Yeah, the expression on Tom's face when he has to short stop himself. Like this..

Image from
That was how those women looked like. Since then, I have been thinking, isn't that cartoon so versatile. Yeah, everyone likes Tom & Jerry; my all time favorite is Tom & Jerry. I can watch them even today and I will enjoy them even when I am in my ripe age. But what I found the cartoon series so versatile was it apparently captures all the expressions a person can go through in his life.

Sorrow, pain, happiness, jealousy, helplessness, stupidity, fear - you name it and it's there. Tom fearing the dog, Jerry feeling elated that he hoodwinked Tom. Tom feeling pain when a nail pokes him through. Everything.

I somehow realized today that there was a hidden message in those series. Whether there was any real hidden message or not, I do not know. But I came to realize something and that is important. Whether be it sorrows, grief, pain, every situation is faced with challenges and attempt to succeed. More than that, its faced with such enthusiasm and elan.

I like to see Tom attempting again and again to catch Jerry and Jerry in turn try hard every time to trick Tom. Now isnt that what life is? Life throws challenges and we say "Bring it on!"

Monday, January 14, 2013

How we almost got scammed in Bangkok

What was difficult in Bangkok was the language. Surprisingly, the folks there did not know English as much as people in other cities knew - like Chiang Mai and Phuket. So it was difficult find out the routes most of the times. Except for once, stuck to taxis for commuting since they were the safe options. The drivers are honest and they tell the rates upfront. The rickshaw guys are crooks. There is a popular scam that most tourists end up being pulled into. We almost got fooled. This is what happened.

The very first day after refreshing ourselves, set out to visit the Golden Palace. Its just 1 km away from the Khao San Road. As we walked towards an intersection, we lost sense of direction as to which side to take. The biggest mistake was holding a map. The Golden Palace is an English name and most locals dont recognize the name, instead they would know if you ask them direction for Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang. Now, that's too much of expectation from self.

While we were trying to find the right direction, guess what? The roofs of palace complex was visible at some hundreds of meters ahead. Thats how close we were; yet we could not realize how conveniently close we chose our hotels(though that's precisely why I chose Khao San Road long with it being cheap but had long forgotten that it was close to Grand Palace). Moreover, you just have to get out of the hotel for tuk-tuk drivers pursue you a lot to use their service.

We inquired with a couple of locals at the intersection, no one knew where Grand Palace was. At the time, a well dressed guy came over and started talking to Velu in a friendly way. He inquired about where we were from, where we are staying, where we are going. When we said, we want to visit Grand Palace, he said it was some Buddhist festival that day and the palace complex was closed until 3 PM. We did not realize we are being scammed. He led us to sit by a street chair, took the map from us and marked other areas of attraction for us to visit. That was when it struck me. None of the places he was marking seemed recognizable to me, I am one who reads a lot about a place before I go. So I would virtually know what places are important attractions; I remember the district he was referring was not mentioned in any of the articles I have read about Bangkok.

I wanted to get away from there immediately; I was beginning to get uncomfortable but was being polite and Velu was intently listening to him unaware of us being duped. When he made sure we bought his story of Grand Palace being closed, he gave us an alternate itinerary - Visit a couple of temples, go shopping, reach Grand Palace at 3 PM just in time. He also threw in agencies which could give us best rates for travel and hotels at Chiang Mai; which we said was already booked. He still insisted we cancel the flight since the road journey is scenic; which we humbly declined.

The next thing he did was talk about "Government tuk-tuks" which charge 20 Baht for the whole day and takes you all around the place he just listed. He also said such ones are recognized by a small yellow flag they have. Now this really struck me! Whoever would do that even in the name of charity? But I was also thinking how are we going to find such a tuk-tuk? If we found one, how is he going to benefit from it? None of this made sense. So we got to the end of the road, and in a couple of minutes a government tuk-tuk arrived! He spoke to the driver and agreed on 20B charge. We thanked him and I requested him if  I can take one picture of him; since he has helped us a lot. He humbly denied citing the festival and he being a Buddhist could not pose for photos that day. It was queer. We boarded the tuk-tuk and it started. I said Velu that something didn't seem right. When we asked him to take to Grand Palace, he told the same bull and cock story

After 5 mins of commute, the tuk-tuk driver stopped in front of a Buddhist temple which was our first sight seeing stop. We decided we would ask him to go off and that we have made changes to our plans. When we communicated this, he got wild and started yelling and demanding 400B. We told him it wont work out; we could give his 20Baht at the max. He also spoke on the phone and our guess is that he talked to this tout who advised him to leave us alone.

He left us after hurling some abuses in Thai. We found a taxi and went back to Grand Palace which was not closed. The taxi driver confirmed our suspicion when he said it was always best to hire a taxi; adding that tuk-tuk guys are "no good". I later read about these kind of scams on the internet. They take you to shops and lure you to buy expensive items and gems; the touts get commission. A bad start for the trip :)

In the course of next couple of days, we figured out they were a team. They operated at the corner of the street; this guy hooks innocent victims and signals to the rickshaw guy lurking in the corner when the plot is set.

I did manage to click a pic of that fellow while trying to click other pictures much before asking him.

Offering help

The so called Government Tuk-Tuk with Yellow flag. Explaining the itinerary to the driver. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Foot in Mouth?

Have been following current news but none of them are just worth it. Not just worth it. I am of the opinion that media agencies should move to body shopping business instead. With all their media people contracting  services to politicians lobbyists!

There has been a phenomena off late where the news channels and the news papers report "foot in mouth" disease of various 'apparently-famous' folks.  Apparently famous because I don't recognize half of them. Either I must be living as an isolated sack to not know them or that they really are not that famous.

Some day a religious man throws his invaluable opinion about a latest incident that shook the nation; and there goes the crowd gung-ho! The news channels, news papers first report, then analyze and the same crowd rebukes and finally publishes his "I am sorry" speech. Another day its a hell-knows-from-where politician.

Now! everyone is entitled to their opinion sir. But are you guys not feeding them what they are hungry for? Fame? Five minutes of fame? Would it not be better to give the person and the statement the (un)importance they deserve? Would it not then be all easy? You really didn't hear anything stupid or even if you did; you give it the best treatment - IGNORANCE.

Instead what is done? Give the magnanimous importance, tom-tom it all around and the no-body gets discussed by everybody.  The so called "accidental" foot in mouth gives them what they are hungry for - FAME. I think it is a calculated foot in mouth they orchestra to gain that fame and boy! how they succeed.

Their gain and what are we? Foolish of course!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My 400 and Thank You

I saw 399 published posts on my dashboard; so this would be my 400. Going by my run rate; I should have touched 400 sometime during August 2012. However, owing to my ill treatment to my blog and losing interest; I am 4 months late.

Its still much better. I would love to go back and talk about my first post or how I started blogging. I would love to write about early days, comments and readers. But I am going to do none of it. I am, however; going to thank you all for continuing to encourage me and reading my posts; though these days they have been less intense, less sarcastic and definitely less frequenting.

I don't want to abandon this space any time. Let me hope I will be more frequent and share my views more than confining it within me and acting selfish as one of my friend put it. Leaving with many thanks and few of my latest snaps.

Power lines like diagram of Kirchoff's law criss-crossing, making them beautiful with hundreds of birds resting by 

Fishy business

Standing mute 

Yellow throated bulbul - an endangered species

Camouflage to perfection

Red vented bulbul

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Retrospection and Looking forward

I want to put top 5 things I did good and top 5 things that went bad in 2012. I have not done such a thing earlier but will do me good to look back.

Good things of 2012 :)
  • Traveled to Thailand and Cambodia. Long long wish to visit Khmer temples fulfilled.
  • Adopted a pup finally. Was having reservations about who will take care of him while we go out for work and all that. But just went ahead. Here is Gypsy. 
  •  Started commuting to office by a 2 wheeler. Again after much procrastination; but could not put up with auto rickshaw drivers' greed and attitude anymore. 
  • Did some good work for the apartment complex as the president. Fixing elevators, fixing sewage, innumerable light and electric fixtures, water problems,  etc etc. Will consider that as a good donation of my time.
  • Was situational and emotionally intelligent at best at work. My manager however feels otherwise :-/
Things that could have been better
  • Did not spend enough time on reading, physical activities and enhancing skills
  • Did not learn anything new past year (Very bad) 
  • Was financially foolish - have to manage my money wisely
  • Avoided lot of people in life - for good but it was cruel on my part. 
  • I am not getting any other point :-| It was not that bad after all. 
What in 2013?
  • Regular physical activity 
  • Learn a new skill - what would that be? 
  • Get a second income - more money, more travel! yeah!! 
  •  Definitely be emotionally and situational intelligent :-)
  • Being positive and stop complaining - in all terms. 
Aah, that sounds much better :)

Happy New Year Folks!