Saturday, October 15, 2005

Indian Epics via Comics

I found an online version of Amar Chitra Katha (literally translated to Eternal Stories through Pictures from Hindi) on Valmiki's Ramayana, a Sanskrit Epic. These comics were brain fodder for us when I was growing up. I hope the rest of the epics are digitized and enabled for online access as well.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Bangalore Maps

In an earlier post I had predicted satellite maps integration into google tools. I was right about that one, but I had incorrectly surmised that India would be off the map. Its now accessible from Google Earth and to a finer level of detail than that of even The Indian Government complains about publishing such sensitive data...Google rebuts that this information has been public all along...albiet for a small sum of money.

Anyway, whats missing from the aerial maps of Bangalore is...the traffic :) Also, it lacks any street names and landmarks. My friend Vicky, a fellow-Bangalorean and classmate, sent me his set of landmarks that can be imported to embellish the barren landscape. I added landmarks for the many pubs...its a bit out-of-date because I havent been there in two years. This is a work in progress...

Pubs in Bangalore

These landmarks besides the pubs are places around Bangalore that I lived/studied/hung-out...


If the landmarks file was text-based we could have made a wiki and have all the information added every part of Bangalore using a collaborative approach.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mackinac Island

As a consequence of events described in my earlier post, I have started visiting exotic locations in the US notably Detroit MI. Places of tourism described by the locals in the mo-city have casino cities across the border and the scenic upper peninsula some 300 miles away from this metro at the top of the list.

I was stranded in Detroit this weekend and after consulting several friends I headed north to see the fall colors in the Upper Peninsula (thanks to Jeanney k.). Its still the beginning of autumn, but I was able to capture some of the splendour.

Fall Colors

I spent the weekend on an Island called Mackinac staying at a small bed & breakfast called the LaChance Inn. Lodging in this fine establishment includes a lavish 'continental breakfast' comprising 2 types of muffins and orange juice. I could alternatively have stayed at the Grand Hotel on the island but have paid an arm and a leg for a little more.

Highlights of the island were the lack of automobiles (and the use of horse-driven 'taxis'), the historic Fort Mackinac and commercial tourism at its finest.

The Arch Rock below was amongst the natural sites, there was also a beautiful cemetry but I guess most would consider more morbid than scenic, so pictures not included.

Arch Rock

Monday, September 05, 2005

Scaling Mt. Fear

I camped at Yosemite this long weekend along with uber-hikers Ritesh and Giri. I will remember this trip for two reasons...camping isnt for the soft city types thats unless you can go without a hot water bath for 3 days and you fancy smoke from campfires billowing into your face and eyes...leaving you with a slight roasted-oak odour, a running nose and eyes half shut.

'Well Done' - Ritesh tending the fire...Me at a safe distance

I will remember this trip because of my last trip to Yosemite where I attempted to scale the Half Dome. It took me almost 4 hours to get to the base of the Half Dome and when I got there...I realized I had the fear of heights. It only made matters worse when I tried to climb the last phase on the ropes only to look down only to see the depths of the valley. I chickened out, threw in the towel and made my 4 hour trek back to the curry village.

I have been looking for opportunities to redeem myself ever since...I took numerous 'giant dipper' rides at the Santa Cruz boardwalk to acclimatize myself to rapidly hurling down large heights :)

I finally got redemption...This weekend we did a 15 mile hike near the Tanaya lake in Yosemite up to a point called the Cloudrest point. The last phase to the top was deja vu time...I sensed my fear on the narrow ridge to the peak with the depths of the valley visible on both sides. I trudged on remembering that defeat was a more horrible feeling than fear itself. I was very pale despite being sunburnt but I continued the ascent.

...And when I got up there I was beheld by an amazing sight...the Half Dome was visible right before us. The peak we climbed was at a higher elevation than the Half Dome too.

Half 'Done' - With Ritesh and Giri and the Half Dome in the background

I had finally conquered the Half Dome...well almost!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Eye of the Tiger

Check out this street-art...

Palo Alto Arts & Wine Festival

Sunday, July 17, 2005

I Moved My Cheese!

As you might have noticed my blogs have dried up lately. I have been busy and agree thats left all of you thirsty/hungry for information from me. It also doesnt help that I am tardy with my mail, so even my Mom has to get information from me off my blog :)

First I moved from the south bay to Palo Alto. This move was induced by my apartment owner who decided to sell off to a condo-developer, leaving me with a 60-day eviction notice. Luckily, I found this really cool apartment in downtown P.A. so everything happens for a reason!
Moving in was easy for a change, we were able to get all the furniture in through the large french windows. I didnt have a camera to capture the moment, but theres always a re-enactment that I can perform for the blog and get a picture watch this space.

Side note: I have a sneaky feeling that all female landladies call themselves Denise. This is the third Denise in a row whom I will be sending my monthly rent cheques to.

At work, I decided to switch departments to the field operations division. I think I get more energized in a customer situation so I really look forward to the new responsibilities...and travelling.

Theres plenty of cheese moving around :)

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Covering Cover Bands

I grew up watching cover bands, mostly because Bangalore was off-circuit for the popular rock bands except the occasional back-from-retirement Jethro Tull types who charged an arm and a leg for tickets.

Things didnt change much when I moved to the SF Bay Area...I still watch Cover/Tribute bands.

It started with an all-girl band - AC/DShe fronted by band members who go by the names Bonny Scott and Agnes Young. The band was any man's best dream come true- 5 lovely women belting out heavy Bon Scott-era AC/DC songs.

Things quietened down after my car was broken into during a Metallica concert at the Cow Palace and I stayed away from concerts for a bit. My concert-going was ironically revived by a Metallica tribute band...infact a tribute to two bands- Betallica. Inspired by Modest Mouse's Gray Album remixed with the Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album, this band parodied such songs like:

Hey Dude
Leper Madonna
The Thing That Should Not Let It Be
I Want to Choke Your Band
Blackened the USSR
A Garage Dayz Nite
Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band
And I'm Evil

Unfortunately, like the 'Gray Album' both 'Betallica' and 'A Garage Dayz Nite' were brought down by the record labels. Fortunately, If you bought any of Wierd Al Yankovich's albums you would realize that the shelf-life for such parodies is rather short.

Next at the Bay Area Unites Concert at the San Jose Pavilion, I saw Mostly Dylan. I could actually follow the singer's lyrics who sounded more Joe Cocker than Bob Dylan. I was volunteered to sell their CD's with proceeds going towards the Tsunami Relief fund and met the band in the process.

I then watched Blue Floyd at the 12 Galaxies...a Blues band comprising the drummer of the Allman Bros rendering Pink Floyd songs with a bluesy twist.

This week I saw members of the Tea leaf Green peform at the Independent playing mostly Robert Johnson's blues. The highlight however was the last song they performed- Whole Lotta Love, with the leading lady giving a jazzy rendition of the number.

Watching live bands perform is fun...even when the clones are on.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Bay to the Breakers

I took part in the Bay to the Breakers, an annual marathon-walkathon-halloween race. The race results had these stats on me:

Bib #: 34055
Place: 29507
Time: 4:15:20
Length: 12 km or 7.46 miles

Although the results show that I was placed 29507 amongst almost 65000 runners. It doesnt tell you that I had to reckon with almost 100,000 unregistered participants who had packed the course- many of whom were quite a distraction with their fancy attire (and some without any attire at all).

At the finish line

The incentive to finish was a free photo at the finish-line, and entry into the golden gate park to watch Gavin DeGraw perform live at the event cleverly called 'Footstock'. The boy's performance was impressive and even after the gruelling run we found ourself shaking a foot.

So engrossed were we in the music that we disregarded the last call to the MUNI buses from the park. So after the concert, we had to retrace our steps to almost the middle of the course, making it a total of 16 kms we covered on foot in the day.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Ben the Locksmith (like Ben Affleck- Jennifer Lopez...only better)

Yester-evening I got an S.O.S. from my friend Rachna, who had locked herself out of the apartment without a spare key. She was considering hurling a large stone at the living room window, carefulling removing the resultant sharpnels and crawling into the room to retrieve the keys. I had other thoughts. I knew just the right man for the former office-mate Ben.

While the rest of us mortals use an analog clock...or a digital clock as in my case, Ben has one that tells the time in binary. Thats how smart he is! At MIT, along with the difficult computer courses, he had mastered the 'MIT Guide to Lock Picking'. He demonstrated his skills at the workplace once...I had securely tethered my laptop to my desk and had gone to get a glass of water. He had it open in 30 seconds...and he didnt cut the cable.

I gave him a call and explained the situation, sensing his glee as I mentioned unlocking locks. He was over at Rachna's apartment in as much time it takes to drive home from work, pick up his wife and the tools and get to the apt. With his instruments he had the lock open in 2 minutes (which incidentally was the same time it took me to read the time from his binary clock). His wife was disappointed...she has usually seen him crack locks in under a minute.

If I was ever at MIT, I wouldn’t even bother to lock my doors.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

O Las Vegas!

I got to visit Las Vegas for the Microsoft 2005 Summit...just because no one else from the company wanted to go. I spent the sunday at the Bellagio and watched 'O'- the cirque du soleil. You know a show is amazing, when the curtains are raised and you see that the stage is infact a big swimming pool. While watching the show, I wondered if they had hired divers, gymnasts, synchronized swimmers who took part in the sydney or athens olympics. Yes they had!


Tickets dont come cheap and buying them atleast a month in advance can help.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

I made my maiden voyage on the seas in 'J/24'- a versatile 25-foot training boat. My crew included our skipper- Aude, second-in-command Osman and two able seahands - Shaheen and Artem. We started out from the Berkeley Marina at approximately 1030 hours heading northwest towards Tiburon. At 1330 hours we docked at Angel Island for lunch to ward off scurvy from our long journey. At 1515 hours we started for the golden gate bridge amidst lots of complaints for siesta time from the seahands.

Around 1530 hours we saw an incredible that made us wonder whether we had gone through a time warp instead of the Racoon straits while leaving the island...

Blasts from the Past

...either that or "Pirates of the carribbean" was being projected on a really large screen below the GG bridge. The ships were accompanied with mock-battles, replete with cannon fire and posturing. We were lucky to witness this 'historic' event...these shows are very rare and we had the best seats in the house!

Around 1645 hours we headed towards Alcatraz to discover the feeling of The Rock's isolation after sundown...along with the many passing cruise ships and their passengers. Swinging by the Treasure Island we were back in the Marina by 1800 hours. Then the perfect follow-up to any hard day of sailing- having to tie up the sails and wash the boat.

We signed off the day with dinner at an Indian (Coorgi) restaurant- Breads of India.

The Crew

Skipper - Aude with a Sea hand

Sea Hands - Shaheen and Artem (Osman in the background - Second-in-Command)

Me - At the Helm

Monday, March 21, 2005

I Want My MythTV

I dont watch television often...but there are some shows that I like, but never on time to watch them live. This calls for a Personal Video Recorder or a PVR...TiVo and Windows Media Center are available off-the-shelf but I need a 'project'. What better than MythTV!

There are fellow bloggers who are working on the same project so I have good documentation. I also have my buddy Artem who has already rigged up his MythTV... this way I have a plan-B if my efforts fail.

My requirements are simple:
  • HDTV support so I can watch 'Lost' and 'Desperate Housewives' in high-definition :)
  • Universal Remote
  • Music collection (Huge Hard Drive)
  • BBC News and Rediff RSS Feeds
  • Cheap !!!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Getting Real on El Camino Real

I took my car in for its scheduled 40k miles service...a trivial oil change I thought and probably a new air filter. The rep called me up later in the day with the estimate- the price knocked me off the seat...with additional news that I'd have to leave my car in the shop for a week.

Always one looking for the silver lining...I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me to experience public transportation in the silicon valley. I have always prefered the metro systems to rental cars and cabs in the other cities I visit...and now I would get to try it out locally. Besides I could save on the rental car and gas...with all proceeds going towards my cars servicing needs.

My apartment and work place are both located very close to the local bus stop on El Camino Real but in these parts folks would rather drive their suvs and fancy cars to the store across the street than walk to it, I am one of them...minus the suv and fancy car part.

The public transportation was the Valley Transport Authority's round the clock bus. The VTA worked fine for me...It was regular and uninteresting at all times. The only problem was when I had to get to a place about 5 miles away from El Camino Real. In a very New York state of mind, I called up the taxi company and asked for a cab...All my savings in public transportation were undone. The cab driver acknowledged that it was expensive travelling around these parts in a cab...and that I should think about getting a car.

I got my car back 3 days later which came as a great relief. I however made a resolution to take the bus at least once a week to work and back. I am just doing my bit for the earth's sake.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Little Terrorist

Attended a screening of 'The Little Terrorist', nominated for an Oscar in the short film category. The movie was only complaint was that it was kinda short :)

I got to hang out with the director- Ashvin Kumar who dazzled the audience with his humility and tearing wit. Hopefully this movie will be the spark that lights up the indie movie industry.

Ashvin Kumar, May his tribe increase.

With Ashvin Kumar

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Wall

After multiple snowboarding season's of sticking to the the bunny slopes and occasionally hitting the blues...I finally conquered 'The Wall'.

I wouldnt even have made it to any ski resort slope that day.

It was the morning after a blizzard, I was driving down to Kirkwood from Minden in May's 4Runner unaware that the road required a 4-wheel-drive in operation. The rest of the folks in the car- Chris, May and Susan...not the best morning folks, were still stirring. Approaching a curve at roughly 25 miles per hour I gently applied the brakes to negotiate the turn only to send the car into a tailspin. I attempted to rectify the situation by straightening the wheel only to have the car edge closer to the edge of the cliff. I was cool...if I was chewing gum...I would have blown a bubble. The bottom of the mountain started appearing, but I wouldnt bat an eyelid. The other folks now wide awake wouldnt speak either, contrary to the hysterical shrieking I am accustomed to watching of people in the movies. We slid closer with every passing second...and then there was a bump and the car stopped short of hurtling down the cliff. We had hit a mound of snow located just at the edge.

Next May was back at the wheels, I was relegated to the back seat cussed by everyone else and the car switched to four-wheel drive.

This life altering event was a message that I was saved for a reason. I accompanied my accomplished snowboarding buddies on every slope they ventured on...even without a helmet. First the solitude (blue), moving on to the cornice (black d) and finally to the Wall!

At the Wall with May

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Tsunami Fundraiser Soccer Tournament

Palo Alto Panthers

The Net-IP organized a co-ed soccer tournament as a part of their Tsunami fundraising drive. I was part of the Palo Alto Panthers which won the tournament. Some pieces of trivia and statistical highlights- None of the team members lived in Palo Alto, there were 3 Maneesh's in the team of 7... and the football in the picture was not a soccer ball.

I had broken my toe nail in a game the week before, and was under penicillin and analgesics for a root canal treatment. Funny why playing with such a condition is called 'fighting tooth and nail'.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Hot Sauce Tasting Club

Hot Sauce Tasting Kit

The folks in Montreal indulge in a hot-sauce tasting event featuring some of the best hot sauces from around the world, guaranteed to incapacitate any taste bud that comes in its path. Connesieurs would distinguish the different ingredients- cayenne, chipotle, habañero, jalapeno, serrano, tobasco and mustard in between gulps of soda, heavy panting and wiping of sweat from the brow. The consensus was that Vasco's home made concoction was the tops. Off-the-shelf: Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce and the Ass Reaper topped.

'Hottest' Entrants

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Visite de Montréal / Montreal Visit

Note: Only a few phrases in this post could be rendered bilingual as the author is anglophone...francly speaking.

I made my first trip of the year to Montreal, a city referred to by the Insight Guide to Montreal as the most interesting city in north america ahead of even San Francisco. It surely had all the makings, only I made it during winter when the temperatures were as low as -15 degrees C. The temperatures did get to -2 degrees C at which point the natives commended me on my excellent timing in getting here...perfect to enjoy the warm weather.

Rue Saint-Denis / Saint-Denis Street

I made several forays into the downtown areas that are active in Winter- Crescent St, Saint-Catherine, Saint-Laurent, Saint-Denis, my biggest find was an Indian Restaurant on Laurent St- Atma run by a punjabi family. The food was great and the decor/ambience excellent. My eyes went misty as I sipped the tasty, warm Mulligatawny using my near frost-bitten hands.

Picture of the restaurant entrance included...there was no way I could tell its name from the front door sign.

Atma: Cusine Indienne

Photos taken with a Treo 600 cellphone. My digital camera of 5 years- a Nikon Coolpix 950 broke down...exactly a few months after the extended warranty on it expired :(