Sunday, 28 June 2009

Back in town

Back in Madras after a fabulous holiday. Its hot and grimy and dull. The noise of cars and bikes and buses is loud and continuous. Its funny how quickly you get used to the silence, or the sound of wind and rushing water. My lips are healing – which is probably the only nice thing I can say about my return.

I should post some of the notes I took in my exercise book in Leh, but that means some transcribing. Does everyone go through a holiday recovery phase?

One thing I found out – fountain pens survive air journeys, but do not survive high altitudes. My Waterman Carene  lived up to its name in an eruption of blue ink and was abandoned in J & K along with three pairs of sunglasses.

So now I’m back to “work”.  Murali suggested the Andamans for the next trip – complete with glass bottomed boats and scuba diving. Think that would make a good winter stop – because I’m pretty sure I’m hitting Leh again in the summer – doing things better this time around.

One of the things that turned out better than expected were the photographs, given my complete absence of skill with the camera. The one I bought for the trip, the Olympus SP-565UZ did all the heavy lifting, even if it was just a slightly sophisticated version of the point and click variety. And you don’t have to know what half the specs mean. AND it was made in Vietnam.

Of course, the first thing I heard on my last day back was that MJ was dead and the next was that Farrah F had gone with him – and I was all “Leave town for a couple of weeks and see what happens…”

Friday, 19 June 2009

Nubra Valley

Was spectacular. The ride from Leh - via Khardungla Pass brown, wind blown well tarred road giving way to snowbound tracks after about an hour of driving. Shale and limestone. Huge mountain faces marred by snowmelt tear tracks.Drove from hamlet to village and back again, akon's "I wanna fug you" and the vengaboyz? playing infinite loop in the background.Names - Khalsar/Sumun/Hundur/Diskit/Pullu - North and South.The presence of the army everywhere - "This worlds highest motorable road built by the Madras Engineers".The inevitable speed warnings. "If you are married, divorce speed", "Slow Drive Long Life", the hip "Go gently on my curves", the non sequitorous " Know AIDS, No AIDS" and the zen like "Traffic Jam, Yellow Tape, Grieving Family"A section in the menu of the amazing Jamshed Guest house in Hundur - "Snakes". Hot springs and hidden lakes.

And the mountains.

Camel rides - Bactrian camels, not the pilani kind. You sit between humps. Theyr better behaved though. Monasteries - hanging on to mountain walls for dear life. Young monks at a school with a spectacular view singing "Jana Gana Mana". Yaks grazing on riverbeds. Donkeys and beavers (I think).

Coming back to Leh this afternoon was a comedown.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


Well. Here I am in Ladakh. Flew in this morning.The plane was quite full - plenty of firangs, army family types and Delhi rich brat types. - it was cold and windy with a suspicion of a drizzle. The skies were grey. The ground was grey brown and the mountains ringing the view were a grim brown grey.
We went to the ITBF guest house and I met my first Lobsang. The room was small, there was no running water, but the beds were clean .and the chairs comfortable.
Since everyone I talked to about Leh talked about a day of rest before beginning your labours, we crawled into our razais and slept till two. We were woken by a enthu Ladakhi who said we would miss lunch.
Lunch was simple and really good. Took a walk down the main market road afterwards. Half the road is given up to parked jeep/wagon type vehicles. The road is lined with shops selling "100% pashmina shawls" for Rs. 100, genuine tribal handicrafts, antique shops with taglines like "Where your dreams come true", shops called "La caverne di Ali Baba" and "Alladin's cave", eateries called "Pizza de Hutt" and "Garden Restaurant - lonely planet recommended" , Punjabi Dhabas that promise breakfast, lunch and denar, Tibetan market stalls selling croc offs and shops promising trips to Zanskar and Tso Morari.
The roads are full - backpacking firangs, imperious looking army women , Lehi schoolboys in sweaters and ties, teenagers wearing Green Day t-shirts, pretty Ladakhi girls giggling.
Walked around for about a couple of hours looking at the bullet motorbikes on hire, mountain bikes in shop windows, books on the Himalayan kingdoms displayed with pride in dingy bookshop windows.
Then I chickened out and decided to return to the guest house for further acclimatization - especially since the night before was spent in Delhi airports terminal 1 D.
Tomorrow we go to Nubla valley. I wonder if I should buy a notebook.
It would probably make more sense - considering that the internet connection in the shop I'm in has just died.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Facebook quizzes etc

Look at the ones that available. Which equation are you? What cult film character? Which celebrity are you? Which alcoholic beverage? Which X-Man? Which DC Character? How well do you know this person
I did a quick search on "are you" on facebook. Number of results - facebook gave up after 500.

So why isn't there a "What would your name be if Sarah Palin was your mother?" quiz yet? Or is there an F/B quiz on that that I haven't been able to find?

[Mine was Muzzle Mammoth]

Unexpected Delights:

Finding the full first Shadow Novel online.
It strikes me that we are not browsers of the web, we are prospectors.

Monday, 8 June 2009


Dull day at work - so got hold of a bunch of films and watched them in sequence - Like the continuous shows in the old Blue Diamond theatre. 
One of the movies was Taken - starring Liam Neeson as an ex-CIA agent whose daughter is kidnapped ona trip to Paris.  Two things struck me about the movie. One was - it played like an RPG - The kidnapping is the opening cutscene- the chartering of flights and finding the kidnap location could be done through dialog options - then the discovery of the cell phone - the usage of the memory chip to identify the spotter at the airport - rolling dice with an intellingence modifier or use the spot and search skills. Then a fight. Then some more detective role playing. Then another fight with multiple enemies - more detectiving followed by fighting - culminating with a two step boss fight - with the big bad's bodyguard as the real bossfight followed by shooting the villain.
The other thing was - how many cliches could they pile into two hours? You had evil Muslims (Albanians) kidnapping virginal American girls for the flesh trade - sending their catch to an evil Frenchman (1920s pulp authors  -  would have used evil Jews - but hey - this is Hollywood. Jews can never never be bad guys here) who auctions these girls off to more evil Muslims (Middle Eastern this time). It seems to be an updation of a number of Edgar Wallace short stories - updated with the torture that is so dear to the American nowadays.
The funny thing is, at some level, it works. It works because of Neeson - because he is so appealingly ruthless - shooting people in the back, killing without speechifying - most of the time - if you removed the question "Where is she" from the script, you would probably cut out 80% of his dialogue.
Oh - and theres a third thing you take away from the movie. In a kidnapped daughter scenario, torture works, and is deeply satisfying.

Other Items

I read it, I don't believe it. Or the more things change, the more they remain the same 
Got me something I wanted for a long long time - a Conway Stewart fountain pen. This pen.
Note to self: Stop using hyphens