Cerebral Shangrila

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Munnar - Here I come

I am leaving for Munnar today and would be back after 4 days.Would be visiting Kerala after a loooong time and am looking forward to it.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Nanganallur has changed

This was perhaps a big surprise.As I drove my two-wheeler down the Subway,I was mentally prepared to negotiate the bad roads.But surprisingly all the raods had been relaid (Thanks to the elections) and looked great.Nanganallur(a suburb of Chennai) is where I spent a little more than 10 years and most of my school/college life.It is famous for two things - Temples & Bad roads.Its a wonderful well-knit community of religious people (mostly middle class & upper middle class) with a flair for education and fine arts.

So much has changed.There are so many ATM's abound (I remember the good old days when I used to bicycle to the market and stand in a Queue in the Bank to withdraw/deposit money) and retailers like Foodworld & Subiksha.Thanks to the famous 32-feet Anjaneyar (Hanuman) temple and a host of other temples, it has become a mini pilgrimage centre.

Things have changed from personal front too.I used to visit my Thatha & paati (Grandfather & grandmother) everytime I visit Chennai.Now that house wears a
deserted look.My grandmother lives alone there (Grandpa expired a few months ago) .That house is a testimony to my Thatha's hardwork and love and he never left that place during his stay of
20 years there.He was the house and the house was him.Now only his photos adorn the wall.Time is cruel sometimes.Because you can't rewind it at your will.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

MBA - Climbing the first steps...

Spent most of Yesterday & today in deciding what subjects to take during my first trimester of MBA.The Subject selection has to be made online and after much research have decided to take up Financial Management,Economic Analysis,Financial Accounting,Marketing Management,e-commerce & IT (I can take upto 5 subjects and decided to take these 5 core subjects).

I would be going back to Full-time School (or as we call it college in India) after almost 7 years.Barring the IT Certifications which I have done in the last few years, haven't done much of hard-core studies.So its going to be an exciting future.B-Schools guys , any expert inputs would be appreciated (Afterall isn't the essence of MBA giving Gyaans & fundas :-) )

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

John Lennon - Beatles

Perhaps to most people the name conjures with a persona next to god (Is that why John Lennon infamously commented at the peak of Beatlemania in 1965 that " I think we (Beatles) are more popular than Jesus Christ " ? ). I was at the BCL (British Council Library , Chennai) and was fascinated by a Photo-book on Lennon which I promptly borrowed.The Book contains more than 500 Spectacular photographs of John Lennon & the Beatles ( All in B&W which makes it more appealing).The Photographs are Outstanding with texts inter-spread about John Lennon. There are some rare photos like the Beatles with Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay then) proclaiming " We are the best" & Beatles upclose during their concerts & picnics.

The book also traces the rise of Beatles,the ensuing mania,the dope culture,the break-up of Beatles,their quest for spirituality in India,John's controversial marriage to Yoko Ono,the long hair culture,his role as an ambassador of peace and his untimely death at the hands of a mad fan.

John was shot dead when he was just 40 but his music & legacy continue to mesmerize the world.For all his controversies,we can't deny his importance either in the world of music or as a prominent figure of the 20th century.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Tamil vs Hindi

"Its slowly changing now"."There are even a couple of theatres which screen hindi movies".The above Conversation happened at the Delhi Airport between two middle aged ladies speaking Hindi.I didn't have to be a genius to figure out that they were talking about Madras.

After having lived outside Madras for 7+ years in various cities, I have found that Madras still remains an enigma for most North-Indians.Apart from the usual debate of Hindi Vs Tamil ( Which I have seen is an emotional issue to both sides),Madras represents an almost foreign city like feeling for most northies.I have seen Hindi Speakers abusing Tams of being an isolated community by not joining the mainstream Bharat by speaking Hindi ( Though the truth is that majority of the population are not averse to hindi and its just the politicians who have made it an issue & numerous southies have learnt hindi reasonably well at Hindi prachar Sabhas/Central Schools or eager to learn at workplace). Tams are angry at Hindi speaking crowd for imposition of Hindi (Which is equally stupid since Hindi is the national language and we need to learn it and helps us in communicating with the majority of fellow nationals) & belittling tamil.

Come to Madras.You will be surprised to hear so much hindi on the roads. There is a big North Indian population thriving in the Madras metropolis not just in the last few years but for decades.Scores of Hindi movies run here.I could not get a ticket to a Ghazal concert during my last visit at Chennai since it was full.People perhaps don't respond to hindi queries out of ignoranace and not out of discrimination.Come on .Let us wake up.As we move forward, we don't need these internal squabbles to unsettle us.The greatness of India is its diversity.Let us respect it and turn it to our advantage.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Moving on ....

Its time to move on." All the world is a Stage and men and women are mere players" .Change is perhaps the only thing which is constant and I am ready to move on to the next city . Today is my last day with CSC (Computer Sciences Corporation).I am leaving CSC to pursue a full time MBA at Singapore.I would be in Madras (my home town) for the next 3 weeks and would be leaving for S'pore by early July.

CSC had been a great place to work.Although the company is Huge (With a Annual Revenue of US$14 Billion - Its almost 15 times as big as Infy/Wipro),it maintains a low profile in India (Though things have slowly changed in the recent past).It has truly been a listening organization and has some wonderful HR practices in place.The freedom it gave me to pursue Social work is commendable.Perhaps, the biggest regret I will have is that as Chairman of our Social services Committee , I won't be around to ensure continuity of the community projects that we had started.

So , its goodbye to CSC Today and goodbye to Delhi tomorrow.

Thursday, June 17, 2004


I am back in Delhi after meeting my Relatives & friends in Mumbai . " City of Dreams" , " City that never Sleeps" the epithets are abound about Mumbai and the city perhaps deserves most of it.Despite the crowds,the Infrastructure & vibrancy of the city amazes you.

It was great to meet most of my old friends after such a long time.The weather was great with mild rains and I made the most of my stay by traveling on the Local Trains and the BEST buses.Whatever people might say , this city bristles with life.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Cat on the Wall

I am supposed to leave for Mumbai today evening.But my ticket is still badly wait-listed .Will know only 4 hours before whether it would be confirmed or not.Keeping my fingers crossed.

I am going to Mumbai after a long time (4+ yrs) to meet up my relatives/friends.The two years I spent in Mumbai were great days in my life and the admiration I developed for the city still remains.Mumbai is Mumbai !

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Ranthambore - A Detailed Account

Here is a Detailed Travelog by me & shouvik which has appeared in the NDTV Travel Site.This is a much detailed account of our Ranthambore trip with some good photos.

Thanks to Shouvik for his unlimited patience & enthusiasm for making this happen.

Monday, June 07, 2004


I was lucky to view a Program titled " Business Bizarre" on BBC Yesterday night at 10pm.The Program was on the Evolution of the " Amar Chitra Katha " since the day of its inception,its unqualified success in the 70's & 80's and the business challenges it faced in the 90's and today.It was the Dream of one man " Anant Pai" (I knew him more by his tamil pen name Vaandu mama).

For someone who grew on a diet of Amar Chitra Katha & Tinkle (I was so crazy about them that I still have all the books stored in two big suitcases at my home in Madras !), the program was a trip in Nostalgia and an eye-opener to its current Challenges.The Characters of Kapish,Kalia the crow,Suppandi are forever etched in your memories with those evergreen stories.Most of us would have learnt our Ramayan,Mahabharat,Indian History from those vivid colorful cartoons and concise texts.

The Program talked about the unqualified success of Amar Chitra Katha ( It sold a record Half a million copies per month in the 80's ) in the 70's & 80's and how the circulation went downhill with the advent of Color Television in the late 80's and early 90's.The Economic Liberlisation heralded the advent of Cartoon Network TV Channel & foreign comic books which further resulted in a steep decline.Now the magazine sells just 85000 copies a month and has stopped printing in languages other than English & Hindi ( Though some local publishers still print a small number of copies in local languages).The Program made an interesting business case study however what gushed inside me was pure nostalgia !

Friday, June 04, 2004

Doctors & Handwriting

The aftereffects of the Gangotri Trip have been disastrous. I have been suffering from food poisoning ( Thanks to the Dhabas)for the last few days.Decided to visit the In-House Doctor who visits my office in the evenings.I started by telling him how I got sick and the Conversation veered more towards my travel pursuits rather than my sickness.

He prescribed some medicines to me. I don't know what is it that is between Doctors & Bad Handwriting . Do they include it as an elective in all Medical colleges ? ( on the Converse,do all pharmacists attend a course on how to decipher illegible handwriting ? ).

It reminded me of One of Vivek's (Tamil Comedian) movies.Vivek is a first year Medical Student in the movie.Sorry Non-Tam Guys. The following conversation is in Tamil.

Other person : Coughs
Vivek : Ennada Irumbara . Udambu Seri Illaya ? Naan Konjum Mathare Ezhudi Tharen .
Other person : Enna Ayya Ezhudhinadhu Onnume puriyalaye ?
Vivek : Dai Doctor-na Ezhudinadhu puriya Koodathuda. Vicks-a thaan appadi surukki surkki ezhudhinen !

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


In the hinterlands of the Himalayas is Gangotri where, it is believed, Ganga, the stream of life, touched earth for the first time. At the legendary source of the river, Goddess Ganga is worshipped in the form of deity. Gomukh, the identified source of the river Ganga, is 18 kms further uphill. The trek to Gomukh is gradual, and several pilgrims undertake the journey to pay homage to the river at its known source.

This is what a website claimed and we set off on a ambitious trip to see the Originating point of River Ganges .Gangotri is 500 Kms from Delhi ( 250 kms to Rishikesh + 150 kms to Uttarkashi + 100 Kms to Gangotri).Since it was a long weekend ( Memorial Day in the US and hence a holiday for me here in India !), we set off on Friday evening in two Tata Indicas.The night drive turned out to be a very exhausting one and we halted at Rishikesh & Uttarkashi before finally reaching Gangotri by Saturday afternoon.The Drive from Rishikesh to Uttarkashi and from Uttarkashi to Gangotri is absolutely beautiful with deep valleys and the river ganges flowing parallel to the steep,curvy roads.

We Checked in at the GMVN Guest House ( State owned , a rather decent one but with unfriendly rude staff).We visited the Gangamaa temple which was a 0.5 km trek from the Hotel.Its a rather small temple built for goddess ganga where the deity is revered by the locals and the harathi in the evening is a crowded festive occasion.The temple has a small market place with a lot of Dhabas & shops selling religious merchandise.

We headed back early to the hotel in anticipation of the big day ahead of us.The next day we had planned to do the 18 Km Trek ( 36 Kms both ways) from Gangotri to Gomukh Glacier ( The icy cave where Ganges actually originates).On retrospection , I feel at that moment we had not fully comprehended the arduous journey , a blunder I would regret the next day. We Started at 6.30 am . The Trail starts right behind the Gangamaa temple . The initial 1 km is very steep ( Probably a marketing strategy to make people feel weary so that they take the ponies waiting at the end of the stretch).The trek gets slightly even after that although it is still quite steep intermittently. At the end of 10 kms we were thoroughly exhausted and some how managed to drag ourselves near Gomukh.I was totally exhausted and fell on top of a rock and slept on it for almost an hour towards the end of the 18km trek.Gomukh is a icy cave where the crystal clear blue waters of Ganga originate.The view of the Mountains is stupendous and the icy winds try to blow you off your feet.For a moment, you forget all the agony.

We rested for a while and started the trek back to Gangotri.We were totally exhausted and some even fell down unable to move an inch further.Somehow I miraculously dragged myself back through the 18 kms and when I fell on the bed I realized that I had 206 bones and that my leg had become a persona non grata in my body. On the Hindsight it was foolish of us to have attempted to do 40 Kms of steep trek in a day but since we were pressed for time we didn't have much choice.

We started for Uttarkashi the next day morning.The Viswanath temple at Uttarkashi is a very auspicious temple and has a nice facade on a crowded,dusty market place.The temple is a scenic place amidst the tall mountain ranges which encompass it.We returned to Delhi well past midnight and were glad to be back home after a grueling trip.But now at the end of it,all the pain has vanished with wonderful memories of Ganga and the scenic valley.

TRAVEL TIPS : The Best time to travel to Gangotri is during the Summer. Uttarkashi is the nearest connecting hub for all the Char Dhams(Gangotri,Yamunotri,Badrinath,Kedarnath).The best way to trek from Gangotri to Gomukh is to take a halt at the GMVN guest house at Bhojbasa ( Which is 4 kms before Gomukh on the trail)and continue the trek the next day.Hard core trekers could even continue till Tapovan which is 7 kms from Gomukh.The food and water is very expensive on the way ( We paid Rs.30 for 10 rupee Kinley bottle at Bhojbasa) and hence be prepared for that.Never eat much on the day of trek and carry plenty of medicines with you. The icy winds are very powerful and hence wear thick woollen wear and overcoats.More than anything , cultivate an habit of regular walking before trying anything as ambitious as this.