Thursday, March 31, 2005

Mahabaleshwar-Part 3

Before Table Land was Kate's Point. You have Echo Point also here. Most of the people couldn’t extract an echo. Yours vocally did. Needle's Hole is right below Kate's Point and you need to walk to the right and look back. It is certainly a huge needle shaped hole in the rock. Soon we realised that we were close to a bee hive. The bees started attacking one at a time. They would get stuck in the hair and start buzzing violently as if it wanted to drill its way into the head. Even slapping at it hard wouldn’t get rid of it. So, we ran. Anyway, if a bee stings, do you need an operation or just a cremation? Is that operation called a sting operation?

From Kate's Point you look at the Krishna Valley and right below is a multi-layered dam. You can see Pandavgad and Mandardevi's Hill, but we couldn’t see/identify either.

All this while, we were gorging on baby carrots, red radish, strawberries and whole lot of bhuttas. Some of the juciest , milkiest roasted corn can be had at MB.

Some where, we also visited Wilson Point, which is the top most point of Mahabaleshwar, 360 degree view of MB, and great sunrise spot.

But overall, we hardly covered the popular spots of MB in the first two days. So, early next morning, we started for Arthur's Seat. On the way is Elphistone Point, Elephant's head (doesn’t look so much like an elephant). Castle Rock, Savitri Point (Savitri river bed was dry, Mahad Polapur Mumbai snakes parallel to it) and Marjorie Point. Arthur's Seat alone has about 6 points. All these points have look to offer similar views, but its still spectacular to see mountains and mountains just streching on till your eyes can see. Raigad (not visible due to the fog), Madhumakarandgad (its dog eared peaks visible from almost anywhere in Mahabaleshwar) and Pratapgad are visible from this place.

On the way back is Old (Kshetra) Mahabaleshwar. It has 3 important temples - Mahabal and Atibal (the two demons who ruled this place and were later killed by the Gods) and Panchaganga Temple. It is said that 7 rivers originate from this point, disappear into the caverns and reappear at various places. Koyna(south-west), Krishna (north-east), Venna(south-east), Savitri (north-west), Gayatri (don't know where). The other two rivers, Bhagirathi and Saraswati make an appearance every 12 and 60 years respectively. If it’s a fact that the origins of all the rivers are in a single spot, then its truly amazing. But I don’t think it is possible to verify this with certainty.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Mahabaleshwar-Part 2

Mahabaleshwar is well spread out, with lots of beautiful spots to see, so it is hard to keep traffic restrictions like on Marathon, where vehicles are not allowed to ply. That may be OK, but I believe, something should be done to encourage people to trek, walk and cycle rather to zip around in their cars. Proper pavements and bike paths, would help tremendous and I bet it will be great fun to bike around in Mahabaleshwar.

The second day, we started for Tapola, which is south-east of Mahabaleshwar. We saw a small pond on the way and clicked some hasty pictures so we could pass it off as Venna Lake. The road is not broad but curvaceous (!). Just as we left Mahabaleshwar, we had a halt at Babbington Point. Next stop was Helen's point. Unfortunately, the guide didnt say how far we had to trek to get to Helen's point. We parked the car on road side and started walking. After about 15 min. mom, dad started making disgruntled noises about going back. Yes, it was very thick vegetation and a lingering possibility of tigers (who have escaped the poachers up north) paying us a meal time visit. But what's a little risk in front of a promised beauty spot. So, me and sis kept on going. Folks, being very concerned about our safety and knowing fully well the idiosyncrasies of their beloved son, didnt want to take any chances and kept following. Finally, after about 1/2 an hour, we reached Helen's Point. The view is awesome. You are standing at the middle of lateral W (flatten the W, stand at the center, and then look around). There are hills all around covered by dense forest. Left side, you have a trickle of a stream, but must be big in the monsoons. At the bottom was a small cave. By this time, dad had arrived shouting ("Tumhi Gaadhav aahat!!") and we decided it was good time to leave.

Tapola lake is formed by the confluence of Solashi and Koyna rivers. Water scooter rides are available. They take you for half the ride and stop. Then, you are told that if you take double ride you get half a ride free. Thank God, they don't fling you from your water scooter if you refuse. We were happy with a single ride (Rs. 40), but it isnt exciting as in Goa (Calungute beach), probably coz seas are choppier and hence more fun.

It was back to Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani. A brief halt at Mapro for the now all too famous jelly sweets, crush and lichi icream. There is a trek path right opposite Mapro, but its not a path oft-taken. May be next time.

From there we just had enough time to go to Tableland. Tableland is about 4 sq km of absolutely flat land above Panchgani. It is quite fascinating to see this stretch of plateau right in the middle of all the mountains around. It was quite dusty in there coz of the strong winds. There was a parasailing ride available, but the gear looked, well, not well looked after, so I decided to give it a miss. Also the winds were quite strong and the troupe had a funny way of making sure that the air-borne guy doesn't hurt while landing. As soon as the jeep dragged the rope, the parasail would fill up with air and take flight. All the troupe would run after the guy, in case the wind lashes at him and brings him down hard. So it was like small kids running helter-skelter to catch an adrift kite. I think, there should have been some better mechanism to ensure safe landing. But anyway...

On the way back, was a snarling traffic jam (again) and some stupid Sumo trying to jump the car-queue. When a Sumo tries to jump, it's a sight you shouldn't miss

Monday, March 28, 2005

Mahabaleshwar - Part 1

Just back from Mahabaleshwar yesternight. Was supposed to come back today, but dad had some criminal to let loose on the city streets, so had to rush back home. Still it was three days well spent. Need to recuperate after a break. Hence a day off work

Actually it was my first visit to Mahabaleshwar. Then again, I have not travelled Maharashtra as much as I should have, esp the forts and places of cooler climes. So, in spite of being overrun by tourists, honeymooners and the ubiquitious Gujju crowd, Mahabaleshwar(MB) was a pleasant surprise.

Now, I will skip the first day description, coz mom by some great stroke of genius managed to delete all the Day One pics and hence I can't figure out what exactly was it that we did that day. That calls for resounding applause (not me forgetting, you silly, mom deleting). Mom, though far superior to my dad in terms of being adept at using gadgets, still needs lots of instructing like any adult of her age does. How she managed to reach the Erase button and by-pass the default "No Erase" choice, is beyond me. But anyway, I was kidding about the forgetting part. I remember, coz having reached MB late, there was only one place that we visited, Venna Lake.

Venna Lake is quite beautiful, if you ignore the mounds and mounds of mud that has been poured along the east side (I am looking at the map now and it seems to suggest that this heap basically cuts the lake from the Venna river). I smell some big commerical activity going on there to build shops and eateries, so as to milk the lake more than ever (already it causes constant traffic jams along that road). It is quite nice to sit on the hill along the banks and watch the sun set in the green canopy beyond the lake. There is also a bridleway that along the lake periphery, which adds to the charm

Post-dusk was a stroll through MB market, which was packed with shoppers. Extremely crowded and busy. Of course, lots of fudge, chikki, jelly, strawberry shops. But, why are there so many chappal shops in MB, esp Kolhapuri chappals. Do people wear out their footwear trekking in MB? If so, I didn't see many of those. So, what it is with so many shoe-dukans? And why Kolhapuri? Why not Mahabaleshwari?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Down she goes....

Here is news about Scandent winning a multi-million dollar deal from Dhaka Stock Exchange. Multi-million? Dhaka Stock Exchange? Aren't the number of traders on DSE in, like single digits? WHo's to tell, lure of the stock market is so strong, that you might have scores of traders even on Siberian Stock Exchange.

However, things are not going well closer home. Markets have been dipping continously this week. Why do they call it correction? What is correct when nothing is going right, esp. for momentum traders. At present, even I am seeing red on some of my holdings. But care not, the strong at heart! Macro level signals look good. So it should not cause for too much worry. Innerworth is helping by stating eloquently the obvious but oft ignored truths. It's been a fun 3 months following the markets and testing the trading waters. So far, so good.
Will stick around so long as the bears don't bite too hard.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Taking you for a safari ride

Just received a mail this morning









Should I do a this on him? Or I should just keep the $8 million?

To bitch or not to bitch

What do you do when you have a couple of cubicle bitches? How do you handle them, when you know, they are vitiating the workplace, yet when you are not directly being affected?

I can see the alpha bitch (don't assume that bitch is a she) iming the others in the project about certain one. I can see him (or it) looking at others to appreciate his ribald jokes, smirking as he (or she) get responses and throwing an evil grin.

Now, I am not in their project, but share the same cubicle. I sit at the center and hence am caught in the cross-fire of these ims going around. You won't notice anything going on, unless you see this coterie looking at their im windows, throwing furtive glances and cracking up.

This kind of attitude really doesn't behoove guys in IT, especially. Haven't seen it earlier and am surprised to find it here, esp. in Mumbai. I can tell that, the bitching goes way past discussing someone's work style into gossiping about what an awful hair style the guy has, what a sullen face he carries, referring to him by derogatory names. Bitching can never be objective and ends up spoiling the whole work culture. The alpha bitch cultivates his (or her) own clan, who will rally around her (or him), if he/her/it screws up (correction: when someone catching him/her/it screwing up). In return, it (Oh, what the hell! IT'S A HE!!) will ensure that the work-shirker members are looked after. They would rather play their own petty juvenile games than go up to the boss and air their issues.

Sorry, isn't it?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

AFP Sues Google News

The main reason why Google News was in Beta for more than 2.5 years now, was it could no way be a fully functional run-for-profit site and still continue to use news headlines and synopsis of newspapers and news sites across the globe, without paying any copyright for the same. Even though on most occasions, users will click on the links to open the actual host site, it's still an infringement on the copyright material by Google to display content and photos.

And now it looks like it will have to pay.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Music be the food of love!

Best part about I.T. is that we have to use a PC (Wah! Wah!) with great bandwidth. So, if one fancies a song, you can just go search the net and download (my regular haunt).

Paraphernalia, trivia, lyrics (with cryptic references explained) are all there. With the abundance of choice, you can't really stick to a genre. There are whole of artists doing stuff their own way and some of them just stay with you. Here's a list of songs/artists currently occupying my mindspace.

1. Wo Lamhe - Remix - music by Mithun Sharma and Naresh Sharma., sung by Atif, redux by DJ Suketu. Slightly unusual song structure, and the singing style reminds you so much of Hasan Jehangir. The remix is zany and funky and like all good remixes, it's difficult not to carry the tune in your head (Bin Tere Sanam occupied the exact spot till a few days ago). See the latest update for dowload link

2. Dido - She's ruled my playlist for a long time now. Sadness, wistfulness are an ingrained part of her repertoire. But things are never bleak with Dido. There is always a hope that things will be ok and you just need to move on. In fact, the choice of her songs and her style (lots of acoustic stuff) is deeply influenced by her rich, full and resonating voice. It can do great justice to bluesy tunes and almost nothing else. Hardly matters.

3. Amelie - I just love the movie- the frenzy, the manicness, the humor, feel-good-heartedness. This composition "Comptine D'un Autre ete : L'ap", (No I don’t know to pronounce that!), plays as a theme throughout the movie. Just gives me the goose-bumps. It just takes you on a different plane, makes you rise above the mundane, the ordinary, and try to smell this beautiful life - just like Amelie. So for you to like the composition, go watch the movie and turn into a silly romantic

4. Beatles - Somehow the Best of the Beatles landed in my songs list. I am no great beatles fan, but its hard to ignore them. They are really good musicians, the melodies are simple, quaint and very very hummable. There are a few songs that I really dig - Hey Jude, She's got a ticket (unusual drum pattern), She loves you.

5. Buddy Holly - Weezer. I thought the song name was Weezer by Buddy Holly. That would give me a chance to know what the hoopla about Buddy Holly was all about (great musician, died in plane crash, immortalized in American Pie). I mean, I have never heard his songs, and don't know if anyone else has, still he will pop up in every quiz worth its salt, thanks to the greatest all-history-encompassing song of the last century. Anyway, back to Buddy Holly, the song. The song is a live perfomance, with a catchy rhythm (Woo-Hoo, You know I yours, Woo-hoo, and I know your mine). Sung in a easy, laidback style. Puts you in a cheerful mood.

I am ready to take on the weekend!

Sunday, March 13, 2005


I was at my aunt's place this Saturday. She hurt herself while running after a train at Churchgate station. Luckily, she didn’t hurt herself too badly and escaped with minor bump and bruises.

Great thing was that, haven’t met her for a long time - there was some minor family fracas and she sort of distanced herself from the rest of us. But meeting her and uncle was like starting from where we left off, before things turned sour. There were no hard feelings or bitterness. Finally, after spending the not-so-great part of their lives staying in a terrible place (connectivity, water, maintenance problems), they have moved to a great place near the station. And I am so glad, that they finally made the right move.

We got catching up on whole lot of old stuff. But as have been discovering lately, conversations with Generation X-1 are a real pain. I, being in I.T., to my great misfortune (will explain later) have undergone soft skills training - do and don’ts of formal conversations, active listening, negotiation skills. Whenever, there is a chitchat, my mind goes into this analysis overdrive. I am distraught, when I find the other person, not sticking by the rules of active conversation. Now, most of the conversation I had with aunt and uncle was a jungalbandi gone wrong. Uncle would say something and aunt would pick on a point (reminded of something) and before his conversation was over, would launch into her own discourse. Same with uncle. At times, even when they were in total agreement, they would interrupt the other with "No, no, no. It’s not like that". At the end of it, it all got on my nerves. It’s not as if they were having a fight. They were just having "their" conversation.

It’s not an exception. This episode, I find it happening everywhere. People refusing to listen to other person's point of views, driving the argument, latching on to words rather than the gist. The problem is so rampant amongst Indians as a whole and especially with older generation. They just don’t listen (There is this English factor, which I am meaning to elaborate later). Indians are especially terrible as debators, negotiators, argumentators, because there is no empathy for other person's views. Watch our political debates (LokSabha, News channels), check out the fights in trains, even corporate discussions. Generally, all our arguments tend to end in verbal fisticuffs. Due to our tongue straddling so many different languages, we are also not very tactful and correct with words and often end up playing one up-personship (pc) and hurtful games, knowingly or unknowingly. Above all, we are also masters of tangents.

It is difficult for you to stick to basic conversation etiquette, when the other person's are non existent. I presume, my half-baked knowledge and short temper doesn't help matters much. Now, the misfortune I mentioned earlier is because, had I not been taught all this training bull about what constitutes a good conversation, I would be spared the entire inter- and post-conversation autopsy. I would find the normal talk, normal and not split my hair over silly semantics.

What should I do? May be I should stop listening!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Notes Creator bought by the Devil

Look where Lotus Notes creator is going, Tushar.

I am going to have the last laugh.

Asking for too much?

Am working on this piece of design and so many open issues, that it had me all spent. It is all right if everything is laid down to you and all you have to do is furiously design, document, code. When you keep facing hurdles, gaps, issues, something that you have to wait for others (in different time zone) to resolve or clarify, then it gets quite irritating. Your work never seems to catch pace and you keep getting distracted easily by people, mails, news and the quality suffers (Cmon, I need to blame someone/thing!!)

Well finally, have managed to work my way around a few of these problems. But the point is dependency is a real harmful thing. In fact, the world IS going to end, because everyone/thing keeps infringing on everyone/thing else. If each of us were to live in their own bubble - keeping to themselves, not interacting with others - think of how beautiful the world would look with all the bubbles up in ether, with no chance of them ever bursting. There would be no foolish song about bursting bubbles

"Oh,oh, we'r in trouble

Somebody's come along and burst our bubble"

It would be great if you were the all - Business Analyst, designer, developer and tester. You know what you want, you know what to design and code and test. Why stop at that. Ideally, I would want to be the only user of my code. So instead of blaming the tech guy, as most business users do, I would go gaga over him. "Wah! What code", "Awesome work", "Keep it up"!! When I use it and find it can do some tweaking, I go tweak. Make changes in this iterative manner and voila, you have a masterpiece.

Too fanciful?? You bet.

Monday, March 07, 2005


This Saturday, went to buy some DVDs at D.N. Road. After after an hour of sifting through and some haggling, we bought a whole bunch for 1000 rs - Kill Bill 1 and 2, Ladykillers, Catch Me if you can, Lost in Translation, Red, Blue, White (on which Black is inspired), Bicycle Thief, Friends Season 8 and 9 (4 episodes each) and Munnabhai MBBS. Was looking for something else, but ended up buying these. Still, no sweat.

Just caught Lost in Translation. It had the typical great movie trap of making one/more of the lead actors sound very erudite and make obsure and uncalled for literary references (Evelyn Waugh). I believe there could have been more substance to it. But overall, I liked the movie. It has the sense of melancholy and loss which is very difficult to capture. Surely will give a second once over.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Firefox is on my PC

On the note of M$ vs others, have been using Firefox for quite some time and found it quite good. Exceptionally better than IE? Not yet. But it has certain features which I like

1. Tabbed windows - Great feature, should been have thought of earlier. Allows you to open multiple windows (rather tabs like in worksheet) within same browser screen.

2. In built pop up buster - Not such a big deal anymore. Still good.

3. Images Restriction - Allows you to stop images from downloading on a particular site. If you are on Indiatimesque site, then that takes care of 90% of bandwidth wastage.

4. Open source add-ons - Constantly upgraded components you can plug-in. Courtesy all the open source proponents working tirelessly to make online browsing a better experience

5. Bookmark Toolbar - Always favorites to be displayed in toolbar, so u needn't even press Alt-F/Alt-B.

6. Download history - Lists all the downloads done for as long as you want to.

Downsides -

1. A few pages (some intranet sites) do not load on Firefox. Some pages load improperly with text boxes misaligned. Of course, Amish will point surely, that it’s the fault of the designers rather than Firefox.

2. I do not see the functionality where double clicking of a blank target url leads to the page being opened in the same window, different tab, rather than different window altogether.

3. Somehow still has the looks of Work In Progress kind of browser.

But, I like it and I am sure it is going to make a dent into IE stronghold

Update - More explanation from Amish

Let me explain use of tabbed browsing.

Lets say you are reading an article and it has several links in it. In IE when you shift-click a link, it opens it in new window and you need to monitor if it link has loaded while continuing to read the original article.

With Firefox tabbed browsing all you need to do is middle click on link and the page will load in a tab within same window and tab will be loaded in background, which means it will not hinder your reading experience. Plus tab has small animation which when stops, means that link has loaded and ready to be read.

Second some pages dont load in firefox because designers dont write a standard
compliant HTML. And its very unfortunate that people think it to be firefox problem
whereas it strictly follows standards which mean you are more secure while
surfing the internet.

Abhishek, you can use shift-click to open link in new window and middle click
to open in same window-new tab.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Die Notes Die

We are transitioning from lotus notes to Outlook today. Most of the guys here are done with it. Only its is hassle if you want to import your older mails from notes to Outlook. But you can always open notes to browse them.

Anyway, Notes is an awful mail tool and I am glad its off my back. There is a whole community out there which will swear by it, people going gaga over its security. But the point remains, it is the least user friendly software I have worked with. Everything with Notes should feel like an ordeal, so at the end of it, you have a misguided sense of achievement. Customization, setting simples rules, archiving etc can be done, but IBM has made sure that you don't get there easily.

Notes also tries too hard to curtail M/S's power as the most widely used OS. There are whole lot of notes databases, which you can access through using your Notes Client. These databases cater to everything from mails, issue logs, repositories, techincal forums, directories, the works. Basically wanting the corporate user to use it for all his needs. This approach makes it excessively clunky and monolithic. Even when it crashes (and it does with as much frequency as Outlook), it gives itself unnecessary importance and asks you to restart the machine, else it won't work. For God's sake, you are just a mail client! (To circumvent this idiotic command, people use an application rightfully called "Die Notes Die"!). Have you used Lotus Notes web version? Well, by the time it displays the inbox, you could be on Yama's "To-do" list.

If the by-product (and stinking one at that) of building secure applications is going to be severly restricted use, then whats the whole point? I would rather take the Microsoft way, where in you build a system making user friendliness the priority. This may lead to some security loopholes, but then you go about fixing them. Just because its Microsoft, people are wont to bashing anything and everything they do. I won't want to use Microsoft applications to cater to financial or military systems, but most of us are not into rocket science, are we?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Slight Improvement

Went to check on the friend. He is admitted to Wockhardt Mulund, which is a pretty good hospital. We were anyway not going to be able to see him as he is in ICU. But met with his brother. Brother says that he is showing mobility on the left side, especially the eye and hand. He tried to take off the ventilator with his left hand yesterday. So, his motor abilities seem somewhat ok. That is good news

Today the doctor is going to remove the ventilator and check how the brain responds. The problem is he landed on his head from a great height, so there can be complications. The swelling is still there and so doctors wants his condition to stabilize before they can do a thorough check up and decide on any surgery.

Lets hope, there is some good news today as well.