Saturday, May 29, 2010

Blogadda Travel Photo contest


Blogadada has launched a contest wherein we have to post our 5 favourite travel Photos. So here are my entries, Photos special to me.
 
Sailing to a new horizon!
 
This picture is taken in Dabhol, Konkan Maharashtra. We had taken a ferry to cross the river divide. Two enthusiastic kids were trying their best to haul the boat towards the sea without fearing anything.
 
One fears when one think of failures. These kids seemed completely unaware of the word 'Failure' itself. What I like is when they saw me taking their photo, they posed themselves, smiling ear to ear. We can learn so much from these small kids! Travel does teach us a lot!
 
*
 
In the wooks, by the river, I dream of a beautiful home…
 
This picture is taken at Lonavala, Maharashtra in Monsoon. I guess it's not a house, but should be some guest house.
 
But how beautiful it would be to live by a river. It brings dreams alive. No dream is bigger than to own a big beautiful house to relax! Home is home! It’s the home where we come back to relax after a long day of work.
 
*

A painting before eyes…
 
This picture is again taken at Keukenhof, Netherlands. The garden produces tons and tons of tulips which form a big percentage of the country exports. The garden is open till April after which they are cut and exported before they get wilted. It's a beautiful landscape. I am sure you must have guessed it from the photo. What I like is the way it is maintained. It’s not easy to maintain acres and acres of land, along with deep care about the delicate flowers and the surrounding beauty.
 
It’s a learning for the Indian tourism, and equally for the Indians who tend to spoil beautiful places. India is full of beautiful places that needs attention and care.
 
*
 
The Curve to Splendour, ‘The Himalaya’
 
The picture is taken in Solang Valley, Himachal Pradesh. It's a beautiful and sparsely populated space, an ideal place for relaxation. If one is keen on activities, there are other choices, for the adventurers. One can go for  Trekking, Paragliding, Zorbing and also camping at Friendship point in the Himal!
 
Wouldn't you like to sit here and gaze at the picturesque beauty for hours ? Everything is special in this pic.
*

For the shades of green!

Again a pic from Solang valley. Trekking back down in the cool, pleasant air. The river to the top is river Beas which flows all along Himachal Pradesh.

What I like the most about this picture is that one doesn’t need to be in the picture, just the photo springs out the freshness and coolness, what we yearn throughout the summer in the scorching heat. I met a lady while trekking down.

A beautiful village lady in a traditional attire and her son popped on her back. I asked permission for her picture. She hesitated first and asked me what would you do with the picture ? I wasn’t surprised. These are village people, innocent, far from the city mindset. “I’ll keep it with myself, as a reminder of this place”, I replied. They both smiled and posed for a picture.

*

Travel and Learn…There are beautiful places out there!

These are my favourite photos. For more such entries, visit Travel Photos.
You can also visit my Photo Blog – Impression.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Got the ‘Cool blogger’ Award


Awards are motivating, specially when one is struggling to escape procrastination. Thanks to Tarun for honouring me with this award, it really helps. Tarun is a commendable writer with fully researched and sensible posts. He writes wonderful stories and poetries too.



Well, the award name is also very cool. In this scorching heat, when one seeks escape from heat, getting a ‘Cool-blogger’ award is like going ‘What the beep’ (have you seen that ad ? Nothing like anything, It’s Micromax’s tagline, for those who don’t know. Dunno how people come up with such stuff. btw, I never utter the phrase, just added here with sheer excitement)
 
I would like to give this award to some of my fellow buddies, who also happen to be cool in their blog views. I would like to give the award to -

Mia for her candid and honest views in her blog ‘Keeping the moon

Nethra for her beautiful stories in ‘Otiose Opinions

Saurabh for his short and fantastic 55’ers in ‘Stuff I learnt today

Sid for his humorous and exploring ideas in ‘Sid-O-Scope

Rajat for short and impressive poems in ‘Soliloquies

Tarun for his constant support and encouragement. And his wonderful writings in ‘In my point of view’.

Mridula for her beautiful pictures from the Mountains and other pics in her travel blog ‘Travel Tales from India’.

Keep visiting!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Convert your blog to book

 

Printing your blog articles, how does it sound ? Yea, It’s possible. Blogger have come up with Blog2Print. Using this tool you can convert your blog into book at following expenses.

  • Soft cover is at $14.95. Price includes 20 pages. Extra pages at 35 cents each.
  • Hard cover is at $24.95. And extra pages at 35 cents.
  • PDF version will be for $7.95.

You can select articles that you want to print. For more information, check following links -

  1. Blog2Print Announcement
  2. Blog2Print Enhancement

The feature is good to gift someone, but just 20 pages for 14.95 $ is a bit expensive for me!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Who dunnit ? My answer


As I’ve written in my earlier post Blogadda had started this contest called ‘Who dunnit it ?’ A murder plot is posted in the story ‘Reunion’, by Ajay Nair, which we have to read and identify the killer. Below is my interpretation of story, with my answer to the quest, the identification of killer. It may be correct or incorrect, we can only know after the contest is closed, on Wednesday. So before reading further don’t forget to read the main story ‘Reunion’.
*
Lila liked to spread her love around. How difficult is it to live with such a wife ? It’s beyond imagination. Lila had charmed M., I., R. and G. in her love. Each of whom had never shared the same feelings post-marriage like that before marriage. M., R. did marry her rather quick but their bail out from the harrowing marriage also had been equally fast. G. lived his own way, sharing his love, just like Lila, without getting into the trap of marrying her. Sia had differences with Lila, but she’d abandoned her.
 
The only person who spent much time before and after marriage was I. He had a strong motive and the capability to give her her part of  punishment. Rather, like written in the story, I. was only capable and the one capable had succeeded, which affirms the charge.
 
I. offered her rose, his way of killing, the subtle way, slow poison. He’d stuck to a slower effective way to avoid being caught red handed, but fast enough to see her dead the same day. Lila had always collected articles from her past which backs the fact that articles were found in her room.
 
When she came out of her room, she looked anxious because the effect of poison had started it’s action. The poison was active now, she’d started feeling uneasy, she needed to relax, so she went back inside. But as she entered her room, the poison had spread till then, and she lost control over herself, hence the things were broken and the beads fallen in bathroom.
 
I wanted to kill Lila, I was capable, I succeeded.
 
*
To read more answers, visit the main page ‘Who dunnit ?’

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Blogadda contest – Who dunnit ?

 

Here’s an excuse to give your creative mind a reason to get carried away in imagination and bring out some interesting stuff for us readers to read. Blogadda has started a contest - A Mystery Fiction Contest. Check out the following snip -

You have to guess the killer, there are a lot of hidden clues, some are obvious some are not, some are distractions, some are for real
so you have to get very smart to crack the puzzle.
 

Ajay Nair, a blogadda member has written a mystery ‘Reunion’. We have to play detective and crack the mystery. C’mon, play Sherlock Holmes and identify the Killer!

* New Look *

If you’ve noticed, I’ve changed my blog template. I am using the Template designer, a new feature Blogger have added for us to tweak the once rigid and simple blog platform. Check out here to find out more about Blogger Template Designer. And well, how do u find the new look ?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

White Desert : Part 4

 
 
Tashi looked dumbfounded. Why wouldn’t he ? He had not expected him alive.
 
Anil glared at him with eyes wide. His hand holding the knife, shaking as if set on vibration. Tashi moved forward. His gaze fixed on Anil. But instead of anger, a smile was carved on his face. Why did he look happy ? Anil sleuthed him. He was puzzled. His brain refused to cooperate. The next moment he couldn’t believe what he saw. Tashi folded hands and thanked God.
 
“Why did you try to kill me, Tashi ?” No answer.
 
“What do you want ?” No answer.
 
Anil saw amazement on Tashi’s face. Anil was now shaking, with anger.
 
What does he think ? He will easily get away ?
 
“Kill?” Tashi uttered, visibly astonished. He stood in silence trying to comprehend the questions Anil was shooting at him. He stood with mouth open, loss of words, dazed.
 
“No. Tashi did not kill you” said a voice. Both the faces turned to the tent door. A man was standing at the door. Both men stood silent staring at him, still muddling in the mystery of events that past few minutes ago. Few seconds passed in silence, staring at the face.
 
The man was still standing crouched at the door. His face glowed with some unknown, but positive aura. He walked slowly to Anil, as if he had all answers and will untangle the situation and salve both the men from the events. He was now standing before Anil, hand stretched for a handshake.
 
“Impossible!”, there was uneasiness in Anil’s voice as his voice sniped escalating the tension in the tent.
 
“Relax Anil”, he requested Anil.
 
He stood before Anil, taking the control of the situation, as of ready for a treaty. “I am Doctor Mak. I was with you from past few days, trying to help improve your condition. You’ve recovered real fast”, he said with a smile, trying to neutralize the high-strung situation. His strategy was working. Anil’s mind was diverted for the moment, trying to listen what this strange man with this strange smile wanted to say.
 
He signalled Tashi, and Tashi left. Anil moved in resistance but the man who called himself doctor signed Anil to relax. It worked, again.
 
He came close to Anil and sat beside him, legs folded. “Now”. Silence. “Can you help me understand what happened with you ?” Whatever technique Mak was using, worked on Anil. Anil started at him. He could see assurance in this man’s eyes, which somehow cooled him further. He iterated the events as they occurred to him.
 
Anil was watching him, without expressions. Did he make sense ? No He don’t! Mak placed his hand on Anil’s shoulder. He looked in Anil’s eyes, let the words sink in and then continued.
 
“Anil, do you know how much you travelled up ? more than 350 meters. Which was too much for you. A professional expeditor has to take care of his health at the same time has to control his desires. High up there, one tends to get carried away and pushes himself to go further and further. But what are plans for ? Always keep up with the plan”

Anil showed frustration. He wasn't interested in any lecture now.

“Believe me Anil, you are back from death’s grip. You should thank God. It’s a miracle. And another man whom you should thank is Tashi”

They were too bitter words for Anil. Mak smiled and continued. “I don't know how long you were lying there”

“1.45. It was 1.45 pm. I remember”, Anil contributed.

“Ok. Then you were lying in there for precisely 45 minutes". Tashi entered with two cups of tea and left leaving them behind. Anil went back to the memory of the high altitude, him lying, sick and nauseating, frightened and praying. He felt the chill by just the thought of it.

Mak handed the tea to Anil. "You were lucky, really lucky. A storm was anticipated. You could have disappeared as if you never existed." Storm ? Anil gulped hard. The hot tea helped him stay a little warm.

“Around 7 am, a few hours after you left, Tashi made a call to meteorology and learnt of sudden change in weather conditions. A storm or heavy snowfall after a few hours was a distinct possibility. He was worried” “We should commend him for his far-sightedness. He immediately made right calls and contacted me” “He decided he would wait one hour for the team to be back, if not back then set out for a search. But fortunately the team stuck to the plan and were back on time. But only one person wasn't back, You."

"Tashi was worried. He pulled together few other Sherpas and set out a search camp. In such times, there are different possibilities” “Either they would find you while they climb up. If not, either you are lost or you would be lying down somewhere tired or unconscious or buried or..some unfortunate accident had happened and have fallen into some crevasses...in that case there’s no hope"

He heaved a sigh. Anil was waiting. He realised how much pain these people had taken so that he would be safe. He felt guilty. All the anger and fury was gone and his face blushed with shame. He kept the empty cup down, folding his legs up, buried his face.

Mak continued "Tashi wanted to go. But they somehow convinced him to stay back and look after himself. The group then parted in small teams and set out, calling your name, looking for anything that looked human-like. They dug heaps randomly, searching, looking down the crevasses. Tashi was in constant contact with them through  satellite phones. A long time had passed, and hopes were dwindling. Tashi informed the group about the lack of time. They had to hurry. The storm was probable. If they couldn't find you in 15 minutes, they’d have to terminate the search and come down without loosing time"

He took a sip and let the words settle down. "But ..WOW...they actually found you. They gathered together and dragged you down. Man, you owe them big."

Anil looked up. His face looked wilted, eyes red. He had troubled a lot of souls with his stupidity. But the question still remains. “Yes. I owe them my life…But...Tashi strangled me”

“Man, you are on Everest, at altitude you've never been before, walking more than 300 meters without rest, without caring about anything. Have you heard of HACE ?”

HACE ? “Yes. Know some stuff”

“HACE is High altitude cerebral edema. It's highly fatal altitude sickness. There’s swelling of brain tissue due to fluid leakage. One feels nauseated/vomiting, insomnia, weakness, dizziness, headache, loss of coordination and decreased levels of consciousness and sometimes even enters coma”. Anil weighed the words. He was indeed blessed to escape death. He could related all of it to the strange condition he suffered up there.

Anil was indebted but wasn’t ready to give in. His sickness doesn't make Tashi innocent. Tashi was there, strangling him. He was the witness, he was the victim. "So ?" Anil questioned with stern voice with a hint of anger. Mak smiled which added to Anil’s confusion.

Mak continued "Another symptom of HACE is disorientation, irrational behaviour… and hallucination! Your mind fooled you, man" He chuckled.

”Hallucination ? You mean my mind made up all that ?” Anil, visibly surprised. Mak grinned ear to ear.

It was unbelievable for Anil, He shook head incessantly. Laughing to himself. He pulled himself out the bag, and hugged Mak. “Thanks”, He sounded relaxed. He got up and exited the tent. It was a bit dark, affirming the past storm. Tashi was standing facing the steep edge, lost in thought.

“So buddy when can we summit ?”, Anil jested Tashi. Tashi turned.

“Never”, Tashi replied with a poker face. Anil’s grin disappeared.

“I would never summit with a mad man”, Tashi laughed. Anil sighed and hugged Tashi hard.

*** The End ***

P.S : I know that the last part is a bit too long. But dividing it would have taken away it’s essence. So kept the entire stuff together. I know I raised curiosity in the first part. I hope I could satisfy with this concluding part. I would be glad to hear your comments good or bad, let them come. And finally, thanks for reading :)

White Desert : Part 3

Part 1 * Part 2 

When his eyes opened, he was inside a tent. A familiar tent. He was lying in a sleeping bag. To his left were some utensils. All shut except one. Something was lying inside. Were they eggs ? He felt dizzy, his eyes burning, his body heavy and aching every inch. A number of packets were lying around. To his right, bulk of medicines laid near. Except him, there was no one in the tent. The only thing that sounded alive was the wind that blew outside with hustle as if upset with something.

He breathed deep. Where was he ? Why is he lying in a sleeping bag ? Is anything wrong ? Why is his head hurting so bad ? He strived to think, but couldn’t without hurting his head. The last he could remember was the sight of him lying in the snow. He tried hard, recollected some memory, but only in flashes. He threw up. But what happened after? He strained more. The pain was unbearable, frowning, he held his head between hands, massaging the temples. Yes! Somebody was there. Who was it ? He was now banging both the fist on his temples. Yes! The man. He strangled me. He tried to kill me... But I am safe. I am not dead… Who was he ? Should I run ? Run for life ? But... He heard a sound from outside the tent.

Somebody was approaching. He searched around. No hiding place. What will he do now ? His heart was pumping wildly. He picked the knife that lay near the eggs. And shammed to be sleeping. Someone unzipped the tent. The stark and grating unzipping sound was the only sound that interrupted the silence. It sent a chill down Anil’s body. He can’t fake sleep. How could he ? He can’t stay calm. How could he ? He will be dead soon. If not the first time, it would be this time.

The man entered crouching. It was Tashi.

Tashi! The sight of Tashi strangling him snapped before his eyes. His pupils widened. He was about to scream but felt his voice was lost in fright. Why did Tashi try to kill him ? What did he wanted ? Everything was so incomprehensible….But now he will have to use the knife. He will use it. Tashi hadn’t moved an inch from the door, still crouching. He looked dumbfounded. Why wouldn’t he ? He had not expected him alive.

...to be continued

Monday, May 10, 2010

White Desert : Part 2

Part 1
While the other professional trekkers left, Anil stayed back. But after one hour, Anil decided to do a solo. There wasn’t anything to be worried of, but Tashi had observed the clumsiness and eagerness in Anil and which made him restless. Since morning he had a bizarre feeling of ‘Something’s gonna go wrong’ and his intuition was a thing that Tashi, like all Sherpas, trusted and reckoned on. Something wasn’t right!

Sun was shining bright in the sky. He had been walking since morning. He bit the last of the only energy bar left. The oxygen in air was depleting and so was his health, but not his spirit. He glanced his watch, altimeter read 5500 meters. He had surpassed 350 meters of distance and should have been on the way back to the camp. But he was in full spirit. Never had he felt so excited. The eagerness and excitement had kept him walking.
 
But now his body refused to co-operate. He dragged his legs and breathed heavily after every three steps he took. He need to climb down immediately. He looked at his watch. It was 1.40 pm. He still had time. He hoped that his team find him. Had he come the wrong way ?
 
If it gets dark then finding way back to the camp would not only be difficult but close to impossible. Tashi had told him to keep an eye on the watch and also warned him of the unpredictable weather of Himalayas. Keep up with the plan, he had warned. It could snow but if there’s a storm, survival in exposure can only be a dream.
 
He have to gather the energy and guts to make his way down, a task of couple of hours, possible only if his body supported him. He felt weak and his legs started shaking. The next moment he was down on the cold powdered snow. He lay on his back and gaped at the sky. Clouds traversing slowly. No indication of storm, but this was Everest, weather cannot be predicted. He was breathing heavily, coughing wildly. He needed medical attention, urgently.
 
He was scared now. Scared as hell. The sky was whirling. It went round and round. In seconds it started blurring. His stomach gurgled. He felt nauseated and then he threw up. Half an hour had passed and it was fifth time he had vomited. His eyelids were heavy. Body heavy and dead-like, Head swooning.
 
Where am I ? What is happening ? He tried to think. Oh yes. Expedition. I need to go back down. His brain was switching on and off.
 
He heard a sound. Sound means help. He needed help. He had lost track of time. He opened his eyes with effort. The sun was still up. There was still hope. He strained his eyes. A disfigured dark ball was above him. Dark ball ? He strained his eyes more. The blurry ball rectified into human figure. A human! Help was near. His lips curved into a crooked smile. He frowned, strained his eyes more and tried to figure who’s it ? He had seen this man. He knew him. His head hurt badly.
The more he thought, the more dizzy he felt. The man was now moving. Was he smiling ? Yes, he carried this wry smile. A hint of cruelty. He moved forward, hands stretching, towards his neck, as if to strangle him. Anil tried to inch back, but in vain. It’s danger, not help! His mind was sending red alert signals. The man was now close. His hand around Anil’s neck. His face so close, Anil identified him. It was Tashi. It was Tashi. Why is he killing me ? His throat hurt, and so did his head. He tried to scream. But he was choked. Tashi!
 
This is it! This is death! His eyes closed.
...to be continued

White Desert : Part 1


It was early May. Anil stood before the mighty Himalayas. A law professor by profession, most of his life was spent in a class room. At 35, he was single and loved it that way. He was wary of relationships and responsibility. Weekdays in college and weekend in bars had been his life. He was tired of teaching same subjects year after year. He looked for freedom,from repeating the same words before batches after batches. He wanted a change, a stark deviation from the dumb chores. And this was it.
 
Before finalizing expedition he had considered a number of options including bungee jumping. But he would jump once and the whole thrill for next would be over. He wanted something long lasting and a different try. So he decided for an expedition to Himalayas. He had small history of mountaineering and Everest would be his biggest bet. It wouldn’t be a full-fledged expedition but enough to give him the excitement he cited.
 
“Do not get carried away. Keep up with the plan. I will still ask you to stay back. We’ll start tomorrow, Anil”, Tashi requested him from behind.
 
Tashi was a Nepali Sherpa. He was 40, but with attractive boyish face and effervescent energy, everyone mistook him as less than 30. His profession of guiding expeditions was passed on from generations and he had carried it fairly with a moral responsibility. For him, reaching summit was important, but not at the expense of one’s health.
 
“You should have left with others in the morning. You can’t go alone” Tashi repeated. “I’ll catch up with them Tashi. They won’t be far” Anil pleaded.
 
The concern was evident in Tashi’s voice. They were at base camp. The original plan was that the team would climb up together to half way to the next campsite, for acclimatization and then come back down. The next day they would head up again for  camping. But diarrhoea had grounded Tashi. While the other professional trekkers left, Anil stayed back. But after one hour, Anil decided to do a solo. There wasn’t anything to be worried of, but Tashi had observed the clumsiness and eagerness in Anil and which made him restless.
 
Since morning he had a bizarre feeling of ‘Something’s gonna go wrong’ and his intuition was a thing that Tashi, like all Sherpas, trusted and reckoned on. 
 
Something wasn’t right!
 
...to be continued

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Back from break, hopefully

Fortunately or Unfortunately, the big, lushly, controversial stories are over. Swami Nityanand, Shashi Tharoor, Sania Mirza and Lait Modi, the list was never big. Last few weeks have been haven for the journalists. Without trying too hard, the controversialists themselves were offering them stories.

But it was equally negative for me. Office load was pretty good, TV was boring and my mind was in a block, a writer’s block, as I learnt from a friend it’s called. Photo blogging and blogging was hit hard. Somehow I tried to buck up by reading other posts, but somehow it didn't worked.

So now to our refresh minds, we are following a different schedule at home. It’s Doremon, Sinchan and Takeshi’s castle that we are watching from last week. And yes, they are much better than the other TV regulars. And yes, the T20 world cup is also back, so there’s a some entertainment to add too.

I am quite sure I am recovering from the broken interest in writing and would try to maintain the regularity. Amen.