Saturday, 24 October 2009

Blog Review - Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

So there's this good travel blog I've been following for a while - Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

Now Matt has all types of posts - places he's visited, photos of the week, top ten lists, etc. - but the posts I can relate to the most are his generic travel ones i.e posts about travel in general, as they tend to provide a lot of food for thought. I've included some of them below:


Thursday, 22 October 2009

#unlikelyindianbooks on Twitter

A funny thing happened yesterday. @jhunjhunwala started a trending topic on Twitter yesterday called #unlikelyindianbooks

The responses came flying in quickly, some witty, some obvious, but very entertaining nonetheless. I wrote over 20 tweets of my own on the topic, in addition to reading through and laughing at everyone else's tweets, starting at around 11.00 and finally logging off at a little after 1.00 to go to bed. This was a fantastic end to a work day.

Here are some of my favourites: 

"How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" by Arundhati Roy
'A farewell to Arms' by Varun Gandhi  
'Who Moved My Cheesecake' by Adnan Sami.
'Sons and Lovers' by Kokilaben Ambani
Silicon Valley Revealed' by Rakhi Sawant & Sherlyn Chopra
'How the Parsis and Gujaratis Built Mumbai' by Raj Thackeray 


Not a Penny more, Not a penny less by Harshad Mehta 
100 cheap places to stay in delhi - Shashi Tharoor
The Romantics - Pramod Muthalik
Built to Last - Ramalinga Raju
Winning Campaigns - Online and Offline by LK Advani

"A dog visited his house & other short stories" by VS Achuthananthan
"The Interpreter of Melodies" by Anu Malik
"The Grapes of Rath" by LK Advani
"Creative Commentary: Kill those cliches" by ravi_shastri

"You Can Win" by LK Advani 
Without A Pause by A B Vajpayee

Maid in India - by Shiney Ahuja 
Lady in Red - By Simi Garewal
Employee Retention - by Hari Sadu

"The Pink Slip" by Pramod Muthalik 
Chicken Soup For The Indian Soul by Maneka Gandhi 


Citizen Rane by Bal Thakarey 
Far Away From The Madding Crowd by @BDUTT 


"Ponytail Management For Dummies (With Free Laptop)" by Arindam Chaudhuri
"Bombay Times" by Raj Thackeray 


The buck stops here by Salman Khan 
size doesnt matter by Kareena Kapoor 

"Eyes wide open" by Deve Gowda
"Out of the closet" by Baba Ramdev

@ramithanda "An affair to remember " by Aishwarya Rai 

@rksatta "No country for old men" by L.K.Advani and Somnath Chatterjee 

@_samiran "Winning Excuses" by Kolkata Night Riders 

@scorpfromhell God of small things by Vijay Mallaya 

@FrazKhan A Practical Guide to Composing Original Music - Pritam & Anu Malik 

@zigzackly Bombay Meri Jaan - Raj Thackeray (with a foreword by Bal Thackeray and photographs by Udhav Thackeray) 

@AudibleArun: "No apologies!" - by Karan Johar  

@ashwinbellur 'Monk who sold his Ferrari' by Vijay Mallya

@sunilea "Six Pack" by Mohanlal

@telljeeves So nia, yet so far... by Manmohan Singh 

@phanirajkvs 'who moved my berth' by Lalu Prasad Yada

@OldmonkMGM My experiments with truth- Ramalinga Raju 

@varnam_blog "Laws of Physics" by Rajnikanth
@venkatananth "A step by step guide to performing Chhat Puja" by Raj Thackerey 

@SundeepDougal My Prison Diary: Ottavio Quattrochi 

And here are some of my own creations:

'Hard Cash' by Bangaru Laxman
'The Heritage of the Desert' by BARC and DRDO
'Hard Times' by Mukesh Ambani
'The Broad Highway' by NHAI & MMRDA
'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' by United Women Front
'The Age of Innocence' by Narendra Modi
'Pride and Prejudice' by Lalit Modi
'Comedy of Errors' by MET dept
'Kamasutra' by Pramod Muthalik
'Invisible Man' by Manmohan Singh
'Importance of Being Earnest' by Ramalinga Raju
Lonely Planet India' by the LeT
'How to Win Friends and Influence People' by Narendra Modi
'One Hundred Years of Solitude' by Arindham Choudhry & Raj Thackeray

I also had time to contribute to #likelyindianbooks:

'The Little Minister' by Pranab Mukherjee
'The Lord of the Rings' by Bappi Lahiri
'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' by Lalit Modi
'Much Ado About Nothing' by Shashi Tharoor


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Photography Lessons: How To Use A Camera

Here's an informative site that teaches you to use a camera's features.

Instead of simply describing the camera's exposure modes (like Auto, Program, Aperture, Shutter & Manual); exposure compensation; ISO and illumination levels; this site also lets you demo these features on your screen and watch the test photo change in front of you. A really user friendly learning tool that accurately showcases the basic features of a good P&S or SLR camera.

And here's another one, for SLRs and manual P&Ss:


Thursday, 1 October 2009

More Recent Adventures

The Pavana Trip

I was home on the 5th and 6th of September, during which I attempted to recover from a mild case of vertigo brought about by my sinusitis. This was only the second time this monsoon that I hadn't gone out anywhere. On the plus side, I got to meet a cousin who dropped by during a 10 day break from work, and my uncle before he left for Calcutta.

However, it was back to travelling on the following Saturday. I was keen to go to Pavana again since we only just got an appetiser of it the last time around. But my cousin and his car weren't available. While talking to RV about the possibility of him getting a vehicle, he confirmed what I'd been thinking - that I'd become lazy and too dependent on private transport. I started off this monsoon trekking but now preferred comfortable travel. Part of this was due to health reasons of course. I still hadn't fully recovered from the sinus attack. I was still getting headaches, was not 100% and definitely couldn't think of a trek, even a short one. But he was right, I have grown lazy, after just two trips in a car.

But I so wanted to go out that weekend. RV finally managed to get a Tata Sumo from his uncle and called three other friends along and the five of us decided to visit Pavana, via Khandala. This would be my fourth trip to Khandala this monsoon, though we didn't visit Buffalo falls this time.

The day started off with me travelling to the Directi building at seven on Saturday morning, meeting RV after his graveyard shift. The others were late, still in bed (I don't know why I even bother getting up so early if everyone else's going to be late) so we chilled out for an hour, me beating RV royally at fooseball (I've recovered my touch it seems; I guess I'm good at one on one fooseball). He, not to be outdone, ran away to play TT as soon as the table was free, and showed me how good he was at beating me at that.

The others called to say they were ready at last, and we picked them up. The drive to Khandala along the expressway was warm but non eventful. A lot of this trip was going to be non eventful, I was to realise by the end of the day, at least compared to previous trips. We visited St Mary's villa and Father Robin first - he used to organise camps in the area. We then checked out the cliff face path leading to the Garden of Eden, before driving to Lonavala, for money, fudge and alcohol as usual.

We then drove to Pavana. It was exquisite, the play of light on the water, the different shades of blue and green. We drove all round the dam and up and down various paved and unpaved roads, stopping now and then for pictures. RV, being the only driver in the group, had to do all the driving.

We stopped at one of RV's family friends' beautiful weekend home for a while at one point. They plan to rent out a room and bath to travellers. That's good to know. What I liked most about he place was the view of lake from the large verandah.

We then drove up into the hills, looking for something to eat. I ate some Choris Pao that RV had got while the others had fuller meals. RV was tired by now. We went back to Khandala and Fr. Robin's place for some thick hot soup, and that, together with a lot of cigarettes on the way back, kept him awake.

I caught a train home from Vile Parle. The trip was good, but I really should be doing overnight trips to the area.

The Shivneri Trip

With RV in Paris the following weekend, and RG and his car still unavailable, it didn't seem like I'd be going anywhere the following weekend. But a colleague suggested Shivneri and I launched onto the idea of a bike trip on Sunday, 20 September.

It was a truly exquisite trip. It took us (four guys on two bikes) 5 hours to get to Shivneri fort via Malshej ghat, with Borivli as a starting point, and another 5 hours to get back. My legs were sore the next day from riding pillion in the same stiff position for that long, but it was worth it if only to see the beauty of Malshej once again. I hadn't been there in 5 years.

And Shivneri fort was a good visit. I wish we had more time to explore it. Being the birthplace of Shivaji, it was well maintained and busy. Uptil this point, Janjira had been the largest fort I had ever visited, but Shivneri seemed larger, at least because it's built on a hill and you need to go up a winding way to get to the top.

My friend's blog post on the trip is here. Again, it was a wonderful trip, and even chilly in parts (the ride up and through the ghats) and we even encountered heavy rain on our way back. This is the last monsoon trip I did.

The Kashid Trip

And that finally brings me to last week's Saturday trip. RG, RV, NS and I drove to Kashid and Murud for the day. A lovely trip. RG and I picked up the others from Jogeshwari and Andheri, leaving at 8.00 A.M for Vashi and Panvel, from where we continued along the highway for Pen and Alibag, passing Karnala on the way. I depended on the others for directions till Alibag, and they depended on me for directions till Murud, I being the only one among us who had been there before. The drive to Alibag was pretty peaceful, with very little traffic.

We came to a trisection on the outskirts of Alibag and after asking for directions, took a left for Revdanda. This road was narrow but peaceful, with bungalows lining both sides. We soon came to a junction where we took a right for Revdanda, came to a crowded town, and passed under ancient arches, the ruins of an old fort and town, on our way out.

We continued south, the road turning into a coastal one, coming next to Korlai, which we passed by, and then finally to Kashid, where we stopped for a rest, snack and pictures. The beach is clean and beautiful. And a row of shacks along an embankment along the beach provide refreshments, shade, and hammocks. And behind the embankment is the road and across the road from the beach is a beautiful green woody slope.

You don't get full meals on the beach, and have to visit a resort for that, so we drove 20 kms south to Murud for lunch, stopping for views of Nandgaon beach and the palace on the cliff.

Inspite of being hungry, we drive through Murud to see Janjira fort, almost coming to Rajpuri village itself. We were happy with a view of the fort from the hill overlooking it, and went back to Murud for a heavy seafood lunch. The drive back, as is usually the case, was never-ending.

My friend's post on the trip is here.