Space invader in Kathmandu

I am back after my 15 day solo cycling trip from Delhi to kathmandu. The trip deserves a detailed travelogue, which I have started writing. What can’t wait is the space invader graffiti I saw in Thamel, Kathmandu.  Obviously by Invader , it looked the part amidst mero mobile and hotel signs. Though none of the local people knew anything about it.

Kathmandu is very cosmopolitan, must say.

Preparations

Tha last few days have been exhausting. Not only the training I have been doing, but also planning the logistics. For training I started with around 15 kms a day, a week earlier. The next day was 35 km, 45km, 55km, consecutively. And most riding I have done is during the peak hours. Have learnt a thing or two about exerting your body for a long time in the hot summers, will write a complete post about the diet and things to do to counter he heat.

The  major problem was the logistics. Most of these things I have sorted out, but some still remain. This is the list of things I have purchased or arranged:

  • Cycling tights – got it from adventure 18 dhaula kuan. Will look a little alien in rural india, but will save my butt a few rashes.
  • Gel filled seat covers – again butt protection
  • A local cycle carrier from Chandni Chowk cycle market – cost Rs. 70, compared to Rs 400 for the firefox carrier. Mine can support my weight while the firefox carrier could take maximum around 20 kgs. Mine is around 800 gms while the firefox would be around 500gms
  • Had changed the firefox tubes to normal tubes – Difference is in the nozzle, firefox has bike nozzle by default. I am not planning to carry any puncture kit or pump. The logic being that on highways there are always punture fixer every few kms. Also it is easy to get a lift and take the cycle on a tractor or a truck to the next puncture fixer. And these guys mostly have the cycle pump, not the bike pump. I have also bought a brass nozzle with which I could pump my tyres with a bike pump. So I am pump proof, I can fill my tyres with any pump.
  • Purchased a gerber multipurpose knife. I am emotionally weak towards knives :P. I can’t find my model on their site, but this is very similar.
  • 2 bags – Couldn’t find any panniers that could go straight to the back of my cycle. Scoured Nabi Karim market in Karol Bagh, and actually did find something I could use. But they refused to sell only 2 pieces. They sell minimum of 6. This was after I couldn’t get any at Adventure18 and Stikage. Will do a dry run tying the bags with some stuff inside. I believe they would jingle jangle a lot, and if they do would have to get a small frame custom welded.
  • A rubber mat – For naps along the way or if I stay at a dhaba to put it over the khatiya. Prevents mosquitoes biting from below.
  • update (13th jun) – Bought a pentax optio 750z point and shoot camera. Pretty good interface and has manual controls, everything for Rs. 8.5k. And it is built like a rock, totally a man’s camera. This was Sweta’s discovery.

Things still left:

  • Stocking up on some emergency food, salts and essential medicines.
  • Shades
  • A tube (for the tyre in case of no availability)

To learn more about this trip, this is the tag you need to follow – triptonepal

What is love?

I asked this to my friends. And now I am asking you, what do you consider as love?

Love as happiness is an abstract noun. And like happiness what love means to each individual changes from person to person. Is it a extra flow of endorphins in the brain? Or is it what people compare with stories they have heard.  Of legends laila and majnu, or the recent bollywood flick. Some of my friends offered me their definition of love, what they feel the four letter word implies. I request the reader to comment too, and if possible before they read what the others think. To read what others think of love, Continue reading “What is love?”

Google analytics – interface botch up

Google products are high on usability. It is really hard to find any logical blotches. So I have kept this with myself for a long time thinking I might have got the concept wrong somehow.

I will give some background information for readers not aware of google analytics. It helps in keeping track of how many visitors, pageviews etc you have had for your sites. You can make different accounts inside it and share each account with different people. Each account can have different reports. Let me give an example. Let us say I have a company account which keeps track of my companies site. The company account has three different reports, one for its site, and two for its two separate blogs. I can share this with my collegues. My second account could be my personal account which I use for my personal site and blog.

If we see it as folders and subfolders, or for that matter menu or submenu, or list and sublist it will look like,

  • Company account
    • company site
    • company blog one
    • company blog two
  • personal account
    • my site
    • my blog

Do you see the hierarchy here? The parents and the children?

This is how google analytics interface shows it now. Please click to see the full view.

English is a left to right language system. So anywhere if visually a parent and child relation is to be shown the parent is on the left, because it comes first. Here the parent which are the accounts however lie on the right. This is how it should be:

Body exertion and peace

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmhullot/

Recent tryst with yoga taught me that peace of mind comes from stillness. To meditate, looking inwards brings takes you to newer planes of peace. Also according to at least some books I read, sweating is looked down upon. The sanyasi is advised to go to a solitary area where he is not disturbed, also he is advised not to exert his body to such an extent that he sweats. In fact if during asanas or pranayama, if he sweats he should rub that sweat into the body. Because sweat contains tej, effulgence would be a close english fit.

But contradictory to this theory I have found my moments of solace while taking my body to the limits. Be it after a day of hiking or in the last few kilometers in a long run. When the pain goes away and all that remains is peace.  So maybe in this kind of therapy pain is essential. I have used it when I failed a course in college, or after fights with my girlfriend. Nothing beats going on a long run.

Having said that, I am planning to cycle to nepal. After a bit of research found out that nepal is after all not so far. Only around 350 kms. The nearest border crossing that is, Mahendranagar. I have cycled along the konkan belt earlier, around 250 kms, after which I was about to bust my knee cartilage. One reason was I had not had an ounce of practice. And second the cycle had no gears. The third is, one of my legs is a little weak for such arduous tasks. One negative with this plan is the timing. Middle of the summers that is.  But I have been always hardy against heat, have cycled multiple times to watch movies like ‘Chudail ka badla’ during the summer vacations. Though that was almost 10 years back. This time I am not taking any chances. I have started going out cycling in the heat. Today cycled around 20 kms in around 1.5 hours during peak afternoon.  Drank 8 glasses of machine ka thanda pani. Tomorrow will take a bottle of water along as the cold water from the machine shocks the body.

Here is the map I am going to follow. If any of you have experience with long distance cycling or any other physical activity during the summers, kindly advice, on anything I might need.

Mixed Language Type

Literacy has been growing in India quite fast in the last decade. And literacy or awareness of english has come to be associated with rapid progress.  Spoken english courses have sprung up at every corner. What is more interesting is the decline of some aspects of hindi literacy. For example the number scripts in hindi:

० १ २ ३ ४ ५ ६ ७ ८ ९

These are numbers 0 to 9 written in Devanagari (or hindi) script. Be it the vegetable vendor or the cycle rickshaw guy, most of them have stopped using these letters and switched to the english letters (0123456789). This is at least true for urban india. You would have a hard time locating these number scripts in bigger cities. One reason for this could be that even the hindi medium schools have switched the number scripts to the english ones.

Another thing which has started appearing is mixed language signages. These are names of shops or services which are written using the letters from both a local language and english. I found these samples near CR park area in South Delhi. The curries and gravies shop has closed and I found the pic of its signboard on google

पेंटर – painter in devanagari script

करीस एंड ग्रैवीस – curries and gravies in devanagari script

In both these examples the first letter of the word has been replaced by the Devanagari equivalent. One usability problem these cause is the most obvious one. Anyone who wants to read this needs to know both the english script and the devanagari script.

Society and the Full Beard

Nowadays I sport a full beard. The kind so dense that I could smuggle gold coins in. So I get to hear this, a lot :

Why are you growing a beard?

To which I mostly answer, I am not growing it, it is growing by itself. I will dissect this innocent question and the subversive answer to find out what society thinks of the full beard and why.

There are two causes for a full beard, namely –

  1. you like a beard, hence you let it grow
  2. you are indifferent to it, and hence you let it grow
  3. you hate shaving/trimming, and hence you let it grow

The third reason is much more complex. Why does one not want to shave? Does he hate the act of shaving? Does he get turned off by the slight moral compulsion the society has put upon him to shave?
Does the fact that urban society has come to be dominated by white collar corporates, who have been disciplined into the riqours of grooming, make you feel enslaved?

First let us see if there are instances where society or institutions actually encourage a beard. First among them would off course be the sikh religion where beard comes under one of the five “ka’s”. I don’t want discuss this topic, one, because it is a religious issue, and second others have done it way better than I can. Another institution is the defence. At least some commando units, like the black cat commandoes, are encouraged to wear full beards. They even get a beard maintenance allowance if they sport one. Why does the highly disciplined and strict on grooming military, allow beards? in fact encourage it? We will come to this point later in this post.
Does corporate encourage, at least tolerate beards? Most of them from personal experience do not. The ones that do would be the creative sector, advertising, film making, etc. There is this popular notion that creativity and a beard are soul sisters. But a more likely reason may be that the creative sector also has more liberals.

Liberty – Liberty is a concept of political philosophy and identifies the condition in which an individual has the right to act according to his or her own will.

Like the recent supreme court decision not to allow a muslim student to wear a full beard, to avoid ‘talibanisation of india’. Now with full respect to the supreme court, I do think that talibanisation is not wearing a full beard, it is quashing of the individual liberty, and this decision is ironic as it is the supreme court which acted like the taliban.

Another report in TOI, made me ROTFL. Who am I kidding? there are people out there who follow trends like these. In between all the words like ‘new age man’, ‘sexuality’, there was a line by a psychiatrist which caught my attention.

During recession, women look for security. So, they’re reverting to the original cave man prototype – someone combining strength and sensuality. The beard is the symbol of a primordial male energy.

Now that is something. Letting it grow, could also mean that the guy is in touch with his baser instincts, the lizard brain. The one which makes us clench our fist and grit our teeth, flex our neck muscles when excited. The one that the culture doesn’t teach us. So is society afraid of the cave man? It has sufficient reason to be, as there are violent men out there. And some types of violence also originate in the lizard brain. And this may be the reason that black cat commandos or NSGs are encouraged to sport a beard. To make the enemy afraid just by looking at a bearded guy is surely  way cheaper than very expensive weapons.

But there is another angle to the full beard. The ultra long flowy beard. Which has always demanded respect. Think Rabindranath Tagore, or Bheeshma Pitamah from Mahabharat, or the countless spiritual gurus. At what length does the beard loose its violent streak and turn into spirtual respect seeking body. Even the logic here is convoluted. Do you remember any famous indian god with a full beard? If a long flowy beard is an indicator of hightened spirituality, why does’nt the main gods, Vishnu and Shiva don’t sport one. Brahma does have a beard, but he is too mired in controversy to be worshippable. Still more mystery is how come shiva lost his moustache and beard. I have seen statues and paintings of shiva in himachal where he sports a full beard. And even without any factual data, one would assume that the dreadlocked shiva would hardly care about shaving. Who decided to shave shiva and why?

These are all questions still unanswered, mysteries to be undiscovered.

update – 2 june ’09 – I have found a greater enemy of the beard, more dangerous than ‘society’. It is called split ends.