Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Editing is tough

Recently I was participating in a Bschool contest. Somehow I managed to clear the first round and in the second round I had to do a Case analysis. Usually this means a surgical analysis supported by data, charts, facts and the associated jargons.

The case revolved around how the new generation is aping the west and have no clue about our culture and history. The author of the case was of the opinion that we could learn a lot from our culture and the analysis required coming up with reasons, challenges and possible solutions.

I was in no mood to do a MBA type analysis and decided that I would do a blogger type analysis. The catch was that word limit was 600 words. In half an hour I had whipped up some 880 words which if read by any of my professors would get me expelled from my institute :). Now when it came to trimming it down there was no way I could do it. I spent two hours cutting it down and trimming it until I somehow managed to bring it down to 603 words. And thats when I realized that editing is a tougher job than it looks.

So I thought I will post both the version the uncut version and the trimmed one since I dont think with the sort of analysis I did, the contest people would give me a second look. So here you go.

The uncut version

"A scene from the recent hit movie “Lagey Raho Munnabhai “ has this scene when the protagonist asks his sidekick about who Mahatma Gandhi is. The scene evoked quite a few laughs because it came across as an honest and an innocent one.

Let us just zoom out of the movie and think for a moment. Was that an exaggerated scene to drive home a simple point? Is the average Indian so woefully unaware of his history, his culture, his heritage and the knowledge passed down generation to generation?

Prima facie the evidence seems to be a misleading no. The logically trained mind would immediately pinpoint the fact that protagonist in the movie was an uneducated man and education does provide everyone with a keyhole view to vast heritage our country possesses. What one fails to acknowledge is the flagging interest of the average Indian voyeur to choose that particular keyhole and more importantly that the keyhole is getting smaller and clouded.

Hue and cry was raised over the NCERT history books, which according to historians, contained factual errors. To quote a few, the new texts contain no mention of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the role of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru has been limited to only two small mentions, and a lot more. - as president of the Lahore session of the Congress party and as the prime minister of independent India, The Vedic age has been clubbed with the Harappan civilization and the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Chinese, Greek, Roman and Iranian civilizations have been classified as "early non-Indian civilizations.

Does the blame solely lie on the education system? In my childhood days, a typical Sunday would involve watching Ramyana or Mahabharata on Doordarshan, reading Amar Chitra comic books and my grandmother telling me some folk tale. Nowadays my nephew is interested in playing with his gameboy (a sort of video game), watching the new episode of pokemon on cartoon network, and going out for lunch at the nearest Pizza Hut.

So do the above mentioned facts signify the problem? To my mind, these are symptoms, not the actual problem, nor the cause of the problem. So what is the cause of the problem? The world is competitive as it has never been before. Parents want their children to work for the biggest MNCs, want them to earn in dollars, want them to become doctors from well known institutes. There is a distinct mindset shift from Agriculture to Government services to professional careers. And what role does history or for that matter ancient culture has to do in achieving this aim? The answer is a glaring none. As for the education system and the issue of history books, there seems to be a lot of vested interest and bureaucracy which only adds to the problem.

As they say it is easy to pinpoint a cause but the trouble lies in formulating a solution which is practical. Lets look at the major stake holders involved
An average Indian School going child
The parents of the child
The educational system

The solution lying in analyzing each of the stake holder and how they can be incentivised or rather stimulate an interest in historical facts.

1) If you see the psyche of the average Indian child, it revolves mainly around scoring high in subjects that will enable them to attain their professional dreams, extracurricular activities consisting of television especially cartoons, videogames, internet etc. To stimulate interests in them, the solution lies in providing learning through the mediums they currently enjoy. Video games revolving around Indian History, cartoons revolving on Indian culture and revelations are means to capture their mindshare. Internet can also play a role through websites hosting quizzes for children, story telling CDs etc.

2) Those parents, who are single mindedly focused on their children succeeding in competitive exams and charting out activities which will look good on resumes, are a little hard to incentivize. The nuclear family structure also ensures that grandparents are not there to help the child develop interests in folk tales or history. The solution lies in attacking the root cause of the problem and a pragmatic one would be to include a general knowledge section in competitive exams to ensure that now the onus is on the parents too to make their child aware about our culture and history. This will also ensure that students with a well rounded personality get through in such exams.

3) An easier said than done solution for the education system calls for a major overhaul to remove bureaucracy and vested interests. An easier solution is to target the teachers who at end of the day impart knowledge. The onus should be on the teachers rather than on the system. The teachers should make courses like History civics a fun course rather than one where student learn facts and dates by rote. The BeD course which trains the teachers in history should impart ways of making teaching history fun and at the same time more focused."


The edited version

"Who is Gandhi? So asks the protagonist of the recent hit movie “Lagey Raho Munnabhai “. The scene evoked quite a few laughs because it came across as an honest and an innocent one. But was that an exaggerated scene to drive home a simple point? Is the average Indian so woefully unaware of his history and heritage?

The logically trained mind would pinpoint the fact that protagonist in the movie was an uneducated man and education does provide everyone with a keyhole view to the vast heritage our country possesses. What one fails to acknowledge is the flagging interest of the average Indian voyeur to choose that particular keyhole and more importantly that the keyhole is getting smaller and clouded. Hue and cry was raised over the NCERT history books, which according to historians, contained factual errors.

So does the blame solely lie on the education system? In my childhood days, a typical Sunday would involve watching Ramyana or Mahabharata on Doordarshan, reading Amar Chitra comic books and my grandmother telling me some folk tale. Nowadays my nephew is interested in playing with his gameboy (a sort of video game) and watching the cartoon network.

So do the above mentioned facts signify the problem? To my mind, they are symptoms of the problem. The world is competitive as it has never been before. Parents want their children to work for the biggest MNCs, earn in dollars, and go for professional careers. And seemingly history does not have any role in this rat’s race. As for the education system and the issue of history books, there seems to be a lot of vested interest and bureaucracy which adds to the problem. Adding to this is the ever growing influence of the west.

As they say it is easy to pinpoint a problem but the trouble lies in formulating a solution which is practical. Let us look at the major stakeholders involved
· School going child
· Parents of the child
· Educational system

The solution lies in analyzing each of the stakeholders and how they can be incentivised.

1) If you see the psyche of the a child, it revolves mainly around scoring high in subjects that will enable them to attain their professional dreams, extracurricular activities consisting of television especially cartoons, videogames, internet etc. To stimulate interest in them, learning should be provided through the mediums they currently enjoy. Video games and cartoons revolving around Indian history and culture are means to capture their mindshare. Internet can play a role through websites hosting quizzes for children, story telling CDs etc.

2) Parents, with their focus on charting out a safe career for their wards are a little hard to incentivize. The nuclear family structure also ensures that grandparents are not there to help the child develop interests in folk tales or history. The solution lies in attacking the root cause of the problem and a pragmatic one would be to include a general knowledge section in competitive exams to ensure that now the onus is on the parents too. This will also ensure that students with a well rounded personality get through in such exams.

3) An easier said than done solution for the education system calls for a major overhaul to remove bureaucracy and vested interests. A simpler solution is to target the teachers who at end of the day impart knowledge. The teachers should make courses like History civics a fun course rather than one where student learn facts and dates by rote. The BeD course which trains the teachers in history should impart ways of stimulating interest in children."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

For the love of the game

Statutory warning: This story has soporific effects and I still don’t know why I am posting this :)

Hurray my childhood memories are coming flying back. Those were the days when we kids used to play until we dropped dead. I remember I used to try my hand at every sport. Not that I was particularly good at anything, but I was the all rounder kind of guy, you know the jack of all trades, master of none type of a guy. Now that we are having our first ever edition of the annual IIMA vs IIMB sports meet I am back on the field.

So a week back I was mentioning to my brother that I am going to play basky and volleyball against IIMB, his typical response was “With God given height it would have been a shame if you hadn’t made it into both these team :P”. I tried my hand at snooker I am decent at it but no match for the state players in our college. I tried out for chess, this is the game I probably play the best, and I know I should have won but a stupid mistake cost me the game and a place in the team. I wanted to try for out for table tennis but was too tired and lazy to go at the time of trials (talk about the grapes are sour story :) ). So finally I had to bank on my God given core competency and decided to stick only to basky and volley.

So for the past few weeks my evening schedule goes like this,

19:00 to 20:00: help the girls basky team with their practice
21:30 to 23:30: Men’s basky practice
00:00 to 01:30: Men’s Volleyball practice

I was playing 5 hours a day right from being a potato couch in my room. So by 01:30 I would have sweated bucketloads, I would have drank gazzeleons of water and lime juice and my knee would be hurting so much that I would have trouble walking let alone climbing stairs. The worst is when you have classes the next day and you have to come back and read cases. I usually come back to my room put some gel on my knees and cool off by watching yet another episode of “Prison Break” and then get to the case for tomorrow.

So over the past few weeks, I have sprained my ankle once, I have broken my lip, have had a swollen knee but it has been fun. When I started out I could last barely 15 mins in basky at a stretch but since then my stamina has improved. It is too bad the exchange students are not allowed to participate in the competition, otherwise we would have had a kick ass team. Around 3 4 exchange girls also come and practice with the men but there is this one girl from Norway who is really good and whenever she is pushed down by one of the men and then we go and ask her “Are you ok” she replies “Hey I am not made of glass”. Talk of girl power :)

At the end of the day it I not so much about what whether we win or lose, the important thing is I am getting back into shape, I have made a lot of new friends and I have had a jolly good time. Having said that when we meet IIMB on the field tonight all hell will break loose and it is going to be a hell of a fight J. So guys wish me luck and be there to cheer my team

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Venky, The male chauvinist.

Ahhh, Its been more than a month since I touched my blog. That reminds me of an interesting conversation I had with Sayesha, the chronic blogger friend of mines. I asked her once about her ability to churn out posts with amazing regularity and questioned her about how she finds time. She, matter of factedly (is that a word??), replied that if you like something then you will always find time for it.

Shit, that does put my passion for writing in a poor light. So what else did I find time for, during the past month, that has stirred my passion? Let me see, I remember a lot of sleepless nights, there was definitely loads of project work, I remember something involving lots of thick books, and surely I can’t forget those end term exams. Right, all those seems to be definitely more interesting than writing about myself :(.


Finally, now that a new term has started in college, sanity has returned and once again my room is back to its normal self wherein I can actually find my keys, watch, or wallet without having to sift through piles of books.
Ahh that again brings us to an interesting topic why is it that a bachelor’s room is typically one where you find things lying all around and is more often than not associated with a pig sty. At the same time if the room is that of a female, married or unmarried you more or less expect it to be orderly and clean. I know exceptions are always there but I guess the above statement summarizes an important norm in the society.

Most of the movies portray the husband and wife fighting over shoes lying around or clothes on the bed. I can imagine when my mother will first visit my room in my college the scene would be something like this.

My expectation:
Mom to me: Ohh beta you have lost so much weight. Don’t u eat properly???

Reality:
Mom to me: Venkyyyyyyyyy how can anybody live in such conditions???
Me: Ma what is wrong?

Then she will push me aside and get down to arranging my room and only when she is done with it will she get back to the “you have gone down” part.

Ok I maybe exaggerating but you get the general drift of what I am trying to convey. So what is it that drives this marked difference, after all it is the era of equality.

Is it the hormones?? Is it that testosterone rich, adrenalin pumping body of the males do not care for niceties and we are okay with anything. The answer seems to be no, the explanation according to me lies in the fact that males typically concentrate on things that come easy to us. For example I don’t see what is wrong if I put my shirt on an extra chair, I don’t need the chair for now, I need a place to put my shirt for a couple of hours until I go out again and for me it is as plain as 2 + 2 = 4 :). Why go through the trouble

1. Opening the cupboard
2. Taking out a hanger
3. Putting the shirt on the hanger
4. Putting the hanger back in the cupboard
5. Closing the cupboard

All this pain when I very well know that in two hours time I need to go out and will have to do five steps again to take out the shirt again specially when I have the option of utilizing an extra chair for the same purpose without taking as much trouble.

I actually find it easier to find my stuff when it is in a mess rather than the day when I clean up my room because then I tend to forget where I kept my stuff after cleaning.

I guess for us males, it is all about calculating the effort we put in and the result we get out of it. If we believe that a nice looking room is worth the effort then we would definitely put the effort. But you must remember we are talking about the male species who do not think twice about what dress to wear as compared to the fairer sex who would think about what her friend had worn for the last party and how she had worn the same dress four days back and spent an hour getting ready. (Kevin saysà Uff venky duffer why do you have to write this post?? Don’t you see the implications à the brickbats, the footwear, the u male chauvinist and hypocrite comments).

I am not debating whether the male way is better or the female way is better. I am just saying that in some things boys will be boys and girls will be girls and the cause for all worldly troubles is when we try to change that.

So my future wife (whoever it is) and my mom, if ever you do read this (I hope you don’t) both of you are the best and I love you both but please please let my room be the way it is.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

TANSTAAFL

There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch or TANSTAAFL for short is the name of the restaurant in our college campus. Cafe Tanstaafl or CT as we call it, truly symbolises an important philosophy in life and more importantly my college life. Yes, I am paying dearly for all the bike trips I made. It is project submission time in college and all of a sudden I am deluged with so much work that I am back to square one in terms of free time.

There are days and then there are DAYS when you just wish all this would stop but life is not that easy mate. So here I am going through the grind but then I will live to fight another day and right now I have just about time to say, as Arnie wud put it in a macho way, "I will be back" :)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A whole new level


I am sure that all of you, at some point in your life, must have contemplated about taking it to the next level. Well take what to the next level?

It could be anything you know. When I was a kid aged 10, I used to look in awe at all the 12th std guys and gals. Man they were so cool, they had a different uniform they looked so knowledgeable, they had this aura about themselves and they used to be so patronizing (I so hated that, I wanted to be treated as equals not as some teenie weenie kiddo who knew nothing). They used to come in their little mopeds and Bajaj Sunnys and there we were, riding our little bicycles and boy were we ready to take it to the next level.

But by the time I reached their age, gone was the aura, gone was the cool life, it was about studying and preparing for the all important entrance exams. So then I used to look up at all those college guys, they were cool, zipping around on their motorbikes with their girlfriends and they seemed to be having the time of their life. So then I wanted to be independent like them.

And I must say I enjoyed engg college life too but when I reached my final year our seniors who had passed out used to come down and visit us. They were all working for these MNCs and they had money to spend whereas we college kids were really struggling at cash management. They used to come flaunting their new cell phones. When I was in my final year of engineering I don’t remember anyone in my batch having a cell phone but here they were, one year our seniors getting phone calls late in the night from their respective companies asking for clarification regarding their top secret work. Ya I was ready to take it to the next level.

So began my sojourn in the corporate world, a typical bachelor’s life, earning a decent amount of money and I was my own master. I must say I had a blast with my gang. That went on until I started missing college again :) (see I had no other reason to do my MBA, I just missed college that’s all :D). So here I am doing my MBA and enjoying life again. Now in a couple of months I will turn 26 (hey that is supposed to be a hint for all of you, so that you can be ready with your gifts) and in 9 months I will be done with my MBA. But for the first time in my life, I am not sure I want to take it to the next level.

Well if everything goes according to my parent’s plan, next year I will pass out of college, I will be 27 and God willing I should be in a decent job. So what is the next level you ask??

According to my granny and my parents then there would be nothing left for me to do except to get married. But the only problem is that I am like Chandler in FRIENDS, I run at the sound of the letter C from the word commitment.

Man getting married would be huge, I wont be able to ogle at all those pretty girls in the shopping malls (unless I am ready for a black eye as usual, only this time I wont be getting it from their respective boyfriends but it would be my wife who would be giving it to me), I would never be able to go out on a date with any other girl, I wont be able to hang out with my friends to the extent I do now, I wont be able to attend all those late night guy parties. Hey what about the biking trip to ladakh I am planning, what about going bungee jumping in New Zealand with my gang, what about the times when I sit up all night playing a competitive game of cards for just a cup of tea for the winning team. See all I hear is I won’t be able to do this, I wont be able to do that and all my parents think about is, our poor little son has been staying away from home for the past 9 years, so it is high time.

Well to be fair to my parents they are not pressurizing me or anything at least not now, but recently when a friend talked to me about how her folks want her to get married and how she was not ready for it, that set the ball rolling for me. All the time, I was telling her that it would be ok, that it would not be as bad as people make out it to be (Not as bad--> gee coming to think of it, what was i doing? motivating her or freaking her out :)). But I know for sure, that a year later when my parents turn on the heat, I would be cribbing to the same friend about how I am not ready for it.

Right now I have just one line for all those who are contemplating about thinking about wanting to see me get married soon. (Well take your time, you can reread that last line :))

18 till I die…………..

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It’s my life, its now or never…..



Oh my god, it has been three weeks since I updated my blog. So I guess an obligatory excuse is mandatory.

Excuse No: 1 – I was busy with my midterm exams (Hey but why was I busy, it was not like I slogged day in and day out for the exam) So let me try to come up with a better one.

Excuse No: 2 – Well I twisted my ankle while playing basketball and was bedridden (Nah I was not bedridden, it was just a sprain and when did a twisted ankle stop anyone from writing)

Excuse No: 3- Our ISP provider has blocked blogger for the past couple of days (so what was i doing before then?) So here goes for one last time

Excuse No: 4 – Well I was tagged by The_Girl_From_Ipanema to write an article about weird things about me. So whenever some interesting topic came to mind to write I was stopped by this blogging etiquette that I complete the tagged article first and believe me, my mind stops working when I am forced to think in one direction. So after a pathetic three weeks I still haven’t completed that article and I finally got scared that blogger might delete my account if I don’t come up with something soon. So The_Girl-From_Ipanema, if you are reading this let me assure you that before the year is out I will finish that article :).

So the last time I wrote on this blog was about my biking trip to Mt Abu and how my butt hurt like hell. So what could be worse, you wonder? Imagine this, a traffic signal in Ahmedabad, 3 bikes are standing in a line one after the other waiting for the green light. But the interesting thing is all the six riders are not sitting on the bikes but standing. It is not as if the bike engines are off, also we are getting odd looks from others waiting for the signal but we don’t care. Yes six of us were standing with the bikes under us because for once it was really painful to sit down anywhere. Well what more could you expect after another biking trip but this time it was bigger and better. Yes, I went on another biking trip!!!

Objective: Ghat roads and the surrounding places of Saputara in the Dang district by the Mahrashtra border.
Distance covered: 897 kms
Total time of trip: 51 hours
Comments: The pain was worth it!!!!

So after the midterms got over on Friday, we planned to take off to this famed land whose surrounding places are scenic as well as virgin. Only the tribals inhabit some of these places and if you are not careful in your behaviour with them you could get lynched. There were 12 of us who planned to go on this trip. But we left in groups of six as one of the group had exams till Friday evening while the other group got off by Friday afternoon. Also managing a group of 12 would have been a little difficult and we thought 3 bikes in a group made sense. So I was part of the first group that left. Like the last time I will give nicknames for all of them but this time I will give the reasoning too, since last time most of my few readers (most of my few??? See my uncontrollable mind is at it again) did not find the nick names interesting.

So we had

General saab
General ka chamcha
Lance Naik 1
Lance Naik 2
Sipai
Yours truly --> Kaptaan

Well how did we get the nicknames? The story goes like this, we took a break for the night, after covering 270 kilometres. In the hotel, two of the six took out a map and were plotting the route to take the next morning. So obviously they became the General saab and General ka chamcha because to us their planning went something like this.

General Saab: “Oye generak ka chamche I think this route makes sense and we can catch them unaware”
General ka Chamcha: “ Ji Saab what an excellent idea”
General saab: “But wait, this route looks interesting too, we can mingle with the crowd unsuspected and attack the saputara hill from its left side”
General ka Chamcha: “Saab, who would have thought of that? You are a genius.”


You get the general drift na. So there you had General saab and general ka chamcha. Now next came Lance Naik 1 and Lance Naik 2. Their responsibilities included carrying stuff like nail cutter, maps, ear buds, bedsheets etc etc for the group (Hello, haven’t you guys ever been on a bike trip, you are supposed to travel light. But I must give it to them, ear buds and nail cutter for a biking trip, now who would have thought of that???)

Then you had sipai, while all this argument and decisions were being taken about which route to take our good old Sipai was fast asleep, not a care in this world. He knew very well that he would get his orders in the morning and there was no point losing sleep over such important decisions. (Well I envy him, that night I slept for three hours and he slept for 6 hours)

Finally you had me ie Kaptaan. Well I did not contribute to any of the decisions made but I was awake all night as if without me, the group would not be able to make a decision. Well it is not as if I did not contribute but NOBODY listened to me :)





Five of the six: L to R Kaptaan aka me, General ka Chamcha, General Saab, Sipai, Lance Naik 2

Some interesting snippets from the journey.

We leave our college and 10 kilometres later when we hit the highway we find that one of the bikes would not go over 60 km/hr. So two of us went back and exchanged that bike for another one of our friend’s. If we had continued on that bike I would have missed two days of classes and you would have been reading this a couple of days later.

We left Ahmedabad at 3:30 pm and at around 6:30 pm we get a call from our friends in college asking us to turn back since there was a riot going on in Surat. After a few tense moments and calling up people we know in Surat and general saab along with general ka chamcha taking out the maps, we decide that we can bypass surat and continue with our journey.

We enter Dang district at 8:00 in the morning the next day and it was a beautiful sight, good roads, greenery and a cup of mast chai and a packet of Parle-G biscuits at a roadside teashop awakened us to fact that life is not all about handling pressure and making decisions, it is about enjoying small things.

-----------------------------------------------The roadside chai waala--------------------------------

At about 10:00, we find this lonely spot hidden from the road, ideal for camping, with a river flowing and green grass patches and a railway bridge nearby

--------------------------------------------------Isnt that a beautiful pic?? --------------------------------

General saab, who is a movie buff contends that this is an ideal movie location and rambles on with his imaginary story --> The heroine runs off with the hero and comes to this location to stay for the night. They light up a campfire and stay in the old structure nearby, music plays and they break into a romantic song. Then next day the hero wakes up and finds that the heroine is gone. The hero gets frantic and starts searching in vain. At this moment the clear water breaks and the heroine emerges, she is taking her morning bath. Sounds clichéd eh?? Well that is what you call bollywood ka superhit formula.



------------------------------------- Same location as above, a diff angle--------------------------------------

After spending an hour or so there, we moved on to the ghat road section and came to the Gira falls which was at its mighty best after the recent heavy rainfall. There was no way we could get underneath the falls as there was too much current. So we had to contend ourselves with bathing at a spot where a big boulder blocked the flow.

---------------------------------------------------Lost in thought----------------------------------------



Hey we drank tender coconut water here to go with the natural surroundings and I was drifting back on dreamland to my childhood days in Kerala, where tender coconuts and the greenery used to be a daily routine.

------------------------------------------------- Ohh those beautiful days!!!!-----------------------------------

We moved on and the ghat drive was really beautiful and it seemed as if we were transported to some foreign land. Man, it was so picturesque.

--------------------------------------------------Gee, we are speechless!!!!---------------------------

Sometime atop the saputara hill, the winds got so rough and mighty that it was tough to ride a bike and all your strength went in to make sure that you are not blown off the road.



----------------------------------------The wind in my hair, heaven at my feet--------------------

And hey there was this foto I clicked



If you see, the bike in front is doing a 60 degree bank and if you see properly you find that the foto is tilted too. Well that is cos my bike was at a 30 degree angle then. Hmmm do I see a prospective career for me?? (ha ha my uncontrollable mind again)


Well I could go on and on but the post is getting too long. So how do I compare this trip with my last trip, well almost double the distance, double the fun and ya double the pillows required to sit on after the trip (c I am using two pillows instead of one).

So that ends my trip log and as a parting adivce this last photo sums its all, at the end of the day you might get scared of being hit by a truck but then it also provides you with moments like these :D.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Reminiscence



Please read the previous post before going thru the snaps to make sense out of the characters involved.



There you go, the seven of us. L to R Romeo, me listening to the ipod, Vivek, Leftie, Bachan Junior, Skatey.. do chk out his helmet and Fosters

Me atop Guru Shikhar with Vivek. I guess I am in a really contemplative mode



On our way to Guru Shikhar


That is Rachel Yelling out "Please say yes" to Fosters


All set to leave Abu at 4:30 in the morning

Isn't that an awesome sight?


Skatey almost got his head blown off pulling this stunt :)

The fast and the furious

A punctured tyre (or a flat tyre if you prefer the US English), an empty fuel tank, a VERY SORE butt and 526 km later, I am sitting gingerly on my cushioned chair (come on, it still hurts!!) my hands clasped behind my head, leaning back with a satisfied smile. I have just returned from a biking trip to Mt Abu and the entire experience rocked big time.

It all started a week back when I and my friend whom we will call Kale Khan noticed that we just had two classes over Thursday Friday and Saturday. So it was decided that we plan a biking trip and then slowly pieces started falling into place. Finally there were eight of us who were ready to make the trip on bikes to Mt Abu, a hill station (if you may so call it) in Rajasthan. Just for the fun of it I will try to give nick names for all the eight involved. (Lets see if they can identify themselves if they read this and forgive me if some of the hints below don’t make sense)

1. Khan saab (I already introduced him, right?)
2. Fosters (Silent most of the time but you should see him when he starts off on his imaginary violin)
3. Romeo (Ahem he has a thing or two for the ladies)
4. Bachchan Junior (A strong contender for the Angry Old man title and junior is because he is half the height of the actual Big B)
5. Vivek (He just loves this name, don’t know why though)
6. Leftie (I know it seems like my creativity has deserted me but I had to give him this name because no matter how many time we tell him, he has this liking for overtaking from the left side)
7. Skatey (You should have seen the helmet he wore, once he was on the bike with that helmet he had to take great risks at turning left or right lest he be blown away)
8. Of course, yours truly (I am not going to come up with funny hints for myself)

Phew that was tough but anyways you finally have the names of the eight musketeers (so we like to call ourselves). So after classes on Thursday our plan was to leave at 3:00 sharp in the evening and reach Mt Abu latest by 9:00 pm. Well being budding managers we are adept at time management and by 4:20 pm when we reached the petrol pump next to the college, Fosters realized that he had forgotten his wallet. So finally after sorting out the initial glitches we were on road and I must say we made good pace (Actually the heat was so much that we were trying to get as much wind as possible to cool ourselves, not that it helped us much).

The highway was excellent and we reached Mt Abu by 9:30 pm with multiple stops in between to stretch ourselves (We used to look out for highway hotels with cushioned seats..man try sitting on a piece of leather a foot wide for hours at a stretch and you will know the importance of finding cushioned seats). The ghat roads which are winding and steep were really awesome and coupled by the eerie silence and darkness of the night, the drive up hill had an enchanting charm to it.

We were joined in Mt Abu by three more of our friends who had decided to make the journey by train (You know girls are always so boring --> I just ducked all your footwear). Well they were

1. Rachel (So they call her)
2. Halle Berry (Kinda obvious to people who know her)
3. Pierce Brosnan (I just don’t know why I came up with that)

So we booked rooms for the night, and we were up till 4:00 in the morning watching football, general chit chat and of course a special Violin encore by Fosters. I guess it will get boring if I start to describe the places we went to and other things that wont make sense. So here are a couple of interesting snippets.

The deal was that Rachel was so enamored by the story of the drive we made to Abu (I guess no one cared to mention our aching butts) that she badly wanted to go back to Ahmedabad in a bike. So she was trying hard to convince one of us to take the train back so that she could trade our place for the bike trip back home. She zeroed in on Fosters and the entire night she was trying hard to convince him. Now the next day when were atop a crowded Guru Shikhar (the highest point in Mt Abu) Fosters was standing around 20 feet below us when Rachel lets out a scream and shouts out at the top of her voice “Fosters, please say yes”.

You should have seen the reaction of the other people there and the blushing shocked face of Fosters, of course the rest of us were holding our sides and laughing our hearts out and some of us even shouted “Fosters, say Yes I do”

And while returning from Guru Shikhar it started raining heavily and we all got thoroughly drenched and it was rather refreshing too although I must say we got odd looks when we visited the Delwara Temple in our wet clothes.

The sunset point was a beautiful place too and here what happened was that Bachhan and Vivek who were supposed to join us at the point could not find us in the crowd and so they parked their vehicles next to ours and waited at the chaiwaala (tea shop) for us to return to our bikes. But a Sumo parked in such a way that their line of sight was blocked and we oblivious of the fact that their bike was parked just next to ours took off for the lake. The poor guys waited and waited and only when all the shops were closing down did they think of coming and looking only to find that we had disappeared with our bikes.

Meanwhile Khan saab and me had an idea of going to the theatre and catching a movie. Our belief was that this would make us the greatest movie buffs of all times. Who would even think of making a 220 kilometer trip to a hill station to catch a movie!!! But our idea was prematurely shot down by the rest of the gang. (I think they are all jealous people who could not bear to see me and Khan saab set this World record)

We left Mt Abu at 4:30 in the morning on Saturday and the drive downhill four bikes one just after the other, with their headlight in full force making their way down the sloping and winding roads was a treat to watch (Too bad Skatey refused to dig out his camera from his backpack). I could even hear people saying “Wow what a sight” from the inside of a car which was on its way up. The early morning drive was one of the best I had, what with the scenery and the sunrise it was like in the movies (Dil Chahta Hai for one, although those three were driving in their merc and we were driving our old bikes for a change).

On the way back one of the bikes had a flat which cost us an hour, but the real hit of the trip had to be Khan saab. We were 10 kms from reaching Ahmedabad when Khan saab's bike spluttered to a stop. We asked if his bike was out of fuel and he said no it must be some other problem. So the great mechanical engineers of our gang got to work, the spark plug must be the problem, said yours truly. But after 20 minutes we resigned to the age old established fact that we are all fraud engineers and started to look for a garage. Finally we tugged the bike along to the nearest mechanic and in 10 seconds flat he said “Saab, you are out of fuel”.

Flashback to a couple of hours before when we were refueling our bikes.

Khan saab says “Guys you fill up your bikes, mines is a splendor and I have driven it for 30000 km. I know my baby the best and I know that there is enough fuel to reach Ahmd”.
Bachchan junior retorts “Yaar an additional litre of petrol is not going to hurt your bike”
Khan Saab “Don’t you date insult my baby, I know what she needs”

Back to the present, Bachchan Junior , Vivek and me are staring real hard at Khan saab who is busy trying to hide his face behind the fuel tank of his bike.

So my friends, I am finally back and I am sure the rest of the seven must be sitting on their pillows thinking on the same lines as me “So where to next?”

ps: I should be soon posting some snaps from the trip.