Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Trek to Gorakhgad

Gorakhgad is a small hill fort in the Malsejh area, and has a very distinct pinaccle. There was a private bus organised for this particular trek, and we started from Mumbai at twelve in the night. We reached the base village of Dehri at three thirty in the morning, and started climbing at four itself. Against better judgement, I had not taken along my torch. My reasons for doing this were many. On previous treks that I had gone to, either the sun had risen by the time the climb started, or the moon and star light was enough to walk. This was the first true night trekking expirience for me, mostly because of a lack of any kind of light, and because the climbing started almost immideately from the base village. 

The first half of the trek was a more or less mad stumble over the rocks, trying to avoid the plants, and got bumped around a bit. Eventually, my eyes got used to what little light there was. One dangerous thing was climbing onto rocks thinking that they were steps to the levels above, when they were actually rocks on the side of the trail. So the next step, might actually take you back to the ground, and you might end up injuring your chin or something. 

Anyway, the lack of lights allowed a few of us to spot glow worms - strange creatures that give out a neon green glow on their own. Tried taking photos, but I hadn't taken my cam along as it was raining heavily when we had set out. Still, I had my mobile camera, which was good once the sun rose. By around five in the morning, it was light enough to see the path clearly, and we kept walking. It is a short trek, but pretty steep. There were caves at the top, where a bunch of us promptly went to sleep. By the time we woke up, had a few biscuits and a smoke, the rest of the group had gone up the pinnacle and come back down. This is the pinnacle opposite to where we were sleeping. 





This is the pinnacle from the base. The climb is a little tough, but there are crude steps in the stone.



A temple a little out of the way. Looks like two horsewomen fighting. Donno what that is. 


Midway to the top of the pinnacle. 



Near the caves. 



The clouds kept hiding and revealing the pinnacle.



This was the descent. Which started pretty early, at around ten. We had a quick breakfast just at the base of the pinnacle. Potluck, as usual. 


And two hours later, we were back at the base, Dehri. Noon is around the time that we reach our destination on most other treks. This was a particularly disciplined group of relatively expirienced individuals, so it was a fun trek. Chai and biscuits at the base. Then we just roamed around Malsej ghat for a bit. 


One of the fallen milestones. Something must have rammed into it. We tried setting it right, but it was heavy, and the mud had acted like a glue, sticking the stone to the ground. Not all of them were drunk, and not all of them needed protection. There was this cool lady in a wheelchair. Also, smart monekys on the road who gobbled up anything they were fed.


Bunch of bikers. Trekkers usually spot them on many locations. If there is a small group, we sometimes get lifts over a stretch where transportation is not available. 



A random feature that we spotted on the road. Some of us got down and headed over to this place. There was a waterfall nearby, with loads of drunk people getting wet. No pics to protect the privacy of anonymous people.


Then we headed out to this resort called the Falmingo resort. Maharashtra Tourism place. Great place to stay in Malsej, and has a bunch of booklets on things to visit in nearby areas. Also, very educative boards on the wildlife, snakes, insects, plants, endagered species etc, in the Sahiyadiris. 


Some random pipe I spotted on the road while hiding away for a piss. 

Centipedes, not earthworms. Came home by nine. Well organised and managed trek. In the evening, we went to the road that lead to Harishchandragad, and played stepping stones at the dam. Some of us had been to the same place over consecutive weekends (been to Harishchandragad). It was tempting to climb up and come down. One of the few treks where we actually went home refreshed instead of being all worn out and tired. 


Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Caps Lock Poltergeist

A Poltergeist is described as a "distrubing spirit" on Wiktionary, but Wikipedia has a better definition, one that I know of, "an invisible spirit or ghost that manifests itself by moving and influencing objects, generally in a particular location such as a house or room or place within a house." 

I've discovered a strange kind of Poltergeist that seems to haunt my computers no matter where I go. This is the Caps Lock Poltergeist, and causes me to UNEXPECTEDLY UNLEASH THE FUCKING FURY from time to time. Every time this happened, I had to use the backspace key... which was irritating, mostly because I had typed well into the line before I realised what was happening. Spoke about this to a friend of mine, asking him if a similiar spirit haunted him as well. He denied it outright, thought about it for a second, and told me that he was haunted by the Insert Poltergeist. Yeah, I've had a few of those kind of attacks, but not too many instances to bother me. This is damaging, especially if you are not looking at the screen. Chances are that you overwrite what you have already written... god damn tech age spirits.

Then I set the tiny little ghostbuster part of my brain (tiny because I don't believe in ghosts), and got a wonderful way to get rid of the Caps Lock Poltergeist. If this spirit is haunting you as well, the solution below is really the best way out. Try this:


If you are good with the keyboard, chances are that your little finger on the left hand will feel slightly nervous for some time. It passes with time, in my case, by the end of a single post.  

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quick and dirty

It was a big house, furnished with odds and ends that were salvaged from the waste of the city above us. The clothes were kept in an old fridge, for example, and a bathtub with a rag in it was my bed. Interesting patterns showed up on the ceiling, because of the seepage from the sewers above. I never knew what work my father did, and was sometimes afraid to find out. He spent long hours in a room all by himself. The masters came down to meet him about three times a year. I don't know what was the business between them, but I don't think it was a very friendly one. One of the masters slapped my father once, and told him that he was a sewer rat, and that he should learn his place.
That night, my father explained to me how important it was to study hard and do well at school. The school was underground, so I didn't think it mattered.

***

It was a large spider. Large enough to grab my toy trucks and hurl them around. It was walking through all my miniatures. I ran and got my camera. The spider was moving across the room, and I tried to get a quick photo. It was in a perfect position, but I couldn't click, as the viewfinder was all dark. I removed the lens cover, then focused again. This time for a second, I thought the spider actually had a face, and smiled. The trigger was jammed. I tried to see why, and after some frantic searching, found a small trigger lock toggle on the side. That was strange I thought, I'd never seen a camera with a lock for the trigger. The camera was almost touching the floor when I got the shot. A spider between an earth mover and a cement mixer, its legs sprawled about them, as if it were attacking them. I was however staring at the spider - something had happened to it the instant I took the photo. When the shutter closed, the spider had a black body. When it opened, there was a red streak down the middle. I clicked again, and the legs of the spider changed dramatically. They were thin and spindly, now they were thick and shaped like knives. The body grew bigger, now the size of a small flower. And I saw the face again - it smiled at the camera - the face of an old woman.
I kept clicking, the spider kept growing, and in the end, there was an old lady-spider in front of me, the eight legs sprouting out of her spine, and she was smiling at the camera. One memorable shot I got was a closeup of her face, lined with age, and with her white hair as she looked wishfully at the skies she could not see. She kept moving about the room, in a strange spidery motion. It was difficult to catch how her legs moved. A little jerk with her ankles, and she was a foot to her side. Unfortunately I kept clicking. Suddenly, she realised what was happening, looked straight at me through my lens and viewfinder. I clicked. When the shutter opened, she was not there.

***

I was developing my photos. It was a room I had all to myself, and nobody knew about it. Had used tools and equipment from an abandoned bottling plant in the city to make all my equipment. The chemicals were difficult, but I got everything I needed from the chem lab at college. It was a little crowded, and I could not touch the rolls of films that were still drying. The photos were coming out well, but with an unexpected effect. There was a halo around everything, and the colour was spreading beyond the boundaries of the objects in the frame. This was because of something I had forgotten. I had put in a lens element of my own invention - the lens had water inside it. I was just experimenting, and forgot to remove it. The third photo was slowly showing up on the paper. It was a little grainy - which was an artifact of the chemicals. It was also out of focus, which was entirely my fault. I never got to see that photo.
Suddenly, the master bursts in, light floods the room, erasing a lot of effort in a second. I cant help it, before I can react, I can feel the tears waiting to burst through my eyes. I hold them back. The master walks around imperiously. He picks up my tray of failed lens elements. He observes the circular glass pieces, most of them with irregular mounds, some of them patched together crudely, some of them carefully carved out of bulbs. He is silent for a long time, carefully looking at all of it. The master laughs, my father hovers uncomfortably behind him. "You have bred an inventive little thief" the master tells my father. Then he turns to me, laughs again. "You will be disappointed with the city" he says.

***

The city has too many people. There are soft, faded colours everywhere. The grey roads go on for block after city block. The police zeppelins patrol the skies, with their instructions and their megaphones. I am in the blue sector, which is where all the number crunching happens. We maintain huge machines. Many of these buildings have nuclear reactors in their basements. Sometimes an axillary one dedicated to the cooling. I have a job in the city, making glass tubes and orbs - they are components of these machines. I am having a cigarette, looking into the crowd of people. I'm also talking to the vendor of the cigarettes, a friend and something of a psychotherapist. He follows my eyes as they stare at a young girl who looks something like the spider-lady I once saw — or an old friend from school, or maybe even a sister, I can't remember clearly. It was so long ago, that I wonder if it was a dream. Seems as if all that, my past life was unreal. Not that this one feels particularly real.
"The trick, around here..." he says "...is to learn what to say when you've just done something immoral"

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Quick batteries fix for chinamade PMPs

If you have picked up one of those cheaper than dirt chinamade PMPs, and are not too happy with the default batteries provided, just shove in an old Nokia cellphone battrery, and it works for a longer time. Spotted in the wild, not original research... and also, use at your own risk.


Sleepcomputing

So there was this strange dream I had where I was answering a really long paper on English. In the dream, I knew that the questions were stupid, and too much space was given to very short answers. I had to do things like identify common and proper nouns and answer questions based on paragraphs of text. The electricity goes, so we use torches to write the paper. The question paper was stapled together, and I kept turning pages, coming across newer questions, never going to the start or end of the whole thing. This happened in school, and the supervisor was always there, going around doing something or the other. Sometime later, the electricity comes on, I turn a computer, and go back to answering.

Later on, after I wake up, I find out that a part of the dream was true. I can now turn on my computer, login, start up a torrent client and go back to sleep without knowing that I have woken up. Woo. Feel like I deserve a badge.

The screenplay is better than the movie

Fandoms are perpetually locked in discussing exactly how the movies were better than the books or vice versa. The question is what happens w...