Friday, May 26, 2017
the worst part about being off-balance is, firefighting takes up precious time that should be spent getting back on track. and it's easy to say that i have the luxury of time (i don't have any deadlines, at least!), but i know things aren't getting better.
and so, it's time for a reboot. hopefully, no data will be lost!
Saturday, May 13, 2017
one thing that i left out from my earlier blog posts that's pretty important for a leh trip is the packing list. no matter what itinerary you choose, what you pack makes a big difference to how you enjoy your trip. obviously packing light means packing smart, and adverse terrain/sparse civilization means you have to be prepared for emergencies. my first leh trip (by car) only needed warm clothing, and I had a whole haversack to fill with it. and my first bike trip, I skipped important stuff like first aid, spares, etc... but was lucky. and i had a whole pair of saddle bags to myself as well. the 3rd time around, I had to share the saddle bags with my pillion! so for that trip, we figured the best possible packing list. by popular demand, here goes:
1 tight fitting warm sweater (to be worn under t-shirt)
1 sweat shirt
2 pairs woolen socks
1 pair warm gloves (pillions only) OR biking gloves (compulsory for riders) + thermal gloves
4 pairs disposable surgical gloves OR 1 pair chemical hazard gloves - chemical hazard gloves seem to be better as surgical gloves get sweaty!
transparent riding glasses
gumbooots OR galoshes (I personally was very uncomfortable in gum boots, but haven't got my hands on galoshes. ended up riding with wet feet. galoshes would have been a lifesaver!)
hand warmers (optional, pillions only) - we didn't end up using these though.
raincoat or windcheater that can be worn over biking jacket - we didn't end up using these.
1 - 2 jeans + (optional) Thermal Pants - I only used 1 pair of jeans and no thermals, it served me just fine.
4 - 6 cotton tees
6 - 8 sets underwear
1 biking jacket OR armor + canvas/denim jacket
1 set knee guards
1 - 2 shorts/light casual wear
1 - 2 sets of clothes to sleep in
1 towel (carry a thin, light towel - it should dry fast and pack small) - I used the travel towel from decathlon, smallest size. we only showered thrice on the entire trip, lol
1 pair slippers/sandals
toiletry kit (brush + paste + bath soap + soap strips + hand sanitizer, toilet paper, the absolute essentials only!) - I shared the paste and sanitizer with my pillion
personal medicines, nasal spray or vicks inhaler
emergency blanket - didn't use this
water bottle/hydration pack
torch + batteries
mobile + charger
camera, charger + cable + spare memory card
portable battery pack
10 passport size photo
photo id (pan or aadhar card) + 10 copies (split among other riders)
ziploc bags for all electronics, cash, documents
plastic bags for all clothes that will be packed (not for riding gear etc)
small folding bag for carrying stuff around (leh is a plastic free zone)
debit cards, cash (20k - everything operates on cash here!), 1 credit card
train tickets printed copy
paper with emergency contact details, and contact details + bike numbers of everyone in the group
for the riders:
driving license, bike papers (check validity of puc+insurance) + 10 copies (split copies among other riders)
spares: 2 chain links, 3 fuses (high current rating), front brake pads, 1 spark plug, front and rear tube (unless tubeless), accelerator and clutch wire
3 - 4 bungee cords
nylon rope + nylon cord
rags for wiping/cleaning stuff
common stuff (coordinate and get only one):
toolkit with sizes that work on all the bikes
5 X wire stoppers ("makkhi")
scissors, wire cutter, pliers
4 X fevikwik/fevibond
first aid kit (band aid, disinfectant, soframycin, sticky bandage, gauze, crepe bandage, muscle relaxant, splint, diamox, aspirin, paracetamol, imodium, antacid, ORS)
thick needle + nylon thread
sunscreen, insect repellant
WAI- WAI packets (two meals food supplies for emergency), dry fruits, cheese, chocolates
paraffin stove + pot + spoon + knife
2 swiss army knives
Rum (pack in pepsi bottle to save weight)
Friday, March 17, 2017
Friday, March 03, 2017
we're in the future, sometime when interplanetary (if not interstellar) travel is commonplace, and humans are settled in multiple land and space based colonies. a leader with a fanatical pseudo-religious bent of mind has been taking over colonies through a propaganda war, promises of prosperity, etc. he is now poised to be the leader of the largest conglomeration of colonies and seems unstoppable. a lot of people hate his propaganda and policies, and feel that his promises are merely a fascist ploy to become the most powerful leader of human civilization. they, myself included, feel helpless and outnumbered. our friends and families are gradually being influenced by the propaganda and are switching sides.
someone on chat tells me that he/she knows a few others who are equally frustrated, and there is a plan on how to combat this leader. for security reasons, identities will be revealed to me strictly on a "need to know" basis, and i will have to shift to a neutral colony. I am given games to play on my pc, which are actually simulators for various combat craft and vehicles.
soon, we are waging an all-out war against the leader and we have to fight against the forces of the very colonies we are from. during the course of our battles, I meet friends from college, all of whom loved to play FPS/combat games back in the day. all of them seem to have the same story, of being contacted and instructed by chat, although each of their "handlers" are different. we even fly a few missions together. our handlers seem to know that we know each other and start grouping us into a team, more often than not.
we realized that other people are also forming teams based on people they know from their past. our teams start getting bigger and bigger, and soon it seems like majority of the people I've known throughout my life are now part of the "force". someone I randomly bump into after years, on one of my breaks, is suddenly on the next sortie with me. and everybody is being recruited and directed on chat, by different users.
somehow, the leader's forces don't seem to fight too well, and there weren't any casualties on either side - everywhere we went, they would retreat after a half hearted battle.
I got to know that although the "force" was in control of over half of human civilization, it had completely fallen out of favour with public opinion due to its use of (for lack of a better word!) force.
one day, everyone was instructed that they would be reassigned, and we're given daily sessions of retraining. I was trained to be a livestock handler. most of my friends were reassigned before we could meet again, and I was back to being with unknown people. the gossip doing the rounds was that all the chat accounts are actually bots, controlled by a single AI, and as it improved its understanding of humans as a race and of each of us, it was tweaking its strategies.
the gossip was that there was a plan to take over the supplies of vital items in colonies which were not yet under control of the force. I grew my first batch of livestock. they were some strange creatures that grew in melon sized eggs. my instructions were that they were designed to be eaten immediately after they hatched, and my job was to make them as tasty as possible.
by the time the first batch hatched, I was alone in the facility in the middle of some planet's desert. scores of them hatched that night, lining the shelves of the facility. they were pink and bulbous creatures that could barely crawl, and squeaked and purred a lot. the next morning, I couldn't bring myself to kill them, let alone cook and eat them.
and that's when I woke up.
ps: this dream had a lot of images from Sci fi movies, a few games, and faces of a lot of college friends. fun times!
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Friday, December 09, 2016
Saturday, December 03, 2016
(forgotten in my drafts from mid December - better late than never!)
my bike's been giving trouble lately. she's spent the better part of the month parked at the garage, getting the equivalent of a heart transplant: new crankshaft, connecting rods, bushings, piston, block, timing chain, tensioner, clutch plates, and all variety of minor paraphernalia. so, while I waited it out patiently for fate and my mechanic to give me some relief, I've been living off public transport and the generosity of my friends who have lent me their rides whenever they could.
the last few days were with ajith's avenger. his was the bike I was the most excited about borrowing, as it was one of the options i considered long ago (when I was looking for the next bike after my pulsar, before I decided on the karizma). back then, I rejected it as I was sick of bajaj's quirks: some touches of bad design, and a reputation for bad longevity of the engine.
after a pretty successful run with the karizma, I've been thinking about my next bike. and i decided to approach the avenger with an open mind: it's been 4 years, and bajaj has done intresting things with the pulsar platform, so i figured getting my legs around it should give me the feel of things.
before I mounted it, I was nervous. after all, I had to ride it from powai to bandra in the peak of rush hour traffic, and i had an impatient lady waiting for me at the end of it. and yes, she was already done with her stuff and was killing time until I arrived. my main concern was the position of the foot pegs... would I be able to handle switching to feet on the ground from feet on the pedals quickly enough?
once on the road though, I was quite reassured. it was possible to get my shoe caught on the gear lever or get my ankle on the silencer when switching, but with enough care it wasn't a problem.
the riding position had its pros and cons: it seemed more relaxed, and having mirrors and other cars' headlights at eye level meant that I had a good all round view. the low seat made me almost feel like I was in a go-kart, and that made me feel like I was going a lot faster than I was. the engine was nice and smooth. the gears were so unlike the karizma that it almost felt like my foot was doing its job by itself and I was riding an automatic! the gear lever was too long though, so I ended up using it as a toe shifter only. old habits die hard, I guess. I reached my destination comfortably and without incident, and on the way home, my lady was also happy to ride pillion.
the next morning, riding to work without much traffic, I had a chance to explore the handling better. and that's when I was truly worried. the bike brakes scarily. it skids on light braking on tar roads in a straight line... at 60. on curves, anything less than a perfect surface is scary at best. that would have been a deal breaker, but I got a second opinion from a die hard avenger fan, who said the same thing: the avenger brakes and handles terribly. his "technique" was to ride slowly and use engine braking. lol.
anyway, I still had a couple of days more to go, and one important errand: transporting a rather heavy bit of luggage across town. the avenger handled that perfectly, with my fully loaded rynox (64L) saddle bags, a packed 90L backpack, and a pillion. the seat is roomy, so it doesn't feel cramped even with the huge backpack and the pillion. full points there. but I realized during the 3 hour ride that the seating position actually puts your weight on a weird part of your butt. I didn't have any aches at the end, but it did get rather uncomfortable.
so, in short: comfort, uncheck. safely, uncheck. ergonomics, check. load carrying capabilities, check.
my next bike? uncheck.
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