Sunday, June 25, 2017
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
it was a lazy afternoon. we were in this spacious house/apartment, and everyone was taking a nap or lazing around in bed. Clive and I were in the lower half of a king size double bed, the sort made of ancient, heavy wood.
we were watching a movie on his laptop. the movie was titled "wag the dog". the movie was about a struggling musician who inspired another guy to learn to play the guitar. the inspired guy became a famous musician, and one fine day, the guy who inspired him (let's call him *x*) turned up anonymously to watch one of his performances. after the performance, he went up to the now famous musician (let's call him *y*) and reintroduced himself. *y* remembered him and thanked him for the inspiration. *x* was very curious about his unique playing style and asked him to play a solo piece for him. as soon as *y* started playing the role *x* realized that he was only pretending to play the guitar, but was actually using a touch sensitive sensor on the back panel of his iPhone. this agitated *x* and he considered it an affront to his musical legacy. there was a tiff, which ended with *x* smashing the guitar on *y*'s head, to assess from the sound whether it was a real guitar or not. the guitar was real, and the movie ended.
Clive shut his laptop, and I got out of bed and walked to the other room. sunil and a lady were in one bed, shruti was in another, and suraj was in the third bed. they were discussing something when I walked in, and I told them I just watched "wag the dog". they asked me if I liked it, and I told them it was brilliant. they all chimed in with their own appreciation of the movie as well.
shruti suggested we go for a ride. we stepped out and got on the bike. we were riding to CST railway station, which was a straight ride down a highway, which looked more like marine drive than any other highway. only differences were that there was some sort of construction work (metro work?) underway along the median of the highway, and the opposite (i. e northbound) side had a broad, landscaped garden between the road and the sea face.
somewhere on the way, a cyclist darted across the highway from behind a rickshaw, and nearly missed colliding with us. I chided the cyclist, and we resumed our ride. we reached CST railway station.
the road ended at a grassy quadrangle which was bordered by a single lane tar road on all 4 sides. on the right of this road was the railway station and tracks, while on the left, there was the ticket booking counter. straight ahead, was a stone building which had the entrance to the station. I parked the bike, and we stood in line for a platform ticket. there was a guy in front of us in the line, who had a huge backpack on his back. he walked away from the counter, and I was about to buy our platform ticket, when the person at the counter started calling out to him as he had forgotten to collect his ticket. I called out to him as well, and he turned around just then. the person at the counter said that in addition to the platform ticket, he also had a special permit to carry a fossil across the bridge. he handed me the ticket and permit to give to the guy. the permit was a piece of paper, with a t-rex hand drawn in blue ballpoint pen.
I handed him the ticket and permit, and got back to the counter to get my own ticket, only to find that someone else had gotten ahead of me. the person ahead happened to be another friend, Elizabeth, and she was buying a monthly pass for the platform. she nodded at me without saying anything while the person at the counter prepared her pass.
for some reason, I changed my mind about the ticket, and decided to return home. but strangely, I was looking for my folding cycle instead of my motorbike. and I couldn't remember where I had parked it. I thought I had chained it to a tree, but there was no tree in sight.
and that's when I woke up.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
married life and domestic chores have sadly taken their toll on my travel and riding schedule, and I've actually been city-bound for an unprecedented 7 weeks! I decided that enough is enough, and it's time for a ride and a bit of camping. solo, if it came to that.
and then, two nights ago, I had this dream.
in the dream, I rode to malshej, solo. I reached late in the afternoon, and the lake where I usually camp at had risen significantly due to the recent rains. while my usual spot was above water, the two paths to approach it were submerged. I was inexplicably dogged about camping at my usual spot, despite the risks involved in getting there (and more importantly, getting back out). I attempted to get to the spot by both paths, but had to give up as the water got too deep and I got nervous about missing the path and taking a dive with the bike into the lake. back out of water and on the path (the paved one), I parked my bike and lay on the tarmac for a quick nap. it wasn't sunset yet. I hadn't even pitched my tent.
turns out, I slept so soundly that I awoke the next morning! it hadn't rained, and I was still in the open, my bike next to me. I checked my phone.
it was monday morning. i was supposed to be at work!
next thing I knew (yes, there's a missing segment of my dream), I was in a state transport bus, on the front jumpseat, next to the driver. we were descending malshej ghat. and i suddenly remembered that I had ridden to malshej!
after another missing segment of my dream, I was back home in Mumbai, getting ready for work.
the only weird thing was that, this house was quite different from the one I live in! still, my wife was there, and I started telling her while she was getting ready for work, about how I forgot it's Monday and how I forgot I had gone by bike. I packed my lunch, showered, dressed, and was getting ready to leave (my wife had already left for work by then). that's when my mom in law turned up. I was alone at home, and i couldn't refuse, so I sat her down (yes, for some reason we sat on the floor in the kitchen) and we made small talk. that's when I mentioned that it's 10am, and I'm already late for work and had to go. she didn't believe me though, and said that I'm trying to wriggle out of talking to her.
... and that's when my dream ended and I woke up.
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!
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