Monday, May 28, 2018

open source ideas

it's interesting how, when hanging out with a similarly inclined person, ideas abound. execution may or may not follow, but seemingly valuable ideas are generated at a far higher than "average" rate. more like a spike, from what i've seen.

and it rarely happens in online (textual/one way video) contexts.

can humanity be bettered by getting similarly inclined persons to hang out, and open source their conversations? like live transcribe it, separate it into context blocks, and then let the participants filter the irrelevant bits (or personal stuff, etc), and upload it?

i'm throwing this idea out to the world. let's hope something comes of this :)

Monday, May 21, 2018

riding in gujarat (in summer)

we just got back from gujarat the other day. this year, just like last, we ended up with a few free days, and the only unexplored destinations in the vicinity was in that "dry" state next door.

last april, we headed to diu. it was a nice place, we had a lot of fun, but we didn't see anything around (ie outside) diu or elsewhere in the state.

this may, we set off from home intending to see a couple of places around diu while keeping it our base, but ended up riding quite a way off course as well.

i think gujarat in summer can be most appropriately described in two words: intolerably hot. yes, most people would assign the same adjective to most of india, but with temperatures peaking over 45 degrees c, and staying over 40 for at least 5 hours daily, this part of india deserves it the most. and so, riding in these temperatures has taught us quite a bit: visor down all the time, wear light layers that let air pass through, rehydrate generously (we'd easily down half a litre of water each, at each break), and generously douse ourselves with water to cool down. still, most days would end with a mild headache by sunset, and that seems unavoidable. mornings are pleasant though, and until 10:30 am or so, it'd be hard to believe that the same place we were riding though would turn unto a furnace very soon.

it also helps not committing yourself to large distances, so that afternoon breaks can be longer and more closer spaced - i've done 800 km on one day, but 300 - 400 seems to be most achievable.

the other things to be aware of are: road conditions, rest stops, and driver aggression/idiosyncrasies.

gujarat, by virtue of being largely flat, is crisscrossed by networks of highways (national and state) - mostly straight, always flat, and dotted with intermittent villages. i did not encounter a single ghat in the entire week of riding (2200+ km!). the advantage and disadvantage of this feature, is that there are multiple routes between any given places, and no obviously better route. distances can be deceptive, as a route 10km longer may have marginally better roads and less speed breakers, and thus end up being far better. also, national highways are not clearly marked on road signs - you may find that a short stretch of narrow village road may take you from an frustratingly-potholed state highway to a smooth-as-butter-with-the-occasional-village national highway - but nothing on the road will tell you that. in fact, google maps' route determining abilities have proven to be woefully inadequate every single time: there have been times when it has chosen a worse route that (according to its own statistics) would even take more time, just to save a few extra km! what i've found, is before setting off, one should look at all the national highways between the start and end point, and try to connect them with as short stretches of state highway/village roads as possible, note down the towns/villages at such connecting points, and use those for navigation.

last year, for example, we had such a terrible experience riding to diu (blindly following google maps' navigation), that we were dreading the ride back. however, we ignored the navigation prompts and stayed on the national highway we found ourselves on, and actually had a smooth ride back, which was much faster and very comfortable too!

the other thing to be wary of, is rest stops. the mumbai-delhi highway is peppered with restaurants and food courts, which are reasonably comfortable and good for riders. however, other national highways have few, if any, such stops, and most are likely to be in a state of disrepair - we were happy to find a place to sit with a ceiling fan and a washroom of questionable cleanliness - air conditioning and clean washrooms simply did not exist. the food is also barely passable, and you mostly have to survive on packaged junk and tea if you are not particularly fond of gujarati food (which i also find to be nap inducing!). non-veg (or even egg) is simply out of the question. and these are the national highways. state highways have nothing more than tea and sugarcane stalls. let alone finding a fan, a bench to sit on with a roof over your head would be about the best you can expect - we have had stops where we had to choose between shade and a seat. the people are nice though, like one guy who charged us just 10 rs for a glass of sugarcane juice and 3 glasses of lemon juice - he said the lemon juice was free as "i can't charge you for water"! many of the petrol pumps do not have shade, which is insane considering the weather. everyone has huge vats of water though, which you can judiciously pour over yourself to cool down.

and finally, driver idiosyncrasies: people seem to hate driving at night, so there's a great increase in aggression just before sunset as everyone wants to get to their destination before dark. by 8pm (barely half an hour after sunset), the roads are largely deserted. i've found the aggression starts around 5pm, and peaks just before sunset. it's a rather hair raising time to ride, as innumerable incidents of being run off the highways by large oncoming speeding vehicles have shown, but sadly, it's also a good stretch to complete distances as the heat is somewhat bearable and sunlight helps dodge potholes, speed bumps, etc.

bonus tip: be prepared for crosswinds. i'm not sure if it was just the time of year, but the crosswinds have been extremely strong for majority of the ride! i'm sure less experienced riders would have a tough time at mile-munching speeds, as i've done hundreds of km with a constant pressure trying to blow me in one direction or the other.

ps: be prepared for a lot of curiosity from people if you're fully geared up: most villagers, having never worn or even owned a helmet, look at you as some sort of alien!

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

frogs need milk

we were moving out of our goregaon home. we had finished moving furiture and stuff, and all that was a divan with no mattress on it. my parents and aunt lucia had come over to ceremoniously hand over the keys back to the landlord. to commemorate the day, i ordered an earthen pot of chicken dum biryani. except that this was a sort of biryani that couldn't be eaten directly. instead, water needed to be added to it to make it ready to eat. and there was no water in the house. the only souce of water we had was the tap in the toilet. so i filled the pot with water from that tap, while nobody was around to see what i was doing. meanwhile, the landlord and his wife came over to take the keys. while everyone helped themselves to biryani, i showed the landlord through the house, to confirm that we were returning the house in the condition we got it.

once they were satisfied, i handed over the keys and told them we'd push the door shut once we were done eating and ready to leave. they left with the keys and i checked the pot of biryani to serve myself. however, there was only rice left, and the chicken was over. i complained to my parents but they said that everyone had only one piece each, so they assumed some would be left for me.

i told them it's fine, asked them to finish the rice themselves, and stepped out of the house.

but i wasn't in goregaon, on the 6th floor of the building. instead, i was on a broad street lined with cottages, and completely shaded over with huge trees. the houses and trees were so perfectly uniform and the road so clean that it didn't feel like i was in bombay, or india for that matter. i stepped onto the road and started running. the road was sloped gently downhill, and as i was running down, an old friend from a past job, rachana, passed me, running up. as we passed, we smiled, stretched our right hands out and high fived each other.

slightly ahead, the road turned sharply to the left. once i was around the bend, the tree cover ended, and it felt quite bright and sunny. a beach was up ahead at the end of the road. it was a completely deserted beach, featureless, with pale yellow sand, and no shade/trees whatsoever even where the sand ended, only bushes. as i neared the beach, i sped up till i was running flat out as fast as i could. i passed a group of people, around 5 of them, who started clapping as i ran by.

i reached the beach, ran in a quick semicircle to turn back the way i came, and started running back. except that the road was now completely unrecognizable - instead of a broad cottage and tree lined street, it was a maze of narrow streets with houses that looked quite dilapidated and were right off the road, without even a footpath around them. confused, i started looking for those 5 people, hoping they'd be able to direct me as they were the only people i'd seen. i ran past a few lanes, looking into each one. i finally spotted them, and ran up to them.

i asked one of the guys if he knew the area and could direct me as i was lost. he told me he'd try to help, but there was something urgent they needed to do first. he said i could accompany them into the house they were about to enter, and it would only take five minutes.

i entered the house with them. they were 3 guys and 2 girls, and one of them was rather cute and petite, in a short black knit dress. as we were walking through the house, i touched her on the shoulder, and she told me i better not do that as one of the guys was her boyfriend. before anyone else noticed this, we reached a bathroom. there was a small metal basin on the floor, with a number of dark green frogs croaking. the frogs were all on their backs, wriggling their legs desperately, with their pale bellies exposed. one of the guys entered the bathroom and poured milk on them, explaining the frogs were badly dehydrated, and wouldn't survive if they didn't get milk.

and that's when i woke up.

Monday, May 07, 2018

moving out sale

I have stuff to sell! Any takers in Mumbai? Comment if interested.

Wall mounted metal dish rack (1 year old)

Price: 500
Wall mounted dish rack. 18" width x 18" height x 10.5" depth dish rack made of steel and plated. contains a top shelf, 5 partitions for big plates, 5 partitions for small plates, 1 large flat shelf and 1 smaller flat shelf, 6 hooks for mugs, 5 loops for cutlery.

1 year old, 5 shelves steel storage rack 72" x 36" x 15"

Price: 3000
1 year old, 5 shelves steel storage rack 72" x 36" x 15". Powder coated in grey colour (light grey shelves, dark grey frame). Extremely sturdy, industrial grade, and can take 100kg of load. can be used for storing items in shops/warehouses/kitchen. Can be dismantled and reassembled with minimal tools. fully adjustable shelf height makes it suitable for uses where different items are of different heights. Possible to get a dust cover made for the unit. Can give a wall mounted dish rack for free if desired.

Washbasin mirror cabinet with plenty of storage and magnetic lock.

Price: 1500
Washbasin mirror cabinet with plenty of storage and magnetic lock. Dimensions 22" height x 14" width x 6" depth

Friday, May 04, 2018

the messy dream

chilling at a friends' place, it got pretty late one night. the sofa was nice and comfy, and the music and the spot i was in made me feel a little zoned out.

and so, the inevitable happened.

i don't even remember what the dream was, but it was pretty much me in the same spot, talking to the friends in the room. except that there seemed to be some sort of glitch in the dream, and then i thought i woke up with a start. and so, i asked my friends, "was i speaking to you guys about ****?"

they unanimously answered "no!", but they were laughing about it.

i assumed it was a dream, and attempted to restart the conversation. but again, i woke up with a start with my friends laughing. and again, i asked them if i was speaking to them about the same topic. they again said "no", and i found the conversation strangely repetitive.

and then, the whole thing repeated at least a couple of times. each time, my friends found it funnier and funnier, and i was so sleepy i couldn't even think of a way to break out of the loop!

finally i decided it was pointless trying to stay awake, and literally slept off until an hour later.

i still have no idea how much of the stuff that happened that night was actual dreams and how much was my friends simply messing with me ;)

the weirdest way to pack

yesterday, I was contrasting our last trip to the UK with this one: a year ago, we booked our flights, then got our visa... and then did...