End of Summer, Beginning of Memories

Today is Labor Day, a US federal holiday with a significance similar to May Day in India. But for many of us here including me it is the symbolic end of the summer season.The past 3 months have been amazing with beautiful, long, sunny days translating to a steady pace of research work, many weekends of hiking & traveling and also a good amount of lazing around. All of this was topped by a long-due holiday back home to India in August. Now, September is here and summer is gone. The wooly sweaters will soon be out and the Fall colors will come out blazing.

Summer in Cape Cod, MA
As I reflect on the time gone past during this transition period, I realize how many memories I have made this summer which will hopefully keep me going till the next one arrives. Speaking of memories, it is very easy to undermine their importance. I, for one look at it as a source of inspiration, something I can learn from and also something which keeps me grounded to my roots by reminding me of my starting point. It is also a kind of comfort zone where my restless mind can take a holiday of it’s own whenever it wants to. All I need to do is close my eyes and drift away into it.  While dreaming and being caged in memories is definitely not the solution to the problems of the present and might even be detrimental to moving on to better things in the future; they can serve as a constant reminder to the simple pleasures of life which are otherwise conveniently lost in the complicated, busy lives we lead. Good times with family and friends make you realize that at any point of time in your life even when everything falls apart you will still have these people by your side. In this context, the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’ can also be considered apt. It is imperative that we seize the day, live every moment to the fullest because no one knows what lies ahead tomorrow or when that tomorrow will come. I am fully aware that the lines above may seem like another cliched paraphrase of life’s lessons dished out all over again. But somehow these things I had only read about or being told by others all my life suddenly makes so much more sense now when I am experiencing it myself.

Personally, I have always tried to do/say whatever I have really felt like doing without thinking twice about it because the alternative to such an approach usually has the burden of regret tagging along. Trust me, the regret of not having made the most of a moment in the past is very painful. Everyone who has seen ‘Inception’ knows one of the things that hurts Leonardo Di Caprio is the fact that in the last few moments when he was leaving his home, he could only get a glimpse of his children’s backs not their faces. He wishes he had atleast one more moment to change that scenario and later it is this thought of completing this unfinished memory which drives him to the end.

Still from the movie 'Inception' in context

Although in this example, the regret he had about not seeing his kids faces was more because of circumstances beyond his control and not his own choice, the idea I wish to convey is the pain regret can inflict on a soul which is already troubled and lonely otherwise.

Anyway, as many of you may have guessed already, a lot of the stuff I have said in this post stems from recent personal experiences of mine back home in India coupled with a slight bit of homesickness. I am hoping this phase passes soon and research work keeps my mind steadily occupied as the Fall approaches. Cheers to a great Summer 2011, good times & offcourse memories 🙂 .

Nikhil

Reunion of the 'gang' after a year

Parents & Bro

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Goodbye India

Not the best time to make a return to Blogosphere. Minutes before I leave home for the airport on my way to the USA for grad school.Hopefully a change in location and atmosphere will bring about a change in my attitude towards this blog too, which I confess has been one of utmost lethargy in the past 3-4 months post-VNIT.

I have been immensely lucky to have met every single dear friend of mine (insti, school and others) in this summer vacation. This post is a final goodbye  to Tyrant, Deng, Potnis, Kotecha, Sush, Nandy, Amit, Kiran, Suri, KP, Sharma etc. etc. etc. and offcourse my dear blogmates Suchi, Aggie, Sharan :).

The next time I post something, I promise it would be a well-constructed blog with the only difference being that I would be scripting it from the other side of the world 🙂 .

Cheers and \m/ forever

I, Ibn Battuta

Long Long time since I blogged- 2 whole months infact 😐 . I blame final-sem lethargy primarily for this and secondly the fact that I have been traveling way too much during this period. While the usual Chennai trips [for project wrk etc.] kept happening every 20 days, I managed to make a cursory visit back home and also a one-dayer in Hyderabad for a black metal gig [ returning hours before my GATE exam 🙂 ] . And lastly, the greatest trip ov all- GOA again with the best ov friends. In sum, I guess I have clocked a record 12300 kms by train travel. Had there been be a ‘miles’-collecting and redeeming system similar to the airlines even in our railways, I am sure I would have hit some jackpot :).

For those who don’t know, Ibn Battuta was a Moroccan traveller who travelled a staggering 75000 miles, way more than his nearest contemporary- Marco Polo. My assumption at me being a Ibn Battuta of sorts might be a little pretentious, I agree. Each of these trips have been characterised by a total carefreeness, traveling in a light and minimalistic way and absolutely no worries about anything at any place. I wonder if ever in the future, I would be able to travel in this manner because a natural fallout of added responsibilities ( in job, grad school etc. ) would be fewer holidays and loads of more work. Anyway, I have decided to put a temporary hold on my plans for other jaunts and decided to spend my last month in insti. ‘peacefully’ immersed in project work and senti-farewell parties :).

And now that I’m back , I promise I am here to stay in blogosphere for good :).

Twenty One

Finally 21, and legally able to do everything I’ve been doing since 18

I’m turning 21 and that’s a big step for me. Adulthood has now kicked in my door and its startling eyes are staring me right in the face. I can’t say exactly what it is that makes the 21st year radically different from the 20th year. Somehow, it just feels much older and wiser :P. I guess I have done a lot of maturing this year though, so in a way it makes some sense.

I got my first job (at Indian Oil Corp. Ltd.) in August this past year and I definitely didn’t expect it so soon. Thanks to an extended run of my very good luck , I received an admit for graduate studies from the University of Pennsylvania a week back. And though I am really not sure as to which school I would be attending post-VNIT, my dream of making it to an Ivy League school has finally come true. It is inevitable that I would be leaving my second home( VNIT ) in a few months time and bid goodbye to all that was familiar and dear to me for a long time.  So, while one part( the 20 year old :P) of me wishes not to leave the insti. and my best friends, another part( the budding 21 year  old) of me reminds me of the responsibility-ridden life in a new land ahead. A sad realization that this is the maximum carefree fun I am ever going to have in my life until probably in my old age post retirement :P.

Anyway, looking at the glass as half full rather than half empty, 21 ushers in a whole new range of things I can now enjoy. I am now ‘officially’ entitled to booze in most states of India and ( considering the party animal I am ) rock every pub in town :D. Not to forget the fact that I can now legally marry. All that’s missing however is a willing bride :P.

So, there I go. 20 turning 21. I thank my parents, God and my wonderful friends for everything I have today. Let’s hope the next 21 years are just as productive and wonderful as these 21 have been.

Cheers !!

The Last Good Day of the Year

I am incredibly happy right now. ‘Thoroughly refreshed’ infact, just the way one must ideally feel at the start of a new decade.

Having been roomies and great friends with Kotecha, Potnis and others of their ilk, I have been influenced by their infectious sense of travelling and adventure. Coupled with an intrinsic wanderlust from birth, I have turned into a travel aficionado of sorts. It’s been more than a year since I took off time exclusively for travel from the never-ending mire of internships, exams and applications-blah.  An excuse of celebrating the Last new year’s eve together as college-mates served as a catalyst to an already brewing thought process in my mind and lo! The plan to get our asses outta Nagpur took a firm shape with everyone [ Kotecha, Tyrant , Deng , Hara , Potnis , Deshmukh & Randy] jumping right in ( for they too like me were burdened with a new-found perpetual boredom induced by a heavily relaxed 8th sem schedule in the insti :). So, here we go :

30 Dec 2009

2100: Bus tickets purchased by Deshmukh and Randy.

2200: Taste freedom( oh, so sweet !!) on leaving the insti. Premises.

2300: Board the MP tourism Bus to Jabalpur.

31 Dec 2009 (The Last and the Longest  Good Day of the Year begins )

0000: Pee n Tea Break somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

0430: Reached Jabalpur, Auto to Bhedaghat.

0500: Not a single living soul, pitch darkness , a chilly moist breeze , 8 guys , a bottle of Rum and a shed.

0600: Status : Everyone alive, awake and merry thanks to the rum and some interesting exchange of words 🙂

0630: An annoyingly ‘hyperactive’ Kotecha threatens everyone ( who were sleeping and putting off getting up till the sun shone brightly ) with ‘dire perverse consequences’  and ‘SCARED and MORTIFIED ’ at his behavior, we all get up marching towards the Duandhar Waterfalls like an army out to invade a city promptly at the break of dawn.

0645: Eyes treated to a slowly brightening morning sky and majestic marble rocks sidelining a short yet amazingly beautiful waterfall and a consequent stream.

0730: An unpalatable breakfast at a resto. nearby followed by some of us choosing to take a dip into the very ‘inviting’ water of the stream and a few others out to answer the ‘sacred’ call of Mother nature in a manner closest to her that can be imagined.  While the former were left with a body-numbing experience and goosebumps galore on coming out of the water , the latter heroically survived a truly bowel-numbing experience on finishing their ‘business’ .

0815: ‘Fotu’-graphy sessions, poses , solo pics , group pics and not to forget pics of stray dogs, cute and adorable kids, weed-smoking ascetics all forming a part of Deng’s paraphernalia dominated this session.

0845: An exhausted lot-Us stop for a better tasting breakfast of jalebis, dosas and noodles.

0930: Walk uphill to reach ‘Chausatyogini’ Temple ( built 1155 AD ).Greeted by an intricately designed temple with statues of 64 yoginis circumscribing the inner sanctum of a temple adorned with Shiva-Lingam’s and Nandi’s .  Prayers are offered by the believers among us 🙂 while the rest soak in the cool and utterly pleasant breeze.

Chausatyogini Temple

1030: Walk down to the Magnum-Opus of Bhedaghat : the famed Marble Rocks and the lake around it. Site of the sensual ‘Raat ka Nasha’ song sequence by an overly bleached Kareena in the film’Asoka’ :  A 40Rs-50Mins breathtaking boat ride here justified every minute we had spent out here in Bhedaghat.  More ‘Fotu’-graphy and more awe….infact so enraptured were we that major embarrassment could be inflicted on us if someone were to take a picture of us staring openmouthed at these marvels of nature. The serenity of the surroundings temporarily dissolved all our tensions ( if any ) . The sight of an urchin fearlessly diving off a high rock into the water below only to be applauded  by awestruck onlookers like us and the interaction with a boatsman-cum-travel guide wonderfully explaining the history of the rocks in rhyming couplets will forever remain etched in our memory.

Marble Rocks

1200: Exhausted with being treated to so many wonderful sights in a few hours span, a declaration for a Grand lunch in a nearby resto. was announced.  So famished were we that even a strictly below-average plate of food given to us was devoured in no time.

1330: Long Lunch over . Time to leave 😦 .  Auto to return to Jabalpur.

1405: Partition of the group in halves at Jabalpur : While a plain and an uncomplicated ending awaited the ones returning to the ‘Orange City’ , the others were just about to embark on one of their most adventurous and challenging endeavors by heading off to a remote forest realm of Patalkot.

AARGHHHHHHHH……I don’t know if you have grown tired reading this , but I sure am tired writing now. I promise our experience in Patalkot will be penned down very soon but here’s the teaser for those looking forward to it :

All along the clock till then,

We were climbing the stairway to heaven;

Now, only time will tell,

If some of us will go downhill along the highway to HELL !!

Cheers and Wishing all the readers a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year !!

Count Grishnackh

Halo

A headstart on my background : I am your average Indian male engineering student with the usual joys and sorrows and expectedly,being a hosteler, I have  a close-knit group of friends : friends among whom I am as comfortable with in silence as I would be in an engaging discussion. There are a number of other friends whom I acknowledge as I wander in the hostel, the campus and the city. And then there are those special friends made on chance journeys and trips in almost no time who are forever weaved in the fabric of my memory.

In the past one year or rather the past few months, I have made an effort to meet a few of my friends from the good ol’ schooldays (with a little help  from social networking offcourse )and tried to rebuild any connections which I had unintentionally broken or not maintained till date.  That is when in a sudden moment , I realized that had I maintained these lost social linkages in place of the others which I made so far, would my life: both the present and the future be profoundly different ?

What if I joined some other school or college, stayed in some other city or hostel  ??  What if I hadn’t visited the places I did visit for the reasons that I had instead of some other ? Infact I have come to attribute my present condition (with all the ups and downs, all the pros and cons )to be a direct consequence of the social choices I have made albeit the little role of fate which oft decides whom you meet and where.  While, an oversimplification of my ‘social choices’ might be nothing but the age-old paradigm of ‘the merits and demerits of the company a person keeps’ or a person’s ‘destiny’ in general, I choose to believe that I am what I am today not entirely because of myself but due to the people who have been around me but isn’t it ironical that in the first place I played a major role in deciding the people whom I surround myself with ?

The spiral of life is quite similar, isn’t it ? Starting from: Have I made all the wrong choices or all the right choices ?? Can my choices fit either bill perfectly ? Is it even possible for me to decide without trying ? Do I have the right person besides me or the wrong one ?? Descending into a chaos of unanswered questions, this spiral is best seen as a halo whose brightest and outermost rings are signified by our social priorities.

Finally, I leave it to you, the reader to decide whether I am plainly muddled up by confusing various threads of life or if you too have individually felt nearly similar things about the stuff I have mentioned here.

Count Grishnackh