Showing posts from 2011

A Time Travel Through Incredible India

This and the past few posts, form the complete story of some of the most incredible things I experienced and saw during my week-long tour of Madhya Pradesh. To make it easier for you to go through, I shall index them in this pilot post, and hyperlink each place to its respective post.

A Walk in a Pre-historic ParkA Boat Ride through a Marble PalaceCave Paintings of the Early ManStupas at SanchiMuslim Palaces at Mandu

A Time Travel through Incredible India - 5 : Muslim Palaces at Mandu

This post was later submitted during an internship program for Youth Ki Awaaz, India's leading youth platform. You can read the article here as well.

We are all aware of the monumental standards that the Mughals set when it came to building palaces and pleasure domes for themselves - yeah, we've all seen the Taj Mahal, Humayun's Tomb et al.

Now little known to many, before the Taj Mahal was designed, the architects drew inspiration from another, albeit less grander Muslim piece of architecture. That, and various other exquisite Muslim palaces and pavilions form the fifth and the closing part of my Madhya Pradesh travelogue.

We leave Bhopal and travel by road to Indore. The distance is a little less than 200 kilometers and can be covered in two-and-a-half to three hours, on a usual day.

Our place of interest is not Indore however. It is 100 kilometers south west of Indore, and this place is the ruined city of Mandu. Established in the 10th century by Raja Bhoj, it gained p…

A Time Travel through Incredible India - 4 : Stupas at Sanchi

This post takes us back to Bhopal and then some 60 kilometers to its north west - to Sanchi.

Everyone has heard of Sanchi. We've all read about it in our History books, seen the beautiful Stupas that make Sanchi so important today, in print.

Trust me when I say, the real thing is a totally different deal.

Back in the times of the Maurya Empire (circa 250 BC), when the newly found faith of Buddhism was fragmenting, a few hundred years after the death of founder Gautam Buddha, it was King Ashok who took upon himself the monumental task of propagating the religion and methodically channelising its progress.

And thus the construction of the Stupas was started. Stupas are essentially round, mound like structures, housing significant Buddhist relics; Today they are some of the most iconic historical structures of India, and with good reason. When India won her independence in 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru was quick enough to recognise the Ashokan Stupas as a aymbol of the very beginning of the…

A Time Travel through Incredible India - 3 : Cave paintings of the early man

This post was also published for Youth Ki Awaaz here.

After the visual treat that was the Narmada valley, we leave Jabalpur and move on to the capital city of Madhya Pradesh - Bhopal.

Now there isn't really much to see in Bhopal except for a couple of really huge lakes, which have given Bhopal, the name - city of lakes. However Bhopal is close to two extremely important tourist spots, both of which are important enough to have been declared as World Heritage Sites.

The first one is far less known than the second, but is equally as enchanting in a different way, and forms the content for this post. It is only 45 kilometers to the south of Bhopal, but the road conditions are bad enough to make a Humvee think twice before venturing ahead. Which affected our rattly old Chevy rather badly, for the information - resulting in two consecutive punctures.

 This place is known as the Bhimbetka, and it is home to some of the oldest cave paintings known to man. Ten thousand years or more ago,…

A Time Travel through Incredible India - 2 : A Boat Ride through a Marble Palace

Our next stop takes us to Jabalpur - 227 km to the west of Amarkantak and some 70 odd km from the National Fossil Park at Ghughua - which we covered in the previous post.

There is nothing spectacularly historical or archaeological in this city - but what sets this city apart is its proximity to one of the finest river valleys in the country - that of the Narmada. We've all read about the Narmada in our geography books - how it's the traditional boundary between North India and South India, and how it's one of the few peninsular rivers to flow westwards from its source in Amarkantak (which you might recall from my previous post) to the Arabian Sea, through a valley between the Vindhyas (to its north) and the Satpura (to its south) range.

Quite close to the city of Jabalpur, is a place called Bhedaghat in the Jabalpur district of Madhya Pradesh, where the Narmada carves out a gorge through rocks made out of pure marble. And the breathtaking beauty of this marble-valley is o…

A Time Travel through Incredible India - 1 : A walk in a prehistoric park

This is part one of a three (or more) part tour-de-excellence through Madhya Pradesh, the very heart of the Indian subcontinent.

Indeed, when I set out for this journey, little did I know that this would turn out to be one of the most incredible travelling experiences I've ever been on - which is a significant thing, considering that Jammu-Kashmir and Kerala are the only two states in India that I haven't been to. So, I was both apprehensive yet expectant of the "wonders" that I would behold in the course of ten odd days.

 With this and the next few blog posts, I wish to recount the experiences that I have had in the past few days, and hope to take you, the reader down to the very beginning of life on earth, to the roots of the present day homo sapien and some astonishing milestones of Indian culture - which still affects our day to day life in the 21st century.

Our journey begins on the road, aboard a rattly Chevrolet Tavera, at Amarkantak. Amarkantak, situated in …

Walking into Mordor

I have been pouring over Google Maps for the past few days, for finding routes and more interesting places to visit in Madhya Pradesh. And then this idea propped in my mind - the result of which was rather hilarious.

I love these tiny Easter Eggs Google keeps planting in arbitrary places in their products. <3

Brillaint, ain't it? :)

Also, Merry Christmas to everyone.


I haven't written about Tintin in any of my 140 odd posts on this blog, and I'm dreadfully sorry for that. A great deal of injustice indeed, to what had pretty much been the holy grail of my childhood.

It started out in first standard, with my father and I, together reading Red Rackham's Treasure, and it slowly grew into an obsession that occupied the better part of my 12 years of school life, in which I read, re-read, re-re-read till I knew virtually every single panel on each of the 22 books by heart. From random addresses of the houses of minor characters, to the number on the licence plate of a random car that appeared in some random panel in some book.

When Tintin was announced for the big screen last year, I was to put it mildly, apprehensive. To put it not so mildly, I was waiting for it like this:

Yeah. I scoured the internet for news, for trailers, teasers and the sort, and kept talking about it to my friends and of course, with my father, who is as much of a Tin…

Why this meme?

My first attempt at a meme. For all those so inclined.

In case you you have been in India in the past few weeks and haven't been socially cocooned in an internet-tight bubble of ignorance, you would have come across this somewhere. May the Grim Reaper bless your soul in case you haven't.

Like it, hate it, share it, download it; just don't crop my name out and call it your own. :-)

A dramatic turn of events : quite literally for Dream Theater

This was written long back (almost a month and a half) for my college newsletter, the Fine Print. Just thought of putting it up here as well.


The concept of bands changing members is as old as bands themselves. At times, it is a traumatic incident, often tragic; often it is musical differences that makes members part ways. At other times it is just the members being at loggerheads with each other that spells disaster (remember the band that was once Guns n’ Roses as opposed to the total abomination that exists today).

When Mike Portnoy, founding member and drummer of Dream Theater, and one of the most celebrated drummers in the world today, decided to go on a hiatus from his band, the music community was a little more than shell shocked. For Portnoy had been the be-all and end-all of one of the most successful progressive music acts ever. The departure of Portnoy, and the introduction of Mike Mangini however, did help Dream Theater get a degree of public attention that they would othe…

2011 Formula 1 Airtel Indian Grand Prix - a look back.

what did I see yesterday?

was it the real life? was it just fantasy?

My head still reels when I think of all that I witnessed in the past three days. The colours! The speed! The sounds!

Oh boy oh boy.

Wasn't this all that I had been living for all these years? Wasn't this all that I had been dreaming of ever since I had watched Formula 1 back in Jamshedpur with my father - myself, no older than 4 years back then?

It all felt vaguely disorienting. The whole spectacle. I couldn't bring myself to terms with the fact that I had just watched a live Formula 1 Grand Prix. When had I, even a year back thought that I would be watching one so soon? Agreed, the hype surrounding an Indian GP had been floating around for quite sometime. But then again, the fact that this is India had given me enough doubts and riddled all my hopes with ample skepticism. ( which I'm sure Metallica fans in Delhi and around will understand :P )

No longer though.

I look back at the whirlwind that was th…

Sports in general, Formula 1 in particular

This post begins with some rather opinionated comments about sports in general. Given that my sporting tastes were nipped in the bud by my own lethargy and disinterest, and that I mostly yawn while watching stuff like the Twenty Best Goals That Shook the World, you shouldn't let my opinions bother you one single bit. Because if you do, there'll be one of those famous word-battles in the comment form following this post, that have plagued quite a few of my blog posts till date.

Notwithstanding, I stick to being the opinionated douche that I am, and proceed.

Opinion #1. Every sport is unique.

However, as with most hastily stated assertions, there's a but to it. Which brings us to opinion #2

Every sport is unique, but down somewhere, they're all the same.

Yes, I love creating such situations where my reader is forced into being an indignant little pigeon that frets about in disagreement making that weird low frequency noise that pigeons make. Much like an ill-tuned bass …

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot : how to set it up right.

I had been using Ubuntu 10.10 for the past one year, and to be honest, I liked it a lot. Save for a few problems in the very beginning , it worked seamlessly and survived every inch of stress I subjected it to, from screwing around with device drivers, and (unsuccessfully) trying to enable multi-touch in an Inspiron 1545.

I had a myriad desktop environments as well, apart from the usual Gnome. There was KDE, Xfce, Unity, Unity 2D, as well as the new Gnome, Gnome 3, and when 11.04 Natty released last April, I contemplated  a lot on whether to upgrade or not. Then wisely chose not to. Several of my friends did, and while the new Unity interface took getting used to (not for me, I had already been using Unity alongside 10.10) there were many other issues that dissuaded me from upgrading.

Now however, with 11.10 Oneiric out a couple of weeks back or so, I finally decided to take the step. Installing was the easiest part of setting up Oneiric on my computer. But then, a quick and easy ins…

An old age rant


That is actually what this post is. It has some random and totally unrelated things, off the top of my mind put in one place. Without further ado, here goes:

One, I have my very own domain name now. Thanks to my uber-awesome mum and dad, they gifted me with the best possible long distance birthday gift possible viz, a .com domain, Yes, you heard that right. So now, will actually take you to what was (and still is),

I shall do a this.

Two, Durga Puja, and how epically awesome it was here in Pilani. Boy, oh boy, I miss those five days so much now. Therefore,

And a +1 if you got what that meant.

Three, the Computer Science Association of BITS Pilani just pulled off a pretty awesome weekend full of events last to last week. Why do I put it on my blog? Because I am the coordinator for CSA and yeah, it felt pretty satisfactory after it ended. It was called The Codestock Festival, and it had five components. There was…

A tribute to JK Rowling, and Harry Potter

The year 2000.
I still remember that day, when my father presented to me a paperback version of a certain book called 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'. I also remember, how after reading through the first few pages (the first chapter was called The Worst Birthday, I recollect ) I had closed the book and kept it somewhere and ... well, yes, had stopped reading it. It made no sense to me. It seemed all too imaginary and hocus-pocus for me after the fairly more realistic and less-fantastical Enid Blytons and Tintins, that had been my constant companions and sleeping partners for the past few years. (yes, don't you raise eyebrows now. flying chairs and gnomes and pixies were less fantastical than a jet of green light that killed people, or so I felt back then)
Now, however, when I look back on that day, I can only have a good laugh at the thing that was me twelve years back.

Yesterday marked the end of that era of my life that had begun on that day in the year 2000. …

The message

If there is one thing that I have gained after seven weeks of summer internship, it is the sound knowledge of the working of Eastern Railways and the Kolkata Metro. This story is a direct culmination of all that knowledge. Also, pardon my Hindi if in some places it is incorrect. (Update : many thanks Vishala Arya for the corrections :P )


"Poroborti station, Belgachia. Platform dan dike." "Agla station, Belgachia. Platform, dahine taraf." "The next station is Belgachia. The platform is on the right side."
Rajat looked up from the magazine he was reading as the automated voice sounded over his head. He gave an exasperated groan, and cursed the Kolkata Metro announcements to himself. A 40 minute trip from one one terminal station to the other, spanning the whole of Kolkata from the south to the north, fraught with annoyances such as cackling automated female voices and sweaty co-passengers, wasn't the sort of start he had been expecting to an internship.…