Monday, December 08, 2008

A trip to French country side

The last Saturday (06/12) I decided to go trekking in the French country side. It is now a month that I am trying to earn a living in this beautiful city of Grenoble on the foothills of Alps. Its little cold around this time of the year but that did not deter me from my plans. It had two benefits from my point of view, first, I get to see the French country side and second, I get to lose a few pounds which I have a little too many. So the target was to reach the old French fort Bastille on the top of a mountain from there climb for another kilometer to Le Mémorial National des Troupes de Montagne and from there downhill all the way to St. Martin Vinoux around 6kms from the memorial. The road takes you through some relatively steep descent and then you enter the French counrty side covered with lush green grass even in this winter. Away from the madding crowds of the city, where every sound is either of a car or another vehicle, the surrounding is filled with silence. A silence broken only by the barking of guard dogs. Well, I will come to that subject later. The city of Grenoble is located around the summit of the Drac and the Isere. In the city you can't hear the sound of the river, partly because of the sound pollution and partly due to the dam ahead which controls the flow. But in the country side there is nothing to stop the river from flowing from one rock to other and the music of the flowing river is remarkable on the background of total silence. So coming back to the trek, the first few kilometers were event free and then when I entered one of the villages where houses are guraded by dogs I really got nasty welcome from the four footed devils. They probably can't get out of the fenced compound but their every action will let you know they want to do so and bite you to pieces. One house in particular was more scary in the sense that it had six hunting dogs guarding it. Anyway very soon I learnt to ignore them, but people with feeble heart should be careful. The mountain tracks here are differnet from the ones in India in the sense that there are less people and no mules. Eventually after trekking for almost one and half hours I reached my destination. Frankly speaking its a bus stop on route #3 but anyway the trek through the mountain was fulfilling.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wine, snow and the strike

It is now three weeks that I am on French soil. Thousands of miles far from my home I am trying to make life from scratch. Hostel hopping had been my moto all these years. But now I have to go looking for mundane stuff like appartment, grocery etc etc. Well thats part of life I have come to believe. I started my stay with a bottle of French wine, though it is widely believed that original French wines are no more and all the good Frnech wines trace their ancestery to Californian wines. Well its a different story, what I meant to say is, come to France and wine or `vin' in local dialect should be your starting point. For the last few weeks I have tasted quite a few wines mostly the very moderately priced ones. Only problem here, on the street very few people will understand anything other than French. Well so far so good, then came the snow. That is not so good for me. Though it seems quite exciting to stay in a area covered with snow but the accompanying cold and wet weather is sometimes extremely irritating. Especially when you have to travel to your lab or go to the shop to grab your grocery. I have yet to face the heavy snow nut the slight snow that I faced has sent shivers down my spine. The last thing new for me here is a French strike. I say a French strike because in India where I come from a strike means to cripple everything. If in the process a few people end up dead then it is a very successful strike. But here strikes are completely different. Say for instance the workers of the canteen where I have lunch daily were on strike on day. It is not that they did not prepare food, they did what was required of them, but outside the canteen they set up another stall serving sandwiches, coke and water free of cost to all those who support their demand and do not have food in the canteen. It was amazing to see how eagerly people were supporting their cause. There was also option of giving some voluntary donation for the food being served. Things like this may sound completely amazing or astonishing but then different people different culture.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Delhi Metro

Well this is a new phenomena may be 5-6 years old. The concept of mass transit system though existent in Kolkata (erstwhile Calcutta) in a small way has now caught up in National Capital Region. The days are gone when you would see sights of people hanging from the doors of a blue line bus to get to their office or back to their homes. The history of Delhi Metro can be read on wikipedia. So, no point in writing about it. What I am going to write is about the mass of humanity it serves each day and the varying flavors one can see while you are in transit. I had to visit Delhi recently and I used this new phenomenon quite often for my transit purposes. Even while traveling alone, just looking at the people around you can be a very exciting experience, though it can earn a few scornful look when you give a little longer than cursory glance towards the female of human species (beautiful or not is debatable). Looking around you, it is quite easy to separate out the first timers like me from the seasoned riders. Take for instance first timers like me will be holding on to something to balance themselves when the train accelerates or decelerates close to a station but the seasoned once will stand without any support and on top of it will conveniently read a novel or send long sms to their friends without even blinking an eyelid. On the reading habits there is a distinction, one can spot a few riders intently reading something. If it’s a male the most probable thing would be a newspaper with the sports or economy section in front of his face and if it’s a female it can be anything from a Jeffery Archer to a MBA coaching institute practice paper. Then there are the loud band wallahs with their loud clothes and high decibel mobile phones on which the latest hits would be there for everyone to listen absolutely free of cost. Only catch, the band wallah gets to pick the song you are just an odd listener. Another hot activity is talking on the mobile with the hands free plugged into the ear and the hands busy sending sms. The most astonishing part of the metro is the absence of red blotches that one would invariably see on the corners of all government and semi-government buildings. Yes, the pan masala gang is missing. Though eating or drinking is prohibited in all facilities of Delhi metro but sometimes you can find some occasional homo sapiens huffing and puffing in with an odd fruit in hand. Out of couple of instance I came across people eating on the train one instance was quite funny. There was this lady who boarded the overcrowded train with an apple in her hand. Once settled she took her first bite and at the very same moment the public address system started its monotonic announcement that eating and drinking inside any metro premises is prohibited. Well she might have been deaf, since she continued with her endeavor. On a more serious note, one can see the father eager to get back home or the mother worrying about her kids back home or the odd couples sharing brief moments of intimacy and the list goes on. You can also spot the odd beings vacating their seats for the elderly or the rude vehemently occupying his ladies only seat even though a few ladies are standing around. Then there are those able bodied ones who evict another being from a seat saying the seat is reserved for handicapped people just because the other probably can’t read the signs pasted there. Another notable thing about the metro is its cleanliness, clearly telling the world if there is a will even in India things can work the way they should. This metro is just the beginning. A lot more cities in this country will benefit from such transit systems specially places like Kanpur where four people are stuffed like cattle in a space just big enough for three people.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Michael Strogoff - Jules Verne

Well for the past couple of years I was looking for this book. Finally thanks to Project Gutenberg I got a eBook. It was in html and the link to the Gutenberg version is given below. Being in India this book is pretty costly by my standards. So I went about converting this one into printable pdf file and finally the book is ready. Here I would like to share this one with other bookworms like me who can't afford it.

PDF Link

LaTex Source File

Project Gutenberg Link

Anyway I will add more books as and when I convert and may be add some reviews when I finish reading.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Back Home

Very soon I will be going on my vacation. But this year it is different. I will be going to West bengal, my home state. Though I was just born there but still that small itch to say that part of the country home is there. Categorically speaking I am homeless. Spent my childhood in UP where I came after spending years in Bangalore and Delhi. When in school father used to take us home on a long vacation in the summers, but then it was just another day in my life nothing special. Things changed when I went to college and I developed the habit of reading or started seeing the world outside the cocoon I grew up while living with my parents. I felt though I have spent the most of my life outside that state but my home is there. I am alien in this place, though well accepted in the folds of this society but somewhere deep inside a sense of alienation was there. Initially I used to tell my father lets go and settle in Calcutta(now Kolkata), he used to say no I will live where my father used to live thats Barddhaman. Now I understand why is it so. I am just a bong who spent his childhood in UP and spent the summers in West Bengal. But my father was born and brought up in Barddhaman. All his childhood memories has its association to that place. Left home at 17 he made a life for himself and after 33 long years he went back to that very place where he had his tryst with sand and soil. Today I am trying to get somewhere out of this country to earn my livelihood or rather I am forced to. Well why that would be another story. But the fear that torments me is where it is that I would call home. I left home when I was 17 to pursue what you call higher studies. Eleven years down the lane and I already feel tired, longing to spread my legs on a veranda sipping coconut water or strolling down the cheap book stores of Kolkata looking for a bargain or eagerly waiting for the moglai paratha on a road side stall. For the first time in my life I feel like I want to go home.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Monday, April 07, 2008

Pick and Choose

Long ago I was a hard working PhD student but now days I have become a de facto PhD student. With my work complete I have nothing else to do except for writing, whether its thesis or paper or such wishful thinking of mine as this one. But I learnt few beautiful things while doing this PhD. To start with I came to know what not to be done with a PhD student or a PhD program though the fact remains I am yet to learn what to be done for a PhD. It is quite interesting to note that though in few months or years I will be called Dr. so and so but I am yet to realize what exactly needs to be done to finish a PhD. Once I was told by my friend and senior that for a PhD you need to find a supervisor who would give you a definite time frame, like he says “I will in all likeliness would give your PhD in five years” and you may do something absolutely rubbish but as long as your supervisor says you are making progress you should be cheerful. Well I am not fully convinced with these, because in this case, time in absoluteness has no meaning unless starting point is defined and unlike many other things progress is a vector quantity. What if the supervisor says you are making progress but doesn’t define the direction? So all the time you had been cheerful about your progress when in reality you should have been worried and raising your blood pressure. It may seem to some that increasing blood pressure is not a good way to live, but believe me it’s the best way to get your PhD. Let me explain, with increasing blood pressure you would become more irritated and then a point will come when you will start feeling homicidal to everything in general and that’s the time when your PhD will be set in front of you as a tranquillizer. The logic is simple, until and unless you literally die to get a thing you won’t understand the worth of it and the supervisor too won’t get the satisfaction of saving his own life. Well I have thought it as a moto, if ever one becomes a supervisor he shouldn’t give a PhD until and unless he sees his student carrying a pistol or long knife under the belt.

Well that was the first lesson. The second lesson, though you don’t need a PhD to learn it but a PhD will make you feel it first hand for a prolonged period so that it remains embedded in your system, if put in words it will sound like this, if you have power flaunt it and make everybody around you feel miserable. It doesn’t require much effort to do it. Tell everyone under you to follow certain rules and openly defy them yourself. That will give you a sense of having a say over others. Talk about ethics and morality without even bothering to see where you are standing in regards to the above two quantities. Ask everyone to be on time to a task while you take your own time. Tell them again and again that they are a useless piece of shit whose very existence depends on your whims and fancies. If something good happens its your credit and if something goes wrong find the person responsible and make him feel that he is good for nothing even though you are the one who is responsible for mess, and while making such accusations don’t even bother to see that the number of years the convict has put doing the same work which by stroke of luck has gone wrong this time. Last but not least you are always right and everybody else is only right when you have nothing to say on that matter. But I feel this is still less, the feeling of being powerful to me will come when I will make everybody under me to call a cow, a dog, and over and above they will truly believe it. So another moto, if ever one has power he should flaunt it and flaunt it to maximum.

Well that’s not the end of it, there is one more lesson I got, that is if you are in power than you are the one you get to pick and choose while others should follow your diktat. This fact I learnt from some simple events taking place around me. It is true for any place that out of all the option available to person some will be good and some bad. In most cases a person will be tempted to choose the good options if he can do so and more so if that person is paying hard cash for the end product, in this case a PhD. As a personal note I would prefer a supervisor who has excellent track record for research as most places while employing me would demand the same. So a time in a bad place will mean more time for me in a bad state. But those in power will decide otherwise. Your bad state is your responsibility even though I am responsible for it. And then they will adopt a procedure which will suit their taste. They will ask you visit some people whom you can join as a miserable fellow, then fill up a form in which you indicate your preferences as to whom you would like to join to feel the least miserable and then some hungry wolves will pour on your form as if you are some delicious piece of meat to be devoured with instant delight. In the end a decision will come out and most probably you will be sent to anybody other than your first choice. But here two lessons needs to be learnt, first if you are in power you get to pick and choose, second if you are not in power make your choices so that the powerful feel happy and you look unhappy even though you got what you wanted. But then it adds another moto, if one ever gets to pick and choose, he should pick and choose in a way so as to the effected feels miserably cheated or deliberately put to suffer, it will depend on the effected to make their choices wisely. I still wonder whether Hitler or Attila the Hun did PhDs. Well it would definitely be funny to say Dr. Attila the Hun. Anyway never mind……

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Few moments with a friend and Jacobs Creek

I promised my friend a treat on the occasion of my open seminar. Monetary consideration had forced my to postpone it again and again for last couple of months. Finally today I got for him what I promised. A bottle of Jacob's Creek 2006 Chardonnay white wine. Well a little expensive, and he got the cake and fish fry. Both of us prefer the wine chilled. The chilling plant, few kilos of ice in bucket full of chilled water. Well our party started a little late around 10:30 in the night. With the customary cheers, which I am scared of because I feel in that process I might break the glassware, our celebration started. It was a brilliant evening. The result a mild intoxication and a full stomach. A brilliant pale yellow liquid with a sweet smell should be a rough description of this particular sample. As for the taste you should drink it to feel it. The party ended with a walk and photo session by my expert photographer friend. Its a different thing that I had to get the original pic from him by showering some nice adjectives otherwise what I got was his masterly cropped and edited version. Well in the end I must say a really great day with Jacob and my photographer friend.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Couch Potato Nama

When I was young,
I was just not a mere mortal,
I could command the army of titans,
I could run the length of the equator,
I had a voice sweeter than nightingale,
I had the strength of hundred elephants,
I could eat every morsel in God's kitchen,
I could swim the length of Amazon,
I could dive the depths of Pacific,
I could sculpt like Michelangelo,
I could climb the highest peaks,
I could paint like da Vinci,
Alas! Those days are gone,
The memories still fresh,
But what I do now?
I will tell you later.

PS: Look at the shape.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The story of Mr Horse

Once it so happened that in a certain farm the laborers started demanding more money. Their masters tried to fend off their demands as long as they could, but finally convened a meeting. This is what happened there.

People present Mr Pig, Mr Dog, Mr Fox, Mr Bat, Mr Grasshopper, Mr Donkey and Mr Horse, labor representative. Mr Pig being the highest authority said, look Mr Horse your demands for more money is completely unfair. We do know that the government has sanctioned more money for laborers but we feel that you and your kind don't deserve any more than what you are getting. Secondly the farm doesn't have any money to be distributed among laborers. We have to take care of the managers and Mr Dog will tell you laborers are our last priority on the welfare list. First the managers, then the low level managers, then the still low level managers, then the workers and then the laborers. At this point Mr Horse interrupted, but sir the government has sanctioned the money for us. Then it has to be given to us, it can't be spent on anything else.

"Shut up! Mr Horse" shouted Mr Fox, "You have no right to tell us how we are going to spend the money we receive from the government."

"We have told you there is no money left for the laborers then you should go back and tell your friends there won't be any money" added Mr Bat, "It is your responsibility to convince your fellow laborers that your demands are unfair and above all where is the proof that government has taken a decision to give you scums more money"

Mr Horse having no proof listened to all the insults showered on him and his kind without a word. But he was determined to get the proof.

After this meeting all other people except Mr Horse again called a meeting to discuss the issue since they new someday Horse is going to get the proof and then they will have to face the music.

Again Mr Pig started "Look people once they have the proof we might have to pay them the money. We all know that the money has been spent on the new constructions in the farm and we all have benefited from it explicitly and implicitly. Now we have to think of ways to put down this rebellion before it blows out of proportion."

At this point Mr Grasshopper said "Look Mr Pig, the market forces are against us. There are more lucrative avenues then working in a farm. We are falling short of good laborers. We must do something about it and money looks to be the most lucrative option"

"What good laborers?" shouted Mr Donkey, "Good laborers means, more brain and more demands, demand for equality, demand for respect, think Mr Hopper, how will we be able to make them our slaves then? Who will butter us day in and day out? The point is we don't need just laborers we need slaves. Even you don't pay much to your privately hired laborers. And I hope you see things the same way I do."

Everybody present in the meeting echoed there support for Mr Donkey. But the fact remained that something needs to be done, the billion dollar question, what exactly? The meeting went on for few more hours over numerous cups of coffee and tea with cutlets and cashew nuts and other dry fruits brought in once Horse had left.

When the people were busy making a strategy Mr Horse wrote to his friend Mr Mule in another farm to get him a copy of the letter from where he saw the government decision. Mr Mule was swift and the next pigeon to the farm brought the required proof and then again Mr Horse went to the council and this time on seeing the proof they had a different song to sing. Mr Pig as usual started and said look Mr Horse we have given a thought to your proposal and we think you scums deserve more money though I should say when I was a laborer I faced lot of hardship.

Mr Horse listened to all this but thought what can I do about your hardship, I or my friends are not responsible we were not even born at that time. He was not even listening to Pig. Horse sat through the grueling session when all the people one by one pointed out how hard it was for them as a laborer and even they laughed on their silly jokes like the fodder in their time were sliced a little larger then it is done today making their meal less tasty. They even pointed out how automated tail wagging machine had to be bought from the market so that they could keep their managers happy all time because for people not accustomed to wagging tail it was really hard to do it all the time. At this time Mr Pig and Mr Hopper had the sympathy of all other people present since Pig's tail is short and twisted which was really unfit for wagging even by automated tail wagger and Hopper had to surgically place a tail at its end which till today keeps wagging. Well lots said about their woes in their labor days Mr Horse waited for them to announce something. Only when the matter of money came up he became attentive. But this time it was Mr Fox talking. Then Mr Fox started "Well Mr Horse we have decided that starting from this month laborers will receive the new rates fixed by the government. You should understand that it is not possible for us to give the new rates as from the day formulated by government as we have already spent all the money in improving the infrastructure of the farm. You should understand that it is the greatness of Mr Pig and this council that you would be receiving the new rates. I think we should consider the matter closed henceforth"

At this point Mr Horse simply said "Ok then the matter is closed for this council I think I should write to Mr Lion about the farm and let him know how things are running here. Even Mr Rabbit and Mr Zebra would be happy to print this matter as to how the council is forcing the best of the laborers to abandon government run farms and go to privately owned farms. I think Mr Fox, government do spend a lot of money to keep this place running and looking at the constructions going on in the farm Mr Hound will be happy to pay a visit and sniff around a little. Anyway good day my good sirs"

Saying this, the horse left quietly and the council was as silent as a grave for the next few minutes. Horse having said this Mr Pig convened a meeting of all laborers the very next day.

The meeting started around 10 in the morning and Mr Pig went up to the elevated platform to address the crowd. And thus began a well rehearsed symphony of lies and deceits. The meeting ended with Mr Pig being showered with rotten egg and tomatoes. He was escorted out by his faithful guards led by one Mr Mole. That very day Horse met Mr Lion and told him the about the going ons of the place.

The day after Mr Lion himself came to the place and met Mr Pig. They were closeted in the meet for several hours and then Mr Lion came out and made the announcement that he was convinced with Mr Pig and his friends that laborers are scums and they don't deserve more money. Hence the government withdraws its order for increment. Now you scums of this blessed lace go back to work or you will face my music. Everybody looked around but could not understand this sudden change.

"But Sir you had said you will fix the issue" said Mr Horse to Mr Lion

"Shut up Horse! Or I will have you skinned alive" shouted Mr Lion to Mr Horse.

Few days after this event Mr Horse and his friends disappeared from the farm. Rumor has it that they were taken and skinned alive as said by Mr Lion. The visit of Mr Lion still remains a mystery, rumormongers say that probably Mr Pig was not sending the Lion's share at the proper place.



Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cinema

In my past few years of existence I have seen numerous cinemas. Cinema as it is defined a series of frames put together with some background score and dialogues. The definition above is as crude as to say that a painting is few grams of different color put together on a canvas to suit the maker’s ideas. Cinema is art form full of celebration, desire, love, hate and all other forms of human emotions. Its different issue all together how we define what is a good or bad film. A good film for me may be utterly boring for somebody else. But that is not the point I want to convey. I have only seen a few good movies among the endless collection of good ones. I would tell you story as to how I got interested in it.
In my initial years of higher education cinema halls were the only source of my cinema viewing. Every friday night a new release and I would be there to view the late night show. Constraints on my pocket would force me to go for the cheapest tickets where in you would have to sit on the first two rows of the hall. By the end of the show your neck would be really tired moving around from right to left and vice verse. Well, on the first row the screen would be so close sometimes that you can't whole of it in one go. Then there were theatres which were not so costly and I would take up a seat in the back and watch the movie without bothering about my neck. In those days I would mostly watch hindi movies. They were sometimes good but somehow it was not fulfilling.
Then few years later I got my own desktop and it opened numerous options for me. This is when my real love with cinema began. Then I realized what was missing from the cinema I was viewing. What exactly got me fixed to the chair was a movie named "The Shawshank Redemption". No singing around trees like the regular hindi stuff. A plain narrative starring Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman and others. That particular movie made me think what life is worth. There I got the word "hope". Though it may sound hope is sometimes misleading but sometimes it may be the only thing we have. Hope is everything.
I watched many more in between and then there were a few Satyajit Ray ones. "Goopi Gayan Bagha Bayan", "Apur Sansar", "Pather Panchali". Goopi Gayan Bagha Bayan made in the days when special effect was absent but would have beaten hands down many western movies on special effects. For one of his movies Stayajit Ray had to wait one year because the kind of flower field he wanted for a shot was completely destroyed by a hard of cattles and then they had to come back next year for that shot. It is just not these facts which make those movies great but the composition. The amount of human feelings these movies are filled with and the extent of attachment the viewer feels with the protagonist makes them great.
Then came some westerners, really nail biting ones. "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", "For a Few Dollars More". I really don't know what to say about them. They were simply superb, made to perfection with mind boggling background score. And watching these movies childhood memories of watching hindi westerners become very vivid and then you feel how hollow most of those movies are. Then came the gangster ones, "The Godfather", you watch it and straight away you add Al Pacino to your fav actor list. Well did I mention Morgan Freeman was already there? Anyway he was on my list with Shawshank. The list of such movies which had influence on me will be endless but here I would talk about two more movies which I would like to share with you.
The first one "Forrest Gump". This movie forced me to think about the very human nature of hero worship. Forrest just wanted to run a long way and the world started saying is he running for peace, is he running for this or that, it asked the basic question on the face of human civilization as to why there should always be a cause for any action. Why it can't be just that I run a few extra miles on my own or why is it that I can't do something without thinking of the fame and money I will gain out of it? Is it to too difficult to realize that some things are just for the sake that I feel happy doing it?
The second one would be "Nuovo Cinema Paradiso". To me it was celebration of cinema. Me and my friends even formed a group named on this cinema. Well about the movie you better watch it. I am too poor with words to say anything about this one in this piece. Watching all those good movies made me realize it is possible to make movies without any dance numbers or love songs with dancing around trees. What makes a good cinema is its ability to make viewers make a part of the story, absorb him and force him to think and ask questions freely. It is more or less a mirror to the society we live in. Where on earth do you find that a boy is declaring his love for a girl dancing around trees? Well these are my experiences and feelings and I can keep on writing endlessly but I would prefer to stop here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bon Voyage Friend!!!!!!

I don't know how to begin, but I will begin anyway. Today I met a real life Andy Dufresne. Well he is the protagonist of the movie "The Shawshank Redemption". He was wrongly accused of killing his wife and her lover and sentenced to two life imprisonments back to back. He served nineteen out of his fifty year sentence and then tunneled through the walls of the prison to his freedom. He used a rock hammer to dig a hole in the wall. A geologist will tell you what it takes is pressure and time. I feel sometimes how remarkable it is for us human beings that we decide when to cry out with a full heart "freedom". Freedom though a very remarkable word but has its interpretation fraught with ambiguities.

Well coming back to the subject of real Andy, our Andy or rather my Andy today said no to something which I feel he should have done long ago. Well then he wouldn't have been Andy and surprised us all other inmates with his act. He will be gone soon and we will be talking about him, he did this, he did that, even he scared the other fellow etc etc. Our Andy is a small guy, probably one of the last ones whom anyone would be afraid off.

Now you must be asking what exactly happened. To be frank a mouse belled the cat. But this is not important but what is important is to understand how it happened and how I see it. Well our Andy is making a new beginning, some or most will say its a five years of your prime time wasted, but I see it differently, I see it as his declaration to say "I won't breathe this damp air anymore. I want to breathe fresh air." I don't want to pass a judgment as to whether the decision is good or bad but its definitely a decision worth noting. Even though we say life is small but the impact of a decision made in our early life can have good or bad effects later. If I have to see it in today's context it is a bad decision but on the long run it may be so it is one of the best he ever took.

It is one thing to sail in the ocean with a pack or the known seas but to go where no one has gone or to challenge whom no one has challenged takes courage which no words can describe. To begin with my Andy came to seek the truth and scientific truth it was. Science as always is full of surprises and it comes only when you think freely and with an open heart, than you once in a million time see the new light, a light which no one had ever seen before and ecstasy of seeing the unknown is beyond my comprehension. But it cannot be felt when the air you breathe is black at the core. I live in such an environment, I have never felt the ecstasy of seeing one such light but breathing the black air within I have read countless stories of people seeing the light. I have also read of millions who went to seek the light but were drowned in the ocean of time. It is true that only one in a million who try will see the light that you seek but how do you know you are not the one unless you jump in the race. My Andy jumped in the race. I wish him all the luck in his endeavor to seek the new light but he has to maintain his course and speed. I salute him for his determination to seek the light. I truly wish he breathes clean and free air which is nothing but a distant dream for me. Bon voyage Andy!!!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

My experience with Restaurants in Kanpur

Well I have spent around six and half years in this city, Kanpur. I felt like I should write something about its restaurants. Well I will be writing about only those that I have visited. Their may be some better ones that I have missed. Since I live in IIT campus, I will start my journey from our very own Campus restaurant and then move into the city.

1. Campus Restaurant: Well on scale of 1-10 I will give 4. Food is cheap, service ok. Its like if you don't want to eat in your mess and you don't want to travel even to IIT gate welcome to this place. Well my favs would be fried chicken, mewa aloo, keema muttor and plain nan. In my initial years I had visited this place so frequently that half of its menu is on my finger tips.

2. China Town: We move a little towards the city, frankly to say IIT gate. There you can find this nice place. It is strictly non vegetarian, in that too only preparations of chicken are available and reasonably priced. Place cannot to be said to be clean. Service is good and the food yummy. One can also have liquor at this place, but he will have to bring it on his own. One can go for kali mirch, chicken biryani, chicken tikka and many other stuff like that. But my fav would be kadhai chicken with thick gravy and rumali roti with a bottle of Haywards black. One has to specially order the thick gravy for which nothing extra is charged. I will give this place 6 points.

3. Kerala Cafe: If you are not non vegetarian and you like south Indian food, just across the street from China town you can find this place. Service is good, food also yummy by my standards. You can get an assortment of dosas, vadas, idli and so an so forth. Liquor not allowed on this road side restaurant. And my fav would be onion masala dosa (a little crispy) with a bottle of fanta. I will give this place 6points.

4. Food Court at Rave Moti: Now we travel a little into the city and arrive at Rawatpur. Here we have the newly opened mall Rave@moti. You can shop at an assortment of shops for apparels and other stuff, but the main point of this article is food. On the ground floor there is Barista the regular coffee shop and then there is Kwality with its assortment of ice creams and mouth watering pastries. My fav would be the chocolate pastry at Kwality's. Then shop around and move to second floor. There you can find the food court with variety of small shops around it. Don't miss the choclate fountain near the escalators. There you can see shops like One chinese shop(I forgot the name), Masala county, Dominos, NJP, Nawabi Kebab, Berger shop, stalls for hot dogs and dumplings etc. Lets start from the hot dog shop. It serves both veg and non veg hot dogs. I had only tried the non veg type and hence can say that the non veg once are damn good. The dumplings are superb too. Next come the Chinese shop. An assortment of Chinese preparations. But my fav from this shop would be shredded lamb and shanghai chow mien off course non veg. Prices are reasonable in most of the shops. Next to the Chinese guy would be masala county. Gives 5% discount to IIT people. One can find most north Indian recipes here. Since most of the time I eat North Indian stuff in my hostel I give this one a skip. Next to it is the Domino's. Pizza guy, little overpriced but yummy. I don't go for the non veg ones since I find them unreasonably over priced. But in the veggie ones I would go for Farm house. Then there are shops like NJP which I am yet to try and then comes the Kebab guy. Try the biryani. A must if you are a non veggie. Ghost dum biryani more precisely. Reasonable priced, its too good to resist. I am yet to try its complete menu, but along with biryani I would recommend kakori kebab. That more or less sums up the food court. The best thing about this place is you can order parathas or roti from one shop and curry from another. Service is self service and I would give this place 8 points.

5. Hukka: Move a little in the city and you arrive at Swarup nagar on your way to parade. Here you will find quite a few restaurants. Let me start with this place. As the name suggest they do serve hukka at this place. It is on the roof of the building so kind of open air. They have put a few water fall type fountains here. So while eating you will enjoy the music from one of Kanpur's FM station combined with the sound of flowing water. But if you are looking for the original hukka you will be disappointed. They serve flavored hukka. The safest or closest to the original thing would be the mint flavored. The place is little costly but the food once served will make you feel money well spent. To start with they have an assortment of soups. You can pick anyone according to your taste and for starters don't forget to try the chicken stick they serve with some sweet tasting black sauce. For veggies the paneer tikka is equally good. Coming to food again an assortment of stuff. My fav would be muglai paratha with some chicken curry and pineapple raita. Well the name muglai paratha is misleading for people from bengal. This is not the one most bongs are familiar with, it is basically paratha stuffed with keema. 15% discount to IIT students the last time I visited. To get the discount you have to produce a valid I-card. Well these places make me feel that IIT I-card has great value. Anyway this place deserves 8.5 points.

6. Anaicha: This is another place in Swarup Nagar itself. Place is costly but the food is equally superb. Fully air conditioned, has small space for kids where they can enjoy sliding and stuff like that. Service is excellent, ambiance marvelous and so an so forth. To start with one can have an assortment of soups. My fav would be dumpling soup, off course the non veg variant. In starters the best I would say is fish and chips but there are many more like hariyali kebab which one can try. Moving to the main course its menu is quite large and one can order anything from north Indian to Chinese to continental. But some notable as far as I am concerned would be fish bengali, kadhai chicken, baked fish, prawn schezwan, kashmiri nan, pudina paratha, Russian salad etc. The vegetarian menu is equally good. 10% discount to IIT students on producing your I -card. I would give this place 9 points.

7. Flames: Staying at Swarup Nagar itself this is a place worth mentioning. Pricing is at par with Anaicha. Fully air conditioned with a small space for kids to play around. Food superb, place superb and what more it is next to a liquor shop where you can sit and drink. Let me first say something about the liquor shop then we will come to Flames. Well the liquor shop has most premium brands on its shelves. If you love wine probably it is one of the few shops in Kanpur where you can find wine. If you want beer chilled beer is always ready to be served. They also serve eatables like peanuts, papad which you can have with your drink. The peanut served with onions and coriander leaves is really good. But this place is not like the swanky bars you see in mega cities, so preferably if you have a lady friend accompanying you, give this place a skip. Now coming to Flames, to start with have some soup. Somehow I found their cream laced soups the best, like cream of chicken or Italian zuppa. Try Italian zuppa if you like cream with pepper and salt. Starters can vary from person to person nothing special. Main course has some favorites here as well. The Russian salad, myanoise chicken are my favs. You may be tempted to try Hyderabadi biryani but it can be disappointing. It is spicy and is generously laced with dry fruits. One peculiar thing, in some of the menu items they would place a small candle inside a hollowed tomato.
10% discount to IIT students on producing your I -card. I would give this place 9.5 out of ten.

8. Shahi Darbar: Time to move on to Parade and a cheaper place where the bill won't make you sweat. Well this place is strictly non veggie. Great kebabs, great parathas and the cheapest. The place is not clean again, best would be to pack your stuff and eat at your home. You can have boti, kebab, chaap, kali mirch, biryani and many more stuff like that. They sell stuff like kebebs, boti and chaap by weight. For one person 100gm kebab and 100gm boti would be more then sufficient. Have it with rumali roti or their regular parathas which is equally yummy. I would give this place 7 out of ten. But considering the amount of money they charge one can easily overlook the untidy place. You can say they are probably selling sub standard stuff hence so cheap, but I would say, I have been to this place a zillion times and am still maintaining my health.

9. Treat: If you want to enjoy an evening with fast food this is the place. All types of fast food like berger, chow mien, spring rolls, pastries, ice creams etc etc are available. You can try their basket chat as well its really good. But to fill your belly try chilly chicken chow mien with some gravy of your choice. If you are a professional ice cream eater as my friends call me try the rainbow. The place is reasonably priced and clean. You have self service and advance payment. I would give this place 8 points.

10. Host: I visited this place only once and found it overpriced. It is the regular food section of Treat. The food is ok. The best would be reshmi kebab. Otherwise if don't mind the money you can visit this place. But at the end of all you might feel money not well spent. 6points for this place.

11. Cafe coffee day: Not exactly a restaurant but you can spend some time in a hot summer day. Fully air conditioned. I found their coffee to be overpriced but for coffee lovers they might find the money well spent. I prefer to have one of their cold coffees with ice cream. If you feel like you can choose from their numerous light snacks which many a times doesn't turn out to be light. This place also has a book shop attached with it but they don't give discount. Book shops without any discount is like no shop to me. Anyway the cafe deserves a 7 out of ten.

12. Shanghai: To begin with I will give 10 out of 10 to this place. My favorite in Kanpur so far. Probably the only place where you can get nicely cooked pork. Located near phulbag adjacent to nath opticians, you will probably miss if you don't look carefully. Its a small shop which can accommodate probably 20 people at any given time but this is the best place to have Chinese cuisines. To start with you can order a soup which can be anything from talumien to sweet corn or you can start with a me-fan. Well my personal fav would be me-fan. The main course should definitely have pork roast with chicken chow chow and some chow mien possibly mixed chow mien. The price is reasonable, service prompt. The lighting inside is little dull and the music can be custom. The owner has an assortment of english and hindi numbers which he is happy to play on customers request. All in all the best. Well no discount is given in this place.

13. Chung-fa: Move a little further to Mall road and you will arrive at chung fa. This also has a bar near by, again not a swanky mega city bar but its shelves are stalked with most premium brands. Here you can find both Chinese and Thai food. Start with any of the Chinese or Thai soups. I prefer the tom kha kya soup. For starters the menu has quite a few items but I would prefer the golden fried prawns. The main course can be chow mien with roast lamb in black mushroom sauce and prawn shaoxing. The menu in the restaurant is quite extensive. It is fully air conditioned and prices are little on the higher side but its worth spending the money.
10% discount to IIT students on producing your I -card. I would give the place 8 points.


14. Antarang: Well so far I have covered restaurants on route 22 that is the route taken by bus no. 22. But there are a few places off routs which are worth mentioning. Notable among them is antarang at Rave 3 in Parwati Bagla road. The place is fully air conditioned but over priced. The place has a bar which serves most premium brands. Beer is also available but the price charged is double that of printed price. Drinks too can range from 150 a peg to god knows where. The food is good but not worth the money charged. I had gone to this place only couple of times so no favs as such. One good thing about this place is they organize gazal nights once in a while where you can request the singer to sing your favorite gazal which he will happily oblige.
10% discount to IIT students on producing your I -card. Though this place counts as one of the better restaurants of Kanpur I would give it only 6 points.

15: Chinmi: Another restaurant at Rave 3. Like all other things in that place its overpriced. There you can have an assortment of Chinese and Indian stuff. It has a bar with most premium brands being served. One of the few places where they will serve you momos. I have visited this place only once so no favorites but I liked the momos a lot.
10% discount to IIT students on producing your I -card. I would give this place 7 points.

16. Mehfil: A good family restaurant at Chowk. The menu doesn't have many items so you won't get confused as to what to eat. I haven't been to this place for quite a long time so any opinion on this place will be based on my past experience. I would prefer to go to some other place if given a choice then go to mehfil.

17. Bhikharam: Not exactly a restaurant, more like a sweet shop but they do serve some Indian fast foods which are yummy. Cooked in pure desi ghee they are like a heavenly treat. Its basically a sweet shop but you can order puri sabjee which is the best I ever had. Apart from that you can have dosa, chow mien which I never tried at that place. I would give that place 8 points.


Well apart from these places inside Kanpur I have been to few places a little far off from the city but well within reach by bikes or four wheeler. They are mostly dhabas on GT road. The first you will encounter when going towards Delhi will be Bhatia's dhaba.

18. Bhatia's Dhaba: Well visited this place couple of times. The non veg prep is pretty good. On the veg side its ok. Reasonable priced its good place to eat.

19. Bijee Ka dhaba: I won't call this a dhaba. The owner had tried to convert the place into a open air restaurant. The result its neither a restaurant nor a dhaba. The food is also not good. I visited this place once and rejected it the very day.

20. Bajpai dhaba: Going a little further you cross Mandhana and come across the new Rama hospital campus. Right in front of it is bajpai dhaba. The best dhaba I would say. You can also have liquor there. The owner keeps couple of lager beer brands. The dhaba used to serve non veg but now its completely vegetarian. You can start with paneer bhujia which is really superb. It has a variety of North Indian dishes. But above all one should have its kheer which is the icing on the cake. I dinner without the kheer at that place is incomplete. I will give this place a 9 points.

21. Palate: I placed this place in the end since this is a new place which has come up at Rave moti in Rawatpur. It is exorbitantly priced but its menu has some exotic items which I didn't try for obvious reasons. May be just the names are like that and they turn out to be our regular food items. I could have the soup only which I found not at par with the price they are charging. Then to avoid any kill-bill I walked out of the place. So you are free to visit the place and let me know the result.

These are mostly the places I have been to in last 6-7 years of my stay in Kanpur. The views expressed above are mine and they may not reflect the general standard of the place. In matters where food is concerned favorites will vary from person to person. While arriving at the ratings of a place I have taken into account the quality of food, the cleanliness of the place, the pricing, the promptness of service and off course availability of items I like most.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tide

In a small room with green walls
On which were being written the wise words,
The hands kept moving,
Two long and one short,
The shorter one in not so hurry,
For it had half the day
To go around the point.
The slower of the two long ones
Hurrying around eternity,
For it had a fraction of the small one.
The fast one was like a hare,
Hopping from block to block,
As if in a fit of rage,
For it had a fraction of the slow long one,
To go around the chosen one.
And there sat a pupil,
Looking at the face with three hands
Two long and one short
Waiting for his tide to come.