Archive for April, 2012

They say men are from Mars and women from Venus. Usually in Hollywoodmovies, we find that the Martians are more technologically advanced from us. I may hereby not be wrong to generalize and infer that Men are more tech savvy and hence Gadget friendly, than their female counterparts. Gadgets are any sort of device, irrespective of sizes andfunctionality, which makes tedious jobs easier and are helpful to us. At times, they are play things and at other times they are plain showoff!! But never the less, I could not resist this topic for the Top 10 Gadgets, I would like to discuss about with my readers. Today we are surrounded by all sorts of gadgets ranging from Ultra books, Thumb Drives, Cars (Yeah they r Gadgets on Wheels), Smart phones, Smart HD TV, wrist watches that tell you your heart rate and blood pressure levels, micro music players, Split Jacks for multiple charge points and headphones, USB port extenders/ sorters, Emergency Battery Chargers, LED Torch Light and Swiss military Knives etc. But I prefer to bring to you only those which caught my eyeballs. Read through and leave back your comments.

Fuji Film X Pro 1:  Inter changeable Lenses Cameras are very sophisticated and usually preferred by professionals. This is supposedly, Fuji Films first attempt at ILC class of Cameras, expected to arrive by year end with 3 Lenses. 9 more lenses would be launched within the next 2 years. Leica Lenses Mount would make it more attractive, but what is the best this is the Aluminum Slab Body with synthetic leather and the precision milled knobs and dials are operated on feather light soft touch and are made of magnesium base. This is one kool Camera to carry around and show off if you are not into photography. But then as they say, every monkey with a Camera thinks himself to be a ace photographer 😉
Sharp’s Freestyle Aquos TV: Sharp has come out with a ultra thin and light carry anywhere 20”-60” (diagonally) range of TV which receives HD video over WiFi . The 20” TV has a handle and a battery self integrated for mobility and portability. With this one Gadget, you can carry your TV anywhere and put it according to your choice, with out worrying about wires and connections. Next time you have a fight with your wife just before the cricket match, you know what to grab along with a packet of chips and the usual pillow and blanket 🙂

  1. Dish Network’s Hopper:  This is a basic DVR/ Tuner set top box just like the others available in the market, but then it has 2TB internal drive, which means 2000 hours of recordings. Its attractive feature is the “Prime Time Anytime” app, which automatically records up to 4 major preset channels at the same time and stores it for 8 days. So, now with it hopefully, the fight for the remote would be lesser now. But the best feature in it is Zigbee , which is a wireless Remote Control finder. So next time, someone hides the remote from you or it is lost in the pillows and sheets, you know where and how to find it.

 Griffin 20:  It is basically for Boom Music Lovers on the move. Griffin’s 20 is a Streaming Audio Device with a 20 watt amplifier and a left and right output stereo and a Sub Woofer, with a kool lovely white Dail knob in the middle. All you need to do is to connect it to your I pod, I pad, Apple Airport express or your simple computer and laptop system and turn your dull hotel room into a happening mood swinging music bar. Traveling can then be so much better.

  1. Lenovo Yoga: One cannot complete a Gadget List without a system involved. Yoga is basically much like your traditional Desktop mode. But the fun begins thereafter. It’s all captive touch screen interface. Windows 8 is preloaded with this being Microsoft’s serious take on desktops after a long time.13” folding laptops and ultrabooks are with complete touch screen. Touch is the new way to go.

Tobii Gaze:  You think Touch is the new In?? Think again. Tobii has come up with a Eye Tracking technology which it claims will change the future. Financial analysts need no longer endure multiple clicks data search from multitude of data available on screen for them. Imagine Surgeons and Doctors, having access to various data without having to speak out for it, while their hands are busy operating the patient. This technology claims to be beyond touch. The user just has to target objects/files on screen just by-Hold your Breath- Looking at them.  Yes you read me right. Expected to arrive in the market by 2013.

Nokia Lumia 900:  Another masterpiece from one of the basic gadgets of these days. Nokia has finally arrivedwith Microsoft Windows Phone which is LTE compatible and 3G and 4G enabled. The 4.3 inch Gorilla glass (scratch resistant) screen phone also has a-1840mAH battery for looonger battery life in order to sustain 4G networking. Both front and back Cameras are superb with 28 mm f/2.2 lens in back for wide angle clicks and f/28 in front for live video calls. The touch aspect and the body finish are an Add-on to make it irresistible.

  1. Sony Network Media Player: After smart phones, its time for Smart TVs. Sony’s Network Media Player TV comes with full internet connectivity, and is powered by Google which streams online videos and content from preloaded sites like Netflix, HBO Go, etc. It can be controlled by iOS or even an Android Smart phone. Its just like the rest of the breed. But what caught my attention was its exclusive remote Control. It’s a full backlit QWERTY keypad enabled on back side for easier browsing and a normal traditional buttons with a sensor track pad on the front. Coming soon this summer, its time TV companies changed the way the TV is remote controlled

.OLPC XO3:  Marvell and OLPC have successfully collaborated to create this tablet, which unlike the rest is supposed to be far more cheaper than the ones available in the market. To be priced at $100, to fulfill One Laptop Per Child’s mission, it has a Linux Based OS, a Laptop processor and rugged design, which supports recharge
through its solar panel or a hand crank. This low end yet smooth operator has just one major glitch- an enthusiastic production support partner! With the features and the looks, it seems to be a great handy Tab made for everyone- with or without money! Yes, we in India and maybe in China we can get better priced tabs but the sustainability and solar recharge (no idea how much efficient it is), this seems to be able to beat the race.

PhotoJoJo: Interesting little pieces of Lens which comes in Trio and is real useful for people who consider lesser bag gages and lesser sophistication when it comes to photography. On a tour or a adventure trip, we usually carry our smart phone but find Large sophisticated cameras with bigger sensitive lens to be a pain. For amateur photography enthusiast, these Lenses snugly fit over your smart phones and mobiles to give it wider range of photo shoot options. At their sizes they are weightless baggage and mighty useful too. There is 2X telephoto lens, a 180 degree fish eye lens and a 0.68x Wide angle Lens which seems to complete all requirements of the handicapability of a smart phone being made into a camera on trips.

Hope I have not bored you enough to not come back for more.. Read on and revert back for more interesting updates.

Bucket List:

I am an Misguided Bucketful of Aspirations from Not Interested In Learning Management- Centre for Masti & Shararat,New Delhi during the year 2003-05.

People in the institute either don’t remember me or ask me a single question: “Did You Pass?? How??” That is because; I am hardly ever present in the class and never studied for the exams. Friends call me an escapist while I consider my self a realist. I could never get my self to study Accounts and Economics or Statistics for the matter. Never understood anything out of it. I knew I would fail, the next day. So why spend valuable time, trying to learn something at last moment, depriving your body of priceless sleep and creating mental imbalance and blood sugar disharmony. So, leaving all my mates with books and notes, I used to go to the recreation Common Room, with a Grilled extra cheese chicken sandwich and a bottle of Cola, and watch Movies on T.V. Those were the best time, when no one fights for the channels. One such night, I saw a movie- The Bucket List by Rob Reiner, about a couple of terminally ill men and their time spent together before they died.

A bucket List is a Pact made usually with friends, about your desires and ambitions. Something you say you are going to do in your lifetime. It is a list of things you wish to do before you “Kicked the Bucket”- before you die.

Everyone passed out and got jobs, and went ahead into the hardcore corporate world, with some staying in touch, while many are lost. In our race to climb to the very top, many got married and others became parents. Some gave up their career and others made it to the very top. In this melee, most forgot to dream.

Man which is supposedly a social being survives on dreams. For dreams are the base of aspirations, which give wings to hope and directions to aim for the ultimate achievement of goals. Last week I made a general survey, and asked my friends to tell me their bucket list, and surprisingly they could not go beyond 3-5 things and most of them were mundane and very materialistically possible in very near future. It made me realize, how little time people have these days to think about themselves and exploring their desires. Friends questioned me-It’s an automated life, where you have just 6 hrs to sleep, if your baby and biwi allow you to, while your body demands more. How can you fit in a dream? How does one get time to think ahead in time, when usually one is running hard to keep up with deadlines? They tell me to stop being a dreamer and get practical. Rather be realistic 😉

To this I say – I am sorry! Aisa hi hun main! This is me and I will always let my mind fly free beyond the four stone walls of work pressure, social life, financial and time constraints. This life is not worth living, if I can’t have some time for myself and my dreams. Dreamer I was and will be till I die. Not all dreams are necessarily to be converted into action.

Read on for my Bucket List. It has some things, which if I do not do before I die, my spirits will forever wander the earth 😉 So, friends read on and make it happen.

  1. Ride a Bike to Leh/ Ladakh: The choice of bike is left free- preferably a Bullet Enfield or Triumph or a Mountain Bicycle. Leh and Ladakh are the northern most colddesert ofJ&K,India with some of the most beautiful untouched terrains and rough climate. The steep mountain roads usually covered by caravans of defense personnel are the most treacherous ones.
  2. Write a Best Seller and a chart buster Script  : The choice is multiple. I could do a book or a script for a movie and either should be critically acclaimed as well as have commercial success. I want to give back the world, a taste of what it gave me.
  3. Watch Liverpool Versus Manchester United at Anfield: I am Red Koppite. Liverpool has an enviable history of creating many good players, but presently languishing at the 5-8th position in the EPL. But as they say, real fans and family are the ones who stand by you, during your rough times. Club Soccer inEngland involves locals Firms and hooliganism and is mighty dangerous. But then “ You Never Walk Alone”. At least at Anfield.
  4. Experiencing Zero and 4 Gs: This is fantasy. You know how and where one experiences Zero gravity and 4 or more than 4 mach. Space Tourism is costly yet thriving business inRussia. Who knows, If lady Luck someday may feel so bored that she may actually amuse herself by making me win a Lottery!!
  5. Drive and Ride :  I want to ride a Harley and drive a- Take your pick- Jaguar/ Porsche/  Mustang/Ferrari at breakneck speed in the openArizona orTexas road. This means, I need to visit US of A. Waise, wont mind doing it Down Under.
  6. Own a Football team:  I want to promote soccer in cricket crazy India and discover talents from the tribal and north east belt. We have got to learn from the Japs and the S Koreans, that height and physical assets do not matter over mind. I would feel rich and great like some Oil Sheikh ( Man City) or a Russian Oil Billionaire, even if my club may not be rich!! LoL!!
  7. Visit the Highs and Lows :  I would like to Scuba dive and check that the Nat Geo and Animal Planet, were actually showing us the true picture 😉 basically, want to experience Snorkeling,  Scuba Diving to experience under water sea life and at the same time I want to climb a mountain. It may not be necessarily be Himalayan or Everest. But if it’s a fantasy, why not Mt Everest? The reason is, I am afraid of climbing down. So I would scale and conquer a mountain from where I can be air lifted back to ground earth.
  8. Opening a Sucessful Food chain:  This is very much possible and hence can be labeled as a career dream and not exactly a Bucket list stuff.
  9. Open an Orphanage School :  Again a career goal, basically. I would like to have a business enterprise which would sustain a orphanage, esp Girl Child and school them into self sustaining successful women. Readers, Beware- I would attempt bug you for donations J
  10. Explore the world with friends:  I would like to explore all the continents with all my friends and more( ie their family and add ons). But there is a special list, as to who has to be where compulsorily.

a)      Africa & Ocenia:  Sandeep  Das and Sandip Barik. I would like to Bungee Jump in NZ, cycling the mountains, rafting and swimming the lakes. Running with the Kangaroo, Chased by the Ostrich to be pecked down for attempting to steal her Eggs. And may beBondiBeach, after all the mountain and hinterland trails. It’s a dream to quit work and lose ourselves Down Under. Just that I can’t take in Beer!! AndAfrica, .. well they have Sahara n Kalahari and so many national Parks/ reserves and Mountains. Of course, will egg Sandeep Dasto try and discover Solomon’s Mines.

b)     South America Special: i) Rahul Shankar inRio at Samba carnival.

ii) Kaushik Chatterjee caught in Bogota between the Drug Cartel and the Police.

iii) Kunal Pattnaik & Om Prakash appointed as Soccer Team coach of River Plates Winners or Jr. Santos team.

iv)                Anvesh Rajput as the special Guest of honour cum Judge at the Venezuelan National Beauty Contest.

v)            Sandeep Das and Me: lost in the Amazons and arguing if Jaguars or Puma or Cougars are present these days, when actually one is eyeing us for dinner!!

c)      Asia : Ride Bicycle on the Great walls of China, Ride camels in the Mongolian desert, Getting lost in Istanbul market, laying flat on Dead Sea, Visit Israel and getting stone pelted by young Palestine Kids, etc

d)     Antractica or the North Pole Sea:  No Idea, especially with whom I should go. May be with a single beautiful female guide. Then maybe I could write my book- Happier Feet!!

e)      Europe:  I wish love happens before I ever visit it.

 

There are more, but I gave you the top 10, which are followed by smaller goals which I am sure I will achieve by this year end. This may be fantasy and considered by many as a waste of time, but tell me- do you actually have a list of at least 10 things to do before you die??  If no, what life are you surviving?

 

 

 

Dear Reader, please feel free to take out time for your Bucket List. And if possible, try and post them here, so as to share our dreams. However stupid and fantastical it may seem. Go ahead Freak Out!!

Danda Nachha

Posted: April 6, 2012 in Pitter Patter Toddling Feet!!

At times I feel as if I have been punished and deported to this southern town of Odisha which I loving refer to “Be- Reham-Pur!’ All exploration expeditions into the bowels of this city leaves me feeling nakedly exposed to rustic Telugu culture, which even if interesting, mostly is non inclusive. Working in the grand old bank of the country, I am left with very few young minds, to indulge in after office nightlife, if it can be called a life at all.

Last week on 3rd April, every one was glued to their TV sets watching the IPL opening ceremony. I was just not interested and preferred to explore the old part of the town and eventually got struck up in an impossible jigsaw of real life puzzle of a human and vehicular traffic jam. Frustrated, I dragged my bike over to the dry drain and climbed on a empty terrace of a closed door but occupied house and sat there watching the human melee. This is another favourite pass-time of mine where I sit back and observe humans and try to play something of a Sherlock Holmes 😉

Suddenly I realised the reason of the jam, as I was joined by the owner of the house on the steps, who graciously enough accepted my presence, stating “better you than the dirty mongrel”. There passed the main posse of Danda Nachha group, with everyone trying to seek their blessings.

Dont be alarmed! even I did not know the history and reason behind this cult and ended up in a discussion with the enthusiastic owner. Read on to know more..
They say, Spring is the season of Love. It is the season of Joy- the perfect season for laziness and restful enjoyment. Strangely, it’s the season of testing human limits and endurance too in the southern and south –Western districts of Odisha.
Spring usually arrives in the season of March-April(Roman Calendar), which according to Indian Calendar (saka) is the month of Chaitra.It is usually a pleasant season, with abundant fruits and green fresh vegetables available at rock bottom prices. With the financial year ending, and Odia New Year beginning, it can’t be more pleasant season. But then it is also the time for deepest devotion. It is the time for “Danda Naacha”. It is a roboust show of devotion to Maa Kali and Lord Shiva.
Devotees or Bhakts who wish to appease the Lord, carry out a silent pact with their Gods. These vows or pledges are otherwise known as “manasika” or Shahami (mansik/mannat in Hindi/urdu).In return of fulfillment of their wishes they offer to carry out the penance course of 13 or 18 or 21 days. They indulge in the act of “Danda Naachha” The word Danda in Odia means Punishment. The mortal pleasure seeking body is punished by mere devotion and will power to cleanse the soul and appease deity. Usually, Maa Kali is worshipped, thus making Shiv Mandirs the centre of prayers. Lord Shiva is the Lord of Power and Life taking destructions. The ultimate end and hence the truth, for truth shall always Triumph( Satyameva Jayate). His consort Maa Parvati is worshipped in her Kaali Avatar. It is believed that, if the ritual I carried out meaningfully and to the fullest, their wishes will come true, blessed by God.
The pact/ Vow so made are to be silent, and not to be uttered and divulged (like the schoolmates secret). The Dandua or the devotee, is to move around barefooted, wearing usually white or yellow and saffron ( other pure colours in Hindu mythology). He will not touch or be touched by anyone else, especially females. He will have just one meager vegetarian meal a day and consume water after sundown. He cannot shave. And the most challenging- he cannot sleep during the night. Basically, they shun everything earthly and live a monastic life. And believe me, it is tough and not for the weak willed. The season ends with the Bishuba or Meru or popularly known Paana Sankranti. The devotees undergo a lot of pain and hardship to appease the Goddess and get their wishes fulfilled while others do it to show their gratitude for the fulfillment of their wishes, or manasikha.
The journey starts at the nearest Shiv mandir, in absence of Maa Kali/Tarini Mandir. A special room is reserved for these people called the Kamana Ghara or Danda Gahra,where they all arrive and after a Yagyna(holy bonfire lit Puja), they are given a sacred thread which binds them into a singular family “Tera Budhuta”, despite their caste and creed. Every dandua is then deemed pure and blessed. His blessings are sought.
A typical Danda is of 3 phases, namely Dhuli Danda, Pani Danda and Agni Danda. After the inagrual ceremony, these Danduas leave the temple with the beat of Jhamura(Cymbals), Dholas(Drums) mahuri ( Pipe / Shenai type instrument) and Sankhas(conches) carrying multihued(usually red and yellow) flags and pictures of deities ordained in peacock feathers, into the afternoon sun to perform Dhuli Danda, which literally means “Penance in the Sand”for about the whole afternoon. They roll long distances on hot sand and carry out different extreme vigorous dances in the Tandav Style known as Parabha (illumination) and usually are lead by the leader called Bada Patta Dandua/Bhukta. After the Dhuli Danda, they then head towards a water body, to next perform the Pani Danda or the Penance in Water. It is only after this, can a Tera Budhuta have water. Then comes the preparations for nocturnal performances- which includes walking barefooted on burning embers and fire dances and mostly night long enactment of mythological plays-“Chadherya” which is done so as to help the danduas keep awake. They move around to many distant places to perform at many households who had earlier contacted and requested them for their holy presence. On Meru Sankranti , they return to their village and perform these acts for the last time, only this time an extreme dangerous act is carried out. A young willing devotee is hung upside down till he bleeds from his nose
All the above acts are, enacted and carried out in the extreme tribal and hinterland parts of tribal Odisha, while the Danda Jatra in Ganjam and Gajapati District is quite fun with Tiger and Ramayana costumed actors and artists having a gay time on the streets. The Thakurani Jatra of Old city is the most famous in the town of Berhampur.
I donot endorse these extreme acts and forms of devotion but do not want to protest these acts either, coz I believe in “each one to his Own” n “ Live and Let Live”. As long no life is taken away forcibly, every free Indian has the right to is form of devotion.

Life as a grown up can be very boring.

I am a Banker looking into advances, deposit mobilization, technological products and High Value Customer service in a Campus branch of India’s Oldest and biggest nationalized Bank. Yeah, one need not be a Tata Crucible Champ to know which bank I work for. And please be sympathetic enough not to abuse it here on this forum, as the laptop and internet connection is provided by the above referred organisation. 😉

It is the bank for the mass with some class. Every first week rush is seen to be believed, with people literally stampeding each other to get in grab a voucher and stand in line for withdrawing cash at the earliest. I wish I could video-graph one such morning and post it online. One new colleague once witness to such a un glorified morning, asked me surprised- “Why his rush? Money taken out 5 minutes later won’t harm anyone!” Poor fellow did not know that they are usually loaners who have availed loan and want to withdraw money before bank deducts the required EMI from the savings/ Salary Account.

And trying to force them to take an ATM card is even more frustrating-“ I heard, some one a Bank Manager lost his money  when someone else withdrew his cash..” and most opted for response is “ How much do you charge for this card? No Charge?  But why should I pay annual fees of Rs.100/-? Better I come to branch, meet old friends and pensioners and have some AC cooled environ.. Why give you money for using card which helps you reduce your workload? Ok.. but I do not know how to operate a card? Lastly, I am illiterate!”

Today-2nd April, was one such day. After the initial stampede where a middle aged woman fell down and was trodden over and a pensioner lost his walking stick and two fellows misplaced their slippers in the melee, things calmed down to a certain extent.  It is when I realized the serpentine line for 5 cash counters where extending outside the branch doors, thus blocking the entrance. Staff Movement was choked up and funnily, my Branch Manager was stranded outside. Now, how do I serve my VIP Customers in this scenario? Where from do they enter? God Bless Us all!

Towards the afternoon, it rained and the branch bore an empty look. I had no pending work, as all branch report for the auditors, were being taken care of by new Trainee Officers and I was basically free. Such days are rare. No new Loans to process on the first day of New Financial Year and no customer or HNI’s to look after.

Thunder crackled. The Frog inside me suddenly started croaking out loud. There was like a magnetic force pulling me outside. Stepping out of the door, looking out towards the dark clouds, I had this sudden urge to rush out on my bike and enjoy a rain ride, with drops lashing out on my face and body and wind rushing past my hair (or whatever is left of it). Suddenly, memories of me as a school kid packing my umbrella deep inside my bag in order to save books and get wet myself and trying to be the first one stomping on the largest puddle to splash water on friends, along with memories of the school football match between Rana Pratap and Ashoka House on the wet muddy school field bought back a sigh.After the match, we had mud inside our shorts from the mud sliding 😉 Long gone are those days.

Today, I am a grown up and supposedly a respectable person. I need to behave like a banker. Be a gentleman. I cannot get wet and be a child once again, during the banking hours. Life as a grown up is boring. Incidentally, and may be ironically, Just at that time, a happy go lucky mongrel came by and after rolling on the puddle of water, it stood up shook off the excess water and walked away to the shelter below an abandoned hawker trolley. I looked up skywards, to ensure if God was smiling, and may be the mild lightning that flashed in far distance, was the sparkle of His Teeth, when He smiled at poor me.

I went back in and tried to find someone on our internal Messenger Chat service. No Luck. Thought of calling someone, but then it wont be raining everywhere, hence no one would be free enough to chat with me during the working hours. Tried to browse Facebook on my Mobile, but nothing interesting there either. At last I pinged a few friends on Whatsapp- “I hereby Challenge You to name an animal for each alphabet of English Language without Googling and mind You it should be an animal only!”

I myself started typing the answer my self on a notepad, when I realized how mundane our life has become thanks to mono focused work type, where we hardly realize that gradually we are forgetting many words from our past. I turned around, to ask my colleague, how many Nursery Rhymes he can recite fully? He was taken aback when he realized that he could remember just ‘Jack and Jill’ completely and just a couple of lines from ‘Humpty Dumpty’ and something where “the mouse Ran up the Clock”.

{I suddenly had a sweet fleeting memory of V Jalan reciting with action some gem of Rhymes at India Habitat Centre with S. Das for company in 2006 to a similar challenge.}

The purpose of writing such a boring piece, is about seeking your views on a few things- Are we glad to give up simple and minor matters of life for the sweet taste of success of Rat Race of survival? Of course, for a fellow trying to meet his target and make his ends meet in metros like Mumbai and Delhi, who cares if one knows the names of animals and Nursery Rhymes, as long he remembers his bosses and his client names and knows how to sell. Agreed. But do you at times miss theses small things or am I just being stubbornly melodramatic?

P.S.- I got answers like A for Ant, J for Jellyfish and N for Narsimha. LoL!

P.P.S.- How many animals can you name? and how many nursery rhymes do you recall? 😉 I Challenge You.