Saturday, October 19, 2013

Grocery shopping list

My experiments with Android continue. This is my take on creating a shopping and to-do task list. I’m sure there are hundreds of free apps but in case you have an android phone/tablet and wish to spend $0.99 on an absolutely non-essential app, please try out Grocery tasks.

Ofcourse if you meet me in real life and ask nicely, I’ll be more than happy to give it to you for free.

Grocery shopping list

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sachin, today the nation has grown old

I never considered myself Sachin Tendulkar’s biggest fan. Whenever Sachin has played well, he’s given me immense joy but when he’s failed I’ve used my share of curses. But whenever Sachin stepped out on the cricket field, the entire country stopped whatever it was doing and watched.

I always wondered how a country of 1.2 billion people showed such devotion towards one man. Initially I thought he was beloved for his role model capabilities. Post the 90s liberation when India opened up to the world, Sachin probably fit a lot of people’s idea of arriving on the world stage. Even after facing personal attacks from the alleged lifting seam incident in South Africa to Monkey gate in Australia to various cricket pundits attacking his lack of form (in the last couple of years), he has maintained a dignified silence.

But it has to take more than humility and modesty to elevate someone to god like status. It has to be that everyone who followed Sachin, immediately think of their youths. Every time Sachin took guard, he carried you back decades to maybe a happier time. That’s why today’s announcement by Sachin has brought a tear to even the most grumpy man in India.

I hope to see you one last time for your 200th test but Sachin, today you’ve made me and the nation feel old.

Sachin, today the nation has grown old

Monday, September 23, 2013


Ladakh Panoramas

I’ve been wanting to visit Ladakh for quite some time. I came to know that Youth Hostel organized a mountain bike tour through ladakh and jumped at the chance.

Day I:

Initially I was hoping to fly into Srinagar and then go to Leh, however with the ongoing problems in Kashmir, I decided to fly directly to Leh. I landed to a splitting headache and spent most of my first day resting and trying to overcome Altitude Sickness.

Day II:

Felt slightly better today. The day starts at 6 am with the youth hostel staff blasting loud music. Tea is served at 7am followed by breakfast at 7.30am. By 8-8.30 we are done with food and have the full day in front of us. We did a group walk through Leh market, Polo grounds and Leh palace in a bid to acclimatize ourselves to the altitude.

Day III:

This was our first bike ride. We decided to ride past the airport, stop at Army’s Hall of Fame and take lunch at Spituk Monastery. Getting there was a breeze as it was all downhill. Coming back was a completely different experience. My breathing wasn’t yet normal and the constant uphill battle was extremely laboring. I started having my first doubts on whether bicycling in Ladakh was such a great idea. The stretch from the new bus stand to Leh gate was the most brutal and I walked the entire route (The walking technique was well employed on future rides)

Day IV:

After finishing tea and breakfast, we started for Basco Camp. We were promised that the ride would be on a flat path. Of course no one mentioned the wind. The head wind was so strong that the bike would stop whenever we stopped pedalling. We stopped at the Patthar Sahib Gurudwara for lunch at their langar. Post lunch ride was downhill and we reached Basco fairly quickly. What we did not know was that Basco town was fairly long and the camp was a further 5km uphill.

Basco Camp gave our first reality check. We had left most things back at Leh, assuming other camps would be adequately stocked. The bathroom was a ladakhi style dry toilet. Drinking water, washing, bathing had to be done by the stream and obviously no hot water available.

Day V:

Compared to the last couple of days, the ride from Basco to Nurla was fairly easy. We travelled along the Indus river for the most part. Nurla camp was beautifully situated on the Indus River. There was a scenic rope bride behind the camp as well.

Day VI:

We left Nurla for Lamayuru. The road from Nurla to Khalsi was pretty straightforward with few uphill climbs. A little past Khalsi once you reach a monastery on the stream, the road took a steep upward climb to Lamayuru. I walked most of the uphill route. We all stopped at Moon land for a scenic packed lunch. Lamayuru was a beautiful place, almost like one of the forbidden places in Tibet. The Lamayuru gompa overlooks the town and we even had a bit of sleet snow at Lamayuru.

Day VII:

We headed back down towards Khalsi. While the trek/bike up to Lamayuru, from the base, took 2-3 hours, we reached down in 15 minutes. Once we reached Khalsi, youth hostel had a bus ready and we put the bikes on the roof of the bus and drove back down.

Day VIII & IX:

Once we were done with our bicycle ride, we rented a couple of Enfields to head into Nubra Valley. The ride to Hundar was beautiful, while the views from Dikshit Monastery were amazing.


All in all, it was a pretty enjoyable trip. I met some funny people from Pune and Mumbai and while I’m enjoying the down time, it might be fun to start dreaming of the next adventure.


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A genuine ashram

A lot of people have told me on the effects of detoxification and how well you feel. I’ve never done Yoga and detox before, now was a perfect time to try it out. Since both my mother and Mahatma Gandhi (not together) had previously visited Nisargopchar Ashram at Uruli Kanchan, it seemed a good place to try out.

Ashram garden


The ashram has a typical village setting. However its not very professionally run. Plan on losing your first day trying to figure out how things work and where you need to be.

I started the next day with a yoga class at 6 am. The class was generally filled with older people having joint problems and they spent a lot of time practising Shav Asana. After yoga, I eventually succeeded in tracking down a masseuse who had a slot free. As luck would have it, my masseuse Vikram Jadhav, was one of the oldest serving people and as I later found out that my new tormentor-in-chief was well aware of all pressure points in my body. Later that afternoon, I went searching for my “neurotherapy” session. While walking to his office, I could see a door open and a gentleman was sitting at his table staring at the wall ahead. Being brought up in a multitasking environment, I know how difficult single tasking is to me. However doing no task while sitting and concentrating on nothing was completely out of my comprehension. I thought he was asleep but when I walked into his room, I noticed his eyes were well open and he introduced himself as Satish Sonawane. Apparently neuro therapy is Satish sir standing on my body while I’m lying down. Digging his heels into my thigh, he exploited all the pain points left alone by Vikram Jadhav.

After a very painful night’s sleep, I decided on trying out another yoga class at 6.15 am. I was the last person to enter the class and noticed it was satish sir taking the class. Immediately I noticed a change in tempo. If he had impressed me with his ability to control his mind yesterday, today it was his amazing control over his body while doing yoga. Sweating and panting after class, it was time to get back into the grind and experience pain during massages.

I eventually settled to this general schedule:

6.15 – Yoga

7 – Get tortured in the name of massage by Vikram Jadhav

8 – Drink Kadhe

8.30 – Matti lep (putting cold mud pack on your belly and lie in the sun)

9 – Drink carrot juice

9.30 – Alternate between steam and tub bath

11 – Eat something loosely termed as edible food (1 bhakri, vegetables boiled together without salt, spice or oil)

Walk after lunch

2.30 – If I had blocked out the pain from my morning massage, it was brought rushing back by Satish Sonawane.

3.30 – Drink Kadhe again

6 – eat dinner (the same crap as lunch)

After a couple of days, I started detesting the food served and voluntarily went on an all fruit diet. I personally never believed I could eat only fruits (and drink kadhe) but when the alternative was so detestable, you’d be amazed at what the mind can do.

Would I go back?

Its an interesting question. I do most things, one time, for the experience and then I’m done with it. I had put nisargopchar under the same category. I know I can’t stand the food. The ashram resembles a fat camp with most people there trying to lose weight (I lost 1 kg, but with my body size thats a drop in the lake and most of it was water weight), so it’s not a place I would generally frequent. However Satish Sonawane intrigued me. In my brief interactions, he had the mind control that I dream of and he seemed an incredible genuine person. So yes, when the time is right I might go back to learn more.

Now I need to get my body back to normal as I have to start my new adventure next week – Bicycle through the highest desert in India – Leh, Ladakh.

A genuine ashram

Thursday, August 22, 2013

My Kingdom Awaits

Since I’ve come back, I’ve been struck by the lack of enthusiasm on my return. In fact one of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked by family and friend is, Why have I come back? I’ve always given similar pithy answers that I recently gave to my dearest friend, ‘Because I belong here’.

My mother poignantly pointed out that I went to America, 9/11, tech crash and the housing market collapsed. Now when I have come back, the Indian rupee and economy are crashing as well. There is a term called ‘panvati’ used in Mumbai referring to a person bringing bad luck, so the term might be apt for me.

I can see the reason for despair in India. The economy is in shambles, people are being killed for standing up for truth, women are harassed/raped, jobs have disappeared and the country is in the hands of people who don’t know the meaning of Raj Dharma. There was a time when my ancestors would spend their lives dedicated to acquiring knowledge while begging for food, as earning money would take them away from their quest. Now everyone’s standing in life/marriage is how much you make and how you show it off to the world.

I’ve always considered myself a pessimist in life. The general trend is people growing up as optimists and then turning pessimistic as life wears you down. Now as I ponder over my actions of the last few weeks, I see myself going in the opposite direction. I’m being more optimistic. But the question is what to be optimistic about?

If you see BBC’s ‘Story of India’, the one thing that might strike you is historian Michael Wood’s infectious exuberance every time he talks about India’s past dedicated to acquiring knowledge. So what if you change your life back towards acquiring knowledge instead of material gains. So when I went to America the economy crashed but by the time I was ready to leave, the economy was flourishing again. So this ‘panvati’ might have the same effect on India’s economy.

In a moment of megalomania, I’m now changing my pithy answer to what Skylar Grey croons in her song. I’m coming home because my kingdom awaits.

My Kingdom Awaits

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I tried out photosphere during my trip to Lavasa, last week. You can get 360 degree views

View from the Information Center 

Near Town Hall



Monday, August 05, 2013


View Larger Map

After Naneghat, My cousins and I decided to trek to Matheran. The last time I trekked to Matheran was 15 years ago. At that time Neral was basically a train station acting as a base for the Matheran trek.

A lot has changed in 15 years. Neral has joined the ranks of towns where growth has run wild. The road by the train station is filled with shops selling meat, it feels like suddenly neral is filled with a whole lot of meat eaters and all of them shop by the train station.

Once we crossed the town, the air started getting cleaner and the view better.

2013-08-04 14.28.29


Every week, I seem to start the trek confident on finishing the trek with no tiredness or soreness. Considering Matheran is basically walking up a paved road and I’ve done this before, I felt confident that this time was different….. But it wasn’t

2013-08-04 14.31.05


Once we reached the top, it was time to rest and enjoy the view. Matheran has now started collecting 50 rs per person to maintain the city, so the view comes at a tiny price. But I’m glad that Matheran still does not allow any motorized traffic so you can take in the nice clean air tinged with horse dung.


Thursday, August 01, 2013


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Naneghat was the old route from Kalyan to Pune and was my first trek after coming back to India. I joined a trekking group from Thane, which had rented a bus to take us towards Vaishakhare. In the olden days, this particular path was a toll road (toll being collected at the top) for traders moving between Kalyan to Pune.

There was a landslide at Malshej Ghat and most traffic was closed. Even though Vashakhare and Naneghat wasn’t affected, the “ever helpful” Maharashtra Police tried to stop us from going ahead with an eye for us to bribe them. On getting no money from any of us, they proceeded to check all our bags for alcohol. Being unsuccessful again, they stopped our bus from moving ahead adding another couple of kilometers of walk before our actual trek.

Once we got on the trekking path, I assumed since traders with their goods could travel the route, I should be fine. Boy was I wrong as I soon found out my level of fitness level. There was a steady rain which helped keeping us cool but made the walk over wet stones particularly difficult.

The rains and felled trees also made for some interesting route obstacles


Once my body got used to the altitude, the trek started getting much easier. We crossed a few small rivers where my trek mates shared an interesting story.

In their last trek, a few kids from IIT Bombay joined them. The rivers they crossed were much bigger and fast flowing and one of the girls froze in the middle of the river. Too scared to go either forward or back, she decided to sit in the river. After trying to coax her to keep moving, 3 boys eventually went back into the river and carried her back. I’m kinda glad that I didnt make any long lasting stories in this trek.

Half way up the mountain, the view was breathtakingly beautiful, even making me forget the pain for a short while.



The rest of the trek was uneventful other than a few slips by my trek mates, nothing too painful. The top of the mountain was covered by cloud so couldn’t get any pictures from there, but the temperature did feel like someone turned on the A.C. switch.

It was a wonderful start to the trekking season and as soon as the pain subsides I’m going for some more…


Friday, July 12, 2013

Scan My Library

Why didn’t I find this service before. Before moving to India, I was wondering what to do with my book collection. I didn’t care for most of my collection but there were a few out of print books that I did not want to part with. Shipping them to India was cost prohibitive and I started looking for alternatives to shipping.

I came across this website called At a flat fee of $3 per book (irrespective of book size) they scanned my books to pdf making me a very very happy camper. Yay book digitization!!

Scan My Library

Friday, July 05, 2013

Right pitch

If you haven’t found the right pitch to along with your matrimonial ad, this article will be of help.

Right pitch

Monday, July 01, 2013

When people ask me why I am leading a semi-retired lifestyle, I show them this.

Notwithstanding the fact that this theory can be floated against any argument you dont like.

He means business


He means business

Monday, March 11, 2013

How I missed you

Its been a real long time since I grabbed a glass of wine and tucked in to listen to music. When you are feeling a bit blue, you have to go back to your old favorites and mine is Madeleine Peyroux. I’m also trying to embrace youtube in all its glory, so I’ve put together a playlist of 15 of my favorite Madeleine Peyroux tracks.


The first song ‘River of Tears’ gets you in the perfect mood. If you’ve never listened to Peyroux, try her out..


Stop all this talk

Turn off the telephone

Open up another bottle

Send those people home

Let it get real quiet

Turn that lamp way down low

I’m gonna float down this river of tears

How I missed you