Sunday, August 30, 2009


  • Stationery, arguably, is one of the most mis-spelt words – it’s spelt stationary with alarming frequency. Which makes me think: Have you ever seen stationary ever being mis-spelt as stationery? I haven’t.
  • It’s sometimes serendipity that introduces us to a new word. Like I found smorgasbord. I encountered this completely new word, just like that, twice, in two different and unconnected articles, in the span of a day. (By the way, smorgasbord means a wide variety or collection, usually of food.)
  • On Sunday night while I was watching Sehar (a surprisingly taut film, I must add) I came across a hitherto unknown Hindi word varchasva (वर्चस्व). As explained in the film, it means something of an absolute authority that can neither be shared nor delegated – only earned. Interesting, isn’t it?
  • Talking of film titles reminds me of Naseem, a film made by Saeed Akhtar Mirza, way back in 1995. I didn’t get a chance to see the film until recently, but I always remembered the title of the film because, I guess, I liked the tenderness the word conveyed. Naseem, in Urdu, means morning breeze.
  • At work, the other day, I came across this new word – L10N. I had to scratch my head few times before I got to know that L10N is actually "localization" when you replace the alphabets between L and N and replace them with the count of absent alphabets. Ah, such new things I learn at work!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Last Thursday, I embarked on a trip that eventually took me to thirteen different forts, numerous towns and villages, abandoned ruins of temples on hilltops and riverbanks, rock-cut caves hidden in the thick foliage of forests, carved inscriptions, giant fortifications, unknown tombs, water tanks, mausoleums and minarets. It continued for more than three days, across about 1400 kilometers, with little rest in between. So, at the end of it all, my mind is in a blur, and what remains are a few stray images – most of them for reasons I do not understand, yet.
  • The first stop of the road trip came at a tiny little village, where we reached in the wee hours of the morning (in fact, it was more midnight than morning), and wanted to take a little nap in the veranda of a house that we barged in. It was a magnificently starry night and in between intermittent sleep I would stare heavenwards thinking of things that are usually inspired by such nights.
  • Atop one of the forts where some of the old structures are still remaining, was a neat little arched pavilion standing on the edge, overlooking the endless spread of valley below. It was a place I would have wanted to sit for hours, with crumbling rocks for company and strong winds whistling about. But, alas, before I could have my fill, it was time to descend and move towards our next destination.
  • In a godforsaken little place, the only eatery left open was (guess what!) a beer bar, the owner of which was kind enough to let us sleep on its terrace after dinner. So, there we slept again under a open sky, but this time in the company of a staggering pile of empty beer bottles.
  • A series of unknown tombs – about 12 to 15 – lie on an elevated platform in the middle of the fort that we climb in. Most of the tombs had crumbled away – stone slabs had tumbled down and trees had grown up on them – and there’s nothing to tell us who lie buried under them or how they died. Going by the look, it seems they were significant enough to have got such big tombs erected for them and they must have died together. Probably, fighting in a battle, or struck by an epidemic.
  • One of the pleasures of hiking to lesser known places is the surprise element. So, there was this place we went to that had an excellent Hemadpanthi temple with exquisite stone architecture. A steep climb to the hill beyond it revealed three rock-cut caves – one of them containing astonishing life-size statues of Mahavira in the dark cavernous hall. Standing outside the caves, I stood transfixed, looking over the valley that stretched beyond the horizon in the fading twilight, as the jungle came alive with calls of peacock, raucous noise of langurs, and myriad other birdsong.
  • On the road, looking out of window of the car, can be a thrilling experience in itself – nondescript small villages pass by, the clamour of small towns give way to open fields, bunch of trees with inviting shades stand by the road, a church steeple peeks at a distance, occasionally a cemetery or a cremation ghat appear near a river, the clouds change shape and colour as afternoon rolls into evening, the moon comes up shining with pale ghostly light, and the sky fills up like a canvas with clusters of tiny glittering stars.
  • On our last stop, we stand near two ruined temples near the bend of a river. The temples face each other and look much like twins. On their stone walls are curved statues of supple women playing musical instruments, men with garlands around their necks, horses, elephants, floral patterns – everything to the minutest possible detail. I sit on a slab of rock overlooking the tranquil river water flowing past in the fading twilight as the cool breeze soothes my travel-weary body.