Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chro: Dec 1 2007

Hey Doc.


I read that a company in Japan makes high-end diagnostic equipment to check blood samples for the presence of leukemia cells.

Now these are big machines, you know. High-tech that only them Japanese can do. But this company outsources the manufacture of nameplates for these machines to China. It's cheaper there apparently.

Really! That's news.

Now don't pull my leg on this one doc. Everyone knows China is cheaper, even me who's been in this facility for the last 6 years.

Alright. What's your point?

Doc, it bothers me. These metallic nameplates just list the company's name and specifications and says "Made in Japan".

And again...your point is?

Is it ethical to emboss "Made in Japan" on a nameplate that's actually made in China?

Yes of course! Wait. Good. very good. Do you know what got you here into this facility in the first place? You think you think too much.

That's not the point. Is it ethical or not?

I'll get back to you on that. Remind me to cancel your newspaper subscription, IF you get them from tomorrow.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Satopanth Tal Trek - The End

Old Posts:
The Beginning.
Day 1
Day 2

We woke up in time to see the stream in front of our camp with a thin sheet of ice on top, but showing a good amount of thaw.

The moon was still up.

Today was the day for the final push. We were planning to walk up to the New Base Camp (BC) of Mt. Neelkanth and from there to Chakrateerth. If we did good we would walk a few more kilometers and camp next to Satopanth Tal. With fresh snowfall in the past few days, the path was going to be tricky. However, with a campsite near an icy lake straddled by the mighty Himalayan peaks being our destination, motivation was oozing out of every mountain pore.

Breakfast was dull as I had lost the last vestiges of appetite. I had some biscuits and tea choosing to forego the roti and dal being cooked in our camp. We were raring to go, and as usual Mannu send us on an uphill climb with a promise to catch up soon, one that he must used to keeping. The views were too good everywhere.

Looking down, we saw them gather the gears and start to walk up.

In another 30-45 minutes our support crew joined us. Somewhere here:

We kept walking taking liberal 5-10 minute breaks in between. Climbing the rock-strewn path was no easy thing.

After crossing the New BC of Mt. Neelkanth, we encountered our first batch of fresh snow. It was a bit of dangerous going, as you would never know how deep your legs are going to go down.
And when we reached here I knew I will not be dying a happy man. This looked like a snow cemetery.

I imagined snow ghosts pulling me down and they did. And they pulled our captain down our too. The problem was that there was nothing like a "route" which was safe.

I know when I'm thigh deep in snow that I should stop. One more step, and I can be an ad for Levis Jeans with just the label showing. Looking back at it, the hard part was not your legs going down in snow. In a recent trip, we had oodles of that sort of stuff happening, but there was little threat. Here, the problem was the snow was on top of loose rock, stones and gravel. Every time your legs go down, you could sense sharp stones or whatever trying to cut your leg.

It was a tough call from here on. Mannu said that he can possibly break a trail. I wasn't keen, with all last night's thoughts running in my head. I decided to stay back and Shylu was also not keen on pressing further.

Mannu wanted to go ahead while we camped. It was his first trek of the season and he did not want to jinx it. Fair enough. Bhuvan went with him, and we watched them for a long time as they made their way through the madness falling, shifting, sliding, picking up, but not even once looking back.

Kuldip had set up the tent up on the New Base Camp in around 45 minutes.
Snap time.

The tea was ready. Mannu and Kuldeep were out of sight. We decided to just chill inside the tent. I slept off and woke up in the afternoon and started feeling bored after lunch. No devices to keep you occupied, your friend sleeping, your porter tired, there's nothing you can do but think. Or take snaps, but I had done that already.
So I started making a mini dam with small stones and mud on the little stream next to our tent. It was good to arrest the water flow for a while, and at some point, I broke the "dam" to watch it all gush out. I hadn’t played that game since I was 9 or 10 years old. Hmmm.

I think this is Shipton's Peak, in memory of Eric Schipton, one of the doyens of Himalayan Mountaineering.

Shipton could have been the captain of the 1953 Everest Expedition which put Hillary and Tenzing on top. In fact, he headed the reconnaissance mission on Everest the earlier year. But Major Hunt was chosen ahead of him. Part of the reason was Shipton was more of a mountain lover, some sort of romantic, with a hint of distaste for heavy-duty war-like expeditions. Britain needed a more pragmatic leader, and they went for Hunt. And the rest is history.

While we were dozing off and getting bored and building icky dams on silly streams, Mannu and Co was up to some serious work. I had given him my camera, and boy, did he bring back a treat!
These are pictures of Chakrateerth.

And this is the icy Satopanth lake. It was not Valentine’s day, but the ice formation was just perfect.

Mannu came back by early evening. He had tasted success and was possibly the first man to sight icy Satopanth that year. Here’s him sharing the icy details with an eager listener.

And these are the remnants of a dwelling.
A sadhu a.k.a saint used to live near Satopanth Tal year around. He used to get a lot of traffic, including foreigners. A sadwhi (saintess:) complained that he was doing illicit stuff and got the administration to demolish his arrangements.

Cooking is a pain at these altitudes.

We went to sleep early deciding to try and reach Mana Village back the next day. Frankly, there was no sense of disappointment in either of us. Two of our crew had made the destination. I still remember listening to Shylendran “Macha, reaching this much is big enough. What’s the point in taking risks that you are not comfortable with?” True. *

That's me - the Sherlock Holmes shadow shot, trying to capture a shot of the melting water early next morning.

Return was quick. We just hopped over boulders and ran down. This time – way ahead of our guide and support. I don’t know how that happens. Perhaps, we were eager to return to a phone call, our kind of food, friends, e-mails whatever. I guess we reached Laxmi Van in record time.
Here's the video of the breaking up of an ice-waterfall:

Few shots on the way. The following one is of Mordor.

This time around, we decided to cross the Alak Nanda on our way back. It was a bold, if not chilly decision. The water was only knee-deep, but it was freezing to point that your feet were becoming to become numb in 30-40 seconds, and the flow was not bad.

All of us were jumping around in the hot sand once we reached the other side. Shoes and socks flew as we tried to get out of them and press the numb feet in sand. Here’s a post-dramaticus photo.

There was one small problem though. Our guide’s thermal flask was forgotten on the other side. The ultra-efficient Bhuvan went back and brought it back. He had done what we did multiple times now. First to test the water, then to help us to the other side, and now for a flask.

The walk to Manna village was relatively easy.

This is the same doggie that I had captured in a snap a year back.

Once we reached Manna, we heard the big news. UPA had won the election, and Congress had an enormous upper hand. BJP was thrashed in Uttarakhand losing 12 out of 13 parliamentary seats. That evening we were having a conversation with Mannu (he was all smiles, his vote for the Congress helped, he had reached Satopnath etc.), one or two villagers, and a senior BJP functionary of Joshimath district. I asked this person why he thought BJP lost in Uttarakhand which was its stronghold. He had the usual reasons like giving seats to defectors from other parties. He did blame the ruling CM – Mr. Khanduri. His take was that Khanduri takes an even stance – does not care if the people in front of him were from Congress or from his own party – then what’s the point (in being in a party). So naturally, his party men were upset. And they lost. True. Such a politician cannot win elections in India. Unfortunately. **

Weather next day was clear. Here's a good shot of the streets of Mana.

* But, I spoke to him last month about the same things, and, ironically, far removed in time from that day, both of us agreed – but in the opposite direction – "Macha, we should have gone all the way.”

** Khanduri was soon enough removed from the post of UK CM.

Friday, May 6, 2011


How far can one month be?
If it's a critical assignment due on June 8th, it is right there.
If it's something that you would rather do, it's an eternity.

Fresh air is in the air.
No traffic blocks when you wake up somewhat late in the morning.
Walk as long and far as your legs and your lungs take you.
Carry your own gear. And while you do that,
think about the fellow who filled air in your car tires and wonder.
Why was the last tire to be filled -always- the one next to the driver. Economics?

Forget what you have to.
Alzheimer was a man. Not a syndrome.
Forgive even what you don't have to.

I'm luvin it -
no connections -
except -
relativity -
and the need to do and know more. Explore!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tere Bina Laden

Hi all,

This is from BLR and not Sudan. There's something really nasty that we need to talk about. We hush it up because it is very difficult.

This is what happened last Sunday. I was on a real estate mission to find a new home for rent for one of my close family members. We were tired and finally decided to use a real estate agent/broker.

He was buoyant about his inventory and we agreed to meet up with him some place in BLR. Nice fellow in his early fifties, suave, articulate, and sales-man-ie.

We looked at 2 places which we did not like - and cannot blame him for that. We wanted a Taj Mahal at the price of a Charminar (old time ciggie).

In passing he asked my relative where he lived - and I said "Beep". The response from his was quick But that's a majority Muslim area. "Beep" is infested with them. You know this place where we are standing, 3 kms on this side and 2 kms on that side, not a single Muslim.

I did not know what to tell him. Sorry Manzoor, Babu Jamal, Al Ameen, Asgar - all of you. I was in no mood to pick up a war of words with an idiot. I would have - but then it's not college. Let idiots be idiots.

But this is symptomatic of a problem that we refuse to talk about as a society. Why the seclusion? The broker and I belonged to two separate religions. How come he assumed that I did not want to be in a Muslim locality? Simply put - where did he get the globes to assume that?

The prized CIA asset was bumped off 48 hrs before I wrote this. Or was he really? Whatever.
But, was he the problem, or are we, all of us?


Monday, May 2, 2011

More from Khartoum

I dislike Sudan because it is so unlike India. That society is corrupt to the core. Let me recount a voting experience of my Sudanese friend.

He, along with three of his friends, once drove down to some dusty town next to Khartoum to vote in a regional election. Each of them were paid 60 pounds each (something like INR 1,000) to vote for the ruling party. They were also given a food packet each - just in case they were hungry after the long drive, and 180 ml of rum - just in case they had to wash the food down. So my lucky friend and his friends voted, booked a room at a star hotel and enjoyed a quiet (He said it was quiet, and I trust him.) evening before driving back early next day.

That much to purchase a vote? No wonder the elected ones become corrupt. They have to earn a decent ROI, correct?

That's why I like India. Our elections are free, fair, and focused. The intuitive Indian voter, armed with the principles of democracy, carefully analyzes the issues at hand, and decides on the right choice of leaders to guide our society into the future. We HAVE to protect that tradition.

When Anna Hazare said that booze and money buys votes, that was a slap on the average Indian voter. Thankfully the major political parties displayed the much needed righteous indignation. People’s Democracy (PD), the mouthpiece of the CPM in India, said: Hazare’s utter disdain for the voter and contempt for parliamentary democracy is indeed disturbing. True. What I find even more disturbing is that Hazare said Indians vote under the influence of Rs 100 or a bottle of liquor. Even if it were true, that places us way below the going rate of what happens in some African countries - and that's just not done.

A visionary leader also slammed Hazare's depoliticization moves by making a mockery of politics. That was just so cool!!! I really liked the way he slammed the depoliticisation moves by making a mockery of politics. He and his kind should slam more often for the benefit of a society that may go astray with all this wikileaks inspired madness. Yes - India needs honest politicians like we have at present to show you your place Hazare - lest the world think we are some corrupt African country like Sudan.