Thursday, April 23, 2009

I try

Another one, from Inkscape. All I am saying is, I couldn't have done better on Windows.


Using Inkscape, on Linux.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Trek to Vasota

Went about two weeks ago, no time to blog about it till now. Left around eleven in the night from Dadar station. The bumpy Asiad ride took us to Satara bus stop, where we ended up at something like five thirty in the morning. It was late in the night, so no communal singing in the bus. Had tea at the Satara bus stop. Then waited for the bus to Banmoli, which came at around seven. This was a two and a half hour journey through the neighbouring hills. Satara rushed past us, and we had a peek at some of the important landmarks at Satara. Schoolchildren kept climbing on and climbing off throughout the ride. Finally, we reached Banmoli. This place is really strange for one reason - there are friggin bats growing from the trees. Every single tree you saw, was totally infested with bats. One really wondered if the bats found enough suntanance... this was overkill, like a damaged ecosystem with cancer.
The sarpanch of the village served us tea, which was a little strange. The banner in the tea shop carried his photo. The village had a lot of dismembered boats lying about.

Then we sat in a boat, for another two and a half hour journey to Met Indavli, which is the base village for Vasota. Introductions on the boat, bumped into a few photography enthusiasts.

Started the climb after lunch at around one. The forest was really dense, and we were going to new Vasota. There were a lot of birds around, and when everyone was filling water at a pool, I explored to get some butterflies, and I found:

Really refreshing trek through the forest, didn't feel steep or difficult at all. Some fortifications were still around. Bumped into two or three other groups, exchanged stories, chatted a bit, and then eventually ended up at Babukada.

The view was breathtaking, burst upon us more suddenly than Kokankada at Harishchandragad. At Harishchandragad, at least you can see the cliff from a hundred meters away, and you are expecting the rush by the time you enter upon it. At Vasota, you come into Babukada from the dense forest like pat... its like a slap to the face. Babukada happens to be the second largest cliff in Maharashtra after Kokankada at Harishchandragad. Above Babukada, the old Vasota is located, access to which is not allowed nowadays. A group studying birds were allowed in, but permission is not given to everyone as it is a wildlife reserve, and a little known one at that.

Group photo time, although some people were missing.

Across the fort, we walked, lazing around in what little shade we could find. Found some candy, and gave some ants a nice saturday night party before coming back down.

The trek back down was also refreshing, but it was getting dark. The night sounds in the forest are great to hear, and also pretty confusing. These forests are supposed to have every kind of animal except elephants and lions - yes, including two striped tigers. We saw wild cocks, and people from the group had seen bear marks before.

The night allowed us to experiment a bit with our cameras. Good campfire and dinner.

After dinner, a bunch of us went out and lazed around by the river in a boat. Exchanged travelling stories, chatted, identified constellations, gazed at the stars, spotted a few shooting stars, forgot to wish, more specifically, had nothing to wish for.

Then the sun rose. We waited for the boat for too long a time. Talked more under the shade of a large tree, over badly cooked maggi. Back to Banmoli, slept in the bus ride to Satara, picked up kandi pedas at Satara, which are a speciality. Then came back to Mumbai, over a long long journey. Slept half the way or somewhat. Got down at Kurla, met a friend who lived nearby, then headed back home. The bus went on to Dadar, a fellow traveller got down, caught a train, and met me in the same compartment when I got on at Kurla station.

Talked about cameras, photography, lenses, trekking and the like. Season opening up in the Himalayas the next two months. Saving up for next year.

Ah well. I'll throw in a buffalo and call it a day.

Bunch o Cakes this month


For great justice.


Yeah, got one of those. Second guitar, first one was second hand... not sure where it is now, bet it's having a great time. This is the guy who got it for me... bet he's having a great time to. So much of backlog, this is a backlogblog. What do you call one of em?
Your fingers feel great for hours after you stop playing. Damned though.

Monday, April 13, 2009

And now

I crawl into your head, an arrangement of vectors, spin a web, and trap a...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Visited Shivneri. Really well maintained place. Went with people who knew a lot about the history of the place. There were a whole bunch of really interesting doorways. There were seven, built over the long period of existence of the fort.

Many doorways had unique motifs, like a lion attacking an elephant. It was an allegorical animal, that was bigger than an elephant, and that looked like a lion. Buddhism was spreading fast, and overcoming the teachings of vedism all over India. The Marathas got back derivative forms of vedism as the popular religion (both, being branches of Hinduism)... which is the reason for the motif, with the elephant representing Buddhism and the Lion representing Hinduism.

Each of the doorways had a small guard room for storing the ammunition, and for the guards to rest. The doors themselves were solid, and spiked, but the doors were not on every one of the doorways. The stretches between the doorways themselves were well maintained, with gardens brimming with flowers and birds. This was one of the most beautiful forts I have visited, but Raigad was better for being more scenic and more natural.

Shivneri, interestingly was always called Shivneri, even from before the time Shivaji was born there. Shivaji, is not named after the God Shiva, but the goddess Shivaidevi, whose temple is at the fort. The fort was called Shivneri because of the temple, and Shivaji was named after the temple as well.

Each of us were guiding a blind student from a college in Mumbai. We spent most of the time describing what we saw. However, some volunteers went overboard by going "there is a step now... there is a step now... there is a step now..." and so on for the entire duration. They didn't have to tell the blind students of every step. The blind were smart enough to measure the height of the steps when they held on to your elbows. The fellow I talked with was pretty smart, and as long as I let him hold me, he needed no guidance whatsoever. Heard of people who were only half blind, people who went blind soon after birth (the light of the incubators affects the albinos, which is why there are so many albino blinds), and others who went blind after four or ten years - these remembered people, objects and colours, but could not see them anymore. Surgery has a low chance of working, and is bound to fail sooner or later.

The most interesting thing I heard about was the blind's terminology for those with different degrees of sight. Those who are completely blind are called "batti bujao" that is a blown out candle. Those who can see dimly are called "zero-watt" after 0 watt bulbs, which illuminate as much as a candle. Those who can see clearly are called "halogens". What inspired me was that the blind looked at light as being projected from a person's eyes, instead of falling onto the person's eyes.

There were a whole bunch of structures at the top of the fort. There were at least three tanks, this was what I think was some kind of dining quarters, or a guest house. There was this well made up palace that looked like a large temple, which was the place where Shivaji grew up and was trained. There was the Shivaidevi temple at the topmost point of the fort. Elephants and arms were held here. The building where Shivaji was born, is a two storeyed structure. The bottom room is cordoned off, with a commemorative statue and a cradle.

For most maharashtrians, this is one of the holiest places in the land. The whole place brims with history, and the locals mixed with us as we discussed the implications of Shivaji, and how he is used as a political force till date. The ideals of the man, of self-rule, and a preference for non-violent, and above the belt attacks were what eventually emerged, along with his love for all religions, and arts.

That's the entire group. Called "Kalpavihar Adventure"