Archive for the 'vacation' Category

26
Oct
10

Off to Kitulgala. Again.

People made use of the long weekend in a myriad of ways. Some hung out with friends, some took some much needed rest and still others might have gone sheep wrestling(It’s the new in thing, I assure you). I, along with a few dozen people from various Roteract clubs, decided to banish ourselves to the wilderness of Kitulgala like a bunch of lepers seceding from society.

It’s no coincidence that we ended up going there again. A long time ago, a friend(A) and I went along with another friend(B) who was in the Leo club to Kitulgala, that time with a bunch of Leo club members. It was fun in that way that we like to get away from civilization for three days or so. So sneakily, my friend(A), who is by now in one of the few billion Roteract clubs scattered around Sri Lanka, decided it’d be great for his club to organize something like that. So we ended up doing the same thing all over again.

I still haven’t really gotten why these clubs exist. They don’t seem to do much. It’s as if they banded together out of a sheer lack of people to hang out with. I mean, you can go on wilderness retreats and paint people’s orphanages with your friends too, you know?

So anyway, we get there and the program is slightly different. We are told there will be “water activities” and later, white water rafting even. Cursing the fever I’d been suffering from the previous three days and under the influence of which I still was, I hoped to God I’d be able to shimmy along the ground guerrilla style as well as the skinny girl standing next to me. Listening to the same motivational speeches and spiel about the environment needing to be saved(you have to admit, saying it needed to be saved while standing someplace where the very buildings had vines growing on them wasn’t quite effective) got old fast.

I usually make good first impressions. If conditions are favourable and the person the impression is being made on is of a decent sort I usually come off as not only dashing and refreshing but also funny. Sometimes even more adjectives that end in -ing. Unfortunately for me, doing the camp thing all over again and the fever helped make a first impression worthy of someone straight out of a Green Day video. Skulking around in the organizers’ cabin wasn’t very social behaviour. When the time came to pick a team leader, I was nowhere near any position to be put up, as opposed to last time, when the team, clearly seeing that failure to pick someone who can recite the part numbers of nearly every video chipset released in the past few years would result in their utter failure to survive in the savage wilderness of Kitulgala, and hence their violent deaths, probably with angry natives and fire-ants involved, picked me to lead them to victory which only my particular brand of self-praise and doting on grammar could bring them. But I digress(While also boasting. See how good I am at this leadership business?).

Things were further confused for me when one of the teams decided to call themselves the “Tweeters”. My initial geeky reaction was to check twitter to see if anyone had mentioned it. Then, seeing that nobody had mentioned it, I switched to sleuth mode and, pulling my magnifying glass and trench coat out, went looking for answers. After going through half the team and being laughed at for my trench coat, and many lengthy arguments about it’s usefulness in the jungles near Ginigathhena, I found out they picked it simply because the team before them picked the name they were going to use and it was the first thing that popped into their heads. Dreams of a strange twitter meet-up in the wilderness shattered, I slunk off back to my sand covered bed. Suffice to say the rest of the trip was overshadowed by this terrible revelation.

In short, I went off to camp in the hills where we dived off of overhanging rocks into pools of water, hiked a few k’s through the jungle and went white water rafting. it was plenty fun, even if most of it was a repeat. I’d readily recommend it if you’re into that kind of thing.

10
Apr
09

BBL

Jerry|Away(Be back in two weeks)

25
Feb
09

Where I’ve Been

I inspect my face in the mirror. It looks a bit sharper, more rough. The kind of face you get after a few days of wandering around in jungles. Corporate or otherwise. Complete with sagging eyes and unkempt beard, I was a regular Robinson Crusoe. Or if I wasn’t in such a wannabe-white-boy mood, a regular veddha. But that sounds less sexy. Even my head was spinning for god knows why.

How did I end up like this? Rewind a few hours.

8:30pm
I’m hoping there are buses to Colombo from Hanwella, where I just got off a bus from Kitulgala to pick up a few small but essential things I left at a friend’s house. I’m all too aware that I’m a dude carrying an enormous bag in the middle of the night, with wires sticking out of my pocket. Needless to say, the other two people there edged away. As if they’d get any less blown up if I was indeed a suicidal pyromaniac. Finally, a bus arrives. I get on it and find all the seats taken. I glare at some kid staring at me. Eventually I get a seat and promptly fall asleep. wake up just before I’m supposed to get off in Pettah, and in my absent mindedness, nearly waved and yelled at everyone after I got off, since that was what I did the last time I was on a bus.Thankfully I stopped myself after turning around to face it, and before my hand was up.

A few sheepish minutes later
It’s 9:20 by now and I’m too tired to lug my bag all the way to near the station. I doubt there would have been any buses there anyway. So I set off into the deserted private bus stand looking for a long distance bus going my way. Find one and sit. My legs praise my wise decision and my brain rewards me with a feeling much like having my legs sponged down by doting nymphs. Imagination runs amok when you’re sleepy. Bus finally pushes off after 20 minutes or so and I keep my eyes glued to the road since these buses travel pretty fast. After approximately three minutes, I fall asleep. Time and space pass.

Wake up. Look outside, recognize nothing. Realizing that the best measure of where I am is the time, I consult my phone. It tells me it’s 10:30. Right. I should have been near my house at about 10:10. The bus stops to drop some dude so I jump off just as he starts accelerating again. First thing that pops out of the darkness as I try to slow my rapidly displacing person is one of those concrete mile post things. After rushing around it and finally stopping, I find myself standing in the middle of a puddle of water. I scan a lonely shop sign for any mention of location. It says Belummahara. Doesn’t ring any bells. So I pull out my phone. Yakkala. Egad. I’m dead. At this point it strikes me that my approximate location nearly hit me in the face as I got off the bus. I go back to look at the milepost. It says 26km along the A1. Highly distressing considering there’s one just like that where I live which says 14. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I went exactly twice the distance I wanted to go. *shake fist at sky* So, armed with my approximate location and some money, but also crippled by a large red bag and some money, I cursed myself for not staying on the bus till the last stop so I could just get another back.

Now, Colombo may not be so bad at 10:40 in the night, but once you go out of it, Sri Lanka is a dead country, save for the occasional gang of thugs or the lone old man on a bicycle. You can imagine what it was like to be standing on the side of a deserted road with paddy fields on one side and a few derelict looking buildings on the other. Look in the direction of home. Emptiness. I look the other way, looks like vehicles in the distance. Start walking and stick my hand out at any three wheelers that pass. They all rush past. I start contemplating hiding my bag somewhere and sleeping at the step of some building. I also contemplate being mugged by some dude, since I’m practically a walking traffic cone what with the bag being a bright red. I think I was just too tired to panic. Eventually I get to a junction like place and see two three wheelers stopped by the side of the road. Hallelujah! Get in one and head back. Talk to the driver about stuff like terrorists, the bomb the day before and public transport being nonexistent at night. Get off, pay, and quickly walk the few meters to my gate. Open. Stick key into lock, turn, and be greeted by The Music Of The Night. My dad’s reading something on the couch while playing music just loud enough to indoctrinate those trying to sleep. Not so loud that it disturbs, and not quiet enough to ignore. He goes “HMM” at me. I stumble into my room and start pulling out all sorts of half drenched things from my pockets. Wallet, pieces of paper and phone etc. Start feeling dizzy. 11:24.

I inspect my face in the mirror.

Things I learned in camp-

  • Never take things that don’t like getting wet on hikes.
  • Turn down requests to be team leader if it involves motivating the team on hikes.
  • Wear appropriate shoes on hikes. Multi-terrain sneakers might make you feel like spiderman, but you’ll regret it later when you wonder how to get all that mud off.
  • I’m still in pretty good shape physically!
  • The wood they give you to make rafts is not adamantium cored.
  • Rowing is hard.
  • Rowing backwards is harder.
  • There is no such thing as too much camouflage face paint.

Will get to reading all your blogs in a bit. Till then, just imagine I commented and leave a response. Actually, use this as my standard comment – “Yeah right. Go ears! lol. hit me baby one more time and lick a goat! woo”.
There.

12
Sep
08

Nothing, Living on "Teh Edge" and Obama

So yeah… I’m doing nothing now…
And it’s tiring. I didn’t realize how hard it is to just do nothing for weeks. Yes, it takes effort to do nothing. That’s why they call it “Actively doing nothing”.

Anyway, my mother’s not home for two weeks, so most meals are now improvised. I had roti and chocolate sauce for breakfast today :/ Yes, tis a hard life, and my last journal entry read thus -

“Day 6 : Food supplies running low. I saw someone swipe the last bit of my bread pudding the other day. It’s every man for himself now. Potatoes have become our bread and butter.

I might not make another entry for a few days, or maybe even never again. Already started hallucinating. A potato asked me to save the whales when I was boiling it.
I have to go now, for I fear any more sitting at this PC will allow them to break me. THEM. The potatoes. 
…”

You might argue that they’re not all that bad, for example, they’re great as pets. Keep them long enough an they start sprouting little… things. But trust me, they’re evil. But on the other hand, I’m honing my skills all the time. For example I learnt that custard powder tastes very bad, and that you shouldn’t try to open little packets with your mouth. Also that it is best not to use a meat cleaver to clean your fingernails.
But I’m off on a tangent again… In other news, I’m experimenting with Flash to make my portfolio and leaving the PC on for hours rendering stuff in Cinema 4D. Hopefully I’ll have a job by the time the astronomical electricity bill arrives. 
And with the great wisdom of all teenagers, I cast my vote for the black guy in the elections in the US. The white guy’s a redneck.
I can see the headlines now “An epic battle between white and black, good and evil, gay marriage and free beer!”. And don’t be all “Ohh look he’s calling him a black guy!”. What AM I supposed to call him then? It’s the easiest way to identify the dude, you racist!
And with that meaningless message I sign off for yet another week of aimless wandering…
P.S. – The top three books list will be posted later!
05
May
08

India!

Hello All!

I’ve been away for a while, but rest assured that I enjoyed every minute of it! :p Anyway, Here’s some captioned pics I took. To explain the whole trip word by word would be too much like forcing you to watch the endless slide shows of vacation pictures on my hard drive. Since I haven’t got a kick out of torturing my audience in a long time, I’ll just provide the pictures. Most of them can be clicked for enlargements.

This is more or less the India that I remember most from my last trip there. The Ambassador taxis. When I was a kid I thought it was the bomb! (Who says ‘the bomb’ anymore these days eh?) You could fit about 7 people in one, and it had nice ‘cushiony’ seats. This time over, I went just once in one of these, and it wasn’t very pleasant. Too hot and bumpy. It was hot enough to melt the deodorant right out of my armpits. But newer locally made cars seem to overcome this problem, by switching the A/C to “Blizzard” mode when started, then carrying on at a more sedate pace.

The beach! Holy land for many a temperature-challenged person! Or maybe even many a thirsty old man. When I initially decided to go to the beach, it was 12 noon. Now, many years of comic books and Bay-Watch-ish programming on TV has instilled in me the idea that the beach was a place for any time of day. Need a run in the morning? The beach. Need to cool off after a grueling day at school? Need to chill after a hard day’s work? Need a place to bury a corpse in the night? Anyway, my midday soirée was cut off at the pass by my mother who shouted in astonishment whether I was insane going to the beach at noon. Apparently it was the devil’s fryer at this time of day. I finally managed to get out at about 3pm. Windy, salty and completely deserted! Awesome strip of beach.

Last time I went, the railway station looked more or less like the Fort station. Concrete floors, dirty walls with peeling paint, and urchins sitting around staring at tourists. But man, have things changed. Now I know what they were talking about when they said India’s developing, fast, on CNN. One thing that would have led to this, I think, was sponsorship. Advertisements were plastered all over the place. In the station, on the stairs, in the trains, and they even had these screens inside the trains which were showing a sort of mini TV station broadcast just for the railway service. This too had many ad spots.

Some Chinese fishing net thing. They lower the net side into the water, then raise it up using the counterweights on the other end. I doubt they use these even in china now.

Just checking how far the zoom on the camera worked :) . The blocky ness is due to digital zoom. But, 12x seems pretty decent. I’m stuck with this compact till I get a job.

This is in Cochin. A fraction of it, actually. Take that picture, and multiply by 100 and you’ll have an idea of what it looks like now. Unfortunately I couldn’t carry the camera around while we were driving around, so no cityscapes or anything. But on the bright side, without a camera, I blended in nicely as just another local. But when it came to talking, I stuck out like a sore thumb with my accent. Most shopkeepers smiled and asked whether I was from SL, or just looked a bit puzzled. But all in all, shopping around was interesting. Three assistants introduced themselves to me in the same store, going from section to section.

Amusement park was truckloads of fun, with all sorts of rides. From rollercoaster’s water rides. I finally discovered why people scream in rides. Yes, this rock crushing demon bashing specimen of man was screaming his head off. But the problem with a water park is, while you’re going on the rides, you can’t take pictures without your camera meeting it’s maker in a watery grave.

More experiments with the camera. That’s my cousin on the left, “handling” his hair. My cousin and his family spent about four days going about with us, which gave us the opportunity to say whatever the hell we want in Sinhalese, knowing no-one else understood. Thankfully, we didn’t run into any tour-guides.

The collage! Click for enlargement!What collection would be complete without it? Some of the Flora and fauna, and some buildings. The cat’s my aunt’s. And yet again, I find that this camera is very satisfying when used in macro mode. 2cm is close enough to see every detail in anything.

There you have it, folks. My entire trip vaguely outlined with pictures.

26
Dec
07

Not a Resolutions Post!

People make New Year’s resolutions, and then don’t stick to them. So, instead of that, I’m going to post a few things that annoy me. I shall do my best to abolish these things, and hence make myself happy and in the process, make myself more pleasant to the outside world, which should hopefully make up for not having any resolutions.

That’ll also help me make up fake resolutions for when people insist.

ANNOYING THINGS

1) Walking into a spider’s web in the morning-

This happens when you’ve just set foot out of the house. These webs, produced by the less mentally gifted of the eight legged insects, hang in wait for you in places like the front door frame, the gap between a car and a pillar, or even a wall and a drooping tree branch. It’s extremely annoying when you’ve just cleaned up and set out towards the new day and you have this invisible net all over your face and hair. After you’ve managed to get rid of the infernal web from hell, you end up looking exactly the way you woke up, which would be okay if everyone lived in a movie, but, as my shrink said, that’s not so.

2) People throwing maxims at you -

Early to bed & Early to rise, Makes a man Healthy, Wealthy & Wise

As if it were any object to a boy to be healthy, wealthy and wise on those terms. It is sayings such as these that pull down a sprouting individual, and makes him lose all hope of ever measuring up to anything. What with people praising various idols and exalting their kids to be like them, not realizing that these “idols” were really vicious. Take for example the author of the line above, B Franklin. In order to fly his kite out on Sundays, he’d hang a key on it and say he was “fishing for lightning”, and the people would go about praising the “great wisdom” of the sabbath breaker. What parents don’t realize is that studying till morning, then waking up at an inhuman hour and doing things like peddling your own poetry are the signs of genius, not the cause of it. If they did, there would be so many more little Einsteins and Darwins. And I would have earned my first million by 16, yet here I am.

3) Made for TV Christmas movies -

These pieces of coal that flow out of the studios along with the rest of the gems and assorted rocks, seem to want to somehow bludgeon the viewer into the Christmas spirit with an arsenal of bad acting and directing. The way these weapons are yielded could very well scare an audience into submission, and want to pray to god to make it stop. And what better way for a non-believer to start than by celebrating the birthday of the very one he is about to appeal to for help?

That’s all that comes to mind right now, but there’s plenty more, obviously…

May the New Year bring you New Joy!

I thought that up myself. That has to count for something extra. You owe me a New Year’s gift.

16
Dec
07

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas People! Here’s my card to you -


Another year comes to an end… … I’m trying to think of something meaningful to say, but, true to form, my mind’s wisdom generator fails me at the most (in)opportune moments.

Anyway, As the more perceptive of you might have noticed, Christmas is going downhill. I remember when I was small when we used to go shopping for all sorts of things during Christmas season. From new decorations, even if they’re not really needed, to speacial food. Now, each of us usually does our own small scale purchasing at Christmas.

But, ever the optimist(most of the time :-) ), I keep hoping for some sort of relief. Be it either moving out, or a revolution of some kind(fat chance).

But this is not the time to dwell on such things! Christmas is not about buying things is it? Enjoy the season for what it is!

Have a merry Christmas!

…. Christmas is waaaayyy too commercialized.

Also consider -

26
Aug
07

The Vacation

This is the accompanying text for the images posted earlier, also a short commentary on the whole thing. Brought to you by popular demand! ( =I just wanted to, so shut up and read it)

Anyway, I started on Friday, Got up, dressed, replied to all messages, got into the bus and went to the meeting place. Halfway there I remembered I’d left my cell phone charger back home. So, off the bus and back home. I eventually met up with my friend and we set off.

After an uneventful couple of hours we got to Kandy. Filled up gas(no, it actually WAS gas, LPG), and set off for Nuwara Eliya after stretching our legs. Now, Nuwara Eliya is a weird place. It’s a place where you actually get more cold when you walk fast, because that way the wind is blowing at you faster. You’d understand this phenomenon if you did your Relative Velocity at school.

While in Nuwara Eliya, we climbed a mountain(A real one, without any ready made paths, just trees, trees and more trees), shivered, and were chased away by ghosts(Well, the sign said “Abandoned : Dangerous. Keep Away”, so we assumed anyone else would keep away). All of which didn’t raise our body temperature by even a fraction of a degree. People here must be having a hell of a hard tie losing weight, since sweating certainly can’t be achieved unless you tie yourself to a horse and kick it in the noggin. We also went through a Children’s Home, I think, In our attempt to get down off the mountain. We had to jump over a couple of gates, but we made it, Albeit running into the caretakers. Tried to play the dumb tourist, but he kept asking how we had got there when the gates were all closed. How do you think? Gravitating? Sheesh…

Then, after two days of freezing, it was off to Bandarawela and climes more habitable. Here, we set off to conquer yet another mountain, but found that the grass which looked about two feet high from the Bungalow was, in fact an astounding 7 feet or longer. But deterred we were not! Just a little itchy by the end of it, when we found we had barked up a completely different tree, so to speak. We were on top of yet another hill, not our intended one, and faced with the prospect of going through all the murderous man-eating grass below us. So we did what any straight thinking individual would do. We stayed there. Eventually it started getting dark, so we had to come down of the thing and find a path back, which we did.

Next day, off to Yala. It’s Monday by now. As we absceil the slopes, I start feeling more and more uncomfortable. Sweat! Actual liquid off my skin! Whoa… Anyway, As the flora, and the fauna started looking more de-hydrated, we entered the [Whatever district Yala is in] District. Eventually got to Yala!
We got a jeep and started off. Drove for a few miles without anything in sight, except the usual dry bushes, which seem to fill in as the horizon round these parts. Finally we got to the check in. Or registration thing. There was a museum there too, full of skeletons of animals who’d got too friendly with the humans.

The most abundant quadruped in Yala seemed to be the Elephants. The most abundant biped being Humans. Peacocks, too were common. The highlight of the journey was, though the Leopard. This carefree predator just strolled across the trail and walked leisurely into the bush across. But I still couldn’t get any decent images of it thanks to the dinky little 3x zoom lens on the compact. And I had to use digital zoom(High tech image ruining software) to actually see it. I DID get it on film on the SLR too, but I still haven’t processed it yet. These Leopards seem a little too calm, probably the reason their nearing extinction… Probably strike a pose when the poachers get near…

Anyway, by the time we were leaving, we were all covered in dust from head to toe and thoroughly shook up by the Defenders’ movement. Then on to Kataragama to stay the night. When we got there, we cleaned up and went for a romp about town. So far so good, but little did we know there was no such “town”, to romp about. We just got to a place called “Round Kade” and went in towards the gazillions of shops selling fruits and things as offerings to the various deities. Also a lot of bangles and chains and things.

The next morning, I went over to the restaurant looking to eat a hearty meal in preparation for the long drive home. But it was not to be so. The powers that be had decreed that whoever stays in this place should eat good ol’ local/vegetarian food. Are not the worshipers pious enough to not eat the meat? And let the tourists have a regular meal, rather than eat grass? After the “meal”, we set off for the temples. Yes, it’s practically a mall full of places of worship. Look one way you see a mosque, the other way and you see a temple(Hindu or Buddhist). The architecture seemed a little, varied. At one point I saw a Snake doing something very questionable to a Swan, under it’s belly. Saw a guy crack a coconut after shaking his booty for a while, purportedly to make a wish come true…

All in all, It was quite eventful, even on the way back. Just too lazy to describe any more. So people, there you go!

24
Aug
07

Yala Ahoy!

I went to Yala. And some other places. Nuwara Eliya, Bandarawela and Kataragama to be precise. Can’t think of any interesting opening lines, so just check out the images.

WARNING : Amateur Photography ahead.

Trees in Yala, Also Shadows in Yala.

Leopard in Yala. Apperently they’re quite rare. Not too surprising seeing the way they pretend you don’t even exist when you drive by…

No points for guessing what’s hidden in the trees. Sunset in Yala. Self explanatory.
Nuwara Eliya -

One of the humongous Bulls I saw at the Ambewela Farm.Neck looked about 2 feet wide. And no sir, Ah suuure din not see any “Photography is Prohibited” sign.

Kataragama-

Some of the local apes in Kataragama. Sacred, none the less.

One of the less camera shy dieties in Kataragama. Most of the others were recluses, who’d ordered they’re priests to shoo away any tourists carrying cameras.

All in all, it was pretty interesting. Although it WAS a little strange going from extremely cold to extremely dry in a span of five days.
Random thoughts –
* People in Nuwara Eliya can easily spot outsiders by looking for people who are in summer clothes and are usually shivering.
* Horses bump up and down waaaayy too much.
* Everything is sacred in Kataragama. Even down to the hotel food, which was depressingly vegetarian. I was a little dissappointed. I was expecting throngs of people rushing around, and when I finally roamed around the city, I had a hard time finding what the actual “town” was. When I got there, it was more or less deserted other than for the millions of pavement hawkers trying to sell us plates of fruits and veggies.





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