Archive for June, 2011

This Sunday, I visited Mahabaleshwar, a hill station close to Pune, with a group of my office friends and colleagues. Well, this is a very memorable trip for me for quite a few reasons. Firstly, it was the first trip for me with friends this monsoon season. Secondly, the participation in this trip was the maximum we have ever had. And thirdly, this time we did not go on bikes (as usual), instead we hired a mini bus (this is my first such instance after a very long time).

Though this was not my first planned trip for this season, I and a few other friends had planned our annual monsoon season inauguration trip the weekend before this one to Sinhgad Fort. But due to very heavy rains, that plan had to be shelved.  In fact this trip also happened after a lot of confusion. Both the day and venue for the trip were not our first choice, but due to various circumstances that arose, we finally decided to visit Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, and Tapola. And amazingly all these changes were decided just one day before the trip. Also the participation for the trip kept on reducing as time neared. If I remember correctly, a group of 15-17 people should have made it that day, but finally 10 was the number that actually went.

As it always happens in India with the trip starting at least an hour late than the schedule time, this trip was no different. But astoundingly, this time everyone in the group reached on time (I think I was one of the last ones to reach, anyways but that too wasn’t very late) and it was the bus that got late and eventually delayed our start by an hour. We finally started a touch before 6 AM (we had planned for 5 AM) but as I had said before, that we do get late, we had kept a buffer time of half an hour for the start time. And looking at that I guess we were not really strained at being a little late.

The Gang (Ananda, Moiz, Umesh, Qais, Me, Firoz, Tejasweeta, Sandip, and Achyut). Vishal misses out from this one since someone had to click as well.

The journey started well as we left the city and touched the highway in half an hour. We all had woken up early and so were just relaxing, listening to music, and watching the green scenic beauty along the highway, when suddenly from nowhere, Ananda broke the ice with his scintillating dance moves. This got everyone in the mood, with Vishal and Qais joining in the fun (not dancing but they too got everyone in the mood). And suddenly the mood in the bus changed, from slow to full of exuberance.

Then at around 7:30 we halted for some time to have breakfast. The quality of snacks was good, and was more than enough to fill in life into everyone’s body (though most of us were already into the mood thanks to Ananda, Qais, and Vishal), but the timely snacks did get everyone going from there on. After that we headed towards Mahabaleshwar, leaving the highway and driving through the Ghats. We were having fun on the way, but the boring and limited collection of songs was just somewhat stealing the mood. Then suddenly someone suggested playing the even more boring game called Antakshri. But we IT professionals certainly have a quality where we can make any activity fun and entertaining without much effort. And this time the way we sang songs, and the way we actually contorted the tunes and wordings of the songs was great fun. And this all started from the very first song where Moiz sang the song “Hamma Hamma” on the tunes of “Yamma Yamma”. I cannot really explain the feelings in words, but all I can say the least is it was really entertaining. And as there is line in a Hindi song “Aaghaaz yeh hai to anjaam hoga haseen” meaning (when the start was so brilliant, the ending had to be beautiful). And it definitely was in that way.

Me and Umesh

Just singing along and in a time we could hardly notice, we reached a place very close to Panchgani, where paragliding is done. There were a lot many other groups there as well due to which the place was a little crowded. Due to the monsoon season, we were not allowed to do paragliding, but since there was hardly any cloud cover we got a great view of the beautiful valley. This was a place where all of us extensively clicked photographs of each other.  I have a camera which has got a very good zoom, but unfortunately till then I was not very confident of clicking pictures on full zoom. As on most of those occasions the pictures would get distorted. But to my amazement that day, I managed to capture some great photographs of the beauty around (I will never regret coming to the place especially because of the quality of photographs I was able to capture) with my viewfinder capturing at full zoom, and I was even happier since my success rate was almost a 100 percent. This actually made me realize that I am not a bad photographer at all. And astonishingly this luck of being able to capture some fantabulous beauty stayed with me till the end of the day.

That's Umesh, Firoz, Me, Sandip, and Achyut

After a small and refreshing halt at that place we moved ahead towards Mahabaleshwar. As the weather got cloudy and scenic, we reached Mahabaleshwar, but due to dense clouds and zero visibility we decided not to visit any points at the place (since it might be useless to visit in these conditions), we decided to head towards Tapola, locally also known as mini-Kashmir (another scenic valley, having one side completely filled by enthralling flowers). On the way we did stop at the Venna Lake, but due to very low visibility and very high water level, we could not do boating (in fact had we done, it would have felt more like river rafting seeing the conditions), so we did not waste time there. But yes I did manage to click one of my favorite pictures.

One of my best clicks trying to capture a Rang De Basanti moment (Umesh, Vishal, Moiz, Firoz, and Achyut).

After this as we were heading towards Tapola, we stopped at a waterfall, where I, Achyut, Firoz, and Vishal rushed towards the top to enjoy in the fall. Seeing this Umesh got over enthusiastic and followed us and then there was no stopping him and his antics. I guess with that act Umesh had finally announced his arrival at the trip (I guess, we were waiting for such a trigger, because with Umesh’s enthusiasm no trip can ever go boring).

When we reached a point close to Tapola, we got to witness picturesque scenery. We all again took out our cameras and extensively clicked photographs of each other. I again managed to capture some great views with my viewfinder. After a very good photo session we headed back to Mahabaleshwar, as we realized that since it had started raining heavily going to Tapola would not be much fruitful. While en route to Mahabaleshwar, we suddenly realized that we had enough time to visit Pratapgarh Fort, which was about 25 Kilometers from Mahabaleshwar (thanks to the dense clouds and rain in Mahabaleshwar and Tapola which prevented us from spending time there). 

TAPOLA from my viewfinder..

In between we did take a small break, and managed to have a cup of tea. I must say, a hot and steaming cup of tea at such a cloudy, windy, and a wet day is the best thing anyone can have. The road to Pratapgarh is a little risky, as the width is comparatively small and has a lot of traffic. And the weather (very low visibility) that day made it even more dangerous and to top it all the way the driver drove the bus made the level of affright touch its limit. But, we did reach the fort safe and sound. However, in the meanwhile Sandip (our group’s major prankster and the one who changes everyone’s mood with his witty and great comic timing) fell ill. He was feeling dizzy and could not join us for the walk up to the fort (this was a disappointment as his presence could have taken our enjoyment to another level). But certainly by now Umesh was reaching his best, and he somewhat managed to fill the void created by Sandip’s absence on the fort.

That's Vishal, Moiz, Me, Qais, Ananda, Umesh, and Firoz

The Pratapgarh fort is a very beautiful structure (definitely one of the better forts around Pune). Though the fort is full of commercial shops, still that does not take anything away from its natural beauty. We managed to capture some good pictures, and I once again with my viewfinder was at my best, able to capture some really great snaps (I will never regret coming to the place especially because of the quality of snaps I was able to capture). Finally after roaming around the fort, we decided to head back to the bus. This is when Tejasweeta, suggested to have some snacks, which is when most of us realized that we were hungry. I guess, the enthusiasm had got into us to such an extent that we could not feel any hunger or thirst that time. But I must say, the tea and snacks that we had were very good, and they energized us all over again (only if we had lost some energy so far, I don’t think most of us had lost any), and all thanks to Tejasweeta.

That's Firoz, Me, Umesh, Vishal, and Achyut

After the break, and avoiding the heavy rain, we reached our bus by 2 PM. It was time now that we moved back towards Mahabaleshwar. After reaching Mahabaleshwar, we stopped at the Mapro Garden to have a shake and sandwich. This was one of the reasons why we only stuck to snacks and not have lunch at Pratapgarh. But all I can say is that the wait was worth the effort, and it is all thanks to the perseverance of Qais and Moiz (this was one of the major reasons of selecting Mahabaleshwar as the venue when the venue change was being discussed) that we managed to have those delicious grubs. But whatever anyone says, I would have regretted had we not stopped there for the meal. I guess, suddenly this place was turning out to be the only one where we did not go crazy clicking photographs. But, to the cease that record from being created, we clicked a few photographs (yes crazy ones) towards the end, definitely for memories sake.

The mini meal at MAPRO

Then we all started to head back to Pune, and as we sat reclining thinking of the great times we spent and of course resting, none of us knew that one of the most entertaining part was yet to come.  Umesh was at his act once again, his innocence, his antics, his expressions, and his movements, entertained everybody… I guess, he also enjoyed as much as we did that time. And by then even Sandip also had recovered, and in fact had reached in his best form. His and Umesh’s syndication was probably the highlight of that part of the trip. Their antics together almost rejuvenated everyone else, and all of us joined in the fun. And suddenly what was looking to be a tiring end to a wonderful day, turned out to be a exulting one. With all that fun and enjoyment we reached back our starting point at 7PM. We wanted to anyhow reach back by 7-7.30, and the way we managed our time to precision was something brilliant. I guess this is something what does happen when you have managers and team leads in the group.

That's Firoz, Umesh, Me, Moiz, and Achyut

It has been a couple of days since the trip, but none of us are yet out of it till now. The feeling is still in the air around us. In fact we have already started planning for the next. I hope that one happens soon, and we enjoy it to a similar extent if not more.

That's Firoz, Me, and Umesh

I would like to end this post in a different manner as I generally do to my other posts of different trips. In the end I would like to write in a few positives of the trip.

  • I always believed a small number is the best to enjoy in an outing; well this myth was definitely destroyed.
  • I realized that I am a good shutterbug, having capability of capturing some absolute natural brilliance.
  • During the start of the trip, Moiz asked me whether I was into wildlife photography seeing the zooming capability of my viewfinder. After all the events of the day all I can answer is, that zoom is not always to capture wild life… it can also be used very effectively to capture other life around you.
  • And yes, Umesh has become an overnight star amongst our team. For the last couple of days, we have only been praising him all the time.

That’s it from me know, hope to write another tour diary very soon.


When your old teachers remember you…….

Posted: June 15, 2011 by Shishir Gupta in Just For Fun
Tags: , ,

For some time now I wanted to visit Mrs. Bhawana, my junior college Physics teacher, but I just did not get the time to do so. Yesterday was the day when I somehow managed to go and meet her. In fact this opportunity was not created because of my efforts; she had invited me for dinner along with my other close friends from school. It was an offer that I could not miss at any cost, as it was over 4 years that I had last met her, so this one came like a blessing in disguise.

The plan was to reach her house by 6-6.30, but since I got late at office I could only reach by 8. The moment she opened the door, and when she saw me, she was almost in tears. The happiness I saw on her face is something I will never forget for my life. I too was very excited and happy to meet her, but my expressions of happiness were nowhere close to hers. And that made me realize that it is not just the students that remember their teachers for a long time, it is the teachers as well who remember their students very well.

And again as everyone would have thought that the talk between us would have started with an inquiry as how and what I have been doing. But that was not the case, she was very well aware of my whereabouts because of my friends, and so was I. In fact our talk started with a scolding of why I did not come for such a long time to meet her. All I could reply was “I wanted to achieve some success in life before I could meet you”. I told her that I had just completed my Masters, and the results were out about a month back, and since then I have wanted to meet her. To this she had no reply, but just a smile, and all I can tell is that smile said and explained her state of happiness to me very clearly.

When we were talking I told her about my feat of having achieved an Erdős number. I guess that was the happiest moment for her at that time. She said she could not really explain how proud she was. And her tone at that time made me realize really how proud she was.

After that we all chatted of our old school days, and the current school days as well. The changes that have been made both in the architecture and at the academic level as well. It was really nostalgic going back into those old memories that were hidden in some part of my mind.

Yesterday I not only got to meet mam, but also met a couple of my friends after a very long time. Though I was in contact with them over the social network sites, but had not met them in person for a very long time.

But yesterday I realized two things. First, how important “being social” is in life, being in touch with friends, and other people who care about you, and you care for. Second, it is not that only students remember their teachers, but the teachers also remember and care for their students for a very long time.

Life Back on ‘the’ Track…..

Posted: June 3, 2011 by Shishir Gupta in Just For Fun
Tags: , ,

After a long break from my morning jogging schedule, I am back on the jogging track. Though I did enjoy a lot in this break time, as it gave me that extra half an hour to one hour of sleep and relaxation. But with having come back to my jogging schedule it feels even better. It has been over 20 days of that I have regularly going for the early morning run, so I thought that is the best time to write this post. I had unsuccessfully tried to get back on this schedule a couple of times earlier as well, but both the stints did not last over a week or so, and a break for a day led to weeks. But now, since I have been regular for over 20 days, I can say that I am back on track.

I had almost spent all my mornings last year on the running track, and then I took a break for some time starting in December last year. And after returning to the previous schedule after almost 5-6 months feels great, and feels that I did miss something in these months. I have already started enjoying my running, then early breakfast and tea with friends at an eating point near the jogging track. It is really great fun.

But I am not really sure how long will this last since monsoons are about to arrive, and they definitely will be a block to my schedule. Though they were very generous to me last year, by staying away during early mornings, and I hope that their generosity will continue once again. Or else this time I will be forced into taking a break again.

And I have to agree that coming back from a small break also is very tough. One might have followed a schedule for years, but a break of a month or so can hamper it badly. Coming back to the same schedule is very tough, it really takes a lot of effort all over again to get back (this is something I recently realized when I was trying to get back on track).

Anyways, now all things in my life are getting back on track… and this definitely one of those things.

I Am Back….. From a Long Hibernation !

Posted: June 1, 2011 by Shishir Gupta in Just For Fun
Tags: , ,

I am back after a long hibernation period. Well it has been a very long time that my whereabouts have been unknown to most of my friends. It has been more than a year of such a period for a selected group of close friends and over two-three years for the others. And almost everyone I meet asks me where have I been so long, am I still alive, which part of the world I was for so long and many more questions. Sigh! And even more amazingly quite a few friends could not even recognize me at first look (read these two posts, Achievement and Mission, for more information on that). And this is when I realized that I have actually not been in contact at all (not even on social networking sites).

Now I officially announce that I am back (though I have been trying to get in touch with most of my friends for almost 10-15 days now), and I am happy to be back. It really feels great to be back with friends, and even better with closer ones. It is not that I have not been around friends at all during all this time, it is just I have made new friends to accompany me during this time, and have not been able to connect much with old friends.

To be honest, I have been very busy in the last 12-15 months because of my higher studies and other commitments, but it will definitely like to clarify here that it had not been an intentional effort to get into the hiding. It suddenly happened that I realized that I was not in contact with friends for the past 4-6 months, and then the period got extended to over a year.

But now with my close friend back, and now that I am getting back in touch with friends, I can officially announce that I am back. And I am writing this here, since I know that many of all read my blog posts, and a few of them are even somewhat annoyed as well with my sudden disappearance of the scene, and to clarify my stand there can be no better place than this.

It is actually that I got busy with so many things that I have not been able to update my blog regularly as well. But now with almost everything of my life coming back to normal, I am sure I will be accessible by almost all through some or the other medium….

And yes… it is great to back….. Hope to stay in this new form a long period now.

Novak Djokovic is as close of the ATP number 1 rank, as he would have ever expected. He has had an unbelievable year so far. He has played 42 matches and has been undefeated. And now he is just one victory away to become the new world number 1 player. But the problem is that it is Roger Federer who stands in that way to number 1.

Djokovic will be playing Federer in the 2011 French Open semifinals. If he wins and enters the finals, he will become world number 1 from 6th June no matter what the result of the tournament is.  It is not very easy to defeat Federer in a grand slam match. Grand Slam takes the best out of Federer, and to defeat him there is not very easy. So, it is really a tough task in hand for Djokovic, but seeing his form over the last 5 months, it does not seem very difficult either. He had defeated Federer in the semifinals of 2011 Australian Open and before that in 2010 US Open, and surely will be a favorite to repeat that feat again this time in 2011 French Open.

But the biggest advantage Djokovic has at the moment is that even if he loses this match he still can claim the number 1 ranking if Nadal fails to win the tournament. And it is not going to be easy for Nadal to defend his title, as he has to face Soderling in quarters, probably Murray in semis, and then either of Federer or Djokovic in the finals.

To be very fair, I believe that Djokovic will claim the number 1 rankings, if not after French Open, then definitely after the Wimbledon. But for sure, it looks like Nadal will lose his number 1 spot very soon, and we will see a new world number. Either of Nadal or Federer has held this rank since February 2004. So it is a nice time to see a change.

However I am not very happy with this change since it is coming at the cost of my favorite player, Nadal, but I have to say that the kind of Tennis Djokovic has played in the past 5 months, he very well deserves this rank. This is possibly the first time ever that I have wished Federer to win a match, and that is really something unimaginable (this does not mean that I don’t like Federer or Djokovic, in fact I do admire them a lot, but I really like Nadal, and don’t like to see him loosing). But all I can hope that Nadal will be able to claim his number 1 rank back very soon.