Friday, December 30, 2016

The Outing - Day One

So, this is day one of the outing. After months of hard work together, our team here, decided to have a rocking year end, together, away from the daily hubbub of office and home and work and travels to and fro in Delhi's traffic.
Where to go was the question. McLeodganj, Shimla, Dharamsala, Manali and Nainital were among the list of probables, ones which were less than 500kms from Delhi. Dozens of other things were to be considered, including travel, lodging, travel time, as we had limited time at our hands to have a really enjoyable year end, and had to come back to work as the new year starts.
Nainital it was, as it's nearer, there are number of tourist destinations we could explore, most important of all, we could get accommodation at a place like this, especially when there's a huge demand of accomodations at this time of year, with hill stations being a perfect destination in winters for people to experience snowfall.
A group of twenty initially formed, with people going on and off with their plans, with the final count settling at seventeen which froze towards the end, more importantly because the travel arrangements didn't allow adding any more people or the tally could have grown more.
With all the arrangements done, accommodation booked for the next three days, transport arrangements done, Nainital was just eight to ten hour drive away. The entire team was excited, while for some people it was a mixed feeling as this was their first time around, alone without their family, for some this was an exciting feeling as it was probably the first time they would see snowfall, with the news that nearby hill stations like Shimla recently had received snowfall particularly made most of us elated.
Finally after days of planning and follow-ups with the accomodation and transportation providers, it's the day we are leaving Delhi with hopes that this new year eve would be one of the best of all our lives, as we all will be celebrating together far away from homes, in the lap of the Himalayas.
Let's see how the trip turns out to be. I'll be unraveling this in the upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Catch up growth

The other day, I was having a usual chitchat with a colleague. While talking over trivial things, the discussion moved towards his three year old son. Just like other kids of this age, he too is a really energetic kid who likes playing a lot and is a really healthy kid. We talked over how he likes playing pranks with his parents. As the conversation went further, he started showing me pictures and videos of his son, playing with his parents. This kid, owing to the healthy and proper mix of good lifestyle and balanced diet, was a good example of how a kid of this age should be - chirpy and naughty, playful and prankish. This is how a kid should be. Then I recalled the kid of my maid. Once in a while she used to bring her kid while she came to my home for her daily work. Her son too was around 5 years old, but never looked like one. His growth was stunted, and most of the times he used to cry, or sit silently at one place while his mother completed her daily chores in my house. Most often I would not even notice that she has brought in her kid with herself. Sometimes when I noticed her bringing the kid to my home while she came to work, I used to ask her what she was doing with the kid at a time when most other kids of his age group would be in school, she used to tell me that he doesn't like going to the school. I used to reason with her telling her that he is afterall a kid, and would do as she told him to, to which she used to tell me that he often falls ill, and then he was amongst the weakest kids in his class. And these were just a few reasons he would not like going to school, and she let it be. Afterall, she was a working mother, and that his father, who too worked would not be able to get back to school if he fell ill in the school, as had happened a number of times, when the school authorities would give a call to the parents to ask them to take the kid back, and send him back to school only after he would recover completely. And since this had happened a number of times, she would often keep him home, and since there was no one else to take care of him at home, he would accompany his mother to work, where he would mostly sit back, lost in himself, never showing any of the usual qualities of kids of this age. No playfulness, nothing else that other kids of his age usually do.
I told my colleague about my maid. My colleague being a parent for quite some time, had his two cents to of suggestions to give me so that I could pass it on to my maid. He told me to ask the maid to visit a kid's doctor with her son and let the doctor examine him properly. He told me that the possible cause of such a situation with this kid could be his improper growth which was often a reason which would make kids irritable, have stunted growth, and one of the biggest reason for them falling sick often. Apart from this, he suggested me to ask my maid to give her kid drinks like Horlicks that were supposed to help growing kids fulfil their nutrient requirements. Seeing me so concerned about this kid, he also gave me a link to check out and tell my maid how important it was for kids to have a balanced diet to lead a healthy life, both - physically and mentally. He also gave me name and address of one of the good kids' doctors he would take his kid to.
As I reached home I checked out the link and read what was given there. Horlicks, that had been one of the leaders in this area had been there since a long time, and though I too had been given horlicks in my childhood days, I never realized how could it help my maid's kid. I read what was there to read and see, and the next morning, as my maid came up, I explained her everything, and told her to go and see a doctor with her kid and also to give her kid horlicks as  a supplement to the regular diet. She did, and was happy about my suggestion of taking her son to the doctor., after meeting the doctor. She thanked me a lot.
Months passed on, she had stopped bringing her son with her to work. I too had forgot about this incident, when one fine day, just a day before the festival of diwali, she again brought her son with her to work. This time around, there was a drastic change. The small kid who would stay silent often had grown considerably and was a much more cheerful kid now, thanks to my colleagues' suggestions. He was a much more playful kid now, and her mother was not a much prouder mother, since her son was doing well, in both, physical growth as well as in his studies too. This was when I realised that it is really important for growing kids to have a balanced lifestyle, balanced and proper diet to lead a healthy lifestyle - both physically and psychologically. This again was a reminder that it is really important for kids to catch up with their lost growth, well in time.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Picture of the day

Once in a while, since I like doing photography, I do capture things, that I really like when I see them, and when I have a device to capture them. One such time was some time back when I visited Hauz Khas Village, and came back with numerous pictures. I am sharing one of those pics here.

More on the visit soon in this very space.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Announcing the power tracker

I guess, by now, you must be knowing about my rooftop solar power project that has been designed to initially cater to some of the energy requirements in my home. Over the period of time, I have been doing some improvements in the system. Some of these are easy and get completed in hours, or in a maximum, days, while some others are such that they don't really intend to become operational anytime soon. One of these is the online automated monitoring system that has been thought out to be a fully loaded monitoring system with a full array of  monitoring and other sensors to help assist the tracking systems. These sensors include atleast two temperature monitoring sensors, one, attached directly to the panels, which will give me the temperature of the module, which, in turn will help me calculate the performance of the modules. Now this is an important aspect of Solar power generation since there's an important aspect of solar power generation called Temperature Coefficient, particularly associated with Polycrystalline solar modules that determines the power a module will generate at it's peak efficiency at a given temperature and irradiance condition. The other temperature and humidity sensor will help me with the ambient air temperature and humidity around the solar installation.

Another array of sensors have less to do with monitoring and more to do with the functional aspect of the solar tracker. This is the Light Dependent Resistors, also known as photocells, that help determine the position the solar modules are required to be moved to align them in a near perpendicular position to the sun for the best theoretical efficiency. The output from these sensors too have been planned to be made available in the online monitoring system to see how the system reacts at different times of the day, and varying sunlight conditions. Now comes the other series of sensors - that include a 3-axis digital gyroscope sensor, that will help determine the extreme positions of the system, in order to prevent movement beyond a predetermined limit, and will also help the system realign the panels to two positions - one being perpendicular to the earth's surface, and another being towards the east - facing the sun in the morning, since this will be the period when the photosensors will be practically useless since all of these will be facing towards the sky early in the morning, which will mean that there will be very less comparable difference in the light output at any of these to help the MCU make a decision to move the panels.

Another sensor in this series will be a current sensor that will be used to keep a track on the current produced by the solar modules, throughout the day. The data from the current sensor, when combined with a voltage sensor will provide me with crucial information regarding the total output of the system at any given point of time, and also, will help keep a track of the cumulative power generated by the system. Another of these sensors, that is being planned is a wind velocity sensor that will feed in information about the velocity of the winds, which is crucial in order to keep the system secure and relatively safer by lowering the expected wind resistance that an array of solar modules will generate when it directly faces a strong gust of wind. Plans are there to automatically align the modules horizontal to the earth's surface, in the event of a strong gust of wind, or a storm, which usually follows such strong gusts of winds and has a very strong potential to even take away very huge objects.

There are a lot of other things that have been planned for the system, including a user interfacing system, composed of manual controls with the help of push button swithches to manually align the panels in case we intend to do this. This is particularly important on days with overcast conditions, with a variying cloud cover which particularly confuses the system. Having an option of manual control of the system will be an added advantage.

Now all these things are plans, some of which are underway, and another set of plans are in the pipeline, and will get the attention once these crucial systems are finally completed. For now, what I have completed is a manual power tracking mechanism which will keep a record of the daily power generation, along with some small comments regarding the performance of the system. A good place for such a monitoring system, appeared to me to be a dedicated page in the blog itself, and hence, I have started updating the the data on a daily basis, that I have been keeping a record of, to record the daily power generation by the system, till the time the automated online monitoring and recording systems don't go live. For now, the mnitoring system includes a line chart that keeps a record of the daily power generation in kW (kiloWatts), and plots this on a line graph according to the date. There's another table in the same page which keeps a daily record of the inbuilt power meter that is available in my MPPT charge controller, that I take a note of, twice a day, in the morning, before the sun is out, and in the evening, when the charge controller transfers the inverter to the mains grid supply. There's a certain amount of erroneous data that is attributed to the solar power, when this is actually being provided by the grid mains. This explains the gaps in the meter readings of evening of the previous day and morning of the current day. Though this is not a very huge gap, when considered for a daily basis, but, it does add up to become a huge number when left unaccounted for, for a long period of time, and hence monitoring and noting down of the meter readings becomes necessary twice a day.

The monitoring system that is live on this page - displays both the aforementioned things - a graph to plot the actual daily power generation, compared to the theoretical (based on STC) power generation value for an average of 10 hours of sunshine for the summer months here in India, though, practically, we get a good 11 hours of sun shine, with one and a half hour included each at dusk and dawn, where the system works at a reduced efficiency because of low solar irradiation at these times. This means here in Delhi, we get the sun working for us at above 80% of its maximum output, for almost 8 hours daily, atleast in  the summer months. The other section displays a tabular data of the daily power generation - showing the  date, meter reading in the morning, and another one in the evening, and the total daily output, and another column containing some comments, which will help myself understand the reason for, say a lower than expected power output for a given day, and a probable reason for this.

The graph to display comparative daily power output
The tabular display of the daily recorded data showing the day wise meter reading in morning and evening, the total output for the day and comments.
This is a small step further. As I keep working on the systems, I will keep you posted here in this space. I know that you have a lot of questions. Do let me know here, in the comments section, and I will try to respond to, as soon as possible. Together, we could increase this breed of DIY'ers.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hatching my yatra plans

This time, cribbing over my travel plans!

For all things that I am made up of, there's a small percentage of a wanderer. Thanks to my dad's service in the Army, I probably inherited this trait from the regular postings that took place from time to time. Also, this helped me visit a number of places, see different cultures and traditions, ways of life and hear different languages, though, this has been mostly peripheral, because of the nature of accommodation provided to us.

Ever since I grew up, and my dad retired from the Army, I have sort of, lost the free chances to travel to places. Though, once in a while, I still hatch up plans to visit some places, but nothing has been a really great one. A tour of just a day or two, once in a couple of years isn't enough to satisfy my hunger for travel, and thus, plans keep hatching and I keep on sort of sidelining them, for the crunch of free time that I don't get enough from my current life, going to office, commuting (which, in Delhi is a big chunk of one's time) to and fro and sleeping. One such travel plan that I have been postponing for a couple of years now is a real trek. Around three years back, I stumbled upon something called Chadar Trek that happens in the extreme conditions of Leh, in the upper parts of Kashmir valley. A trek, which used to be a necessity for the locals living in the Zanskar region of this remote area has over the years, turned out to be a major tourist attraction, thanks to a number of tour operators who have been conducting tours and guided treks in this region.

What attracted me most were the spectacular pictures of the region, captured by both, the trekkers and other photographers, showing the snow laden high vertical walls of the Zanskar Valley, at the bottom of which, flows the Zanskar river, that happens to freeze in the extreme winter months of January and February, making a natural white highway for the people to trek on. And this is what the locals call - Chadar (a blanket). The splendour of the region is the marvellous spans of white ice and the picturesque landscapes with towering high mountains that go on and on and on.

Don't you think pictures like these literally force you to visit a place like this, atleast once in your lifetime? Picture from here
The real attraction lie in the stunning pictures that you get to see from a number of sources, that force you to imagine how breathtaking the real thing would be. I agree that a picture is worth a thousand words, or even more than that, however, it's just a picture. You have to see the real thing to get the real experience of what it actually is. And for a dormant travel junkie like me, who loves adventure, this trek appears to be the real deal to satiate my hunger for travel. The only other thing that I would like to do except doing this trek, is to click thousands of photographs enroute. Yes, I do like clicking dozens and dozens of photographs, to keep a memory of what I did and saw, and though, I don't really share my personal stuff online, there seems to be no harm in probably sharing some of the best captures from the trip.

And how about a landscape like this towering snowcapped mountains and a frozen river in the bottom. Picture from here
Talking by experience of travelling in hilly terrains, again, thanks to my dad's posting near Jammu, I would like most of this travelling to happen on surface, preferably by a car, either a personal one, or a hired one. The reason for this is the fact that generally the hilly terrains are quite picturesque, with a gorgeous waterfall somewhere, a huge cliff somewhere else, and a stream of river with crystal clear water flowing over those round pebbles of rock, at some other place will make you want to stop by and spend some quality time there, which, is not possible if you are travelling by air, and even when you do so by surface transport, by a bus or train, as the latter ones just let you have a glimpse of the thing, and make you crave for it, when you have no control whatsoever to stop for a while, take a look and move further.

For me, for this particular travel plan, however, there's just a small-big problem. Most of the travel is supposed to be by air, since the upper regions of the Kashmir valley are quite inaccessible in the winter months, mostly because of heavy snowfall forcing the only roads to be shut down for traffic, thus causing days long traffic snarls on the already narrow and dangerous roads. Leh, being the nearest airport will be my destination by flight, and beyond that, it's all upon the tour operator to pick me up, arrange for my lodging and travel to and from the trekking destination.

Anyways, I am hoping that maybe, by next year, I will be quite happy enough to share with you all, pics of my trip to the marvellous Zanskar valley, something that I've been longing for for quite some time now. While writing this, I am now thinking of looking to nail the travel plans, make the flight booking to and from, book the trek with the tour operator, and then, wait for the time to come, while making myself physically fit to take this difficult trek that will challenge my limits. A great place to start looking for domestic airlines can be, and I think I should start looking for something for my plans as well, since, booking early gets you the sweetest deals on airlines and hotel bookings.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Powering Up!

In January, I had posted the last update on my solar power project, that I have been working for quite some time now. Over time, working in the evenings on workdays and almost through the day on weekends/holidays, I have finally started my own solar power generation generation system, that is now functional, partially. The tracker that had been in testing for around three months now, finally got to host what it had been designed for, and all this while, was carrying a really small solar module.

Just a few days back (20th of April, 2016), I finally installed the solar modules on the tracking platform, and hooked it up to the existing power backup system, I had installed some time back for my home. And the result, free power for my home, which, for now, will service the loads partially, thereby resulting in a reduced power bill for the utility power I have been using. Over the period, I have planned to upscale the capacity of my solar power system, which, will then be self sufficient to provide power for all the needs of my house.

Now, the system has been installed and is functioning, what's left is to begin the tracking system, which, for now is non functional, because the tracking system appeared to be ill equipped to handle such a large load, and thus, I am tweaking it a bit to make it capable enough to do what is intended to, without breaking a sweat. Since this is something I am doing for the first time, and without any theoretical or practical knowledge, there was no way I could've anticipated what was in store for me, once I had the solar modules installed on the tracker, which, for the time it was working with that small module, appeared pretty capable enough to efficiently complete its task without a problem. This, I know, is a part and parcel of DIY, for you learn with what you do, and over time, there comes a point where you achieve perfection, and what you wanted to do, and this is what I have been trying to achieve.

Over time, I had to change a lot of things in the planned tracking system. To say the least, the entire idea of the tracking system we had planned to take up to work on, as we moved our application in the Mahindra Rise Prize's Solar Challenge, has changed. The use of linear actuators has replaced one of the gear based mechanisms, again, this actuator based mechanism is up for an overhaul as we build ourselves a better, more capable actuating mechanism, just because we need to have a better one, and buying this one off the shelf is out of question. Why? Firstly, because these cost a bomb, and secondly, we do not have too many options to look for, because looking for parts like these needs a massive hunt for places which deal in such speciality parts, which, is a very great impediment in doing almost anything. Also, I had to improve the light sensor setup, improve the overall reaction to light changes over the sensors, and am required to add some more ways to make the tracker work better, be a completely autonomous system that is capable enough to do the tracking throughout the day, and reset itself back to east at dusk, to begin a new day of tracking, all on its own. What more in the store is a web based realtime monitoring system that lets me check out on vital stats of the system, from anywhere in the world with the help of a website that will be fed by a variety of sensors reading some vital stats of the system, viz Voltage and Current (both of which will give me the total output in watts), Cell Temperature, Location (in terms of direction of the tracking platform), a planned anemometer, which will be helpful in case of a storm, to keep the modules relatively safer.

Now the good part is, I have enquiries pouring in from neighbours and whoever can see my solar modules on the tracker, facing the sun, on my rooftop. Appears, this is also a chance where I could cash in the advantage I have, over the regular solar power system integrators, most of whom, just do a static installation, for a cost that is be more than double of what I had to shell out for this system.

Did I make you curious? In case you would like to take a look at the specifications to get to know this better, you can take a look below:

The components/parts I bought off the shelf:

SOLAR MODULES2 Nos.Canadian Solar 265 watt @ 24v (Another 40 watt 12v solar module to provide power supply for the tracking electronics)
INVERTOR1 No.Luminous 1500VA Pure Sine wave
BATTERY BANK2 Nos.Luminous 150Ah @12V Flooded Lead Acid Batteries, connected in series to make this a 24v configuration.
The components/parts I have built myself, again with parts I have procured to be able to build the parts I needed:
MOUNTING PLATFORM1 No.Dual Axis Tracker (that I have built myself)
DRIVE MECHANISMSelf designed, with the core of the system being controlled by the awesome open source Arduino Platform running with Atmel's ATMEGA 328 running in its heart.


The platform works with the help of an array of light sensors designed such that once the sun is near perpendicular to the light sensor array setup, it's rays fall on all the sensors uniformly. Once the sun deviates a little, one or more sensors experience shadow because of the divider that has been put between the four light sensors. The MCU (Arduino, in this case) is used to feed in the data from the light sensor array which then makes the comparision based on the software code we have put inside the Arduino to take decisions based on the realtime information provided by the variety of arrays of sensors we will be feeding the data from, in the Arduino. Once the MCU takes a decision regarding the direction of the movement, it sends the relevant instruction to the H-Bridge Motor Driver based on the powerful L298N motor driver which can handle both of my 12v DC geared motors, having a stall torque of 45kgcm. The motor driver sends a signal, based on the input from the arduino for the relevant motor to move, in the direction, the MCU told the motor driver to move the motors in. Once this happens, and all the four sensors are again aligned such that the sun's rays are again falling uniformly on all of them, with no shadow on any of the four sensors, the MCU tells the Motor driver to stop the motors till the time one of the light sensors again experiences shadow, which makes the aforementined process, start again.

As for the updates, they are not yet over. I have a lot of work yet to be completed. No, not about the functioning, as the system is up and running fine for around ten days now, since I first hooked up the panels to the charge controller, ten days back. What needs to be done is more of the stuff related to additional functionalities, that, I expect will add to the system's geekiness, a lot more. Some of these things, that I can hgive you a glimpse, though, textually, here are - 1. Adding the Gyro sensor to: a) limit the movement of the panels and the tracker, at the extreme ends. b) realign the panel to east, in the morning after the earlier day's tracking aligns the panels in the west. Right now, this is being done manually, though, I don't have any issue in doing this manually, because, afterall, I do visit the rooftop daily, to take a stroll around my plants, and water them. 2. Redeploying the solar tracking functions. As it turned out to be, the actuator we had worked upon, for the test rig, was not capable enough of single handedly handing the extreme pressures of the solar panels, and if adding the additional stress exerted upon, by, say, a strong gust of wind blowing directly into the panels' large surface area of around 3.2 square meters, hanging on, 30 feet above the ground, it is not much far from disaster. So, I decided to look for linear electric actuators, only to give up again, seeing the costs. And finally, I have thought up of a new design to make this happen, properly, and work on this new linear actuator is yet to start, as I am waiting for the parts. For the time being, I will just mount the new threaded rods I had bought, to replace the previously used 6mm threaded rods, which buckled down due to the extreme pressure of the modules and the frame. This new 10mm threaded rod in stainless steel, should ideally be capable enough to take care of the load, itself, so, I'll go ahead and give it a try, for the time being.

For now, I will leave you guys with a couple of pictures of what's happening these days and how the system, I have been posting updates on, for quite some time now, has transformed over time, to being the final product, something, that I had only envisaged, but had never visualised, the way it looks, and works, today.

The new mounting frame for the two solar modules. With the hand drill, and too less an experience, it was quite hard to get through this thing, especially, when one is working with steel.
Both the solar modules, ready to be mounted on the tracker. The size, did appear to be intimidating, but then, I had to do this, at all costs, and so this was done, finally.
Powering up! It felt great to see my dream realize. 
While I ultimately powered up, it was evening, and since there was still power, being generated, the charge controller chose solar power over the mains power, and the above shot is a result of the inverter batteries getting discharged, because of the loads were still extracting power, but there was not much being supplied to charge the batteries, so, this one shows the batteries being charged with mains power, after the power from mains to the inverter was restored after the solar out put was quite less.
The modules facing the morning sun. For now, I have tied them (using the frame) up to make them stationary, and to check their movement under the influence of winds. Once the actuator is finally ready, the ropes will all be gone, atleast for the time the weather is good. I had to make separate arrangement for the shade net for my plants that are placed around this part. of the roof.
The modules facing the morning sun.
The peak output I could see/capture.
Finally, the cumulative power generation by the solar modules, since I powered up the system up around ten days back.
Since, the work on this is system is still underway, I will be coming up with a few more posts updating here, the work in progress, the status of the project and how it ends up, once the work is complete. And, maybe, my power bill as well, at the end of this month, to compare what's the difference since I installed the system.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

मैं बरगद का पेड़

मैं बरगद का पेड़, खड़ा हूँ यहां पुश्तों से, इंसानों की कई नस्लें देखी हैं मैंने | जाने कितने मौसम बदलते देखे हैं, सदियाँ बीत गयी हैं यहां खड़े-खड़े | एक समय था जब मेरी छाँव की ओट में गांव की चौपालें सजती थी | इन इंसानों की पंचायतों के कई अच्छे-बुरे फैसलों का गवाह रहा हूँ मै, अनेकों सही-गलत फैसलों को चुप-चाप खड़े-खड़े सुना है मैंने | समय बदला मेरी उम्र बढ़ी तो मेरी जटाओं ने मुझे सम्भाला | आखिर बुढ़ापा सब का आता है, और बूढा होने के बाद कोई भी सहारा ढूंढता है, जो की मेरी जटाओं से मुझे मिला है, आखिर हूँ तो बरगद का पेड़ ही |

मेरी विशाल टहनियों पर अनेकों झूले लटके देखे हैं मैंने, और इन झूलों पर अनेकों बच्चे झूल-झूल कर बड़े हुए हैं मेरे सामने ही, और एक बार जब बच्चे आते थे मेरे करीब, तो मानो मेरा बचपन लौट आता था | उनके झूलों का वजन उठाना मेरी विशाल शाखाओं के लिए बहुत बड़ी बात नहीं थी, अत:, इन बच्चों को झूलते देख मेरी भी शाखाएं झूम उठती थी | फिर कुछ बच्चे ऐसे भी होते थे जिन्हें झूलों पर आनंद न आता था, उन्हें तो मुझपर चढ़ने में मज़ा आता था, और मुझे भी इन बच्चों के करीब रहने का एक अच्छा मौका मिल जाता था |

समय और बदला अब मैं बेहद बूढा हो चला हूँ, इंसान मुझे बूढा बरगद कह कर पुकारते हैं, शायद, इसी वजह से अब मुझपर कोई झूले नहीं हैं | न ही कोई चौपालें लगती हैं, और न ही मेरी घनी छाँव के तले पंचायतें सजती हैं | बहुत अकेला-अकेला सा हो गया हूँ मैं अब | अब मेरे तन के करीब इंसान अपने पूजने वाले भगवानों की मूर्तियां फेंक कर चले जाते हैं | अब जा कर समझ आने लगा है की जब भगवान की कोई औकात नहीं है - जो मूर्तियां यह इंसान इतने गर्व और प्रेम से ले कर आये थे, जिसे भगवान का प्रतीक समझ कर पूजा की सालों तक, उस मूर्ति के पुराने पड़ते ही उससे बूढ़े बरगद के पास फेंक कर चले गए, तो मुझ जैसे बूढ़े बरगद की किसे ज़रुरत ? आखिर इतना विशाल जो हो गया हूँ की इन इंसानों की तेज़ी से बढ़ती सुविधाओं की मांग की राह में रोड़ा बन रहा हूँ | शायद इसीलिए अब मुझे काटने की तैयारी चल रही है | जहां मैं आज खड़ा हूँ उस जगह से कुछ सालों में तेज़ गति से दौड़ती रेल गाडी चलेगी, जो हज़ारों इंसानों को एक जगह से दूसरी जगह ले कर जाएगी | आखिर ऐसी महत्त्वपूर्ण चीज़ के सामने मेरी क्या औकात ? आखिर मैं कौन होता हूँ इंसान की प्रगति को रोकने वाला ? आखिर मैं किसे कहाँ से कहाँ ले जाता हूँ, जो काम यहां बनने वाली रेल गाडी करेगी ?

मैं तो बस खड़ा हूँ यहां सदियों से, एक ही जगह, फैलता हुआ, अपनी मौत का इंतज़ार करता, उन पुराने दिनों को याद करता जब मेरी छाँव के इर्द-गिर्द इन इंसानों के पूर्वजों की सारी ज़िंदगी घूमती थी | रात को मैं उन्हे आराम की नींद, दिन में झुलसा देने वाली गर्मी से आराम देता, तो पूरे गांव को और राहगीरों को मेरी ठंडी छाँव में बने कुएं से ठंडा मीठा जल मिलता था | पर अब वह सब इंसानों के लिए ज़रूरी चीज़ें कहाँ रह गयी हैं ? कुआं तो कब का सूख गया है, तो राहगीर भी नहीं आते गर्मी के मौसम में कुएं का ठंडा पानी पीने और मेरी ठंडी छाँव में कुछ देर आराम करने |

आखिर मैं एक बरगद का पेड़ ही तो हूँ, खड़ा हूँ यहां सदियों से, इंसानों की कई पुश्तें देखी हैं मैंने, अब इन्हें मेरी ज़रुरत नहीं है, सो, कल काट दिया जाऊंगा, क्योंकि मेरी जटाओं ने मुझे सहारा देने के लिए इन इंसानों की धरती पर कुछ ज़्यादा जगह ले रखी है!

मै बरगद का पेड़.....

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mishra uncle - The Yoga Guru

Right on the first day that we met him, Mishra uncle had made a place for himself in all our hearts. Though he was yet to touch the hearts of the adults of the nearby apartment buildings, he was already a hero for the security guard of the public park we all went to, whom he taught a few good yoga steps and also, treated him like a respectable human being, unlike a lot of others living in such high rise apartments. More than anything, Mishra uncle had a tea with him in the morning, and didn't ever ask him to now let his dog inside the park against the rules of the park. For the security guard, Mishra uncle was a kind hearted old man who understood the importance of rules and also knew how to respect everyone, irrespective of their stature in the society.

For us, the youngsters, Mishra uncle was a kid in the body of a 60 year old man, one who could hit 35 runs off some 4-5 overs, and still managed to play like one of us without even letting us feel that we were playing with someone almost the age of their grandfather. What would it be like to have a grandfather, so cool, so energetic and yet so down to earth? - A feeling that would probably have touched most of us at one point of time or the other. What's better? He had a really cute and beautiful dog who was as energetic as Mishra uncle, if not more. His nice fur, great habits and his ability to mingle around with almost anyone was unparalleled, and to top it all, Moti loved listening to music, what a combination to have! All in all, Mishra uncle was a rockstar of sorts!

Now since he had touched us with his grace, it was the turn of the others to come in Mishra uncle's mystic touch. The next day, while we all readied ourselves for our schools, Mishra uncle was in park, yet again. Again, he had a tea with the guard and again Moti was sitting right next to the park's gatekeeper's chair, enjoying the folk songs the guard loved listening to, on his cellphone. No matter whether Moti really understood the songs, or really liked the tune, he would simply sit by, as if he understood why Mishra uncle, who never separated himself from him would leave him here at the gate of the park to enjoy in the park. Today was the turn of the olderly people residing in the buildings nearby, the ones who usually acted according to their age, spending some leisurely time in the park in the morning, giving some much needed workout to their body. Some engaged is slow stroll around the park, some just sitting around, and some in the laughter yoga session Mishra uncle had observed the other day.

This time around, Mishra uncle decided to act a yoga guru to help people feel the laughter instead of just acting it. He went right inside the circle where the old men and women of the colony were laughing for the sake of exercise. Mishra uncle introduced to himself as their new yoga instructor, much to the awe of everyone there as none of them had asked any yoga instructor to help them out, and no one knew who sent them a new yoga instructor. Anyways, Mishra uncle started his yoga sessions of a healthy and hearty note, with his jokes and now the people there were feeling really happy and were laughing their hearts out, and not doing the same for the sake of the exercise. Something much to the awe of most other people of his age, present in the group.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mishra uncle's 35 run inning

As he moved in the park, Mishra uncle was elated to see so many people in the park. A lot of different activities were going on in the park. At one place, kids and teenagers like us were playing different games like cricket, badminton. At some other place, old people from the nearby buildings were taking yoga lessons. Mishra uncle particularly got attracted to the group which was taking the laughter yoga session. He jumped towards the group to check out the people who were laughing so loudly and what was making them laugh like that. As he came near, he found that there was nothing to be very happy about that was making these people laugh. This was just a session where people were laughing for a workout. Mishra uncle decided to wait and what out the group for a while. He sat down on a bench and watched them for while before moving out from there. Next he took a  stroll down the park, curiously watching the people.

This was when Mishra uncle first interacted with us. He came to the part where we were playing and stood there for some time. We were playing cricket when a ball reached Mishra uncle. We asked him to throw us the ball, and he happily did. Mishra uncle moved a bit closer, and was now standing right where the other players were standing, waiting for their batting turn. Mishra uncle was watching us curiously when someone asked him whether he wanted to play. While none of us was very sure whether he would agree to the offer and whether it was a good idea to ask him to play cricket with us, but much to our surprise, Mishra uncle readily agreed. Though, he had one concern, Moti. He asked one of us to go and check out at the gate if Moti was troubling the security guard. Mishra uncle's turn came to bat. He held the bat and as the very first ball came, it went out of the boundary. This was amazing. We never expected him to send the ball all the way out of the boundary for a six, that too the very first ball. By that time, the guy who went to check out on Moti was back and told Mishra uncle that Moti was quietly enjoying the music.

That day Mishra uncle added a very precious 35 runs off his skillful batting, to our total score and eventually helped us win. We all enjoyed his company and his playing skills were not very much like what 60 year old man was expected to have. We all left the park together when we found Moti sitting calmly right under the guard's chair and enjoying the song the guard had played on his cellphone. As Mishra uncle called him, he stood up and ran towards him. While we were very happy about our new teammate, his dog was also a great companion for us all, afterall, he was such a lovable, cute and peppy dog. 

Mishra uncle's Music loving dog

This was both, Moti's and Mishra uncle's first outing after they shifted. Moti appeared to be too happy about this outing, afterall, he was a dog who loved going out, and for the earlier part of his life, Moti had been living in a city with lots of open spaces, a spacious bungalow provided by Mishra uncle's company, and lots of open land to do whatever he wanted. Mishra uncle too had allowed Moti do whatever he wanted for he always wanted his son to be happy. Even if this happiness meant Moti digging up right at the roots of the mango tree which Mishra uncle had planted with his own hand, and now this tree was bearing fruits and for weird reasons Moti liked digging up the soil around the roots of the tree.

While aunty too loved Moti, this behaviour of Moti always frustrated her as she loved the plants in backyard kitchen garden, and Moti at times acted as a menace for her plants. Once both were out of the building, Mishra uncle carefully guided Moti to the park entrance. The beautifully crafted gate of the park, which had flowering vines covering up the gate and trellis' had a security guard placed to control entry into the park. Now Mishra uncle was not aware of the rules of this park, and when the he saw him approaching the gate of the park, the guard stopped Mishra uncle from entering the park citing the rules.

Now Mishra uncle has been a considerate man. He understands the need to follow the rules, and thus, he didn't have a quarrel with the guard. He understood clearly that the guard was just doing his work, and it was worthless to indulge in an argument with him. Now he moved out, and with Moti by his side, Mishra uncle now strolled down the path along with the boundary wall of the park. He went for quite some distance, came back and from right in front of the gate, moved to the next end of the park. Mishra uncle came back with two cups of tea, a packet of milk and a bowl. He now asked  the guard politely to have a cup of tea, calm down and take a deep breath. Here came in the yoga lesson. Mishra uncle taught a few yoga steps to the security guard, and asked him to follow the steps. The elated guard followed what Mishra uncle taught him.

Once the yoga lesson was over, Mishra uncle handed over Moti's chain to the guard, poured milk in the bowl and placed this bowl on one side of the gate, and called Moti over. Once Moti finished the milk, Mishra uncle again handed over the chain to the guard and requested him to take care of Moti while he came back after a quick stroll from the park. He also asked the guard if he was having a cellphone, and if he could play some music as Moti loved music. This came in as an amusing surprise for the guard, he burst out in laughs, for he had heard something like this for the first time.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Mishra uncle

In some part of the congested city of Delhi is our colony. This colony has quite a lot of effluent people living in. Now since the people are effluent, the facilities too have to be highend. So, we have some good parks that are well maintained by the municipal agency, our park is so well maintained that at times, it even appears like a beautiful garden. Now since the park is so well maintained, some rules have to be strictly followed. One of these rules is that dogs and other pets are not allowed in the park, even though, other stray dogs can commonly be seen in the park without any restriction, and no municipal body can really put a restriction on these animals. It is early in the morning on a Sunday. Dozens of people from nearby residential complexes and apartment buildings have flocked to this nearby municipal park to workout. It's not just the workout but sort of recreation. Children come here to play, lots of people come for morning walk, some work out, some just sit and enjoy the beauty of nature, and a lot of others come here to meet their friends. These are usually old people, most of whom have retired from their work and are now the golden days of their lives.

One among these was Mishra uncle, as he was fondly called. He was a really peppy character, though there was not much to brag about him, his witty nature, his calmness was something no one who ever came in contact with him would ever miss. One more thing that is special about him is his language. His is a very crude language with what he speaks appears to be a mixture of Hindi and Bhojpuri. We met Mishra uncle for the first time around 2 months back when he moved in with his son after he got retired. Luckily enough for Mishra uncle, a flat was empty in the same apartment building which his son lives in, and even better was the fact that this flat was right next to his son's flat, and they managed to buy the same for themselves. Afterall, Mishra uncle was a man with a high self esteem and did not want to become a burden for his son and daughter-in-law, so they had decided that if they will be moving in with his son, it will not be staying his son's house, since he knew that it will not be very good for him to be a burden on his son, no matter how his son and his daughter-in-law respected  them.

When Mishra uncle moved in he came with his dog, Moti. A good natured dog, Moti is one of the best friends, Mishra uncle has got. Much to his affection, Moti is like his younger son so he loves him a lot. He takes Moti wherever he goes, and he prefers to just stay away from places where Moti is not allowed. It had been some days after Mishra uncle and his wife had moved in their new home with Moti. Though, Mishra uncle had been quite an outgoing type of person, who loved to explore the surroundings, he had chosen to stay inside for some days. He later revealed to us that he used to get nervous with the kind of traffic this city has. That day too was a Sunday, like today, when we first met Mishra uncle. We are a group of teenagers, and as it goes for most active teenagers, we loved to play out in the park, and on a Sunday, it is our bonanza. Mishra uncle came down his home for the first time since he had moved in this home. Moti, as usual, was along with him. He was a very active dog, and lovable too.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Deadly Maritime Music

According to some myths that have been doing rounds of folklores around the world since time immemorial, and these myths say that the entire world is dotted with hundreds of treasures from the ancient times something, that if found will change the world entirely. Numerous people have tried their luck to find some of these famous treasure spots in the search for riches from the ancient times. When seen from a historical point of view, there's no question on the existence of these treasure troves as these stories have stemmed from the abrupt disappearances of great civilizations like that of Atlantis, that is said to be among one of the greatest civilizations that is said to be submerged in the Atlantic ocean at its fall. Similar were the tales of the kingdom of Dwarka, the mythological city of Lord Krishna that is also said to have been submerged down in the Arabian Sea, at the end of its existence span. It is not just these fallen civilizations but numerous instances of shipwrecks that too have been subject to speculations of containing incomparable wealth and articles of historical importance that do fetch a handsome amount in the international market of antiquities.

Adrian, a student at the University of Wisconsin, was doing his majors in Oceanographic studies when he came in contact with Professor James D. Barrey. He was considered an expert in the field of ocean mapping, and was also a notable personality in the field of marine exploration for shipwrecks under the vast expanse of the open seas and oceans in the Pacific. Though, most of these shipwrecks are considered to be from ocean liners that have been unlucky enough to get caught in the nature's fury, and got sunk down to the floors of the vast oceans. Some of these shipwrecks have stories revolving around them that point to a possibility of these shipwrecks being caused by mysterious characters in the seas and ghosts.

And it was during one of these lectures of Prof. Barrey that Adrian got to interact with him, and the subject matter the professor was talking about attracted Adrian's attention towards these mythical stories behind shipwrecks around the world. What made him more interested in these stories were the eerie similarity among these stories of shipwrecks that all of these mysterious stories revolved around unexplainable characters in the high seas, some attracting the sailors through their beauty and charm, while others did their work on the pretext of causing damage to the sailors and their vessels. Ghosts, and beautiful sea mermaids have prominently found a place in these folklores of shipwrecks in the high seas. One of these stories, from the folklores was told by Prof. Barrey during a lecture about the  Infamous shipwreck of Osterocus, about 100 nautical miles off the eastern coast of the Hawaiian peninsula. According the folklores, as told by the professor during the lectures, the ship Osterocus had set sail in October of 1778. Renowned as one of the fastest sail driven ships of its times, Osterocus is said to be a magnificent piece of marine engineering.

The times were not very good, but the sailors are said to have had gathered a huge stockpile of treasures aboard the ship, along with a crew of more than 100 men on the large ship. It is said that two days into the journey, due to some thunderstorms, the crew lost its way and had drifted miles away from their original route only to reach a remote lonely island right in the middle of the vast ocean. The story says that as the crew was nearing the island, they all were mesmerised by melodious music that was there in the air. Music that titillated their senses so much so that dozens of the sailors are said to have jumped down into the open seas under the hypnotic influence of that melodious music. As the sailors kept jumping, the music never ceased and the ship was slowly drifting towards the island. When the day broke, and the remaining of the ship's crew came back to their senses, they found their ship stuck in a vast expanse of sea weed that had immobilized their ship. Bodies of their shipmates were all floating on the surface of the ocean, and there were bodies all over. Nearly half of the crew had jumped down the ship into the ocean and died. More than anything, they found that almost all of their treasures which consisted of precious metals, figurines and coins made up of gold and silver, had vanished when there was no way someone could have taken that huge a treasure at such a place.

According to the professor, the folklores say that the Osterocus was found sailing by itself almost a year after it had set sail, around a rather busy shipping route, by other ships navigating on the route. When repeated calls were ignored, the ship was mounted by some crews of these shipping vessels only to find that the ship had been abandoned, and while almost all of the treasures vanished, the food supplies, water, and the barrels of alcohol, were almost untouched as if these were placed on the ship and the crew never got onboard the ship. 

An elated and spellbound Adrian had now found a new interest in the field of maritime research and wanted to explore further the secrets of the ocean.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

I-Spy - The agency

So, here she was, No. 0061, the brilliant lady, a truly beauty with brains, but I still didn't get the reason for her joining the agency. For me, she was too beautiful and intelligent at the same time to be joining a covert fighting force, one which never got it's due credit nor is there any chance of that happening anytime in the foreseeable  future. While, this wasn't something I ever understood about the others in the agency, for, I myself had some reasons for joining the agency, and I never did share this reason with anyone, and I am not going to do that here as well.

Nonetheless, I had to make sure that No. 0061 firmly grasped the lessons they covered in the initial training session, as that was the basic and if she didn't know that, ultimately the failure would be mine, as I now had the charge to hone her skills, and what better a point to start from than beginning right from the start. As part of the basic training, we agents were taken through very tough courses that would, at times go on for months altogether.

The actual courses are classified and I do not intend to share them all here, just a few basic things that is quite general knowledge when it comes to spy agencies around the world. The course included lessons to teach the potential spies how to mingle around and get dissolved in the surrounding crowd, not to be identified as someone different from the crowd when standing among a group of people. This was one basic necessity that every spy needed to have inbred into themselves. Without this basic skill, the cover will be blown apart and the assignment will be compromised, and this was a very high possibility point the agency or any of the agents never wanted to happen. Next in the series of the hair raising courses included technology demonstrators with brilliant spy gadgets, that have always been ahead of time, and before anyone else in the world hears about something like that, we moved atleast 2 or three generations ahead in such a technology.

This technology demonstrator included stringent workshops to teach the agents how to make the best possible use of these devices, which all situations to use these gadgets, what all were the possible outcomes of using the device and what all the agents could do as a backup plan, if things didn't go as planned. One of the other important things included learning the skill of navigation. As a spy, there was always a possibility of a spy getting forced to work up their way out of uncharted and unknown territory, all on their own. This was a thing that needed all the agents to have a certain level of navigational skills deeply engraved in their minds. While we always had devices and gadgets at our disposal, it was expected from every agent to be able to navigate around the work area on their own without the help of any of the modern gadgets we had at our disposal.

Training on modern weapons, close quarter battles hand-to-hand combat exercises had to be mugged up so well that even if an agent is woken up right in the middle of the night, from their deep sleeps, they would still be able to save themselves in dire situations. This was an important trait that was must for every agent or they would rather go and fail in the field, something, the agency never risked to let happen.

Frankly speaking, the whole array of gadgets we used was "helluva fantastico". Gadgets that would shame even the superhero stories of the likes of Batman and others like James Bond, though not as cinematic as those gadgets, ours were rather functional than being dramatic. Bugs of all shapes and sizes and capabilities meant we could gather information without really  getting ourselves into trouble. Weapons ranging from a small cigarette cannon that would cause drastic damage to the one fired upon, to guns which could bring down entire fighter jets flying at mach speeds.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

I-Spy - Intro

That's my name, yes, No. 0023 is what they call me, and with that kind on name, and the work I do, I do not remember when was the last time I heard my real name. Sometimes, I just fear that someday, I myself will forget my own name, the name which, before joining this organization was who I was, the personality that was defined by that name, using which everyone called me all these years. But then, looking back at the nature of my work, I realize how important it was to hide my real name and identity. Something which had the potential to wreck havoc in the lives of those I know and those who love me, and not to mention, my own life was in danger.

Anyways, I never hated my work. In fact, I always loved it even when there was no appreciation or acknowledgement of any kind, for any of my works, most important being no one I know, knows what I actually do for a living. To them, I am a nerdy software engineer working for some small software company engaged in the field of exporting software for embedded computing platforms.

This is my story, story of No. 0023, as they know me. You see, I am a spy, a spy working with an agency that operates on an international level. No one knows the name of the agency or the clients they work for. All we know is the task that is assigned to us. Most often these tasks include covert operations over terrorist organizations that have been growing like mushrooms throughout the world. Some of our best works have been against these terrorist organizations wherein we have been foiling their plans to wreak havoc, irrespective of what land they are and what country they are planning this terror operation against. All we know is that we are the last line of defence.

Again, like I said earlier, no one knows us, infact, we are trained such that we do not disclose our own identities to even our colleagues. All they know about us are some obvious facts like our names (or the numbers, which serve as our names) the operations we have engaged in, but one thing is made sure of. No one knows which operation an agent among us will be handling, all they know is our past achievements. This does sound like a weird task but is important for the cause we are working.

This time around, I was summoned to the agency, at a quite short notice. While I was going there, I had no idea what were they upto this time, and I was supposed to be ready for any situation, as it was always expected from all the agents working for the agency. We all knew what we are doing and hence no one ever complained about this, as everyone knew the contingencies and dire situations that kept unfolding round the clock.

As I reached the agency, I was handed over the file. I didn't read it as I knew I will be briefed about the task almost immediately. I went into the briefing room and came out in fifteen minutes. This time, the task was a bit different, and I for sure knew that the agency is planning something very big so as to hand over this task to me. What the task was? I was supposed to train another spy. I did ask them why was it me to train this another spy, when the trainings and all those administrative things were already taken care of by another department. All I was told was that the task requires the new spy to work along an experienced spy for reasons well know to the agency only. I didn't ask any more questions, as I did not expect an answer for any more questions.

I was taken over and was introduced to this new spy, No. 0061. She was a gorgeous lady and must have been in her mid 20's. This was the first time in my entire career that I was now thinking why did she choose to be a spy. I, however kept this question to myself as it was not a tradition in the agency for agents to enquire about other agents. As I was having some conversations with her, within no time I found out that as beautiful as she was, she was also a peppy lady with all the qualities that must be there in a spy. I was now sure that there was something very big around this whole operation and I needed to make sure that I do this task entrusted upon me, with utmost dedication, for whatever the agency had planned, I knew it would change the world for better, and would thwart more threats to the world peace.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pranksters onboard

The music had just begun, as I entered the lobby. I could hear the beats of the loud music that was playing in the party hall. Guests were still arriving, although the party must have started around an hour ago. All I was fearing was that the guys would kill me because I was late and that too by more than an hour. I was feeling nostalgic for I was meeting the guys after a long long time. It had been around five years when we last met. Nitin, the host of the party, is a dear friend from my college days. He had been one of my best friends all through till today. It was he who literally forced me to come here, or I had a couple of meetings scheduled, which I had to cancel because of Nitin.

The occasion? None of us had any idea because Nitin told us nothing. All we knew was he was hosting a party and all of us had to be there. I asked wanted to know who all were coming, but then, he didn't tell this as well. The only one who knew about who all were coming was just Nitin. He had always been a mischievous kind. Even in the college, he would not hesitate in playing pranks right in the middle of the classroom with the professor taking lectures, and his soft targets used to be Reema and Anand. Most of Nitin's pranks used to be targeted at these unlucky souls.

While I was just clueless about the occasion or the reason for the party, I was sort of certain that Nitin would have managed to gather almost the whole of our group of 8 people that we had back in college. While two or three, like Nitin, Gaurav and Rahul, I had been in constant touch with all these years, others like Reema, Anand, Geetika and Anushka had been out of touch, and I had no idea how did Nitin manage to reach out to them, if he had been able to do so. One thing I was sure about though, Nitin would leave no stone unturned to try and gather the whole gang, so I was looking forward to meet everyone in the gang.

For us, college was just an extension of school and for three years, all of us went to the college was to meet the others. While I and Nitin used to live not far away, all the others were quite far away from us and the college as well. A prankster that Nitin was, he often used to be out of the lecture room for his pranks, and would often take others too with him when he was forced out of the classroom.
Lost in my thoughts, I had now reached the party hall, and saw lots of people on the dance floor, grooving with the beats of the loud music. All my eyes were doing was scanning through the faces to find a familiar face. I found no one, not even Nitin. There was no one whom I could enquire about where Nitin was as no one knew. I roamed through the entire party hall do make sure that I didn't miss anyone, but in vain. I tried calling up Nitin but his phone would ring and he didn't pick it up. Others' phones too were constantly out of reach. Now I had given up the hope, reached out for a glass of water and decided to leave the venue as no one was there whom I knew. The party was over for me. As I reached the exit I saw a familiar face. It was Reema. She didn't see me, and was standing there as if waiting for someone. As I reached her, she recognised me, and we shared pleasantries enquired about each other and chatting. This was when I heard a voice from behind. The whole gang was there. Smile spread over my face as I saw Nitin manage to get everyone onboard. I literally ran towards the gate and seeing me, they all stood up there.

I reached them, stood right in the middle, and that was it. This time, I was the target of Nitin's nasty prank. This was all planned. As soon as the reality struck me, I was immovable, and all of them were literally laughing like mads, others too eventually joined in the laugh. I was immovable, quite literally. These guys had planned this for me. They had put some superglue right on the floor, and had set up the trap for me to get caught. Reema, again played the scapegoat and led me to the trap they all had set up for me. After a while, they all got me freed up from the trap. It was a great evening we all spent together. Throughout the evening, we had had great deal of fun, and we literally went back to the old times we spent in the college, discussing and having a heartful of laughs over numerous incidents in the college.

After some time, we all parted to go back to all our lives, with a promise that we will be in touch for the rest of our lives.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Maps, really?

A few days back, I was doing up some cleaning some unused stuff in my room, the place had been through a wreck, all throughout its life, because me being a reckless and a careless person. It is not among one of my traits to finish one thing before hopping on to something else. I have been hopping on and off over different things, almost all my life. Though, it is not that I leave anything incomplete, as I make sure that when I start something, it has to reach a logical ending, ofcourse, if it is possible for me to take it there. So, stuff has been found to be lying around in my room, spread like litter, on the workbench, as I am working on a lot of different things all the while, and don't "like keeping away things while I am working on them". Anyways, back to where I was, ah yes, I was cleaning my room. Why? Because I had got a warning that the unused stuff and books and dozens of tech magazines be removed from my room, and be sold away. It's not under our control, all the time, you see. An order's an order and one has to follow it, come what may.

As I was going through all this stuff and other things to check out if I had kept something important, worth saving, within them and forgot, before these go out of the house. This was when I stumbled upon this map. A big map of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, both in Andhra Pradesh. This was from an unplanned trip from 2005, the year I completed schooling. I had to go down with my dad for one of his works there, and so I picked up the map to help us navigate through the tourist attractions of these cities. That too was a time, people like me, crazy enough to go on a hunt for famous and not so famous places, hit the streets with huge maps like one of these, and still, got lost at times, only to find themselves in a soup in a land far away from home, a place where the locals don't speak the language you speak and you can't speak the language they understand. I've had brush ups with this very situation a number of times, and I completely understand the frustration of not being understood, and not being able to understand as well.

This situation was made a bit easy for people like me when satellite based navigation system came in place in the mainstream use here at home, sometime in the late first decade of this century. It was still not that affordable, as not everyone could buy expensive handheld GPS devices. But things came in for a turn when this piece of extremely brilliant hardware made its way in consumer equipments such as smartphones, wherein most, if not all smartphones getting shipped today come with one or the other satellite based navigation system. So much so that even cars started shipping with a navigation system as an essential add on for the vibrant youth of the millennium, keeping in mind the ever growing needs of the people to be able to reach out to their destinations without much hassles.

Now everyone could use a smartphone or a built in navigation system in a car to drive down to their favourite location, without getting lost, no matter where on earth one wanted to go. No more asking people about directions and them screwing up for no apparent reasons with one guy telling you to go right and after driving down 20 kms to the right, you are told to go back 40 kms to reach your destination. More than anything else, we guys have been known of shying away of asking for directions, even if we are in a completely new place, as if we have some kind of GPS instrument fitted in our brains which would guide us to the right spot, every single time. This new piece of technology helps us here as well.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

The day in the diary - 21-Jan-2016 - 1

For the next month or so, as I have planned to do this for quite some time now, though, over an entirely different medium of social networking - Twitter, I will be doing a series of blogposts, a rather long series, talking about the happenings around, though, with a completely different take on what I think about these, what I think as a common man, with absolutely no powers, because all the powers I once had, are now vested in one man, and some others whom this one man wanted to be around him, apparently, legally, to discharge the duties we all, collectively have entrusted this one man, to complete.

Seems like this one man, we choose every five years with the powers we get every five years, seems to become god once he gets all the powers the common men and women, or should I say, women or men (reservation, you know!)have just acquired, thankfully, by the Election Commission, whom, the drafters of the constitution gave powers beyond the direct control of the ruling party, even the "god".

Anyways, back to normal, As I watched over the news in the morning, just before I left home for office, as I normally do, Monday through Saturday. What is being served is the day before's stale news, something we watched and read all through the earlier day, and then, in the night, in the primetime slot - probably 8 pm to 10 pm, when, families are expected to hit the couch, or whatever they can afford to sit on and watch this pack of howling wolves on the channels we thought were still sane about not doing plastic surgeries and accidents and re-birth and re-incarnation and re-re-re.... 

Now tomorrow's breaking news included the attack on the Bacha Khan University in Northern provinces of Pakistan, an area typically hit by violent protests against the ruling Pakistani government over the allegations of Pakistani government treating this part of the country in a rather discriminate way. Something not new about our own country (Oh, sorry, I was talking about the treatment, different parts of the country get). This makes me wonder, what does our government do differently that we do not have such unrests in these secluded, far away places of the country, places, names of which even the ones in the top level of hierarchy in the country's administration might not be knowing. Had they known these places, they could have decided to go down to these places for their foreign visits, since, ofcourse, these places have never been visited by the top rung officials.

Another talked about topic that has been in the news these days is the suicide of the ill fated student, who happened to be a "Dalit". A term that has taken over the very identity of a PhD scholar, above his personality, his capabilities, his aspirations, his being a human being, in this "Progressive Society" of the largest democracy of the world, and he being turned into just a "Dalit student who committed suicide". I was thinking this over an ad being telecast on NDTV India, saying... Aap jo dekhte hain woh bante hain.... Now the question that cropped up in my mind was, what NDTV is doing different in this particular case? I don't remember they themselves taking the helm to try to get atleast social justice to the guy. Not to mention, TRP ratings and greed for more money has always steered the way for business, and the ones in TV are no different. What impact do they think they are making on people by running adverts and self praising promos and then joining the hordes of other money hungry news channels in their methods of news delivery. I still do believe NDTV and its other channels are still the best among the packs currently running in the country, but still, this is still not what I would expect from a channel that claims to be different.

While there's no question about the impact Television and media has on the country. We have seen the brightest sides of them, through, the numerous public service advertisements sponsored by Government and other NGO's, a live example being the eradication of Polio in the country, which was achieved by the joint efforts of United Nations, successive Governments, both in the country and the states, numerous NGO's and self help organizations, but then, as humans, we have this natural tendency of being able to see the shortcomings fairly easily and almost effortlessly.

Finally, the press conference of Hon'ble HRD minister, Madam Smriti Irani, showing the suicide note of the dead student, claiming that the student didn't hold anyone responsible for his suicide, as if had he done that, she would have personally got the one claimed to be responsible for his suicide, lodged in jail.

The country is in a sorry state of affairs, but then we still have to have hope, because that's the only thing we could do, lest we get the power after a couple of more years, to again give it to someone else.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Impact of the sun

The solar tracker in testing phase.
By now, you all must be knowing about this small project I have been doing at home. If you still are in the dark, please check out these posts I made earlier in this blog, updating on how the work is going on in this project. A grid assisted Solar power generation system that makes the use of maximum available energy by constantly following the sun from Dusk to Dawn, thus, collecting the maximum amount of energy in the process, and making its highest possible utilization.

Why was this needed? : While I had this idea at the back of my head for a longer period, the electrical blackout as a result of the collapse of the Northern Grid some years back brought this idea to the front. In a city like Delhi, where everything depends on electricity, something that we take so much for granted, in fact, our whole lives depend on electricity, which means that we are surrounded by rocks made up of plastic or metal if we don't have electricity around to run them. Particularly, here, the problem is severe. Our supplies of water, for example, depends upon electricity. This gave my idea momentum. This was the main driving force, the inspiration for this project came from numerous other such small and large installations, though, mostly I have seen have been static. Beyond this, ever growing costs of electricity that we have been paying up to the distribution companies over time, has been a matter of concern. Studying about the resources we have, as a part of curriculum in school and college, I realized that we are wasting one of the most abundant sources of energy, the Sunlight.

Thus, I floated the idea of building a grid assisted Solar power generation system for my home, to my parents. As expected, it was opposed over the prohibitive costs, though, no one contested the idea of it's efficacy. So, I took another approach, I chose to try and change their mindset over a period of time, taking small incremental steps to make sure that they all are on board before I take the next big step. Gradually, they all understood, and now I've got everyone's support in this project. Apart from this, I thought it a good idea to try and distribute the costs of such a system over time, so that no one gets a shock when they hear the cost of the entire system at once.

Then, last year, I got this, over the period, singlehandedly, (except some help from my father), I've worked on designs to fit my needs of an alternative power source for my home in Delhi, with no scope to install the system on ground, thus left with some space on the rooftop, which too, doesn't have enough space to spare for installing the panels fixed on the floor, and installing the same on walls is out of question. Not to mention I did not want to waste the sunlight hours having a solar panel fixed in one direction, while the sun was in the other direction. Although I find this idea to be a stupid one, I still wonder what makes so huge corporations and governments invest in these fixed solar panel parks and farms to try and churn out electricity when implementing this much more efficient way of power generation through sun is easier for them, much easier than what it is for me, an individual.

Nonetheless, I know the impact of doing this will be huge, not just for me, but for the others in the neighbourhood, as I know enquiries have already started pouring in about what the stuff on my rooftop is all about, and what do I want to achieve from this. It's just a matter of time that people will understand the importance of my work on this project and  the investment I am doing in these pieces of hardware. Both the social and economic impact of this will be huge. When I sit down to do the Math, I see an astonishing  number cropping up if people start adopting solar installations for their homes, and not just industrial uses. A panel or two on each house's rooftop could just do away with the shortage of electricity, and a planned approach would mean that something like this can be done in a matter of just a couple of years, if not less. A lot less than what it takes to plan, build and operate a Nuclear energy plant, both in terms of price as well as time, and the impact on both, the economy and the environment will be huge.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Was it for real?

This was the route I travelled everyday, and I have been doing so for close to three years now. From the last three days I could see one guy at one particular point over the elevated road I used everyday. This narrow road which is supposed to have vehicles, mostly smaller, personal ones, get to see even slower moving vehicles like bicycles a bit less often, and seeing people walking on these is something one barely sees once or twice a year, not more than that. Not because these slower moving vehicles or people are not allowed on these roads, though they are suggested not to use this elevated part of the very busy road, but more because it is quite dangerous for these slower moving vehicles and pedestrians with this narrow space and the fast movin vehicles. There was something really odd about this guy. Since the past couple of days, I was seeing him almost on the same spot, irrespective of the time I reached there, as if he waited there for hours. While, I never paid too much attention to passersby while on the road, there was something about this guy that made me pay attention. One thing being his uncanny location. The other weird thing about this guy being his strange behaviour of walking on this narrow stretch of elevated road, all alone, everyday, right against the flow of the traffic, more so, in a manner which appeared unhindered by any of the external elements.

While, I zoomed past by this guy every single time, I never paid too much attention to him, taking him as some mad guy who liked walking this narrow elevated road. Today I was pretty late at office and was in a hurry to get back home. I knew I will get stuck in the long traffic snarls at multiple points, which had, by now, become one of the most unnerving feature of this bustling metropolis I was living in. Everywhere one went, there was construction activities going on. Buildings, Elevated corridors, construction of metro, both under and above the ground was in full swing, for this bustling metropolis by now had a public transportation system which had come of age, and was creaking with the load the ever increasing population was putting on it. People rarely had time for others, and even at times, people didn't have time for their near and dear ones too, something I could find in smaller cities I sometimes visited to. Even those who didn't know each other shared a few customary greetings while passing over.

Well, back to my guy, the third thing weird about this guy was a bit of uneasy feeling everytime I passed by him. Something I had brushed over as an unexpected situation seeing a pedestrian walking over this narrow elevated road, where pedestrians aren't supposed to walk, and, the extra care we had to take not to cause any hurt to them, if we came across such people here. Weirdly, this guy was again at the same spot as he was there on the previous three days. Since now it was pretty late, the traffic had increased a lot. While I climbed up the flyover, I could see the guy at a distance, weirdly enough, as I noticed through the slow moving traffic, no one seemed to pay any attention to this guy, as if he never existed there. As I approached him from the distance, I could see him acting like a normal human being, trying to evade the oncoming traffic, but surprisingly, none of the vehicles seemed to see this guy. As I neared him, I suddenly realized that some of the vehicles I was following were passing right through his body, and still no one appeared to see him, or care any more to try and make sure that they did not hurt this guy. A cold wave passed through me, as if someone had poured a bucket full of ice cold water right on my head. One by one, the vehicles on the road, ahead of me passed through some of his body parts, and he stood there, as if he wasn't getting hurt by these passing vehicles. I squeezed the brakes as hard as I could, bringing my car to a near sudden halt, as I was still seeing this guy being passed through the vehicles ahead of me.

The reaction from the cars and other vehicles behind me was, just as expected, sudden, and the traffic came to a sudden halt. No one moved further, and while I was still watching over this guy right ahead of me, the people behind started honking at me, to tell me to move my car ahead. But I was as cold as one could be, seeing a real ghost, right in front of their eyes. After the honking didn't have any effect on me, some people came out of their cars to check out if everything was fine with me. While I was very preoccupied staring at this guy in front, no one I directed towards the guy could see him, and this is when I realized that he was a real ghost whom only I could see. I had been a non-beleiver all my life, and all of a sudden, I get to see a ghost right in front of my eyes, one which only I could see, and anyone else can't, and this situation turned weird as this had caused a long traffic jam at a busy road during this peak traffic time. People around asked me to move over as there was no one, but I couldn't as I was seeing what other couldn't. This was when some good guy came over and offered to to help me get my car out of the situation, so that the trailing traffic could go through. I moved over to the passenger's seat, he took the steering wheel, and drove me off, while I was still watching over the guy on the road. He took me out of this weird situation, and once we were down the overbridge, he parked me aside, and offered any help he could. I told him I was fine, but clearly, I was not, and he could see it on my face. He offered to call someone for help, and I handed over my phone to him to  give a call at my home and ask them to send someone to help me out and drive me back home. While the help arrived from home, this guy was right there with me, trying to pacify me, trying to understand my situation, but I was in a tricky situation here. I could see a guy on the road whom no one else could see, and this was a frightening experience for me. Help came over, and they drove me back home. Doctors tried to help me out with trying to learn what happened. As I told them, the response was as I had expected. No one believed me, and they thought I was hallucinating, which, I clearly know I wasn't.

I spent the next few days at home, trying to recuperate and shelving off the incident as something out of ordinary, but nothing to be afraid of. I had started believing that I was actually hallucinating, but that fear of stumbling over with this figure was still somewhere in my mind, something that made me change the route I travelled, entirely. Till date, I do not know what the truth is, but I do believe that what I saw, was not some kind of hallucination, but was for real.