Saturday, 31 December 2011

United Bases of America

Good graphic on all the bases of the US around the world. I am reminded of one more pic that I saw a few years ago.

Link here

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Michael Hudson on Europe's woes

Never has the gap between pretended aim and actual effect been more hypocritical. Making interest payments (and even capital gains) tax-exempt deprives governments of revenue from the user fees they are relinquishing, increasing their budget deficits. And instead of promoting price stability (the ECB’s ostensible priority), privatization increases prices for infrastructure, housing and other costs of living and doing business by building in interest charges and other financial overhead – and much higher salaries for management. So it is merely a knee-jerk ideological claim that this policy is more efficient simply because privatizers do the borrowing rather than government.

Brilliant read on the Euro zone and its myriad problems.
read more here

Monday, 21 November 2011

SA vs Aus 2nd test

What a test match. Eye popping action and lovely lovely finish to the match.

Game see-sawing between both teams - check
Amazing intensity shown by both sides - check
Good sportsmanship and gamesmanship shown by both sides - check
People who have their careers on the line trying to redeem themselves - check
Debutant coming out and making an impact - check
Weather plays spoilsport but also gives a window of opportunity - check

Overall, a fantastic game. Great advert for Test Cricket. Ponting mostly lives another day. Off to Aus to face NZ and India in the summer. Fantastic. Simply fantastic.

Go on, you beauty!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Food matters

The infographic says it all.
Its important and its key to all our lives. And the comm traders dont get it at all. Keep bumping up and hoarding stuff till everyone else is hungry and die out of starvation. Profit taking will continue till then.

Original link here

Sunday, 6 November 2011

How Music has travelled over the years

I dont necessarily agree with this graphic. But its revealing all the same.

Link here

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Random thoughts

The morning was excellent. Very very gently drizzle in slow motion... for a long time.
Fall colors have begun.
Autumn has firmly set in... slowly giving in to the much harsher winter.
Dull, drab buildings covered in mist and rain. Small puddles of water everywhere.
Children playing in the rain and skipping through the puddles.

Feel fresh and I am eager to have my hot cuppa. Feels nice to be alive. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

All about DSLR for dummies

Came across a decent site for knowing about DSLR... ahem, for dummies, that is.

Check more here

Amazing level of information and quite concise and clear too

Monday, 24 October 2011

Fresh perspective on Ladakh travel

This is a place so saturated in Tibetan Buddhism that even Leh's tiny, anarchic plane terminal--Kushok Bakula Rinpoche Airport--is named for the lama of the nearby Spituk Monastery. (His 20th reincarnation is a 5-year-old, enthroned in 2010.) Religion dominates not only the interior lives of most Tibetan-descended Ladakhis, but also the terrain around them. Monasteries or shrines dedicate seemingly every hilltop, and bridges and rooftops ripple with prayer flags, sending blessings up and down the valleys with the wind. Sinuous, Andy Goldsworthy–esque mani walls raised from centuries of heaped prayer stones, each intricately hand-carved with the mantra "om mani padme hum," line the approaches to every village.

Read more here

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Spiti Valley, Himachal according to Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling has this to say about the Spiti Valley in Kim: 

"At last they entered a world - a valley of leagues where the high hills were fashioned of the mere rubble and refuse from off the knees of the mountains... Surely the Gods live here. Beaten down by the silence and the appalling sweep of dispersal of the cloud-shadows after rain. This place is no place for men."

So True. 

Friday, 16 September 2011

Rights Issue

Way of vesting rights where, if you are lucky, you can make a killing. If unlucky, you lose your vests.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Royal Enfield blog site

So, my bike had busted sprockets and  I had to hurry my service schedule. Tried a bit of old fashioned searching on the net and found this gem of a site for fellow RE lovers.


Who knew? The pics there are brilliant and seem almost like the Classic 350/500 we get here. Besides, the guy gives a wealth of info too.

Lovely, lovely.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Monday, 22 August 2011

Individual Choice - Use it or lose it

Yesterday evening was fun in a different kind of way. I accompanied my friend to watch a play named "Blue Thugs Mug" which has been aired as part of the Theatre festival of the Hindu group.

a. Great ambience. The school's auditorium - Lady Andal is posh and looks like a private auditorium more than a school auditorium. Bose speakers, humungous sized projector screen and spectacularly airconditioned considered the huge space involved and plush seats to boot(y).
b. Pretty women lined up to watch the play. I dont know where they materialise from only to be absent immediately after the play is over. Happens in almost all plays that I get to watch. Even this is stage managed?
c. Music before the play was outstanding. I happened to  see the same band perform live a few weeks back in Elliots Beach as part of a NDTV-Hindu "Go green" week or something on those lines. The drummers are quite good!

The play was sad and quite umimpressive though. Not much to add in that except that the performers did their best and were probably even good but one cant carry the show on the weight of their shoulders unless there is some rhyme or logic or a connect in the sequence... All of which were missing, by the way.

Night: I came and spoke to a friend who was quite disappointed the way life was turning out and how things arent quite coming up the way he would have liked it.

I wondered: Isnt the very fact that you are disappointed and want to move on a step in the right direction? One has to believe in something and individual choice becomes very important. If something didnt work out till when I was in my formative years, I could look around for blame. But if something doesnt work out now - when one is fairly decently settled and can decide for himself / herself, we have only ourselves to blame. Individual choice becomes very important here. Use it or lose it. Keep at something long enough and consciously improve and one should reach where he / she has to. So I mentioned to my friend.
Now I wonder: Isnt it also true that if we really believed in individual choice, we wouldnt have brought ourselves to the place we currently are in if we are deeply disappointed about it too? Unless we are masochistic and believe in pain, that is.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Tharangambadi (Tranquebar) and Karaikal: Bike trip

Tharangambadi is a sleepy little coastal settlement in Tamil Nadu (Nagapattinam\district to be more specific). It has an interesting history of being a Danish Colony sometime between the 1600's t the 1800's. There are also a few buildings which remain as memories of what the place could and would have been some 500 years ago - a fort (Fort Dansborg) , a steeple, an entry to the fort which was built by the Danes during their period.

The beach front is quite spectacular and the beach is reputed to be a Ozone beach. The board put up on the beach says that its scientifically proven that there is more ozone on this beach than on average and it has unique properties to reduce ones stress levels. There are rocks which are piled up over which people can walk some 500 metres into the beach and see the waves getting splashed on the rocks. A few fort walls remain very close to the beach front which gives us a glimpse into the vestiges of what the entire fort structure would have been earlier.

The museum holds decent artefacts and also houses the mangled remains of a whale skeleton. The museum also provides a history of the town and a list of names of all the Danes  who manned the fort. It also has an exhaustive list of which ships landed at the port of entry. A pretty decent affair. 

The place is very small - there isnt much to the place apart from the beach which makes it all the more impressive - just sack out on the beach and contemplate about the myriad aspects of Mother Nature. It has a little over 20k people, according to the 2001 census, and is quite small compared to most other beach towns. 

Neemrana group and Hotel TamilNadu offer lodging at their own respective rates - Neemrana costs a bomb. Both of them claim to be a non-hotel hotel which makes one curious about what they exactly mean. Neemrana has a beach front property and I reckon the views of the ocean in the night would be something worth ones while. The buggers dont serve beer to people who arent residents which is quite bizarre if one comes to think of it.

The roads are bad though - never did I imagine that the roads were probably built during the Danish time of settlement too (Not entirely true but the state of roads from Pondy to Tharangambadi does leave quite a bit to be desired)

Overall, a great beach - lovely views of the ocean and a good walk on the beach sands on both the ends and a lovely fort to boot. An eventful trip save for the roads.

Karaikal also has decent rooms / stay options if Tharangambadi is filled up or doesnt  suit ones budget. Karaikal has a decent beach and is probably the only beach that I can remember of in the recent times where one can ACTUALLY find sea shells on the beach... which is quite fitting and amazing considering the state of affairs in Marina and Elliots. I find more plastic and dirty items there than I can find shells. Karaikal also has a very big walkway of rocks which leads one some 1.1-1.3kms into the beach which makes it all the more interesting and thrilling. Its quite normal and common to see crabs, scorpions and a few land/sea animals frequent these rocks.

Update: There is a bypass from Chidambaram to Karaikal which is a better road to choose rather than driving into Chidambaram. The roads leading into Chidambaram are quite decrepit and worth giving a pass.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Test your vocabulary

Great site to test ones vocabulary.

Link here

My vocabulary stands at some 31500 ish. whats yours?

Update: my results here

Nice site. Try it!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Bisle Ghat : Jeep track ride

My friends and I did the Bisle Ghat road trip a year ago, to this date. The route is quite fantastic and it is easily one of the most foresty routes that I have ever done till date.

The trip by itself was a lot more ambitious - the plan was to cover some 900-1000 kms in 3 days. We (me and 2 of my friends) started from bangalore on a monsoon bike trip and  went to Shravanabelagola to see the huge 57 feet monolithic statue of Gomateshwara. We got quite complacent and ended up staying there for a lot more time than we should have - we had initially tentatively decided to halt at Sakleshpur for the night and the going was getting tougher by the afternoon... till Eicher Maps came to our rescue. Luckily, I had carried that and saw that there is an alternate route to Sakleshpur directly from Shravanabelagola without getting into Hassan and avoiding the usual highway route. [I remember Hole Narsipur and Arkalgud coming somewhere along the way. If someone wants the entire alternate route, let me know] Off we went on this route and never were we prepared for the sights that followed - the route was breathtaking by its own right [the roads were being laid at the time we travelled... but knowing Karnataka and India at large, they might be in the same condition now too]


We came across some of the most amazing grasslands and meadows that we have ever seen [my friends concur too.] Except for the fact that there was cattle excrement everywhere, there was not a bit of dirt and the land just kept its undulating pattern of a thick layer of mountain grass without a break as far as the eyes could see. There was so much of greenery and grass on both the sides that I felt compelled to stop my bike and sit around and ponder over the many beauties of nature and also, in the real world, wait for my friends to join in.

Off we went to Sakleshpur from here [Note for the rider: The route is fantabulous. One would do well to take it slow and have a nice look at the route. The bisle ghat, incidentally, retraces a fair bit of this route (even I realised this only on the next day) - more on this later]

The next day my friend suggested that we do the Bisle ghat. A few enquiries got us nothing on the route to be taken and we were left to our own devices... after a bit of checking and re-checking, we were surprised but not really shocked to be retracing the same route back to Shravanabelagola on the alternate route [I found this bit of the journey quite fitting]

Bisle Ghat is arrived at by turning right at one of the junctions along the way [Rider is out on his own here. Just keep asking people for bisle ghat - inspite of repeated enquiries, we couldnt get the name of the junction / village where we were supposed to turn. Alternately, one can posibly ask for the route to Subramanya and might get pointed to in the same direction - One needs to move through the Bisle Ghat to travel to Subramanya in this route.]

The ride to bisle ghat seems quite normal initially - even quite boring. The mile posts are all marked in Kannada and unless one is a localite, one cant get any warmth by looking at the mileposts which themeselves are few and far between. After 10-15 kms, the roads definitely become worser and the scenery becomes much prettier till we reach bisle view point [look out for a green colored forest dept board and a gate on your left - if you are travelling from Sakleshpur, that is]. A decent hike from the gate takes one to the view point  - a real good view of all the hills and mountains nearby, clouds permitting. We just had enough time to see around very very quickly before the clouds took over and hid the view till we left.

View from Bisle

I got quite caught on with the route and all of us decided to go to the logical end of the route - which is a few kms away from Subramanya. The route is about 25-30 kms long, long stretches where one cant really find any conclusive evidence of tarmac. Fairly rough riding, and has more potholes in that stretch than one will ever encounter in a full trip of 250-300 kms. So, beware and also note that the route is extremely scenic and real dark and desolate at a few places. The perfect spot for tigers and leopards to laze around, if you ask me. Besides, the route is so rarely used that the distinction between the road and the forest is quite blurred.

We came back to Saklespur from Subramanya through the actual highway which isnt half as bad either. Phenomenal views from that highway too. Besides, if one is lucky and observant, he can view the railway tracks and a rare train moving on that too!

Clouds just about to take over

All in all, a lovely ride and well worth the trip which ended up being a lovely "monsoon" ride indeed.
Riders note: The route is quite rough and has steep patches and big potholes alongside the fact that the roads are quite desolate and it might be a long time before someone reaches out to help you in time of need. One would do well to have another rider along [coming from someone who also does solo trips, thats something]

Update: 31st Mar 2014: Did the bisle ghat along with Gomateswara, Sakleshpur, Kokke Subramanya, Dhramastala and other related places again. By car though. Boy, take a bow. Almost same feeling. The monsoon trip makes the mountains and forests much denser and merrier. But a fantastic trip in its own right. Thanks A for accompanying. Many more to come?

Friday, 8 July 2011

New mining bill

Just a quick though on the new mining bill, the draft of which has been put up yesterday. The crux of the bill: 26% of net Profit of all miners to be shared amongst locals. All core non-mining related companies involved should disburse 100% of royalty paid to the locals.

I find this quite ridiculous. If the govt were really interested in ensuring that people get their just desserts, so to speak, they should probably look for some kind of affirmative action (read: preference given to tribal people working in the mines in some capacity) as opposed to a 26% tax on miners.

a. How does anyone ensure that this 26% goes to the right people. [Just for Coal India, last year PAT was ~4000 cr. 26% translates to 1000 odd crores. Non-miners like SAIL and NMDC in this field paid a royalty of 4000 cr last yr to the govt... which would mean 4000 crores to the "locals"]
b. Is there a good way of finding who the locals are and they get their due? Is there going to be an audit to ensure the process and the trials and tribulations involved are transparent?
c. Time and again, we see that the best way to involve and grow society and make it grow at a decent rate is to educate it and give it ample job opportunities. How will a yearly money transfer change things and the status quo? Why are the other options not being brought to the table?
d. If the current PM who understand economic incentives doesnt get it, who ever will?

The way it looks, its a generous way of ensuring that wealth can be transferred from one place to another in ingenious ways without accountability. Kudos to the guys behind this idea.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The anthropogenic planet

I do have a soft corner for exhaustive pictures and infographics lately.

This picture conveys so much. Gives details about all urban areas of the world and all major trade routes - be it air, naval or land.

Notable points:
Apparently, the Europeans love air travel
Australia is a lot less urbanized than I expected.
India seems to be quite rich lately in roads (Vajpayee's golden quadrilateral effect?)
The upper reaches of Canada and Russia are still less developed.
Greenland is still non-existent (but I did expect this)

Link here
Overall, a delicious picture!

Friday, 1 July 2011

A picture says a million words... and emotions

Todays must watch. Explains the financial crisis in just one single picture excellently.

Link here

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Tatkal travel and Stale Comesum food

I am a fairly regular traveller by train and nowadays I use tatkal more than the normal ticket mostly because I am not sure about which mode of transportation I plan to take until 1-2 days before I actually travel. Tatkal suits me quite fine and I have travelled using that option on more than a few routes - say, some 10-12 different routes and both by Sleeper and AC.

I am appalled by the kind of coaches one gets while getting into the train through a tatkal ticket though. A few are infested with cockroaches and a more apt name for those coaches would be co"ckro"aches. I find them to be regular companions, who happily nibble at our leftovers and also playfully buzz around our ears and legs to mention their heartful thanks, in the Andhra route and even after innumerable complaints to the TTE the words fall on deaf ears.

The bangalore-chennai route has the special malodorous smell of putrid urine that greets ones nostril from far away like a special bosom friend.

But then, to the credit of the railways, the AC coaches arent so bad and I am not usually a complaining type. I also notice that the Garibrath and the Shatabdi are managed quite impeccably.

Unfortunately, I also notice a pattern. Its mostly only the tatkal sleeper coaches which are fully-loaded with these features. Which brings me to a question I pose to myself and you all - Are tatkal coaches specially discriminatory? I understand that tatkal coaches are attached at the last moment depending on requirement / demand or some vague thing like that... but does it have to be especially bad that one cant sit inside without getting a feeling of being comfortable stagnated in ditchwater? Railways definitely doesnt have to treat people who book at the last moment in such an unfortunate way

I initially thought this cant be so and I have a prejudiced view - but then, each time I go along to other coaches to see if my theory is right and, believe it or not, each time I personally feel that the other coaches dont smell so bad. I probably might be wrong, but the point holds... atleast for me.

In case you wonder about the veracity of the statement, I urge you to try out what I just mentioned. I welcome your views too if they concur with mine / refute mine.

On a side note, why does Comesum serve such stale food? I thought they used to be atleast a bit better earlier.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Great read on Indian Economy and the challenges ahead

One of the most elaborate literature about the Indian economy I have seen or read in recent times. Exhaustive and well written.

"As a result of this posture India’s economy may, he accepted, expand by only “around 8 percent” in the financial year through March, a reduction on the 8.6 percent he previously estimated, and significantly short of those double digit growth rates India must be aiming for in the near term. In fact most forecasters agree with Subarrao, and see India’s growth dropping back from last years sweltering 10.3% pace, indeed the majority of commentators are agreed that in the very short term this would be no bad thing. India’s inflation is structural, and needs containing so the economy can accelerate to its full growth potential, which I personally estimate to be well into the double digit zone. I have felt and been arguing so for some years (see me berating the Economist on this very topic of India’s growth potential here in 2007 and here in 2006). It is highly likely India can easily fact break all those earlier Chinese records when she really gets going, such is the country’s potential, but that potential can only be realised if the old phantoms which haunt the economy are hunted down and eliminated. High on the “hit list” here has to be the inflation curse."

Read more:"

Time to invest in coal?

Been reading a fair bit of articles on how Coal price is surging ahead and there is still a lot of upside in the prices.
We have just seen a bull run on almost every commodity man has ever known and almost everything enjoyed a significant upside the last 12-18 months.

Lots of compelling articles which mention that Coal looks very lucrative and its demand is sky rocketing given the general prevailing conditions.

Significant factors amongst these:
a. EM's (India, China and the growing economies) are growing smartly at a decent clip and need a lot of Coal to take care of their energy needs
b. Australian miners are lobbying against their government to introduce carbon taxes in 2012. A crucial meet in scheduled for sometime this week to decide on these matters.
c. Demand far outstrips supply which would obviously lead to higher prices.

For ppl interested in the entire article, the link is here

Coal India is up quite smartly ever since it started trading sometime last year. Currently the stock is up about 70 odd % in some 3 Q's which is excellent whichever way one looks at it.
So, is it time to dirty one's hands (euphemistically speaking) and dig deep into Coal? What say ye?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Excellent post on Keynesian Economics

Krugman has an excellent paper up at A thought provoking paper as always from him.

Wonkish, though!

Link here

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Skinny dip in the name of science

STRIPPING naked and plunging into an icy sea with two huge creatures of the deep is not for the faint of heart.
But Russian diver Natalia Avseenko, 36, has done just that - in the name of science. She attempted to interact with two beluga whales in a unique experiment in the White Sea, off Russia's far northwest coast.
Natalia stripped for her swim in -1.5C water because marine experts believe belugas do not like to be touched by artificial material such as diving suits.
And the belugas - famed for the way their faces seem to convey expressions - enjoyed the experience, happily frolicking with their naked friend.

Link here 

Yercaud and Hogenakkal

Friend and I did a road trip a few weeks back to Yercaud and Hogenakkal on a 3-day weekend.

Though Yercaud seems quite touristy and a run of the mill hill station which almost everyone goes to, there are lots of places there which are quite verdant and unexplored for the adventurous... if only they care to try those places.

There are a few schools in and around Yercaud which have long winding roads and interesting scenery.

View of a big ground of the school which houses both their football, cricket and track field games.

The route to Pagoda point is full of the sweet smell of coffee flowers in the flowering season. We could see quite a few coffee plans in full bloom and they looked real pretty and form quite an impressive picture in one's mind.

But the best, as the saying goes, is saved for the last. The best route we tried was the route which took us to an Estate [If you plan to try it, just ask people to point to the road which takes you to cauvery peak. We did this while coming back from the Pagoda view point. Alternate route is to take the left in the main junction from Yercaud city and immediately go straight so one can take the loop and come back to the junction through the road on the right]. The route is fairly empty and surprisingly free of smell of petrol fumes. When we went there, it as the flowering season for all the coffee plants and we were welcomed with resplendent views of the coffee flowers in full bloom further accentuated by the intoxicating smell of the flowers. The route is mind blowing and has flowers of almost all varieties, thick woody foresty type scenery and the ride is quite spell bounding.

Was one hell of a ride!

Pics here 

Friday, 17 June 2011

Global Housing pursuit info-graphic

Insanely brilliant info-graphic!

via Global pursuit 

Brain gymming

Came across a decent site for some serious brain exercise.

Try it here

Lovely post on savings imbalances

Michael Pettis has a lovely post on savings imbalances and how countries suffer because of choices which are forced upon them due to the choices and the policies of other countries.

"It might help to explain why this is the case if we call all the high-savings countries “Germany” and all the high-consuming countries “Spain”.  Giving them these names may seem a little provocative, and will probably generate some hate mail, but I guess less so than calling them “China” and “the US”.
It turns out that domestic policies by the German government can explain both high German savings and low Spanish savings.  For example assume that Germany has an undervalued currency, low wages relative to productivity, high explicit or hidden consumption or income taxes (repressed interest rates, for example, or environmental degradation), and high quality infrastructure subsidized by these taxes."

A nice easy read here

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Monkey's day out

love this bit:
In her 2007 book Baboon Metaphysics, University of Pennsylvania primatologist Dorothy L. Cheney confirms that in the late 1800s railway guard James “Jumper” Wide lost his feet in a train accident and sought help with his work as a signalman at Uitenhage on the line between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. He encountered a young baboon that had been trained to drive an ox wagon, bought him of his owner, and trained him to work as a signalman:

Each track was assigned a different number. If the driver gave one, two, or three blasts, Jack switched the signals in the appropriate manner, altering the direction of travel so that oncoming trains would not collide. If the driver gave four blasts, Jack collected the key to the coal shed and carried it out to the driver. His performance was so unerringly correct that he earned the name ‘Jack the Signalman.’
Cheney writes that when an astonished passenger complained, Jumper and Jack were dismissed, but then Jumper convinced the officials to test Jack’s skills rigorously, and he did so well that he was rehired and given daily rations and an employment number. He (Jack) died of tuberculosis in 1890.

Read more here

Masinagudi - a lovely road trip

Nestled by the Nilgiri range on all sides, Masinagudi in the foothills of Ooty is a picture perfect little town. Thick woods and very foresty, the place boasts of having one of the best forest areas in the neighboring region. Masinagudi is one part of the much bigger Mudumalai Forest range and houses many animals like the endangered Indian Tiger, Indian Elephant, Guar, Chital, Antlers, Bison. The range also houses lots of exotic Indian birds and critters. 

Happened to be there a few weeks back and got to stay in a place in Bokkapuram and had a lovely time there. 

Bonus: Saw elephants while travelling from Bangalore to Masinagudi enroute. One female elephant near the Bandipur range and one little tusker while on the way to Masinagudi. The best sighting was during the night in the homestay we stayed in. A bold tusker walked almost into the house premises  - just less than 50 ft away in search of a light after dinner snack. Guess he felt a bit hungry seeing us all eat piping hot home food. 

The next day morning, the home stay owner - a Mr Horace Cunnigham, was very nice to take us along in a walk skirting the edge of the deep forest area. We saw a lot of does, fawns and antlers in a frivolous mood posing for us and being curious about what we were upto in their land. Horace was also nice enough to give us cacti flowers to suck on. We gorged on them greedily. We also saw a dilapidated Tipu fort. While coming back, we passed through a watering hole which the animals visit to quench their thirst. Sadly, we couldnt sight any animals near the watering hole except a small tiny green snake slithering away from us (possibly in fright?). 

We left to Ooty sometime mid afternoon on my bird and did the 36 hairpin bends quite comfortably. The road is quite steep and not much of traffic is found in it as its a lot more steeper than the route from Gudalur. So, buses and heavy vehicles prefer that less slopy route instead of travelling through these steep, winding roads. It started raining sometime after we reached Ooty and we got real drenched and came down via the Gudalur route, dripping in the rain. There are quite a few nice places to watch along the way to Gudalur - 2 shooting points and one dam. Worth the time spent walking up each of the knolls to get a panaromic view of the neighborhood. 

A must visit for nature lovers and people who want to take a nice vacation. If you need the contact of the homestay we stayed in, feel free to ask for the same.

My Pics: Flickr set of Masinagudi
Friends link: Masinagudi

Update: Friend feels I should add the directions too. 
From Blr: Blr->Mysore->Gundlupet->Bandipur->Masinagudi

Do remember that the section from Gundlupet to Bandipur is insanely beautiful as its a road inside the wildlife region. Its open only between 6AM-9PM and the actual timings sometimes change. One usually shouldnt drive at a fast clip at these places - limit speed to 30kmph. Well worth driving through these roads. One can feel bliss and also sight a tiger or a rare wild animal, if lucky!

Update: Happened to go to the place again in end of Dec 2012... and my thoughts havent changed even a bit. More pics uploaded. If only the Supreme Court decides one way or the other about the core area of the forests.

Moon and Six Pence

Been reading Moon and Six Pence by W.Somerset Maugham. A stunning page turner from him, like always. 

I love the way Maugham depicts the gray and the black side of life as clearly as the whiter shade of life. He is a past master at describing people and their deep innermost thoughts.

Its a story about a middle aged family man Charles Strickland who works as a stockbroker. He is initially depicted in the book as being a "philistine" and being unremarkable. The story proceeds to show how Strickland finds his artistic calling, so to speak. He leaves his family in search of his true passion - painting, and has no remorse about leaving them behind. The story moves ahead to give a glimpse of how his life moves on in the advanced years of his life. The story is spoken from the view of a third person who is also a friend of Strickland's estranged wife. It takes us from countryside England to the streets of France and moves on to Tahiti as Strickland moves from one place to next to find his true passion. Strickland comes across as a person who is quite sensual yet cruel to the point to being devoid of any compassion towards his fellow beings and being particularly cruel with those who especially care for him. The author does an excellent job, through the narrator of the story, of probing into man's deepest anxieties, fears, jealousies and depicts true passion of the very highest level - one that is raw and all-pervading. Strickland continues to devastate people around him - deviates from his originally not uncomfortable path of married bliss with a wife and two children he is devoted to, to philander with the wife of a person who genuinely supported him when he had a life threatening condition, only to leave her too after his original aim of painting her as a model is completed. Strickland goes on to paint masterpiece after masterpiece... some of the best of his generation. Critically acclaimed by critics and admirers alike. 

An intriguing novel that makes one sit up and think. Though the book is in a lot of ways a story about a person who has nary a care for anything apart from his passion and deliberately shuns all kinds of comfort in his life, it does teach us good lessons on what true passion and a drive to do something can really do in one's life... hopefully, without the non-compassion that Strickland showed.