Tuesday, November 11, 2014
And it was Bhutan
The air tickets were booked in a moment of irreversible rage over a client mail. 

You know how clients have much too much to say, and I forced out a polite auto-generated response, “we’ll look into it and have it fixed at the earliest” and closed the browser window shut.  Much like you’d purse your lip moments before uttering a really nasty retort but fight to seal it shut into a toothless wrinkled yap.

This was my whatever moment and it felt as good as the original response I bore on my mind but couldn’t get the professional slave in me to type out. It would have read something like this:

“Dear pompous client,

As you read this sitting in your plush cabin, snuggled in an overpriced who’s who jacket because your skin’s goose pimpled from getting exposed to unnatural air cooling technology, sipping fancy bought green tea from a gourmet store, someone not so far away is wondering what of the countless consultations, written mails to confirm, phone calls and innumerous early drops of the idea before the creative seals here were inducted into cleaning up the chaff and give you a perfect chiseled idea. 

Not super market bought, but genetically engineered for it to spring new life the way you wanted and the way your customer liked…personalized for your very random and frantic whim, primarily because you took your customer to be a brainless, speechless podge of colorless mass for long, too long.

And because you spent a little extra time snoozing your alarm each morning, over the last month, because you were more concerned about hiding that well-treaded ceat around your midriff every morning before you got to work, because you were busy slobbering over that new trainee you hired for good looks; this real work that you were accountable for, as much as I am, wasn’t given due time and attention at the different stages it gestated in.

This here is my labor of love for your organization and you are totally allowed to scrap it because what do I know. I have all the time in the world to pour over your new lofty whims endlessly and keep toiling at it like the buzzing bee trapped behind a frosted window. I am just an underpaid, overworked work mule, so ye, I will totally redo it all like you command.”

Because I am a “seasoned professional” I assumed zen without saying a word of what I just vented above.

To heal, I indulged in 10 days of getting lost in a bouquet of anonymous yet friendly faces in a landlocked country full of mystic tales and simple pleasure – sun, them giants, comforting indulgences, long monologs with the self.

To heal, I booked me a return ticket to Bhutan.   

Ulka made it so much easier to make the trip. She was my host in Thimphu.
posted by Shivranjini Krishnamurthy @ 11/11/2014 12:32:00 PM   2 comments
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The joy of winged flight
Have you had a maddening series of ornate still frames in imagination on what your first flying experience could be like? 

I've had these imaginary frames flash past me every once in a while. Not of terror or uncertainty but of heroic flight and poetic wandering.

I always imagined my first flying experience to be free fall from a plane, plunge, float, feel the jolting tug of the parachute come undone, controlled cruise and the final moments of readying the self to land back into reality and firm on the feet.

But then, I am the hero (gender neutral) of my life and I grew up with a slightly filmy disposition. 

I was introduced to my first flying lessons of any kind, via an Elementary Paragliding Pilot Course this past week. Since I've already shared my deep mental associations with bollywood portrayals, I approached my first day and session like Sunny Deol. I flexed my dhai kilo ke haath and pretended like I was jumping off a cliff with nothing more than maa ka aashirwaad. 

In reality, all I was asked to do was identify parameters for daily inspection on the canopy and harness. This was followed with instructions to run on flat ground, facing the wind, strapped to a cushioned harness and a fully-inflated glider.

Now, inflating a glider can be tricky business. It's not even remotely like revving up the engine of your car. It's like fueling a wood-fired stove. And trust me being a Sunny Deol doesn't help here. You are reduced to Nirupa Roy at the end of your first practical lesson. 

Why, you ask? My Coolie biceps were visibly bruised from the risers rubbing into the bare skin while I attempted to keep my glider uniformly inflated. The instructors don't recommend full sleeves for fun. They mean it for real.

Day two demanded me to buckle up, inspect, inflate, control, run and perform bunny hops. Now, the deal with these bunny hops is you can't pretend to soar up and perform an Akshay Kumar, just because the canopy pulled you a few inches away from ground. 

You continue to do a Gangnam Style, in air and on ground. To the onlooker, it looks like everyone strapped to the harness and hopping around is a cheap Chinese imitation of a flying circus but personally, you can't help accumulate emotions of having done a wee bit, if not more, of the hovering actions of at least that of a buzzing bumble bee. 

By end of day two, the arm bruises usually graduate from red to blue but then that little free flight amid a mix of perfect landing and misjudged bum touchdown is worth looking forward to graduating to flying from higher altitudes.

The evening theory classes feed you so much visual information; at night you are filled with dreams of Avatar-like plunge from Hallelujah Mountains and gliding over emerald green valleys. Only you are not on a dragon-like predator, but seem to have grown delicate and colorful wings of your own.

Every evening theory class was followed by simulated practice of what lies ahead. And it proved fertile ground to feed my filmy mind with quick dreamy reruns of what I will do once I hiked up to the top. 

Now, I can tell you what I dreamt that night but I will also warn you that it was sufficiently filmy, like usual. I dreamt that my canopy bore holes from a bird hit while I was in mid-air and I had to zipper out the reserve chute. But since I am no ordinary hero, since I can bear a dozen bullet wounds and still have the strength to stand tall to trigger that one last bullet that will split into a dozen and kill everyone who shot at me, since I will still survive the dozen bullet wounds because my mother's tears can miraculously seal my wounds shut; the reserve chute unzips, inflates but flies away with no attachment to my harness. The hero in me finally remembers the second reserve chute just in time for a rough but predominantly safe landing. Just the way we practiced simulating the emergency landing and immediate rollover that evening.

Day three is sufficiently adrenalin pumping, and in reality because you get to hike up a sufficiently tall and relatively steep hillock and with your 14-kilo harness+canopy. Besides, the actual flight also last a few mins to really wade past the cacophony of instructions over the two-way radio transceiver and get a quick eyeful of the scene to inspect on a later personal brooding appointment.

That first flaring up the glider, and running down the cliff and feeling that gradual yet firm lift of the wind is indescribable. It cannot be experienced through viewing movies or adventure shows on TV. It needs an in person flight experience. It is a mix of anxiety, fear, pleasure, concern and attitude...necessarily experienced in the same sequence.

Once you get past the first flight, it's that initial mental picture of your first flight that eggs you on to make one more hike up the hill and haul all that load behind your back.

Day four? Well, it was several repeats of day 3 and with experiential and instructed fine-tunes but then I was busy reliving that first flight. I still am.

Do I recommend Paragliding? Absolutely yes! Approach it like a Bollywood Debutante with no power corridor passport...with a free mind and spirit. 

I flew with Nirvana Adventures and they helped me get in touch with my personal free spirit. The home-style food and comfortable accommodation at Native Place was a complete recharge solution to be flight-ready, day after day.

PS: That strategically placed hammock under a sprawling tree's shade is quite the lost brooder's personal paradise. I quite miss it.

posted by Shivranjini Krishnamurthy @ 11/27/2012 08:00:00 PM   2 comments
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Of cooking and writing
Two real plain loves of my life. Each one better than the other.

My first true experience of cooking a full meal was at 13. I started making tea when I was 8. I watched the tea froth and bubble with the little black grain and let it spill out. Just out of wonder and the aroma that filled the nostrils. I still don't have the dexterity in making a round rava dosa. Though I have graduated to a half-a-dozen other cuisine since then.

Writing happened to me at 16. My English teacher at school suggested I should write it away, since I didn't speak much or make many friends. Public display of my writings only happened in 2003. This blog stands witness. I won't count the 26 bylines I earned in the year and half, between 2000-2002, when I worked on field as a journalist.

I am enrolled for a cooking lesson today. Chinese Cooking. Never been to a cooking class. It's for free and I am worried if they'll consider me a cook at all; leave alone expertise.

Interestingly, they aired Julie & Julia on TV last night. While watching it for a trillionth time, I tried to cook up ideas in my mind on what I could speak about in my version of a food blog. I have incubated on this one for long.

Some of the ideas I am stuck with are:
  • Say cheese: This one affair requires a lot of sterilization and cooking tools but leaves you with a great volume of satisfaction because you needn't make a beeline at stores that fleece you off a few thousands for cheese.
  • International Vegetarian Cooking: This one's highly doable and desirable to all those vegetarians stuck in la la lands and want to use all the locally available vegetables and herbs and substitute meat with vegetables without having to see them perish in high temperatures.
  • Just Eggs: Easy and requires no elaborate setup at home. I know a few friends who'll vote for it with their whole big heart. Some of them have lived on eggs and cereals for a decade now.
  • 5-min desserts: For all those with more than a sweet tooth, this will work wonders meal after meal. Ask me; I crave for a sugar high every few hours.
  • Pots and Pans: For the occasional cook, who only cares about feeding thyself or a friend...once a year. For the rest, there's maggi and boiled eggs.

Frankly, I can't decide and if you are reading this and don't mind offering a free decision-making tip, shoot it at me.

Help me. Please!
posted by Shivranjini Krishnamurthy @ 2/03/2011 10:26:00 AM   8 comments
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Thank you Pa, For...
- the innumerous rides on the red front seat of your cycle and the soothing balm you'd apply when I caught my heel in the wheel, everytime i sat on the carrier behind.

- the mango-shaped booklet we cut out from charts, shaded and sewed together for my Maths project. Nair ma'am gave me an A+ for the project.

- the chocolates and trinkets you bought me, everytime we went out together to shop for vegetables.

- my first pink salwar-kurta that you insisted will look nice on me.

- the tiny two-rupee fountain pens that I still own.

- forgiving me when I hid the report cards at school for fear of getting jawed.

- letting me burst as many diwali crackers as bhai got and for not labeling me a small girl.

- buying us Milton water bottles from the canteen cz they kept the water cool during hot summer months.

- my first mobile phone - a motorola TalkAbout

- allowing me to go to the Hockey Camp even though you spent sleepless nights worrying about my health.

- getting me savvy with household mechanics and circuitry.

- the bread pakodas you bought from office that smelt of true toil and aviation fuel.

- the biryani and kurma you dished out every once in a while.

- patiently preparing colorful food to be fed to a fussy 14-yr-old in me.

- making that special trip, while in Bangalore, to get my NLS prospectus and sample papers for the entrance test.

- introducing me to my first pair of contact lenses. You thought they made me look prettier.

- not being angry when I tried to explain why I didn't want to be an airhostess or a newsreader or an MBA grad.

- the wallet you gifted me because you knew that I carried a Men's wallet in my pocket.

- the greeting cards that you always included with the birthday gifts.

- letting me move out of home and live my dream.

- the plant gifts you gave in approval of the house I found for myself in Hyd.

- being my dad.

- being YOU.
posted by Shivranjini Krishnamurthy @ 8/18/2010 03:44:00 PM   8 comments
Thursday, May 20, 2010
I want to write about mountains, people, the lion's mane, about wiggling toes into soft beach sand, red tango shoes, airplanes, smiles, yellow flowers, about motor rallies, solo journeys, skydiving, frivolous indulgences, deep dark secrets from inside the belly, shooting stars, the world beyond and after.

But, I am just a boring technical writer.

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posted by Shivranjini Krishnamurthy @ 5/20/2010 12:00:00 AM   1 comments
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