Friday, August 8, 2014

Reminiscing the South Indian road trip

Almost a year back, we started with a plan for a small trip Bangalore. What was an innocent 2-3 days trip to a lovely city with the aid of sheer adventurism and longing wanderlust snowballed to a 2-weeks, ~3300 km, east coast to west coast South-Indian road trip.

The idea of touching the sand on the east coast and west coast in the same trip was the main trigger if I try to recall by clearing the happy fog of colourful memories a bit. With that romantic idea, somewhere the seeds of visiting a historically important place called Hampi were sown. Somewhere in between, other nearby locations like Pattadakal, Badami, and Aihole were brought into the travel plan. West coast was finalized as Goa much before we even began to discuss, but to give the trip due justice, we planned Gokarna en route Goa. For east coast we picked Pondicherry. At the centre of it all was Bangalore! The place that made us think of steering away a bit on its either side.

Once the tentatively-final plan was charted, we began detailing. Talking to experienced people, Eicher maps, tons of blogs, travel forums, shared spreadsheets, hotels, guest houses, best routes, highways, and thus slowly all the little circuitry started connecting bit by bit.

The first decision was whether to go east before west or vice versa. The heart said west (read Goa) before east, but the mind and experienced folks said otherwise. Eventually east to west made more sense. Then we resumed our information gathering for the trip.

Thereby, a grand road trip was planned in our little Wagon R and the three of us took off!

The route was:
Pune > Bijapur > Badami > Pattadakal > Aihole (we gave this a miss eventually) > Hampi > Bangalore (planned this slight detour while sitting right near the paddy fields and rocky boulders of Hampi) > Pondicherry > Bangalore > Jog Falls > Goa (skipped Gokarna)

Dates: October 12, 2013 to October 26, 2013
The route we travelled
It's almost a year now when we initiated this beautiful road trip. For almost the entire year I have felt that I need to write a travelogue about the trip. It will take a lot of dedication to sit, think back and actually pen down the beautiful feelings in fitting (or close to fitting) words. I'll try and attempt it. Someday, I'll look back at these words and they'll connect me to the feelings hidden deep inside.

Here's to wandering!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut - Book Review

Mother NightMother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up Mother Night after reading Maus. There is one major, dreadful, heartrending thread that binds these two books together:


While Maus paints a deeper and detailed picture of what it would have been on those unimaginable, worse-than-hell grounds, Mother Night superficially mentions it. But this outwardly treatment is done by Kurt Vonnegut in his own melancholy-inducing stylish humour. Very few authors can write war humour so well as Kurt Vonnegut does. His humour has the power to make you realize the degree of destruction caused by a war and the effect it has on humans. Both the victor and the vanquished.

Vonnegut’s proud characters, unfolding of events, and the subtle humour stitches together a meaningful tale in the form of Mother Night. Here we listen to or read Howard J. Campbell’s memoir about the way he pretended to pretend during war times and weaved together a complex identity for himself. How things tumble down during and after World War 2 for him and how the seeds he has sown grow into trees that creep towards him and pull him back to tangle him upside down by the hanging roots. I also loved his talk about the little "Nation of two."

As Vonnegut describes very early in the book the moral of this story is: "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." The intensity behind this apparent "moral" becomes jarringly obvious as we trod along the story through the little twists and turns.

Compared to his other works like Slaughterhouse-Five, Cats in the Cradle, and Sirens of Titan, Mother Night is more grounded and is without the grandiosity (sometimes interplanetary!) of the other books. It is definitely a lovely little book, if you can describe a WW2-related book as lovely. I will certainly be returning to Vonnegut books again when I become older and maybe a bit more eccentric to enjoy the books even more than I do today.

Till then...

P.S.: One of the other vivid moments I recall from the book is the incident about the corpse-carrier. It still keeps haunting me thinking about how dreadful WW2 must have been for some. Just to think that people survived hell... and oh what a hell that must have been. It's really sad when people used WW2 related jokes when the German team won the football world cup this year (2014), specially the earlier semifinal against Brazil. Indians joking about WW2 and the German war juggernaut? Do you even know what you are talking about?

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Went for a run

Went for a run
Today I saw the sun
We looked beyond the clouds of yesterday