When words run dry,
he does not try,
nor do I.

We are on par.

He just is,
I just am
and we just are.

~ Lang Leav

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This last weekend, a bunch of us decided to make a holiday out of the music festival very popularly known around here as the NH7 Weekender. A great lineup of musicians and the wonderful weather of Pune in tow, we set out to make the most of the 3 day festival. This weekend was anything but non-eventful! Not for the music but for all the goof ups that happened around it, this can be easily termed as my series of serious unfortunate events. Many hiccups later, we found ourselves on the festival grounds and boy was I in for a surprise! As Nirmika Singh of Festival Sherpa, rightly puts it
“… you couldn’t have missed noticing how the majority of attendees have suddenly got younger. Laxmi Lawns this year was filled with compulsive selfie-clicking, shorty shorts-wearing high-school girls and their cigarette-smoking, peck-planting, shoulder-surf-offering boyfriends…”

The festival did nothing but make me feel old and degenerated. While I clamoured around to find my fit of people, 16-somethings happily bumped into me spilling more than just love. Complaining aside, between hopping stages, guzzling rum and hogging on German sausages, I did manage to listen to some really great music. Saturday was dedicated to a bit of Soul Clap, Raghu Dixit in the afternoon. By evening, we were set for Mark Ronson, who I believe was keeping Indian times since he was more than an hour late for the show! A fun set and a few sing-alongs later, we pushed our way into Nucleya’s gig. Now, Nucleya aka Udyan, I’ve been a fan of since my college days. Way before he was Nucleya, he was the other half of Bandish Project who I enjoyed listening to. His Saturday sets at Kitty Su in Delhi had only reinforced my faith in his brand of music. And I have to say, of all the shows I saw at this festival his was the most flamboyant. In terms of production, visuals and of course the music. Albeit, the average age of his listeners have gone down but his music still never fails to entertain me. I found myself acting quite like the 16 year old next to me (perhaps on acid) when he blasted ‘Jungle Raja’.

Rehman at nh7

Sunday turned out to be a chill day in more ways than one. All of us, as a bunch decided to make the most of Pune’s famed breweries and found ourselves at the Independence Brewing Company near Koregaon Park. One too many Belgian Witbier (and a bunch of Jager Bombs and Vodka-chillies) later we stumbled into the festival venue with a vengeance! Having missed Raghav Sachchar by then, we waited for Swarathma to get on stage. A bit of walking around to shake off the drunkenness, we positioned ourselves for the highlight of the evening – A. R. Rehman! He is a legend, yes. He is an extraordinary musician, yes. Showman, he is not! Musically the show was brilliant but a bit lacklustre when it came to leaving the audience wanting more. While I waited for him to belt out his most famous numbers, he only occasionally pranced around the stage in what could be called a ill fitting disco ball. Major hate towards the irritating camera man who hogged more limelight than Rehman did himself! I wasn’t there to see you cover Rehman with your fancy equipment, I had paid money to see the man in flesh, singing, playing the piano and doing what he does best.

Since the folks at OML had been cheeky enough to have Flying Lotus play simultaneously, we made our way out of the crowd, only to have “Why would you leave Rehman and leave?” thrown our way. Well, excuse me while I get refills and some fresh air!

Quite the interesting weekend, this. A celebration of music and a consolidation of our brotherhood thanks to some misplaced bookings and utter lack of customer service by Agoda. Big ups to Uber for sorting us out on our never ending trip thanks to network jammers at the venue. Such an irony, OLA gave out voucher codes but forgot to mention to us that neither network nor cars were going to be available for us to redeem those coupons. The only people coming out rich were the auto-rickshaw guys with their exorbitant muh-boli-fares. Touche!

 

Over the years I’ve taken pride in having eaten many a food items but never did I think a day would come when I’d say, I survived drinking kerosene. When the highlight of the trip is such, it deserves a few words on this blog.
On a glorious Saturday when the sun was dim and the clouds in full glory, a bunch of us decided to drive down to the valleys of Western Ghats for a little camping. Gathering our gear not only meant tents, torch, shoes and the likes but also enough food to feed the village and a bottle full of kerosene for the fire at night. About 230 km south east of Mumbai, the ghats are beautiful and the drive full of picturesque corners. Punctuated by our love for chai and pakoras, (and the occasional pee breaks) we finally made it to Varandha Ghats after 6 hours. Deep gorges, beautiful waterfalls and fresh greens made up for the gruelling journey up the hill in a cramped SUV. A short trek up the hill and we had found our camping site with breathtaking panoramic views of the valley. A tiny little temple replete with red sindoor smeared walls and eerie bells set the mood right for a midnight sojourn of ghost stories. Dark was descending and we needed to set up our camp for our big party. Rookie campers gathered rocks and dry sticks while the pros hammered down the pins to the tents.

Amidst this bevy of activities, a group soon huddled to start the fire. And this is where kerosene starts to play an important role. Parched from the hike and the biscuits I consumed on my way up, I was desperately seeking my water bottle (heck! any water bottle…). It is then, in this twilight zone that I spotted a plastic bottle quietly kept on the side, sticker still intact indicating the mineral contents of spring water. One swig and a gulp later, I was burping kerosene and the fire starters desperately looking for fuel substitutes.

 "Oh! You can be the flame thrower now!"
 "Dragon lady"
 "Sayanee, light my cigarette please"
 "Are you burning inside?"

It is safe to say, none of these phrases sounded remotely funny to me as my next few hours were dedicated to getting kerosene out of my system. After multiple trials and a lot of staring into the blankness, I was finally able to rid my body of the poison. What followed were days of faint kerosene smelling breath and this innate feeling of being a mobile fuel container.
Takeaway: Must this happen ever, (let’s hope it doesn’t) keep a box full of salt or a burnt toast ready. Fibrous food items and generous amount of water can help dispel any poisonous alien items out of our system. And no that doesn’t apply for when you consume a whole bottle. It’s best you see a doctor then.

That apart, this trip turned out to be a pretty fun adventure. First we lost a bunch of our comarades to a faulty Zoomcar and then our search party to the dark. If anything, this trip has reinstated my belief in miracles. Nestled between the valleys, Bhor was a beautiful little village with fresh produce market and a penchant for unusually big jackfruits. Hidden in a nook is a dispensary that could serve as a girl’s best friend if you’re not used to exposing yourself to nature. The views breathtaking and the weather conducive, I would recommend this place to anyone with a few days to spare. Special ups to the boys for arranging this trip and making this quite the success.

x

It had been a while since I had done my last little Quick & Dirty exercise and the Housing Designathon could not have come at a better time.
24 hours, 8 teams, 1 floor. And what came out was sheer brilliance! The 24 hours of BOLT, as it was called, felt nothing less than a reality TV script customised for design consumption.Taking away from the shroud of serious nerdiness were surprise twists and turns every hour and a game of rock-paper-scissors thrown in for extra effect. But yes, the scoring was rather strict which made us designers scramble across the floor every time the Boss, Suvonil pealed the bells.
The brief – a digital product at the end of 24 hours that could challenge or upstage any available product at present. What worked best was the open ended brief that restricted the imagination to no bounds. Products ranging from fantasy real estate forums, future home automation to local empowerment found its way into the Housing design studio.

The result: An extremely fun design-marathon that not only tested our stamina (surviving on coffee is no mean feat!) but also tricked our brains into thinking intemperance is but a placebo. Surprised by our own inherent skills of natural selection, some of us jumped head first into the world of prototyping. Whatever inhibitions one might have had before, about coding or coffeescript had to be squashed with immediate effect. It was time to act! In a designathon like this, what matters the most is perhaps the planning. It all comes down to hard working vs. smart working.

I was lucky to be a part of an eclectic bunch of travel enthusiasts who at every thought of having a few hours to spare, plot and plan their next trip. Stemming from this love of travelling, of exploring the unknown, rose COMPASS. A unique experience seeking application that not only connects you to the local cultural activities but also lets you live like one. A perfect antidote to cultural dilution. COMPASS is for a group of people and individuals, who see themselves as a collective or a community, who share and work to preserve experiences, customs and traits unique to the site. Not for the feeble hearted (with their set plans and ‘glamping’ gear), the idea of Compass thrives on enabling the provincial community with opportunities that best benefit them. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could experience a place just as the locals do? Eat their food, live like them perhaps? Compass celebrates the idea of discovery. Of the joys of coming across something previously unseen, of finding that new spot that you want to tell your friends about, share with your peers. Of interacting with the local community. It thrives to empower the travelling community to be more participatory in shaping their journeys than placing trust on middlemen with business goals. The question it poses, what can we do for the locals?

Many a travel apps have made their way into the market since Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor. The competition is steep and the users spoilt for choices. But how many of us want the same itinerary as the rest of the world? The fun of going off-road and uncovering something new has a greater pull. But then again there are two kinds of travelers. Ones who travel to check things off their list and the ones who travel to add to life experiences. The destination holds little importance to them. What the destination offers has more value. Compass provides a unique platform to explore a certain location via either discovery or experience. Targeted mainly at weekend travellers, it enlists destinations within the range of 500kms from the chosen city. Once the point of interest has been established it details out the geography and cultural interests of the place. You could browse through a directory of local hosts and guides, home-stays and unique culinary experiences. Details of which could be either uploaded by the parties hosting or by the travelers themselves.

Compass

As fun as it was working on this, we are working towards making this a reality soon. Watch this space for more …

Having been off the grid, shifting countries, I’ve finally found the time for some much needed inspiration. I still vividly remember my introduction to projection mapping and thanks to last year’s Resonate experience, I’ve since been a fan of Kimchi and Chips and their exquisite projection mapping exercises. That is until I stumbled upon this! Andrien Mondot’s Hakanai – a take on everything which denotes ephemeral, transitory and fragile. The choreographed performance installation combines video projection mapping, CGI, and sensors to dynamically respond to the movements and proximity of its performer.

Adrien has also developed eMotion, a tool for creating interactive motions of objects for live visual performances. Interestingly, the creation of motion in the program is laid on a physical model/ physical forces when applied to objects.

Projection mapping

Excuse me while I play the program. x

There is something about girls and castles. Or maybe it’s just me ….
Having heard (and read on Tripadvisor) so much about the Windsor castle, I decided to finally give it a go on a lovely cold Monday morning. Owing to the fact that it was a Monday in January (not mid-term) I presumed the crowd to be thin. But to my surprise, if the number of people on a Monday is anything to go by, I can only imagine what the weekends would be like.

The train journey from London to Windsor and Eton Central is pretty fast and the little two coach train that greets you at Slough is just plain adorable. That said, don’t be fooled by Google map’s efforts in getting you lost in Windsor. Give the convoluted Google route a miss and follow the clearly marked signage around the town to find places. The castle is pretty breathtaking in itself. Quite literally overflowing with English opulence. It’s a pity you’re not allowed to take pictures in the state rooms but then again maybe there lies its allure. The audio guide is an absolute must and takes one through the castle and state rooms pretty swift. Though I have to say, I was a bit disappointed by the ‘doll house’.

Not so much an art lover, portraiture per se, I have to admit, some of the Van Dycks were absolutely spectacular! The silk in his paintings are still gleaming! A little walk around town and a quick visit to Eton later, I was back in London.

A day quite well spent.

p.s. Stopped at a little cafe by the river called, The Chocolate cafe. They had the most delicious apple pie and hot chocolate.

The most important things are the hardest to say, 
so the most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said....
 ...hence we shall always be beating around the bush.

Urgh.