Sunday, 27 November 2005


This tag thing is infectious! One of these days I think I'll come up with one myself (as soon as I come up with a bunch of sensible questions :P). But for now I'll just follow up on Akshi's posting on books, favourite and otherwise.
Two books I like:
The Lord of the Rings - J R R Tolkien: I love fantasy. And LOTR is fantasy at it's grandest! I love the elaborate world Tolkein created, especially the awesome detail! Every now and then I find myself wishing there really were elves somewhere :).
The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas: This book, to me, has been an eye opener. It blurs the simple black and white of good and bad. Kicked the shit out of me by showing how the devil exists within the best of us. But left my heart aching at the end in a way few books have.
Two books I've read that I think are unusual for some reason:
Trust Akshi to come up with something like this.
I, Robot - Isaac Asimov: It's just so real in parts. And then of course the robot will start talking. I was also extremely surprised with myself for feeling terribly, terribly sorry for Dr. Susan Calvin. I haven't felt that sorry even for myself! Ever!
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller: Had I not read this book, I would not have believed it was possible to inject so much sarcasm into a book and still make it impossible to hate.
Two authors I like:
J R R Tolkien: For a very obvious reason! He created Middle Earth!!
Isaac Asimov: Dunno why, just like the way he writes :).
Two books I dont like so much:
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Philip K Dick: This one plain scared me. It's just so wierd. This book sucks even the hope of normalcy out of you. The worst part is that it's gripping, and even though I didn't want to, I kept reading till it was over. I think I've mentioned this in some previous post...
Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams: This is the fifth and last book of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. The end in this book just shattered it for me. I couldn't believe how it could all end like that, in a puff of smoke! I had gotten quite attached to Arthur Dent actually :-<.
Two books I own and am fond of:
Treasure Island - R L Stevenson: This one belonged to my grandfather. It's one of those extremely old hard bound copies. And I just love reading it again every now and then.
The Adventures of Tintin - Herge: This isn't one book, I have some twelve of them I think. The sheer joy they have given me when I was younger - :D.
Two books I'd like to buy:
This keeps changing fairly frequently, since I'm more of a compulsive reader.
The sequel to The Simoqin Prophecies by Samit Basu, whenever it comes out. Desperately want to see where he's going to take the story.
Damn! Can't think of another book I'd like to buy! The City of Joy was on this list for a long time, then I bought it. Ah yes! There's The Silmarillion (JRR Tolkien), I've read it, but would love to own it.
Hmm. That took longer than I'd expected. Let's not get into the possible reasons :P. Tagging Hema and Beerbal, though I'm not sure if the latter will respond anytime soon... One lives in hope.

Saturday, 26 November 2005

Oslo: Christmas Lights, Lassi and Tandoori Chicken!

I was just given a fright by melting ice in a glass. I guess it's awfully quiet in here. So quiet, my own breathing sounds like a loud wheezing. Lie down flat and close my eyes. Clamp a pillow on top of my head for good measure, and in a little while I can hear my hear beating. Thumping dully, and thankfully, regularly. I feel the blood rush into my face, the ears growing warm till it's uncomfortable. I'm upside-down.
Last night I thought I felt the tiniest flakes of snow settle on my face. I was planning to sleep early. I was hoping it would begin to snow more heavily overnight. And that when I woke up in the morning I would see the world covered over with a white blanket.
Instead, I took the hour-long bus ride to Oslo. Someone said they'd put up Christmas lights on the streets already! And sure enough all the streets from the National Theatre - Oslo University area to the Oslo Sentralstasjon were festooned with lights. The magnifiscent buildings had lights all over. And there were Christmas trees. All lit up and everything.
Near Oslo S we found a rather spetacular setup: a tall thin strip of artificially set up snow. And people were snowboarding and skiing down this. At the bottom the inclie was turned up, so each person ended up in a leap 10-15 feet into the air. Of course not all of them managed to land on their feet again, but it's snow, so they weren't exactly in the danger of breaking their necks :).
Oh, there was this guy filming the whole thing, and he'd found himself a rather nice perch:

After that when some others in our bunch began feeling really hungry (I'd already had dinner), we headed for this bit of Oslo called Gronland. And I could not believe my eyes when they spied this restaurant called Punjab Tandoori!! I really hadn't realised I was missing Indian food so much :D!! A tandoori chicken and a glass of fine lassi was all I could fit in, sadly :(.

I was actually hoping to stay a while out in the city. But I think I underestimated the cold a bit. And then it had to start raining of course... more like sleet actually. So we just headed back around midnight. No snow though. That would have been just perfect I guess....


Somebody somewhere said: "Anxiety is excitement holding it's breath". Wonder what he'd call excitement choked to death.

Monday, 21 November 2005

Pain and fear...

...are undoubtedly the most potent forces of all. One engenders the other. And most of those who do not fear, have simply not felt enough pain. I say most. For when the pain grows beyond an undefinable limit, the mind refuses to recognise it's potency any longer. But few, I suspect, would ever have lived to feel such pain.
Me? Oh, I'm scared alright.

Sunday, 20 November 2005

Lazy days

Life seems to have slowed down. Days are beginning to sort of melt into each other. And I rather suddenly realised that the week was over this Friday evening. Dropped plans of going to Oslo yesterday and instead stayed in for a movie marathon.
Of the six, two deserved special mention, I thought. One was the slightly nerve-wracking drug trafficking drama, Layer Cake. This movie is one of the few I have seen with to-be Bond Daniel Craig. And one rather interesting thing about the movie is that in all of two hours you never get to know Craig's screen name. And if, like me, you have too much time on your hands and easy net access, a quick search on IMDB will lead you to the entry: Daniel Craig ....... XXXX. Throughout the movie you come across lots of interesting characters. Mostly given to crazy, highly suspect, but refreshing bits of advice, about life in general and drug trafficking in particular. All in all, a couple of hours well spent :D.
The other is this recently released movie called Duma. It's about a cheetah cub that finds it's way into the care of a little kid. Now unlike most other movies that I have seen with a similar theme, Duma refuses to dwell on the details of how the boy and cub grow up and grow close. Instead, the story skips ahead to how Xan embarks upon a journey to return Duma to the wild. It's a heart warming story to say the least. And the cinematography is truly breathtaking, in a wild kind of way.
Hmm, so I'm sitting in Norway, an hour's walk away from the southern fjords, with nothing better to write about than movies. God I'm bored! The cold might have something to do with it... Stay out in the open for too long and your mind begins to grow numb. Of course it's not too cold yet. But today I saw the dew on the grass frozen into tiny spicules, sparkling in the oblique rays of the sun. Cracks on the pavement shone with trecherous ice. Serves as a reminder that snow is not too far off. Then it'll get cold in earnest. Brrrr.

Thursday, 17 November 2005


Yeah I hate being forced to dig into my own head trying to come up with answers for questions like 'What's your favourite movie?' or 'What kind of food do you like the most?' or 'What do you like most in a person?' or 'Make you personal top 10 hitlist: people you would choke to death with your bare hands if you could get away with it.' Well, you get the idea. Anyway, so now I get tagged by Hema and have to figure out how to answer not one, but six such questions....
Seven things I would like to do before I die:
  1. Travel to every continent. (That includes Antarctica.) Present count: 2 down, 5 to go.
  2. Drive the Ferarri 550 M Maranello. Once. The last Ferarri with the V12 Testarossa!
  3. Own a Honda Fireblade. (I'm realistic, so not a Dodge Viper GT.)
  4. Learn to speak German.
  5. Be God for ten minutes. Don't want the powers, just the perspective. (I'm not sure whether I'll be able to handle it for longer.)
  6. Make sure I have made my will :D
  7. Love someone with all my heart and (here's the catch,) be loved back.
Seven things I can do (and some of these, I actually LIKE doing):
  1. Listen to others. Especially when they are cribbing /:).
  2. Drive. I am an automobile freak.
  3. Be the butt of jokes, and get my leg pulled no end. (I don't really mind it when friends do it.)
  4. Run. I'm slow, so I prefer long distance.
  5. Utterly confuse anyone who actually tries to understand me.
  6. Eat. Usually lots, and pretty much anything.
  7. Take people at face value. At least until they prove beyond all doubt that to trust them would be suicide.
I also like to swim :).
Seven things I cannot do:
  1. Fly.
  2. Tell somebody that they are ugly in their face.
  3. Handstands.
  4. Console someone who's crying/otherwise disconsolate. I'm usually pretty clueless in this situation, and repeated encounters of the kind have not resulted in improvement.
  5. Cook.
  6. Force secrets out of people.
  7. Sing. (Well, definitely not as well as I'd like to.)
Seven things I say the most:
F***, this is like a whole list of unprintables! So the next seven:
  1. Giveup!
  2. Neways.../Anyway...
  3. Hmmm/Hmmphhh
  4. AWESOME!! (Which has given rise to the term 'kray-awesome' :D.)
  5. I mean.../As in...
  6. ...that...
  7. Awww cmon!!

Seven things that attract me to the opposite sex:

  1. She's gotto be cute,
  2. Have a sense of humour,
  3. Be slightly crazy,
  4. Be at least as intelligent as me. (Trust me, that's not too big an ask.)
  5. A sensitive nature would be really nice.
  6. Dependability.
  7. Honesty.

The list is roughly in the increasing order of time the quality would make me want to spend with the person.

Seven celebrity crushes:
Heh that's easy!

  1. Priyanka Gandhi. (That's long long before she got married to that businessman :(.)
  2. Steffi Graf
  3. Gabriela Sabatini
  4. Princess Diana
  5. Michelle Pfeiffer
  6. Neve Campbell (don't think Wild Things, think Three to Tango)
  7. Andrea Anders (Alex in Joey)

Phew! Now who would I want to inflict so much pain upon that I'll tag him/her in turn? Well, Akshi should be lukhha enough! :D

Wednesday, 16 November 2005

I believe in God

Just saw the Czeck Republic score an awesome goal against Norway. Might have been the world cup qualifiers, but I'm not sure. That, of course, has nothing to do with my faith in God.
Today has been a surprisingly clear day. Saw the moon in the morning. It was setting, but it looked bright and clear. The temperature fell rather suddenly from 10 degrees to around 3. I think I've successfully busted the widely believed myth that cutting your hair radically short makes you susceptible to catching a cold. My head's been perfectly fine with hair all of 4 mm long for the last three weeks now. That is including the extra cold and wet week at Kristiansund. No cold. Not even a sniff.
Driving in Norway during winter is a rather nasty task. The sun never gets very far away from the horizon, and falls pretty much directly into your eyes whatever the time of the day (as long as it is day that is, roughly from 8 am to 3:30 pm).
Oh yeah, went to the mall today to get some groceries. Yeah well, I'm living in a hotel, but skipping out for a midnight snack is becoming a little difficult in the cold. So there's this really nice ice-cream shop right at the entrance of the mall. Reminded of a me of a certain bit of ice-cream on a particular chin that's celebrating it's 23rd birthday today.. I ended up getting myself a scoop of the weirdest looking flavour on display. Turned out to be mint with chocolate chips. Was pretty nice actually.
Last weekend I'd managed to pain my friends here into taking a 45 minute walk to visit one of the many lakes around Asker. It was a nice walk. The countryside was pretty much the definition of rolling fields. Spent a while sitting on a tree stump by the water watching a dog alternately lapping at the water and having it's neck tickled, by me.
I figure, belief in God can't be conditional. That kind of belief tends to be somewhat fragile. It's not like one can hold God responsible for not fulfilling prayers. And prayers too often end up remaining unfulfilled, at least to some extent. I prefer believing in God as a sort of an incidental to living. Leaves me more at peace with the world. And God.
ps. Norway have still not managed to equalize. And yes, it is a World Cup '06 qualifier.

Monday, 14 November 2005

Back to reality

It's been three days since I got back to Asker from Kristiansund. And I cannot find a way of putting down in words the pure exhilaration of those five intensely busy days. What shall I say? The days were tiring, yes. Cold, intensely. The rain gave us company on many an ocassion. And whenever it did, a perfect double rainbow accompanied it! I don't know which got to me more, the joy of driving a boat through the driving rain, or the picutre-postcard like town laid out on the various islands that make up Kristian-sund: the Straights of King Kristian.
In particular of course the most fun I had personally was the guided tour that Dag, our Norwegian instructor (an absolute bear of a man with a sing-song accent and an air of complete indestructibility about him) gave us of the Fjord the first day we drove out the boat. That first time I drove very tentatively of course. I don't know how many of you would have driven a boat before, but let me tell you, if you think tons of experience with any other kind of vehicle would make it easier for you to drive a boat, you are in for a rude rude shock :D!!
With Dag. (I'm just there for scale :P)
Another day I particlarly enjoyed was the time Dag allowed us free reign of his beloved workboat! I won't remember it so much for the fact that I managed to make the boat go leaping across the water by swerving real hard at high speed, but because that's when I figured whoever said women were safe drivers needed some sense to be knocked into them!!

My crew on the small boats!

Today it was back to the grind of daily lectures. I had a rather hard time trying to stop my mind from wandering off, back to the clear blue water through which you could see the sandy bottom, the salty spray flying so fast that it made your face sting. To my short, eventful visit to paradise.

For more photographs from Kristiansund: Fjord-landet.

Sunday, 6 November 2005

Kingdom of Heaven

I haven't got any pictures so for now, words will have to suffice. Today I saw something so breathtakingly beautiful that I coudn't wait! I have heard of the beauty of snow-capped mountain peaks. I had even seen them in pictures. But let me tell you, nothing beats the real thing. Nothing even comes close!
On the flight from Oslo to Kristiansund, we flew over the range of mountains that run pretty much all through the length of Scandinavia. After take off the aircraft pulled up above the swirling clouds that had caused us to much trouble for the last week. After a while when I noticed a different kind of white that seemed to peep from amidst the white sea of clouds, at first I couldn't believe my eyes! Soon however the mountains with their white-tipped heads were unmistakable. With the vast valleys all wreathed in white, the craggy tops overlooking lakes sparkling dazzlingly in the sunlight, whisps of clouds casting dark shadows on the mountainsides, it was simply the most beautiful thing I have ever laid eyes on!
The best part was of course when the fjords came into view! The tall peaks fell away precariously into deep gorges, and all of a sudden there was the wonderful landscape of alternating mountains and long narrow streaks of clear sparkling water. I simply cannot find enough superlatives to describe it :(. Let me just say that when Douglas Adams wrote that the creator of worlds had done his life's best work when he designed the Fjords of Norway, he wasn't exaggerating one bit.
Right now I'm feeling thankful for just about everything under the sky. It's all so B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!!!!
On another note, quote printed on a beer glass in a steakhaus in Asker:
'Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy.'
- Benjamin Franklin


The other day we decided to go watch a movie. There's a multiplex pretty close to the hotel, but we had trouble figuring out if they showed movies in any language other than Norwegian. To our delight, they did! What somewhat dampened the delight was the choice: Flightplan or The Legend of Zorro. We chose Zorro, and a couple of hours later we left the theatre reeling from the overdose of absolutely pointless and consistently irritating loudness! But hey, at least the seats were good!
Tomorrow (that would be today actually) I leave for the small town of Kristiansund on the North Sea coast. The reason's a week-long workboat course. That would be a refreshing break from 8 hrs of lectures for five days a week! I was beginning to slip into my college time habit of nodding off in class :D. I hope the weather there's better though. I'm getting a little bored with the rain now.

Wednesday, 2 November 2005

Weather report

I thought I'd just be honest with the title :D.
The Sun has finally chosen to show it's face! After four long days of intense fog, late sunrises and early sunsets, I finally woke up today to find the sky already lit up. (Usually it's just a dingy damp grey.) Of course that means the temperature is about to nosedive again, but I don't really mind. These last few days it was soaring at around 10 degrees above! And this morning it was already down to 6.
Anyway, despite the poor visibility, over the weekend we chose to undertake some rather ill-advised strolls about the countryside. It's quite scary actually, full fledged daunting Roman churches jumping out from behind the screen of fog barely a hundred yards away. Not to mention the sprawling acres of graves in the adjoining cemetery...