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Friday, December 19, 2008

A State 'in' Emergency


"Time is running out...!

Soon everything will shut down...!

Quick!!

Dudh!

Beep..........Beep...........Beep.......! Dudh.

That is the story of many Nepalese sitting in front of a computer."

Its imminent that every winter we are faced with a grave problem - Load shedding, a term that has been synonymous to the Nepali life. Its amazing, just when I had planned to write and article for my ever so forgotten blog, the power cut went from 7 hours a day to 10 hours to 12 hours per day. I'm not even sure if I'll have power till I finish this article. Oh, why couldn't computers work on candle light!

Its shameful, the second most richest country in the world in water resources, a vast hydro power potential, still untapped, underutilized. Its true that we have the generation potential to light every tree in Nepal with a light bulb (considering a decent amount of deforestation, there is surplus) but now its almost a matter of joke.

Load-shedding (I 'Googled' it up, most results pointed to Nepal) has never been so severe and no one thought it would be. But with 12hours/day and talks of 18hours/day in February, the picture never was bleaker.

The government is preparing to declare a state of emergency. Which we all know means that the government can do anything.

So, beside all the grumbling and failed attempts to generate enough static electricity to light a bulb, we have been forced to investigate. Who is to blame for the crisis?

There are various factors contributing to the power crisis - political, economic, environmental and social.

Undoubtedly, we can trace this problem back to the previous inept, corrupt Governments, the 10 year Maoist insurgency and improper planning and forecasting. Now the finance minister's talk about 10,000 MW of electricity by a decade is a matter of humor. Its frustrating and sad that still the ministers and party leaders are stuck in a fight for power and government posts rather than focusing on the power crisis. They have come up with contingency plans to tackle the crisis, but they are expensive or rather stupid. So called 'thermal' plants are nothing but diesel plants with generate electricity at 4 times the normal expense. Something tells me that this 'thermal plants' are nothing but ways to make a few people richer. Rather than looking for stupid alternative, the government should engage on repairing the broken transmission lines from India or should introduce an extensive CFL energy saving bulb distribution. We can alleviate the crisis in few months.

However, the government is not all to blame for this crisis. Its just hasn't rained this winter. The water level at Khulekhani Hydro-power Dam (which was actually built for emergencies only) stands dangerously low at 24 meters. If it doesn't rain enough, soon the dam will dry up.

Also, we are also to blame for some of this. We just don't turn off that light bulb or use heaters when one extra layer of clothes is enough. If all of us are aware of this we might as well reduce an hour of power outage per day. (*turns off the music*)

Things look bleak.

It is estimated that Nepal will loose Rs 45 billion or $700 million due to the power crisis. The hardest hit - Industries, hotels, cyber-cafes and just about every business.

Even so, the people on top don't seem to be worried enough. Why would they be? They don't go through bloody power cuts! That's right, areas around the PM's residence, the President's residence and the VP's residence don't experience power cuts! @#)$))$%

Lets leave the emotions aside and think about what we can do.

The answer seems obvious: use less electricity, turn off that unnecessary light bulb, T.V, micro-wave and every modern amenities of the 21st century. Better, sell them on www.hamrobazar.com.

Think of solar power/inverter. A new problem has risen now, most of the houses are fitted with emergency back ups or inverters, and because of this, the little electricity that we have left goes to charging these inverters, hence, further increasing the consumption. Solar inverters can be expensive but 18hours/day load-shedding should demand them...any time now.

For now, you can join the Load-shedding Survival/Support Group in facebook. :)

Hold on tight. Its just another 5 years.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

5. Sōjirō: Reminiscence From the Past: Final Chapter

Sōjirō’s Freedom

It had been one whole week since Mr. Shishio had left the temporary shelter of the storeroom. All Sōjirō cared about was the Wakabashi hidden under the storeroom. Even the rigorous labor he endured every day seemed insignificant: Mr. Shishio’s last words echoed in his head with every step he took towards the field.

“The strong will live and the weak will die” he had said.

“Ha! That wasn’t completely true” he thought. “Hehe. Look at me, I am weak but I’m still alive, although eating only a couple of rice balls a day…sigh!”

Grumble grumble.

Sōjirō hadn’t eaten anything since waking up. His hands had become numb thanks to those heavy rice barrels which were almost as big as him. Both palms had cuts all over, the pain coming in excruciating pulses.

Thump thump thump.

“Oh, ouch, that does hurt doesn’t it now?”

Finally Sōjirō put down his rice barrel down next to the well and started heaving a bucket of water. The moment he plunged his hands into the bucket, he felt a hot searing pain go through them. His vision became blurry, throbbing back and forth. Amazingly the pain faded away with every throb until all he could feel was the cold comfort of the water.

“Was this it?” he wondered “Am I going to work like a mule for the rest of my life?”

As he watched his blood melt into the water, he couldn’t help but think about his long lost parents. They had left him small, weak and helpless. But he didn’t hate them, just wished they were still alive. Wondering what a warm hug from his mother would feel like, he got up, wiping his eyes.

“It was almost dinner time” said a small voice in his head. But the grim weather hammered what little spirits that had lifted in him. It was going to rain heavily tonight and he would again have to sleep on wet hay.

But even the wrath of the gods couldn’t wipe the everlasting smile on Sōjirō’s face.

“Who knows I might not have to work tomorrow! Hehe.”

The dark clouds thundered angrily; Each booming explosion seems to be aimed at Kyoto. Long forks of lightening stretched murderously close to the houses and its inhabitants. It was going to be a long and deadly night.

As Sōjirō staggered towards the house and to his delicious rice balls, he heard familiar loud voices. Apparently his step-family was quarreling again, probably over who would have the last bottle of sake. But as he drew closer to the scene he realized it wasn’t about sake.

“THAT LITTLE GOOD FOR NOTHING RUNT! I’ll KILL TH….! Well well, look who decided to show up. Mother, this scum bag has been hiding that fugitive! I know it! My samurai spirit can see right through him!”

“But...but...I...I didn’t…couldn't…”

Sōjirō’s stammering just made his deranged step brothers and sister more confident.

“SHUT UP! If people find out someone from our house was hiding that fugitive scum then we’ll be outcasts! I say we waste this good for nothing runt and get over with it! KILL HIM!”

The final two words triggered Sōjirō’s reflexes and he frantically scampered towards the storehouse. He flung himself on the ground and started crawling inside the small gap between the house and the ground. Panic washed over him like icy water. The smell of mud and grass was overwhelming as was the sticky sweat on his face. He could hear his heart beating a life’s worth of beats. His front side was smothered with muck and mud.

Was this it? Was poor Sōjirō going to be killed like a dog? Running, crying for someone to help him? Was Mr. Shishio just a - …

MR. SHISHIO… THE WAKABASHI…

“Remember Sōjirō; There is only one truth in life. The strong will live and the weak will die”

The strong will live and the weak will die

The strong will live and the weak will die

“I am not weak…”

“I AM NOT WEAK!”

The sudden revelation was like taking an elixir. It gave Sōjirō a new hope, made him stronger, maybe even strong enough to use the Wakabashi that was a feet away from him.

“Takashi! Get under there and pull the runt out. NOW!” the eldest brother was leading the murder party. The rest of the family were behind him, some wearing evil smiles and others just beaming with arrogance.

The youngest of the brothers slowly got down as he was told and entered the gap, brandishing a dagger.

“HAHAHA! TAKASHI Don’t you dare kill the little vermin! Just cut off his pinky finger and bring him here to me! I’ll squash him like a bug! Takashi! Do you hear me? TAKASHI!”

“MOTHER -! AAAAAARGG!”

A familiar bloody scream filled the already grumbling night. A scream so terrifying, it wiped the smirks off everyone’s face. The oldest brother’s expression changed with lightning speed: traces of fear were etched across his rugged face. How could it be…that pest…

“Brother… b-brother! Help me… I…I”

The rest of his words were cut off by the tip of the Wakabashi thrust through his throat. The youngest brother had only managed to drag half of himself out of the gap. Like water splashing out of a hose, his neck was squirting blood all over muddy ground. His mouth was gaping like a fish gasping for air. And as big brother stood there, petrified, he saw the life diminish from the wide horrified eyes of his youngest sibling.

The Wakabashi was pulled slowly out of the man’s neck, however, his head dropped with a sickening thud. The remaining three brothers drew their swords hastily and retreated to a safe distance. Suddenly, the little vermin they were so eager to get rid off sent cold shivers down their bodies. As their swords rattled in their trembling hands a small dark figure slowly stood up. He had a sword with him, blood dripping from its blade.

“Boy! W-where did u get that s-sword?” It was their turn to stammer.

Sōjirō stood silently in the dark as the clouds thundered murderously. The grounds were lit up momentarily by a brilliant fork of lighting. The shiny blade of the Wakabashi gleamed ominously.

“CH-CHARGE!”

Shrieks followed by swift slashes of a sword filled the stormy night.

Another dazzling fork of lightning lit the grounds momentarily.

A single figure stood. The grounds were littered with bodies with and without swords by their side. The small hazy figure of Sōjirō stood in the darkness simply staring at the bodies.
The clouds could not hold on anymore. The grounds were soon showered with the long awaited rain.

The rain slowly washed away blood from the Wakabashi that Sōjirō was holding. He could not move. He wanted to scream but no words left his tiny mouth. The cold rain seemed to ease his pain. The rain felt so cool, refreshing, uncontaminated. As he looked up towards the sky the rain drops seemed to wash away a part of his sin. His eyes were soon raw and his face numb with cold. But he didn’t mind.

‘It’s over’, he thought. He was alive. He had survived.

And at that moment he truly, deeply understood Makoto Shishio’s words

The strong will live and the weak will die

He had been strong. He was alive.

After killing his step-family Sōjirō goes to Makoto Shishio. Shishio accepts him as his disciple and in the next ten years, he trains Sōjirō and bestows upon him the fiercest principles of swordsmanship. Sōjirō never shows a single emotion apart from his radiant smile even when he killed. In ten years time, he establishes himself as one of the top if not the best swordsmen in the whole of Japan. His speed and technique would become legendary.

His life takes an unexpected turn after his duel with Kenshin Himoura (previously known as the Battousai). Even though he overwhelms Kenshin by sheer speed, dodging one of his fastest attacks (the Kusoryusen) and injures him, he is still defeated by Kenshin’s ultimate attack (Amakakeru yū no Hirameki). His defeat makes him realize that Makoto Shishio had been wrong all those years ago and that life was not about being the strongest.

Kenshin bestows upon him a new and true belief.

The will to live is stronger than anything.

He had survived that stormy night in the farmhouse ten years ago not because he was stronger than any of his step-brothers and sisters but because he wanted to live, to survive.

And from that day onwards Sōjirō lays down his sword, which he had once picked up to defend himself by killing every member of his step-family. He becomes a wanderer (like Kenshin) and never picks up a sword again.

The End

Previous chapter (1, 2, 3, 4)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Unpublished Story III

...If you're planning to catch sunrise at ABC (why wouldn't you?) wake up at around 4AM; this should be easy if you dosed off early the previous evening. Leave everything except your walking stick and camera in MBC and slowly ascend toward ABC, don't hurry, there is a high chance you'll fall sick if you do. Then bit by bit, it'll start to brighten up. Look ahead and you'll see Annapurna South, it's a jaw dropping sight; the mountain will appear so big that you'll literally be able to make out the glaciers and the crevasses. At the bottom lie the hotels of ABC, enclosed by the Himalayas. A few steps and you should be there just in time to indulge on nature's show, something that can't be expressed in either words or film.

On the right is Annapurna I, behind Machhapuchhare, on the left is Himchuli and gloriously in front rests Annapurna South. Just a few minutes, and a dazzling scene will unfold… the sun starts to rise from behind Machhapuchhare, the first rays of the sun steeps the mountains, and slowly the peaks start to change colors.
Savor each moment like you're never going to come here again (fat chance!), bask upon God's glorious creations and even order the food to be sent outside. You'll soon realize that the camera isn't enough to capture the moment, not only because the mountains don't fit into your humble digital camera, but also because the brilliance cannot be captured; there are a million and one details that cannot be included in a print. Trust me, you just can't get enough of ABC but 10AM should be a good time to say adieu. If it seems like someone in your team will have to be dragged – tell them, but if you stay, who will brag about the trip to your folks?

After you get past that, descending is easy. You may feel a little ABC sick, but you've seen so much mountain and snow that you'll dream about it for another week. Skip, hop or run to MBC, clear the hotel bill and set for Bamboo or Sinuwa or even Chomrong if you're really ambitious. A good trip back can be a night in Bamboo then the next day to Jhinu via Chomrong. Jhinu or the Hot Springs is just an hour from Chomrong and en-route to Syauli Bazaar through the recently opened trekking route. There is nothing that beats a hot spring swim after a tiring walk. By six in the evening, you should be back in Pokhara, fresh from the springs. It's also a great idea to end the trip on top of a bus from Naya Pul to Pokhara, with the goats. If you manage not to fall off, it has the potential to wrap the entire expedition fabulously."

So that ends my journey to the valley within mountains. I hope you enjoyed it. Now, while you think about your trek to ABC, I'll be eyeing EBC - Everest Base Camp.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Unpublished Story II


...If you've decided that you want to stay the night at Ghandrung, start early for Chomrong. Among all the days of the trek, this one was the most tiring and de-motivating part. To get to Chomrong, you'll have to cross the Kyumrung River and your task is to lose all the altitude you wrestled and sweated to gain the day before and then climb back up again to Chomrong. It doesn't stop there; this route is the most leech-infected trail in the whole trek. If it rains, it's party time for the beasts. So keep the ammo (salt) ready, or you're doomed.

Around five to six hours since you set foot from Ghandrung, you should be breathing in Chomrong's air. But it depends on how many pit stops you make. In our trek, we allocated one hour for leeches: sprinkling salt, pulling them out, and repeatedly glancing at our shoes and screaming. But once you reach Chomrong, you'll soon be laughing about the day and you're trekking enthusiasm will get a recharge. This was also my favorite place in the whole trek: there were numerous hotels with TV and hot shower, telephone service, and an unforgettable zoom-in view of Annapurna I and Machhapuchhare. And this is also the last place you'll see any residences. From here on, it's only the hotels and you. It would be a good idea to lighten your bag at Chomrong if you're planning to return the same way. From Chomrong to the next stop Sinuwa, it's the same old routine of going up and then coming down, although it's not as tiring as the day before. In fact, the trail from here is pleasing – fewer leeches, fewer steps and the feeling of being so close to the mountains livens your spirit. Sinuwa will be the last viewpoint for another day or so, the next will be at Deurali. But when you are in Deurali, you'll be so close to the mountains that you'll feel like you can touch them.
Two hours from Sinuwa is Bamboo and as you might have guessed, it gets its name from the bamboo forest that covers an area that you can span in about four hours into the trek. Along the way, you'll have to descend down a long fleet of stairs for about 30 minutes. As you skip down happily, remember the pain you'll experience when you return and repent. Don't leave Bamboo until you've had some lunch, there are a good many hotels and if you started at 8AM from Chomrong, it'll be exactly lunchtime.

Stop at Dovan from here. There are three hotels there and all of them have their own hydropower generator that provides electricity and a heavenly hot shower. If you've brought DVD's (which I did) – well, watch them!

Next day, start at the same time, and aim for Machhapuchhare Base Camp. Himalaya is just two hours form here and because there is some serious climbing to do, starting with fresh pair of legs always helps. You'll be walking through a dense forest and momentary peeks at the numerous waterfalls on the other side of the river will serve as your motivation. Meat isn't allowed on this route because of a holy temple here, and none of the restaurants here have meat in their menu. From Chomrong even mules aren't allowed to pass; but sheep, dogs and humans are exceptions.

On the way to Machhapuchhare Base Camp, have lunch in Deurali because it will prepare you for the striking change in terrain hereafter. The geography starts to get barren and rockier and the mountains inch closer to you with every step. And the view is all yours to enjoy without any rush – MBC is only one and a half hours, and ABC another two hours from here.

An important point to note, though, is that altitude sickness is a major problem on these trails. Symptoms usually start showing after about 2500 meters, which includes dizziness, nausea and difficulty in breathing. If any of this happens to you – descend! Having heaps of garlic, garlic soup and garlic pizza helps but remember that altitude sickness can get dangerous and can kill.

You should easily be in MBC at around three in the afternoon. As you get closer to MBC, stop looking up. When you get there, get a room, unpack, take a shower and put a blindfold on. When you are relaxed, go outside and take off your blind fold. Enjoy the most spectacular view of Machhapuchhare. If you turn around, you can set eyes on Annapurna I and when the sun is about to set, the sight is even more breathtaking. A cup of ginger lemon tea is always an added bonus.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Unpublished Story

Its October, kind of late, but this has been an exciting month for me. I had my first article posted on a commercial magazine. Something 'cool' indeed.

However, I'm surprised with the editing; A 1600 piece went to a mere 700. I'll be posting the article with never seen rare deleted scenes, errr, text.

I'll be publishing it in 3 or 4 parts and hopefully it won't mess my SAT scrores and wrap my ABC trek, you remember it don't you?

Before the article I'd like to thank my fellow blogger Romsy Pomsy (Roma Aryal), even though you haven't posted any article here, you sure have helped me turn the wave article from shit to gold.

Oh! Do get the October wave issue. If you don't want to buy it, thats ok, just steal one!

Here it goes, never before read, deleted text.

"Trek to the Valley of Mountains (Title changed to meet blog standards; thats poor)
Text and images by Saral Shrestha

Destination: Annapurna Base Camp (ABC), 4130 meters
How to get there: two hours bus ride to Naya Pul, on foot to Chomrong, and Machhapuchhare Base Camp and then ABCDuration of trek: 6-8 days.

Cost: 500-1000 per person per day.What to take: Warm clothes, rain gear, trekking boots, a digital camera and extra memory card, portable music player, a packet of iodized table salt and loads of trekking enthusiasm.

Best time to trek: October-November

What to expect: Long tiring walks, Wet Arm Pits (WAP), all kinds of aches, leeches and a majestic, almost surreal view of the Annapurna range.

Annapurna Base Camp is one of the most frequently trekked routes of the ACAP region. After proper lodging facilities were established, tourists have been trekking these trails throughout the year. However, the tracks can get hostile, especially during the monsoon season when rain floods the trails and in some cases completely erases them. Unfortunately, I took on ABC exactly at this time of the year. My original plan was to traverse the rain-shadow regions of Mustang, but after waiting for hours at the Pokhara Airport and witnessing a failed landing at Jomsom Airport the next day, I had no other choice. But this was not my first time to ABC: I had been there many years ago, when cameras worked on films and I still read Goosebumps.

We started with a one-hour taxi ride along the Baglung-Pokhara highway to the place where most good treks in Nepal start – Naya Pul. After a 30 minute walk to Birethanti, five hours to the right is Ghandrung. There are plenty of waterfalls on the way; just stand right in front of one, and let the crashing waters spray tiny droplets to cool you off. But even the manmade scenery is remarkable. While you ascend step after step to Ghandrung, think about how amazing the stone work is, how each piece of rock was lifted and carefully laid down like a jigsaw puzzle. But once you get over it, and the appreciation begins to fade, you may find yourself cursing the village for being so far and so high up.

One hour up the steps is Kimche, where an enormous landslide had occurred some time back. The locals told us that the make-shift bridge gets flushed away whenever there is heavy rain. A new one had been put into place just that morning. Nature can be cruel as much as it can be beautiful: the landslide swept away a few houses and destroyed acres of fields.

Even the steps do not compromise their cruelty from here, and they just don't seem to end if you don't have anything else to do besides walking. Pulling out your music player would be a good idea, spirits will be low in the group during this time, and there won't be much to talk about, only complaining."

Next post:- Chomrong

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Getting Places with Mampandu; A new era in Nepalese Internet

While I was just done with The Tonight Show and getting ready for bed, I happened to stumble upon something on the local internet. Now, this is something I've been waiting for for a long time...Behold, Mapmandu.com!

Now, as the name says it, its got to do with the map of Kathmandu city. Better, its a city guide, the very first of Kathmandu valley!

The company behind this is an unheard of firm called Savant Associates; they have truly opened up a whole new pool of information for the Kathmanduites. Mapmandu gives you google like maps and interfaces and allows you to search, restuarants, streets, 'gallis', schools, you name it. While the interface might be a tad less functional than that fo Google's standards, it does what it's meant to do and effectively uses Google's API.

I put a few searches in and it immediately gave me results which included exact locations on the map, phone numbers, addresses, short descriptions about the places and in some case, pictures! I had trouble finding a place some days back and when I put that in Mapmandu it promptly gave me results and pointed me to the right location. Bravo!

Go digital Kathmandu.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bailout!

Its surprising, I have the word 'business' in front of everything in my description but I haven't actually posted anything concrete that concerns the economy, yet. I'm doing it now.

You might have/not noticed or heard about the US economy (which has a major global effect) is going through some pretty rough time. While the NEPSE (Nepalese stock market) might stay immune to the instability because its so far off and so small, all the other world economies experieced ripple effects after the US stock markets slipped.

The US economy has been troubled ever since George W. Bush took over (not true, I just like to believe that); maybe its because of his War of Terrorism or maybe its because he just doesn't know **it about the economy. Oops. No Cusing.
After 9/11, 2008 has been the worst years for the economy; rising cost of food, sky rocketing oil prices and stock market 'crashes'.

Just few days back, Wall Street or the Dow Jones experienced the sharpest fall in a day, a total of 777.68 points. This might not sound so big since the down is above the 10,000 points mark but if you convert that into cash, it amounts to over an astonishing USD 1 Trillion! Just minutes after the Congress started to vote for President Bush's $700 billion, the Dow started plunging; investors started to sell shares like crazy. It didn't matter what they were selling, they were selling! Five minutes after the vote was over, the dow was already down by 700 points (a trillion dollars within minutes). 10 minutes later, the brokers had sold all their belongings, inlcuding clothes.

The stock market is an interesting place. You can't imagine was happens here or what fuels the changes in the stock prices- rumours, scandals, natural disasters, sneezes, PMS. One of the most prominent incidents in the stock market happened in South Korea when the rumour of Bill Gate's death lost billions. Now, this is what I don't understand, just one person can disrupt a whole market?
Its nice to be in a market which is high on antibodies and where Rs 1.60 Nepalese for 1 Rupee IC is all you have to worry about.

But the US economy does matter. Especially for college students.; what would have been an expensive education a fews years back is now a Godsend. College is more expensive, so are the tickets, food, housing and on top of that there are fewer jobs. Sigh.

Now why isn't US a good breeding ground for us and why can't we 'spread our seeds' efficiently; the answers to this question are the reasons above. When the stock market, which defines the economy, is unstable or experiences downturns, the financial institutions lose investors. Now, capital or investment is what fuels the business, without sufficient amount of it, businesses fail. Redundancies, jobs cuts, selling of assets are the only answers.

Getting back to the bailout. There are numerous viewpoints about the plan for injecting the $700 billion to the stock market. While the people in power claim it to be 'the only' option to revive the US economy, doomsayers have claimed that the bailout will destroy the dollar, the general public are just pissed that the American government is using their money to help the Wall Street brokers and make them even richer.

While House of Representatives said a big "No No", the senate, which consists of the lawmakers of the America, however hesitantly passed the economic package. The senate voted 74-25 for the bailout contary to the House which voted 228-225 against it.

Now, you must be wondering what this $700 billion, which can get to a whooping $5 trillion, is all about. Well, if passed, it would allow the American government to spend money to buy bad mortgage-related securities and other dead/devalued assests held my businesses. In other words, disinfect the market with a large dose of expensive antibiotic.

Now while the House of Representatives votes again on the bailout this Friday, its all a matter of watch and get entertained for us. The economy is in peril and that there is no concrete solution for it, Goldman will turn to Silverman and businesses will lose billions. There is no telling what the $700 billions bailout will do if passed or what will happen to the economy is its not. For now, its a good idea of get rid of all you stocks and buy huge stashes of gold and diamonds; its bewildering, these little 'worth for only showing off' amenities are something that has always seen gain.

Photo:- Stocks markets after the vote in Congress. An error in calculation of google's loses. A warning about the future maybe?

Update:- The lower house is debating on the Economic package and will vote on it for the second time in some time. There is positive indication that the vote will pass this time as more and more house representatives who were against the vote are being dragged into voting for the bailout.

Photo 2: Stocks climb upwards after markets open on Friday. The indication that the Lower House will pass the bailout package this time has relaxed the investors.

Update 2: The Lowerhouse just passed the bailout or now know as the 'rescue' package on a revote. The votes were 263-171 for the plan. Now, the drastic shift in votes has got to do with either rechristening of the issue as "rescue" rather than a "bailout" or maybe because that $700 Billion..oops..$800 Billion is the only medicine of a the ailing economy. Man! $100 more expensive in just few days!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Trickling Data


While I wait here. Get married. Have kids.

The upload is finally done.

Internet here in Nepal is a pain in the Ass.

Turbulent Cup of Tea

While I sit here and sip my cup to tea
A distance rumble calling me
Now while it screeched and puzzled me
You crawled down and out of thee.

Betwixt the noise and the indulgence
I'm falling every now and then
Now, while mankind dreams of an Utopia
Or struggles to hoard worldly wealth
Be careful not to get on that train
Cause it will take you nowhere

Now adhere to your beliefs
Because thats what I have to myself now
Hex me all you can
But I still crush you beneath my feet

While I sit here and my tea is done
The distant rumble is almost gone
At last He has triumphed of which I knew He would
But someone is missing and
What about you?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A View From my Window

It has been nearly 15 days since my last post! I remember when the blogging 'Josh' was strong, I used to have around 2 posts everyday but now, it should either be the P.M's visit to India or the wave article that I've been working on that’s been keeping me from popping a post out.

Anyways, I was just back from watching a Nepali movie (Sano Sansar); after ages! But I have to say that I'm quite disappointed. While the actress was really gorgeous...,I must say, there was something not right about the movie. Plus later I came to know that its a copy of a Korean movie, the little appreciation that I had was gone. (Second disappointment after Kagbeni). And what's so special about Himalayan Java..? There are numerous places in Kathmandu that are par with Java.

But its a bit funny watching a Nepali Movie, and its not the dialogues and language; the movies based in Kathmandu like Sano Sansar, you see people and places that you know. I was mostly blurting out the names of the places and the people than concentrating in what’s happening in the movie.

Its a second major release of a Nepali movie (by Quest Entertainment, the people who shoot in "international aspect ratios") and I must say that they have done a pretty solid job. So they do deserve a round of applause even though the movie bored me till I fell asleep. If the improving trend continues, who knows, maybe I'll appear in a Nepali movie. Although, its Hollywood for me, yet.

But, the movie isn't the topic here. I was returning back home after the movie, in a great hurry, so that the rain wouldn't catch me (I can't afford a Car, yet). I reach home and I'm presented with this wonderful scenery (No, no. Not girls). The sun was still about 4 hours from setting and it began to rain. My favorite kind of weather. And please don't call me romantic even though I sound like one, its just that I appreciate nature.

I was quick on the camera; although, I could shoot in 7 mega pixels, I click a few with my phone. The quality is decent.
           

Its a view from my window. Something you get if you live far from the city...

Monday, September 1, 2008

An Alternative Route; Practice Run to Powerhouse

Quite bummed about the canceled flight to Jomsom, we were in a big dilemma about what to do. With still half a day left, we decided to go on practice trek around Pokhara, more like a warm up exercise.

First choice would have been the Forestry Campus Jungle, but considering that it was just 5 minutes away, we decided on a hike to Fewa Powerhouse instead; just located at the foot of Pokhara is an amazing place where I used to go when I didn't have chest hair...I need to stop mentioning that.

Anyways, we set off after a light brunch + lunch, with just a bottle of water and large amount of trekking enthusiasm. Walking around Pokhara is pleasant when its not sunny and while the sun is setting; however, a sunny summer day means sun burn and wet arm pits (WAP).

The weather was just right, sun was few hours away from setting and it was partially cloudy, perfect for an afternoon hike.

Its amazing how empty Pokhara feels, especially for someone from Kathmandu; pollution free, cleaner and 6 lane roads that you can drive blind-folded! You just feel like grabbing a few thousand from the capital and dumping them here.

The road to Fewa Powerhouse was indeed a pleasant one, since it was rice growing season, the fields were laden with stretches of greenery. Walking from within rice fields is great fun, although you might want to take proper shoes, by this I mean water-proof ones, rice needs water-logged land, and Pokhara isn't low on water, you might be walking alongside and on little streams.

The most prominent thing I remember about the Powerhouse was the long steep steps, and by steep I mean really steep, a few degrees and it would be a cliff! As a child, I would often go there to swim, quiet fun then but when coming back home, climbing the stairs would take an eternity.

A 30 min walk through little "gallies", across the deep seti gorge, rice fields, puddles and streams of water, we reached the massive stairs. Before gently descending, careful not to tip over, we enjoyed the view of the river from above. It was a soothing sight. The river had changed its course slightly, global warming...maybe not, but definitely due to the numerous landslide along its banks. I wondered if the swimming spot was still there. Stories I've heard said otherwise.

Construction work was going on; it was a little uncomfortable to see boys, barely the age of 16 carrying construction material heavier than themselves, up and down the steps. A misplaced foot, and next thing you know is that you are at the bottom, either dead or unconscious.

The descend was easy-peasy, within minutes I was at the bottom and on my way to the river. From the bottom, I noticed a few changes, there were new water-falls, thanks to leaking irrigation water channels from the Fewa Lake; however, it does add some spice to the scenery.

A short stroll led us to a newly formed man-made reservoir. The water was blueish and even though it looked like a quarry, it was a nice addition to the 'powerhouse' repertoire. However, as inviting as it looked, it was a death bed; the base of the pond was filled with fine white sand. Not as potent but it can be called the little brother of quicksand. Right below glided the river (I can't recall the name now, there are so many of them!) straying a little of course and swollen due to the monsoon rain.

Few yards away was the suspension bridge, vital for the survival of the Village across the river; everyday 'schooleys' passed to and fro. Its absurd, here in the city we complain about the 15 minutes long traffic Jams when coming back from school, this part of the world, people walk for hours to even get to school! My uncle says that it took him 1 and 1/2 hours to get to school, and it was not just walking. You see, he lived in a village in the banks of the Fewa lake; the problem was that his school was on the other side. So what he did was put all his books and clothes in a polythene bag and swim for 45 minutes, then walk for another 45 minutes and get to school. Then back again. Same thing, everyday. True story.

We are very privileged.

Getting back to the powerhouse. When on the bridge, I was looking for a swimming spot, so that the day I return from my trek, I can cool off. Lucky I happened to meet a young chap coming back from school, so I inquired him about my awesome plan. "Ummm...in every swimming spot here, someone has died. However, you can take the spot below that cliff. Its surrounded my rocks. You body won't get carried away by the current." Ok maybe I added the last bit, but the first line is the whole truth. Swear.

Swimming plans canceled.



On the way back we stopped to look at the powerhouse, the structure that landmarks this place. The inside was quite impressive, the turbines rotated with such velocity that it could make banana lassi and electricity at the same time.

A little glance here and there, trying the best to pretend to know what happening and how, we set off to climb the mammoth stairs.

It took an eternity.

My knees ached so bad that I made 4 pit stops and flattened out at the top.

Hey, at least I didn't tip over.


Click the photos for a bigger view.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A long slumber; The Morning to Jomsom

I think I over slept. Had some hold ups - Back aches, muscle sprain, chest hair...oh, that's not really appropriate.

So, I wake the next morning, still a little deluded from the 4 hr micro-bus ride to Pokhara but I was quite happy that my flight to Jomsom had been delayed by an hour; one more hour of sleep. But I did have to wake up early though and 6 AM is not my time, at all.

I had packed my bags, had all my gears set up and was ready to go. I headed for the Airport.

I had just arrived in Pokhara the day before but every time I came here, I would be greeted with the splendor for Mt. Machhapuchre (Fish Tail), however, this time it was different. Rainy season was just at the brink for saying good-bye; it wasn't raining or sunny, just cloudy and gloomy.

Delays are normal in Nepal. Everything is delayed, exept for maybe an epidemic after natural disasters but other things are, like examination results, flights, goverment formation, me becoming a millionare, etc. But tell you this, delays for a Jomsom flight usually means trouble en route to Jomsom (bad weather, a flock of Lophophorous, anything) or trouble at the Airport (a herd of cattle and the dung they leave behind).

So, I arrived at the Airport, all set for the 8 AM flight to the Valley behind the mountains. But like everything, I'm kept waiting. A little 'getting to know fellow passengers' and I find out that the first flight to Jomsom (5.20AM!) hadn't flown. Even worse, all filghts of the day before had been canceled.

After 4 hrs in the Airport Departures lounge (hardly a lounge, more like a public hall) with the disgrace full restrooms, we had enough. So we set for back home. Sucks to say good bye, Au revoir to all and come back after few hours.

You might have heard how windy Jomsom is and maybe that song "Jomsomey Bazaar ma", Nepathya, go check them out; so turns out that we can't fly there after 12PM, because its so windy that it would blow away our miss Nepals, the skiny ones, sideways! (people who have studied physics will know that its immposible, aerodynamics and all. Boring.)

Now we had a new challege at hand, a plan B, what if the plane doesn't fly the next day too? Time was tight and we had to be back in Pokhara by 20th of August (had to attend a protest rally next day for the Janatantrik, Loktanrik, Ganatantrik, Wooga-booga Group). So, we had the map with us and we came up with plan B, Annapurna Base Camp a.k.a ABC! Now, I had already been to ABC before, but it was ages ago, when I maybe 13 and had less hair on my body...but I wanted to go to ABC more than Jomsom-Muktinath.

So with still half a day left with us, we set out for a practice trek; around Pokhara...

Next time:- Photos with captions and the trip to Fewa Power House.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Trek to the Valley Within Mountains and Back

After a long hiatus your beloved blogger is back again. And he has loads of stuff to write on!

You might perhaps be wondering where I had been, that too without saying good bye, um hm, cheesy.

Anyways, I was off to Pokhara to go on a Jomsom-Muktinath trek but, plan B, and I end up in the valley between mountains; Annapurna Base Camp (ABC).

It was all an exciting journey and I have so much to share.

In the follow course of days, 8 days to be exact, I'll be posting my findings and experiences along with heaps of photos.

I tell you, it was one heck of a trek.

Tonight I sleep; have to wake up early in the morning to catch a flight for Jomsom. ;)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rage Against The Fuel-less Machines II

Its been ages since this humble writer wrote about the rising fuel crisis in the city of Kathmandu. (a.k.a Kats) But the lines are growing fat and long and the remaining fuel is dwindling faster than you can say "Dwi litre haal". In fact the fuel crisis has elongated so much that writers such as I are quickly running out of fuel crisis jokes. People just dont find things funny anymore. Only the ones that managed to get 5 liters of petrol the other night seem to crack a smile. Sajha should call the folks at Guinness World Records and apply for the spot of "the world's longest fuel line from a single pump". Maybe then, after receiving a cash prize from Guinness, our government will pay a little more money back to India and a little more fuel will enter the country. Even then scavengers along Mahendra Highway will have looted the tankers. Aside from those thugs, the greedy pigs who work for the NOC are the ones who should be whacked. The only people who are innocent are the ones who stay in line all night and dont cut it. That takes the total of innocent petrol consumers to 0%.

Its obvious that having only a fraction of the required amount of fuel is slowing life down in the city. Public vehicles are increasing the price as if it were a balloon that they could inflate not knowing when it would explode. But one must not be so pessimistic. Believe it or not, some people do make a fortune during such troubled times. The black market of fossil fuels seems to have boomed ever since the fuel crisis started. Thugs who steal fuel from bikes or loot fuel from the tankers have experienced a drastic increase in their daily income. Some idiots have reportedly paid up to Rs. 250 for one liter! Every time they see a man pushing his bike they give each other high fives ( much like two shorter and hairier Borats: UGH..!). Surprisingly the sale of roadside foods and drinks have also sky rocketed. Soda wala's, Badam wala's, and even those dirty carts having foods from Momos to chicken wings flock mercilessly along the line of bikes. Their usual menu:

We have:

Buff Sausage 15
Chickan Susage 20
Buff Mo:mo: 40
Mit Ball 20
Chij Balls 20

"Hijo rati line basera pani petrol napako haru lagi ispyesal dicscout upalabda cha."



Yesterday, Sajha Petrol Pump recorded it's largest fuel line. An estimate which was posted yesterday predicted that looting fuel from only 30% of the vehicles lining up for fuel there would fill at least one tanker. Nowadays people either spend their days staying in line or thinking about staying in line. Some of them also resort to stealing and buying from the buffed up black market, but that's a different story. Couples are increasingly showing up at Sajha. Dating in petrol lines have become the latest fad for the youngsters in Kats. It doesn't matter whose bike is in line, both of them have to wait anyway. To make matters easier, food and drinks are readily available at eye catching prices. For the older generations, Sajha petrol pump has become a social venue. Men and women above 35 are bound to meet at least a couple of relatives or old friends: a perfect chance to catch up on their 'guffs'.

Its amazing that big cc bikes still roam around the city, impervious of the crisis. A few days back a Suzuki GSX-R 750 and an XR400R were throwing each other mean looks and revving up their engines. But those two soon shut up as hundreds of people from the super long Sajha line started giving them stares. Clearly, now is not the time to waste fuel on egoistic street races, or soon you'll be pushing your sexy bike home, huffing and puffing it's name. Furthermore, the new Yamaha R1 with all its latest racing technology sure looks good but not as good as a Splendor with it's fuel needle right up at "Full".

Thanks to the vice president's "mother tongue" Kats is again going through a bandh spree, worsening the already depressing atmosphere-... (Further comments on this issue have been censored by "www.Nepal Hindustan Hamare Bharat Hi Mahan Nepali Janatantric Forum.com") In addition to this bizarre event, the Inspector from Pulchowk police station threatened 'thetechportfolio' that it would arrest it's two bloggers if it didn't include at least one sentence of Hindi in it's latest article since Hindi is also a langauge of Nepal from now on. So here it is:
"Abbe oye Dadaji, tujne teri maa ki doodh piya hai to nikal ja yaha se. Wapas Ja warne Jungistan mei dhobi khayega. Gilli Gilli Auppa"

XD

Read the Older Article Here

Cracking the Apple DRM


With 10 million downloads in just 2 days of release, the iPhone AppStore is on its way to become a 'star' product (wiki Boston Matrix) of Apple. However, the huge demand and popularity means enthusiastic attention from hackers.

Apple has been known for its DRM (Digital Rights Management) policies or more popularly known as Fairplay which prevents the use of music or videos and now applications in unauthorized devices hence reducing piracy. However, hackers have been cracking the iTunes DRM for years now and hence making, especially songs, usable in any devices aiding piracy.

Now, amid the failures in Mobile Me, 3G iPhone shortages and slowing US economy, apple has been put forward a new challenge; protecting the applications in the iPhone AppStore.

Just recently, folks over at haklabs.com have successfully cracked the Super Monkey Ball game from Sega, thus, creating history. However, the cracking didn't stop then, its was so, that the crack worked for all the applications in the AppStore. Now, more than 50 applications have been cracked and available for download.

A sharp blow to Apple and the third party developers. They knew this was coming.

So, what does this mean to all the stakeholders? Well, apple will see a smaller growth in the store than previously expected, people who can't afford the apps can benefit from pirated content, however the most affected will be the application developers. All the hard work and time spend on developing those applications will go to waste and since these developers aren't just big co-operations but any Joe Blow, the Joes will starve to death.

While the hack is still in early phases and its not at all like buying pirated DVDs from Khasa (China Town or Thief Market of Kathmandu) and its still requires a hack and skills to make the cracked Apps work, folks at haklabs.com are working on making a AppStore like portal for the cracked apps!

I don't condone or support privacy. I think that things are too pricey, and since I'm currently unemployed, I should be getting benefits, shouldn't I?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Nepalese Conspiracy

A break from staying in line for a few liters of petrol and the protests or price hikes and travel discounts; we have found a new agenda to Andolan on, whether our newly elected vice president is Indian or Nepali. It has brought a stir in Nepali politics and in all those who are truly Nepali; what if this whole 'taking oath in Hindi (Indian language)' is a conspiracy?

I watch a lot of movies, and spend heaps of time on T.V, and its quite fascinating how so much of the material (mainly suspense and cop movies/programs) is based on conspiracy theories. And I thought that this was only an American thing; the whole CIA, Undercover Cops, deep Undercover Cops, who shot J.F Kennedy, blah blah. But to my utter surprise, we have given birth to a whole new conspiracy. Is India our Final Destination? (Not exactly relevant but I'm somehow reminded of that movie.)

While the 'uff politics' might not enjoy reading this or might have already left, let me tell you something, politics is something very intriguing; some call it a dirty game some live and die on it, but most important, its everywhere - business, government, schools, football, your underpants. Everywhere.

There is no escape.

But mostly interestingly, politics is filled with conspiracies and this is what makes it exciting. You never know who is backstabbing, might be a member of your team, a friend, one never knows. Is Bush and Osama best friends? You are never certain.

While 'will India take over Nepal' has been a conspiracy since long, the recent oath of the Vice President Parmanada Jha in Hindi has heightened the theory. Its a clear truth that India has a certain interest in Nepal. But I think its not to 'take over'. Its just not possible to take over a country, not at this present age. Its a shame Tibet fell short of this age.

Another fact or suggestion that the Nepali conspiracy theorists are putting forward is that India is pressuring Nepal by cutting short the supply of fuel, to show that it can put life to a halt in Nepal. Its true that if we go to war with India...we'll all starve to death.

But to all those in petrol lines right now, vehicles with 'Red Number Plates' (Private Ones), get a life. You won't die if you don't get petrol. Cycle. Its healthy. Leave the fuel to Ambulances and Public Transport.

Talking about war. There a rumor that the Ex-King's forces are preparing for a fake war with the Indian, attacking the boarder areas. It is speculated that after the attacks, India will take over Nepal, having a valid reason.

There's another conspiracy for our readers.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

4. Sōjirō: Reminiscence from the past

Chapter 4: Makoto Shishio and the Wakabashi

"You!"


The man draped head to toe with long, yellowish bandages called for Sōjirō.
"You! young boy! I’m going to let you say your last prayers, something these pathetic fools didn’t get before they died. Hurry, don’t take too long."

The demon’s icy words sent a chill down Sōjirō back and froze him to the ground.

But just as the man raised his sword, young Sōjirō smiled, "He he…" And that was all he could do.
Now the swordsman was frozen: none of his enemies had ever shown such an emotion after their lives had been threatened. Usually his victims showed an unmistakable expression of doom.
The man hesitated; and for the first time he looked like he was confused so he said, " Boy, bring me some food and some bandages, find me a place to sleep and I'll let you live.

Sōjirō couldn't believe he was still alive and standing.

"Follow me s-sir" he said timidly. Sōjirō nervously led the man back to the storehouse. He had lost track of time and frankly, didn't care anymore. "P-please wait here for a moment s-sir I'll be right back." He pushed some rice barrels around for the man to rest against and rushed to the kitchen hoping to find some leftover rice balls. As he cautiously tip toed around in the darkness, images of the bandaged man flashed in front of his eyes. Why didn't that man run from the police? Why did he choose to rather stay and kill them? Finally Sōjirō found a couple of rice balls left over from dinner but sadly, no sake.

Sōjirō returned as quietly as he had left. He offered the rice balls to the man and took refuge behind another rice barrel. The man ate slowly even though he looked famished.
"My name is Makoto Shishio" He said."and the reason I didn't kill you tonight is because I found your smile intriguing, very uncommon. And as for the men that I killed tonight, they were insignificant pawns, mere obstacles that I have to go through every now and then. But I must admit, I quite enjoy these encounters."

It was obvious even to young Sōjirō that this man was no ordinary man. The way he spoke so calmly about murder and the way he carried himself: this guy must be a high caliber swordsman.
The horrors of the night were slowly dissolved by fresh morning light. A frantic man hunt had been initiated by the police. Residents in and around the city of Kyoto were alert and frightened. They had heard that a demon was killing people for their blood. Even Sōjirō's family were edgy. His brothers were brandishing their swords boasting that they would be the ones to slay the murderer. But for Sōjirō, it was another long and grueling day of labor.

As he carried rice barrel after rice barrel he knew that something was about to happen. The man hiding in the storehouse was going to bring changes, he knew it.

It was late in the afternoon and Sojiro went back to the storehouse with some rice balls. Makoto Shishio was silently resting on top of some rice barrels. He accepted the food and calmly ate what he was given. Then he spoke.

"You have been very helpful." He reached for his sword; Sōjirō took a step backward " and to show you my appreciation, I'm giving you this Wakabashi. Here, take it."

Sōjirō couldn't believe what was in his arms. "It's b-beauti-."

"Never mind what it looks like on the outside! Understand that using this sword will make you stronger!"

"And never forget that there is only one truth in life. The strong will live and the weak will die."

These words echoed in Sojiro's mind. He repeated it in his head. He was lost for words.

"Thank you Mr. Shishio..." He bowed with gratefulness.

And as Makoto Shishio left the storehouse, somehow he knew that this parting would not last so long.

Older Chapters (3, 2, 1)

The final chapter: Chapter 5: Sojiro's Freedom


YOU WONT WANNA MISS IT! (in true samx series style)


Friday, July 18, 2008

'Andolan' for Shorter Pregnancy


by Atulya

I read an article of the “Telegraph” and was captivated by some of the simple points it presented.

In some ways, nothing has changed in Nepal. A big party has come in and an institution gone but nothing has really changed (for the good). We still have “Bandhs”, mountains of garbage in our streets, long queues in petrol pumps, autocratic leaders who lock respectable officers in their toilets and stubborn “heads” who still fight the 4 year-old “me-me” game to retain power. Is this the New Nepal our so-called-leaders had drilled into our brains right after Jana-Andola II? Or is it the same old (or even older) Nepal?

I waited. I thought. I thought that “they” would start their new-Nepal-building activities right away but there were no signs. Instead their focus was on the “much-needed” Constituent Assembly all along. I patiently waited for the Constituent Assembly and thought that things will start happening after it. Almost three months have passed and these people haven’t even formed a government, I wonder how many centuries they will take to build “the new” Nepal they are always talking about.

One difference, one change that is conspicuous in this Loktantra era is the people’s approach in doing things. Andolan, a word that we hear every minute (more than we see Rishi Dhamala on TV). Let’s not go into the nitty-gritty about the thousands of Andolans taking place at the moment. Just wanted to let everyone know that the ladies are soon coming to the streets demanding a shortened pregnancy period of 5 months!

The article ended with a line which was simple yet so striking: The more things change in Nepal, the more it remains the same.”

True. Very true, isn’t it?

Andolan: A Nepali word for a form of protest which is usually accompanied by rallies and forced closure of services by agitating groups.

Photo: [Saral] Trying my best squeeze out something good from this country. A beautiful scenery from the foothills of Annapurna Nepal. www.leelau.net

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dire-Hoea-ya; its not Hereditary

Picture:- Kenny from South park; A comedy series centered around 4 eight-year old boys - Eric Cartman, Kyle Broflovski, Stan Marsh and Kenny McCormick - the show is known for its pop-culture parodies, satirical interpretation of current affairs and rude humor.

I was born with a defect. Whenever I have a combo of Mo-mos (dumplings) + Coke + Ice Cream, hell breaks 'loose'. Now, now this is not something disgusting...no no, but its important; This rare...no, widespread condition I have often is the primary cause of infant mortality in the developing world.

Its amazing how this condition immobilizes you, well, sort of; at instances you'll be running and the worst part is that; its reoccurring. And this diseases is not hereditary. Well, unless it runs through your jeans. (Think)

But it should not be taken lightly. If not treated, as in excessive intake of 'Jiwan Jal' (oral re-hydration salt; guess where I learned it from), it could be fatal and can take your life. And the treatment is simple too; unless you have 'The' Dire-hoea-ya and all you can do is fly frequently, you might need a doctor.

Causes of diarrhea;-
1) A little something called micro-organisms. These tiny suckers have enough destructive power to bring down a elephant. Trust me they are absolute bombs.
2) Allergies to food. Often termed as IBS or irritable bowl syndrome. Think spicy Indian food.
3) Alcohol. Oh yes, excessive intake of alcohol can lead to diarrhea. Mind trying?
4) Various other causes, depending on the circumstances.

Prevention/Cure;-
Simple hand washing before eating and after poo-poo can prevent 60% of the infections. Thats right 60. Don't ask me about which soap is the best, Detol or Lux; just frigging wash your hands.
Don't drink alcohol.

The cure is basically making up the lost fluids by drinking water and keeping the body hydrated. The oral re-hydration salts have minerals and can keep your energy up.
In severe cases, or if you have that meeting, damn; Loperamide (Imodium) and Bismuth Subsalicylate (aka Metanidazol and Tinidazol) can hold it up.
Natural cures can include black tea and curd. Avoid fatty and creamy products.

Frequent Flying sucks.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

iPhone 3G is here; World's First Owners' Line


Well folks its finally here, the iPhone 3G will go on sale in New Zealand approximately 2 hours from now, 00.01 AM New Zealand time, when the Americans will be fast asleep. People have already lined up, some for 50 hours, in front on the Vodafone store in Auckland; A salute to them all.

More news, the much awaited, Apple's own Installer, the AppStore is live. The new iTunes 7.7 which is specifically designed for the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 2.0 software is also available for download.

Get iTunes here.


First in line?
"Name: Jonny Gladwell, 22 (pictured above, first)
Current phone: Sony Ericsson K800i on Voda
Waiting for: more than 48 hours now
Buying: black 8GB
Motivation: to be the first, duh! His girlfriend is just in it to keep him company, she's not actually getting one herself. Jonny tells us he's not going to eBay the world's first iPhone 3G, though."
via Engadget

Know the first ten people here.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Serial Killers and Girls; what's up?

This might take you back a bit.

I don't know if you have heard about him and even if you haven't, this is important.

Charles Sobraj a.k.a 'The Serpent" a.k.a "The Bikini Killer", who is a notorious serial killer known for his skills at deception and evasion, has been charged of at least 12 murders across South East Asia. He had been jailed in India and after completing his sentence, came to Nepal. He was caught by the Nepali Police in 2003 and now is in jail.

But, just a week from now, there will be a Supreme Court hearing about the Sobraj's case where it is expected that he will be freed due to lack of evidence.

WTH! Is this due to the imcompetent law of Nepal?

Its amazing, cases of land dispute in Nepal carry on for generations, but it has just been 5 years now and the guy who is 'for sure' a serial killer is to be freed?

But thats just not it. Apparently Charles Sobraj has a lover. That too a 20-year old Nepali/Bengali girl, Nihita Bishwas, who in my opinion is out-of-her-mind! The killer couples are planning to get married in France after Sobraj's release.

I say that its just a media magic played by Charles, that old (64 years) smart ass, to make the Nepalese people sympathize with him.

Falling in love with a serial killer isn't, in any condition, justified.

This reminds me of my article on Weddings (Read here); well, apparently (some) girls get attracted to serial killers. So, if you are that lonely chap, go kill some. But make sure you don't kill humans; Kill cows, they used to be counted as humans in Nepal.

One more thing and I hate to say this, for your safety, girls especially, who I care about dearly...do not, I repeat, do not wear a bikini.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sea of Garbage; Who Swims in it?


If you live Kathmandu, a little garbage here and there isn't really much of a big deal. I mean just a few weeks back they were just tiny puddles, just the right shapes and sizes to hop over. Oh how sweet were those days...

BUT now its a whole different story, that same old puddles have swelled, doubled, tripled a million times and now they have turned into huge seas!

The only problem now is that you can't swim on it or row your boat. You can fish, oh yes! But I must say, the water is really dirty...

I was watching the news some time back and even a developed city like Naples had such seas...some similarity (Girija can promise us Italy now rather than Switzerland. The pizza there is yummy.)

God! Seriously, how could you promise us Switzerland? Old people can't come up with excuses.

Above is a picture I took today, the biggest I have seen yet, location: Jamal. Reports say that the one from Basundhara to Maharajgunj is turning into an Ocean! I have to check it out. Or if anyone of you have seen it, do let us know.

Possible things to do:
1. Close everything except your eyes (wear glasses) and run.
2. Fish with a fishing rod. I think I saw a can of tuna. I couldn't really tell if it was empty.
3. Camp near it, wait for someone to clean it up.

Prime locations:
1. Jamal
2. Basundhara to Maharajgunj
3. Places every 50 meters. Trust me.

Monday, June 30, 2008

3. Sōjirō: Reminiscence from the past


Chapter III: A bloody night in Kyoto

A young child should do no more than grow and learn and live. But young Sōjirō was no ordinary child: He broke his back for two square meals a day and got manhandled by his own blood. Those coarse young hands knew no warmth and affection, only pain and suffering. Even so, he always smiled, pretending that he was happy and never broke down even when his step-brothers and step-sisters and step-mother thrashed the strength out of his body and mind. Any other ordinary child wouldn’t survive such an ordeal.

Of course Sōjirō had considered running away from home but he had no where to go and no one to take care of him; he was on his own from the day his father left him. Nevertheless the thought of escaping enslavement excited him. He could only wonder what life would be beyond the rice fields and the hills on the horizon or to be treated for once as a human being and not an animal.

It was midnight.

“Sōjirō! OYE Sōjirō! Get your shabby little butt to the market and get me some more sake! We’re completely out of it.”

Sōjirō twitched at the sound of his eldest step-brother’s thundering voice. “But b-brother, i-it’s so late. The liquor s-shops will be c-clos…”

His step-brother’s dominating voice gobbled his words up. “Then wake them up you incompetent fool! Do I have to think of everything?”

A hiss of a voice interrupted the conversation. “Maybe he’s the one stealing all the sake.” One of his step-sisters wanted a piece of the on going action. “Maybe the little runt should be whacked a couple more times and maybe he’ll confess.”

An already drunken man was enraged by the knowledge of such a possible crime. He shattered several empty bottles of sake in the process of reaching for Sōjirō’s neck.

“I’m going to kill you boy, if you don’t tell me what you did with all the sake in the storehouse.”
Sōjirō’s reply was weak and helpless. “b-but s-sir, I haven’t stolen any s-sake, y-you d-drank it all.”

“Shut up you little runt! Go and get me some sake. NOW!” The large man with his large fist finished his sentence with a clean blow to Sōjirō’s small face. For a fleeting moment, Sōjirō felt like he was floating in air and felt a familiar numbness in his face. It was the taste of blood on his lips that jolted him back to the reality of pain.

An even weaker Sōjirō panted. “Y-yes, Sir I’ll go right now” He bowed and hurried towards the market.

It was one hour past midnight.

How on earth was he going to buy a bottle of sake at this hour? Did his brother want him to steal some?

His frivolous mind wasn’t meant to make such frantic decisions but still he limped to the nearest sake store, which would probably be closed.

As Sōjirō left the main gate, he couldn’t help noticing how beautiful the night was. The sky was decorated with a million bright stars except none of them compared to the dim brilliance of the moon. That misty grey ball hovering slowly across the sky was the only guidance Sōjirō had as he walked through the ghostly streets that led to the market. Sōjirō’s ears rang with an eerie silence which was only disrupted by the scratchy sound of his footsteps.

“It’s impossible.” He thought. “Maybe I should go back.”

He was a turn away from the closed sake store when the silence of the night was shattered by a bloody scream. An unfamiliar sound of metal hacking something hard came next. It was followed by a sickening thud and more people screaming, as if they were steeling themselves for death. Sōjirō followed the screams although his movements were partially immobilized by a cold fear running through his whole body.

It was long past midnight.

As he reached the next turn, his eyes widened with absolute terror. A tall man covered sloppily from head to toe with dirty, yellowish bandages stood next to two bloody bodies in police uniforms, both missing their heads. He was raising a Japanese sword pointed skywards. He looked like a mummy, out for revenge Only one other man, another police officer, was still standing: he was shaking uncontrollably and he sounded like he was muttering his last words. And in the blink of an eye, the man in the bandages sliced the policeman’s body in half, starting from the head. Blood splattered all over the walls and the street but not on the man’s bandages. Sōjirō had never seen anyone move with such power and speed in his life. He speechlessly gaped at the man, horrified. Then, Sōjirō’s heart stopped as the murderer turned around and faced him. The man’s demon-like red eyes which glistened like blood fixed themselves on young Sōjirō.

What will the mysterious murderer do to Sōjirō? Find out in the next chapter of Sōjirō: reminiscence from the past.

All characters are based on the Anime Samurai X

Click for Chapter 2

Click for Chapter 1


Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Hero's Side-effects


I was positive that I could glide my way in a Micro from Patan all the way to home sweet home. It was 2 in the afternoon and vehicles had run out of petrol; it meant no traffic! Pure bliss. But to my utter surprise, vehicles had started piling up from Kupondole itself. Now, I have been plying on this route for 5 years now and being quite familiar with the traffic, I immediately sensed something different; the vehicles started clogging exactly 75.5 meters ahead of the Traffic Jam point. Something is wrong I thought, so I ventured to walk till Thapathali in high hopes that the turn to Tripureshwor would be less congested...10 minutes of walk, smoke from Kerosene + Petrol + Diesel, dust, and the never alleviating stench of the Bagmati; I reach Thapathali. But still no vehicular movement; it was clogged like the drainage system of Kathmandu valley.

So I continued my stroll towards Tripureshwor, thinking how this was one of the worst day of my life, battered with CO2 and bruises I reached Tripureshwor what I saw angered me to the very core of my internals...

First it seemed like a rally of some sort, I saw the jeep decorated with the painfully bright 'Yellow' poster with 'Rumpum Noodles' moving at the pace of a snail. Then I moved closer, on the side of the jeep was the picture of no other than....Kamal Nepali (the 'monkey kid' who rescued a little girl from a 60-feet gorge).

*Steam out of my ears.*

Please, end this stupidity. What is Khulla Manch for?

Friday, June 27, 2008

2. Sōjirō: Reminiscence from the past


Chatper II: An older stronger Sōjirō

“Kill the runt; he’s a waste to society .”
“Please! No! Forgive me, I-I didn’t mean to! please, somebody! help! HELP! THEY'RE GOING TO KILL ME!”

Sōjirō’s eyes thrust wide open. His heart was pounding in his ears and his whole body was drenched in sweat: It was just another dream about his childhood. It had been a while since he had dreamed of the past. Of course he hid all his emotions behind that boyish smile of his and if anyone asked if he was feeling alright, he’d just smile it off. No one could possibly find traces of the sadness or the brutality in that bright and innocent smile.
It had been ten long years since Sōjirō had last seen his family. In fact, he wasted little time thinking about them.
“My, it’s been so long since I left my home town”, Sōjirō muttered as he picked up his katana. “Well, I’d better go summon the members of the Jupongatana. Maybe Mr. Shishio will feel better when he’s around those men-not that he needs any protection.”

The Jupongatana, headed by Makoto Shishio was made out of the best fighters in Japan. They were a group of elite fighters who had survived the horrors of the Meiji revolution. No matter how strong and skilled these fighters looked, Sōjirō would always be known as the strongest of the Jupongatana. Sōjirō had learned a technique that reached extraordinary speeds: Indeed, Shishio had taught him well. He moved so fast that the naked eye couldn’t even roll fast enough to see him. Thus, earning himself the nickname Sōjirō the Tenkin.

It was a bright sunny summer day in Kyoto. Sōjirō usually went to the market to buy fresh deacon radish and some tofu for lunch but even though it was a perfect day for shopping, Sōjirō would have no choice but to follow Mr. Shishio’s orders and go meet each and every member of the Jupongatana. As he walked by the ferocious fish traders along with the subtle flower sellers, Sōjirō couldn’t help feel lucky to be able to breathe the fresh morning air and see flowers blossoming with life. Ten years ago he couldn't even smell the sweet fragrance of white plum after a hard days work. In fact, if it wasn’t for Makoto Shishio, Sōjirō would have been sleeping under the flowers.
“I’m glad I met Mr. Shishio, even though he was scary at first. He he.” Sōjirō thought, walking faster than usual but calmly smiling as always.
Ten years ago Shishio taught him one thing, ‘Those who are strong will live and those who are weak will die’. And that fateful night, when young Sōjirō fought for his life, he understood what Shishio meant.

Makoto Shishio was an assassin during the Meiji revolution who was later shot and burnt alive by the Meiji government because he knew too much. He miraculously survived the attempt on his life and after that, he spends the rest of his days plotting against the Meiji government until he is stopped by the Battousai, ending his reign of terror. Shishio saves young Sōjirō from his evil family and molds him into one of the strongest swordsmen in the history of Japan.

Next time

The story of how Sōjirō fights for his life and becomes cursed with a smile...

All characters are based on the anime Samurai X

Click for Chapter 1

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Kung Fu Panda vs The Hulk; the ultimate battle?

First, the Ancient secrets of Kung Fu straight from China and then a US Military experiment gone green; just this week I was fortunate enough to watch two movies, you can guess both...Its the Kung Fu Panda and The Incredible Hulk.

Watching both the movies in the same movie hall and from the same seat, I think, puts me in a 'fine' position to judge them both. I'll do that now.

First, a brief intro on both;

Kung Fu Panda: staring Jack Black as the chubby Panda 'Po' and other actors like Jakie Chan, Dustin Hoffman and Angelina Jolie, this animated feature follows the story of a Panda in China who dreams to become a famous Kung Fu warrior. The panda's dreams come true when he 'accidentally' gets selected to be the dragon warrior and fight the powerful and evil snow leopard warrior Tai Lung, voiced by Ian McShane. The only problem is that Po's 'to be master' Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) doesn't want to train him and he wants one of his four disciples to be the dragon warrior. However, the tortoise Master Oogway insists that Shifu train the Panda. The Panda does learn Kung Fu, in somewhat a very short period of time, and the fights begin...

The Incredible Hulk: Staring Edward Norton as Hulk or Dr. Bruce Banner and the lovely Liv Tyler as Betty, this movie is the sequel to film Hulk (2003). This movie continues the story of the Hulk who is now hiding in Brazil and is on the run from the US army for 5 years. He attempts to control the transformation through yoga and meditative techniques and also takes help of the then mysterious 'Mr. Blue'; However, his location gets compromised and he is forced to transform into the green monster...

While both of the movies are big-budget and are from the daddy of studios, I think that The Incredible Hulk hasn't been able to make the most of the talent and money spent on it; part of the dislike is credited to the fact that I'm not really a fan of Superhero movies (That's right, I don't like Spiderman). I found an immense lack of emotions in the movie; while attempt has been made to make it a love story too, I must say, it didn't work out. More, the inner conflict that Bruce Banner should have experienced isn't potrayed effectively which leaves a great hole in the vibe of the movie. But, it does deliver more than the first feature, Hulk (2003).

Kung Fu panda is by far, I think, totally my view, what I felt, the best animated film I've seen. The humorous, vivid and entertaining plot and the cast of incredible actors like Jack Black, Jakie Chan and Dustin Hoffman, makes the film a must see. The animation is incredible and isn't at all like Shrek (That's right, I don't like Shrek either). This release comes at a time when China is to host the 2008 Olympics and after the Sichuan Earthquake, which has had both received positive and negative feedback from the Chinese. Also, there where calls for a boycott for the film as its produced by Dreamworks which is owned by Steven Spielberg who resigned from the post of an advisor to the Beijing Olympics.

So, here are my ratings:

Kung Fu Panda: 4 and 1/2 stars
The Incredible Hulk:- 3 stars

Who wins? I say Kung Fu. Haiiiyaaah!