49. I have had dreams and I have had nightmares. I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams. – Jonas Salks
Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations. –George Bernard Shaw
Sure I am that this day, we are masters of our fate that the task which has been set before us is not above our strength, that its pangs and toils are not beyond my endurance. As long as we have faith in our own cause and an unconquerable will to win, victory will not be denied to us. –Winston Churchill
69. There is nothing noble about being noble to some other person. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.
Every second you spend thinking about someone else’s dreams you take away time from your own.
74. The purpose of life is a life of purpose.
88. Never do anything because you have to. The only reason to do something is because you want to and because you know it is the right thing for you to do.
125. Happiness comes through good judgment, good judgment comes through experience and experience comes through bad judgment.
117. Some books are meant to be tasted, some books are meant to be chewed and finally some books are meant to be swallowed whole. –Julian Mantle
This Cummins powered Tata 1512c bus belonging to our Forest Research Institute has been the subject of much of my experimentation as a bus-fan since the time I joined FRI.
Right now, I must dwell on first things first. The title seemed apt to me because of the presence of leopard in our campus and this particular image of the beast which to me seemed to evoke a similar feeling. Next, my indulgence in bus-fanning despite being a forestry student can naturally appear abnormal to many considering how I should be lost among trees and the wilderness. But strangely enough, these mechanical beasts, the wild and heavy of the lot have kept me hooked since my undergraduate years. It started off as a fancy for my state transport buses (KSRTC ~ ആനവണ്ടി) eventually taking a diversion to brand specific fantasies at least for the time I was to be out of my home state. Multiple forums (ksrtcblog & Team Tata-TRAK) have helped me cultivate this crazy streak over time. My line despite these years has largely been similar to the awe and wonder of a child for them rather than the technicalities as such. Shivam & Dharani have been two buddies whom I’ve nagged constantly into shooting me whilst I’d be shooting the beast. And, they’ve always played along well in my pursuits more than what I could’ve possibly hoped for.
The earliest I remember having captured this leopard on camera is during the orientation visit of our own campus. The fascination with this beast has only seemed to grow ever since. Some of the girls studying with us might even remember me lurking near the reserve forest barrier and shining the camera flash as it approached after the fresher’s party. Come every study tour, excursion or field visit, more than learning something of academic value, I would always prioritize shooting the beast through the lens from all angles and poses that one could possibly dream of. Every portion, part and accessory of the bus seemed to catch hold of my attention.
More than anything, I know that it was indeed a sense of belonging to that same family called FRI that brought both of us closer. I would never have even in my wildest dreams imagined doing all of this had the bus not belonged to our institute.
We have by now gone on numerous outings in the same beast to multiple locations and with different drivers. We all had different portions earmarked to each, the row opposite to door for the faculty as usual, the last row for us ‘Mallu Gangstas’ and most of the rest fitting in between. Some time spent sitting on the front side row facing the driver or on the bonnet would usually for me make the entire trip worthwhile. It was no longer the driver’s area in front but the ‘cockpit’ where the ‘leopard tamer’ sat while ‘taming the beast’! 😀
This particular bus has even unintentionally figured up in other turning-points and adventures of my life (Chakrata & Dhanaulti, for instance). It has been witness to me confessing and then advising the same person on something totally different, all during the course of a single trip (The Bus-Bonnet Conversations). So, it was indeed an added joy when I got familiar with this particular Leopard Tamer (read Driver, Dummies!) who was also coincidentally my namesake and his companion on this recent tour to Chandigarh. His energy, behavior and openness (read, my lack of flesh!) were contagious and I knew instantly that we would bond well and that I’d trouble him for my whims and fancies! And you bet, I did just the same in that very trip itself. To blurt out the least, I can safely say that I did have my way around and that was only made possible because he concurred with my demands. 🙂 Whilst we were returning, the fact that he literally asked me sit cross-legged upon the steel frame on the bonnet and even went so far as to have his towel spread out on the frame (again obviously, to compensate for my मांस की कमी !) just so that I had a better view through the windshield and could go on clicking away was nothing short of a privilege. 🙂
One thing I know for certain is that as long as I remain in FRI, I will always be found looking up at this one where ever he be spotted, for he is my pet leopard!
PS: This started as a simple caption for the said image on Instagram, but all of you can very well see what it has finally turned out to be!
Another new year is almost here and before we actually step into 2k17 and pace ahead, I would like to dwell upon the wonderful year that 2016 has been for me, on multiple counts.
January, 2k16 was when I finally graduated from JNKVV and bid adieu to Jubbulpore that had somehow hosted me for more than four years. Then was a period of few months at home before I managed to land myself in FRI, Dehradun for my Master’s. This duration was without doubt punctuated by some worthwhile travelling as well as bus –fanning (Aanavandi, of course!)
FRI was (Sorry, still is) altogether a new phase in my life. Though I assumed myself to have a fair inkling of the state of affairs in FRI since I’d been here past Diwali, I was in for a shock nevertheless. I was probably confounded by the diversity in our midst in terms of the people, their lifestyles, habits and eccentricities. Call it a culture shock, if you please. I was at a point of time not sure about whom to latch on to or whom to stay away from. Maybe I wasn’t too sure of anybody as such. But, coincidences followed me everywhere whether it was with Ameen, my roommate or the first encounter with Vishnu.
2016 served me more as eye-opener, if not anything else. My preconceived notions about many people were shattered to mere shards and those fellows proved to be great friends. I was fortunate to be having the kind of friend who could manage to manage to bear my childish tantrums and still stay on with me.
We’ve been through multitude of adventures, all in a relatively short timescale whether it was the trio who’d simultaneously been to ISBT and Railway Station at precisely the same time, playing the prankster with a dead lizard hidden in my notebook, the gang on leopard trail at 3 am, the brisk walks over the campus past one in the night, being worried but still putting on a brave face when it was the question of an year for our friends, safely dropping friends off at the Railway Station despite me being completely lost in ——- stupor or all of those memorable rides during day, alone, throughout entire nights or even when the rest of our batchmates were busy piling up answers in the examination and even having the #register come back in reverse gear to warn us of leopards जबकि हम तो गोलचक्कर पे सब धुआं धुआं कर रहे थे| 😀
It was also the year of multiple expeditions starting with the one in february to Jammu – Srinagar and equally eventful return, the impulsive bus trip to Manali – Rohtang Pass with my two daughters and finally the long bus ride to home, meeting up with many of my childhood friends and reliving those memories enroute.
I was often bold enough to push across crazy ideas and then get them actually implemented fruitfully, this being solely attributable to the few of my friends who stood by me and wished me sincerely (वैसे तू मर जाएगा तो I’ll be the happiest! 😀 )
The fag end of the year also saw me want to finally reclaim myself, thanks to one true friend I have. I have embarked upon it and will strive till I am fully satisfied.
The almighty also played his part equally well, by being there to save my ass before I ended up in deep shit. He literally took me from one adventure to another. (Read, getting picked up by rifle-toting cops before daylight broke, in Agra)
I am indebted to each and every one of you for being the fine people you’ve been, bearing with me always and for having gifted me all these wonderful moments and memorable incidents!
Looking forward to even more in the coming year, let us usher in the New Year with joy, strength, sincerity, optimism and toil to keep it so throughout. May all that you truly wish for come true!
Wishing You a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2017!
The Hindu yesterday had an interesting news item, albeit consigned to the side column. An Indian Naval Ship was calling at Vizhinjam Port (Thiruvananthapuram) the next day and public could visit it from morning till evening. Till then my association with the Navy Vessels was fairly non existent, apart from reading up on them if interested and listening to Nidhin’s NCC memories of sleeping in the hangar of a naval warship and having sighted quite a few Navy Ships off the Cochin coast during my Expedition_5 also thanks to Nidhin who’d pointed them out to me. I was much elated at this possibility of being actually aboard a navy ship.
The day dawned and I found the same news in a malayalam daily as well, by then I had already made up my mind to be meeting up with INS KABRA. Having had my breakfast, I left home on my #1843, headed out to the Vizhinjam Harbour. I had on an earlier occasion been to the Light House and almost upto the breakwaters adjoining the Wharf, so the route wasn’t a problem as such. I reached there a little after quarter past eleven and could already see that people had turned up in good numbers, in fact there was quite a crowd. I too joined the long queue that snaked along to the vessel. After quite some time along the breakwater blocks, I caught the first glimpse of her.
It took almost an hour before we wound all the way around the wharf and finally came to close quarters with the vessel.
Even before I actually entered the vessel, i saw people mostly kids having those sun-visors with the insignia of INS KABRA. I too wanted one anyhow and upon getting onboard I asked a Navyman whether I too could have one, a request that was refused. It was only for kids, they said. Being a kid was always on the perkier side and it was reafirmed here as well. But I resolved to have one of them by the time I left Vizhinjam, by hook or by crook. Now, before I proceed any further let me admit that I know nothing whatsoever about Naval Ships, leave alone any technical specifications. So all about the ship written here is siphoned off from wikipedia, I admit without shame! 😉
History: INS Kabra was commissioned by Vice-Admiral K.N. Sushil, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command, at the Kochi naval base on 8 June 2011. Commander Bandhul Mishra, a specialist in missile, weapons and radar systems was the first commander of INS Kabra.
Design: The Car Nicobar class vessels were designed and built by GRSE. Production of the class was fast-tracked after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The vessels feature improved habitability with fully air-conditioned modular accommodation, on board reverse osmosis plant for desalination, and a sewage treatment plant.
The vessels are each powered by three HamiltonJet HM811 water jets, coupled with MTU 16V 4000 M90 engines, delivering a combined 8160 KW of power. An aluminium superstructure reduces weight and is designed to reduce radar cross-section.
Kabra has a top speed of more than 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph). The improved manoeuvrability and speed allows Kabra to have high-speed interdiction of fast-moving targets.
Armaments and Crew: Kabra’s main armament is a 30-mm CRN-91 gun. It is fitted with machine guns of various types and the IGLA shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. The ship has a crew of three officers and 39 sailors and is presently commanded by Commander Dharmendra Singh Bareth, an alumnus of the National Defence Academy.
Once we entered through the door on the side, we were led above through a staircase inside. We emerged on the upper deck, the front side had an officer explaining navigation systems to a group of interested people. We climbed down to the rear end and walked around to the front through the seaboard side, all the while clicking away photographs. I spent quite some time onboard, fully aware of the fact that being on one of them wasn’t ever easy as it was this time around.
Once I deboarded the vessel, I went around clicking photos of the ship. Then I proceeded to side of the wharf where there was Navy merchandise on sale, which I sadly couldn’t afford with the limited ‘Gandhis’ I had on me. My attention then turned to the next stall where they’d displayed arms carried on board the INS KABRA. I got the chance to lay my hands on all of them i.e. Pistol, Carbine, INSAS Rifle, and Mortar (Forgive the layman for the improper nomenclature!).
Once that was also done, it was time to bid goodbye to the INS KABRA until next time. It was quite a memorable experience for a layman like me to get up close with a naval ship, even if it was as part of Naval Week celebrations! Many thanks, INDIAN NAVY.
PS: I seriously hope that photographs posted here aren’t objectionable. If there are any issues whatsoever, I am all for taking them down. Do let me know. 🙂
Edit: I did take home a bit of the INS KABRA being naturally good at picking up left behind items, fetching a sunvisor that was left out on the ground right outside the port premises !