What men talk..

What men talk is not as exciting a topic as what women want or the hole in the ozone layer. In fact it is weird to the extend of making sense only to bedbugs and other jobless men. Below are few presentable excerpts from conversations between members of this species.

Religion, Evolution and the Wife
And coming to the point, congregations are the best way to control.. unlike the common belief that individuals are easy to control than a crowd. Like molecules/atoms balancing each other in an equilibrium.. the various conflicts cancel out each other perhaps...
- You mean to say religion was invented as a control mechanism?
what else..? size was the only differentiating advantage groups had in the past.. right? Religion was a perfect tool to keep people united and thus benefit from the 'grouping'.. by keeping enemies at bay. Religion was in fact made to make this togetherness happen with the God/fear/safety/protection mix...its actually this evolutionary advantage that religion provides.. that made it such a successful 'pathogen' which was happily carried forward thru generations by the 'Carriers'. Else with all its stupidity and baselessness.. it would have collapsed long back.. survival was a valid reason to keep it alive..

- what happened to the rational thinking of people then ?
Emotion and urgency always get preference over rationality..another evolutionary programming. As an animal when you hear a sound, its always better to run, than thinking whether its a branch cracking or a predator. That is why rational thinking is not the 'norm' but a deviation...
- Its a complicated world out there.. my liberal ideas are coming in constant clash with my wife's :)
I can very well imagine.. :) Well, you might think 'why isn't she thinking my way, isn't it simple & more logical' and all that. it IS NOT! Comprehending simple, straightforward logic is the hardest thing.. twisted logic appeals to you more because your mind shuts down after the first few lines due to complexity, and decide.. 'what is complex must be true'
- precisely... any way, don't tell I haven't warned you :)

God and the QWERTY key board
And mind you ... its "vOcabulary".... not "vAcabulary"
- Well the A and O are far apart on my Keyboard you see ;)
That's precisely why you don't have both the hands from the same shoulder... God created us with the QWERTY keyboard in mind. He was indeed a visionary. Anyway.. good talking to you dude... rarely I find people who can understand both 'English' and 'humor'
- Well, do u expect the same compliment from me
I tried.. with that second sentence.. Now can you help saying nothing?...like 'rolling stone gathers no moss'.. or something...
- May your tribe multiply and divide!

Roaches & the essence of life
I don't hate cockroaches.. we generally coexist without problems.. they are kind of cute.
- Ya I know.. its a nice feeling to realize that you are not alone within the four walls !! Rare situations where you see how all life is the same life.
All life is not the same, but there are moments when you realize whether its 3 legged or 2 legged or 8 legged, living / nonliving is the real differentiators. Then you get into a higher state (of consciousness perhaps) where life itself is not an issue.. existence / nonexistence will become the differentiators then. The first stage psychologists call 'Delusional' - where you consider cockroaches equal to humans.. the second stage they call 'madness' when you think stones equal human beings in value :)
- Life by all means is equal, but the approach to your own and others-not-necessarily-human is the difference .. it's ones own perspective and view .. life has but two variations ..MINE and OTHERS

Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal - Part 2

By daybreak we were already on the road after a quick breakfast of idlis and uppma. It was a kilometer's walk to the cave temples from our hotel. We were the first ones to reach the cave temples for the day, giving us ample time to enjoy the sunrise and the main caves without any disturbance. The crowd generally sticks to the one or two major temples and if you cover them early in the morning then you can spend rest of the day walking around the so called 'lesser' temples. Badami got cave temples carved into the red sand stones and the structural ones like Aihole and Pattadakal. Most of the temple complexes are situated around the Agastya lake and some on the surrounding cliffs.

All of the cave temples have exquisite images of gods and goddesses carved into the red stone walls. They also feature a hall with numerous pillars and a sanctum sanctorum carved deep into the hill. The four cave temples also show the religious secularism practiced by the Chalukyas; the first three of them are dedicated to the Hindu gods, while the fourth one is dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras. The view of Agasthya lake from the cave temples is magnificent, especially during the sunrise and the sunset, when the fiery horizon gives that extra glow to the red rocks. After spending quite a bit of time on the cliffs we climbed down towards the Agastya lake. If you take a short walk amidst the houses you can reach the banks of the lake which is filthy as a spit pot, but the green algae somehow manages to give it an emerald sheen.

The Bhootnath group of temples are built right into the lake on the other side and on the way to it, round the lake, is the museum of the Archeological Survey of India. The museum is worth a visit and it was amazing to hear that they are continually discovering and excavating new sites and structures even to this day. The museum has some interesting statues and landscape models, especially a statue of the goddess of fertility. It is a pleasant walk along the lakeside to the Bhootnath and Mallikarjuna group of temples. These temples are beautifully constructed, but rarely visited by the mainstream crowd. We met local kid Anusha and her four cousins there; who had come to take a stroll along the temple alleys. We sat there by the waterside for quite a while, while Anusha talked about the pleasures of growing up around such wonderful pieces of history.

The red sand stone cliffs all around the place are sculptures themselves, chiseled to perfection by the craftsmanship of the wind, air and water. They were so inviting that we decided to shun the artificial structures for a while and take a walk to the cliffs facing the cave temples on the other side of the lake. The path used by the goatherds and the shepherds took us to some awesome spots, from where the views were to kill for. It was a great sight to watch the sun rolling behind the mountains after the day's shift. As we walked back to the hotel it was already dark, and the huge trees on either side of the road were looking like demons in the moonlight. Our train was more than an hour late and we sat there at the station talking on and on about the good times we had. Like most of the other places we have visited, this one definitely deserves a repeat visit; probably another three!

Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal - Part 1

See more pictures here

Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal - Part 1

A visit to the temple towns of Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal is literally like traveling back to the 7th or 8th century. The moment you leave the dusty roads, sugarcane fields, interesting people and move into the confines of the cliffs and temple walls, you feel like getting transported to a surreal space. This is a world where decapitated statues of gods and goddesses tell you stories of enterprising kings and their conquests; where huge blocks of stones tastefully huddled to form structures of awesome beauty tell much about the skill and commitment of the artisans of the time. Badami, named after the evil demon Vatapi, who according to the legends was killed by sage Agastya at this very place, is in Bagalkot district of Karnataka.

Kannan, Tanmoy and me reached Badami railway station quite early in the morning and in another 10 minutes found a rickshaw guy who agreed to take us around to Aihole, Pattadakal and Mahakuta. We only had 2 days with us and our plan was to dedicate the second day exclusively for Badami and cover the rest of the places on the first day itself. You actually need a day each at Aihole & Pattadakkal to get a decent look at the 50 odd temples there, but time wasn't on our side. So without wasting much time we started for Aihole and by the time we reached there crowd had already started trickling into the temple compound. It is better to visit these places on weekdays when you get to roam around without negotiating around the crowd.

Our first stop was at Aihole, the first capital of the Chalukyas, some 20 kilometers from Badami. The story is that the Chalukya kings experimented with temple architecture, fusing the North Indian and South Indian styles, and built over 100 temples here. Some 50 odd temples are still standing within a 10 kilometer radius, though most of them are in various states of destruction. It was with the experience gained with the Aihole temples that the Chalukyas later built the magnificent structures at Pattadakal. There are temples built for all the prominent gods in Hindu Mythology from lord Shiva to the Sun god. Some of these temples have beautifully built tanks associated with them. Around the main temple complex you can also see Buddhist and Jain temples.

The two storied Buddhist temple on the nearby hilltop provides an aerial view of the many structures scattered all over the landscape. Though human settlements are not allowed in the vicinity of monuments of archeological importance, you see a lot of houses sharing a wall with some of these temples. People and cattle treat some of these temples their own and share the space with the gods for their day to day activities. One cow even asked me with much frustration 'what monument?, what the heck?' as I pushed it aside to get a better camera angle. We bumped into the Aihole under-12 cricket team practicing on the roof of the Buddhist temple. They agreed to let us play with them and also provided guide service to the hilltop in return for a photo session. After lunch we started for Pattadakal, another 10 kilometers from Aihole.

Pattadakal, a world heritage site, also known as the cradle of Indian architecture showcases some of the best works of the Chalukya period. There are magnificent temples in the traditional North & South Indian styles and those that feature the fusion 'Vesara' style (also known as the Chalukya style) as well. The main temple complex is by the banks of the Malaprabha river. If you like architecture or history or if you are interested in Hindu mythology, this is a place where you can spend a few days, lost in the many treasures hidden within those walls. We met an amazing painter Mounesh, who sits inside these temples and make beautiful sketches of the gods and goddesses all day. You can buy his pencil,pen or acrylic sketches at a nominal price.

By the time we reasonably satiated our sense of wonder and awe, it was already late to visit Mahakuta. But our rickshaw guy agreed for a quick stop on the way back to Badami. While the Aihole and Pattadakal temple complexes are devoid of any vegetation, temples at Mahakuta are built amidst huge trees, many of which have grown over and into them. The evening sun gave a quite charming look to the big banyan trees, giving the place an Angkor Wat look. There were langurs running all over the place and many snakes enjoying an evening swim in the ablution tanks. One interesting temple here is dedicated to lord Ganesha, which is built in the middle of a tank, and you have to walk in waist deep waters to reach the sanctum sanctorum. We left for Badami before nightfall, booked into a hotel and decided to sleep early considering the long day that lay ahead.

Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal - Part 2

See more photos here

Roaches in Arms !

It was around midnight that I felt this tingling sensation on my neck. Though I wished this was one of those beautiful young ladies from the dream I was having, soon I realized it felt more like a cockroach making his way over my body. Unlike ants, who take a turn or go around, roaches just walk across, even if its along your open mouth. I started getting the same tingling sensation around my left foot as well, and it didn't feel good. I threw the blanket aside, stood up and switched on the light. I was startled to see at least 15 roaches all around the room.

I knew roaches lived in the house, and a lone crusader running from under the pile of dirty clothes was never a nuisance for me. But seeing so many of them around my bed was quite a different feeling. Their demeanor - lazing around without the slightest regard for a superior species (arguably)- was irritating. So I picked up the weapon of mass destruction (my slippers) and unleashed the fury over them. In a matter of minutes I was piling up dead roaches in one corner of the room. It took a full five minutes after this for me to realize that they didn't even try to run away as I approached menacingly with the slipper in my hand. Now that was perplexing! I am no expert on the social behavior of arthropods, but the fact that so many of them came out of their hiding places only to succumb peacefully to my blows was beyond commonsense.

Anyway, I went back to bed, this time snuggling a little more into the comfort of the blanket. But in a matter of minutes I could hear the creepy crawlies running over me once again. Now, this is serious business, and I got up once again to find another 10 odd live roaches in the room. I wasted no time in meting out the same treatment to this battalion as well. Somehow I got a feeling that this war is far from over and I decided to play a little game. I switched off the lights and waited quietly in the bathroom. While waiting for the guerrilla warriors to present themselves I started thinking of this unusual phenomenon. I had never witnessed anything like this in the last 5 years I've been staying at this house. Was this some kind of a roach ritual or ceremony that I accidentally gatecrashed into?

Were they trying to eat me alive? I had held roaches in high regard so far. Though I have written about them a few times here, it was always in good humor and with pure intentions. Even though Pluto had warned me once about their collective intelligence, I never suspected that they would hatch such a plan to attack me; even during the worst famine. I have heard of weird animal behavior prior to natural calamities like earthquakes, floods and volcanic explosions. Considering the recent earthquakes in Japan and Indonesia, even this came up as a reasonable possibility. Both the hypotheses were equally terrifying! I eagerly listened for any corroborating evidence from the dogs in the neighborhood; but they were all unusually quiet that night. It is highly unlikely that only the roaches got warned and not the dogs; and that did calm my nerves to a large extend.

Or is it that they came to know about the rebel uprisings in Egypt and Syria and are trying to pull one against me? For them I might be this giant who cohabits their territory? Putting an end to the uncontrolled wanderings of my mind, I switched on the lights and found another 5-6 roaches around the bed. There were a few in the kitchen as well. In short, I had about 35 kills by the time I finally got back to bed that night. I am sure this should be a record of sorts for one night! Fortunately the roach army receded for the night, probably to recoup and organize another attack some other day. I slept like a baby for the rest of the night though in my dreams I saw monster roaches attacking me with their gigantic mandibles; trying to push me off some cliff as I ran for my life.

Fortunately there wasn't any sign of roaches by the time I woke up in the morning. But I had anyway decided to launch a counter attack, once I replenish my arsenal with some anti-roach missile sprays and bombs. If what they want is a war, I will give them one. And as I do not have any oil reserves I am sure the US will not poke their noses in this 'civil unrest' (even though we are talking about American cockroaches, 'Periplaneta americana').

Victory will surely be mine!
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