Monday, February 23, 2009

Aero India 2009 at Bangalore

The first ever time I witnessed an Air Show was in Chennai 2 years back. As lakhs assembled at the unending stretch of Marina, fighter planes flew in from the Tambaram base and exhibited their skills. I felt elated after that show - what an exhibition of power it was!

So this time when the once-in-2-years Air Show happened in Bangalore, I made it a point to pay a visit.

The show began with a huge monster of a plane taking off at exactly 2.30 PM - the scheduled time.
The gray colored thing bearing the inscription "US Air Force" was the size of a regular commercial plane, but was extremely agile. The sharp take-off and mid-air turns were incredible, given the size of the plane.

But for the sharp turns, there wasn't much that this plane had on offer. But it was impressive in itself.

Once this plane landed, up went a cute little thing. But the noise it made, and the speeds it achieved were totally un-cute! It was a major fight for me to catch that little thing within my frame - it was too quick to follow! But barely managed a couple of clicks.

Next followed a model that was much bigger in size, but quite agile and acrobatic. It was a majestic sight to see its bright colors against the bluish-gray sky.

A vertical climb, followed by free fall!

Another vertical climb

What followed was a white colored small plane-let, if I may say so. The pilot did pull off a lot of stunning stunts, but the size and capacity of the plane was not very impressive. The propeller at front only added to the indifference that people were showering on this little flying thingee.

I personally think this was just to keep us busy while something spectacular was getting ready - The Suryakiran Team!

The team ganging up...

...zooming in...

and swinging into action, right away!

'O' poduraangappa!

Among the best aerobatics teams in the world, Suryakiran did not fail this time either.

The 'T' formation, meaning "Thank you for coming"

The Suryakiran team disbanding - my favo display!

Pretty soon, the Saarang team of Helicopters climbed up into the sky. Unlike planes, helicopters are extremely tough to control. They take some time to respond. But the team made it seem like child's play!

The diamond formation

The final performance was by the Akash Ganga team of sky divers.

With that, the show came to a close. And we started walking towards the exit.

An array of aircrafts that were kept on exhibit

Couldn't resist :)

Air shows invariably leave one feeling damn bloody proud of one's own country :)

Ulaga Naayaganae!

As a rule, I generally avoid writing on stuff that everyone talks about. There are eleventy-eleven thousand blogs around the world, and all bloggers have views on everything contemporary. These days, owning a blog is equivalent to having views.

But am giving myself a concession this one time. This post is all about A R Rahman.

Earlier I used to think it was my own idiosyncrasy, but learnt sometime back that almost everyone feels this - A R Rahman is like someone you know so closely well. It's like he is a personal friend. And most people from my peer group feel this way. It's like everyone feels a sense of 'ownership' over him. It could be cos' of his Herculean modesty.

Or may also be cos he 'grew' with us.

I remember the day he won the National Award for Roja. Rather, the day the awards function was held and telecast on Doordarshan. I had spent just more than half-a-dozen years on earth then. But the diminutive kid who scored the music for Roja caught my fancy right then. Notwithstanding the high fever I was running then, I rushed to my cousin's house in Tirupattur to watch the show.

Just a couple of more years in Kollywood.. and he rose to stardom in Tamil Nadu.

And that was when Rangeela happened. I remember the trailers that were aired on DD Metro. They bore the words "A R Rahman's first original score in Hindi". And thus began Rahman's foray into the national scene. A few years hence 1997 happened. Vande Mataram happened. And Rahman became a son of India.

That was a problem of sorts for Tams. Cos he had to start sharing his time between Tamil and Hindi movies :( Anyway, that brought about a wave of awareness about Bollywood in the south. People in TN started singing Hindi songs to an unprecedented level (after Aradhana). And vice versa too - all my peers at IIMB from the north love Boys songs ("Woh girlfriend waali gaana..").

A few years went on like that, and Andrew Lloyd Webber (& Bombay Dreams) happened, signalling Rahman's entry into the global scene. Pride on one side, and jealousy on the other side, pulled me apart then. While happy that Rahman was making us all proud, I was upset that we would be hearing even lesser of him in Kollywood.

Anyway, I put up with that too. Kid can be given some freedom to move around on his own.

And now, Slumdog has happened. Sigh :(

Well yeah.. It's great that he (among others) is getting the world to look at us.

But I would have been much happier had this happened for one of his actually good movies. I found the music of Slumdog pretty average-ish, considering that it was from Rahman. (The O Saya bit is definitely haunting. But howmuch ever I listen to Jai Ho, I always end up finding it inadequate.)

Anyway, this is no time to crib. Namma paya gelichurukaan.. takkar matteru baa!

(Again going tangential, don't you think Rahman and Sachin have some uncanny resemblance? Behaviour, Stature - physical and otherwise, et al?)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A trip to the land of the blues - I

Trip to Mauritius: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Heyyy VishfulThinkers!

Me back after a really long hiatus. So much has happened in this period – much of it being what I would have wanted to write about. But it’s really too much to recollect and pen down now. So will stop with the most exciting experience of them all: My trip to Mauritius! My first ever journey beyond the boundaries of India.

Though it was meant to be a honeymoon, I refuse to use the word cos’ it was more like an adventure trip.

On Dec 28, the Misuss and I embarked from Bangalore. Our journey to Mauritius was through Dubai. Ya, it was a whole lot like “turning your ears and touching your nose” in a loose translation from Tamil. But that was the only route on which tickets were available for us. Enjoyed the Emirates Airbus 330 flight. Watched Lage Raho Munna Bhai and Jab We Met put together on the way. But only that the poorly made concoction was called Kismet Konnection.

Once at Dubai, we spent a good 4 hours walking around one terminal of the huuuuuuuuuuuuuge airport (There were gates numbered in the 300s! I think Chennai has around 10), ogling at the Duty Free shops and the BMWs and Benzes kept on display there, and walking up and down the travelator there.

Phew :(


(like escalators, only that these replace walking, rather than climbing)

They have prayer rooms in the airport!

Wonder what kind of such 'special' rooms we could have in our airports?

Then after catching a couple of hours of fitful sleep in an easy-chair of sorts, we finally got called to board the Boeing 777 flight to Mauritius. The flight started on the dot at 0235 hours. And my joy knew no bounds as I discovered that the in-flight entertainment collection had 260+ movies and numerous TV series. I got sooooo excited that I fell asleep at once. The 6 hour flight passed rather uneventfully. I woke up towards the end of the flight and peered out of the window. And was dumbstruck!

This is what I saw:

Can you spot the ocean below the clouds?

Look for the shadows of the clouds and waves in the water - bottom right

There was an unending expanse of this lavish splash of cool blue all around. The very sight was so refreshing. It was kinda scary too, to be hanging in the air somewhere above a vast ocean – more than two decades of relationships with terra firma have kinda spoilt me in that sense.

I woke up the Missus and pointed this out to her. Sleepily she fished her cam out of her bag and showed me this pic, in a manner of saying “How about this? I clicked this a couple of hours back”:

Clearly this was even more striking. But how could I not have the last word?

So I said “awesome”.

After ogling out of the window for a while, I turned on the TV in front of my seat. And I got the best in-flight entertainment I have ever got in life on board international flights (he he.. Technically this is true ;) ). There were a couple of channels that showed what it is to sit in the cockpit! There was a live feed from cameras placed below the nose of the plane, and it was very exciting to look at so many clouds pass by at breakneck speed.

Gradually we left the ocean behind and began flying over landmass. Pretty soon we reached the airport.

And what a sight it was!

A very quaint little airport flanked by green hills on one side and the deep blue ocean on the other. Has to be seen to be believed!

And do you know why Pilots get paid bucket-loads?

Cos you need to put up with 300+ back seat drivers. The very camera that was giving me thrills a few mins back, started giving me scares. The way the flight was going, I did not for a moment feel that the pilot was flying it in line with the runway that was closing in soon. I almost made a dash to the cockpit to turn the steering stick a bit to the left (what the heck.. it was so obvious from that cam). Somehow in a last minute manoeuvre the pilot made sure we landed on track.

And the moment the rubber hit the tarmac, it seemed like the entire crew of the aircraft had mounted itself on the brakes. The drop in speed was a bit too harsh. And then I realized why.

Remember I said it was a quaint little airport? I meant it in all senses.

If the pilot had taken time to say “Hiya Mauritius.. Here I come” before applying the brakes after landing, he would have had to say “Hiya Indian Ocean.. Here I already am” at once. The runway was toooooooooooooo short. The flight went right up to the end of the runway before taking a U-turn and slowly taking its rightful place near the exit.

The moment planes take-off, they are already above the ocean

(Pic unclear, taken thru glass)

In a few minutes, we had made our way to the visitors’ hall where we had to get our visas from one of the 20 counters. It was so bloody crowded that Ranganathan Street appeared in my inner eye for a split second.

Anyway, the formalities were done in half an hour, and we made our way out of the airport.

(Ok I do know I have not conveyed much in this post, nor are there any good pics worth a mention. But I HAD to post this, cos my good friend Toin asked me yesterday "What happened to your blog? No posts after marriage? Understandable. No more original thinking na?". So I had to undertake immediate damage control in the form of this post. Next post onwards I'll have lots to tell you :) Cheers!)