Pixlr O-Matic

When I read the Pixlr-o-matic post on @NimishDubey’s CellShutterbugs.com, I was pretty impressed with the screen shots. The post was on the android app. Out of curiousity I just googled pixlr o-matic, and it looks like they have a standalone web app as well. And it produces gorgeous results. See for yourself below.

I made:




Exactly the same image. Added a filter, an overlay, and a dirty border. It looks like an authetic b/w photograph taken in the 70s and accidentally found in a Kumbakonam loft.

Mantralaya Visit

Quick trip summary:

  • Left Bangalore Friday night by SBC – Nanded Express. Leaves Bangalore City at 1045PM and supposed to reach Mantralayam Road (MALM) at 8:00AM. Reached an hour late. Apparently this is normal.
  • You will get some breakfast at Adoni. Don’t miss it. There is a good Railway refreshment stall in the MALM station itself. So in case you are blazing hungry (like we were), you can get some food right after you get down. (Recommended: Puri Subzi).
  • Took a wide body auto to Mantralayam town. We were quoted Rs. 20 per person if we were ok to split among ourselves, but Rs. 100 if we wanted a separate auto for ourselves. We took the latter option. We were an family of 4 (plus one 3 year old). The distance is around 17km. The route is here. The road quality is mostly back breaking, with stretches of good road thrown in. Takes about 45 minutes.
  • We had booked ourselves in Hotel Sriniketanam Lodge. The hotel is very average. But it is the closest to the matha. We were not going to stay the night (we took the night train back). So we were OK with booking an average room. Rates for a Regular Double Bed room (non-ac) is Rs. 250 per day. They have 2/3/4 bedded rooms and also delux and AC rooms. You can book the room online here -> http://www.sreeniketanam.com/
  • Once we checked-in, we went straight to the Tungabhadra river. We did not bathe there. The force of the water was pretty harsh. We just sprinkled water on our head (loop-hole in shashtras to avoid river bathing :)).
  • After Tungabhadra “snaana”, we went to the the Moola Brindavana (where Guru Raghavendra Swamy took Jeeva Samadhi). This is the main point to visit inside the matha. We went on Ekadasi day (We didnt know until we got to the prasadam counter!!). The advantage was that, there was very very less crowd (there are no special sevas performed on this day). The disadvantage is that, they dont even have prasad, since it is Ekadasi. (I love the Parimala Prasadam that they distribute – It is a delicious pink colored milk cake). Ofcourse the other disadvantage is, there is no ambari seva (performed by an elephant) and rathothsava (three chariots are drawn around the Brindavana – gold, silver, and navaratna). The rathotsava is indeed a pretty sight as well. But we took it on the bright side, we had several darshans of the moola brindavana. It was practically empty.
  • Then we went to the Panchamukhi Anjaneya temple. This is about 19 km. Route is here. And yes, the road is defenitely back breaking. The road is slightly better on the AP side than the KA side, and the auto-driver will ensure he comments on that :). You need to book an auto to get there, and make sure you book such that, he waits there and brings you back. The temple is in the middle of nowhere. So very difficult to get transport back to Mantralaya. The temple is in Karnataka. So you need to cross the border from AP to KA to get there. The auto guys need to get down and give some “some-thing some-thing” to the border check-post guy. 🙁 You also cross the majestic Tungabhadra river on the way. The water was in full force after the recent rains. Rate for separate auto for us was Rs 400. You can get one on the main road.
  • Lunch was at Udupi Krishna Bhavan – the only decent place there – on the main road. The tables are clean. The food is decent. Dont mind the dirty on the floor. There are big boards all around the restaurant saying – “self service. worker problem. please cooperate”. Pretty bold statement to make.
  • Went back to the room for a bit of rest. Evening 5:00ish, had tea at Krishna Bhavan, and went ‘general’ tourist shopping on the main road.
  • 6:00PM, we went back to the Brindavana for one more darshana.
  • Around 7:30ish, had dinner at Krishna Bhavan.
  • We had asked the Sriniketanam front office guy to get an auto for us at 9:00PM to get to the station. Auto was waiting at 9:00PM. Rate was Rs. 150 since it was night time.
  • Back at the station by 9:45PM.
  • We took the Udyan express back to Bangalore. Scheduled departure time at MALM at 10:20PM.
  • Scheduled arrival at Bangalore Cantt was 8:05. Reached at 9:10AM. This train is a horrible
  • We went back to the room for a little bit of a shut-eye.
Sunset at Brindavana Arch, Manthralaya.


Ant vs Grasshopper (New Version)

I got this in a chain mail yesterday. I was thinking very hard whether to post it in my blog or not. I was afraid if folks would brand me as discriminatory. After a lot of thought, I think there is nothing wrong posting this here. It is the sad truth in many parts of the country. I am not generalizing here. There may be pockets where this is not the norm. But it is the sad state of affairs.

Original Story:

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant is a fool and laughs dances plays the summer away. Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed. The Grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

Indian Version:

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant’s a fool and laughs dances plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering Grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the Ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

NDTV, BBC, CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poor Grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the Ant’s house.

Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other Grasshoppers demanding that Grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter .

Mayawati states this as ‘injustice’ done on Grasshopper .

Amnesty International and Koffi Annan criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the Grasshopper.

The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the Grasshopper (many promising Heaven & Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance) .

Opposition MPs stage a walkout.

Left parties call for ‘Bengal Bandh’ in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry. CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and Grasshoppers.

Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the ‘Grasshopper Rath’.

Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the ‘Prevention of Terrorism Against Grasshoppers Act'[POTAGA] , with effect from the beginning of the winter..

Kapil sibal makes ‘Special Reservation’ for Grasshoppers in Educational Institutions in Government Services.

The Ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, it’s home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the Grasshopper in a ceremony covered by NDTV, BBC, CNN.

Arundhati Roy calls it ‘A Triumph of Justice’. Lalu calls it ‘Socialistic Justice’. CPM calls it the ‘Revolutionary Resurgence of the Downtrodden’ Koffi Annan invites the Grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly.

Many years later…

The Ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multi-billion dollar company in Silicon Valley , 100s of Grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in India ,

….AND As a result of losing lot of hard working Ants and feeding the grasshoppers, India is still a developing country…!!


The Ordinary Heroes of the Taj Hotel

Harvard Business School professor, Rohit Deshpande, did a case study on the employees of the Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai. On the fateful day of the terrorist attack, not one of the 600 employees ran away. All of them stayed back and helped the guests evacuate. Out of the 34 people who died that night, half were staff.

Golden Gate – From Marin Headlands (Hawk Hill)

This time when I had gone to the Bay area, I lost out on a weekend, because of British Airways. I still adore the Golden Gate, and the quaint city of San Francisco. I would have hated myself, if I had not dragged myself there. So on the day of my leaving, I dragged my behind out of bed early 6AM, and off to the Marin headlands I went. Super foggy morning. Unfortunately a tad too foggy, that I could barely see the famed red bridge from top. It is a wonderful ride and you do get some other great views of the bay though. I had fun post processing these pictures though. (courtesy: ipiccy.com – my fav online image editor).

The flowers look pretty, dont they. Oh hey, there is the  Golden Gate Bridge behind too.
       The flowers look pretty, dont they. Oh hey, there is the Golden Gate Bridge behind too. (click to enlarge)
What ? Where did the bridge go?
                                                   What ? Where did the bridge go? (click to enlarge)
The other side of the bay. Fantasized in B/W.
                                           The other side of the bay. Fantasized in B/W. (Click to enlarge)
The proud steed. A relatively old Ford focus (it had 12K already on it when I rented it!).
The proud steed. A relatively old Ford focus (it had 12K already on it when I rented it!). (click to enlarge)
                            The Golden Gate posterized in an outrageous orange. (Click to enlarge)
Golden Gate in Sephia / Posterized in an outrageous orange.
                                                                  Golden Gate in Sephia  (Click to enlarge)