Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Call to Arms!

On the evening news, there is a thin red line drawn neatly across South India, above Kerela and moving onto the Bay of Bengal covering the Andamans. The area south of this line is coloured with a slight grey tone while the rest of the map remains clear.

This line shows the progression of the Indian Monsoon as it slowly inches forward every day. Luckily, every inch on the map is hundred of miles IRL, so it should be here soon.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the monsoons are almost here. A respite from the heat, yada yada. I don't care about that. What really matters is that the trekking season is here.

All I'm saying is that those who would like to come along on a trek anytime this monsoon (in particular the first trek, which will happen on the weekend after the first monsoon rains (most probably mid-June)), let me know (now or later) that you wish to come along. I'll remember to call you.

I've had enough of trying to get people to come along on fun things and then they're like "oh but this...". So screw it. I am going. If you want to come then you're most welcome. Otherwise, GTFO.

That is all, gentle people. That is all. Let the awesomeness begin.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

How Baccha Got His Name, According to Drunk KP (Part 1 of Many)

When he was in college, late one night he wandered the mean streets of Thane. He felt the chill cold air and it told him that danger was afoot. Being the hero that he was, he went looking for it.

A few streets down there was a lady, a princess of the night. She wore white, the kind that it is easy to see emotions written on. She was scurrying home from a hard day at work. The evil street Lord, almost invisible in the dark night, flashed his knife and closed upon her as she backed away afraid into a dark alley.

In her fear she turned to her mother language and screamed in Hindi: bachao bachao.

Our hero heard her call and answer'd with a karate-filled rage that would frighten even battle-hardened Spartans. And thus the princess was saved.

Ever since that day, our good friend always answered to the call of "bachao" and in time it was modified to Baccha, thus his name.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Surfboard Battle! (Day 3)

A beautiful morning, calm after the storm. Today was a day of sailing and surfboard battles.

We repaired the damage of the previous evening and rigged the sails and boats in the morning.

Kaizad and I decided that to truly be able to use the wind, we must understand how sailboats work. Thus, we hopped into a fast, low sailboat with a very vividly coloured sail, the "Topper".

Riding in the Topper is a charm. It just moves so effortlessly. Seen above is me leaning out to balance the boat against the wind. And it's so vibrant! Look at the reds and oranges and yellows of the sail!

We picked up the surfboards and sailed around a bit, but the main event of the day was... Surfboard Wars!

First we managed to get more than 1 person standing on the same board (Oh and the many times we fell into the water trying!). The next step? Battle! The first one to lose balance and fall into the water loses!

Surfboard Wars was incredible. Add to that the many variations of the fight and I must have fallen into the water atleast a hundred times!

In one battle of me versus Murtuza, we both valiantly refused to lose balance. At times the board was almost flipped, but we somehow kept upright. Eventually we had to revoke the 'non contact' clause and push each other off the board!

The blue sail boat (I think it's called the "Enterprise") looks beautiful. Big sails and a wide steady hull. I must try sailing this one next time.

On Day 3, we did quite a bit of windsurfing as well. By now all three of us had picked up the basics, but had difficulties sailing at angles against the wind.

A small physics discussion with Kaizad about wind and apparent wind led to new fundaes and on Day 4, we managed to sail properly. But here's the cool thing: Most often, a windsurfing board moves faster than the wind! For example, in a 7 knot wind, the surfer often travels at 11 to 12 knots and recollecting our vector mathematics from high school, this changes the apparent direction of the wind! Keeping track of all this and changing the sail direction to catch the wind was Day 4, which you shall read tomorrow. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

EPIC Day 2

Day 2 of windsurfing. Today we learn to sail. Or atleast that's what the plan was. Nature, it seems, decided otherwise. We didn't learn sailing on Day 2, but it proved to be a more epic day than I've seen in ages.

It started very well. We got the sails going, learnt about how to steer (it involves turning the whole sail and shifting it's position!) and how to stand in a sailing position. It's amazing - turn the sail, force it into the wind and hold on - the wind carries you forward effortlessly!

The winds were really exciting on Day 2. Perfect sailing weather for quite a while. They got out the fancier sailboat and the 29er (a high performance skiff that tends to capsize rather easily!).

The 29er is bloody fast. Seen here overtaking the light blue sailboat whilst going upwind. The little Opti sailboats and the kayaks were all around, having a good time.

And then it hit.

A massive thunderstorm picked up while we were all out at sea.

I was out beyond the bend as the winds were picking up, unable to control the sail or the board. Kaizad and Parry came up in kayaks to rescue me. Kaizad tried for a bit, but could not hold the sail up either. We headed back in our kayaks and Parry took the sail.

Rowing back in waves bigger than most seas in dingy little boats was madness. Every moment we didn't row, the wind and current carried us away from our heading. But we reached shore eventually and by now the wind was really picking up.

Now there was a kid in one of those tiny opti sailboats out in the waves as well. His boat had not only capsized (turned over on the side) but actually overturned (upside down). It was impossible for him to upright it. At the edge of our visibility, a rescue party was launched.

A 2-man kayak headed towards him, battling high waves and impossible winds. We were scurrying around carrying the boats out of water, tying up the sails and what-not. It was hard work with the rain pelting down upon us.

The kayak eventually reached the opti, but the visibility was less than 150m and we had no idea what was happening to them. We launched our own land-rescue effort - carried a bunch of rope and traversed the shoreline towards them.

Eventually we could see the overturned opti sailboat, but there was no sign of the kayak or the 3 people who should have been there. One sailor planned to sail out to the opti whilst carrying rope and then we from the land would pull it in.

But alas, this is when the hail hit us. Yes, real hail. Stones of ice. Ouch, that hurts. And we crouched trying to protect our heads from the hail. Clearly now our rescue would be impossible as we sought shelter near a wall.

All the while we could (just about) see the sailboat, but no people, wondering where they were. Eventually we braved the hail and ran back to camp.

And there we waited for the storm to pass.


Eventually (hours later actually), all the boats and people were rescued. The kid in the opti really played it well. He didn't freak out, just held on to the boat for his life. One windsurfing board had been lost, but everyone was alive and kicking. In retrospect, the storm was an amazing experience. It really showed us how vulnerable we are to the winds and the surf.

Our first first-hand experience at disaster rescue. Sigh. I want to go back to Khadakvasla now.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wipeout! (Windsurfing Day 1)

Abhiroop, Kaizad and I went windsurfing last week. It was a 4-day sailing camp at Kharagvasla Lake and we had an absolutely incredible time.

Our first look at the lake. Breathtakingly beautiful, calm with a little breeze. Colourful toppers and white sailboats and green shade. We just handed out high fives 'cuz this was going to be awesome!

We soon jumped into the lake with our surfboards. Within 10 seconds of trying to climb on the board, everyone had fallen off! WIPEOUT! Here are some epic Wipeouts:

Board-balancing is one tough step. It takes a lot of quick reflexes and fear of falling into water to succeed. But wiping out is fun too.

Here is me doing some surfboard acrobatics:

By the evening, we had gotten the hang of balancing on them boards. Drenched but still alive, it was time to learn to lift the sail out of the water:

That sail is huge, and even though it's quite light once it's in the air, lifting it is quite difficult with all that water on it. Lifting it whilst ensuring that you don't fall off is... well it takes a few tries.

We felt quite like trapeze artists, balancing on surfboards while juggling sails etcetra. Our arms also felt quite dead from all the kayaking and paddling. For you see, since we cannot sail yet, we tend to drift along the water. The only way to get back is to tow the damn thing back. Ever tried rowing? It's a lot of effort. Now think of that with a a giant sail dragging in the water!

Here's our coach-person, Parry, showing us how it's done. Effortless for him. Parry is a really nice guy and was always looking out for us. He also hangs his mobilephone around his neck while surfing. Pure badass.

Oh, and look: Cute little sailboats! (called "Optees")

And now we head to Pune to meet Krishna, party and watch a movie ("Hot Tub Time Machine"). Unfortunately we only managed to get dinner and fall asleep. Ah how tired we were. Ah how happy we were.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Prediction

In the future (~100 years or so), humans will derive a major chunk of their daily energy requirements from direct photosynthesis. We will have injected such genes into our DNA to make our skin create sugars instead on Vitamin D on exposure to sunlight. It just seems like the way to go.

Mom will still crib that I don't 'eat' enough though.