Sunday, February 22, 2009

One Night in the Panther Cage - III

It was only fifteen minutes since Shvaana started sleeping again. He felt subconsciously something strange happening nearby. But the pleasant warmth of the woolen cover helped him to continue his sleep. His right leg was very close to the partition. Shvaana's left hand also was somewhat near the partition as he was lying on the right side of his body. There were no dreams as well as he had just started his sleep.

Within a moment, Shvaana felt that there was an earthquake in that place. Shvaana woke up with a jerk as he was in shock. The male panther had just entered the cage and the front door had closed promptly. He heard the roar of the panther who had just become his mate in the cage. Shvaana was in high anxiety and fear. He was sweating and even slightly pissed. The panther was just roaring a few more times. Even though Shvaana was very near to the partition, the panther did not even attempt to harm him by any means. Shvaana was shocked to such an extent that he did not realize that.

After a couple of minutes, Shvaana's brain started functioning again. He slowly realized that he was in no danger due to that panther. His intelligence suddenly gave him a spark that he had talked with Tommy just a while ago. The enlightened Shvaana asked the panther, "What is your name? " To his surprise, the panther did not reply but roared again. However, the panther started speaking after few anxious seconds, "I am Chiru. Who are you, buddy?" Shvaana told that he was a research scholar at IIT and furhter narrated the story behind his adventure in the cage from the previous night. Chiru listened patiently.

Shvaana slowly came to the present moment and asked, "You came into the cage to eat me. But you did not even try to harm me till now." Chiru replied, "Not really. I am least bothered about troubling you. I wanted to go back to the park which is my home. So, just entered this cage." Shvaana told, "I can not quite get your intention. If you had wanted to go to the park, you could have gone by yourself." Chiru was not amused by Shvaana's logic, "The security guys will drop me there tomorrow. By the way, this is none of your business. I have talked enough with you, now I want to have a nap. Do not disturb me."

Shvaana wanted to talk with Chiru for some more time. He was disappointed that Chiru did not want to interact with him. He wanted to pester Chiru some more and convince him to talk. Shvaana told, "I also want to have a nap. I feel that I will not meet you again any time soon. Even if I meet you later, I will not be as protected as I am now." Chiru intervened, "Do you mean that I can not reach you now? I have the capacity to break this partition and eat you. As I already said, I do not want to harm you." Shvaana just ignored that possibility for the moment and continued, "That is alright. What I wanted to tell was, I want to interact with you for 2 more hours till the security guys reach here." Chiru patiently listened without accepting or rejecting Shvaana's proposal.

After a long thought, Chiru replied, "Your proposal seems to interest me a bit and you also seem to be a nice guy. So, I can consider talking with you for a while." Shvaana got excited, "Oh! Great! Tell me about your experience in the IIT over the past few days." Chiru got angry, "I have not accepted your proposal yet. I think you humans have very less patience. I get very annoyed with such creatures. For your sake, just wait for few minutes. Do not try to intimidate me till then, you might be in danger then." Saying this, Chiru closed his eyes and went to some elevated state. It was five minutes past four in the morning. Shvaana used this spare time to eat some more biscuits with honey. He even had some grapes and was quite occupied with his early morning snacks.

Chiru gradually opened his eyes after 5 minutes. Shvaana was fully occupied with eating stuff and did not realize that Chiru was available. Chiru started talking with a smile, "I reckon you do not want to feed any thing to your latest buddy." Shvaana turned towards Chiru as he heard these words and tried to escape by saying, "Not at all. I was still thinking that you were in silent mode and did not want to disturb you." Saying that, he offered Chiru all the stuff he had with him. Chiru ate two biscuits with honey and told, "You will be glad to know that I have decided to talk with you as you had requested." Shvaana was delighted hearing this.

Chiru continued, "But... There are some rules you must follow if you do not want me to quit the conversation in between. You have to agree to the rules if the deal has to be finalized." Shvaana had some suspicion on the rules and told, "I assume that the rules will not harm me in any sense." Chiru smiled and said, "No. Unless you violate them." This reply was a bit puzzling for Shvaana. Yet he trusted Chiru and asked, "I agree to whatever rules you impose. Let me know the rules fast. Time is running out. It is already four fifteen."

Shvaana, however, did not foresee how complex the rules would be and what were the dangers if he violated them.

(To be continued...)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One Night in the Panther Cage - II

It was around 1 AM. Shvaana was in deep sleep. He was awakened by a noise at a fair distance from him. He could hear fast footsteps of dozens of creatures approaching him from the direction of hostel 1. He remembered that there was only one panther in the campus and was relieved that there was least chance of them being panthers. However he could see those four-legged creatures which were around 200m away from him now. He got up, made some noise and shook the cage a bit. His noise sounded quite like barking of a stray dog.

To his relief, they were all institute-animals commonly dubbed as dogs elsewhere. He could see them clearly in the moon light. Dogs were quite common in the IIT campus and their primary shelters being the messes and canteens spread across the campus. It was not a surprise for Shvaana when he spotted those dozen dogs. He shouted at them and glared consistently as they approached his cage. One of the dogs from the gang stopped near the cage to have a word with him. That dog seemed to be the most sympathetic creature out of the gang.

The male dog asked Shvaana, "Who are you? Why have you been locked in this panther cage?" Shvaana was quite surprised that the dog talked with him in English. He replied without any direct answers to the dog's questions, "How come a dog speak such a wonderful English? I can not believe my eyes!" The dog replied to his query, "You are a dog. If you can speak good English, so can I." Shvaana was surprised that the dog recognised him as another dog and had no comments whatsoever. By then all the other dogs had slipped into the darkness and sped away from that place.

Shvaana asked the dog, "What is your name?" The dog replied, "My name is quite complex. You can not pronounce it properly is suppose. My nick name is Tommy. You can call me like that." Shvaana was happy that he got a good companion to talk with whom he would be able to kill some time. Tommy asked him, "What are you doing at IIT?" Shvaanah told, "I am a Research Scholar here". Tommy quipped, "Oh! PhD student, really great!" Shvaana offered Tommy some grapes and honey. Tommy saw the biscuits lying with Shvaana and wanted to eat that too. Shvaana gave some biscuits as well to Tommy without much enthusiasm. Tommy was delighted with Shvaana's kindness and smiled at him.

Shvaana told the whole story to Tommy involving why he was locked in the panther's cage. Tommy listened to the whole story patiently. Tommy then asked, "You have not yet asked me why we were running very rapidly?" Shvaana realized that he forgot to ask the main question to Tommy. He asked, "Yes. I am very eager to know. Tell me the reason why you were running." Tommy was very jovial till then. Slowly his face became serious while he started narrating his story. Tommy replied, " Actually we sensed that the panther which is now in IIT campus was just somewhere near Sameer. So, we wanted to run towards lake side or hostel 12 to save ourselves." Tommy paused after that.

Shvaana looked stunned hearing that the panther was somewhere nearby. Even though he was within a cage, he was not prepared to come face-to-face with the panther that night. Shvaana tried to laugh it away, " Are you serious? Or just giving some arbitrary reason for your mad run?" Tommy told, "I am damn serious. You are my pal now. Why should I lie to you?" Shvaana was pretty upset with that answer though it was quite correct. Tommy told, "I can not stay here for long. You are protected inside the cage. I am not protected and panthers love to eat dogs. Time has come for me to leave."

Shvaana did not want his friend Tommy to get into trouble by staying with him. Shvaana told, "Thanks a lot for your information about the panther. Is there any chance that panther will not come in this way today night?" Tommy replied, " I think chance of that panther coming here is almost 100%. If there is no possibility, why should the security officer leave you as bait in the cage?" Shvaana was amazed with Tommy's logic, though it was not favorable to him. Shvaana started sweating even though it was pretty cold. He slowly got nervous with the reality which beckoned him very shortly.

Shvaana slowly became dehydrated and cursed the security officer for not leaving a drinking water bottle with him. Fear started growing on him as Tommy slowly became impatient and afraid about his stay with Shvaana. Tommy said jokingly, "Okay Shvaana. Let us be friends from now on. Meet you sometime later. I have to leave now, otherwise I might need to be in the panther's stomach." Saying this, Tommy ambled away from Shvaana towards the QIP quarters area. It was about 2 AM. Shvaana could not get any sleep after that. He could not think anything other than the panther . He did not realize that even if panther entered cage, he was not in any danger unless he stretched his arms or legs through the partition.

One hour passed. It was 3 AM. There were no signs of Panther yet. Sleep engulfed Shvaana again and he folded into the woolen cover. The inevitable happened rather immediately.

(To be continued...)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

One Night in the Panther Cage - I

Panther cages are used in IIT as traps to catch the panthers which intrude into the campus via lake from Sanjay Gandhi National Park. These cages are often active when many inmates of the campus spot panther over a period of time. A typical panther cage has a unique design with doors on both the sides and a partition inside. A dog is often kept as a bait for the panther from one door and it is tied to the cage. The door is then closed. When a panther enters the cage via the other door, the partition prevents the panther from eating the dog. Further, the second door is automatically closed as soon as the panther enters the cage. The captured panther is then sent to the park next day.

One day, Rhino, Hippo, Vulture, and Shvaana ('dog' in sanskrit) decided to climb the Sameer hill in IIT campus. They were all PhD students (commonly called with more respect as 'Research Scholars') at IIT. They left the hostel 12 at 5PM and took the path near the fencing to reach the base of the hill. On their way, they could see a panther cage kept near hostel 1. They slowly climbed the hill on a cement road and reached a place where another panther cage was kept at 6:15 PM. Shvaana was feeling a little dizzy and waited near the cage while others climbed towards the hilltop along the steep slope. Shvaana was feeling quite bored and was playing some games on his friend God's cellphone which he had carried along.

Meanwhile, many campus people cited a panther at different places over the past two days. Two security personnel at IIT received the panther alert and wanted to capture the panther that night. One was an officer and the other was his assistant. They came in a institute van along with a trained dog (to be used as bait) through the QIP quarters road. The dog somehow sensed that these guys were going to use him as the bait and found an opportunity to jump out of the van, managed to escape. Security personnel followed the dog till Ananta bulding which was some 200m away, but he vanished in the darkness.

Around 7PM, security guys lost the hope of capturing the dog. They prayed to the God to enable them to spot some dog in the vicinity. They slowly reached the panther cage where Shvaana was standing playing with the mobile. The guys who had climbed the hill up were coming down as well. Security officer's eyes lit up when he saw Shvaana standing near the cage. He thought that his problem was solved as Shvaana could substitute for the dog which had fled and escaped sometime back.

He approached Shvaana and asked him to help out by staying as bait inside the cage the whole night. Shvaana was initially puzzled what to do. After much deliberations, the officer convinced him. Being a childish person, Shvaana was pumped up and was thrilled about this (mis)adventure. The security officer locked Shvaana in the cage from one door. He left Good Day biscuits, grape fruits, honey, badam nuts, and an woolen cover with Shvaana. The officer and his assistant promised to come at 6AM in the morning and thanked Shvaana and his friends before leaving in their van. His friends did not want to leave Shvaana alone and wanted to spend time with him. However, they had no other option as the cage could accommodate only one person as bait. If they had stayed outside the cage and encounter the panther, they would be the first ones inside his/her stomach.

Shvaana was completely safe as he was fully protected from panther by the partition and just that there was a small possibility that he had to share the cage for sometime with the panther. Rhino, Hippo, and Vulture wished Shvaana 'Good Luck'. They were a bit worried about the possibility that Shvaana would be in trouble. They were hungry and wanted to go to hostel for dinner. It was getting dark as well. Shvaana offered them the eating stuff he had. The friends did not want to eat that and leave Shvaana hungry in the night. They finally decided to meet him the next day morning to listen to his experience. Rhino, Hippo, and Vulture slowly started walking towards the hostel half-heartedly.

Shvaana was sitting alone inside the cage 7:30PM onwards. The atmosphere was quite silent and there were no human beings around. He could occasionally hear sound of birds in the nearby trees. He could also see the lights in the Ananta building and some people having a walk on the balconies of that building. Fortunately he had a wrist watch to keep track of time. The cage was big enough to allow him to have a comfortable small nap. He ate some of the stuff which were with him and started his nap inside the woolen cover around 9PM. There were no signs of the panther. It was a very pleasant sleep. Even his girlfriend, who always appeared, evaded his dreams that night.

It was around 1AM in the morning when Shvaana's sleep was slightly disturbed by something quite unusual.

(To be continued...)

Friday, February 13, 2009

'Fraud' Haddin ?

Brad Haddin is a typical Australian cricketer who imbibes in him the win at all cost attitude. Last week, I saw his attempt at cheating against New Zealand. This video confirms his cheating. Already he is being dubbed as 'Bad Hands' for his poor keeping. In the last series against India, he tried to stop a ball by throwing his gloves on it. This latest cheating against NZ is another of innumerable acts to justify the ulterior motive behind a typical Australian cricketer to win doing whatever he can.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Trip to Mani's Lunch Home

Here is a blog post from Swanand, my friend, on our trip to Matunga today (to eat!).

Sunday, February 01, 2009

An Open Letter to Roger Federer

Dear Federer,

I was very excited about watching the Australian Open Final between you and Nadal. If you had won today's match, you would have equalled Sampras' record. I am writing this letter just after your today's match to let you know of the feelings of your fan (that is myself). This letter is just a reflection of my emotions after viewing the heart-breaking result.

I reached my hostel common TV room where the fans of Nadal outnumbered your fans, I started watching the match from the first game and was shocked when you got broken in the first game itself. You managed bring all your skills into action in the second game to break Nadal's serve. Though you produced your trademark shots every now and then, you were more worried than ever in a Grandslam final. Still you could keep yourself in contention by sheer determination.

The first set was filled with many twists and turns. I think you were a bit circumspect as you got broken thrice which is quite unlike you. In the process you lost the set 5-7. I was stunned. I sensed that the inevitable loss to Nadal was nearer than expected as he repeatedly targeted your backhand, both during serves and in the rallies. I left the TV hall to my room as I was emotionally pretty down as the Nadal fans became more and more vociferous.

The only option to me was to leave the hostel itself for sometime as my room is quite near the TV room and the shouting of the Nadal fans were quite audible even with the doors closed. I went to the salon for a hair-cut after informing my friends Swanand and Prakash who were watching the second set though they insisted that I should not leave. I simply did not want to see you losing to Nadal as he kept on targeting your backhand.

While I was in Salon, Swanand called me and told that you had captured the second set 6-3. I had mixed emotions in the Salon, though my instinct conveyed me that you would not go down without a fight. When I reached the TV room after 1.5 hours, you were 6-6 with Nadal in the third set. I did not have the courage to see the tie-break and went for bath. When I came back, I saw that you had lost the tie-break 3-7. Then, you were in top form again in the fourth set even though I did not have the patience to watch it fully.

I finally reached the TV hall when you had won the fourth set 6-3. I was pretty confident that the fifth set would be very fiercely fought though you had drained out by then. You gave a tough resistance to Nadal even when going down 2-6 in the fifth set. For me, today was another day when Nadal with his constant running around and hitting time and again to your backhand frustrated you and in the process won the match. Losing is a part of sportsman life, you need not get dejected with today's loss.

For fans like me, you are still the Best in this world. You might not have matched the speed of Nadal today but some of the points you produced through your stunning winners would live for a long time in my memory. I am very sure that you will come with new plans for Nadal's strategy today and you have the ability and skill to defeat Nadal in the French open this year. I just wish that you do not get bogged down by this defeat as you are no more a No. 1 player officially. That is a good cushion to have with you.

When Sampras was playing, I had decided that I would stop watching tennis once he retired. You came into the arena that time and were (are) a notch above Sampras. My interest in tennis increased many folds watching your game. Grand Slam wins 13 or 14 are nothing but mere numbers. The diverse skills you display on a tennis court have no match. To reiterate, you are still the best tennis player in this world. Please do not care about the journalists who thrive on writing articles for money citing statistical data and your vulnerabilities.

I sincerely hope that you will produce a lot more great games of tennis and entertain your fans the years to come. I have stopped watching Women's tennis for years since the retirement of Henin as I hate the games of Williams sisters and the innumerable Russian girls who play nowadays. I take pride in saying now that I will stop watching tennis altogether when you retire. I totally dislike players like Nadal who play the game using their brawns rather than brains. Only when another person of atleast 10% of your class and finesse arrives on the scene, I will again start watching the sport.

I strongly feel that you need to be in the scene for a long time from now to delight us with your amazing skills. You need not worry about Nadal or any other hostile thing for that matter. Even if they defeat you, you are the very best in this world at the moment. Such failures often occur in life to anyone. There can ever be only one Roger Federer. You have taken the game of tennis altogether to a higher plane.

Thanks for the lot of amazing moments of joy you have given us over a period of time. Expecting a lot more such moments in near future. You are very precious for fans like me.

Sincerely,

Your Die-hard Fan