ಬಹುಶ: ನಾನು ಬರೆಯಬಹುದಾದ ಯಾವ ಕ್ರತಿಗಾದರೋ, ಈ ಷಟ್ಪದಿ ಒ೦ದು ಅಲ್ಪ ಪ್ರಾರ೦ಭ.
ನಾನೇನು ಬರೆಯಲಿ ಕವನ೦, ಹನಿಗವನ೦
ಇನ್ನೂ ಓದಿ ಮುಗಿಸಿಲ್ಲ ಬೀಚಿ೦, ಕೈಲಾಸ೦.
ಹೇಗೆ ತಾನೆ ಬೆಳೆಸಲಿ ಸಣ್ಣ ಕಥೆ, ಕಾದ೦ಬರಿ
ಬಣ್ಣಿಸಲಾರೆ ನಾ ಈ ಕವಿಗಳ, ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರಗವಿಗಳ ಶ್ರೇಷ್ಟತೆಯ ಪರಿಯಲಿ.
ಇನ್ನೂ ಓದಿಲ್ಲ ನಾನು ಕಾರ೦ತ, ಡಿವಿಜಿ
ಅಯ್ಯೊ! ಮತ್ತೆ ಮರೆತೆ ಬೊಮ್ಮನಹಳ್ಳಿಯ ಕಿನ್ನರಜೋಗಿ
This is my first published effort at writing (no technical literature doesn't count). This is perhaps the only one, but in any case, it is a disclaimer to what I might write. This is a six-liner, the title is "first six-liner". The influence perhaps is Jagjith Singh and the ghazals he has voiced. Specifically, the category of Urdu literature called "misra", a six-liner that often dejects life, love and the God.
The last two days of month of July were the first reflections of the deep technology dependency of the modern era in the lives of Indians. Or is it?
On July 30th and then on 31st, we saw the avalanche collapse of the Indian power grid. On the 30th, the northern region collapsed and on the 31st, it took down the eastern and north eastern regions with it. These days saw a total load loss of about 36000MW and 48000MW respectively (according to the report published thereafter). I have no idea about the total impact of these events, may it be in terms of the number of people impacted or the financial loss. The official report that I have had the chance to read don't even make a mention.
This event brought out many technical, political and social outcries. The Ministry of Power, Govt. of India had many press briefings and the then Minister of Power, Mr. Sushilkumar Shinde made many press appearances. He had his political cards, but failed to make any technically or even political correct statements, in my opinion.
Having said that, I am not that pessimistic about the technology side of the whole affair. I am not suggesting that the event was a positive experience. It, most certainly, was the difficult hours for the people stuck in trains, elevators, etc. But I would bet my money that most people did not realize, at least in the beginning, that the event was not the typical one they experience every other day. Most people who have not lived in India don't realize that most Indians do not take electricity for granted like the people who live developed countries. They perhaps find it hard to believe, but its true.
For instance, my mom makes sure that she prepares everything that she needs before 8am on Tuesdays. Because, by definition, Tuesdays my town gets its turn for "load shedding". From 8am in the morning, till perhaps 6 or 7PM, we will not have power. We just live with that, we have to. It gets worse in summer, and worst in drought years. That's when we get unscheduled "load shedding". We still live with that.
Much of India has not seen electrification but of the many places that has, most will have some sort of backup power, like diesel (petrol, kerosene) generators (most buildings that have an elevator will have a one, I would guess), backup (battery powered, or solar or both) power sources for lighting, etc. They can survive a day or two without power and they wouldn't know. Here is the kicker, every desktop computer would be connected through an UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply). Perhaps only server rooms of the developed countries have such a power supply for computers.
But, these balckouts brought out a spectacular outrage of people, many making very strong statements on the tv, etc. (media mightier than the sword, right!! ) and bigger twitter storms. Eventually, the Govt. of India gave in and replaced the Power Minister. Yes, thats the political solution for a seemingly technical problem.
Now, it has been two months and there is still a lot of that anguish in the air. I know, I can understand how important energy is to a country which seemingly cannot tame its growth pattern. I agree with the long term strategic goals of a smarter, tech savvy grid with the "intelligent everything" features. Should we just go and invest in these technologies, that in many case don't exist. Is everything as bad as it is made out to be? Or is it simpler than that?
Mr. Gopi Katragadda, ( Managing Director at GE India Technology Center) in the above blog, argues that India should get to the smart grid very quickly and that is the panacea of all the curses of the Indian grid and its vulnerabilities. Don't get me wrong, I am a big proponent of smart grid technologies, my research is on technology similar to what many people think as being part of a smarter grid. Nonetheless, I disagree with Mr. Katragadda's proposals as both short and medium term solutions. I don't think India's current grid situation needs a smart grid approach, in the short term. There are more fundamental problems than that.
(Also, notice that many technical solutions he proposed are the fields where GE has a strong footprint, talk about marketing.)
I will give you a simple example. I was in the audience of ta discussion on nuclear power plants in the aftermath of tsunami in Japan. The panelists were many eminent experts from the power, nuclear generation industries and the faculty of the nuclear engineering dept. of MIT. One of the primary concern they all voiced is that, country like India lacks the discipline to run a large scale nuclear power plant and any incident may lead to large scale disaster given the attitude of people, emergency response infrastructure and the population density.
People, my dear friends, is the key. One of the recommendations of the TECHNICAL report on the grid failure is
Penal provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003 need to be reviewed to ensure better compliance of instructions of Load Dispatch Centers and directions of Central Commission.
Yes, that's a technical recommendation. Now, will you be surprised if I tell you that the primary cause to the blackout was anything but technical. In fact, they did not find any unexpected behavior of any component, sub-system or protectoin mechanism but of people. What did they find?
High Loading on 400 kV Bina-Gwalior-Agra link: The overdrawal by some of the Northern Region (NR) utilities, utilizing Unscheduled Interchange (UI), contributed to high loading on this tie line.
Inadequate response by State Load dispatch Centers (SLDC) to the instructions of Regional Load dispatch Centers (RLDC) to reduce overdrawal by the NR utilities and underdrawal/excess generation by the Western Region (WR) utilities
The people simply did not respond to orders coming from their peers in other control rooms. As simple as that. I bet they were sleeping comfortably, it was 2:30AM when all this happened! OKAY, stop blaming the Govt. of India now and start blaming Govt's of northern states!
P.S: I could go on, about delays in re-energizing the plants and the rest of the grid; I will end up with the same answer, very sluggish response of people to mission critical problems. But, I am glad that there are some wide-area data acquisition (PMU and sync frequency measurements, albeit in the distribution network) and how I wish I could touch that data!
Last weekend was a special weekend for me. I was in Sundance, WY riding the MS Close Encounters bike ride organized by the Wyoming chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The preparations leading to the ride was fine. I had logged about 540miles on the saddle for the last 75 days; I had multiple 50+ mile rides. I started on Friday, late afternoon and reached Sundance well before 7PM. I had enough time to register, have my "foot-long" and set-up my tent. It so happened that the school's Outdoor Programs Office could not rent me a sleeping bag. So, I was there with my comforter, hoping that it would be just fine. Fine it was!
The evening was cool. I had time to chit-chat with fellow campers, all of them were members of the team Bioness Vitesse. It got dark and I found myself reading a Kannada short story book under the street light. Soon, I decided to call it a night and got back to my tent. I could not sleep for some reason, and I felt very cold. Apparently, it is very difficult to sleep just with a sleeping-pad and a comforter with the temperatures under 40deg F. Listening to podcasts did not help my case.
As the morning approached, I got very keen to get up and get going. By 6:00AM, I was at the breakfast, trying to see if I can meet up with some familiar faces. I saw KB and TB. I rode with them for Team Pokes last year, this year 4 members of our team had missed out. Anyway, we agreed to ride together as long as we can, or I should say as long as I could keep up with them.
We started at 7 with the team Megasorasses, who raised the highest amount of money and get the privilege, rightfully so, of leading the ride. Just a couple of miles out of town, we were on the century loop. Myself, KB and TB were the first 3 to enter the century loop.
Century loop is an additional 14 mile or so to complete 100 miles in the day. What makes this part of the ride specially attractive is that it's a climb all the way to the top of a mountain. 7 Miles of pure climbing. If it interests you, here is the climb profile.
I should mention that I am not much of a climber, my bike is not very well suited for climbing either. But one thing helped a lot - elevation. Laramie is at an elevation of 7300ft. Sundance is at about 4700ft. You can feel the difference in the thickness of the air, you really can. Anyway, back to the ride. Soon, KB, being an expert rider, broke away from us and somehow TB was behind me. But then a familiar face from the previous night's camp-side chat was riding next to me, Mr. C. For the next hour or so, we had one long conversation, as we tackled the mighty climb. Doing 5miles an hour on a steep long climb isn't exactly fun. But we managed it, by talking about power system, engineering as career choice, politics, federal elections and fibrosis, which is what C works on. He also happens to be a MS patient. A lot of people passed us, but we weren't bothered about it at all. It's not a race!
At some point before we reached the peak, C broke away from me. I just tried to hang in there, and enjoy the ride, the scenery - the Black-Hills National Forest. I did reach the top of the Warren peak, took a few minutes and talked to the volunteers waiting for us. They gave me this badge for completing the century loop. But somewhere on the way, I had already achieved my goal, to make friends with an MS patient.
Coming down was a real cyclist experience! It is very difficult to put that in words. And then, to realize that you went up that very hill, just quadruples the excitement. Imagine going down a 6% slope at 40mph, on zig-zag roads. I was bloody scared to touch the breaks. I knew if I did not break going into a corner, I was gonna hit the railings. I knew if I could not break very quickly, for that will be disaster. Its such an adrenaline rush, to use both the lanes on the road and find it not wide enough for your 45mph turns! I was out of the century loop very quickly, I must have done the return trip in 10 mins or less. But by that time, most people had covered a lot of distance on the main course and there were only 2 people behind me. I was the third one to enter the loop and positioned last but three when I exited.
Anyway, I would catch up with them soon, I thought to myself. At that same time, the two people who were behind me, passed me. I was the last person on the ride and I remained so for the next 20miles. Soon, I was going through rest-stops every so-often as I could. I did catch up with people, by the time I was at lunch stop, which is about 50mile mark for me (with the century loop), there were 5 people behind me. 5 out of the 284 riders total. If you think about it, being so behind the pack can be both motivational and disastrous!
Lunch, sadly did not go well either. They had a sandwich, with some meat in it; I cant remember what it was. But I decided not to eat it. I ate an apple, a banana, a cereal bar and continued.
Rest-stops came and went, so did other riders. Some people stopped at lunch, some others stopped at various points. There are some long climbs in the post lunch ride. These climbs are not very steep, may be 3% for the most part and sharper at the peaks. But they are very long, say 3-4miles. I was going very slow, even stopped a few times to catch a breath; eat an energy-bar or two. But yet, I think I did well on these climbs. Compared to last year, I did exceptionally well.
The good part of a long climb is that you can go downhill after that. Boy! oh boy did I go! Next 30 or so miles were fast. I think I did them in a under 90minutes.
Heading back to Sundance was when I started chocking up on my own saliva. For reasons I can only guess, I started to have hick-ups. When I had about 15miles to go, I was sat down at the stop #6 and rested a bit. I had about 15miles to go, an hour or so, I thought to myself. I have done around 85 miles today and a silly hick-up isn't going to spoil my day, because I wont let it happen. I set off.
But the hick-ups got only worse. Do you ever have that feeling that your stomach is revolting against you and that your tongue seems to remember the scrambled egg you ate for breakfast? I had that exact feeling. I stopped. Got off the bike, put it down and walked around. It's all fine now.
Let's get going. And that feeling again, damn it. Lets drink some more water, may be I haven't kept up my water in-take. Some Gatorade should help, it's supposed to. I was doing 7-8 miles an hour with a light tail-wind, in my defense though, its one of those rolling-hills of Wyoming with more uphill than down.
Anyway, I stopped again, this time under a lonely tree. Leaned on the handlebar and did a quick prognosis. I think I will throw-up, any minute. Right then, a fellow rider pulled up. "Are you alright?"
"I don't know, I have this funny feeling that I am gonna throw-up, I hope not."
"You should sag! By the way, I am D".
"Hi D, thanks for stopping, I should be okay! I will have some water and get going. We are almost here, another 7 miles to go? oh, sorry! I am Guru."
"Yeah, 7 or 8. Next rest-stop is in 4-5miles. Do you have enough water?"
I had enough water and I asked him to leave and told him I will sag if I don't feel like riding. Sag is the word we use for taking a ride on the support cars, they are called sag-wags.
I just sat down on the ground, had more water. Right then, a bit of the apple and banana was on the floor. Oh! what a relief. That does it. I can only get better from here!
I sat of the bike and started riding. Some calculations - I have about 7 miles to go, at this pace I will have to ride for an hour, if I just stand up and go for an all-or-nothing effort, I will reach in 30-40minutes. Let's go.
People so easily talk about last ditch efforts, as if there is something magical about it. There is nothing. It's the greatness of people doing it. Think of famous athletes, unknown soldiers and perhaps critically ill patients. I don't know what it is that makes them do these heroic and almost magical acts of bravery, courage and strength; I am sure of that, for I gave up.
In the next half mile or so my last ditch effort dint pan-out. I stopped. I remembered what my friend KM had told me as I left Laramie. "Guru, at any time, if you feel like you can't do it, just call it quits". At that moment, I wasn't enjoying it nor did I want to continue anymore. I waved thumbs down to the sag-wag and asked him to take me back. There goes my 100 mile ride! I got a batch for the century loop, which I never completed!
After getting back to Sundance, I remember I lied down on the lawn at 3:30pm-ish. Only things I remember are signing up for the free massage, blabbering something to Mr. C, Mr. D and somebody else.
I think I passed out, asleep at least. I got up at 4:30 or something, the dinner was ready. I dint ask what it was, served myself. I met up with D again and his friend Mr. B. Had my dinner and retired for the day. Back at the Sundance High School, where we had camped. A quick shower later, I called KM and told him about the ride. He is the one who got me into it in the first place. Being a biologist, he said how remarkable human body is, that it can recover so quickly.
Fifteen minutes after that call and a Subway "foot-long" later, I saddled my Motobecane up. I rode from corner to corner of the town of Sundance. A total of 6+miles, my way of reaching my goal, may not count for anything, but it does mattered. I had a good night's sleep that evening.
I will not trouble you with the details of the day two of the ride. It suffices to say that myself, Mr. C and Mr. D rode as a peloton for good part of the ride. Some other guys also participated in breaking the wind. I stopped at the 50mile mark or the lunch break after 3 hours of riding. Had my lunch and was on my way back to Laramie, thinking how wonderful my weekend was and what may it bring to the lives of people affected by MS.
Next five hours, as I drove back to Laramie, I was just thinking what would it take to end all the diseases, hunger and suffering. We, humans have a very long to-do list!!! I think we can achieve all of it, if we want to.
Finally, I couldn't close this post without acknowledging the contributions of some of my closest friends and family. Thank you, your contribution is greatly appreciated.
Brace yourself! This is my long story of a really long ride, from Laramie, WY, from my apt to be more precise to Bear Tavern Restaurant, Centennial, WY. The plan was simple, get there for lunch and be home for high tea!
But the plan dint start out like that. Like last year, I am riding the Wyoming Bike MS, a fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis, organized by the Wyoming chapter of MS Society. The target this year is 500$ and century lap, i.e., 100miles on Day 1. Last year, I had the target of 300$ and see the finish line on Day 1; Day 2 was just a dream, I dint think I would get hat far. See my earlier blog on that, it's listed somewhere in the navigation panel.
Anyway, earlier last week, I got this reminder email from MS Society that, I have not done any fundraising so far and I need to get on it to reach my goal. And I set about thinking, how I would ask you, my friends, to help me reach that monetary goal. So, I decided on this plan, I will make a long practice ride, will write this blog and ask you to help me reach the next step.
So, Friday night I thought, I will start very early on Saturday and get back home for lunch; two things bothered me - 1. I had a dept trek on Thursday, without shoes, in my sandals, for the heck of it; 2. Played an epic badminton rally of badminton games, at the end of which, I had bruised my toes. As I hit the sack, I decided that I dint feel upto the task and should cancel my plans. As it turned out, I did get up early, was bored to death, until I found my best mates on a G+ hangout. That's right, I use G+ - just for the hangouts!! (BTW, Googlebot if you are indexing this, I wanna tell you that Google plus sucks! So does GMail these days. And the new blogger interface is pathetic and buggy. Associate all those words with Google and its trade-names/products.)
Back to the ride, Sunday was a different day. I got up late, I was totally relaxed. I wished good night to my parents and just thought, let's go. Saw the weather, 5-10mph wind in Laramie or in Centennial, temperature in the 70-80s. Charged the phone to a 100%, did my usual 3 point inspection of tires, breaks and gears, grabbed my water bottles and energy bottles. Just then I realized that the seat adjustment I had done last week was giving away and my seat had a tilt. That's fixed and I am on my way. Here is my route, thanks to mapmyride.com.
As I started, I switched on the two apps I use, Cycle Tracker Pro and iMapMyRide. I had to cross the interstate 80 somewhere and also, ride parallel to it for a couple of miles, why not ride on the shoulder! May be not. Thoughts came and disappeared; so did buildings, half an hour and I was near the Laramie Airport. A few miles more and a familiar looking car whizzed past me at 65mph, and it slowed down at a distance - it was KM, JJ and BSM. What a pleasant surprise. I told them that I plan to be in Centennial for lunch at about 2pm. Off they went their way and I started again.
Then came the Overland trail. My first stop wasn't to be before 20miles, but I was gonna stop for a instagram moment. A couple of minutes for the pic, a sip of water and I was away again. The road wasn't as smooth as it should be, I thought, for one there were a lot of pebbles on the shoulder, the road itself was very rough (may be for the snowy winters!) and there were a hell a lot of cracks on the shoulder. A friend asked me last week about how much it hurts and where it hurts, I told her that for me it was the calf muscles and as I would push through the pain, they got stiffer and stiffer and even more painful. She thought, I was rubbishing, and its the thigh muscles that should pain and not cough. May be I don't know enough about the physiology of human body but I do know where it hurts me! Anyway, I thought I should change my answer to that question entirely. It's not the calf or thigh muscles, but its my bottom that hurts the most; thanks to the large cracks; no pun intended!
Nonetheless, I had a 14miles stop, much before my regular fatigue-point. Which meant, I would do more stops than I needed. Come on, its a recreational ride, not a race. The vibration from the road, the pebbles, and cracks was showing up, not just on me, but on my machine too. The saddle was loose again, not a lot, but I would feel the change in the angle. And the was a noise, the front ball-bearings were broken, or the wheel hub, something was terribly wrong. This is the perfect day for a perfect ride and it's being ruined by a stupid bolt and cheap bearing. I stopped by the side of the road and inspected my tires, nothing was wrong. HMMM - strange but true stories - Let's try this again, with keen senses, I was observing my machine for any signs. Oh, I got it. Its the bottle cage, rattling, the screw has come out due to the vibration.
As the rattle continued, I biked along the steady slope to my destination. Soon, (in 2 hours) I was there. Cursing myself for not having got the Alan-keys to fix the seat or the bottle cage. Hell, I should carry that 300g tool-set! Before I got there, I had stopped two more times! Had eaten my energy bars and pretty much drank all water in the 2 bottles, did ~33miles in 2hour 40 minutes including the breaks, not bad, I was hoping to do 2hour 30 minutes.
Lunch was fine, had a nice pizza and black coffee, grouped with KM and family. And was ready to leave. KM told me that it was raining, I was determined to do my 100km Centennial ride, so, I just asked for a plastic bag from the restaurant guy for safe-keeping my phone. I resumed my GPS tracking apps. I had 42% battery remaining; I switched off the phone mode, reduced brightness to minimum, decided not to open it anywhere, good enough to get me home.
I started out of Centennial, a jeep guy wished me good luck - by splashing color water from the road on me; "thanks dude, appreciate it". I cannot say he did that on purpose, I will say that he did nothing to avoid it. Anyway, I had a nice tail-wind, I was doing 25+mph for the next half hour; that was nice feeling, a slight down-hill, a tail wind, a cool rainy breeze on your face and stomach full of polar bear pizza! Soon, the energy wore off and I was doing 15-17mph, still more than good enough! I made a stop somewhere and met with KM again. Good going Guru.
My good part of the day was soon coming to a slow. The tail-wind had turned into a more of side wind for a while and a N-of-NE wind soon. There were dark clouds to the horizon in all directions and the mountains were constantly lit with lightening. I was up-close with nature, closer than I needed to be. I still had a lot of ground to cover,20+ miles. To pass my time, I started playing games, missing cracks on the road, going up-down on the gears, pedaling with a single foot, mostly right foot, playing anthakshari - a game in which you sing a song with the letter previous song ends, etc., etc. I was still enjoying it, I knew my phone and valet were safe in the plastic bag, I knew time was about 4PM and that I had enough juice in me to get back home in time.
My next stop came and my games continued. I stopped until I saw a Subaru! For my bad-luck it came just as I was drinking my first sip of water after stopping. Okay - "back on the saddle, Mr. Pai" I ordered myself. 8 miles out, I could see the Laramie Airport, I had to stop again, I was tired and my last stop wasn't long enough. I leaned my bike to a reflector post on the dirt, off the shoulder and I walked around. I needed to loosen up my legs, just relax. This time, I chose wisely, I said, I am gonna wait until an convertible car shows up. A few minutes and a car did went zooming, in the rain and all.
"Let's get going. I need a nice cup of tea now. That'll be good." That wasn't to be. A single step on the bike and I realized I had a flat, the rear tire was deflated. What the be**eep. You see, when I curse, I mean it! This was really a bee**ep moment for me. "What do I do. There is nothing repair here. Let me call somebody." I open the plastic bag only to realize that my phone was off, and it wouldn't come back ON again - not this one, my "I-am-Mr.-Smarty-Pants-iPhone". My old stupid phone would have come ON for a minute and allowed me to call somebody and ask for help, not this one. The airport is not far, I could walk to the airport and call from a public phone. Who do I call, I cannot remember anybody's number of the top of my head, except my-own and my immediate family in India! I have to walk, while I am at it, let's try getting a ride.
Soon, this guy pulled over, even before I waved! "Thank you, I really appreciate you stopping. I have a flat! Can you help me?"
"I have a spare tube, I can give that to you."
"No, I haven't got any tools or a air-pump, honestly, I haven't done it before in my life!"
He looked at me as if he thought of me for a big looser. I told him, I will leave my bike at the airport and call my friend for a ride and sent him away. As he drove away, I realized, I could have just asked him for the phone! What a looser am I!
A half an hour walk and I was at the turn-off for the airport. "It cannot be more than 5miles from here to home. It will take me an hour or so. That way I can complete my 100km ride and not have to take a ride from anybody." I decided against going to the airport and started walking. It's then that I noticed that I was doing 3mph and not 5mph, that I would have to walk for nearly 2 hours. And I walked, walked, singing - "I walk a lonely road,... it's only me and I walk alone"
I waved for rides, people waved back at 65+mph, thank you. For the next 1hour 30minutes, I walked. I couldn't help thinking, if I was being foolish, stupid, immature, inexperienced, determined or a confused college-going-lad. I couldn't help thinking that I am really paying for my decision, I had no way but to walk along. That, what I thought at the moment did not help my case nor did it help my psychology, nor the burning sensation in the feet. It dint matter that it felt like there was a stone in the shoe. It felt absolutely hopeless when I still couldn't remember a single local phone number - not even one. I had done more than 4miles of walking by this time and I wasn't even in the 50mph just-outside-town speed limit. Now, I knew my situation. I have another 4-5miles to walk, easily. It will take me another couple of hours to do that. There is a fire station on this road, there is a fuel station close to that. There are also a few houses, I will walk into on of these.
But then, as if to reinforce my faith (in what?!), a fellow cyclist showed up. He offered to help change the tires, I just asked for his phone in return. I called my friend , PC, gave an absolutely pathetic description of my situation or whereabouts. I couldn't even give landmark. "Just drive to the airport, and watch out for a cyclist to wave!" - That's what I said.
My friend came, I removed the wheels and threw my bike in the back seat. Sat in the car and realized .....
With that my friends, I call upon you to help me reach my 500$ mark on Wyoming MS bike ride Fundraiser. Please visit my profile page on WY MS Society website and donate http://bit.ly/WY_BIKE_MS Thank you. Your contribution does count and your trust in me will come through, with a firm determination bordering foolishness.