Map making



In “The Case Against Cosmic Justice” I’d brought up how (IMO) randomness was the key driver of the universe, and that pretty much every other concept (God, karma etc) was a narrative fallacy. I think that requires a little editing. To use a phrase from “Sapiens”, these other concepts aren’t really fallacies, they are inter-subjective realities. That means it they are belief systems that a lot of people share and agree to. e.g. money, nations. This is different from subjective reality – my personal reality as I experience it or choose to see it e.g. Salman Khan should be in jail for killing people, and objective reality – one which exists irrespective of anyone’s belief systems e.g. gravity. More

Tippler on the Roof

On one of those Sundays when we felt like visiting a completely new place, we chanced upon Tippler on the Roof on Zomato and decided to make a trip to Indiranagar. I think mid-morning trips in Bangalore are also instances of time travel – not only do you cover distances much faster, you also start noticing old buildings and establishments that are usually blocked from view thanks to traffic. Meanwhile, from the address, (map) I figured that TotR had replaced Khaaja Chowk.

I remember Khaaja Chowk having an alfresco section, but there’s a retractable roof now. The layout itself has been completely changed. There’s a stage and some plush sofas next to it. Seating is mostly along the remaining three walls with a few tables in the central space. These are mostly functional seating with a touch of grunge. The walls are where Russia meets pop culture. Star Wars and Breaking Bad posters hang out with Stalin and Communist propaganda. Makes for an interesting mix!

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Sounds like a brand

An earlier post’s title was reasonably self explanatory -“Convenience & Choices“, but to summarise, I had dwelt on the abundance of choice we have on all fronts these days, and its (inverse) relationship with conscious choice. I’d quoted from a wonderful article on the death of video stores, The enemy of video stores was convenience. The victim of convenience is conscious choice. The post was subjective, and more a consumer/individual perspective, but what does it to the supply side, or specifically, brands?

Would it be fair to say that convenience is an enemy of brands as well? Let me explain. There are ‘brands’ that have been built on the proposition of convenience. Given the internet’s penchant for eliminating middlemen who do not provide its kind of value, and its ability to create convenient interfaces, everything from Google and Amazon downwards is built on the idea of convenience. That’s not what I am talking of. My line of thought is whether convenience (also) leads to a certain kind of commoditisation – it becomes not so much about what I want, but more about how easily I am getting it. So long as the product/service is comparable in terms of price and value proposition, and not necessarily superior, I’d be fine. The premium is on ease and time, and not on the brand/product.  More

To a Mountain in Tibet

Colin Thubron

Mount Kailas has been circling my mind space for a long while now, thanks to it being at an intersection of two of my favourite themes – Hindu mythology and travel. A peak that has never been scaled, but a mountain that has witnessed the circumambulation of scores of pilgrims across centuries. Personally, that made it more interesting to me than a standard travelogue.

The mountain is considered holy by two among the world’s biggest faiths – Hinduism and Buddhism. This is in addition to Bon, a native religious tradition of Tibet. Ravana, Hanuman, Nyo Lhanangpa all find a presence in the holy trek. More

Morocco Code : Saad no more!


Day 9

Sigh, the last day of our vacation. The nice folk at the riad gave us a good breakfast, and set us off on our half day tour. Our guide’s name was Khaled, and the first stop was less than 100m away! The Palais de la Bahia, part of the Jewish quarters, was built by the king’s vizier(s) as a harem, and later occupied by the French, who did that by throwing out their host! Only a portion of this palace is open to the public, but it does live up to its name in terms of craftwork – brilliant!

Khaled was not very jovial and preferred dry sarcasm and sharp verdicts – the original occupants of the palace being his victims in this context. But he knew what he was talking about, and seemed to be well respected judging from the way he was greeted as we walked around. It was not the typical familiar greetings that tourist guides normally get.

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Morocco Code : Courtyard or death?


Day 8

The scene from the previous day’s breakfast played out again, except we changed the battleground – to another table. The bees really did like the other table – we weren’t disturbed, and the poor folks sitting on that table were busy swatting them away!

We set out a little late to Marrakesh since the distance wasn’t much. Ismael Lo was the soundtrack for the drive, some amazing music. We made a couple of stops on the way, or rather D did. The first was an Argan cooperative. The fruit of the Argan tree is used to make oil for cooking as well as cosmetic purposes. D was given a demo of the whole process, and finally bought flavoured soap, even as I snoozed in the car. The next stop was also Argan based. Apparently, goats like the leaves so much that they were willing to climb the tree for it. We stopped for photos. (and barely took them before their owner came around to ask for a tip!)

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Morocco Code : Ess, more please!


Day 7

We woke up around 9 only because breakfast would be served only until 10. The riad had a lovely terrace, and we chose a table that gave us a view of the beach and beyond. Some bees apparently liked the table too. After attempts from both sides, the bees successfully shooed us away! The staff very kindly sent the breakfast to our room.

Essaouira, formerly Mogador, (that sounds so GoT!) seemed to have a very active market, and Marrakech was the only stop left, so we planned to exert our shopping muscles a bit. The WIFi was working fine and we mapped our entire walk. It helped that the routes were pretty straight forward and the places weren’t far off. Our first stop was supposed to be the Bab Doukkala, but we managed to distract ourselves and wander into the side lanes. There were a couple of shops which made some very interesting figurines with vehicle spare parts, cutlery, cameras etc. We reached Bab Marrakech, another corner of the medina, before we realised we had forgotten our original destination.

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Morocco Code : The coast is clear!


Day 6

Breakfast was standard fare, except for an omelette that arrived in a tajine, and some excellent vanilla yogurt! We checked out from Riad Maktoub, and happily got into the car, when Hisham told us that we’d be walking up. That took us about 20 minutes, and we were early enough to miss the crowds that would soon arrive from Marrakech. The site is a kasbah which apparently still has a few families staying inside. The rest of the population had shifted to the opposite side of  the river, (that looked more like a stream) because it had electricity, transportation etc.

On the way up, we met “Picasso Abdullah”, who painted using indigo, saffron and tea+ sugar. The fantastic part of it was how the colours changed when he heated the paper. This was an old ‘encryption’ technique, he said. Ait Benhaddou has also appeared in Hollywood fare, (including Gladiator) and more recently as Yunkai in Game of Thrones. The view from the top was fantastic.



Morocco Code : Ain’t Hollywood, but..


Day 5

The sun apparently woke up early in this part of the world. So we did too, to watch it rise. 6’o clock, brutal! A little over an hour on camels took us back to Yasmina. Though we had to ask for some tech support in between, the bath felt really refreshing. The breakfast brought us back from our elated state – stale, and the worst mint tea we had on the trip. But, to be fair, they’re in the middle of nowhere, so things must be tough to maintain.

We returned the way we came, and chose to skip an archaeology museum visit on the way. For the second day running, we had a long way to go – close to 400km.

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Morocco Code : Enter sand man!


Day 4

We had a day long drive ahead, and had to make an early start. Breakfast done, we set out, towards the Sahara. We first passed a town called Ifrane. Set in the Middle Atlas, this town is locally called the Switzerland of Morocco and has snow during its winter months. Its “hill station” image meant that it had a huge number of villas which were apparently rented out for weeks. The town is also famous for the Al Akhawayn university.

Next up was Azrou, which means ‘great rock’, and is home to forests where the Barbary macaque is found. We stopped at what seemed a tourist spot. Our first attempt to shoot a family pic resulted in an NSFW image! We also caught an aspiring Formula 1 driver! More