All posts by Ruturaj Vartak

Colours of the polling station

Doraemon, Chotta Bheem, Motu Patlu, all seemed to have breached the Model Code of Conduct or आचार संहिता. Everyone of them publicizing and displaying their strengths in full color. However the  election officials seemed to have turned a blind eye rather focusing on puny and tiny shards of papers with some silly party symbols. It seemed that the real contestants in the LS polls are these innocent characters and their paintings on school walls resembling or mimicking our aspiring leaders. Only if these leaders could give back to the public the same faith that these characters instill in the hearts of the young.

The typical school venue of an election poll booth venue, an exemplary reflection of our country’s polling and its politics. The walls off-colour with flakes of colour jumping off. The sweaty corridors of an old school reeking of musty damp walls. The only respite coming from a nice breeze stealing itself from crowded lanes of voters and a few unbalanced ceiling fans which were happy to move on to another event of 5-year term polls. These school’s air dispensers probably have witnessed the terms longer than the people it services.

Continue reading Colours of the polling station

Tu kisi rail si guzarti hai tabs and chords

This entry is part 35 of 35 in the series Guitar

The song is in the key of F.
Capo on 3rd Fret

Intro Lick

-----------------------e
-----------3----3------B
--------2---------2----G
--0-0---------------0--D
-----------------------A
-----------------------E

(x2)

Chords / Song

[D] Tu kisi rail si guzarti [G] hai
[D] Tu kisi rail si guzarti [G] hai
Main kisi [Em] pull sa.. thartharata [D] hoon

[D] Tu bhale ratti bhar na sunti [G] hai
Main tera naam budbudata [D] hoon
[D] Kisi lambe safar ki raaton [G] mein
Tujhe alaav sa jalaata [D] hoon

[D] Tu kisi rail si guzarti [G] hai
Main kisi [Em] pull sa.. thartharata [D] hoon

Intra song lick
--------------------------e
--1/3--1--0---------------B
--------------2--0--------G
-------------------4-2----D
--0--------------------0--A

(x2)

---------0--------------------D
--3-3----0--------------------A

(x2)

-----------------------------------e
--1/3--1--0------------------------B
--------------2--0-----------------G
-------------------4-2----------0--D
--0--------------------0--3--3--0--A

(x2), Just above 2 licks in one go.

 

This starts in the higher octave
[D] Kaath ke taale hai
Aankh pe daale hai
[G] Unmein isharon ki chabiyaan [D] laga
(x2)

[D] Raat jo baaqi hain
Shaam se taaki hain
[G] Neeyat mein thodi … [continue strumming G along the extended thodi..]
[G] Neeyat mein thodi kharabiyaan [D] lagaa
Kharabiyaan lagaa

[D] Main hoon paani ke bulbule [G] jaisa strum G just once
[Em, flamenco style] Tujhe sochun toh …
[D] phoot jaata hoon

Tu kisi rail si guzarti hai
Main kisi pull sa.. thartharata hoon (x2)

Thartharata hoon…
Thartharata hoon…

Strumming Pattern

D--D--U--D--U

Quaint European towns and the east coast

Feb 2019

The Indian East Coast was something that was pending on my “been there” check-list. Somehow it had always evaded me. However this time my engineering classmate figured out a time slot and an itinerary in the early Feb. The plan was a road trip from Bangalore, in his humble Wagon-R.

Auroville

First stop was Auroville, the calm green roads of the place were indicative of what was to come next in the Auroville Visitor’s centre. This place was more of a modern temple, with twisting walkways passing through trees surrounded by boards / placards depicting the history of Auroville. This was an extreme foreign visitor magnet along with tourists. Most enjoying the cafes, patisseries and ice-cream bars more than the history and the soul of Auroville.

What amazed me more in Auroville and adjoining places, is the abundance of bakeries, cafes and gelato ice-cream bars. Its not that they are one of ” just another bakery”, No, ie I had breakfast at the famous Auroville Bakery, it was awesome, the price was well with reach of locals, rather the Indian food was cheap and other croissants, rolls were well within the bounds of reality.

Pondicherry / Puducherry

Pondi, the affectionate call for Pondicherry or Puducherry has one major attraction – The White town. The southern part of Pondi has a canal running North – South. The west side of the canal (away from the beach) belonged to the native Indians during the French colonial rule while the East part belonged to the French (the “white”). This was the prime area overlooking the beach lashed by turquoise waters of Bay of Bengal. The white town, had a very distinct feel to it. The first thing that hits you is cleanliness and the roads. Very clean, well paved and clearly marked roads. A lot of trees along the roads, trimmed and flowering Bougainvillea. Next noticeable feature of this part, are its bungalows / houses. All of them clean and white-washed with distinct blue or dark-gray bordering. The houses had either a white or a typical yellow colour, more like chrome-yellow. The bungalows on the junctions had a clear blue colored board with white lettering, “Rue Dupuy”, “Rue Romain Rolland” and so on. For a non-french learned like me, what is Rue? My friend mentioned that its “street” in French.

A typical "rue" in Pondi's white town
A typical “rue” in Pondi’s white town

We had our lunch at the “Le Cafe”. Keeping same expectations of Auroville Bakery, we were truly disappointed. The food was average, it was cold and it was pricey. However it seemed the French had a special love for this one and came in by flocks. Complacency?

While we roamed around and along the promenade by the beach, we saw loads of visitors in awe of the place, snapping at any flatly yellow colored building. I wasn’t sure if its just the cleanliness of the area that fascinated people. Across the channel, the Tamil town, was just another busy day with hustle and bustle of vehicles and people alike.

Continue reading Quaint European towns and the east coast

Solo cycle ride to Vandri lake

December 01, 2018

After a lot of procrastination on fixing the cycle post rains, I got it fixed. New spokes, brake shoes, gear and brake liner cables, ball bearings, a tire-tube. The cycle rode like spanking new. I wondered what could be a stretch for the cycle to get going.

I asked a few guys around for some inspiration, but couldn’t get the path or the company. So I resorted to the tried-and-tested Vandri Lake, or rather tested-and-tired. Almost two years back I had done the same route. However this time it was just me and the pedals.

Left early morning by 6.30am, had tea and Parle-G near Vasai and reached the reservoir by 10.00am. 70km done in 3.5hrs. The weather was nice; cloudy so sun was dispersed and there was a hint of chill in the air which was great to push me hard (that’s what I call riding at 20 kmph).

Breakfast and tired legs
Breakfast and tired legs

Rested back on the trunk of a tree with its roots hugging me around. Had a breakfast of 6-7 toasts with mayo from my tiffin. Reminded me of picnics in the school, just that there were loads of friends to play around with and no towering task of pedaling back 70km. A dog and its cub came by and I shared the breakfast with it and its pup.

Started by sharp at 11am. Thinking, earlier the better. But as it turned out, it wasn’t early enough. In just 1 hour, it was noon with all its glory sapping away the already dwindling energy. The roads seemed longer, more inclined and to add cherry on the cake, the masked sun came shining through the clouds. The free wheeling slopes on the flyovers that I enjoyed in the morning now seemed a daunting task of climbing first and then somehow the downhill ended abruptly.

By the time I reached Mumbai’s borders it was 1.15pm. Dust, bad roads, traffic all welcomed me ensuring that I don’t feel left out. Around Aarey colony, I felt so zapped that given an option to put my cycle in a car, I’d happily accept it. The home door bells rang by 3.00pm where I entered, pulled the shoes out and laid flat on the back right next to the shoe-rack.

मला सर्बत दे आई

During the shower I manged to have a quick nap while sitting on the bathroom floor, only to be woken up by my mom who was knocking on the door.

The last Vandri cycle ride lasted for around 11 hours, this one I had done in 7. The effects were showing in my dazed gait and reactions 😀

BMW 310 GS 1200km+ review

I had got my dream toy, a BMW GS (the only affordable one) – G310 GS – a day before my birthday. Post that I’ve ridden it on almost all kind of roads. From the well paved cities of Mumbai (really !?) to the monsoon beaten NH17 closing to the boundaries of off-roading. More than a month has passed after my first service which was bang on 1000km. I was hoping to give a gist of how it feels owning one and having it under your thighs in roads high and low. I thought a 1200 no. would be a great homage to the Papa GS (R1200 GS), so here is my finding (a review of sorts) after a month+ and more than 1200km on the ODO with the first-service details.

Looks and Presence

One thing is for sure, whether you like it or not. This one turns heads. Come young or old, small or tall. Everyone is attracted to its bulky muscular look. Specially the adventure tourer look with a beak that is not common on the streets. For an average rider like me its worth mentioning guys in their long Jaguars and BMWs pulling up next to me and asking about the bike.

Handling and Riding

The bike is tall for my frame, I just about manage to touch my both feet on ground. I’ve found an easier way to ride in traffic conditions, till arse to the right and I manage to keep me right foot flat on the ground by giving the bike a little tilt.

The bike is extremely comfortable, I’ve got this comments from shorter and tall riders. I was initially wondering if I should get a 2″ bar riser, but now I’m comfortable with it. The suspension too is supple to take in the bad roads. I did a ride recently to Velneshwar and I felt I didn’t do justice to the bike with just 300km+ in one direction.

I generally tend to shift gear somewhere between 4k – 5k rpms which is probably the most comfortable zone of the bike. During bad roads trudging, its best to keep the bike in 2nd gear and RPMs 2k+.

On Mumbai-Pune highway, it’s very easy to touch 100kmph mark on 5th gear itself, however I kept jumping up to ensure engine stays in easy mode atleast before the first service. The mid-range torque and power is good and can help you zoom past cars riding at 100kmph. I haven’t really tested out 6000rpm+ yet

Bumper to bumper traffic

I agree to my mom’s comments when she looked at the bike for the first time.

इतकी मोठी !! (this big !)

It’s not very easy to ride in our close-combat streets of Mumbai, you have to be extremely cautious about the width. Plus with my limited reach of my legs to the ground it’s even more precarious when there are 2 auto-rickshaws trying to narrow you down. This one probably takes 1.5x width of a normal commuter bike, keep that in mind and things would be fine.

For my first day on the bike in B2B traffic, I had worn a full-face MT helmet. It was probably my worst 30 mins of riding any bike. 2 things were new to me,

  • bike – new ergos, no flat-footing
  • full face helmet – reduced ability to see mirrors (more on that later)

The very next day I shifted to my old half-face Studds helmet and I 10 times more comfortable riding the GS even in the traffic.

Vibrations

I’d been riding a Honda Unicorn for all my biking life before I got the GS baby. The Unicorn has a peach of an engine, smoothest of the 150cc class. The bike too was most comfortable I’ve ridden till now. I’ve done over 72,000 kms on it with a 800km+ ride in a single day. I’ve still got to figure how well GS compares for such long distance touring.

GS is NO match for the smoothness of the Unicorn, period. The vibrations are OK till 4000 RPM, but post that the buzz starts coming through. It feels that you’ve kept a big mobile phone that is on a vibration under you. Vibrations are not like that of an Enfield, but it’s no twin-cylinder motor buzz either.

Gearing and stalling

What has stalling got to do with gearing ?  perhaps lot, perhaps not. But either case, this GS has one specific problem – Low gear stalls (typically 1st gear start). I’ve read about this on number of online forums to confirm this is the case not specific to my riding or machine. Even the service guy acknowledged it.

During the start of the bike, low commuter ones, are lazy not to raise throttle enough and let go of the clutch slowly, so do car drivers. They only tend to raise the throttle when they want to accelerate and not
“crawl” as they say. However this engine-gearbox is not greatly tuned for the “low-end crawling”. Everytime you release the clutch without going in the “accelerate” mode on the throttle, it’ll stall. I’ve found, the engine RPM as it catches up with gearbox, starts to drop and once it goes below 1200-1500, the engine kinda “knocks” and stalls. If you re-engage the clutch again (sensing the stall), the engine which is getting more fuel from the fuel pump to avoid the stall suddenly finds it easy and the engine then revs past 2000 RPM. This for a new rider on GS, experienced or not will need time to settle. There were times I used to keep targets of max 2 stalls per journey, thankfully that is over. Yet if you find stopping on an uphill, I’ve got to be extra cautious.

I’ve felt some false shifts, and these are very specific ones.

  • Coming down from 3 to 2
  • Coming up from 1 to 2 – It feels the gear hasn’t moved and u try to pull it, but its hard, only to release the clutch and see the Gear indicator is actually showing “2”, which you thought hasn’t even shifted from “1”.

These are the typical speeds at which I change the gear

  1. 15-20kmph
  2. 35kmph
  3. 45- 50 kmph
  4. 60 kmph
  5. 80 kmph

Mirrors

A special mention for the mirrors, after 4500 RPMs, the mirrors buzz so much that the image is all fuzzy. I remember in Unicorn it used to happen when I was all out on 5th gear going 80kmph+. But here, even at 60kmph if ur in lower gear, say 3rd, you’ll end up watching a fuzzy image.

Also, if I’m riding with a full face helmet, the helmet’s jaw hinders the visibility of the mirrors, they’re kind of low placed. Everytime you need to see in it, you have to actually duck your head down, to get to its view. A 5cm + height raise could improve hi-speed highway riding by a large margin.

Engine Heat

The only thing that I dreaded while upsizing my 150cc bike was the engine heat. I had ruled out a Duke just for the very reason. Thankfully, the GS is a very easy on heat output. I’ve seen the radiator fan kick in only in bumper to bumper traffic, that too while waiting for long periods of one-two in the traffic, and even after that the heat is not as bad as a Duke 390. I can easily ride this one in my shorts.

Form and function

Ergonomically I’ve already stated it’s a great bike to ride. Yet there are certain things that could improve.

  • Mirrors – I’ve already mentioned about that in detail
  • Rear tire hugger – this GS doesn’t come with it. However, ENSURE you add one atleast for the rains, there is no way on earth a rider and a pillion will stay clean in rains without the tire hugger. The service guy mentioned that Apache 310’s tire hugger shall fit, however I haven’t tried it. I have till the next rains to come in.
  • Front tire guard – This one is of adequate length, however another 3cm extender like found in Duke 250 will ensure even lesser dust on to the radiator.
  • Radiator – First, I was weary of the radiator, it’s way high up, quite close to the seat height and it’ll deflect a lot of hot air. The tall placed radiator gets lesser muck than a low slung one.
  • Handle height – I haven’t saddled yet, however while trying to goof around on bad roads, I felt the hands are way below shoulders. Also this makes your entire body tilt forward a little, something like I do for my stoppies on my bicycle. Would’ve loved if the hands were slightly ahead while standing.
  • Plastic bash plate / sump guard – This one is of adequate form and thickness for normal touring needs and one of Leh routes, however if your plan is to continuously be on bad roads and offroads, it might not harm to get a firm steel one fixed.
  • Stands – The side stand is long enough, never I’ve felt the need to adjust my bike to adjust the stand. But how I would’ve loved to have a center stand, probably at a cost of top-rack.
  • Racks and stays – Top rack is B I G. Twice I’ve hurt my knee while unmounting. It could’ve been a tad smaller perhaps, but then it would’ve made the bike look another commuter one 😛
  • Seat – This is one soft, comfortable piece of design. The pillion too is always happy.
  • Lights – I haven’t got a chance to ride in dark, so can’t really comment on that front, but the jumpy / vibey headlights – I can 😀 At times it feels I’m giving a passing up-down beam to the oncomer due to the headlight’s vibration, and they tend to up their lights as well. I would’ve loved a smaller KTM like (or papa GS) LED turn indicators. The rear ones are well protected by the rack, but front ones are vulnerable.

First Service

Coming to the juicy part of the cost of maintaining a GS. I reached BMW Service, Andheri on the dot of 1000km (almost a month in). The “garage” was full with 7-8 310s and few 1200 GSs.

My bike had tipped on the stand in wet soil on Velneshwar, and the handle had tilted slightly inwards on the left. I was apprehensive that the bill is gonna sky-rocket! 🙁 The guy estimated around ₹5200. I told him about the handle, he acknowledged that its slightly bent inwards.

I got a call from him saying the handle is bent slightly on left and we can replace it to fix it which would cost around ₹3k ( not sure how much these handles really cost), I said OK. But then he called me back after sometimes saying they don’t have it in stock. So I said just adjust it in a wrench or something..

I went in the late afternoon to see he had adjusted the handle and was in better shape, only ’cause I knew there was a problem I could figure it out. He dished out the final bill which was ₹5252, as estimated.

The first service bill, ₹5,252

For a ₹300 chain cleaning wasn’t VERY expensive the amount of effort we guys spent on cleaning and lubing our chains in Velneshwar. Also a ₹100 is the typical going rate for cleaning, this one is 300. Expensive ? yes.

I inquired about the handle bar, he said its fine now, he has re-adjusted the handle mounts. But, yet if required he can place an order for it if I wanted it. I decided to try it for sometime before taking that decision. I was expecting some extra labour, thankfully wasn’t listed in the bill ( the base labour itself is pretty steep )

The guy confirmed next servicing is due in a year or a whopping 10,000 kms. However he did give me a word of advice

do check the engine oil around 5,000 kms.

All in all a fuss-free first service.

Fedora 29 and nostalgia

Fedora 29 has released, It had been since the Fedora-Core 2 days that I had used Fedora (rather it was my first foray in linux). We used to wait for computer magazines to deliver free OS CDs. Back then it was a Windows + Fedora. Everytime I had an issue with Fedora I had to switch back to Windows, see what is right / wrong how to go about it and fix it. We didn’t have the comfort of using Smart phones and tablets back then around 2004. Setting up eth0 was still an effort for a newbie like me.

As years moved, Fedora improved and its ability to replace my desktop’s default OS. However still we had to tweak around to make it comfortable. Codecs, font rendering, etc. However it has been one of the most comfortable environments for developers, most of the things available as rpm packages.

Maxing out only till 60%

With Fedora 29, a whole lot has improved, first and foremost, which is on everyone’s mind is GNOME 3.30. This is by far one of the most important GNOME 3x releases. WHY? Install it and you’ll see the amount of RAM that it hogs is way lesser than the earlier versions. Now my 9 yrs old laptop can effectively run GNOME, the modern RAM eating browsers and still leave me room. The new GNOME is lovely and modern yet for the nostalgia the Bluecurve theme deserves a special mention. For years as long GTK2 / GNOME2 ran on my PC, it was the de-facto choice.

The font rendering too has improved off-the-box, Now there is no need to install the freetype-freeworld package, make changes to the ~/.fonts/fonts.conf or .Xresources. I’m not sure what has really changed, whether the patent expiry has come through and we get it as-is without the patent issues.

Hope this Fedora legacy carries on for long. And finally kudos to Redhat, Fedora Team,GNOME and endless other teams for putting in effort for us to consume this beautiful lovely OS which is free!

Fedora magazine has a lovely article that has triggered these memories.

Manjha – Kai Po Che – Guitar finger picking tabs, chords

This entry is part 34 of 35 in the series Guitar

After a really long time this song came back on my ears, stuck for a long time and I had to get something beautiful for my guitar.  So here it is, Manjha by Amit Trivedi from Kai Po Che. The song is in the key of D.

Guitar Intro riff (4x)

e|-0--0------------|
B|-------3-----3---|
G|----------2------|
D|-------------0---|
A|-0--0------------|

Sarangi / Violin Intro (on Guitar, 2x)

E|--2--0--------------2--0-----------
B|--------3---2h3-----------3---2h3--
G|-----------------------------------
D|-----------------------------------
A|--0---------0h------0--------------

e|-2--0-----------------------
B|-------3---2h-3p-2h-3p-2h3--
G|----------------------------
D|----------------------------
A|-0--------------------------

Song begins…

Roothe khwaabon ko mana lenge..

E|-----0--2--0-----------------
B|--3-----------3--2---2h3--3--
G|-----------------------------
D|--0--------------------------
A|-----------------0---0-------
E|-----------------------------

Kati patango ko thaamenge…
(same as above pattern)

Haa haa hai jazba

E|--0--0--------0--
B|--------3--------
G|-----------2-----
D|-----------------
A|--0--0--------0--
E|-----------------

Ho ho hai jazba
(same as above pattern)

Suljha lenge uljhe Rishton ka Manjha

E|-----2--0--3--2--0-----------------
B|--3-----------------3---------h3--
G|-----------------------2--2--------
D|--0--------------------------------
A|-----------------------0--0--------

Ha manjha ha manjha ha manjha..

E|-----------------------------------
B|--3--3--3-----3-----3--3--3-----3--
G|-----------2-----------------2-----
D|-----------------------------------
A|--------------0-----------------0--

Soyi Taqdire… (all same pattern begining from roothe…)
Till … ha manjha

Violin part comes in again…

Rishte pankho ko hawa denge

E|--------------------------
B|--------------------------
G|--4--2--4--2--------------
D|--0-----------4---2h4--4--
A|------------------0h------

Rishte dard ko dawa denge
(above pattern continued…)

Jeet kabhi Haar kabhi

E|--------------------------
B|-----------3-----------3--
G|--0--0--0-----0--0--0-----
D|-----------2-----------0--

Ghum to yaaro honge do pal ke mehmaan

G|--------2-----------------------------
D|--2--4-----4--2--------0--0-----0--0--
A|--2--------------0-----0--0-----0--0--

Riste dehleeze … kardenge kurbaan
(follow same patter as rishte pankho … do pal ke mehmaan) Continue reading Manjha – Kai Po Che – Guitar finger picking tabs, chords