What’s in the air?

We had seen earlier that CO2 displaces air in a glass and the candle goes off. Let us see,  what happens when candle burns in air. We will do a very simple experiment. For this we need  a tall glass, a big and deep dish, some water and a mid-size candle.

Put  candle at middle of, the dish and fill the dish with water. Now light the candle and cover the flame with the glass. Now the candle burns isolated from the air outside.

After sometime, we see the candle flame goes out and some water rises inside the glass. Mark the amount of air inside the glass with a marker pen. Use a measuring cup to find ratio of air that got consumed.


1. Why did the candle go out?
2. How much air was consumed?


A Gas like water – CO2

When you open a bottle of coke, bubbles come out of the water. The gas that comes out is Carbon-di-oxide CO2. CO2 can be produced by adding some acid to lime stone, or some acid to soda/soda-bi-carb. When we burn coal or oil, then also we get Carbon-di-oxide. For our experiment, we shall use soda.

Take a spoon or two of soda in a large bottle and add some vinegar to it. Immediately lot of bobble will come out. Keep the bottle upright and in a place where there is not much wind. CO2 is heavier than air and will stay nicely in the bottle.

To check property of CO2, take two small candles light them in a glass. Now take the bottle of CO2 and tilt it like you will pour water in the glass. You will notice, the candle will extinguish as you pour CO2 in the glass.

CO2 being heavier than oxygen, displaces air/oxygen inside the glass and candle stops burning. This property is used in the fire extinguisher to stop simple fire. Also remember that same thing like candle can happen to you, if you sleep in a room without ventilator or any window.

Now let us do a test to find property of CO2. Pour some clear lime water in a test tube and then add CO2 in the test tube. Now close top of the tube with your thumb and shake the test tube. Lime water will turn turbid. This is second test. Add some Muriatic acid in the turbid lime water and it will again become clear.

A Window for Ubuntu

I replaced my Windows 7 O/S with Ubuntu. This has given me many new things that were missing so far in my life. Biggest change being the way I use my laptop. Earlier with 10min bootup time of Windows 7, I normally kept the laptop in suspend mode most of the time. Now Ubuntu takes about 1min 48sec to boot. There is no excuse to keep the laptop running with Ubuntu. Shutdown time is around 40 sec, Now, I can afford to do some quick personal work.

Next change is the way I install software. Most programs that I use were either installed by default or installed from Ubuntu repository. Installing from Ubuntu repository is as easy as typing the name and hit install key. Earlier I used to keep all program installer in a folder, nicely categorized and archived. That headache is mostly gone, I still need to do it for some programs, but the size is less than 1 GB.

There is one problem, that happened after this change. That’s the baggage of my old files. I have some files that need windows program to open. On Ubuntu, there are two ways to run windows program. One is a Windows emulator – WINE.  Other is to run windows in a virtual machine.

I installed WINE. This is a simple step, open installer, and search for WINE. It gives me three options – Wine, wine loader and wine tools. Install all three. It takes about 10 min and that’s it. You are good to run many windows program. I purchased a uC it that require a special program loader (in windows) picpgm. Opened console, Cntrl-Alt-T,  and typed “wine picpgm” and there it goes. Windows program, running nicely on Ubuntu. 

Next was to do the same with my other programmer pickit2. I try again the same magic command – wine pickit2. Uh Uh! Same magic do not work. Now it complains about missing dot net.  Well, dot net is a big package that is proprietary MS. I don’t expect wine to emulate it.  I knew, I have to install windows on a virtual machine.

Like the choice of coffe in a Cub Food store, Ubuntu has number of Virtual Machine software. The choice is endless and can be quite confusing to newcomer. After few month of experimentation, I knew how to choose coffee – go for one you like. For me it is only one flavor – Medium roasted Columbia. I follow the same principle in Linux. Choose one software that works for me. For Virtual machine, I use one software that is easy to use – it is virtual box. 

Virtual box is readily available in ubuntu repository. Installing it is as easy as type “virtualbox” and click the install button. Once Virtual box is installed I popped in the WIndows recovery disk from my laptop. I thought it had a copy of Windows 7, that I own. Disk whirred and copied some files and then asked for last copy of the recovery disk fo partition my hard disk. Basically it was trying to get my machine to factory condition rather than just install windows. This is not what I intended. Cancelled the job. Next I thought, I should download a fresh copy of Windows from Microsoft. I had the product key – entered that in the software download page and Microsoft says: This product is a third party supplied product. Conduct the vendor. 

Well, so much for the product key and ownership and software write. Basically it means you can’t install fctory supplied windows on virtual machine. Good!  Don’t get fooled with factory supplied windows. If you need Windows, buy a hardware without preinstalled windows and then buy O/S seperately. It is worth those few extra doller.

Fortunately I had a copy of XP disk, that was not factory installed. I changed the Virtual machine from Windows 7 to XP and put the installer disk. Here you see Windows XP is getting installed. This installation process is just like installing it in a new PC. With Virtualbox basically you have created new “virtual” computer within your computer. This has its own virtual memory and virtual hard disk.

20 min later windows XP is installed. Spend some time in setting up Windows. Here you see windows running on the smaller screen over virtual machine. This way, one can run multiple O/S at the same time on the same hardware.


Now it is time to do some serious stuff with Windows. I have my favorite game – Master of Olympus -Zeus. I put the game installer CD, everything goes nicely and now I have Zeus running on my Linux machine. That’s called peaceful co-existence!

So far My Window was isolated. I need to connect WIndows to internet. In this world, hardly anything works without internet connection. Windows authentication is one need. Then there are some programs and update that are needed from internet. After a few false try, I found a good instruction that worked for me to connect windows to net. Here is the link. Credit goes to Irfan for a cool and correct instruction. Now I can authenticate and pacify the creaking  window for genuineness. Now you can see me exploring internet, doing some drawing and listing files in a transparent Linux console.



Done with Windows

Since last week I was getting a SMART error from my laptop. This means some sector of my drive has become bad and drive is going to fail in near future. Nice little warning means a big work. Recovery disks I made for this laptop was about four year old, I don’t rely on them. So burnt a new set of recovery disks, backed up my data and set out to replace my Hard drive.


This is a HP Pavilion dm4 model, with i5 Dual core CPU. It is old, but I never faced much of a performance issue. The drive I had was 600GB. This time I purchased a 1TB drive. Idea was to put some version of Linux in dual boot mode. I use lot of Mukt (Free) software, most of these are port of Linux, so using them with Linux makes better sense. After some contemplation, I settled for Ubuntu. I had a disk of Ubuntu installer, but that was around two years old. I decided to download the latest version for Desktop, Ubuntu 14.10. Ubuntu comes in four major flavors:

  1. Desktop : that comes with GUI and window manager
  2. Server: that will setup a Linux Webserver but does not have GUI
  3. Kylin: With Chinese support
  4. Cloud: for building openstack cloud

Ubuntu disk images are available for free. Desktop version is around 1.5GB. It is better to use bittorrent to download such big files. There is no point in straining the central server and collecting the data from far away location. To download Ubuntu, I installed a bittorrent client and selected alternate download location. Let the download run for the night. In morning, I had the disk image waiting for me to be burnt into a fresh DVD.

Replacing the disk was 10 min job. Thanks to HP, all you need to do is to take out 2 screw and HDD is accessible. I knew, recovery will take time. I had to feed 6 disks one after another when computer will copy all the files. Manual at HP site says it will take 2 – 3 hours. I started the work at 11:00 AM on Saturday, expecting it to finish by 2:00PM. Anyway the work actually completed only at 8:00PM. To be fair, couple of times I went out and computer was waiting for disk change, but a increase in this factor of 3 was not expected.

Work done and with a factory fresh setting, I went to install install Ubuntu. First thing for this is to change boot setting to allow computer to boot from DVD. Next is to make some room for the new OS. So I started windows Disk Manager. Oh, it shows me 4 partition. I knew there will be a partition for recovery files. It was there, then there is a tiny 200 MB boot partition, well I grant that there it makes things safe, then there is the main partition nice 970GB of it, with around 70 GB occupied by Windows 7. There is another partition called HP tools. Which is not something I bargained for. Four primary partition is basically aimed to ensure that I can not install another OS over it. IBM hardware has this restriction of 4 primary partition. I take this as nothing but pure mischief. As it is I am now having second thought with HP products. HP has a policy of push advertisement. In the name of assistance it keeps bugging me to buy this or that. Now this restriction had my patience with HP to its limits. I scrapped dual boot idea and decided for all Linux machine.

Once the decision is made rest of the work becomes easy. Popped in the Linux DVD in drive and reboot the machine. Within minute the machine booted from DVD and asked for option to install. It was simple, install over entire drive. Next screens were name, password location etc. It asked me if I want to update the software, I selected yes. That’s it, for about two hours softwares were installed and then I got a screen to log in.

Ubuntu comes with most required software pre-installed. Out-of-box you get full libre office suit. C++ compiler is part of core Linux. For programming a feature rich text editor is required. Gedit does the job to certain extent. But there is nothing to beat emacs. Emacs is not packaged with ubuntu. To install open Ubuntu software center, type emacs and click on install button. That’s it. After few seconds emacs is installed. Here you go:

Biggest problem that one has to shift OS are the collection of programs that one builds. I also have a good number of Windows program that I can’t leave without. Office and text editors taken care of, now I want to have a comfort. I do not want to search for replacement for each and every windows program. There are two ways to run Windows program within ubuntu. First and easiest is wine. No, it is not the drink. Wine in ubuntu stands for windows emulator. I use software center again and install wine. For my microprocessor programming, I use a program called picpgm. I don’t know of any ubuntu alternative for it, nor do I care much. I run this one with wine. For this I select picpgm executable in file browser, right click and select run with wine program loader option. Thats it!

Other programs that I use frequently are password saver – keepassx; messenger – pidgin; SIP – ekiga; Voice recorder – Audacity; Photoeditor – gimp all of these are available with ubuntu. Some of these are preinstalled, rest I installed from software center. Ubuntu comes with screen capture tool, but I wanted a tool that will allow me to capture a part of it, like I am using it here. Shutter is the software of my choice. For typing in Bengali, Avro is again readily available. But Libre office language needs to be installed to use it. It takes some work, that took around 30min. That’s it ! After about 4 Hrs, I am done with almost all functionality that I had in Windows. 
There is one additional feature that’s lacking in Windows, that the multiple desktop.
Some 8 Hrs of work later, I am back in business with all tools that I had earlier and some more. Now let us take a peek on my disk:
Just 15GB. I could have carried the OS in a SD card!!!

Conscious Dimension – I

Conscious is best understood when we consider someone lying in its boundary.  Let us take for instance a person on deathbed. It is not a pleasant thought, but nothing brings out the stark reality as clearly. At one moment the person is alive. He or she may recover or continue to be alive. The moment the person is dead, we lose any possibility of the person being alive again. Death being a one way change, a catastrophe. Barring the simplest life form – virus, death is a catastrophic process that cannot be reversed. Now, let us try to understand what difference we have between a living and a dead person. Moment after the death his individual cells will still be alive. We can actually use parts of  organs for other persons and these will live for any number of years. Only noticable difference that separates dead from alive is presence of conscious. Although our body is made of huge number of cells and (maybe) other implants, our conscious is quite different from collection of all these. If we lose part of our body or replace it with artificial parts, like in knee replacement, our conscious do not change. Our identity, our thought, our self image all remain as one till this conscious entity remains. Some call it “spirit” or “Atma” some choose to not call it anything. Recognize it or not, there is some entity that remains as sole differentiator between living and dead, between our identity and rest of it.

Around 800 CE great philosopher poet of India, Shankaracharya,  tried to examine true nature of Atma. It has been nicely captured in his poem “Nirbanashatakam”. The poem besides its philosophical value is also great in its economy of words and its usage. The poem is in six stanza, five devoted in negating what Atma is not and last one is to give it a shape or a property that helps in unifying the consciousness.

In first stanza Shankara negates our identity. He says:
मनोबुद्धयहंकार चित्तानि नाहं, न च श्रोत्रजिव्हे न च घ्राणनेत्रे ।
न च व्योम भूमिर्न तेजो न वायुः, चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ।। 1 ।।
(manobuddhyahaṃkāra chittāni nāhaṃ
na cha śrotrajihve na cha ghrāṇanetre
na cha vioma bhūmir na tejo na vāyuḥ
chidānandarūpaḥ śhivo’ham śhivo’ham)

I am not mind, nor intellect, nor ego, nor the reflections of inner self (chitta). I am not the five senses.of hearing, taste, smell, touch and vision. I am beyond that. I am not the ether, nor the earth, nor the fire (energy), nor the wind (the five elements). I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss and pure consciousness. all that is within me.

In second stanza Shankara questions next level of our presence – our body. He negates any of our body parts, be it fluid, layers or structure being atman. He says:
:न च प्राणसंज्ञो न वै पंचवायुः, न वा सप्तधातुः न वा पञ्चकोशः ।
न वाक्पाणिपादं न चोपस्थपायु, चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ।। 2 ।।
(na ca praṇasajño na vai paṃcavāyuḥ
na vā saptadhātur na vā paṃcakośaḥ
na vākpāṇipādaṃ na copasthapāyu
cidānandarūpaḥ śivo’ham śivo’ham)

Neither can I be termed as energy (prana), nor five types of breath (vayus), nor the seven material essences, nor the five sheaths (pancha-kosha). Neither am I the five instruments of elimination, procreation, motion, grasping, or speaking. I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss,  pure consciousness  and all that is within me.

In Stanza three Shankara examines our thoughts

न मे द्वेषरागौ न मे लोभमोहौ, मदो नैव मे नैव मात्सर्यभावः ।
न धर्मो न चार्थो न कामो न मोक्षः, चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ।। 3 ।।
(na me dveşarāgau na me lobhamohau
mado naiva me naiva mātsaryabhāvaḥ
na dharmo na cārtho na kāmo na mokşaḥ
cidānandarūpaḥ śivo’ham śivo’ham)

I have no hatred or dislike, nor affiliation or liking, nor greed, nor delusion, nor pride or haughtiness, nor feelings of envy or jealousy. I have no duty (dharma), nor any money, nor any desire (kama), nor even liberation (moksha). I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss,  pure consciousness  and all that is within me.

Stanza four he examines our deeds and then discards them as not to be Atma

न पुण्यं न पापं न सौख्यं न दुःखं, न मन्त्रो न तीर्थो न वेदा न यज्ञ ।
अहं भोजनं नैव भोज्यं न भोक्ता, चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ।। 4 ।।
(na puṇyaṃ na pāpaṃ na saukhyaṃ na dukhyaṃ
na mantro na tīrthaṃ na vedā na yajña
ahaṃ bhojanaṃ naiva bhojyaṃ na bhoktā
cidānandarūpaḥ śivo’ham śivo’ham)

I have neither merit (virtue), nor demerit (vice). I do not commit sins or good deeds, nor have happiness or sorrow, pain or pleasure. I do not need mantras, holy places, scriptures (Vedas), rituals or sacrifices (yagnas). I am none of the triad of the observer or one who experiences, the process of observing or experiencing, or any object being observed or experienced. I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss,  pure consciousness  and all that is within me.

If all these are taken out, then all that remains is some relations. Relation with our parents, teachers, and so forth. In stanza five Shankara dwell on the relationships and finds these are also not to be Atma.

न मे मृत्युशंका न मे जातिभेदः, पिता नैव मे नैव माता न जन्मः ।
न बन्धुर्न मित्रं गुरूर्नैव शिष्यः, चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ।। 5 ।।
(na me mṛtyuśaṃkā na me jātibhedaḥ
pitā naiva me naiva mātā na janmaḥ
na bandhur na mitraṃ gurunaiva śişyaḥ
cidānandarūpaḥ śivo’ham śivo’ham)

I do not have fear of death, as I do not have death. I have no separation from my true self, no doubt about my existence, nor have I discrimination on the basis of birth. I have no father or mother, nor did I have a birth. I am not the relative, nor the friend, nor the guru, nor the disciple.  I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss,  pure consciousness  and all that is within me.

In stanza six, he gives a working idea of Atma. Atma being free of bondage and unifying with supreme conscious. He says:
अहं निर्विकल्पो निराकार रूपो, विभुत्वाच सर्वत्र सर्वेन्द्रियाणाम् ।
न चासङत नैव मुक्तिर्न मेयः, चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ।। 6 ।।
(ahaṃ nirvikalpo nirākāra rūpo
vibhutvāca sarvatra sarveṃdriyāṇaṃ
na cāsangata naiva muktir na meyaḥ
cidānandarūpaḥ śivo’ham śivo’ham)

I am all pervasive. I am without any attributes, and without any form. I have neither attachment to the world, nor to liberation (mukti). I have no wishes for anything because I am everything, everywhere, every time, always in equilibrium.  I am indeed, That eternal knowing and bliss,  pure consciousness  and all that is within me.

Instead of taking Shankara’s definition of Atma on face value let’s examine it from our knowledge of the world and see how far we can fathom its property within limits of our knowledge of science and philosophy. For doing what we intend,  we need check is our concept of presence.

How do we say a paperweight is present on my desk? Well, I can see it, it is there somewhere and not there in other part. So we use concept of duality : present and absent to define our paper weight. Concept of duality is pretty strong concept in logic. Now, if I ask – how do we know air is present around us. We cannot see it or smell it, then can we prove that air is present. I know, we can blow on a piece of paper or create vacuum to show presence of air. In other word, we again depend on concept of duality.

Suppose, we take out the concept of duality from our premise of logic. In our previous examples we used excess of air or absence of it to show existence of air. How do we prove existence of something that is omnipresent in perfectly homogeneous manner? As I had stated earlier, we can only prove existence of something where we have it distributed heterogeneously. Like presence of air can only be proved by differences of pressure distribution or vacuum. This distribution we see for air is in mass-time-space dimensions. In our life we experience many more dimensions. Say I have a paperweight on my table in a perfectly dark room, would I be able to detect it? Yes, if I am lucky, I may touch it by accident  otherwise I shall remain ignorant about it. Once the room gets lighted we can see the paperweight easily.  Now, out here light enabled us to see things, so we know light exists darkness do not. Darkness is just absence of light, it may never be possible to create a torch that will make an place dark, but the opposite is possible. So in similar manner we can conclude that there is something that makes the complex composition of muscles, fluids and bones come to life. Just like we cannot see light be it enables us to see things, we cannot see atman, but it makes life possible.

When we talk of life, let us try to first fathom its nature and next we shall dwell on how to measure it. Now, what is life? Biology books definition of life is something that can reproduce, maintains homeostasis, shows metabolism, gets organized, gives response to stimuli. Alternate viewpoint of life is that of capable of reversing entropy. Around 1870 James Clerk Maxwell imagined a machine. In his concept machine Maxwell proposes two chambers separated by a intelligent sieve. In the sieve a demon will see speed of gas molecule and allow only molecule with higher than average speed move to a chamber (say H) and molecule with lower than average can only enter the other chamber (say L). Temperature of a body is dependant on kinetic energy of its molecules. So once we can separate these molecules, we have a perpetual source of energy. The concept engine is known as Maxwell’s demon. What we see here in such machine is two primary function of life. Conscious control, information gathering and processing — all fundamental property of life. Well the strange news is: such demon do exists.

Second law of thermodynamics states that in a physical system what ever we do, we shall end up being more disorganized than from where we started. As an example, if we leave a physical alone, it will slowly degenerate to simple form get more and more chaotic. In science we use entropy as an measure of disorganization. When we have a system that have life form within it, we notice just opposite tend Life forms tend to get organised, more complex, when left to itself. Hence we have this concept of Maxwell’s demon. Life in some way mimics Maxwell’s demon. Core concept of life form here being conscious. So we find life and conscious is very closely related. Second law of thermodynamics for none of the law of physics takes conscious control into account. Maxwells demon works opposite to Second law of thermodynamics by reversing chaos and bringing organization into molecules. Actually in Boson we shall find, when the variation and vibration reduces concept of space also do not hold true. All the molecule gets reduced to size of a single molecule in a Bose-Einstein condensate. In other words the world we see around us is created out of little disorganization, variation and chaos. When all these gets down to negligible level the world will collapse into itself into a singularity.

When we talk of soul, conscious, world the concept of God cannot remain far away. My current discussion is actually aimed for this. I want to discuss the nature of God, its existence and our conscious. Why are they related? They are related because our perception is limited by our conscious. Universe around us is multidimensional. Normally our perception is limited to space-time dimension. Beyond it, we are conscious of other dimensions like temperature, electrical charge, magnetism, different psychological moods but we cannot really measure them without the reference of space-time. To perceive beyond space-time we need some tools and some facts. Now we shall develop these concepts drawing upon our understanding on the knowledge that we can perceive.

The world we are familiar with are in the dimension of space time. In order to measure state of an object dimensions that we use need to be absolutely independent of each other. When dimensions are not independent our point of observation will influence property that we observe in other dimension. When the dimensions are independent, we shall call them orthogonally related dimensions. Let us take an example to illustrate this.  Suppose in a graph paper the axis are not perpendicular. When they are not a displacement in x-axis will produce a displacement in y-axis. When x & y axis are perpendicular such  interference will not happen. So an important property of orthogonality is independence of one axis from another.  Second property that I want to state is – universe in multidimensional. When we talk of force, we normally talk of space, mass and time. There are other dimensions like charge, temperature, entropy that is not as easy for us to perceive, but they do exist.

Now, let us try to find out how and where God, soul and conscious may exist. First let us take soul. We have seen that between life and death, there is no perceptible change in physical state.So soul certainly do not exist in space-time frame. Loss of life does change the electrical parameters like brain waves. So there may be some relation between soul and electro-magnetic property. Our understanding of space-time and life does share a common property That is time asymmetry:  We cannot travel back in time in life or in space time event. You may wonder, where we can. In such case I would ask you to recall the event when you started to read this article. Well you can!!! We can travel across time in our conscious, quite freely in past and to a limited extent in future.

When we talk of dimension, we can have many of them. In such hyperspace, it is difficult to visualize any shape that we are familiar with. We can think of the dimension like a string. Ok a kind of straight string. Property of any object on that dimension is defined by position it occupy on the string. For clear measurement, we should try to use dimensions that are orthogonal. If we use our concept of dimension in space, it is actually possible to have infinite dimensions that are orthogonal and any three of them can define a object in space. Now the beauty of orthogonal dimension is that there will be one and only one point where the dimensions merge.

So we observed two very important properties of orthogonal dimensions:

  1. Orthogonal dimension will have one and only one common point
  2. Change of property along one dimension has no impact on property of another orthogonal dimension.
or, if change of property along one dimension impacts property in another dimension then the dimensions are not orthogonal

Two dimensions which has no common point we can call them parallel dimension. Two  parallel dimensions if they share same third dimension, orthogonality of third dimension with any dimension implies orthogonality of the other. Let me explain this – say there are 3 dimensions A,B & C.  If we know A || B and A is orthogonal to C, then we can conclude that B is also orthogonal to C.

We shall find another instance, where two parallel dimensions share equivalent change of property. Such cases we shall refer the dimensions as intertwined.

With this basic understanding of dimensions, let us examine the properties that we are familiar with. In physics we normally use basic dimensions as: Length, Mass, Time, charge, temperature,  etc. Let’s take the first three: L, M & T.

Normally there is no relationship between L, M & T. In Newtonian physics we can conclude L, M & T to be orthogonal dimensions. But with theory of relativity, we know that relationship to be invalid, speed between observer and observed changes the values of L,M & T. What relativity gives us that Momentum and Time are orthogonal dimensions.

In my next blog, I shall extend the dimensional analysis to conscious, soul and God.


Up and Down the Sahyadri

Nothing beats the charm of saying the year good bye in a hill station. Sahyadri is just perfect for the season – not too cold and yet perfect for tour.  Best place to start the tour we thought is from Shirdi. I had a long cherished wish to see what the place is like. Here you can see the team – landed in Shirdi.

The place is getting crowded with multiple hotels coming up without any plan or infrastructure. So it is just matter of few years before the place becomes another congested concrete jungle. The temple is beyond the reach of camera and not very photogenic. So I gave it a skip. Our next hop was at Mahabaleswar.

Here you can see us standing near the tiger point

It was last day of the year and the place was quite full of people. You can see the anxiety of the natives on this sudden surge of visitors

Sadly not much of the hills are visible due to poor visibility. But the road side flowers are there always to add to the charm

Boating at the lake is an added charm to increase the appetite

View from the lake is very good. I suppose it will be even better in Monsoon.

After boating the Pizzas at Mapro taste delicious. The chocolate factory around makes the matter even worse.

Do not forget the strawberries of M’baleswer. Here it is being cultivated with garlic – not sure what kind flavor will it have?

Next stop at Lonavala. It is famous for Chiki and Wax Museum.

Here you can meet the celebrities in very personal manner.

You can see me having some serious discussion with Hariharan or Mr Modi eger to pose with the new generation

Some more status you can see in the hall. But overall it is a small room. Quality of some statues could have been better.

So you are left wondering, which one is good?

Nearby garden by Maharashtra tourism is a welcome change. It is well kept. The swan over there was posing for us.
and the flowers were inviting

It is worth spending some time there and enjoy the lake

before proceeding to Karla Caves

Karla Cave was a Buddhist Monastery that flourished between 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD. Now the place is abandoned. There is a temple just beside it and that keeps the local people interested.

Karla cave has some magnificent pillars and arches in the main prayer hall.

Some of the caves looked recent. Not sure how these came here.

Here we are in front of the main entrance.

and some more stone curving

Here you can see bee catcher – not so common in the city and extremely elusive.

View around Lonavala is breath taking

but for sunset one should be at nearby Khandala

For a welcome change you can also visit Narayani Dham temple – this reminded me of the temple at BHU, clean and peaceful.

Hope some day all temples will be this clean and well maintained.


Andaman or Kala Pani is actually azure. I am not sure why people talk about only the water and not mention emerald green island. From top it looks like emerald embedded in sapphire. The range of color itself is highly inviting.  

For Indian a visit to Port Blair has to start with paying homage to freedom fighters who were packed off to Cellular jail .

Cellular jail is perhaps the best of British Architecture available in India. It combines extreme administrative efficiency with medieval brutality. Now part of the jail has collapsed in earth quake. Originally, it had a central watch tower flanked by seven spke like rows of cells. The result was height of efficiency. Only four guards were sufficient to keep watch on 800 odd inmates. Cell doors were designed in such way that it was impossible to access the lock from inside.

As such nothing much was to be achieved by jail break. Nearest land was 1000 Km away. Most islands around used to be inhabited by tribal, who would kill aliens on sight. Some example of the life is displayed in the model.

British rule Andaman from Ross island. It a tiny island about 1 Km from Port Blair. It offered ideal fortification for the colonial rulers. Now this has been converted into a nature park. As we arrived, its current inhabitant came down to check the visitors.

Ross has rather large number of peacocks and deer. It is better to visit the island at afternoon. Last boat leaves island around 4:30 PM. As tourists leave, the animals come out.

Now nature is in process of reclaiming the once famous city. Some of house have vanished but trees have preserved the form.

While you are there, watch out for falling coconuts. There are plenty of them.
Best of Andaman is barely visible from far away. Best things are there below the water level.
For a change, one can see bottom of the sea from boat. But to touch it one needs to dive.

It is a nice feeling to be inside a huge aquarium

Pity that I did not carry a underwater camera to take some really good view. I was told that one could hire it at Port Blair. That was a misinformation. Port Blair market is primitive. All you can get their is some toy camera or p&s type which the shop will rent at more than its cost price.

Elephanta Beach, Havelock Island is a good spot for snorkeling and diving. Other spot is Neil which we missed. Tourism promotes Jolly Buoy Mahatma Gandhi Park, which is better to avoid.

There is lot of current in the water around that prevents inexperienced swimmers to explore on their own. The guides around are like temple panda - only interested in making some quick buck. They wont let you see anything properly.

Chidiya tapu is another beach that you must visit. It has some huge collection of birds. Beach was good but it has been washed away in tsunami. One feels sad to see submerged colony and huge lakes that was once a agricultural land.

But nature has its own way to provide nest out of fallen trees. Here snails and crabs have made some nice design in a piece that was once a tree.
After eight days it is now time to raise the oars
Return trail just leaves some ripple
Only some memories remain like this sunset at Radhanagar Beach