Sunday, March 17, 2013

I Still Know the Books You Read Two Decades Back

In our childhood, Mir Publishers from Soviet Union provided a great collection of books. With closed controlled economy getting access to high quality books was a rare opportunity. There were hardly any Indian Editions of any of the well known books from USA. Even if there were some they were old editions, were significantly expensive considering the publishers had to share royalty. And worse still a modified Imperial weights and measures that even the British abandoned half a century back. As if that were not enough, printing and paper quality was nothing great to drive home about. Mir publisher books were well printed, content quality was great and had advanced study material ideally suited for the needs of the students preparing for various competitive examinations which demanded a knowledge level much higher than the regularly university / council or board curriculum. And most important was significantly cheaper than the equivalent books by Indian publishers. Only downside, the translation was more of transliteration. More over, for every great discovery in the western world there was a Russian discoverer which you will not find reference anywhere other than in the Mir books. The books were available only in book exhibitions as they never developed a great distributor network. But most serious students will get a copy of the book somehow. At least some will keep a copy of Irodov on their showcase to show how serious is their pursuit in learning physics. But then the worst came. The Union dissolved and in a rational to cut down their expenses they stopped subsidising education in developing economies like India and the Mir Publisher went belly up subsequently.

Couple of days back I was looking for some books which were popular in India in the net and found many books from the Mir Publishers are getting printed and published in India by many of the textbook publishers. They are available online to be ordered from many online retailers like Flipkart, Infibeam etc. I purchased two volumes of Piskunov's Differential and Integral Calculus. Read through them a bit. The print quality is definitely not there. But at least the books have definitely got wealth of knowledge that cannot be questioned. At least some relevant books get published and are getting circulated. That's definitely heartening to know :-).

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Weekend Getaway - Yercaud (Jan 2013)

Good part of being in Bangalore is there is just lots of places you can be around on weekend. Particularly, if you want to drive down. I guess being in Bangalore with its relatively nicer weather many times you realize probably weekend getaways to hill stations are not best around. Last week I decided to drive down to Yercaud over a weekend. Spend a night and come back to Bangalore. Here is what I have to share.

Yercaud is many times called a poor man's Ooty. I will probably not agree to that. It's less explored. Seriously, needs a tourism facelift. Ideally, if you are in Salem this is your perfect weekend spot I must say. Moreover, if you have driven in highways but not very comfortable with ghat roads, this is a good practice track. The 25 Kms. drive from Salem to Yercaud is a breeze of a drive. You will probably find the hairpin bends with the least amount of slope. 20 hairpin bends in all but you can mostly drive over them with a 2nd or 3rd gear with ease. Only once did I have to come down to the first gear to go over the hairpin bends.

If you are planning a trip with your car, a perfect travelogue can be found at: I followed it verbatim and found it very useful. However, loop road may not be the greatest option to follow as you will be probably going through Yercaud country side several times depending on where you stay. This one is one of the sleepy townships you will see. The sightseeing places are not quite spectacular. The temples have been given a modern facelift and fairly recent. I do not see any reason why do not allow photographing them though. The lake is very small and looks fairly polluted not as bad as Ooty though.  There is nothing to drive home about the dear park. The most attractive creatures I found were the guinea pigs. The aquarium had about 10-12 chambers. So not a great attraction as well. So is the park and the rose garden.  

There are somethings I think, we definitely missed were the Kiliyur falls. Hardly, I knew when I reached the fall trail at 8:00am in the morning there was not a single soul on the trail. I felt it was probably too risky to try and got back. 

I think the only reason you will like to Yercaud is if you have plenty of time for nature walks, relaxed 4-5 days of no activity and pure relaxation away from the day-to-day grind. 

On the way back from Yercaud to Bangalore you will get to see Hogenakkal. The life in Hogenakkal is just the opposite. More than a fall it may feel like an open Hamam to you. But the mad rush to Hogenakkal is just the other extreme to be appreciated.