Missing that holiday feeling!

Seventeen summer holidays and umpteen other shorter ones… It was always the same feeling as the countdown to them dwindled down… The unexplainable adrenaline rush while waiting for exams to crawl by, the bottomless-pit feel in the stomach. Where has that feeling gone away to now?

Every year in my life that I spent at school and later in college, I have always cherished the count down toward the last day before the summer holidays. It was not that I hated studying/school, and neither was it that I loved to laze around at home. It was just that. A feeling that I would be on holidays for the next number of days of which I never kept count of for fear of finishing it up too quickly. Come to think of it, my daily wake up and sleep schedule did not change either, me being the early to bed, early to rise type. Yet, there was always this mystery quotient attached to holidays. There were also the shorter “winter” holidays, and during the 4 years at spent at boarding school (Sainik School – my high school), I also had the bonus week-long diwali holidays! Long or short, each holiday was as eagerly expected as the previous.

Maybe it was the running up to grandma for a big hug, maybe it was that I could wake up and settle right away to play computer games, maybe it was that I could take long bicycle rides and venture to the beach early in the day before all the traffic, maybe it was because I could splash around in the little man-made pond in our ancestral home, maybe it was the cricket we played in the backyard, maybe it was the cousins, maybe it was … But, I digress.

Each of these holidays were prefaced with a slow build up of adrenaline right through the exam days until the morning of the last exam. (Isn’t it odd that every single vacation was preceded by exams!) And the moment I rush out of that exam hall, the adrenaline was just a little too much to handle anymore! And it was the same routine EVERY SINGLE TIME/VACATION!

Now, I’ve been missing this feeling since the last day of college. It’s not that I’ve not had vacations since. But it has never been the same. No adrenaline build up, no count downs. It just is not the same anymore. I wonder where that feeling went…

First Solo!

The milestones of progression in a pilot’s life, regardless of whether he/she is doing it for fun or whether as a career, is pretty much the same for the first little while… It starts off with a very light-hearted but momentous Intro/Discovery flight where you discover that there exists an entire world of people (aka pilots) that are trying to defy gravity with each take off!! After that, the first peak a pilot has to scale is the very first time he/she goes first solo – the instructor jumps out the aircraft, gives a motivational “get ‘er done!” thumbs-up and you take off on your own to go around the airport once and come back almost immediately to land the aircraft all alone. This amazing experience inevitably involves  looking at the instructor’s seat a few times to ensure that it’s not a dream! The first time up in the air, alone with no one to tell you what to do is an exhilarating event in every pilot’s life that is a cocktail of every emotion imaginable – endless happiness and gut-wrenching fear make the biggest contribution to said cocktail.

Since my first flight with Chris (my instructor), we had done a bunch of flights where I was taught various manoeuvres like steep turns (really quick turns), stalls and spins and they were all a blast! We then proceeded to learn landings which would be my last thing to learn before I could first solo! I was also lucky to fly with a couple of other instructors who gave me different perspectives of flying during this time. Glen helped me realise that even though I am a six-footer, my torso being shorter, I needed to sit on top of an extra cushion to be able to see outside better; while Damien (a former army guy) beat some obedience into my flying.

I had already flown about 27 hours in a Cessna, and I had spent more than 20 of those practising landings… I knew I wasn’t exactly what pilots called “God’s gift to aviation” and the extra time was hurting my confidence. (The average pilot at our school went first solo between 15-20 hours of flight). But, my passion for flying kept me going.

It finally happened! I remember the day like it was yesterday, almost every second of it with as much excitement and fear now as I did back on 17th August, 2007. It was a nice summer’s day, a gentle breeze from out of the north, prompting us to use runway 36 at our airport. Chris and I took off in C-FIYL at almost 10 in the morning and started doing our doughnuts around the airport – take off, come around the airport, land… After almost an hour, Chris (with no emotion) told me to make the next landing our last one and take “her” back to the apron (parking place for aircraft, not kitchen wear!). I was heart-broken yet again, but still decided to make one more good effort at the landing, after which we started taxiing back toward the apron. Just as we got off the runway, Chris told me to stop for a second. Nonchalantly, he opened his door, jumped out and said, go out there for one circuit (aerodrome traffic pattern involving a take off, circle around the airport and land back at the same runway) and come back in. It took me a few seconds to swallow the sudden change of events… With a grin a mile wide, I proceeded to turn around, take off, come back and make a not-so-soft landing with a slight bump, I forgot Chris’s last words… “The aircraft is now going to get a little lighter, so when you come around to land, it might float a bit, so don’t worry…”. I was in a hurry to get the plane on the ground, hence the little bump, which was no biggie, because I HAD JUST GONE FIRST SOLO!!!

First Solo - Praveen

Moving Day!!!

Moved in to www.pramblings.inIt’s been a long-time idea of mine to get a domain name (a www.yourname.com) for myself; my identity on the web, my own domain!!! After debating for long, I’ve finally gone ahead and bought a domain name all for myself…


That’s short for Praveen’s Ramblings… It’s probably a lot easier to remember than praveen.xcuze.com, for sure!! With this move, I hope to get a lot more actively blogging and getting to share my thoughts online more than ever!

So, here’s to an awesome new domain name!

PS: Thanks to Sreejith, an awesome online friend of mine (whom I’ve never met in person even though we’ve spoken over IM and the phone for over 4 years now!) and his domain and hosting service at iTauro.com for giving me an awesome deal on the domain (.in domains are still going dirt cheap at $2.99) and free hosting!

PPS: For anyone who wants to move their WordPress blog from one domain to another, look at How to move a WordPress blog or website/ for very easy step-by-step list!

First flight!

‘Twas a nice summer’s day in oh-7,

Ere not I enter a Cessna cockpit;

Knew that I would be taken to heaven,

Soared, we did, with butterflies in my tummy’s pit!

– Praveen Premchandran.

The twenty sixth of June, Two thousand and seven was a fine summer’s day in Steinbach, MB, Canada. I arrived all excited to get into the air for the first time ever behind the “wheel”… After the formalities were completed, I was introduced to my instructor, Chris Carter (who was my instructor all the way to my Commercial Pilot’s license) and very soon, the two of us (both 6-footers) were squeezed into one tiny little Cessna 152 and were chugging down the runway, speeding up for take off… The rest as they say is history!

I spent the next 45 or so minutes trying to take in everything that Chris was trying to teach me about being gentle on the controls, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I was torn between the excitement of being airborne in a small little airplane, learning to fly, loving the view outside and keeping myself from screaming out aloud like a maniac! What I actually managed to learn that day is kinda foggy. But I do remember that toward the end of the flight, as we were returning for landing, there was a little bit of turbulence (hot summer days cause air to rise, causing turbulence) and Chris was doing umpteen number of small little movements of the controls trying to ensure that I got a nice finish to go with my “Discovery flight”! Taken off the controls, that was the first moment of the entire flight that I think I actually paused to breathe and the burst of air that went inside me told me that I was hooked to flying, and that this was to be the first of thousands, nay billions more flights to come!

Me, with Chris Carter and my fav. airplane C-FIYL
Me, with Chris Carter and my fav. airplane C-FIYL

Tales of Praveen the Pilot!

It’s been a really long time since I put stuff up on this little old rambler of a blog of mine… And in case you want proof, just scroll down to the previous post, and you will probably notice the date tag on that almost 6 months ago. So, I believe I should get on the case, lest my blog becomes yet another piece of space junk on the inter-webs 😛

If you are a pilot, you’d have realised by now… Pilots are among the proudest of the lot called humans. Even the most humble pilot generally has something to brag about and well, that’s how we are! Somewhere along the way when a wide-eyed kid* in a small little 2 or 4 seater aircraft starts churning out hour after hour of flight/air time burning 100LL by the gallon, there happens a modification of the DNA of said kid which makes this kid go from a down-to-earth human being to an awesome, can-do-it-all superhero who defies gravity every single time those landing gear leave terra firma! If you even want proof of what I mean, just visit any General Aviation airport in an aviation-savvy country (read: Canada or the US of A) and visit either the hangar or the pilot lounge and you’ll see a whole plethora of pilots sitting around and telling tales about their adventures… And the best part is, the story teller could be a 50-60 hour Private pilot (read: Amatuer pilot who just got his license to fly without being baby-sat by an instructor) while an airline pilot with thousands of hours could be listening and thinking, “Yeah! I’ve done that! :P”. Among a bunch of pilots telling tales, there is no inferior or superior story.. It’s always amazing stories!

Now, I thought maybe some of my non-geeky (read: non-aviation) friends/family should know of these stories, and also maybe anyone else who likes to listen to a good ol’ Pilot adventure tale… So, from this day on, on a regular basis, I’m going to put down some of the Tales of how yours-truly became a Pilot, and a lot more since then! Hang tight… The first one is going to be up and running in less than 24 hours!

* Said wide-eyed kid can be anywhere between 14 years to 100 years of age… Youngest I’ve seen till date was 14 and oldest was in his late 60s!

Food-for-thought: If only life were as easy as Ctrl+Z

Anyone that has used Computer/Software (especially Word Processing software such as MS Word) long enough ought to know that Ctrl + Z is the short cut to undo last action.  Press the two keys together and the World no longer knows that you tried to do that you just undid.

I was at a restaurant a couple of hours ago waiting for my take-away order to arrive, I realised that I actually craved for something else for lunch. Now, if I were on my computer, I could have swiftly jumped on top of those magic keys and boom, I could reorder what I craved for. But, this is real life, and there I was stuck with what I no longer wanted, my Albatross^.

That got me thinking… Imagine having a Ctrl+Z in real life. Now THAT would be totally radical! Imagine how awesome it would be if you could take back something unsavoury you said/did to someone. It could even bring about World Peace.

A wise man once said “Power corrupts, Absolute power corrupts absolutely^“. And this wise crack saying suddenly popped up in my brain, and then I decided that it was worth giving up my dreams of a Nobel Peace Prize.

So, sorry folks, I am NOT going to invent Ctrl+Z for use in real life. Sorry… Nothing to see here… Please keep moving… Come on, move along…


Just wanted to add this really funny pic from The Oatmeal. Thanks, Stalin Sathithatan

Ctrl Z - Abortion Clinic

The horror that is tagging music from Indian movies (aka Soundtracks)

music_note As a general rule, Indian movies can never make it big unless it has an awesome soundtrack. (Ok, for argument’s sake, I know there are some real good movies out there that have hardly anything to show in the name of a soundtrack, but that’s only been true in the last couple of years!) Like quite a few others of my breed in India, my music collection has been devoted to Soundtracks made in Kollywood, Mollywood and every other Desi-wood movie out there. In fact, I’m pretty sure that at least 90% of my music collection is Soundtracks!!

When I listen to my music, I generally can identify the composers fairly easily with their style (and obviously A. R. Rahman features way more often than others, but that is to be discussed another day) but not quite the singers of the song and when I listen to a good singer, I end up looking up the singer and finding other tracks that make or break my impressions of said person.

With the way ID3 tags have been developed over the years, the information stored is sorted by Album and Artist. Now, our Desi soundtracks are all generally composed by a “Music Director” who is the real Artist in question (well, according to me at least) and the singer is well, just that, the singer. So, I’ve always been divided over my own opinions of whether the “Artist” should be the Music Director or the singer should get the credit for that. Now, if I classify the Artist as the Music Director, then my media player on my pc AND my mp3 player will classify the whole album as done by one Artist, which makes it simpler to sort stuff out. But then comes the dilemma, where do I put down the names of the singers? Most mp3 players only recognize Song title, Album, Artist and Genre. I’ve tried getting it in the Title, and it works not bad until you get to a large group of singers and the mp3 player happily decides to shorten the title and make me mad!!! Now if I try to make the singers as the “Artists” then there is total chaos on how the music is organized, as each “Album” or movie is not classified as 4-5 different Albums because each has a different artist! And chaos ensues…

If there is anyone out there with a good solution to this problem, please help me out!!!

Until then I’ve got to say this (and sorry about the large font and the screaming)…


Rant: Indian food is not just Curry!!!

Wow, I really can’t help but just stop shouting my lungs out to everyone in the world that thinks all Indian (that’s East Indian for you Canadian folks) food is curry. If there is one word in the English language was not more inappropriately used, it’s Curry.

Wikipedia describes Curry as:

Curry (IPA:/?k?ri/) is a generic description used throughout European and American culture to describe a general variety of spiced dishes, best known in Asian cuisines, especially South Asian cuisine.

Working in a pretty global environment at a flight school in Canada, my colleagues come from different countries of the world, but almost everyone belongs to the “European and American culture” as described by Wikipedia. Every time I have food that is natively Indian, it does smell quite different than they’re all used to, and I get the comment, “So, you’re having curry?”. I am then tempted to (and quite often fall victim to the temptation) explain what the term Curry means and how the word is used quite in a derogatory manner and how the food I eat is NOT curry!!

And then the next day I hear, “So, you’re having curry again today?”. So now, I’m used to saying, “Yes, it’s curry again for today!”, and it puts a premature end to the conversation. Come to think of it, Curry is as much a misnomer as is Indian Cuisine, rightly pointed out in this blog post! But one gets so used to it with time that you don’t even think twice once you hear it being used in any sense or the lack of therein.

Signing off with that Rant for the day… (and hopefully back to active blogging!)  Hey, where did I leave my Curry? *sniggers and runs off*

Making those tough decisions

I wanted to start this post or prambling, as I would like to call it, by saying the usual quotes like “Life is full of tough decisions”, etc, but decided to go the roundabout way by writing this line that I just did! Now isn’t that something!!

Anyway, getting to the point. Quite often, the journey of life puts one at the crossroads of taking tough decisions, making the right choice, or more aptly the preferred choice. Now quite a few would may not agree with what I say, but I have always stuck to good ol’ Popeye‘s famous one liner – I yam what I yam, and that’s all that I yam. I’ve always gone the preferred choice than what may in foresight or hindsight be the so-called right choice. It has not always taken me to a bed of roses. In fact, its taken me through more thorny paths than I would have liked, but I have always never regretted or looked back at what I could have become if I had taken an alternate path, because I have always done what I thought was my preferred choice. And my preferred choice has always been heart over head; love over reason, and to that effect, I definitely must give quite a bit of credit to my good old folks at home!

Now, why did such a post come up at this blog here at this moment? Well, its a very silly reason. I was just reading this blogpost which is a review for the movie Santosh Subramaniam. There was a really interesting discussion going on about parents making decisions for their children and so on. The movie, silly for quite a few reasons, actually has quite a deeper meaning running through its arteries. Its all about how some parents end up being overly protective about their children and how it ends up affecting them in the end. The overall theme is spun through all the hilarity quite well.

Coming back to the topic of discussion… So, in a parent-child relationship, who should really take the decisions? If its the parent, how long can the parent continue to do it before the child feels like a puppet? Or if its the other way around, how early does the parent let the child play at the fire and for how long, before the parent steps in and prevent the child from getting burned? I know that with the biggest decisions in my life, my mom and dad have let me have a go at whatever I wanted and have been hanging around just far enough behind me to not let me know their presence but close enough to help out if I have ever needed it. And even though I pretend to not know they are right behind me, I’ve always been comforted with the knowledge that they are always there for me. This support has let me wander into the blue yonder (even literally as a pilot) and go after my dreams. And almost always I have ended up making those tough decisions for myself, I have always liked it!

I know this sounds kinda mushy, but I dedicate this post to the best parents in the world – MINE!!! For being there for me for 23 years and hopefully for many more to come!! Thanks amma and achan!!!

Testing out a remote blogging via BlogDesk

I was reading Jeba’s blog as usual and I saw he was trying out some new ways of blog writing, and he finally hit upon BlogDesk. So, I decided to try it out as well… The install and setting up my blog on the platform was a breeze and being a part-time geek, I generally like to figure things out on my own, but today was one mentally exhausting day and I was ready to shut this thing down if it wanted me to do a lot of setting up in order to get going. But the setup was refreshingly quick and simple. From download to writing this page now took me all of 2 minutes!!!

Anyways, I guess I have all the more reason to blog more frequently now..