Sunday, 4 May 2008

Mousetrap - 147

unseen dharamsala
Dharamsala, quiet little place that is, has been in the news a lot lately, thanks to its most famous resident, the Dalai Lama. You see, after he made his escape from Tibet, the Indian government shunted him around a bit before giving him a place of residence in Upper Dharamsala, also called McLeodganj. Mcleodganj was a sort of hangout for army officers and their families in British times (there’s a cantonment nearby, in Forsytheganj), but, so I’m told, became pretty much a ghost town after independence. Other Tibetan refugees flocked to the place, and it became the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. Little Tibet, as some call it, also has a library, monasteries, schools and cultural centres that attempt to keep the culture alive. This site is part of a larger photo-project, an ‘international arts project for workers and refugees to describe their lives through photography.’ The site introduces eight Tibetan refugees, and links to their blogs. It’s a look into the live of a dispossessed people through their eyes and words.

Wired How-To Wiki
Wikis epitomise the whole user-generated content revolution. Sites like Wikipedia and its offshoots are abuzz with activity, generating volumes of content, some of it downright dubious, some of it of questionable value, especially for fogies like your columnist. Where we we? Where are my dentures? Ah yes. This wiki has a more specific focus: it’s a how-to site, with a tech slant. Naturally considering that its parent, Wired magazine, is an iconic geek publication, one that has chronicled the rise of the web and grown with it, and features some of the best, most lucid writing on tech topics. The site offers ‘projects, hacks, tricks and tips you can edit.’ It isn’t all geeky though. Amidst advice on adapters for electronic devices and building servers, you’ll also find ways to reset a dislocated shoulder, alternative ways to lace your shoes (there are 43,200 of them, would you believe?), or bar tricks. There’s a bonus: a small section of how-tos written by Wired staff.

Are you a CA?
The ‘CA’ that your columnist uses in the title doesn’t stand for Chartered Accountant. The ‘C’ is for Certified, and the ‘A’ refers to the, um, tail-end of your digestive system. Also known as the the A*****e Rating Self-Exam (ARSE), it is a set of 24 questions set in the work environment, by the writer Bob Sutton, part of his promotion for a book. If you’re enough of a, erm, navel-gazer to be reasonably sure of your own status on this important question, try taking it as if you were someone else: a colleague, perhaps. or your boss.

Clean Journeys
Responsible Travel
It’s summer. You’re off on vacation with the spouse and the brats. But have you thought about the impact of your vacation on the planet? This site has listings for 270 tour operators all over the world, with n array of activities and countries. It’s not just for the well-heeled westerner or the global traveller. We desis and impoverished columnists have some choices too. There are 181 India holidays listed as of this writing. Not solely travel agents, mind you. There are less-known things like self-catered holidays and volunteering opportunities. And there are loads of user reviews of the listed holidays to help you make up your mind. Have a good trip!

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, 4th May, 2008.

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