This is a long rant, not an expert analysis. Treat it as such.

The current controversy about surgical strikes by Indian Army against Bakistanis is getting even more interesting. After Uri attacks, I wondered if India would strike back or just keep quiet like after Pathankot attacks. I had hopes that India would retaliate but we’re used so much to inaction and “log kya kahenge” syndrome in our foreign policy that I had to watch press conference by Indian DGMO twice to believe it. Predictably Bakis started their whinefest and denied it like they did with Osama, Mumbai attacks, Kargil, 1971, 1948, 1965 and numerous other incidents. But the panicked statements by un-uniformed jihadi Hafiz confirmed that attacks did happen and inflicted serious damage contrary to what the uniformed jihadis of Baki army and civilian jihadis in Baki gobarment were claiming. Then their begging bowl song and dance in UN confirmed it further.

After these attacks, the Baki nuclear bluff has been called out for what it is. The ignorant masses who can’t differentiate a Mig-29 from F-16 will keep on whining but people in relevant places now have confirmation about so called resolve of Bakis about the nuclear threshold. If they escalate the situation by firing on border or more terrorist attacks elsewhere, they will always do so with the knowledge that India will counter-attack and probably disproportionately. On this occasion, certain launchpads and related terrorist infrastructure has been destroyed which according to an educated guess killed a number of terrorists waiting to infiltrate in to India, their handlers who probably hold mid-level ranks and a significant number of Baki armed forces personnel guarding the places. This explains the loud howls of Hafiz and his ilk.
If Bakis keep on claiming that attacks never happened, then good for them and us. They don’t have any reason to escalate and will probably try to deescalate leaving us free to concentrate on our internal matters. In either case, it is a victory of India on a tactical as well as strategic level. It is a long pending move by India and everyone is accepting it openly or grudgingly.

Now there are some usual moles belonging to Congress, AAP etc. who find the success of an Indian initiative led by Modi a bitter pill to swallow. These politicians and their minions (atleast the few I have the misfortune of knowing) were barely able to hide their glee when they thought that Modi regime will not do anything to punish Bakis. As soon as news of the attacks broke out, some of them went in to stunned silence or some congratulated Indian Army while carefully trying to deny any credit to Modi. One congressi claimed that Indian army had done such attacks 4-5 times during UPA regime. It’s good, but what did such attack achieve ? It’s common knowledge that cross-border raids happen regularly on both sides. Perhaps they were a good idea at a local tactical level, but they served little purpose in overall strategic battlefield. As I’m writing this, a former DGMO Vinod Bhatia has denied even this claim of CONgress.
The AAPtard-in-chief pretended to congratulate Modi while asking for proof in the same breath. All of these butthurt losers know very well that details of such operations are almost never made public. When US (Russia, NATO or any other entity) kills Osama, or claims to have killed senior Al-Qaeda or other enemies by air attacks, how many times do you see the live footage ? How many of these idiots have asked for proof or provided proof for the claimed cross-border raids during UPA regime ?

As I said before, I know many Congi, AAPiya supporters and their reactions have been just like the politicians they support. There are some comparatively saner ones, who claim to not support any political party in a public gathering, But their posts on social media prove otherwise. Most of such people are ashamed to be called an AAP , CONgress supporter now and try to hide their embarrassment under the fig leaf of fake neutrality. Then there are some politically aware types who support Congress-AAP-TMC-JDU type parties only because they are not BJP. They are what you call full liberal, leftists types who will actively cheer for disgraced thieves like Kanhaiya, Khalid, Sanjiv Bhatt etc. Third category is supposedly not anti-nationalist but are just blind fanboys who will latch on to whatever their yug-purush will say. There is no sign that they can use their atrophied brain cells and will latch on to whatever their messiah says. It never occurs to them that their favourite politician is acting only to help his own interests at the cost of damaging the nation.
Then there are a few others, who are not as brain dead, but highly impatient. These people were complaining loudly against Indian inaction leading up to the surgical strike and as soon as the news broke out, they started referring to Paki media and playing doubting Thomas.

On a related note, a lot of people don’t like the expulsion of Baki fartists from India. I’ve been supporting it since a long time. I’ll whole heartedly support Bakis performers if they’re like Adnan Sami, but screw the others. Even if art is without borders, the money they get in India should serve Indian interests, not of the enemy. If you can’t get this simple fact, you have one thick skull full of platitudes and little else. Even the Indian fartists supporting Bakis are known Islamists and Bakistan lovers. Son of one such traitor was a friend of Dawood Headley. How can any Indian take such jokers seriously ?

When all is said and done, I certainly don’t say that trust the government blindly. But at least use your brain. Even if you dislike BJP or Modi, these whiners should realise that they live in India and Modi is Indian Prime Minister, whether you like it or not. Supporting Bakistani narrative hurts only the country you live in. If you still believe that Pakis are telling the truth, then I have 3-4 Taj Mahals that I’d like to sell.

Next time Bakis attack India by any means and to be honest, it’s only a matter of time, then Indian armed forces should not limit themselves to just killing the terrorists. They also need to attack the uniformed jihadis, Bakistani armed forces. Destroy the border posts which provide covering fire to terrorists. Attack the supply dumps, bases and Baki other military infrastructure near border. As of now, they don’t have any danger to their own lives. Once they have fear of a strong Indian retaliation and realise that their actions will probably cause their own deaths, they will be far less likely to play the role of an islamic ghazi. This will be seen as an escalation by India and rightly so. Till now, India has played nice and has only losses to show for it. Now Bakis are isolated on all fronts, apart from China and even they are unlikely to support Bakis in such a situation. Modi has played his cards right and we’ll have to wait and watch if the groundwork done in last years will lead to an Indian victory on this front.
Till then, have patience and keep faith.

These are some pictures I took in Shillong Air Force Museum. There was a lot more other stuff, but this is all I’m going to upload for now and is also the more interesting of the lot.

30 mm Aden Gun -Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

30 mm Aden Gun

 

30mm GSH Gun - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

30 mm GSH Gun

 

Artouste Engine III B -Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Artouste Engine III B

 

Bombs, Rockets - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Bombs, Rockets

 

Chakor Pilotless Target Aircraft - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Chakor Pilotless Target Aircraft

De Havilland Canada DHC4 Caribou - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

De Havilland Canada DHC4 Caribou

 

GSH 23 Cannon - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

GSH 23 Cannon

Hawker Hunter fighter Engine cavity -Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Hawker Hunter fighter Engine cavity

 

Hawker Hunter fighter - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Hawker Hunter fighter

Iskra Fighter Trainer, Air Force Museum Shillong

Iskra Fighter Trainer

Iskra Information Board - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Iskra Information Board

Mi-4 Helicopter - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Mi-4 Helicopter

Mi-4 Helicopter Tail Rotor- Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Mi-4 Helicopter Tail Rotor

Mi-4 Information board - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Mi-4 Information board

Mig-21 Cockpit and Engine - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Mig-21 Cockpit and Engine

Mig-21 Information Board - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Mig-21 Information Board

 

Mig-21 cockpit - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Mig-21 cockpit

Missile Pylon and Bomb Rack - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Missile Pylon and Bomb Rack

Multiple Shackle Bomb Rack - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Multiple Shackle Bomb Rack

R-27 Air to Air Missile - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

R-27 Air to Air Missile

SAM - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

SAM

Scale models of air force planes - Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Scale models of air force planes

Utpal Barbara Information Board- Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Utpal Barbara Information Board

Utpal Barbara Information Board 2- Shillong Indian Air Force Museum

Utpal Barbara Information Board 2

 

 

This is going to be a long post as I wish to end this travelogue.

We started drive to Cherrapunji (East Khasi Hills) next morning and stopped at Elephant Falls on the way. It was probably a great place some time back, but now it’s a typical touristy spot swarming with people who get tired even while walking down 12-14 steps. Most of the place is covered with concrete and pathways over the stream. That time the place was full of aunties wearing pungent perfumes, pot-bellied uncles, ugly whining children and selfie sessions everywhere.

Elephant waterfall

Elephant waterfall

We left asap and hit the road. On the way, we drove though another very foggy town and then stopped at Wahkaba waterfall. It had a large number of tourists too but since the place was bigger, it didn’t annoy me that much. The base of waterfall was about 80-90 meters below and there was no way of reaching there. The views of forested valley below were pretty nice. Along the road, a few workers were digging up a small hill. I first thought that those were caves. So when wifey was having something to eat in a shop nearby I walked over to check. Turned out yet another hill being dug up and destroyed by construction mafia for earth and rocks. Pretty disappointing. Then I saw one moron tourist pissing right in to one of the streams which led to waterfall. That idiot had asked me about directions 10 minutes before.  I hope he reads it and is ashamed of it.

View of cloud covered hills on way to Cherrapunji

View of cloud covered hills on way to Cherrapunji

While we were on the road, it kept on raining almost all the time. When it wasn’t raining then it was cloudy or foggy, whatever you can call it. We stopped 2-3 times along the way to take pictures of the views. You see clouds all the while on mountains, but Meghalaya was more than just living up to it’s name. After driving for about 5 hours, we reached our destination. Guide was waiting for us 2-3 km from hotel and got in to the car with us. He was a college pass out but looked much younger.
We reached our hotel shortly Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort in Laitkynsew village. If you read about the property online or on their premises or any of probably dozens of signboards in 5-6 km stretch, you can be excused for thinking that the hotel owners made the living root bridges themselves. Never saw someone trying to take credit for anything else in such a way. When we tried to check in the lady on reception insisted that we show our marriage certificate. I was very angry and asked something like what if I arrived with a man and said that we were a homosexual couple. Would you have given a room then ? She was evasive and just kept parroting lines to the effect that it’s management policy and so on. Wifey had pictures of our wedding on the phone and thankfully that was enough for them to accept as proof of our married status. It was an expensive hotel and the rooms were not worth the money at even half price.

A Hidden Waterfall

A Hidden Waterfall

After leaving the luggage in our room, we left with guide to explore Latikynsew and adjacent Nongwar villages. It was a small, quiet and clean village but with a lot more cats than dogs. Most people were either at work or probably taking an afternoon siesta. The houses were mostly newish and made of concrete, thought there were a lot of old fashioned houses made of bamboo, wood, betel nut leaves and other natural stuff too. There were a few small one room eating joints on the road but most were either empty or had only 1-2 clients smoking or drinking tea. Again, the number of churches in such a small village was surprising. According to the guide, there were 250 households in the village and 3 churches in operation with another one under construction. And these were fairly big buildings, not small cottage like structures that one would expect. It’ll be interesting to see who is paying for all this.

Huge butterflies in village

Huge butterflies in village

We stopped at a point along the road where someone had constructed a resting shed or maybe a gazebo like structure, call it whatever you think is right. It looked over  Bangladesh plains. Most of Indian side was hilly and had dense tree cover. Bangladeshi side was mostly flat and had much fewer trees. The memorial plate on the shed indicated that it was built in memory of people who did something in 1940s .I asked the guide to read it for us. The local Khasi and Garo languages don’t have any script and everything is written in Roman script, probably made popular by missionaries. It is hard enough to read Hindi written in English alphabet. Imagine trying to make sense of words like Latikynsew, Mawlynnong and similar tongue twisters.
The way locals pronounced it sounded nothing like how it was spelled. It is one shitty script and not suited to represent any other language.

View of India Bangladesh border

View of India Bangladesh border

We walked further through the village and reached edge of the forest. Some government department had built a viewing area with a good vantage point few years back with a road leading up to it from a different direction. The road was overgrown with knee high grass though. While we were entering the area, the guide almost stepped over a black snake which vanished in 2 seconds in the dense undergrowth. The views of forested hills and rivers flowing through it was pretty awesome. It was quite hot and humid though so staying in sun was impossible. We sat there for a while and rested before starting to walk back. Shortly after wifey started to feel severe itching all over her body. It was funny till she snapped at me for laughing. Thankfully there was a primary health center on our way back and it was properly staffed. The doctor gave her an injection which gave immediate relief and wrote down a prescription for a lotion. The only medical shop was closed though and the owner’s family informed that it’d open in evening. We reached hotel a few minutes before sunset and guide went back to his village. After some time, I took off to get that lotion which doctor had prescribed and also to get something to eat from the food joints we had seen earlier. Wifey stayed back and said that she’d rather eat in hotel.

A fashionable local child

A fashionable local child

By the time I reached the village road, it started raining heavily and electricity went out. Thankfully chemist shop was open and they had the lotion, but little else except from a few generic counter top medicines for sale. The eating joints we had seen during day time seemed a bit more busier and I entered 4 of those. In every single place no one could understand me or I could understand them properly. The one place where I could understand anything had only some unusual pig dish. I already had my fill of pork for a month and didn’t want to eat more pork, so walked back to hotel.
Upon reaching back, wifey informed that we had to place our dinner order within next 10 minutes otherwise the hotel kitchen will close down. The only was to place the order was go to reception itself because there were no phones in the room. We couldn’t go outside to eat because the gates were locked down after dark too. So we had to walk from our room to reception area under pouring rain to ask for dinner which took about an hour to prepare for 2 dishes. I had ordered some local dish with rice and chicken, wifey asked for some daal and vegetable. What we got was almost inedible. Even I could’ve prepared better tasting food with tyre rubber and starch. Talking about food, the owners also have a restaurant Orange Roots on way to Cherrapunji. They serve so called unlimited thaalis for Rs 200 or more in which you have to pay upto Rs 60 for second serving of most of vegetables. Even more papad cost Rs 5 or 10. They have done a lot of publicity but run the business like a typical thieving money-lender lala shown in old Indian movies. While we were eating, 4 local men walked in and started a small song and dance performance. They mostly sang english and bollywood stuff and 1-2 local songs Since we were still eating at the time and it was raining heavily outside, we stayed in the hall. Next morning while checking out, we found they had charged us Rs 100 extra which was mentioned in a separate slip, not the real bill. We were never informed that there would be charge for it and it was off the books too. If you’ll have my opinion, avoid both these places.

A steel rope bridge

A steel rope bridge

If we had any plans about staying further in that hotel, that put a lid on it. Next morning, we checked out and started our journey towards the living root bridges. The car took us to the starting point to a village from where 3000 steps take you to the first of the living root bridges in Nongriat village which most people visit if short on time. The steps were not exactly even and most of the time too small for me in my hiking boots. Even though we were carrying only small backpacks, the humidity was very tiring and we started getting shaky legs after an hour or so. The first root bridge was near a few houses but off the main path, Though we had seen the pictures and videos of bridges, seeing them for the first time and touching them was an incredible experience. There is a lot of information about these bridges on internet but most miss some small facts like the villagers now use steel wires, bamboo and stones too to make these bridges. We saw 6-7 such bridges and most of them were sturdy, narrow and stable to walk upon. But the first or maybe 2nd one, was still not ready for use and was off main track. I didn’t realise it then and reached the other side only to see a web of roots in air instead of a way down. There were also some steel rope bridges on the way, but they were quite unsteady. For the floor, there were just 4-5 steel ropes put together with metal straps or wires. In some bridges, the ropes were broken too. The rivers below were swollen and walking on a shaking bridge with a heavy DSLR around the neck was a bit unnerving for the first few steps. But got used to it after some time. From that point onwards, I waited for others to completely cross the bridge before I stepped on to take the pictures. We took one rest stop at a small stall run by a local woman. She was selling local lime juice made from some big green local lime and packaged snacks. I wondered if they could live comfortably even if she managed to sell all her stock in a single day. The whole stuff would have cost just about Rs 250-300 at max. But even this doesn’t stop them from being too religious. Majority of businesses and shops stay closed on Sundays almost everywhere in Meghalaya. And Sundays in Shillong as well as other smaller places have most number of tourists coming in from neighbouring states.

Picture taken form a living root bridge

Picture taken form a living root bridge

Guide told us that the water in streams is mostly clear and there are some natural pools too when it’s not raining. But at that time, the rivers were so loud that you couldn’t hear yourself speak standing on the bridges. We reached the famous double decker root bridge area after a while. It is situated in a small village and some people have converted their homes in to guest-house or homestay kind of places.
The guide found one room for us in a guest-house apparently run by some local cooperative society for Rs 400, I think. It was not much, beds were small with thin mattress and not so clean bedsheets, But it was enough for the price and I was not complaining. The view of a sheer rockface with 5 waterfalls in front and the root bridge about a 80-100 meters away was enough for us. The attendant prepared some tea and biscuits for us. There was still some time left for the day and we asked the guide if we could visit Rainbow Falls. He said yes and we left immediately.

Double Decker Living Root Bridge

Double Decker Living Root Bridge

We entered the jungle after walking for a few minutes on a small trail. It was raining intermittently since morning and path was slippery with mud and water all over. So we had to be really careful while walking. On the way, we saw numerous types of butterflies spiders, frogs, crabs and other insects. But apart from a giant squirrel, that too when climbing down the stairs, no other animal. On the way, we had to cross a few streams and got our shoes completely wet while crossing one of those. The guide was wearing sandals so it was not a problem for him. But I’d rather wear shoes in a jungle like that. We also crossed 2-3 more steel rope and living root bridges on the way. The trail on the way has a diversion which leads to Cherrapunji, supposedly a 4 hours hike. But our destination, the Rainbow falls took us about 2 hours. We could hear the waterfall long before we reached it. There was a slight drizzle going on at that time and we suddenly broke through the plant cover face to face with waterfall. The main trail ended there about 35-40 meters from the base but there was a treacherous way of going further down for about 20 meters more . As I climbed down gingerly, the spray from the waterfall grew so strong that I was completely drenched from head to toe in seconds. I had a raincover for the camera, but couldn’t take many pictures due to the amount of water just washing over me. It was hard enough keeping eyes open too. The rainbow waterfall gets it’s name due to the rainbows it forms, not very imaginative. But we didn’t see any rainbow at that time. The water fell on a huge rock on the base from a height of about 15-18 meters There’s another waterfall just above it but was not visible from where we were.

Rainbow waterfall

Rainbow waterfall

A stream of seemingly clear water was joining the bigger stream and I used it to fill up filter water and clean myself a bit. We started back for guesthouse after 40-45 minutes of enjoying the view. The hike back was uneventful apart from a few near falls due to slippery ground. We were fairly tired and completely drenched from head to toe. Surprisingly the village had electricity supply, but the fans didn’t run very fast. By this time, I had used all the clothes I had brought with me. After this we were supposed to go directly to Shimla for something and I needed to keep atleast one clean pair of clothing for the stay there. But wifey had no such problem as she had packed enough for trip worth 3 weeks instead of 10 days and was pretty happy making fun of me. Thankfully, I found one extra pair of shorts in the bag and that helped a bit. We put our wet clothes to dry out on the plastic chair under the fan but it was not a very hopeful cause.
There was still some minutes of daylight left, so I walked out to explore the village. Most houses were made of bamboo, cane etc and some of concrete. There was no apparent design or pattern and the houses were just scattered all over the hillside. Some one was playing Michael Learns To Rock songs in one of the houses, probably a tourist or maybe a local. We saw only one foreign tourist during our stay there. Though there was one senior government official staying in the same guesthouse as ours. We spent some time talking about each other’s experiences and how he got interested in traveling quite late in his life.

View from steel rope bridge

View from steel rope bridge

Next morning, we packed up  as best we could and started the hike back. We were both wearing water-proof jackets and guide was just carrying an umbrella. By the time we reached back, we were both completely drenched from the sweat while the guide was completely dry. The driver was waiting for us in the parking area at the end of walkway. We paid the guide, thanked him for his help and started back. We had some thoughts about going on to see Seven Sisters Waterfall but we had seen so many already and decided against it. Stayed for a night in Shillong again before catching the flight from Guwahati. Spent the next day and night traveling from there to Shimla but that’s not an interesting enough to write down. So ending this Meghalaya travelogue here. If I have some time, I’ll create an extra post with some more pictures next.

The End.

This post is a follow up of my previous post about using Raspberry pi as a media server and a torrent box. Since last time, I’ve managed to fix up most of the problems that came up and now my Raspberry Pi setup is working well as a media server and torrent box. The major update is that the whole rig sits inside an old metal ammunition box. I went out of city for 4-5 days twice in last 6 weeks after turning it on and the whole thing worked extremely well.  It boots up and starts all required processes in case of a power failure without any intervention. As of now it’s not accessible from internet, but I’d rather keep it this way . May be if something comes up in near future then I might think about enabling connections from other networks, but it’s pretty much adequate for now. I had taken some pictures while doing all this, but can’t  find them.
Since last time, I’ve moved the whole set up in to an old metal ammunitions box salvaged from a junkyard. The boxes were not exactly in good shape.  Dust and random debris was everywhere and there were big patches of rust where paint had been chipped off. So my first job was to clean the boxes by a blower, then washing them with water. Later on, I applied some rust remover on rust patches to clean away as much rust as possible. After this point, I applied a coat of clear spray paint on whole box.  It prevents further rusting and creates a nice shiny coat.
Next I bought an extension cord and took out the cord. After fixing the board inside ammunition box, I drilled a hole in the box using my drill, hammer and a file. It wasn’t an easy job with the tools I had. Proper tools for this kind of work in such a metal box are way too expensive. It isn’t exactly clean, but does the job. Now as I’m writing this, I now realise that the hole should’ve been bigger but too lazy to change it now. Next step was to solder the wire of extension cord back which was unexpectedly more difficult than I anticipated. Rest was pretty easy. Hard disk is placed on a aluminum heat sink salvaged from an old graphics card. Rest of the stuff like Raspberry Pi, USB hub and extension board are stuck using double sided tape to interior of box. This whole setup by  itself is pretty rugged and can take some rough handling apart from the power adapter which is a bit loose in extension board.
I was also thinking about installing a cooling fan to dissipate some heat, The fan from that old graphics card is just right for the job. It can be powered by attaching it to a USB cable powered by the USB hub. It’s voltage rating is higher but it ran perfectly fine on 5 V when tested. But the temperature of Raspberry Pi never exceeded 51 degrees even in  40 degrees weather, so dropped the idea.
I’ve also installed Kodi on it and now it can be connected to the TV via HDMI and media played live. Streaming as described above works too, but finding a particular file to play can be difficult when you have a large number of files with no proper naming convention. Kodi can also be accessed over HTTP but haven’t had the time to check the functions yet.  Attached to TV via HDMI, it works pretty well. All of this can be controlled via TV remote or any of dozens of Android apps. The whole setup remains mostly powered on unless I am not streaming, downloading or seeding something. Pi can be shutdown remotely but haven’t tried to enable remote power on option yet.
After purchasing a Netflix subscription, it seems that this box will not be as heavily used, but is still pretty vital considering the limited library available in India.
Following configuration changes were made since last post:
1) Transmission as a torrent client and it’s web interface start automatically at each boot up.
2) File sharing service Samba for accessing files on attached hard disk from other computers on network.
3) miniDLNA for streaming media to other devices.
4) Health and running status of setup can be checked via NoMachine and Android applications based on ssh.
Following are configuration files, mostly for my record:
SMB
#
# Sample configuration file for the Samba suite for Debian GNU/Linux.
#
#
# This is the main Samba configuration file. You should read the
# smb.conf(5) manual page in order to understand the options listed
# here. Samba has a huge number of configurable options most of which
# are not shown in this example
#
# Some options that are often worth tuning have been included as
# commented-out examples in this file.
#  – When such options are commented with “;”, the proposed setting
#    differs from the default Samba behaviour
#  – When commented with “#”, the proposed setting is the default
#    behaviour of Samba but the option is considered important
#    enough to be mentioned here
#
# NOTE: Whenever you modify this file you should run the command
# “testparm” to check that you have not made any basic syntactic
# errors.
#======================= Global Settings =======================
[global]
## Browsing/Identification ###
# Change this to the workgroup/NT-domain name your Samba server will part of
   workgroup = WORKGROUP
# Windows Internet Name Serving Support Section:
# WINS Support – Tells the NMBD component of Samba to enable its WINS Server
#   wins support = no
# WINS Server – Tells the NMBD components of Samba to be a WINS Client
# Note: Samba can be either a WINS Server, or a WINS Client, but NOT both
;   wins server = w.x.y.z
# This will prevent nmbd to search for NetBIOS names through DNS.
   dns proxy = no
#### Networking ####
# The specific set of interfaces / networks to bind to
# This can be either the interface name or an IP address/netmask;
# interface names are normally preferred
;   interfaces = 127.0.0.0/8 eth0
# Only bind to the named interfaces and/or networks; you must use the
# ‘interfaces’ option above to use this.
# It is recommended that you enable this feature if your Samba machine is
# not protected by a firewall or is a firewall itself.  However, this
# option cannot handle dynamic or non-broadcast interfaces correctly.
;   bind interfaces only = yes
#### Debugging/Accounting ####
# This tells Samba to use a separate log file for each machine
# that connects
   log file = /var/log/samba/log.%m
# Cap the size of the individual log files (in KiB).
   max log size = 1000
# If you want Samba to only log through syslog then set the following
# parameter to ‘yes’.
#   syslog only = no
# We want Samba to log a minimum amount of information to syslog. Everything
# should go to /var/log/samba/log.{smbd,nmbd} instead. If you want to log
# through syslog you should set the following parameter to something higher.
   syslog = 0
# Do something sensible when Samba crashes: mail the admin a backtrace
   panic action = /usr/share/samba/panic-action %d
####### Authentication #######
# Server role. Defines in which mode Samba will operate. Possible
# values are “standalone server”, “member server”, “classic primary
# domain controller”, “classic backup domain controller”, “active
# directory domain controller”.
#
# Most people will want “standalone sever” or “member server”.
# Running as “active directory domain controller” will require first
# running “samba-tool domain provision” to wipe databases and create a
# new domain.
   server role = standalone server
# If you are using encrypted passwords, Samba will need to know what
# password database type you are using.
   passdb backend = tdbsam
   obey pam restrictions = yes
# This boolean parameter controls whether Samba attempts to sync the Unix
# password with the SMB password when the encrypted SMB password in the
# passdb is changed.
   unix password sync = yes
# For Unix password sync to work on a Debian GNU/Linux system, the following
# parameters must be set (thanks to Ian Kahan <<kahan@informatik.tu-muenchen.de> for
# sending the correct chat script for the passwd program in Debian Sarge).
   passwd program = /usr/bin/passwd %u
   passwd chat = *Enter\snew\s*\spassword:* %n\n *Retype\snew\s*\spassword:* %n\n *password\supdated\ssuccessfully* .
# This boolean controls whether PAM will be used for password changes
# when requested by an SMB client instead of the program listed in
# ‘passwd program’. The default is ‘no’.
   pam password change = yes
# This option controls how unsuccessful authentication attempts are mapped
# to anonymous connections
   map to guest = bad user
########## Domains ###########
#
# The following settings only takes effect if ‘server role = primary
# classic domain controller’, ‘server role = backup domain controller’
# or ‘domain logons’ is set
#
# It specifies the location of the user’s
# profile directory from the client point of view) The following
# required a [profiles] share to be setup on the samba server (see
# below)
;   logon path = \\%N\profiles\%U
# Another common choice is storing the profile in the user’s home directory
# (this is Samba’s default)
#   logon path = \\%N\%U\profile
# The following setting only takes effect if ‘domain logons’ is set
# It specifies the location of a user’s home directory (from the client
# point of view)
;   logon drive = H:
#   logon home = \\%N\%U
# The following setting only takes effect if ‘domain logons’ is set
# It specifies the script to run during logon. The script must be stored
# in the [netlogon] share
# NOTE: Must be store in ‘DOS’ file format convention
;   logon script = logon.cmd
# This allows Unix users to be created on the domain controller via the SAMR
# RPC pipe.  The example command creates a user account with a disabled Unix
# password; please adapt to your needs
; add user script = /usr/sbin/adduser –quiet –disabled-password –gecos “” %u
# This allows machine accounts to be created on the domain controller via the
# SAMR RPC pipe.
# The following assumes a “machines” group exists on the system
; add machine script  = /usr/sbin/useradd -g machines -c “%u machine account” -d /var/lib/samba -s /bin/false %u
# This allows Unix groups to be created on the domain controller via the SAMR
# RPC pipe.
; add group script = /usr/sbin/addgroup –force-badname %g
############ Misc ############
# Using the following line enables you to customise your configuration
# on a per machine basis. The %m gets replaced with the netbios name
# of the machine that is connecting
;   include = /home/samba/etc/smb.conf.%m
# Some defaults for winbind (make sure you’re not using the ranges
# for something else.)
;   idmap uid = 10000-20000
;   idmap gid = 10000-20000
;   template shell = /bin/bash
# Setup usershare options to enable non-root users to share folders
# with the net usershare command.
# Maximum number of usershare. 0 (default) means that usershare is disabled.
;   usershare max shares = 100
# Allow users who’ve been granted usershare privileges to create
# public shares, not just authenticated ones
   usershare allow guests = yes
#======================= Share Definitions =======================
[homes]
   comment = Home Directories
   browseable = no
# By default, the home directories are exported read-only. Change the
# next parameter to ‘no’ if you want to be able to write to them.
   read only = yes
# File creation mask is set to 0700 for security reasons. If you want to
# create files with group=rw permissions, set next parameter to 0775.
   create mask = 0700
# Directory creation mask is set to 0700 for security reasons. If you want to
# create dirs. with group=rw permissions, set next parameter to 0775.
   directory mask = 0700
# By default, \\server\username shares can be connected to by anyone
# with access to the samba server.
# The following parameter makes sure that only “username” can connect
# to \\server\username
# This might need tweaking when using external authentication schemes
   valid users = %S
# Un-comment the following and create the netlogon directory for Domain Logons
# (you need to configure Samba to act as a domain controller too.)
;[netlogon]
;   comment = Network Logon Service
;   path = /home/samba/netlogon
;   guest ok = yes
;   read only = yes
# Un-comment the following and create the profiles directory to store
# users profiles (see the “logon path” option above)
# (you need to configure Samba to act as a domain controller too.)
# The path below should be writable by all users so that their
# profile directory may be created the first time they log on
;[profiles]
;   comment = Users profiles
;   path = /home/samba/profiles
;   guest ok = no
;   browseable = no
;   create mask = 0600
;   directory mask = 0700
[printers]
   comment = All Printers
   browseable = no
   path = /var/spool/samba
   printable = yes
   guest ok = no
   read only = yes
   create mask = 0700
# Windows clients look for this share name as a source of downloadable
# printer drivers
[print$]
   comment = Printer Drivers
   path = /var/lib/samba/printers
   browseable = yes
   read only = yes
   guest ok = no
# Uncomment to allow remote administration of Windows print drivers.
# You may need to replace ‘lpadmin’ with the name of the group your
# admin users are members of.
# Please note that you also need to set appropriate Unix permissions
# to the drivers directory for these users to have write rights in it
;   write list = root, @lpadmin
[downloads]
path = /hdd
browseable = yes
   read only = no
   guest ok = yes
[Data]
path = /hdd/hd1
browseable = yes
   read only = no
   guest ok = yes
SSH
# Package generated configuration file
# See the sshd_config(5) manpage for details
# What ports, IPs and protocols we listen for
Port 22
# Use these options to restrict which interfaces/protocols sshd will bind to
#ListenAddress ::
#ListenAddress 0.0.0.0
Protocol 2
# HostKeys for protocol version 2
HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_rsa_key
HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_dsa_key
HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_ecdsa_key
HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_ed25519_key
#Privilege Separation is turned on for security
UsePrivilegeSeparation yes
# Lifetime and size of ephemeral version 1 server key
KeyRegenerationInterval 3600
ServerKeyBits 1024
# Logging
SyslogFacility AUTH
LogLevel INFO
# Authentication:
LoginGraceTime 120
PermitRootLogin without-password
StrictModes yes
RSAAuthentication yes
PubkeyAuthentication yes
#AuthorizedKeysFile %h/.ssh/authorized_keys
# Don’t read the user’s ~/.rhosts and ~/.shosts files
IgnoreRhosts yes
# For this to work you will also need host keys in /etc/ssh_known_hosts
RhostsRSAAuthentication no
# similar for protocol version 2
HostbasedAuthentication no
# Uncomment if you don’t trust ~/.ssh/known_hosts for RhostsRSAAuthentication
#IgnoreUserKnownHosts yes
# To enable empty passwords, change to yes (NOT RECOMMENDED)
PermitEmptyPasswords no
# Change to yes to enable challenge-response passwords (beware issues with
# some PAM modules and threads)
ChallengeResponseAuthentication no
# Change to no to disable tunnelled clear text passwords
#PasswordAuthentication yes
# Kerberos options
#KerberosAuthentication no
#KerberosGetAFSToken no
#KerberosOrLocalPasswd yes
#KerberosTicketCleanup yes
# GSSAPI options
#GSSAPIAuthentication no
#GSSAPICleanupCredentials yes
X11Forwarding yes
X11DisplayOffset 10
PrintMotd no
PrintLastLog yes
TCPKeepAlive yes
#UseLogin no
#MaxStartups 10:30:60
#Banner /etc/issue.net
# Allow client to pass locale environment variables
AcceptEnv LANG LC_*
Subsystem sftp /usr/lib/openssh/sftp-server
# Set this to ‘yes’ to enable PAM authentication, account processing,
# and session processing. If this is enabled, PAM authentication will
# be allowed through the ChallengeResponseAuthentication and
# PasswordAuthentication.  Depending on your PAM configuration,
# PAM authentication via ChallengeResponseAuthentication may bypass
# the setting of “PermitRootLogin without-password”.
# If you just want the PAM account and session checks to run without
# PAM authentication, then enable this but set PasswordAuthentication
# and ChallengeResponseAuthentication to ‘no’.
UsePAM yes
TRANSMISSION settings.json
{
    “alt-speed-down”: 50, 
    “alt-speed-enabled”: false, 
    “alt-speed-time-begin”: 540, 
    “alt-speed-time-day”: 127, 
    “alt-speed-time-enabled”: false, 
    “alt-speed-time-end”: 1020, 
    “alt-speed-up”: 50, 
    “bind-address-ipv4”: “0.0.0.0”, 
    “bind-address-ipv6”: “::”, 
    “blocklist-enabled”: false, 
    “blocklist-url”: “http://www.example.com/blocklist“, 
    “cache-size-mb”: 4, 
    “dht-enabled”: true, 
    “download-dir”: “/mnt/hd2/dl”, 
    “download-limit”: 100, 
    “download-limit-enabled”: 0, 
    “download-queue-enabled”: true, 
    “download-queue-size”: 5, 
    “encryption”: 1, 
    “idle-seeding-limit”: 30, 
    “idle-seeding-limit-enabled”: false, 
    “incomplete-dir”: “/mnt/h5/dl”, 
    “incomplete-dir-enabled”: false, 
    “lpd-enabled”: false, 
    “max-peers-global”: 200, 
    “message-level”: 1, 
    “peer-congestion-algorithm”: “”, 
    “peer-id-ttl-hours”: 6, 
    “peer-limit-global”: 200, 
    “peer-limit-per-torrent”: 50, 
    “peer-port”: 51413, 
    “peer-port-random-high”: 65535, 
    “peer-port-random-low”: 49152, 
    “peer-port-random-on-start”: false, 
    “peer-socket-tos”: “default”, 
    “pex-enabled”: true, 
    “port-forwarding-enabled”: true, 
    “preallocation”: 1, 
    “prefetch-enabled”: 1, 
    “queue-stalled-enabled”: true, 
    “queue-stalled-minutes”: 30, 
    “ratio-limit”: 2, 
    “ratio-limit-enabled”: false, 
    “rename-partial-files”: true, 
    “rpc-authentication-required”: false, 
    “rpc-bind-address”: “0.0.0.0”, 
    “rpc-enabled”: true, 
    “rpc-password”: “{87gj106666666h98i8h;lo666666666662″, 
    “rpc-port”: 9091, 
    “rpc-url”: “/transmission/”, 
    “rpc-username”: “transmission”, 
    “rpc-whitelist”: “192.168.1.*”, 
    “rpc-whitelist-enabled”: false, 
    “scrape-paused-torrents-enabled”: true, 
    “script-torrent-done-enabled”: false, 
    “script-torrent-done-filename”: “”, 
    “seed-queue-enabled”: false, 
    “seed-queue-size”: 10, 
    “speed-limit-down”: 100, 
    “speed-limit-down-enabled”: false, 
    “speed-limit-up”: 100, 
    “speed-limit-up-enabled”: false, 
    “start-added-torrents”: true, 
    “trash-original-torrent-files”: false, 
    “umask”: 18, 
    “upload-limit”: 100, 
    “upload-limit-enabled”: 0, 
    “upload-slots-per-torrent”: 14, 
    “utp-enabled”: true
}

Dinner was fried chicken, potatoes, daal with rice. After serving us dinner, the caretaker went to his home for the night. The closest inhabited house in the village was about 150 meters away and the village was pretty quiet and had only a few lights on. So it was a pretty nice, quiet place. A lot of stars became visible few minutes later and we spent quiet a bit of time listening to the sound of river, nocturnal insects  and doing a bit of star gazing.  The beds were not not great but we slept comfortably. We packed up or stuff and started the drive early. We had planned to visit a place call Rikynjai, which was supposed to be a drive of about 4 hours according to Google Map. We called the only hotel there and made reservations. It was quite a bit more expensive then what I am usually willing to pay for a hotel, but it was supposed to be for just 1-2 nights.

Bridge leading over the river, missing a lot of wooden planks.

Bridge leading over the river, missing a lot of wooden planks.

At that time, the location of the hotel on Google Maps was shown somewhere near a small town called Nongstoin (West Khasi Hills) and we made the journey accordingly. Nongstoin turned out to be a small crappy town but the worse part was that the Google Maps was wrong yet again. The actual location of our planned destination was near Shillong, about a 100 km away. Now as I check it, the location has been updated to the actual coordinates. But at that time, we felt pretty annoyed. We thought about spending the night in Nongstoin and then move on to Shillong and Cherrapunji. There were no hotels and the only state run guest house was big but wifey didn’t like it.  So we started looking for some other place to stay.
Saw it on a pear tree outside our room in Rombagre

Saw it on a pear tree outside our room in Rombagre

We made some calls to the tourist department and they told us about 1 hotel 30-35 km away, Someone from the hotel was nearby and he said that he could meet and take us there as the actual location of hotel was on top of a hill in a wooded area with just a trail going there, But he couldn’t meet us and we never saw the landmark he told us to watch for on the way. So we had no choice at the time except to reach Shillong for the night. We reached there and I was pretty annoyed at everyone. Atleast the hotel there had hot running water, electricity and other utilities which worked properly. Hotel didn’t have dinner ready, so we went out to have something to eat and see the city.
Waterfall near Nognstoin

Waterfall near Nognstoin

 Compared to humid  West Garo Hills area, Shillong was comparatively cooler. We walked around looking for a place to eat. I was looking for local cuisine, but majority pf the restaurants just had the usual Chinese, south-Indian, north-Indian kind of stuff. There were a few signboards for bars but all were closed down after imposition of prohibition. People in villages were brewing their own booze (something like a fruit wine called bicchhi) and drinking it clandestinely and I suppose alcohol was available in black market in cities too. After a bit of walk, we found a small Naga food joint. The menu was rather limited and consisted mostly of 3-4 fish, pork and vegetable dishes with rice in different combinations. Wifey didn’t eat anything there though. I also bought a bottle of Naga chilli pickle from there. Only way I can eat it is by pouring 3-4 drops of the brine/oil in a large plate of rice. Eating the actual chilli makes whole mouth go numb and ass on fire next morning. Anyone reading this is welcome to to taste it.
Rolling green hills on way to Shillong from Tura

Rolling green hills on way to Shillong from Tura

We spent another day there and but didn’t like the Shillong city that much. If anything, parts of it like Police Bazar looked more like Mumbai rather than a charming hill city. It’s expanding too much, hills are being dug out, trees vanishing and ugly concrete buildings and shacks popping up everywhere, Traffic is as bad as any other big city but the drivers there don’t overtake in a jam or slow traffic as impatient idiots in rest of India do. It’s mostly because the roads are only double laned and overtaking in jam is a sure way of making thee situation even worse. So people actually follow the rules and don’t make it worse. Unfortunately rest of India lacks this basic common sense.
One interesting thing about the traffic in Shillong is the local taxis. These are mostly small cars like Maruti-800, Zen, Alto type and ply inside city limits. Normally 5 adults can sit in such a car in an uncomfortable cramped way. But these taxis regularly carry 10-12 people. Even the drivers seat has a passenger sharing it and 2-3 on the other one. Back seat will have 4-7 passengers more. How more people don’t die in such an arrangement and cars don’t breakdown in middle of street will remain a mystery. They’re pretty cheap though. Rs 10 -30 (maybe) for most local journeys per person and Rs 100 if you want the whole for yourself. We paid 100 whenever we needed it. Only one taxi driver tried to charge more during our stay there.
Laitlum Canyons

Laitlum Canyons

Next day, we visited Laitlum Canyons, a few km outside Shillong city limits and an interesting place which reminded me of Silent Hill. Once we passed the parking, everything was covered in fog with visibility of 4-5 meters at best. The place was essentially just a grass covered hill with fog everywhere. A slight drizzle and strong wind could do nothing to increase visibility.  A paved path went downwards but we didn’t feel like taking it at the time with rain and low visibility. There are pictures on internet which show the place without any fog and mist, but we liked it better this way. Some locals were gathering grass and digging up earth to presumably to plant something.
On the way back there by a old wood and grass building which was the residence of a local king. Driver asked if we wanted to see it but we drove to the Air Force museum. It was a smaller museum than Goa’s Naval Aviation Museum with the usual Hunter, Mig-21 and some other planes like trainers, transports in one section. Other section had an old Mi-4 helicopter, SAM and scale models of various planes on display. The indoor section had some stuff about history of the place, wars, local war heroes and the usual bombs, missiles etc. But the most impressive thing was a fully armed Jaguar on display on the main road outside air force station.
Iskra Trainer, Air Force Museum Shillong

Iskra Trainer, Air Force Museum Shillong

 In evening, we were searching again for some place to eat and entered one Maniupri restaurant in top floor of an old house. It was owned and operated by an artist family. At that time, they had a very limited menu. So i asked for some salad and one more dish which looked like a yellow, dry barfi but was spicy and salty. The salad was mostly cabbage along with some other veggies, spices but had something really with a strong smell and flavour., so I asked them what was in it. They said it was dried fish. Normally wifey will always take 1-39 bites out of whatever vegetarian stuff I’m eating but luckily for her, that time she had not. Previous night, she had ordered a vegetarian chop-suey in a Chinese place. After a long wait, waiter brought the bowl with a a huge omelet on  top which she didn’t like at all. Perks of being a vegetarian in a non-vegetarian place. 🙂
Our next stop was Cherrapunji and we were most interested in visiting  living root bridges. We searched for hotels and in finalised one in Laitkynsew. Upon asking, they shared phone number of a local guide and reserved a room for us. We called the guide but wifey did most of the talking as I couldn’t understand much of what he said. He lived nearby hotel and we fixed up a meeting point on the way.
More in next post.
More in next post.