Saturday, November 7, 2009

Actions against Climate change!

Ten actions we could take to support the cause:

If you are excited about making the world a little better but don't know where to start...consider starting with a shortlist of what is considered the most powerful actions you could take:

1: Buy A Low Emission, Fuel Efficient Car
2: Limit Your Work Time
3: Buy Less Stuff
4: Buy Products From Socially Responsible Companies
5: Make Time for Loved Ones
6: Eat Less Meat
7: Open An Account At A Socially Responsible Bank Or Credit Union
8: Conserve Energy And Water
9: Watch Less TV
10: Join an Organization You Care About

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rafting in the Ganges!

Rafting in the Ganges refers to where else but Rishikesh-the foothills of the Himalayas which is also known as the Yoga capital of the world.
There was an adventure trip to the north pending since a long time, finally could nail it down with the help of tom-although it took some persuasion from his side and also he had to gather couple of more guys in Sunil and Balaji, both fun n sporty guys.
Our real adventure started right from the moment we landed in Delhi airport! We were to get the last bus to Rishikesh if any, but thanks to Jetlite we reached 15 min late and we had no option but to start in the morning.
So, the plan was to stay in Bala's house and start in the wee hours next morning. We got a taxi from airport to bala'a house which was an old Ambassador, hard to believe to be running; except the horn everything else made noise! But, whatever it may be the seating at the rear was comfortable and thrilling; we enjoyed d drive till d house.
We were greeted by bala's mom and dad in the most hospitable and delightful manner anyone can expect. Reminds me of the importance of treating a guest as per the Indian culture (athithi devo bhava). Aunty had prepared nice sumptuous food and they were waiting for us even after midnight. They saw to it that we were satisfied and went to bed early as we'd to start at 5am the next morning from ISBT.
Reached ISBT by 5.30am and sat for some light food as the eateries at the bus stand had opened for business.
Had some food, clicked few snaps and proceeded to the ISBT of which we'd some expectations.



To be continued...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The thing called "Global Warming!"

Global warming aka climate change is the most widespread word today after globalization. Yes, this may just be another writeup on it from inspirations and real life experiences with an honest intent to make a difference even if its on a granular scale. :)
Conscious or unknowing the society we live in today is causing harm to the environment unabated, which is evident from the climate change and catastrophes we see around us and come to know through the media. Think about time early in the eighties, nineties when we were much more peaceful, valued things and were not drunk by material consumerism as we're today; and do a cross-check on the level of happiness, satisfaction and contentment which we're unfortunately lacking today.
The sustenance of life without material gains and wants maybe out of question, but we definitely can put a check on that by regulating it and differing to lose our identities in the material consumption.
As Eric Hoffer remarked: "You can never get enough of what you don't need to make you happy".
Think as to what extent as participants are we responsible for the destruction of our own biosphere? It's a treasure trove we've inherited where in lies great happiness and potential harmony.
As a matter of fact, the free service which nature does for us if imitated by man through science is roughly estimated at about 35 trillion dollars for a year; and interestingly the revenue of all countries put together sums up to 18 trillion dollars in a year..so aren't we found wanting to preserve the nature which does all that it does for no price?! Well that's what we got to ponder about!
The earth's not endlessly abundant, but we take it for granted. Frugality is the need of the hour and the moment!
When we see around, what we really see is that we've radically altered the Earth, Water, Air; which is exploited and polluted to huge proportions. What we as individuals and countries are doing, is nothing but hastening the condition of our own demise.

Now, comes the basic question everyone asks; what can i do about it? Valid, but if everyone of us instead thinks what can i not do that could help the cause then half the problem's solved. For example, the obvious things like using CFL lights, unnecessary wastage of electricity, over usage of gasoline, thinking before each act - is it going to harm the environment..that'll do as a great start; and amazingly you've taken the first step by thinking what can i do for the cause!
Next dwelve on the cause and follow your passion towards it, so that your mind and soul would show you the way!
We all know the proverb - "Tiny drops make the big ocean!"
As Dicaprio conveys its all hands on the deck time now..so lets make a difference no matter how puny it may look! :)
If we transform from the inside, it definitely would show up in the outside world.
Like inside, like outside...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Self-improvement

Brain fitness has basic principles: variety and curiosity. When anything you do becomes second nature, you need to make a change. If you can do the crossword puzzle in your sleep, it's time for you to move on to a new challenge in order to get the best workout for your brain. Curiosity about the world around you, how it works and how you can understand it will keep your brain working fast and efficiently. Use the ideas below to help attain your quest for mental fitness:

1. Play Games
Brain fitness programs and games are a wonderful way to tease and challenge your brain. Suduko, crosswords and electronic games can all improve your brain's speed and memory. These games rely on logic, word skills, math and more. These games are also fun. You'll get benefit more by doing these games a little bit every day -- spend 15 minutes or so, not hours.
2. Meditation
Daily meditation is perhaps the single greatest thing you can do for your mind/body health. Meditation not only relaxes you, it gives your brain a workout. By creating a different mental state, you engage your brain in new and interesting ways while increasing your brain fitness. One simple way of meditating is to sit in a comfortable position with your spine, neck & head erect in a single line at a particular place which is comfortable and quiet in your house, lawn or garden daily, and then closing your eyes and watching your breath go in and out; do nothing except watching, do not go with the thoughts-let it come and go. You just be and do not hold on to any emotion, thought or memory; it requires some patience though. Daily practice will build that patience and the interest in meditation as a retreat.
3. Food for Your Brain
Your brain needs you to eat healthy fats. Focus on fish oils from wild salmon, nuts such as walnuts, almonds, seeds such as flax seed and olive oil. Eat more of these foods and less saturated fats. Eliminate transfats completely from your diet.
4. Learn to Tell Good Stories
Stories are a way that we solidify memories, interpret events and share moments. Practice telling your stories, both new and old, so that they are interesting, compelling and fun. Some basic storytelling techniques will go a long way in keeping people's interest both in you and in what you have to say.
5. Please Turn Off Your Television
The average person watches more than 4 hours of television everyday. Television can stand in the way of relationships, life and more because ultimately it's an idiot box! Turn off your TV and spend more time living and exercising your mind and body.
6. Exercise Your Body To Exercise Your Brain
Physical exercise is great brain exercise too. By moving your body, your brain has to learn new muscle skills, estimate distance and practice balance. Choose a variety of exercises to challenge your brain.
7. Read Something Different
Books are portable, free from libraries and filled with infinite interesting characters, information and facts. Branch out from familiar reading topics. If you usually read history books, try a contemporary novel. Read foreign authors, the classics, short stories and random books. Not only will your brain get a workout by imagining different time periods, cultures and peoples, you will also have interesting stories to tell about your reading, what it makes you think of and the connections you draw between modern life and the words.
8. Learn a New Skill
Learning a new skill works multiple areas of the brain. Your memory comes into play, you learn new movements and you associate things differently. Reading Shakespeare, learning to cook, writing a blog, appreciating the beauty in good photographs, having healthy discussions about new topics with friends, public speaking, building an airplane out of toothpicks etc all will challenge your brain and give you something to think about.
9. Make Simple Changes
We love our routines. We have hobbies and pastimes that we could do for hours on end. But the more something is 'second nature,' the less our brains have to work to do it. To really help your brain stay young, challenge it. Change routes to the grocery store, use your opposite hand to open doors & do daily activities and eat dessert first. All this will force your brain to wake up from habits and pay attention again.
10. Train Your Brain
Brain training is becoming a trend. There are formal courses, websites and books with programs on how to train your brain to work better and faster. There is some research behind these programs, but the basic principles are memory, visualization and reasoning. Work on these three concepts everyday and your brain will be ready for anything.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ponderable!

"Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth".

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Drive & a Quote!

Had seen this interesting quote on the rear of a car, it goes like this:
"When man kneels, God deals and heals!"

Well this was while returning from a small drive to a getaway near to Bangalore (exactly close to Banarghetta circle), which is a secluded place giving a sense of solitude in true terms..
How many of us wouldn't want to getaway from the monotony of the malls n shopping in the concrete jungle to a quite n peaceful place to rejuvenate ourselves??
I think many, but by d time we escape the traffic pandemonium we lose a good hour or so, which sure doesn't give a pump to the enthu..and we ultimately shelve d plan for later!!

Saturday after the workout in the gym, i and guru were discussing about going for a drive to escape from the madness of the crowded places in Bangalore.
We didn't get any suitable place as all the good places like Savandurga, Mutthati, DD Hills, Shivagange etcetera to name a few were all good distance away..then thought of giving Kanakpura road a try after lunch by 2pm, as it gives a fairly decent drive.
@ around 2pm Jacko called me from Lifestyle. I told him d same n he was ready..he came to my place and the discussion was on, as finding a calm n quite place within a radius of 50km around here is not that easy, courtesy maddening urban development.
He told let's go to a small and silent place near Banarghetta (BG-hereon!), well zeroed in on that and asked Guru to meet us on the way with his car.
We were soon in the car n observing the mad traffic, but thankfully only for a short distance. We were out of the traffic and enjoying the drive courtesy the amazing weather with a light drizzle.
We reached the BG circle in no time and took a right from there to reach the foot of the rock and parked the vehicle. I remember this rock where i'd done a debut mountain ride on my bike last time i'd been here with a group. We started climbing to the other side where the breathtaking view of the sky was awaiting us..to b continued..

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bike trip to Savandurga

Some colleagues and me in the office were planning for a long ride for some time. I and Cheitanya decided on Savandurga. But, as the stretch was long we needed some practice in the form of shorter rides. We went around the Varthur lake stretch (45km) on one weekend followed by Pearl Valley on the next weekend (90km), and was sort of nice preparation. We were five for the Pearl Valley ride, but for the final ride of Savandurga were three of us; as the others had some commitments to attend to.

We were determined to go ahead as this was for what we'd done the preparation, so how could we leave it or postpone it..And, Yes we did it successfully! Scintillating and incredible ride considering the major part of the ride was through lush green forests and Manchinbele lake on the way. This sure was fun and a challenging ride, as there were many grueling uphills on the way (we also had fair amount of downhills though!).

We were thinking about a 100mi ride, but nevertheless this 112km ride definitely had a 100mi ride effect; and was a great one too, beckoning for more long rides..



Stats
Route : Mysore Rd - Kumbalgod - Ramohalli - Manchinbele - Savandurga
Distance : 112 km
Time on bike : 8:04 hrs
Top speed : 50.4 kmph
Average speed : 14 kmph

Friday, May 15, 2009

Chikmagalur Reloaded!

Me and my bench mate in college Kodanda(kodu) were thinking about going for a trek for some time. It was peak summer, so a full trek was partly out of question..so thought of heading to Chikmagalur (which is touted the best hill station in Karnataka) even though d ideal time's in the winter or after monsoons.
More than one reasons for the decision- one we wanted to go to d place frm where we did our engineering, and another was the pestering frm my frnd Tom whom we call Jacko..
He has been behind me frm d days i knw him, for showing him Chikmagalur, coz i created a vivid n enchanting pic abt dis place..but he was partially unlucky as he dint gt 2 see d real attractions of dis hill station which r numerous...
n as a matter of fact he kept abusing me till d evng of our first day der,as it was really hot n we were still driving to reach to "the" places in there. But, that changed once we reached dis hidden waterfall in an estate..!! :)

We started frm Bangalore on sat morning and kodu had brought in 9 of his colleagues as well. So me,tom,kodu and his frnds started in 3 cars....every body was sleeping till d time we were around 70kms frm Haasan (Again famous for the enchanting Belur & Halebid)...We'd to stop here owing to d heavy fog n mist thru which it was very difficult 2 drive, u can say 5m visibility...guys gt excited as it was bt 8.30 am and also it wasn't cold, also it being summer dis was stranger than fiction!


Stopped for some time, had breakfast from a hotel nearby and headed to Ckm (Chikmagalur!). We reached the forest dept. office in Ckm and were disheartened to know dat d first plan of having a safari in the Muthodi forest (which is part of the Bhadra Forest Reserve famous for the best tiger sighting in Karnataka), had come crashing down as tourists were not allowed for safari during summer owing to a lot of forest fires.
Now what..? We discussed, but finally the local boy Kodu told dat we can as well drive through the Muthodi area and go towards the rear side of Mulliangiri peak (the tallest peak in Karnataka-1930 m (6317 ft.)). The drive was incredible and the guys were thrilled, partly also coz kodu's frnd faiz had joined with his old Willys. This frnd of kodu is some expert driver material! Some of us sat with him on the muddy narrow hairpins over and he did some full throttle thrilling cuts and stopped just on the edge of the hairpin in time!! i'm sure who ever sat had their hearts pop out a few times!

the WILLYS!




A stop in the forest (me in front n kodu clicking frm behind)-


The Muthodi forest path-


From here we proceeded to a waterfall, which is in an estate and you can take ur vehicle till a little distance above frm d falls although der r narrow hairpins as u descend down. This place is just before d Honamanahalla stream which is at the beginning of the ascend to Muliangiri peak (the Tea shop here is pretty famous!).

Another snap of the falls-


From here we came to the town as we had to fill the fuel for us n d cars before proceeding towards the remote estate on top of a cliff where we were to put our camps for the night.
This place is not dat easy to locate, but it is an extremely amazing place to pitch tent and light up campfire; all courtesy kodu! We drove towards d place which has curly serpent roads. We'd some confusion finding the cross to take d deviation, but finally did n wen we reached there we remembered dat we did not have kerosene; nevertheless we thought to proceed, as going back and coming back at around 9.30pm was not an option.
So, we started d moonlit night trek soon. The trek was a good climb thru d orange n coffee estates; it was quite tasking for some heavy guys. Finally we reached d top where der is a flat area perfect for pitching tents.
Jacko n Kodu got busy with tent setup with others, and i got busy with the pegs n one of the tents. Now, some people were busy collecting the firewood. One tent was in a bad shape, Jacko exhibited his skills by getting it fixed n ready(Jacko's good at cooking as well!).
We were ready finally with tents and campfire finally and sat around for d drinks n gup-shup!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

NewYear Trip to the "Venice of the East"...

My friend joined me in Alleppey 3 days before the New Year day. We along with my cousin covered the backwaters, beaches and an island called Pathiramanal(meaning "sands of night") which is near Kumarakom in the Vemabanad Lagoon.
We also went to the first eco-tourism site in India called Thenmala, which is famous for its elevated canopy walk through the dense trees and adventure activities.
Here are a few snaps from kodanda's SLR and my Canon SX-10IS.


Our Boat in front...


Yeah..dat's correct, a Lobster!


Lovely Vembanad Lagoon!


Risky snap..eh!!


An island resort!


The Beach Festival..

Beach festival was quite good this time around compared to last year. This starts from the last few days before the new year's eve to the new year. You can see an ocean of foreigners on the beach, in the town, backwaters etc, etc..It's a great festive atmosphere which thrives during this time.
Lot of programs happen coupled with celebrations during the last week on the beach.


Beach at dusk-colours of sky..


A memorable day for 'em..


An attempt to correct d tilted horizon!


Well..wat to say! this's wat firangs love to do..

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bike ride to the water fall!

It had been 3-4 months since some of us had taken mountain bikes in the office. And were thinking about a trip, mountain biking or otherwise for quite sometime. Finally Nandi Hills was tentatively decided as the destination after a meeting. But, as it was our first kinda long trip we were quite circumspect to say the least. After further discussion came to the conclusion that the first trip should be one within a range of less than 100 km up and down to be realistic, which turned out to be wise later.
So, we'd more than couple of options in Bylau village of Chandrayaan fame near Menchinbele lake which i think is quite an amazing lake surrounded by reserved forest area of Savandurga; where i, manu and one of my friend kodanda had been some time ago for peacock sighting and getting some snaps (had also done a climb n trek on the Savandurga rock-which in turn is the largest monolithic rock in Asia! That climb was one gem of an outing owing to the camping on the rock halfway near the remains of a fort!! will put it a later as a blog). Another was the Sholay village Ramanagaram; and the last one was to the lake near Banarghetta National Park, not the national park though.
After further discussion kunal, chaitanya and myself zeroed in on Banarghetta as it seemed there is a waterfall if you take a diversion from the park and the area is quite good for some biking.
We actually preponed the trip by a week which resulted in some guys unable to join. On the preparations front we got a puncture kit, foot pump, got the bike checked and decided on some common accessories and food items to be brought by each one.
The plan was to assemble @6:30 am IST (Stretchable) in front of Silk Board, which eventually became 07:15 am as some of us had to join from Marthahalli and KR Puram.

We started from there at 07:15 and proceeded towards Banarghetta road. Took the first pit stop in the form of a breakfast break near bilekahalli from a roadside mobile shop. The idli-bhajji was really good and sumptuous. Started from there @ about 5-10 mins before 8 am for the park which was 9 km from there. The National park is the closest one to Bangalore which offers you a safari drive, the reason for it to be crowded on weekends; so, obviously we did not prefer it.
We took about 1 hr to reach the Banarghetta circle, where we had a small pit stop @ 9 am to check one of the cycles which had some problem related to the rear brake; which was due to the seldom usage and also it required a servicing badly. We set it right, and did an enquiry about what lies in and around for us to explore or make the bike trip count.
I went to a nearby shop for the enquiry. The shopkeeper told us the deviation to the right leads you through some kucha roads finally to kanakapura which was strange to know. But as I’d been to a waterfall some years ago in that route, I asked him about its whereabouts.
The conversation was in Kannada and he told me it does lead to a waterfall which is near a temple through the jungle and is around 8 km; and also that it was frequently traversed by elephants, which interested me.
Just then a guy intruded the convo and fired a question, “Sir which country are you people coming from?!” – in Kannada of course..to which the shopkeeper replied with a spontaneous gaali, saying “goobe avvar pakistaninda bartayidare! Kannada mathadthayidare, gothakalva karnatakadavare (Ullu ke patte ye log Pakistan se aa rahe hain! Kannada baat kar rahe hain sunayi nahi deta, ye Karnataka ke hi hain)… you can’t really blame them, as it’s something strange for these guys here to see people on cycles with strange looking helmets on ‘em coming all the way from Bangalore..although it’s quite common in Bangalore (legacy passed on from the firings!).

So, we decided to head down the road for whatever lies in store for us and if time does permit, to visit the national park as well.
As soon as we took the deviation and traversed a few hundred meters, we found a rocky hill with a good looking sloppy descend to try some mountain biking. A bit skeptical though as everyone was kinda rookie, we first did some posing for the snaps to be taken on Smruti’s SLR and then pushed our bikes to the top.

I and Chaitanya tried to break the ice by starting off and descending down through the rocky slope with some care coupled with some adrenaline rush. It really is fun doing a mountain ride through these kinds of uneven rocks, though more challenging ones would need some protective gear as well. Soon everyone was at it, repeatedly doing rides. Though Kunal who was very apprehensive initially because of the saying – “Darr kea age fracture hai!!” and was using all parts of his body except the hands to give him support on the way down, started feeling the thrill and rode many times with Rupak, Smruti and the best of the lot Chaitanya also giving company. Rajesh opted to be the cameraman though.



Immediately we embarked on to the muddy terrain towards the waterfalls clicking few snaps on the way. At this point of time the distance covered from Bangalore silk board was around 17 kms, the max speed was 42 km/hr and the average speed was 13 km/hr – courtesy the cyclocomputer which we had.
We continued till we took a break near a beautiful pond beside a temple, filled and blooming with pink water lilies giving it a lotus kind of aura from far. Sighted a small bird on the lily leaves, which forced us to a few more clicks. Started pedaling ahead feeling that the ride was beginning to be more than worth it.





The next few kilometers were filled with dilapidated roads, kuccha, pukka, very nice tarred roads which were a pleasure to ride on, road under construction – tough to ride on and last but not the least a stretch of road having only big boulders on it which was quite interesting n fun to ride on. To reach the bouldered road we’d to take a deviation towards the right from the road we were in and was in a primitive state. The locals told us to take the road which leads to our destination.

Finally after 7-8 km we reached the temple where in a sumo was parked in. The guy who was at the entrance of the temple told that you gotta go to the waterfall through the temple and that the temple as well as the land around the falls belonged to his grandfather, so we gotta pay and enter. This pissed me off and I’d a verbal duel with him, but finally d guy became normal and we thought let’s go ahead by paying the meager amount. We took our bikes descended down the steps through stones acting as a bridge through the small gushing stream on to the rocks and bushes and at last reached the falls.
Parked the bikes near a stream so that no one could lay their hands on to have some fun, and crossed d stream to reach d falls. The waterfall was good and refreshing to see after a long ride, as a cold shower was the only thing that could refresh us. We finished quite a bit of the food in the form of fruits and chocolates by the time we were there.
We jumped into the water one after another. Had a refreshing n cooling shower and then took the path back to the place where the bikes were parked. Reached the temple took rest for sometime and then started back to the Banarghetta circle. The ride back was quite something, to start with it was good n then came the tough stretch – the under construction road as an uphill which literally screwed n baked us in the scorching sun.


Finally came to the circle, filled the stomach with something solid followed by some rest under a tree near an adjacent abandoned old govt building. Pedaled back to Bangalore and reached by 5-5:30 pm and we called it a day by dispersing to respective places.

All in all a great ride to start with, for the future long rides.