Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Bananthimari betta (2nd Oct 2010)

Last saturday(25th Sept), we did a failed attempt to scale this hill. Sandy had called for a random hill climb on the Kanakapura road. Pulled Vivek along and started at 10:30am. Saw quite a few hill all along, but nothing caught our attention like this one did. It started showing up from quite a long distance before Kanakapura. On the Kanakapura-Ramanagara road, parked our bikes and started walking through the fields to reach the base of this hill. It took quite a while to reach the base. Since we had already walked so much to reach the base, we started climbing from whichever side of the hill that was nearest to us, without even thinking if it would take us to the summit.
Maybe because of wrong timing (started around 11:30am) or wrong path we took, got stuck up between boulders and the thorny shrub forest. Fully exhausted and no idea of which way to go, we had to call it off.
Its an insult to us as well as the peak, if it is left unfinished. So, with great vengeance and a greater force(with 5 people this time) launched an attack on the hill on 2nd Oct. Vivek couldn't join us, instead Dayanand, Sunny and Shiva poured in. Yamaha, Suzuki and Pulsar.. this time set out from Bangalore at 6:30am. Rode all along the muddy track till the base of this hill. It was an adventure in itself to balance ourselves while driving through slush and rainwater streams. Parked all the 3 bikes near the hill, and started trekking on whichever face of the hill, we felt trekkable. It was around 8:30am and the weather was relatively cool. Again, dont' know if it we had again chosen the wrong face of the hill; we encountered either steep climbs or deadends with huge boulders and thorny forests. It had rained the previous night, and the weather turned very hot and humid as we climbed. Slowly, Dayanand and Sunny dropped out and decided to wait while the rest continued. Whenever we got deadends, we climbed down a bit and took a detour. Had to use all the military skills :) . Never expected this hill to be so tiring and challenging. It was either 70 degree steep climbs or dense forest patches full of thorns. Many a times, we felt like abandoning ... but how can our Ego allow it!! It would be the 2nd failure, if we do so. Finally when we reached the summit half-dead and dehydrated it was around 1pm. The hill top was a flat rocky ground almost the size of a football field. Never expected such a vast flat area on top of the steep hill. Without wasting much time, (as we had no water left) started the descent. Descent looked tougher than the climb. Whichever path we thought was the best route down, led us to steep drops or dense thorny vegetation. At one point, we had to ask our buddies who had returned to the place where the bikes were parked for directions. In between all our troubles, it started to rain. Steep naked rock where we can't even stand straight and it starts raining. Imagine our plight.. .. Thankfully, rain god showed some mercy and the hot rock made sure the rain water evaporates quickly. Finding the rock face which can lead us to the base, was the greatest challenge. Our brains were switched off due to dehydration. At one point, Shiva was trapped in a creek with nowhere to go. Couldn't pull him out too, as we were not firmly placed. He couldn't go the other way as it was very steep. It required lot of planning and dare to come out of it. Most of the downward journey, it was "Bum equipment" or the "6 point contact technique(jaara bandi)" we used. With parched throats, torn shoes and a punctured body (with thorns all over) reached the base where our buddies were waiting with water to extinguish the fire inside :P

Took some rest below a tree, got to know that there is a mari temple beside the hill from where there is an easier route to the top. BUT... who needed it???? The route we took made it the toughest trek we ever had around Bangalore and the most memorable one.

Heard a guy named Vinay had an emu farm nearby. Visited that place, but he had moved them out to some other place for rennovation :( . But the route to his farm, gave us some beautiful angles of the hill.

Next in agenda was the Arkavathy dam a.k.a Harobele dam. Did some pet pooja at Kanakapura and took the sangama road. With rainbows and green fields giving a welcome sign, the 20km distance was covered in no time. Spent some time leisurely lazing around and watching plenty of birds around.

Started the return journey by 5:30pm. Stopped at a bakery after harohalli to munch some yummy capsicum puffs, dil-pasand and what not. Hungry as hell we were..
Back at home sweet home, didn't waste much time to retire on our beds, of course.. needless to say on our tummies ;). Sunday was reserved for search and hunt operation. Finding thorns and removing them from God knows where all from our body.

More pics here

ಮಳೆ ನಿಂತು ಹೋದ ಮೇಲೆ ...

Some pics taken in our garden just after the rains...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

1000+ kms in 2 days on 2 wheels (17th and 18th July'2010)

Officially my boxer belonged to my uncle, but it still remained with me. Had to hand it over to him at the earliest. And Karthik was asking if I could come along with him to Kukke. :)
Something striked in my mind, why not club these.
Karthik on his GS150R and me on the boxer, set out at 3:30am planning to cover most of the distance in daylight. I was struggling with the bald tyres and blunt brakes. Not to mention, the speed as well. During downhills, it would touch 80kmph though... Took some nice snaps near Kadur in some sunflower field.
Atlast, reached Nagara around 12:30pm. The route we took was Bangalore->Shimoga->Hosanagara->Nagara. After Hosanagara, it was like entering rain territory. Had sumptuous meal at my uncle's place; slept for a while and started towards Kollur at 4. From now on, it was 2 on 2 wheels. All through the rain, enjoying the views of the beautiful balebare ghats, imagining trekking kodachadri in this weather; we reached kollur by 6pm. Had darshan within an hour and thought of carrying on further towards dharmasthala, as we had a long day ahead of us.
Chilling night, drizzling rain, pitch darkness and only one headlight beam. The road never seemed to end. No sight of humans to ask for directions even if we get lost. We decided to halt at Karkala. It was nearly 11 when we reached Karkala. Checked into some hotel and called it a day.

Sunday, after breakfast, it was around 8 when we started our journey. Karkala->Belthangady->Dharmasthala. Some time was lost in repairing the GS which had developed some bend. It was around 11 when we reached Dharmasthala. Seeing the weekend crowd, we decided better to skip dharmasthala, as the main agenda was Kukke. Straightaway, headed to Kukke, had darshan before the temple closed in the noon, and started towards bangalore by 2:30pm. Rains got heavier from here, but who cares ... :P
It rained continuously till we crossed Sakaleshpur. Then after, no signs of clouds too... forget about rain. Reached home by 9pm. Then on, it was me and my bed. Straightaway leaped on my bed; and ofcourse slept on my tummy ;)

More pics here (Photo credits to Karthik)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

My "Green" House

This is an effort to list out my and my family’s efforts in making a small patch of land which we call “Our Green House” go green. Going green is not a pain; it’s a way of life which makes you feel proud of what you are. Heres the list ranked as per my analysis of effectiveness in reducing carbon footprint.

1) Go VEG. And I rank it on top of the go-green efforts. Apart from the satisfaction of not killing to eat, it helps you minimize your carbon foot print. Going as low as possible on the food chain makes your carbon footprint (w.r.t food you eat) almost equal to an herbivorous animal. And never waste food. Think of the "nature days" (just like staff days) gone for one of your meal. If every grain of rice takes 4 months. Can you count the nature days of your one meal?
2) Have some breathing space around.
Having nearly half of your site as a green garden space is a luxury for city dwellers. I’m blessed to be one such :) . Apart from supporting a small eco-system in itself and providing a lung space; it also provides sufficient raw materials for chutneys, some veggies and fruits. Also, having space all around will give you access to ample air and sunlight within your house. What more can you ask for in life, when you are privileged enough to be able to smell the aroma of soil and get soiled when you water your plants after a tiring/boring day at work. Infact I read somewhere that Bangalore “was” once called Garden city not because of Lalbagh or Cubbon park, but because of the small small gardens that used to decorate every patch of land (once upon a time).
3) 5-bin system to segregate garbage generated at home.
a. BBMP bin – This fella gets only the garbage which has to go out. This includes too soiled plastic, thermacole, sanitary waste etc. This hardly goes more than a kilo per week.
b. Dry combustible waste – This includes coconut shell, waste paper, cardboard, other dry waste from garden. This goes to our waste-wood water heater (more about it later)
c. Plastics – This obviously goes for recycling. We also take care that plastic covers are re-used as much as possible before they are recycled. Also, even as small as chocolate wrappers go to this bin.
d. Wet kitchen waste – Wet kitchen waste (vegetable peel, fruit peel etc) along with liquid waste from kitchen (like water used to wash rice, left out sambar, spoilt milk etc) goes to this bin. This is later consumed by our “Biogas plant” (more later).
e. Newspaper and other recyclable waste – This bin gets newspapers, cardboards, electrical items and other items that go to the Kabadiwala.
4) Fourth in my ranking is our biogas generator. This joined our family only a month ago and the work it does is astonishing. I got it from Biotech. After lot of homework, procrastination and suspicion, I ordered this one.
Just half a bucket of kitchen waste (liquid+solid) and it gives us gas enough to meet more than 80% of our cooking needs. We spent around 20k on this unit and atleast initial figures show that it’ll save atleast 2k per year (considering one LPG cylinder lasts for a month and costs 350Rs). Not only it saves bucks, it makes you self-sufficient. Believe me, the shift from being a consumer to a producer is a very radical one. Its so amazing that the waste you were supposed to throw away is still so valuable. And yeah, forgot to mention, the liquid which comes out as waste from this is high in NPK which is a feast for plants.
Also, think of the methane which would have otherwise escaped to the atmosphere (from landfills) and contributed to green house effect; you are using it to cook. And methane is ranked more dangerous as green house gas than carbon-dioxide. Earth would bless you for converting methane to CO2 :)
5) Use solar energy:
a. Solar water heater: I think almost all houses in Bangalore have this one. Not only it is environment friendly and saves bucks, you also get a 50Rs discount on your monthly electricity bill.
b. Solar inverter: Almost every household nowadays has an inverter. How about having a solar inverter? Got an 800VA hybrid solar inverter from Tata BP solar half a year ago. Its initial costs are high, costs about 2-2.5 times more than a normal inverter. Solar panels cost more than half of the amount. But, having it means, you have a power plant at home. Clearly visible savings of 200-250Rs per month. This inverter can be charged by either solar energy or electricity. It comes with a charge controller which basically is a comparator that selects the stronger signal between solar and electricity. At home, we generally switch on to this inverter every morning (once the sun is out) and it generally comes upto 8pm, satisfying all our lighting needs (lights, fan, TV).
c. Solar lantern: This one has moved to a corner after we got the solar inverter, but still we keep using this sparingly. A very valuable asset too..
6) Rain water Harvesting: Apart from the rainwater harvesting that naturally happens through our garden, we have altered the landscape of our garden such that all the excess run out rainwater is directed towards one location in a corner of our site. Apparently, that corner had an old defunct underground tank 4X4X5 in size (defunct due to the coconut tree roots that ripped it apart). The only thing we did was to make the tank bottomless i.e. remove concrete from its bottom and make way for rainwater on its top. The bottomless tank was made deeper (about 10ft now) and 4ft of it was filled with sand and pebbles. Also made sure that the rooftop run out rainwater also gets directed towards this percolation pit. Not much spent on rainwater harvesting; only a day’s job for the mason; no plumbing/pipes installed. Works wonders. Our borewell is also adjacent to the percolation pit. In just one year, hardness of the borewell water has come down. Happy that its become mandatory in Bangalore. More happy that BWSSB didn’t have to compel me to do this :P
Cities flood because there is concrete everywhere and no place for rainwater to seep in. Just imagine if every household harvests rainwater; how much less stressed our drainage would be and how much less flooded our cities.
7) Waste wood boiler: I think this one was bought about 6-7 years ago. Before we got the solar water heater, we used to heat water using this daily. Waste wood from our garden is more than enough for 3-4 days per week. In bangalore, we get around 300 days of good sunlight for solar water heater. For the rest 65 days, we have this Waste wood boiler :). I think it costed around 8k at that time. We had got it shipped from Warm Stream, Gujarat. Heats water quickly with very less smoke. A nice way of waste management indeed.
8) No more wood policy - Whatever wood(i.e furniture, doors etc) is there at home right now is fine.. but no more of it. During the renovation of our house a year ago, used PVC doors; used PVC panels to make shelves on our chajjas; got plastic furnitures; used metal for ventilators. But no wood .. There are a lot of alternatives available for wood nowadays and they workout to be cheaper as well. One just has to lookout for it.
9) Replaced every incandescent bulb with a CFL. This change was done long ago, ranking it at 8th position. Also, with just a bit of survey, reduced the wattage of CFLs at places wherever possible. For ex: If you have 2 CFLs in a room, change the most used light to one with lesser wattage. If you need more light, you can always switch on the other one. With some small changes like this, you can see a significant change in your electricity bill.
10) It has become a habit to check for corporation water before using the overhead tank tap. Generally, overhead tank water is costlier as it involves pumping and storage costs. Its not a tough habit to cultivate, isn't it..
11) Apart from the biogas generator for kitchen waste, we also have a large drum to compost dried/green leaves from our garden.
12) Never throw away even small bits of paper or plastic on the roads. Think of it, if you can carry a chocolate, why not it's wrapper after eating it. Afterall, it is lighter than the chocolate. Be sensible citizens and dispose properly. Also, buy packaged drinking water only if it absolutely necessary. Generally, wherever you go, our people are kind enough to provide you potable water to drink.
13) Use things until they are no longer usable. If you are bored of something, donate it to the needy. Don't have a consumeristic approach.
14) Walk or cycle to places nearby. It improves your health and environment both. Stay fit. Involve yourself in more physical activities. This will cut your medical expenses. Spend more on eating good food rather than medicines. In a way, even this makes you light on the environment (by reducing effluents from medicines factories).
As I said earlier going green is not an effort, its a habit; a way of life.
Next in my list of things to do is a roof garden. This would increase the green space as well as reduce the room temperature (inturn reducing the fan usage). Still thinking of more options that can be implemented at home.

Apart from turning my house into a "Green household", I have to get more involved in green groups like "Green Commandos" and do my part towards the society. After all, for the success of any project, first oneself, then the society should get/made involved wholeheartedly.
Lets do our part and paint the earth Green..

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A day of Endurance test (11-Apr-2010)

Saturday, I met a few friends in my college. Occasion was to give some pre-placement tips to our juniors. AJ, me, chaitra, shesh, madhu, satish, gaurav chowdhury from 2003 batch,  ranga and pratibha from 2009 batch ... gave some intrw tips to the juniors.. donno how much was useful... paapa.. they were not yet aware of GSM/CDMA/3g/4g and I had planned to give some info on it :( ... i guess.. chaitras' session on how to face intrw..AJ,Gourav's session on GD.. and 2ppl from 2009 batch had a session on aptitude.. guess.. only those were of some value.
Rest of the day was time to laze around. Did nothing worthwhile :)
Had a run in IISc on Sunday, Science and Technology run 10k. Don't know how running will help promote Science and Technology. Atleast it'll keep lazy ppl like me ON THE RUN. Route was very scenic and well under the tree-cover. Didn't feel too exhausted though. Was able to finish in less than 54 mins. Might be my personal best ( I seriously doubt if it was actually 10k ) :P Anyways, got a nice T-shirt and a cap. My earnings for the day :). Came back home by 10:30am, finished all the routine activities. It was sunday and my mom had assigned me some cooking job too :( . Cooked, ate, slept. It was time for my next activity.
As promised to Vivek earlier, I had to accompany him on a trek to Nijagallu betta. My legs were still stiff and fatigued.. but still promise is a PROMISE ;) and when it comes to loafing around, I'm a NOMAD. :P
Again, on my Suki, left home at 2:30pm. Vivek came with Varun, Mohan and his Apache to the NICE road exit near PESIT. It was one of the hottest days in April and we were out grasping as much solar energy as we could. My Suki zoomed on the NICE road in 100s. It took around 20mins to cover 31kms and reach the Tumkur road exit. 

Nijagallu betta is a hill near Dobspet. Just in front of the Kamat Upachar, after the railway crossing. We were there by 4. We'd thought that this would be a deserted place, where I could rest till the sun sets; click some photos and get back. But, I was wrong. Theres a small temple of 'siddheshwara' and a darga amidst traces of fortification. People were coming in masses :( . And the place was also well littered :( .

Actually the place was very scenic with beautiful rock formations, one just had to edit and remove some garbage from the scene. Anyways, we went upto the summit, found a deserted calm place. Slept for a while awaiting for the sun to set. Sun god played some light and dark games and hid himself behind the clouds. No sunset, but the views were worthwhile.

We were back to  Bangalore by 8:45pm. Again, thanks to the NICE road. I also did some speed testing on my Suki. She could go upto 110kmph with a pillion rider and still had wheels firmly on the road. Good enough ...Ate, slept. Woke up next day counting my aching muscles.. I could count atleast 500 :P . Here are some photos.

Peaceful sleep in a bad hot summer ...

Bangalore boiling.. and this was how our tiger 'Mukunda' a.k.a mukku was sleeping. Is this an attempt to keep cool by increasing his surface area? or is he doing 'aankhon ki gustakhiyan maaf ho...' with his feline gf in dreams?  [;)] OR was he drunk ? [:P]

Monday, March 29, 2010

And I ran like Mad !!!!

It was the Runners For Life (RFL) Mad 5 run on March 21 and I ran like Mad. 
It was organized to mark the 5th anniversary of RFL.Just on the previous day, I was back from Tumkur biking and Ramedevarabetta trek. I was feeling very lazy. Upto the nth moment, I wanted to skip the run and just sleep. Dont know what made me wake up early at 4:30am and go for the run. My legs had not yet recovered from the previous day fatigue. Just thought of giving it a try and have some cake :P
Again, set off at 5:30am with my Suki to Prakruthi resorts near Devanahalli airport. Reached there by 6:15, warmed up a bit with 2 of my Moto-colleagues and got ready for the race. It was a relay race. Teams of 5 were formed randomly. Each lap was around 450mtrs and the total time given was 1.5 hrs. The team which completed the maximum number of laps was the winner. Initially I thought it would not be a gruelling one when compared to half marathons. I was out of practice and I also told one of my colleagues that this is one such race where the beginners' luck would work. I think I was wrong .... Luckily or Unluckily, my team had good runners. One guy was a Sunfeast 10km winner and the other was in Police dept. The other two, had practised this format of running and were well prepared. I was the only  outcast. I had to keep up with them, and didn't want to be a spoilsport. Had to sprint for 450m and my next turn would be within the next 7-8 mins. It was gruelling. I initially thought that the relaxation time between 2 runs would be sufficient, but nope... you dont' even get enough time to have a cup of water and get your breath back. Still, had to push... I averaged around 110 secs per lap. Every runner was given a token during his lap and he was supposed to drop it in a drop box with his team's number.
And it was our team that topped. We did an unbelievable 52 laps in 1.5 hrs. That comes close to 23.5 kms in 1.5 hrs!!!!!!!!!!
AND YEAH!!! THIS WAS MY FIRST EVER WIN IN A RUNNING EVENT!!!!!!!! I got Rs.3k worth Nike voucher from RFL !!!!!!!!

All credits to my team-mates. It was only because of them that even though I had still not recovered fully from the previous day's trek, I was motivated to put my best.
All throughout the run, it was the running spirit that prevailed.One young girl <10yrs old ran along with her father in another team, and she did better than most of us!!. Could see people even with injuries running without quitting. Needless to mention, the cake and breakfast was like a soothing balm on the pain :) Heres the official writeup on RFL website.

Tumkur- My second long drive with Suki (20th march 2010)

Met Karthik while going home after office on Friday. Surprisingly, both of us didn't have any plans for the weekend. Our visit to Shadakshari's house in Tumkur (Singapore friend) was long due, more so after he was promoted to Fatherhood. We couldn't meet him when he was here on a vacation. Nor could we go during his daughter's naming ceremony. Thought of meeting his daughter. The plan was formulated instantly.
Left Bangalore at 8:30am on my suki. I was planning all along to somehow include a small trek today. Passing by Dobbspet, I noticed the Nijagallu betta just opposite the Kamat Upachar. Thought this could be a nice candidate on our way back. But, destiny had some other plans.

Still my bike was in its break-in period. Not allowed to go more than 60kmph... It was nearly 10:30 when we reached tumkur. Shadki's brother Himanna, came immediately with a wide smile to receive us near the SIT. It took no time for him to recognize the trekkers in us. He promised to take us to a nearby hill, once we get refreshed and hes done with his work in a couple of hours.

Next couple of hours was for the curricular activities. Played with Shadki's daughter, talked about the good old days in Singapore with Uncle and Manju akka, had a feast of jamuns and chapatis. By then, Himanna came in, and it was time for the extra-curricular activities now. The hill he took us to was Ramedevarabetta. It's just behind the Siddhaganga mutt. The access point was through Madanayakana halli. The hill was the highest in the surrounding area giving good panaromic view of Tumkur city.

The climb was steep in a few places. Recollecting all the food we had in the morning, we took not more than 1-1.5 hr to reach the peak. The peak has a small temple, again in ruins. Its said that Lord Rama had stayed at this place during his Vanavasa. There is a beautiful pond full of lotuses within the fort wall. Of the history whatever remains on the hill is the temple and the remnants of fortification by madanayaka. Another interesting thing we noticed was something like the 'seeteya seragu' near Hampi. The mineral deposit or difference in rock formation had led to a strip which was running through the rocks for more than 100mts.

The hill and the surrounding scrub forest seems to be inhabited by wild boars, rabbits and many species of birds; which was evident by their faeces. We could also see the forest burnt down in many places by miscreants. I hope they at-least had a faint sense of the damage they are causing. Nature takes centuries to build an ecosystem; which can be brought down to ashes by one spark from a fool's brain. Same goes with civilization; the uncivilized have always won over the civilized. While it takes centuries to build a civilization; one barbaric invader can bring it down in days. Atleast in case of well known protected forests, if fires broke out, it would be a news. There would atleast be some efforts to put off the fires. But, sadly people dont' consider these scrub forests as forests; encroachments, quarrying, hunting, forest fires are rampant. The apt word for this is 'ಅರಣ್ಯರೋದನ'.
Himanna seemed to be knowing each corner of the hill and the ruined fort. With his stories about how the thieves would rapple down the steep cliffs stealing sheep to the stories of quarrying, time flew rapidly. Munching over the 'ಕಡಲೆ ಪುರಿ' we descended and headed towards the siddhaganga mutt. Since it was 3pm already, ದಾಸೋಹ (prasad) time was over. We visited the main temple and headed towards the tatte idli hotel on the Highway.
Just then, I got a call from my cousin who knew that we were in Tumkur to see Shadki's daughter. He enquired us about the angels' name. Name??........ Myself and Karthik were staring at each other. hahaa... I love this carelessness that comes with being single. We had spent almost one full day over there; and I thought since we couldn't make it to the naming ceremony, we were there today.
I'm glad that we still had that carelessness carried forward from our college days. Even during my recent konkan trip, our boys demonstrated that in many places. All were present at the railway station in time with their bikes, but while paying for the ticket, each one scratched through his pockets saying " I thought you would've got the money". At times, such carelessness might seem irritating, but you'll love it. It shows that you are still not fully affected by the radioactive hazards of "Ageing". And it means, you still feel the whole world is your home :) I still can't stop laughing when I recollect this incidence. And, BTW, the angel is named "Khushi". :) Enquired about it later on :)