Bus Diaries #1 – KPN

Subramani arrived at 9.55PM as usual 5 minutes before the departure and went ahead to check the ticket. As expected, there was a change. The Thisaiyanvillai Bus supposed to pick us up at 10PM broke down on the way and they had to arrange an alternate. This is the second time, i heard the same story for the same bus from K.P.N. Few months before, they had called me up at 8.30PM and asked me to come at 9.00PM to the boarding point. This time, they offered seats on a sleeper that was scheduled to leave at 10.00 PM. Improvement!!! Can’t complain i guess 🙂 Boarded the bus wondering, why the Thisaiyanvillai bus breaks down every now and then or is there something fishy happening. After a few confusions with seat allocations, we were given upper berths. Sleeper bus gives you an opportunity to stretch your legs and get into sleeping position, but keeps the mind in panic state since every sharp turn gives a feeling of falling from somewhere (Thookam varum aana varathu).

Three hours later @ 1.30AM, reached Salem. 220KMs in 3 hours. Decided to set the alarm to wake up early as it looked like it may not take more than 3hrs to reach the destination. So far so good. 2hrs later, heard the driver calling for 4 passengers to shift to a new bus, 5 minutes after that learnt that bus has developed a mechanical problem. At this point, KPN one of the biggest transport corporation in South India gave its passengers only one option, shift to a different KPN bus which might pass through that route and where seats might be available. One by one passengers got down, and waited in the highway, bearing the cold weather and hoping for some KPN bus to arrive and pick them up. Amidst all the chaos, a snoring sound reverberated inside the bus. Somebody was in sound sleep. Blessed should be the one who can sleep amidst all the sound, unmindful of what was happening and not worried about the next step. Who could it be ? Vera yaaru namma Subramani thaan.

Around 5 to 10 passengers had found an alternative and around half of the crowd was still waiting. No alternative arrangements made. Spent the next one hour waiting in the cold, and hoping we would find some KPN bus with free seats. Unfortunately all that crossed were full. Few passengers could not digest the fact that they had paid exorbitant money but and left stranded in the middle of the road with no alternative arrangements and took it up with the driver and had a talk with the KPN head quarters. The only result was increase in passenger’s blood pressure as both the driver and people at the head quarters remained unresponsive (pimpilika pilapi thaan). KPN transport which boasts best service and customer satisfaction neither had a spare bus nor a mechanic and no way to track which bus could accommodate us. After around 90 minutes of wait, a bus from Sharma travels had some seats left and we had to pay Rs. 250 for the remaining 1.5hrs of journey.

My roommate came in the 9.15PM KPN bus the next day and looks like his bus too broke down around the same place and the same solution was offered it seems. Seriously wonder, is this some kind of trick ? What haunts more is that the unresponsive staff.

So what next ? Though IRCTC sucks big time, and tatkal booking is near to impossible task, try to stick to train as much as possible and keep KPN as the last option.

Kodachadri Trek

A trek after a long long time. Kodachadri was on the list for a long time. Since it is a beaten and little easy decided to try it. The gang too pitched in and the trek was on. There are two or three ways to trek to Kodachadri Peak.

1) Starts from Karikatte. This is a shorter route and easy one. Most of them start from here and go via the Santosh Hotel/Kaka Angadi. The trek goes via a Jeep route till Santosh Hotel and the actual trekking starts after the hotel.

2) Starts from Marakuttaka (locals pronounce it differently something like Marakudukka) which is near sigandur cross. This goes via Hidlumane Falls and is a little longer route. Even here the trek goes via jeep route till Hidlumane after which the real trekking starts. Check these out – Sigandur Cross: http://wikimapia.org/118754 /Sigandur-Cross & Marakuttaka Bus Stop – http://wikimapia.org/433100/Marakuttaka-bus-stop

We decided to climb up from Marakuttaka, visit Hidlumane Falls and then trek to the peak via PWD guest house and camp at Sarvajna Peeta. The idea of visiting the “Hidlumane Falls” in the middle of the falls was exciting. And while coming back, decided to come via Santosh Hotel, and if possible visit Arashinagundi falls.

Late Start: There is a KSRTC bus from bangalore that stops at Sigandur Cross. Starts at 8.30PM and reaches there at 6.00AM. Walk back towards Nittur for 2KM and there is a small bridge with a Jeep track on the right, which is Marakuttaka or the trek starting point. Tried adding it to Google Maps, hope it is visible now. Anyway that was the plan initiallly. When one of our friend wanted to join at the end, had to replan, and choose SRS instead of KSRTC due to unavailability of tickets. SRS reached Kollur at 9.30AM after a 12 hour journey. Checked into a hotel, quickly refreshed and finished breakfast, and hired two autos to Marakuttaka. There is a bus from Kollur to Marakuttaka every 1 hour too  from Kollur Bus Stand. We reached Marakuttaka, a little after 1.00 PM. And the trek started. One thing was clear, we are going to trek in the night with torches to reach the peak.

Trek to the Hidlumane Falls: The initial trek take you along the well established jeep track. All we had to do was follow the main jeep track. After a little walk, there is a small stream to cross after which it continues once again on the jeep track. There were locals moving around in bikes and cycles to help us. Soon we crossed a lonely hut, where we asked for direction and then a school. The jeep track ends at Hidlumane or Gururaj’s home. To go Hidlumane falls, cross Hidlumane, and cross Gururaj’s fields. Can ask Gururaj for direction too. After few minutes of walk, reached the base of Hidlumane falls. Hidlumane is a cascade waterfall with a total of around 7 cascades. Cross the first one and second one and continue on the trail on the right side of the falls to reach the main falls. The second or the third one too has enough water to take bath, but the final one is majestic. We reached the falls at 3.00PM and the water was ice cold then too. It was more like small icicles falling on your body. The bath was exhilarating.

Trek to the peak: After spending quite a good time in the falls, started the trek towards the peak. We took the path on the left(when you are facing the falls) of the falls and later learnt that there is no route there. Had to do a bit of climbing, jumping, sliding to reach that conclusion. You can try that and then go the neat trail on the right or go to the trail on the right(right when you are facing the falls). This trail is neat and leads you to the jeep track. Takes around 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the pace to reach the jeep track. Take right on the jeep track and continue to the PWD house. Jeep drivers warned us about putting tents @ sarvajna peeta. Looks like forest guards took away the tents of few people a week back. One guy said, we can camp if we are planning for camp fire. And one more guy said, we can camp, there are one or two there already. We had no other option too, so we continued to the peak. It was dark, people were descending after the sunset, we were climbing up for the camp. Few were puzzled at the idea of us camping at the peak, few had got sarcastic comments about it. Anyway we continued and reached the peak at around 7.30PM. One good thing was it is very difficult to miss the path in Kodachadri, unlike other trekking places.

Camp: Spent sometime searching for the best place to camp. After a futile search, decided to camp near the peeta. Set up the tents, finished the dinner with the food we had carried, and then dozed off at 9.50PM, only to wake up at 2.00AM. I heard sound of someone scratching our tents from outside. Pushed the tent from inside, felt a strong push from outside. And i felt i heard some footsteps. Next 30 minutes went in listening to the sounds intently and trying to guess and also envy my friend(Sai) who is having a peaceful sleep amidst all this drama 🙂 Blessed he is.  Atlast he too woke up at 2.45AM. Together we slowly opened the tent and looked around. Nothing. Closed it, we could hear all nonsense. Open, nothing. Anyway after some investigation decided it was the air outside and the sound of footsteps could be that of the dog outside. Later learnt that our friends in other tents were awake from 12.00 to 3.00 and slept only after we woke up and started talking 🙂 Nice & thrilling, as long as there are no misadventures.

Sunrise & Trek down: Woke up at 5.30AM, packed the tents and waited for the sunrise, which didn’t happen till 6.30. While Mohan & Anoop spent time munching snacks early in the morning, Sai was busy putting water bottle cap on a torch light!!! After a few hide and seeks, the sun emerged above a sea of clouds. Awesome it was. Clicked a few snaps and started trekking down at around 7.20PM. Trek down to PWD guest house, and then take the narrow trail opposite to PWD guest house to reach Santosh Hotel. The trek to santosh hotel was easy and we did it in around three hours, with a 30 minutes pit stop in between. Had Puttu-kadala at Santosh hotel and then enquired about Arashinagundi falls. Looks like the entry fee per head is 250 Rs and then we may have to take a guide, since the path cannot be easily found. Decided against it, took the jeep track to Karikatte, and walked for the next one hour to reach karikatte. Took a jeep from there and reached Kollur at around 12.30PM. Checked into a hotel, took bath and rested for a while. Also Kollur Mookambika temple in the evening. Think this is the second visit to the temple in five years. It was not crowded and had a neat darshan.

Started back to bangalore in the 7.00PM bus and reached bangalore in the morning after a not so tiring, nice and wonderful trek with hidlumane falls being the highlight.

Snaps: Mine & Sai‘s

 

54, 55, 56… Beautiful Girl… Pause..  The costume suited her perfectly.  Her command over the language was excellent. If you don,t pay attention to the subject being discussed, you can just keep seeing her jaws go up and down accompanied by beautiful reactions.  Soon a guy joined the discussion. Even to someone who would not understand the language, their tone will set the context that they are discussing about something that they consider as the burning problem. I waited, for i knew soon they would soon be joined by another five other guys who claim to be experts  on the subject being discussed. As expected they joined and discussions ensued and the guy and  gal worked hard to make sure the discussion continued without reaching any consensus. Looked like a nice job to me, let two people talk, keep adding fuel to the fire on both ends, make them make mistakes, focus on the mistakes for the  next hour and conclude something stupid at the end.

This is the scene in any private news channel in the country. They seem to be spending more time in playing with the people emotions than reporting news. Every news is a breaking news. While they talk in length about the victory of Indian cricket team in some match, praising the captain and players, they discuss in depth about the incapability of the players and the captain if India loses the next day. It is undeniable fact that they work hard to report few problems that we have never noticed, and make sure it gets the due attention. But most of the time, it looks like a carefully scripted drama enacted by high skilled actors.

Enough. 57, 58,59 .. 89. There it was, DD National. Gives me what i wanted,  just the NEWS.  News readers are old, monotonous and read without reaction. But they just report what happened. Nothing else. Also noticed a program for 30 minutes about astronomy, with neat pictures and graphics and clear explanation.

Super User of Android

Not out of interest, but out of compulsion, ended up rooting my android mobile. The 180MB of internal memory in my galaxy ace was too less and it took very little time to run out of space. Decided to root my phone and move the apps to the SD card. Rooting of galaxy ace was simple. The internet is full of step-by-step tutorials for the same. The only problem i faced was the universal rooting package for samsung galaxy ace failed to root my phone. Few sites mention about AceGingerRoot.zip, and it did the trick. Check this link – http://rootzwiki.com/topic/23138-how-to-root-your-galaxy-ace-gingerbread/

After rooting the phone, wanted to move the applications to the SD card. The best possible way is to the link2sd app. For this to work properly, you need to create a secondary partition in the SD card. Looks like Android unmounts the first partition of the sdcard, when you try to access the sd card connecting your phone to the computer. By creating a second partition, we make sure we can access the apps all time. There are tools to create the partition in windows like minitool. I used fdisk in GNU/Linux and partitioned the sdcard. Installed link2sd and moved most of the apps to the sdcard. Check these out – http://tutorialfor-android.blogspot.in/2012/06/link2sd-complete-tutorial.html & http://www.xperiablog.net/2011/12/12/link2sd-guide-never-worry-about-internal-memory-limits-again/

Now all i have to think about is the next app to download!!!

Alive, in memories

ImageHad sneaked this Indian Mongrel 14 years back into our home where we had strict “No Pets” policy. All policies were broken in few days as he carved a niche for himself in the house. Was supposed to be a guard dog, but ended up being treated like a kid. Adapted well in the house and became a member of the family. Playful as a kid, dominating and attacking during his prime time, and very matured towards the end. Too many pleasant memories to pen down. Anyway he left his last breath on October 30, at a time when nobody was there at home. Had shown signs of sickness that morning, and died before afternoon.It does feel difficult to recover from the loss, but they say time is powerful. Life moves on. The sweet memories will linger for lifetime.

The Lapwing Incident

I approached after a tiring 10 hours journey, listening to the sound of the newly arrived visitors to our area. This time it was a pair of birds with light brown feathers, with patches of black and white on other parts of the body. Spent some time in google to find that the name of the bird is red-wattled lapwing. Reaching home, took the binoculars and started observing them for a while. Soon forgot them, and returned to the most important work of changing channels in the television from 0 to end.

After few hours, the sound of the lapwings increased. It was more like a sound of distress. Apart from me, looked like it has also attracted the attention of a old shepherd and she was doing something peculiar. She started going near the birds and kept checking the bushes. Pieces began to fall in place, and i realized that the egg or the chick is in danger. Looks like the lapwings lay eggs on the ground or depressions in ground. The eggs have very little chance of survival and the chicks little better.  I kept watching, hoping she does not get what she was searching. The birds continued to fly around making wild noises. Soon it was all over, She found the chick and its desperate attempt to escape was foiled with the long stick she had in hand. I watched!!!

She wrapped the chick carefully and left, the birds left with nothing to guard and i stood there thinking hard. The birds look better adapted than men. For the old lady it is a chance to taste meat which she may not get often. But still could not accept it. it felt cruel. Funny in a way, considering that i have no trouble in eating chicken every week 🙂 It is just like how vegetarians convince themselves that they are not killing anything. Civilization, most of times makes us forget what we really are. Most of the time the rules are twisted. Anyway, my affection towards my area grows exponentially with every incident like this. Looks like when i feel bored with Nat Geo all i have to do is come out of my house and look around 🙂

“Screwed”

Personally, in my life, August is the month of fall 🙂 August is when i got my bike. After an year fell down for the first time, on August 4th, when my bike skidded off a muddy road. Escaped with a few scratches that time. This year, i was not all that lucky on August 21 🙂

A confused guy on the bike, decided to take a hard left from middle of the road.No indicators, no signals and no botheration about the traffic behind. Unfortunately, i was closely following him with a decent speed. Too close for even disk brakes to be of any use. Brakes, crash and i was on the road. Fortunate there were no other cars behind, unfortunate that i landed on my left knee, taking the full impact on it. I had followed all the traffic rules, except for the most basic one, expect idiots on Indian roads. Expecting people to adhere to traffic rules is a luxury that is not to be expected on Indian roads. I do see a lot of super geniuses daily who feel that the red signal is for the weak and stupid, and choose to ignore it.

Anyway the guy was little considerate, stopped and asked sorry repeatedly and asked whether i need a drop to home. I was feeling ok that time, so i picked up my bike and started home without help. The bike also didn’t suffer any major damage except for a scratch on the body guard. Later realized, he had given me all the burden of his mistake with the apology.  What started as a small pain in the knee, became a huge swelling. The trouble started with a night without sleep and in pain. Next day, went to the hospital and the x-ray revealed fracture in the knee cap. The only fix was screws and bolts and threads to fix them up. Sad part, I will have to spend considerable time in hospital, after so many years.

The operation happened a day after and the knee cap, patella was put on place using screws. It was fun to see how doctors and helpers prepare for an operation. They were relaxed, discussing about their vacation leaves, cracking jokes, just like how I start fixing a bug in the code. The guy being operated on was usually referred by the bone he has broken. So my name inside was patella 🙂 Learned that they do around ten to twelve operations daily most of which are result of bike accidents and quite serious.

The post operation effects were a matter of concern. But when you are in pain, all you have to do is look around. I was surrounded by people with even more serious injuries in the post operation care unit. To name a few, people with broken rib cage, broken hip, crushed leg bones, hips replaced etc etc.  The guy with crushed rib cage was not able to swallow a tablet. The most horrible one was a twelve year old kid with amputated leg  after a bike injury 😦 Half of them can be averted if people start paying a little respect to traffic rules, change lanes with little sense and try driving a little predictably.

Slowly recovering from the injury and the operation. It is going to take a few more weeks to get back to normal. Life moves on, may it is just a reminder  that you can be shaken and broken in less than seconds 🙂

 

Antharagange Trip

Few calls between Sai & Subramani at around 11PM and the plan for Independence day was done. Decided to start at 7AM next day to AntharaGange, which is around 60KM from Bangalore and provides an opportunity for some hill climbing and exploring caves. This has to be the most quickly decided trip without chain of emails, reading websites and planning logistics. Mohan & Anoop made the decision to join after 7AM, so we started at around 8.00AM in our bikes.

The morning ride was blissful as it is always and since it is just 60KM it remained enjoyable till the end. Took KR Puram -> Kolar -> Antharagange route and as usual at speeds between 80 and 110 KMPH. No interceptors in this roue 🙂 🙂 Had a lavish breakfast at Kamat Upachar, which is  around 18KM before Kolar and atlast reached the place around 10 or 10.30AM which i dont remember exactly.

The climb starts with a series of steps that leads to the Kashi Vishweshwara temple. The temple pond gets water from a perennial underground stream or spring, that comes from the mouth of a stone bull. While people take the holy water in huge cans we were loaded with suspicions and doubts 🙂 Can’t help it.

There is a flight of steps behind the temple, that leads to the hills above. We continued and soon reached the important part of the trip, a cave. It was fun exploring the cave and was cool inside. Finding way through the narrow path, climbing and balancing between the boulders provided a little sense of adventure. It was fun. After spending some time inside the cave, came out and continued our journey towards the top. Relaxed for a while, and then started the journey back. Visited the temple on the way and then started back home. The trek was not difficult as mentioned in few blogs.

The return journey was once again during the afternoon in hot sun, the only time where i feel an I20 might be a great option when compared to my bike 😛 Reached home at around 3PM. It was day well spent, a short trip after some time, and a trip to remember.

Photos: Click Here

Visit to Muthyalamaduvu/Pearl Valley

Stupified, I sat there in silence looking at the water in the falls. The gentle breeze brushing the skin was soothing and made me stay. I sat there in silence, looking at the water in the falls and at the tourists. There were quite a good number of tourists coming and going. For some reason, i could read their face. As i observed them for some more time, a sudden thought emerged somewhere deep from the convolutions. After all Google & Wikipedia are like gal friends, who give you a lot of suggestions, but eventually you need to apply some level of discretion. Point is, Muthyalamaduvu does not have water even during the rainy season as mentioned, so might be a big disappointment for those who travel from Bangalore. Fortunately, for me it was just a 20KM trip which saved a lot of frustration. The place is serene and does look good, if there was water in the falls, it would have made it a fantastic weekend getaway. But that seem to depend more on luck than rain 🙂

Driving Direction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muthyalamaduvu

Cine Time

There are times, when you may be sitting peacefully at home and relaxing, and some weird plans pull you out, slowly and steadily into disaster. Dont step into wild imaginations, i am talking about  usually ending up watching a totally crap movie. Around two years back, we woke up on a sunday morning, skipped breakfast and rushed to a theater to see a movie. When we reached the theater, learnt that they timings are changed and they were running a different movie. At the end we watched Sura, which was running in a different theater in the same area. Sura was a movie which i had decided not to watch it at all. Tamil people will understand the feelings better 🙂

Today was one such day. Myself & Subramani were sitting in my home with absolutely no plans for the night, other than dinner and peaceful sleep. Sudden plans, quick actions, 14KM travel and we were at Balaji theater for the night show of the movie, “Eppadi Manasukkul Vanthai”. I heard about the movie just an hour back and wondered whether that was a right decision. Director of the movie helped a lot in arriving at a conclusion very early. It was a disaster. We had spent 100Rs, around 4 hrs of the time, a good dinner and the probability of getting a headache was terribly high. Tried watching, with the hope that i would find something good somewhere. Should admit my defeat,  the director was very skillful in hiding the good things. Somehow didn’t like the heroine too 😦 So qualifies to be called a perfect disaster. Had decided not to post movie reviews in blog, but realized there could be exceptions. What was more disturbing was, trying to justify murders that the hero commits in the name of love. Abusing the mysterious word called Love, it is only in this part, the movie is like other tamil movies.

Anyway for the records, i have seen around 10 tamil movies released this year in theater so far. Impressive, considering the number of times i used to visit theater during my school and college days 🙂