It vanished, took time to understand why but it had gone. It had deserted me completely. I felt alone. Everyday i discovered new ways to kill time.  Attempts to bring it back went in vain.  Finally it came to me few months back,  the long lost habit of reading something now and then. I was not a voracious reader who consumes several booksin a month, but i did have the habit of  completing few good books in a year.

All was fine, until i picked up “The Brief History Of Time” by Stephen Hawking. Around 190 pages of pure science written in a way that could be understood by normal people. The book was awesome without doubts. Not sure whether the concepts can be clearly explained in a very simple language any better.  I had studied Physics @ school for 7 long years, with the only intention of scoring marks. That had defeated the purpose of learning altogether.  Remembering all  the details  presented in the book will be difficult but you will understand why and how one should learn Physics. Though the explanation was simple enough, it does require a lot of concentration to grasp the concepts. I had to read through the pages again and again to understand the concepts better. And that was the difficult part. Gradually, my mind came up with ways to stop reading, found alternatives to kill time or better pushed me to sleep once i started reading. Finally completed the book sometime around Feb 2013. I had started reading on March 2012. Sigh!!!!

Then, it was back, the reading spree, the urge to read at-least few pages daily, the urge to sacrifice sleep if necessary. Started with two tamil books suggested and lent by Subramani. Visumbu (விசும்பு) and Avvulagam (அவ்வுலகம்). Visumbu is a collection of short stories, each an  attempt by Jeyamohan at science fiction. Liked a few, but was not enthralling. But Avvulagam (அவ்வுலகம்) was of different genre. It was the story of an old guy, moments before death where he gets to think about what happened in life and answers to the unanswered questions in his life. Each page had something to offer. Rightly named Avvulagam (அவ்வுலகம்), it turned out to be a different world indeed.

At this point, with all books that i had exhausted started the search for something to read at leisure. Heard a lot about “A Song of Ice and Fire” and it was in the queue and ordered “A Game Of Thrones”. Aim was to complete the books and before starting with first episode of the HBO TV series which i heard is also fantastic. Did not take much time to get involved and from then on quite a few sleepless nights have passed by.  Continued with the “A Clash of King” and now in “A Strom of Swords: Steel and Snow”. The plot thickens with every chapter and unanswered questions continue to pile, my own theories of what will happen continue to be built, this is turning out to be a great great read. A fantasy series after a long time and it is turning out to be worth every penny spent.

There was a gap when i had completed “A Game Of Thrones” and was waiting for “A Clash of Kings”. Got “The Motorcycle Diaries” to read during a day time train travel. Removing the hype around Che Guevara, it was a travelogue through unknown places in South America. Their unflinching desire to explore their continent on a 500cc bike did inspire a lot. The book also captures plight of mine workers, the native incan, the sorry state of the hospitals etc etc and how it transforms Che through out the journey. But to me it was more of a travelogue of two relentless travelers which urges you to explore the world.

As of now and for few more months from now, it will be “A Song Of  Ice And Fire”.

Machanabele – Savanadurga Trip

Sleep, Wake up, eat, sleep, internet/movie, eat, sleep. Had got adopted to this routine very well whenever i stayed in bangalore during the weekend. The only way to break it was to pack the bags and get out of the city. This trip was the result of such an urge to break the laziness and do something. Manchanabele & Savanadurga was the only option that was considered.

Onward Route: Bangalore – Bidadi – Bidadi Tavarakere Nelamangala road – Manchanabele dam- Savanadurga.

This is a longer route and was consciously decided keeping in mind the Thatta idly shop @ Bidadi. Started @ 8AM and struggled through the traffic in Mysore road and reached Bidadi idly shop by around 10AM. After that the ride was smooth and pressure free in Bidadi – Tavarakere – Nelamangala road. Should say enjoyed the extra 10KMs. Thanks to the rains, the weather was pleasant though it was mid of the summer. The dam had some water too, which allowed to rest on the shores enjoying the cool breeze and seeing the birds flying around.

Could have spent more time there but we were already late for the trek. So started and rode to Savanadurga, one of the largest monoliths in Asia. Without wasting time started climbing, but it was noon already. Finding the trek route was not difficult as it is well marked. It was not very hot, but it was hot enough to make the trek difficult. I was not expecting much challenge but soon realized my stamina has record low level. Slowly climbed the peak sipping water every now and then. The trek can be divided to four stages – the outer fort walls, the inner fort walls, the mantapa and the summit. To me it looked like a single steep climb from bottom to the top. Anyway, with determination we reached the summit where there is a nandi statue in exactly two hours. Climbing down was easy, which we did in less than an hour.

Started the journey back home a little later around 4PM. The route we took was Savanadurga – Manchanabele – Dodda Alada Mara – Mysore Road – Bangalore. This is the shortest route with well laid roads. Stopped at dodda alada mara or the big banyan tree on the way. Reached home once again after struggling through the bangalore traffic. It was a nice trip at the end.

Photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/ManchanabeleSavanadurga

Sakleshpur Trip

When you look up the sky in the night and watch the stars, what you are seeing is actually the past. Something that happens today in Andromeda will take 2.5 million years to reach earth and for scientists here to realize what actually happened. So what is the point ? I am fast. It took only a month for this post to be published!!!!

Anyway, visited Sakleshpur sometime around March. This was a different trip for me, no trekking, hiking and planning  too. Aim was to visit a resort, eat, sleep, relax and come back. Long time since i went on a trip like that, so agreed instantly when invited. The resort we visited was “The Hills“. Tucked away from the Sakleshpur town, far away from the crowd and with nothing much around that is really worth visiting, it was a perfect vacation that i wanted to try. Reached Sakleshpur in the noon, had lunch and retired to sleep. 

Evening visited Magajahalli waterfalls. Small it was, had good amount of water and more important, none around to disturb a peaceful bath in the falls. Since it was March, the water was not cold as well. The falls was ours for the next 1 hour. Spent the next hour in the falls, enjoying the force with which the water fell on our body. Returning to the resort indulged in a game of shuttle, a round of archery and other petty things the resort guys had to name as activities. Rest of the night was dedicated to some heated discussion which usually involved around house, rent, bangalore, traffic, marriage, gals etc etc.

The next day woke up around 7.00AM.  It was nice to wake up to the sounds of birds and insects and compared to horns of vehicle and sound of the busy people. The only plan for the day was to visit a temple nearby and walk around the hills nearby. Did the same, visited the temple pond and fed the hundreds of fishes in the small pond and started the journey back to Bangalore after a nice trip.

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!!!