Sunday, April 10, 2016

Premam - The movie that woke up "the myself"

I am always excited to have done something that is a possible answer to the question, "When was the last time you did something for the first time?"
What did I do now? Well, I watched a Malayalam movie for the first time!! Of course with subtitles!
This is second time I watched a movie of unknown language. Pan's Labyrinth, a Spanish movie was the earlier one.
Now, coming to the movie Premam - Oh boy! what a movie. It woke up "the myself" that was buried under the graveyard of long-term memories. The story of growing up, the infatuation, the love, the longing, the feeling of skipping a heartbeat in one sight, the elation, the depression, the pain, the feeling of butterflies in the stomach, the realities of life, the responsibilities... Oh boy, the movie took me back two decades ago.
What an amazing dancer Sai Pallavi is. Did I not feel like I want to learn dancing... The hell I did. I even hatched out some plans to learn dancing. I don't know how long that desire will last, but somewhere it found a place in my bucket list.
Did I love the natural beauty of Kerala? Yes of course, I want to travel all around Kerala, get drenched in the rain(Oh my god, I am missing rain!), another entry into the list!
Coming back to the story, it appeared like too centered around one character, but I bet everyone will find a place to live their past in that character. To me, the movie conveys the message that there is no thing such as end of the world, the best of life will eventually find you, enjoy the sweet pain(is this an oxymoron!?) of life. The beautiful emotion that only a human being can experience. I bet everyone would have a Mary and Malar in their life, hopefully a Celine would come along to bring out the best in what is left in it. I wish everyone finds their Celine.
I have fallen in love with the song "Malare", I am practicing the lyrics to hum along the song. Another good feeling to have subscribed to Apple Music.
Finally thanks to Madhu (my cousin) who told me about this movie. He does some good things at times!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Winter Trek to Kedar Kantha Summit - Part 1


I was not planning for any trip this year, largely due to my career related changes that had put a restriction on time and budget. This was the reason I did not accompany Sridhar for Himalayan Odyssey 2015.

When Madhu sent two links to winter trek programs organised by youth hostels, the traveller in me started to get restless. I just needed a little push. Madhu also suggested me that it will be a good break from my hectic work-life. That was enough. Better than the break from hard work, I did not anticipate earning more friends from the trip.

Kedar Kantha

There were two choices - Sandakphu in West Bengal and Kedar Kantha summit in Uttarakhand. We chose Kedar Kantha summit as there weren't enough slots open for Sandakphu matching our dates. We wanted to plan something special on 1st Jan, after completing the trek.
Two of Madhu's friends (Harsha and Deepak, who were going to be my friends soon) and a cousin (Rajat, who happens to be a friend already) were joining the trek.

The plan

We started hatching out plans for the trek. Since we knew the roads and weather in Uttarakhand, we had to add buffer days and book accommodation till we reached our base camp at Sankri. It was amazing that the entire trip did not deviate from our plan, except for the ridiculous delay of return flight!

Considering lots of factors such as leaves, 1st Jan plan etc, we decided that 26th Dec would be our reporting day at base camp, Sankri. We worked backwards to arrive at departing date from Bangalore. 24th Dec 2015, Monday marked the historic departure for an adventure whose memory was going to be part of our lives.
We planned to reach Delhi by flight, take an overnight train to Dehradun. Take a bus to Purola (5-6 hours journey from Dehradun) and overnight stay at Purola. Following morning, a bus journey of 2-3 hours to reach Sankri base camp. Stay at Haridwar on 1st and 2nd Jan, 3rd Jan, stay at Delhi, 4th Jan early morning flight to Bangalore. 

The preparation

We started a WhatsApp group and a Google group to share information and collaborate.
All this happened around September 3rd week. I met Harsha and Deepak at Decathlon. It was shopping time to buy all the gears for the trek. Search started for proper Shoes, back pack, gloves, jackets, thermals, socks etc. Back packs were bought from Wildcraft and rest of the gears from Decathlon.
We all reserved our slots on youth hostels website for the trek, reporting on 26th December, 2015.

It was first Himalayan trek for Rajat, Harsha and Deepak. It was also first flight journey for Rajat, so our trek included several firsts in our group. 

I always want to optimise the budget to the extent possible. Only variable in the entire plan was the airfare. Harsha and I started checking out the airfare regularly. We got very good price for onward journey to Delhi on Go-Air. We waited for almost a month to get a good price for return flight. During this time, airfares were only going up and there was a apprehension in our minds that we might end up paying high price for waiting. Finally ended up getting a very good deal on Air India for return flight.

We started our fitness improvement activities, which mainly included jogging. I could reach my peak of jogging non-stop for 1km. I know that is stupid, but given my situation, that was my best shot. Others were more vigorous and did some group runs at Lalbagh on weekends. In December, I started working on a new project, that took all my time and energy, I could not even go for jogging regularly. I started to worry that I could become a long pole in the group.

The Departure

Finally the day of departure arrived. Fours of us reached airport in a cab and Deepak came alone(We all know a Tiger is solitary) as he lives in a different part of the town. Thus started a wonderful and unforgettable trip that was going to last our lifetime...

Monday, November 02, 2015

An achievement

I am always intrigued by the question, "When was the last time you did something for the first time". It is really challenging to do something new, especially when one is past average living age!
However, I feel elated when I do something that fits an answer to above question..
Yes, I am very proud to have completed a course on Coursera. I completed Machine Learning course with 96.9% score. It is a complex subject that required a lot of math. Luckily, this time I had company. Satya and I started this together and helped each other to recover from traps. Hope this is a good stepping stone to steer my career towards Statistics and Data Science.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Monsoon Trek to Kodachadri - Day 2

Sometimes we think others are too unfair to us. That was exactly what I felt when some devotees did not let us ride in their hired jeep, though there was plenty of space. Least did I know that Almighty had different plans for us!
Rain had given some brake in the morning. At poojari's house, we had a plate of plain and set dosa each. I never thought Dosa would be so tasty at that altitude and terrain. It was very tasty indeed. After breakfast, we did not want to trek down as the shoes were completely wet and fear of leeches. We requested some devotees if we could get a ride back to main road. Though there was space, they did not let us ride along. So we decided, it was futile to wait for more Jeeps as generally nobody comes up with vacant seats.
So we decided to trek down. I calculated that was a saving of 400 bucks!! We put our wet shoes on and started our descent. As expected leeches were waiting for us. Sun was out, no rains made it very humid and that is when leeches are very active. We had lost the leech candy that we carried previous day. So we were defenseless against leeches. We paused briefly in the clearing, but it is difficult to remove leeches without proper weapon. We covered the path swiftly and reached Santosh Hotel tight and fit. We had half a dozen leach bites in each leg and blood was oozing out, which is not scary anymore.
We departed from Santosh hotel after savoring fresh guavas and 2 shots of hot lemon tea. We decided to take an alternate route to reach main road, as the one we took yesterday for our onward trek was also infested with leeches. On the way, we thought of checking out at Iskcon temple. It was pretty big farm and Krishna temple there. We were just in time for afternoon prayer. We attended the pooja and the devotee there offered milk. That was quite tasty and gave me needed energy.
After the Iskcon temple, there is a deviation to the right, another Jeep trail. We walked along this new route. after about 10 minutes, we heard a stream flowing nearby. Few minutes later the stream was right next the jeep trail. Madhu was excited at this sight and asked a localite
Madhu - "ಇದು ಯಾವ ನದಿ?" (Which river is this?)
Localite - "ಇದು ಹಳ್ಳ.... " (this is just a pit...)

For us it was heavenly, we immediately decided to take a shot at the water. We did not realize we had spent more than 1.5 hours in the water. It was very refreshing.
The walk to the main road was easy. On the way, we bought a jack fruit too. At Kollur, had nice darshan of Goddess Mookambika. While walking back to the bust stand from temple, booked return tickets on VRL, thanks to technology. After having some light food, it was time to get back to Bangalore traffic.

The Jack fruit wasn't very tasty. Few leech bites were itching for a week. Memories are ever lasting.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Dreams - Chemical activities in brain

This was very strange. I was trying to find a derivative of myself, and was shocked when I found it is zero. How is it possible? I am not a constant function, I was awakened from sleep, I realized it was a dream. I was sweating, could not sleep for a long time.
I have been studying Calculus recently as a prerequisite for more deeper Neural Network. This is my yet another honest attempt to understand Neural Networks. It was like Déjà vu going through differentiation after more than a decade. I think, I still don't remember the complete dream, but it was really strange. I can't believe I was trying to find derivative of myself!!
The following day was very dull which was expected. I could not sleep following night too, woke up at 12AM and watched 'August Rush'. I loved the movie. The amazing effect music has on someone like me who don't understand the technicality.
It brought me back my new dream to learn music. Not sure how it is going to affect the brain cells. It has been 2 days and no dreams yet!!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Monsoon Trek to Kodachadri

Day 1:

It has been one of my dreams to trek to Kodachadri in monsoon. It came true on the last weekend of June 2015. This was my 4th time to Kodachadri, but this one was going to be a special one.
Madhu readily agreed to join when I told him about the plan. I did 5 rounds of running/walking in Vijaya bank layout park on a sunday and some 30 min work out another day. That was my fitness test to ensure I can endure the trek!

We reached Kollur at 8:30AM by SRS sleeper bus, one hour behind the schedule. Freshened up and had idly and dosa at a local Ganesha hotel. The KSRTC bus conductor was grumpy and did not seem to like 2 lunatics with heavy backpacks trekking to Kodachadri in the rain. Nevertheless, he was kind enough to stop the bus at the trek starting point. It is unrecognizable now, because of overgrowth of vegetation in rainy season and concrete road.
Get set go....
A step out of concrete road, there were waiting ever hungry leeches ready to suck our blood. After tightening the shoe laces and making sure everything is fine, we began our walk into the wilderness by about 10:30AM. It is a walk through a defunct Jeep trail for about 5 km initially before actual climb begins. For about 3km from mail road is thick jungle and lot of fallen leaves on the trail had made it perfect setting for the leeches. There were dry patch of open land where we could stop and remove the leeches. Since the gradient was small and we were brisk, not many leeches managed to reach skin. It was however drizzling intermittently.

After about 5km we come to a small village called Valur. It was approximately 12:15 when we reached Santosh Hotel, which is now quite famous in blogs, is a good resting point. The hot lemon tea was very refreshing. As usual, Madhu had a dosa here. I was happy with nice guava and lemon tea. By this time, rain gods were in full mood. We left Santosh Hotel at about 1PM.
 Jeep Trail, near Valur

Made some friends @ Santosh Hotel

The path becomes steep and it is through thick jungle. That means, it is leech territory, where leeches were brisk and we were slow. Thanks to the Santosh Hotel owner who gave us a weapon to fight against leeches (A mix of salt, tobacco and lime tied in a cloth and a stick to hold the lump). This was quite effective, a touch of the tip will make the leech fall off. Once has to see it working to appreciate it. There were lot of trees fallen across the trail, raining heavily, we had to take a short detour into the jungle to go around and find the track. All this had to be done very quickly, a second pause will give a dozen more leeches to get onto the shoe and make their way inside. Once off track, it is very difficult to get back on track because it is very easy to loose orientation inside the jungle. Every direction looks same, fear of leeches and heavy rain will make it crazy.

Negotiating Obstacles...

The weapon to ward off leeches!

After about an hour of climb, we reached a bald patch of the mountain. I remember the view from here was breath taking, in my earlier trips. But this time, we were in the clouds. We could hardly see anything few feet away. Occasionally mist cleared giving us the glimpse of the surrounds. It was totally out of the world. Heavy winds were making rain drops reach ground horizontally. It was as if some one was spraying water on me. I just sat here on a rock and enjoyed the sound of wind and rain. This is where one feels a connection with nature. Mind becomes empty.

The paradise!

There is one more stretch of climb through thick jungle before we reached Kodachadri. Throughout the climb it was raining continuously. Thanks to the de-leeching stick, both of us reached the peak without a single leech byte. I consider that as an achievement given my fitness level. It was about 3:30PM, approximately 4.5km uphill trek.

When we reached the government inspection bungalow (IB), water was dripping all over us. The guy in charge asked us to dry ourselves outside. Entrance hall to the IB was all wet and I could understand the situation. The rooms have to be dry to sleep in night and naturally the IB in charge was quite irritated. After having quick lunch (wasn't great!), we started towards the Sarvagna Peeta. This is where Sankaracharya witnessed goddess Mookambika. 

This was the best part of the trek. Rain gods lashed us with full fury. Continuously rained till we reached the peak, which was approximately about 1.5km uphill from IB. It was as if gods wanted us to bath in fresh water before visiting Sarvagna Peeta!! It is a dilapidated stone mantapa, inside is a stone statue of Sri Sankaracharya. Sat here and closed my eyes, let all the thoughts flow. This is where one can review all thoughts - happiness, miseries, challenges, achievements and strike a balance. When I was ready to leave, felt lighter. After this would prefer to walk in silence.
Rain had stopped by this time. Sun was setting in west. Started walking back to the IB. There s a small Ganesha temple in a cave (50m detour on the way). It was very pleasant and calm. Offered sesame seeds laddu to Lord Ganesha.

I was not in a mood to eat dinner, so slipped inside the sleeping bag and called it a day.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

I was never so confused...

All along the way to home today, after reaching home, I have this strange feeling. I was not normal. My heart feels heavy, mind confused, I am totally blank. It was like the sixth sense at work. 
Unable to comprehend what was happening to me, I just sat in my room alone. It was a terrible feeling, I had to sort it out, otherwise I know I can't sleep for days.

I just sat alone and started introspecting. What happened today. I had just resigned from my job at Honeywell. What does it mean?
1) I am unemployed. There is no protection.
2) I will not get salary. I have planned to take care of stuff for few months.
3) The world outside is wild. There is no corporate might that protects interests. I am prepared for this.
4) I have to work harder. I love this.
5) I will no longer meet, talk to my friends regularly - Yes. The heart beat is confirming, this is the reason for my mood swing. I am afraid that I am going to miss wonderful people I was working with. I am going to miss tea times, all interesting discussion during lunch, deep technical discussions, debugging and solving problems, spontaneous humor. This is what I am going to miss most. I am already feeling lighter as I discovered the reason. I convince myself, I can be in touch with my friends by various means. So, it is like going onsite, though there is no Lync or Outlook as in corporate, but there are WhatsApps and Facebooks in social space.

At the end of this writeup, I am feeling relaxed and lighter. Things are getting clear.I think I need a really heavy movie to cheer back, I think Shawshank Redemption will do the job.