The Tour Of Nilgiris Edition 3 : Riding again

3 out of 3 on an MTB :)

Am riding the now-very-huge Tour of Nilgiris this year as well, and on the same old bike thats seen 2 TFNs already. The routes a lot different, and the Tour will have a 100 riders on it! Have not trained too hard, but a recent weekend of back-to-back centuries with 250kms covered over 2 days in ok shape give a lot of hope.

The first day is a 185km one, though! Traffic free roads, but a real long day nevertheless.

Looking forward to spending more time riding in the Nilgiris themselves this year. And more, and longer sections through the wildlife parks. The 2010 edition is a more backroads Tour than ever before - and there are hardly any major highways.

As usual, hoping to meet a lot of enthu souls on the ride. The camaraderie on the mailing list has been amazing. Itching for the ride to start...

Motorola Quench XT3 Review

I got a Motorola Quench XT3 recently and have reviewed it here.
Overall, pretty happy with the phone - its reduced my need to go-check-mail on the laptop considerably.

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

The Motorola Quench XT3 XT502 Review

A couple of days ago I jumped onto the Android train and got the Motorola Quench XT3 XT502. The budget was "as close to 10k as possible" given the benchmark set by the Spice MI-300, and I really started to need email and calendar on my phone for Linger related work.

Why this over the Samsung Galaxy3, or the Spice, or others ? Honestly, what clinched it was the build quality/looks. The specs are very very close amongst these 3 - and heard a couple of thumbs downs from the twitterverse about the Samsung. The HTC Wildfire was never in because of being the priciest with the lowest resolution screen.

This will be an ongoing review written over the next few days as I get comfortable with the phone. So far, from day-1 usage:
  • Fast enough with no serious freeze-ups. Hanged once when I was playing with multiple apps.
  • "Dialer One" is way better than the default one
  • Speakerphone's ok, not great. Voice quality is good otherwise.
  • VCardIO helps read vcfs so my E65 contacts got imported ok.
  • Took me a few hours to get used to the ultra sensitive touch keyboard. Fewer typos already :)
  • Battery lasted a little under 24hrs with lots of wifi usage, some bluetooth copying, many calls + smses and a decent amount of first-day-playing-around with the phone.
  • I haven't been able to get Airtel Live to work on the phone yet :(
  • No FM on this phone.
More as I do more with the phone. Email, and calendar sync - my 2 primary needs for this - are already proving handy. A good side-effect is that I'm switching my laptop on lesser for "just checking mail" and getting sucked into the social whirlpool. This might actually end up creating more time in the day in a funny way :)

Day 2 update:

Another rounf of bluetooth transfers, some use of the camera, an hour or so of wifi usage and the usual calls + smses today - and the battery's done much better. No GPRS yet, so still awaiting Airtel "help" on that.

Have gotten much better with the typing. The shortcuts to to toggle WiFi, Bluetooth, brightness etc are v useful. The screen does smudge, but not too bad looking despite that.

More than once person has asked "Is that a Droid?" :)

Days 3-6 :

Carried the Quench on a bike ride and used the preloaded Tracker app to get the distance right (forgot to hit save, and it was lost with the app :() The phone battery was at over 50% that evening, including the morning's 6+ hours ride - with the GPS on for 2.5 hrs or so, lots of email/some tweets over GPRS which was switched on intermittently, and some over wifi at home.

The next days ride was longer. No GPS but GPRS was on, and used for over 13 hours. I had a minor fall but luckily no impact on the phone. The battery was at over 50% again at the end of the ride. The GPRS-Wifi switchover works very very nicely.

Other observations:
  • Have gotten more used to the keyboard(s) - yes - you have 3 options to choose from! Can even type with one hand.
  • Still looking for a good GCalendar app to sync my personal as well as domains calendars in one place.
  • The camera is average (daylight conditions only) and the video grab below average.
  • Music audio is ok thru the speakers but nothing great - have not tried it with headphones.
  • The smudges have not gotten better, or worse. Now keep a soft cloth to wipe it once in a while.
  • Call quality has been good across usage scenarios - including from inside noisy BMTC buses.
  • My SMS costs are going to go through the roof with this phone :)
  • And finally - Android can cure backaches! :) My time on the laptop has reduced considerably, lessening my upper back stiffness right away.

Its been nearly a month, and there's the bigger cousing of the XT3 - the Zeppelin XT5 - available for not much more money. Its essentially got a better camera (the XT3's is strictly great-light-conditions only) and comes with a 2G memory card.

The Quench has been in my pocket through buses, the TFN, light rain, long drives, and taken it all quite alright.

Bug : Some Android phones apparently have this issue where the phone fails to acquire an EDGE/GPRS connection - you switch it off/on and it works and continues to work. Its not too frequent but a pain nevertheless.

Am very impressed with the battery. Charged it just twice on the 8 day TFN! And this with some calls, mails, SMSes though with overall much lesser than normal usage. And I switched it off one night. Even with my typical usage - a fair bit of email, calendar and todo syncing, 12-15 calls and a few SMSes through the day, I see the battery last nearly 2 days.

The phone does not lag at all anymore - as long as I make good use of the task killer. Internet is pretty fast with EDGE.

Just installed Swype on the phone today - its totally mindblowing!

Oh, and rooted the phone using Z4Root. Was looking at a custom ROM install - but got cold feet when I read about Cyanogenmod draining battery on this platform. Will wait a while before I try that.

FxCamera works better than the original camera. Its still not a substitute for a real camera when you need one. And yes, installed Hangman - my first game ever on any phone :)

Overall, quite happy so far with the phone - its doing its primary intended jobs really well.

CWG ke side effects

Of course you know about the massive scale of corruption thats supposed to have happened during the buildup to the CWG. Of course you've been drowned in the bad news and images that the 24x7 media bombarded you with unrelentingly as one shocking expose after was presented to us.

The CWG surely has lots of smoke. There are likely to be massive raging blazes of horrendous management, nepotism, corruption, and most glaringly, a lack of any pride associated with trying to organize it well. The IPL had shady behind-the-scenes going-ons as well, but the show was pulled off really really well.

But in the runup to the event, the media (as usual, one might add) went nuts. Whatever happened to balance ?

There were nicely done venues as well.
Delhi's infrastructure overall did improve.
The new terminal was completed ahead of time.

There were surely other positive stories as well. Sure, the bridge (under construction) that collapsed was a horrific sight. But thats hardly licence to make it a one sided, cynical story and provide fodder to the whole world to go-right-ahead-and-bash-us.

Events have failed elsewhere (and this one hasn't really, not yet). Freeways have aged and collapsed. Scams have killed economies for various durations. Yet one does not see the kind of we're-a-laughing-stock approach to news that the media, and yes, also the middle class - represented through the twitterati - have descended into. The over-the-top (or if you will, under-the-bottom) resigned-ness and self deprecation is pathetic, and mostly just a facade to (a) do nothing towards solving anything oneself and (b) distancing oneself from any possible failure and any sense of responsibility at all. The media and this section of the population have become echo chambers for each other. The 'can-do-will-do' reaction to problems is so missing that its almost criminal on their part to be making a noise about this.

In all the noise, I heard just one lady from Chandigarh wonder why a Sukhna-lake-revival type of shramdaan was not something the Delhi folks cribbing about this were thinking of.

Then there were other aspects of reporting that went missing.

The north's been reeling under some of the worst floods and rain the area's seen for decades. In many countries, this would have been cause enough for a national emergency and all other activities would have been postponed till the crises was over. We're either resilient/apathetic depending on how you want to look at it.

The labourers who worked on the CWG village, the guys who were called in to clean it - they inhabit completely different worlds and the disconnect between "water in the basement" and their likely-flooded homes and villages right now could not have been starker. No story there ?

Sure the OC and a bunch of jokers are responsible for the mess. Yet, a lot many contractors from both amongst Indian private players, and abroad, were responsible for construction, material etc. Not even questions about these were interesting ?

These are just things I could think of sitting a couple of thousand kilometres away. I'm sure, on the ground, many more threads would've been worth pursuing. Definitely more interesting/insightful than shots of Mike Fennel landing and getting out of the airport.

What about a report on what other events India's done in the past - successfully and those with hiccups ? What about a comparo of cities that have/could have pulled off the CWG ?

It seems that the media's gone really lazy, and just feeds off, and into the heightened state of cynical limbo the middle class exists in. There's very little genuine effort, or imagination.

And definitely no notion of balanced reporting. Make-the-most-noise is the only approach to television journalism.

To Own A Car

I've always loved driving (at least outside town, certainly not inside it). And stretched myself to pick the OHC in 2001 on a tiny salary.

9 years and 73k kms later, the car still serves me well. But purely from a financial pov, does it make sense to own a car, esp when you start with a new one ? The alternatives of using public transport/autos/taxis etc needs a little more planning-ahead, but thats not too bad a thing, and there's tons of options now.

Lets see - I paid 8.2L for the car in 2001. Today, I might get 1.8 at most. Thats an erosion of 6.4L - almost Rs.8.80 - per km! Of course fuel, on an average, at 11-12kmpl, has been at Rs.4.60. Insurance, maintenance, tyres, minor repairs etc would be another 2/- per km or so. That adds up to a cool Rs.15.40 per km!

In town : bus fares are 85/- for a Volvo day pass, autos are 8.50/- per km, even Meru cabs etc are 15/- Outstation Indicas cost 6.50 and even Innovas are under 12/-

Of course, it'll be different for diesels, and for higher usage. But most don't even keep a car for 9 years, and a Honda's wayy more reliable, and I've not included voluntary upgrade and other costs.

Financially, taking a cab makes a lot more sense anyday! In fact, you can pretty much do it off the capital needed upfront alone! Of course, the "fun-to-drive" sinks dramatically, and a little bit of the convenience - or at least the notion of it - reduces. But throw in a few go-karting trips, and you're still way better off :)

LingerLeisure is live

What started as a one-off experiment last year is a bigger now.

Linger Leisure is live, with 2 locations, and the hope of many more to come. And Vijay is part of the Linger team now.

Its not just about adding places and rooms and accommodation, but experiences - as local and authentic as we find them. Its about exploring these ourselves. Its about learning, being surprised, the unfamiliar and unknown - these are what make travelling worth it.

We're looking out for more pretty places, different experiences, and even folks who're keen to do this sort of a thing.

Total Mall's Drop (Bus) Service

Pretty good move! Total Mall on Sarjapura Road has started a bus service to drop people who shop there to their doorstep. The map attached shows the apartment complexes the service is available for. No more need to take your car, and no autowallah headaches. All they need to add is a pickup service at a fee thats redeemable at the Mall.


What is Happiness ?

That you're loved and treasured ?
Superiority ? Status, as measured ?
Security, comfort ? Riches, glory, or fame ?
A respected, recognizable name ?
The joy of giving something your all ?
Being able to get up after you fall ?
Freedom, or even an irresponsible path !?
The courage, means and will to follow your heart ?
That you're as curious as you ever were ?
Contentment ? Or a forever hunger ?
Is it in you, or around ?
Is it lost, or is it found ?

Is it merely a lack of reasons to be not ?
Only in its absence sought ?
Is it a state ? Or in one, a pause ?
Just an effect, or as much a cause ?
Does it makes all these feel true -
The things that add up to ?


The few times I've come across death.
Or the idea of it.

Its been about numbness.
And sometimes a feeling of being totally helpless.
All the control, cause and effect, effort-reward,
Seems fake. False.
Everything is not as it seems.
Priorities get seriously relooked at.
The celebrated seems puerile.
Goals, dreams, fears all in the realm of the inane.
Life becomes about moments.
Lived, loved, smiled.
Lost, fought, regretted.
But each important.

What am I chasing ? And why ?
The journey is not important. It is all.
For it can end. Cruelly. Randomly.

Econsciousness : Updates from Around Here

The grocery store next door - SMART - has started charging folks extra for plastic bags. Just a buck each, but you do see some folks getting their own bags or refusing bags for just a couple of things they could carry home.

Also, started keeping aside plastic packaging (milk, bread, cereal, and pretty much everything else!), tetrapaks, etc in a separate container for pick-up by our cleaning crew who said they can make some extra change by selling it at the local kabaadi-wala. A lot of the organic waste already goes to the composting bin. The fill rate for the dustbin has fallen dramatically again!

A couple of more residents in our apartment complex have picked up cycling.
And a lot many are interested in the bottle-in-the-flushtank idea.

The Conscience of Things We Do(n't)

We, collectively, have a very funny conscience. We've trained it to keep it clean with the much practiced technique of not-digging-deep.

So trash put "neatly" in trash bags and picked up by staff on the premises is "well taken care of"
And an emission check actually makes us believe our vehicles are environment friendly
Water from the deep (borewells) is used just like water from easily renewable sources
And because they said its bio-degradable plastic, we can use as much of it as possible
The "re-cycle" mark on so many products makes it perfectly legitimate to chuck things in dustbins

And the colour green or the label "herbal" actually passes for the real deal

Notions of convenience, comfort, even extreme ideas about safety trump responsibility all the time, and the latter is anyhow outsourced - to service providers, manufacturers, the government. In short, "them".

So we can continue with our lives as we have gotten used to. And do as little as we can.

Experiment. Help Me Choose A Phone

I usually think of the next phone when the current one breaks, is lost, stops working, etc. But recent Android devices have caught my attention and I have been thinking. Also want to run an experiment on how the community might be able to help me decide.

Need: Replacement for my old, but perfectly alright E65
Want: Android
Budget: As low as possible, max around the 15k mark
Used/new - either's fine.
Need upgradability (why buy an Android otherwise)
Not likely to be a very heavy web user, camera doesn't matter much. Don't hear music much either.
Would like to use apps. Not that I've managed to use any so far despite a few downloads.

So. Do I need an upgrade at all ? Wait ? Buy now ? What ? Will I ever pay for pricey 3G plans ?
Have taken a peek at the Samsung Spica, HTC Tattoo, and Sony Xperia X10 Mini.

Comments, suggestions, advice, etc, please.

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

Riding the TFN Again

I had done the TFN08 and TFN09, and the TFNTen has been announced.


I was wondering if I should, and if I financially could, but once the recce team got back with their pictures and description of the route, the lure of the big ride got too much to resist, and I signed up. 

Its a tougher, longer ride this year, with the first day itself being around 170km long. I think day 3 will be the most challenging - since there's a lot to do before the Gudalur-Ooty stretch starts, and then some more en-route to Kotagiri. Gotta start training seriously! 

But for this, my cycling this year was down to a few in-city rides for meeting people etc. So hopefully, the TFN will get me pedalling again.

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

The government, the government

Everything is wrong because the government does nothing. 

Thats our reaction to, and way and extent of dealing with issues that we come face to face with, and having done this, continuing whatever it is we were doing earlier. 

The environment is not the government's responsibility. Its ours. We wither encourage, or let the government do certain things and so they happen. We clamour for better roads because we collectively have faster, better, more driving as a goal we've acquired from our trips to the western world, and want to see that here.

The GoI has implemented a whole lot of laws for controlling pollution, protecting forests, etc.

We - citizens - homeowners, industrial stakeholders, consumers, car drivers, etc - try our damndest to maintain status quo and not disturb things unless it has a direct positive material impact on our lives.

The BMTC has improved bus services manifold, both in terms of quantity and quality. Yet we continue forwarding one excuse or the other to avoid giving up on our perception of "convenience" in our own cars. Inertia is dearer to us than the condition of the species and the planet going forward.

We ape bad retail habits we have seen in the west merely because they seemed cool there, and we are too shy/lazy to stand out refusing plastic to put each individual vegetable purchase into before getting it weighed at our malls. Blame the government for that too ?

Sure these are small steps, but there's little hope of evolving the right collective goals, pushing the government towards real positive change, etc, from a population thats by and large content living off unsustainable behaviour for short term gains, and considering finger pointing as adequate contributiuon.

Somewhere, I fear the future will treat us with irritated scorn and incredulous disbelief for our shortsightedness.

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi


They play on our fears
Only because we have them
And choose let them rule us

We pray, pay and prepare
We cross the line, oftentimes
The "truths" continue to fool us

The spirit dies
Our existence is just that
Freedom is when fear's no more

The lips move, conforming
Speak of goodness and shoulds
What cost, to make us so secure ?

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi


The kids need a better world.

Better broadband ?
Better digital interfaces ?
More connected online communities ?
Cooler handhelds ?
Quicker cars ?

Or cleaner air ?
Water ? (Man, this one is getting close.)
Livable cities ?

What do we leave behind ?
Plastic hills ?
Fenced, protected, expensive fresh water sources ?
Bubbles of glass inside which breathing is possible ?
Anger, despair, anxiety as the collective consciousness ?

Will they mock us ?
Curse ?
Deride our shortlived choices ?
Our escapist mechanisms to cope with threats ?
The generations that did not stand and fight and solve.
But escaped into the nether.
Created money, and used it to hide the sins.

Our lifespans are a curse, I read somewhere.
Looks like the curse is on our kids. And we're responsible.

I'm just wondering if there's a breaking point someplace and if we're all Neros.

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi


Dear GIMC,

Know what, I'm starting to get pissed with all the cynicism.

Let's show some spirit/character here, and stop using the shield of resignedness and hopelessness to avoid action/responsibility/effort, esp collective responsibility.

Its your job. Not your job "too", but your job. "They"/"the government"/"politicians" are not responsible for everything. You leave a vacuum, some or the other vested interest will smartly fill it up. So stop sitting on your rearsides, and stop leaving these vacuums.


Sameer (erstwhile member)

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi


Like that cigarette packs carry warnings, and scary pictures.

Shouldn't car ads show the 2.3kgs of CO2 ?
Shouldn't "convenient" sachets and packaging show the mountains of plastic piled up everywhere ?
Shouldn't the super-floor-cleaners, and soaps, and detergents, carry "screwing-your-groundwater" signs ?
Shouldn't food mention the pesticides used ?

Its all about convenient truths or inconvenient lies. Some, we just ignore. 

Of course I do not support smoking. I'm just saying we need to apportion our horror and disgust to other equally worrying problems as well. Irrespective of how benign advertising and media messages makes them seem (esp car ads!)

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

My form, and my function

The Mangalore tragedy today saddened, and also provided a moment of reflection - what if I were to go today. It can happen randomly, after all.

Biologically, at 36, am over the hill. My bit towards the continuation of the species is done. I have participated in a fair bit of economic activity, ensured at least a decent future for the family and kids, and made at least a little bit of a positive impact here and there on society. 

What remains ? What will be lost if a flight I take crashes and I join some random statistic ?

Probably my creativity. Probably boundaries unexplored. But these are unknowns, unburdensome things. So perhaps the best way to live now is freely. Each day. Each decision. As it comes. No isms, no preconceived notions. No "challenges" but mere explorations - whatever and whenever possible.

So that when it happens, there is hardly any regret, and only joy and thankfulness for whatever was possible.

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

Road Widening and Homeowner Pains

The BBMP has marked 216 roads for widening.

As someone has tweeted recently, widening roads for increasing traffic is akin to loosening one's belt as a solution for obesity.

How long will this help ? Wider roads - smoother traffic for a while - encourages more to drive - back to square one! A year's benefit, at most ? The sprawl problems in city after city have proven beyond doubt that merely wider roads are no solution for traffic issues. To make people lose their homes, land, etc permanently for a short term gain is extremely duh. Especially when done by an authority which has not shown that its solutions have actually improved traffic sustainably in any part of town. the Silk Board, Bannerghata Circle, Nimhans stretch - all are as bad as ever. Traffic has a way of catching up real quick. Without demonstrating a more wholesome plan for a long term traffic management solution, its downright horrible to destroy homes etc. 

There's another point to the whole story. Even if widening work does happen, it should not be done for private transport. The extra space needs to be marked for public transport, pedestrians and cyclists. There are many stretches - Haralur Road where we live being one such - where walking is a nightmare, and there is a proposal to make it wider so vehicles can zip even faster. Its a recipe for more pedestrian fatalities in the imminent future.

My home is not impacted by this TDR mess, but I fully intend to lend my voice and support to those who're protesting this. BBMP, grow up and think of solutions. You cannot fight cancer using band aids, and certainly not band aids that help the growth of that cancer itself!

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi


There's an ongoing debate about the need for recharge wells that we're trying to sink in our apartment complex. During this, someone threw in, "I would like to know what the ROI on this is."

This is a question thats brought into many debates - including some at my earlier jobs - as a red herring. Its often done without homework, or imagination, or creative, proactive thought. 

For instance, to continue with the case for water itself :

How valuable is water ? 10/- a litre ? How much would you be willing to pay if there weren't any ? Thats starting to happen to Bangalore! How do you calculate a number for this ? Intuitively, and with some homework about Bangalore's water situation, the answer is reasonably clear - we all need to turn producers, not just consumers of this dwindling resource, and recharge from stormwater drains is a major strategy thats part of this. It also counters a lot of the runoff losses caused by the concretization of surfaces, and its proven to be faster than shallow, surface level water recharging as is done through lakes etc. 

There's also the question of priorities. Whats the ROI on your car ? The fuel it uses ? The LED TV you've bought ? Sure, the answer is likely that its what I choose for myself and the satisfaction and happiness it provides me. But very similar to the same sentiment is the set of choices we make collectively, and the satisfaction those will provide to us collectively. There's also the responsibility that we have collectively that we should not, and increasingly, cannot shirk just because there's a Government. 

Think a little, and you'll see that the ROI question is moot.

I'd opined earlier why I thought apartment living might be unsustainable in the medium term, and now I add one more reason to it - the hardening of the consumer attitudes of our society as a whole. It's unfair to blame individuals for it, for we've moved in this direction as a whole. Our sense of entitlement, and resistance to having to do things ourselves has trounced all other attributes. We live together as a community, locality, city, state, but see ourselves more or less independently, only banding together reactively for certain causes. Go to store-pick from shelf-checkout is our sum total of actions towards living, society and the world around us. Anything else must forst prove its ROI in hard numbers.

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

What Phylum Are You ?

Back in college (school, to those of you who subscribe to this strange usage from across someone else's pond) we had a euphemism for casteist leanings and biases - phylumbaazi - basically the urge/desire/need to classify, bucket, put in groups everyone you meet.

There's been some controversy over caste questions in the ongoing census (though in my personal experience, was not asked any such questions!).

Made me think about these issues, and their reduced relevance to at least a slice of our society. Our son had a similar question before him when some kids - barely 8 years old - were rather innocently figuring out their ethnicities. Shubha's a Palghat Iyer who grew up in Jharkhand. I'm apparently from Rajasthan, with our ancestoral village in the UP heartland, and grew up in Jamshedpur as well. For the last decade and a half Bangalore is home, and between the two of us we speak a little bit of Kannada, like the people, coffee and this is firmly home. We've setup a home in Coorg and might just decide to retire there someday! Like I say in jest - we have no roots and many branches. What ethnicity do the kids claim ?

I guess for the (growing) bit of the population which is in the same boat as ours, these identities and questions already have little significance. It can only be good for India. But sometimes, the others expectation of a clear response to the "where are you from" leave one a little bothered. Most of all, the government!

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

Why Do I Do What I Do ?

[ Warning/Disclaimer: This post is an exercise in self-analysis/narcissism, depending on how you look at it. It if helps clear someone's thought, great.]

I'm dabbling in multiple interests right now. 

Linger kicked off the experimentation with hospitality - and there might be more happening soon. I'm enjoying the experience - there's a lot of product management, online marketing, brand building involved and the smiles on people's faces when they experience a good thing is a huge reward.

The consulting on Product Strategy and Execution continues at its own pace, with a lot of interesting conversations, numerous interesting problems to solve. There's been some good outcomes already, and the learning is very fulfilling. 

Then there's the non-career interests that keep life's spark going. There's already a serious enough effort that goes into managing one's finances and running the household amidst all this.

Most of the above are either non-remunerative, or not paying too much right now :) And it goes against the common wisdom of being focused, doing one thing with no distractions etc. Is it the right thing to do ? There are regular jobs in great Product companies and teams that are available, and lucrative. So why this ? Its not just a rhetorical question - its also what I ask myself, if just to keep the head clear each time a major offer comes along that I have to say no to!

I've kind of hypothesized that I am happier, more productive, useful and agreeable when I do multiple things. Reflecting upon my past life - its also clear I've always been that way! Its also one reason I loved the whole startup experience though it did not bring monetary rewards of any sort. As an aside, its also become very clear to me that the $$ dream is not something I can ever chase for its own sake.

The current mode of living/working (at least as long as I can sustain it) gives me a lot of freedom to push my own boundaries. I had zilch experience in hospitality, for instance - but that sort of starting point has so far worked in my favour even in the tech jobs I have done. It helps create and interact with an amazing network of people from whom I learn, understand everyday. My skills have gotten a strong real world flavour added on to them. And I am now beginning to question a few beliefs about certain things I has assumed I would never (be able) to do. 

Sure, at some point the focus on one of the multiple activities might sharpen, and the time devoted it it might increase. But as of now, I'm enjoying it all, having fun being able to do it all, and will let one pick me, rather than the other way around.

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

You got 20 years more. To live, or learn.

Sounds like paranoid scare-mongering ? His last round of 'predictions' would have too. But its not that tough to imagine, given the collective state of denial our species has adopted! Be it water, or energy, we refuse to challenge and relook at "life as we know it" and every little battle between convenience and effort towards making a change is lost to the former.

While its probably true that the tipping point might have been reached a while ago, but hey, we gotta try something. At the least, it'll help us adapt more to living a different life - where a lot we take for granted will not be available - easy water, boundless fuel, flights over Europe. We are already paying for the mass produced excessive lifestyle invented and marketed by the last couple of generations, and our kids and theirs will pay the most for it.

Enjoy it while you can, to whatever extent you can. Or learn to grow some food, water, and live with erratic weather real quick.

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

Aviation Crutches, and Lessons From The Ash

The unpronounceable (by most) place where the unexpected volcanic eruption spews unwelcome volcanic ash is all over the news.

It scared the airlines who didn't want to lose planes, people.
It left people "stranded" all across the world, since so many could not take a flight into/out of Europe.
It lay bare the fragility of businesses that are perpetually on the edge, operationally. Not healthy!
It forced people to take boats, trains, buses, connections. Meet other people.
It generated bookfulls of stories and experiences. So many people lived a little more.
It forced people to think local in terms of food, produce.
It forced a little humility into mankinds sense of control, conceit.

I think we need a 5 day outage every year!

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

The Mantri Mall : Have We Gone Nuts ?

This is incredible. First they plan, permit and actually build a gigantic Mall in the worst possible location. And then immediately throw tantrums with a sense of entitlement! They want space for a 1000 more cars, and sorry bus folks, you're not welcome here.

(click on the above pic for the Bangalore Mirror article)

The sense of priorities is so clear, and so screwed up.

We don't need parks.
Or bus stops.

We need malls.
And more parking for private cars.
So we can all drive more and more and more and more of us can do it.
So we choke the damn air with carbon.
And to hell with buses, pedestrians, cycles,
And to hell with perspective.
We need more selling, and more buying.

Damn, I might start sounding like a left-leaning bozo. But the truth is, this sense of entitlement on top of extreme short-sightedness, chasing the wrong set of goals and the blind belief in the glitz people have seen someplace without understanding the implications is beginning to get to me.

I do not expect better of Mantri and other developers, cause they'd rather do this, but all ye others who are responsible for the city, and profess love for it, whither ?

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

Its probably just age

But I do not enjoy 20-20 cricket at all. A 50 over innings leaves some scope for swings of fortunes, building up an innings, strategizing, and recovering from a few bad overs. IPL has totally failed to keep me hooked, despite the odd match. Test cricket these days is very interesting too -  not that fewer teams are playing defensively.

Similarly, the whole iPad (and earlier, iPhone) wave has not caught my fancy at all. I mean - whatever. Its just a device, world, and get on woth your lives please. Nokia still makes better phones (though God knows why they're trying to play everyone else's games). And cool lasts only so long. Here we are, overburdened with info on our existing devices already. Do we really want more pain without figuring out better, easier ways to use/consume/reject this info overload at the right levels without totally losing our lives inside the maze.

Probably just getting old, huh ?

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

Water : Its already happening!

Just go through these:

Its not an in-the-future crisis anymore. We've not only been shortsighted, we're being blind now. The neon, glitz and civic cynicism have pushed us into more or less a denial mode where we rarely put this on our individual priorities, following which collective effort is lacking as well, and are ever-ready to pounce upon any argument that wonders if this is just a bogie being raised by doomsday scenario advocates.

I, for one, am worried. Very. Both about the crisis, and about our continued irresponsible, consumerist attitude towards something thats not just a need and right, but our responsibility as well.

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

The coming water disaster

Scary how we behave like mere consumers with a sense of entitlement towards "Cauvery Water" - like its unlimited, and meant purely for our own consumption. The notion of responsibility, sharing and controlled usage does not enter our heads. We've been gifted with numerous lakes, which we've killed. We've managed to lose a complete river with our greed and short sightedness. And yet we do not learn. Its a problem that needs a demand side fix as much as it needs a supply side one.

The Catskill Mountains near New York are the primary catchment area for its water supply. New York has consciously taken to acquiring large tracts of land up there for natural preservation of the region, and in turn its water needs! Recently, they've demonstrated that even financially, the long terms benefits of this move have outweighed the costs they would have paid for the water related issues they would've faced without this. Can we do this in Coorg and Wayanad before we clamour for a larger share of the Cauvery ? Can we first ensure the health of what we've been gifted with, and demonstrate that we actually deserve these ?

If you see the movie, it explains in great detail how those who use water the most pay the least for it. Those without access to BWSSB water end up paying nearly 300 per kilolitre! Even tanker water is at 50/- pe kl and BWSSB supply starts at 6/-, ridiculously lower than the 35/- per kl that it costs to pump it up from 100 kms away, with almost a 500m ascent up to Bangalore! Unless we pay more for it, and more equitably, there's little likelihood of us learning to conserve it, recycle it, and make the best use of rainwater etc.

Groundwater, which Bangalore uses at a ferocious rate to meet more than half its demand, is under even more strain. Its a 'historic' resource, since the deeper you go, the 'older' the water thats percolated in. Its critical that we not only appreciate these differences, but pay much much more for more historical water, and make as hard an attempt as we can to replenish it as we draw water from the shallower aquifers themselves.

We may soon get real broadband at affordable rates. We're already benefiting from the telecom revolution. But basic stuff like water - thats in our own hands. Its a hard hitting movie - try getting a copy and watching it. Really scary.

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

Linger is Live

Have been at Linger most of the last couple of weeks, getting loose ends tied up, the kitchen setup and training the staff there. Its ready, and the last set of guests who helped test the place enjoyed their stay there immensely. 


Here's some pics from the last weekend, when a couple of avid birdwatchers/photographers spent time there :

You should come to Linger to take time off, do things you've not done for a long time, and slow down the rush that life's become. The library, the walks, the bikes, the board games, or just putting up your legs and sipping endless chai should all help you do that.....

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

Train timings at Carmelaram Railway Station

Posting a mail I received - this can become a major commute option for people living around Sarjapura Road.

Train timings at carmelaram railway station:

Trains going towards salem :

train no 2677  intercity exp                            6 46 am

            6232 mysore mayiladuthurai exp      19 42 hrs
            6732 mysore tuticorin exp                21 59 hours
            6527  Yeshwantpur cannanore exp   20 44 hrs (wed and sat)
            572  bangalore salem passenger       7 54 hrs
                    yeshwantpur salem pasnger    17 00 hrs
                    bangalore dharmapuri              19 13 hrs

Trains going  towards bangalore city, yeshwanthpur,mysore,

train no  2677  intercity                                            18 47 hrs
             mayiladuthurai - mysore exp                        04 30 hrs
             Tuticorin/ mysore exp                                  0515 hrs
             cannore yeshwanthpur                                 05 46 hrs ( mon wed sat)
             Dharmapuri bangalore                                  07 09 hrs
             salem  yeshwanthpur exp                             09 05 hrs
             salem bangalore exp                                   17 11 hrs

it is better to call the railway station for the exact timings for the day the  station num is 28441615

However the express trains are stopping on trial basis only, if the passenger usage is not as per expected levels they would discontinue these stops, request all to use this service and make this service a regular one.

If you live in the vicinity, do explore this. Its gotta be faster than anything else!

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

Final steps towards the coming true of a dream

Many moons ago - in fact monsoons ago - we started pursuing a dream - of owing a little place in Coorg that we could both call home, and plan a foray into hospitality using. Over time, Shubha and I have learned about Coorg, its people, the weather, coffee, construction using laterite, Mangalore tiles, and a lot more about wood than we ever knew. Of course, its a baby step, but the house is ready, and with a week or so more of effort, Linger will be reality.


Its a green, pretty place and we're trying our best to not 'landscape' it cause we can hardly hope to achieve what nature's managed. Yet there's the odd bit of work left, and books to be bought, and cycles to be added, trails identified, and food tasted :) 

Linger welcomes you starting March 1st, 2010, to come, relax, do nothing and, well, linger!

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

BMTC services on from Koramangala to Electronic City

Good Morning! Another feather added to the Forward150 cap.

Our active members again successfully negotiated with BMTC CTMO for the following feeder services. These services are exclusively run upon request from Forward150.

341 H - St John's Hospital to Electronics City via Haralur Road & return
341 Q - St John's Hospital to Electronics City via Hosa Road (Jail Road) & return

I request you to forward this information to all the residents in your locality and spread awareness to make use of these services.

Let us be proud to use public bus services and reduce pollution.

Our active members again successfully negotiated with BMTC CTMO for the following feeder services. These services are exclusively run upon request from Forward150.

341 H - St John's Hospital to Electronics City via Haralur Road & return
341 Q - St John's Hospital to Electronics City via Hosa Road (Jail Road) & return

I request you to forward this information to all the residents in your locality and spread awareness to make use of these services.

Let us be proud to use public bus services and reduce pollution.

This is awesome - the entire set of people here can now get buses to most places in the City - via St. Johns - even without going to Sarjapura Road. The PDF schedules were attached and there's a bus every 20-40 mins on each route - and together (through slightly different routes thats every 20 mins for sure!).

Thanks BMTC, and thanks Forward 150.

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

Bus-ing helps! Proof is good :)

And thats just a few folks who tried the bus on the day. If each one of us makes a bit of an effort to 'get used' to busing/cycling/walking just a little more, think of the awesome positive impact that can have on our city, our air, our health, our lives! 

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi


This is very very critical information - please do watch the full video.
We often worry about plastics, and sometimes about garbage strewn visibly. But the whole picture is so scary. And even scarier is our lack of action on this, and the attitude of "oh but I've paid my taxes" and "out of sight, out of mind" that seems to define our approach.

Shall we set a few personal goals ? And maybe derive a few apartment/community level ones from the same ?
  • Start with the most important of them all - segregate. Yeah for starters "it'll all get mixed later" is true, but keep doing it anyway.
  • Lets send out as little organic waste in the bins as we can. Compost at home ?
  • Reduce the "throw the trash out" frequency to a third of what it is ? Given that 60-70% is organic, this should be doable!
  • Get into the recycling food chain. I'm gonna try and find out resources on this and update, for Bangalore.
  • As communities, explore biogas options ? What are those usable for ?
I do think larger and larger hordes of us having become "consumers" is a self-destruct mode as far the planet and species is concerned. Personally, we'll try and bring some changes to our lives, at the least. The composting and lowered trash-disposal happen to a certain extent already, but probably not as aggressively as should be given our responsibility as citizens of our city and planet.

Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

"Alternative for waterproofing?"

I was asked that question by @flipkartdotcom in response to the feedback I gave them once I got my first set of books ordered there delivered - in really good shape and within the promised time, I must add.

Question : how do we solve this plastic-derived-convenience issue ? Undeniably, the books might suffer a bit if there were no plastic wrapping (tho, of course, one wrapper for both might have used at least a little lesser). Its a question of probabilities, but the cost we, as a society, are willing to pay in our quest to be 100% on service, on convenience, etc, is not really being counted economically. Obviously, I do not expect Flipkart, a fledgling startup, to start charging consumers an additional fee for plastic wrapping - they've got to stay competitive - but somewhere, our 'needs' consumers themselves need to be redefined, and policymakers need to ensure some of these:
  • The usage of plastics in packing, shipping etc, must come at a cost thats reflective of its entire lifecycle, and the indirect costs in terms of landfills, health issues, loss of agricultural land, etc, so that
  • alternatives are explored
  • the need is pondered upon real hard on a case by case basis. A Bangalore delivery, in winter, by courier, wrapped in a very sturdy and "minor splash resistant" cardboard box, when the forecast indicates no rain - will probably not qualify if the cost barrier is not kept artificially low like it currently is.
  • The industry that introduces plastic, or any other material into the consumption cycle, MUST be made responsible to ensure they provide a collection mechanism for suchlike, as well. All tetrapack manufacturers, for instance, MUST be made to buy back a certain percentage of aluminum that is recycled from older packaging. 
  • The sad truth is that our dependence on plastics has gone up phenomenally - so much so that we cannot even see alternatives, or alternative paths, for many of our day to day needs. Its like a smoker who's lungs are beginning to give up, yet cannot give up on the habit. As a species, we're so screwed if we keep going down this path.

    Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

    What I need on Facebook

    Facebook is up to 400 million users. Thats almost 6.7% of the world population! Awesome. 

    What does it mean to me ? 

    On the plus side, I've "reconnected" with a whole lot of folks from my past life. school, college, hometown - they're all in there. I've also connected with a lot many new connections that I forge through cycling, or other activity I participate in these days.

    Amongst these, I get to know on an ongoing basis who's working in what part of the world, and who's had kids, and partied last night, and even the political, social views of many of these folks. Sometimes, I feel like an inadvertent voyeur!

    Too broad a social landscape ? Too much info ? Some of these are context specific contacts, and while I do share some interests with them, I do not need to know every little detail in their lives, their friendships, their views on everything! In fact, with many there's little beyond the "Add as friend", and apart from having access to their inboxes, or walls, etc, there's little else by way of friendship or any sort of relationship. The context's too weak, and too distant, and its a farce, really. 

    I certainly am interested in a smaller, tighter circle of friends, and have been actively thinking I need to keep my 'active social circle' much smaller, and more meaningful. Sure, I do interact with the larger set of people on specific interests, and it would be great to tap into their collective knowledge and wisdom on a need-basis - but without the full duplex intrusiveness of every little update from each others lives, social circles, etc. I might be old fashioned, but Facebook is not how my social life - at least the meaningful part of it - really operates. This was NOT that much of a problem when the number of connections was smaller, but the amount of fluff has grown manifold since. And turning a request down has since become some sort of a social faux pas.

    There's opportunity for a different layer atop Facebook - which is reducing to some sort of a storage and archival medium for one's entire social graph - personal, hobby-derived, official, formal, etc as well as the activity on it - that helps consume the data from this store in a more meaningful, natural way. Either Facebook could add features to enable this (they were kinda forced to handle the Twitter deluge using the "Live Feed" vs "News Feed" split)  or a 3rd party app/site will spring up sooner or later to do this. The noise in there is getting a little too much, and I've been wondering if it really matters whether I'm "on Facebook" or not. 

    Those who really need to find me or talk to me, will, anyhow. The rest is often just noise/PR.

    Posted via web from workFront

    Bangalore's Bus Day Tomorrow

    Its Bus Day in Bangalore tomorrow and everyone's encouraged to keep off private transport for a day. Even a fraction of the 35+ Lakh private vehicles staying at home will make a huge difference! Pretty awesome.

    However, I have one fear. Often, these well intentioned one off events do little for the cause, and in fact might have the opposite effect. The bus services have grown manifold - indeed their growth has far outstripped the growth in population. Yet there are geographical, time-sensitive stresses on the system. Now imagine that going up by, say, even 15% on a single day because of a 'mobilization' like this. The newbies who dare to try it out tomorrow might be put off buses - wrongly so - for a long long time to come. 

    Hopefully, BMTC would've factored in the increased traffic to a certain extent, and (I say this only pragmatically) hopefully not too many will hop on all at once. The shift does need to happen, but more persistently, gradually, and permanently.

    Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

    Spelling It Out

    Voila, NOT viola : see, there!
    Trial, NOT trail : trying something out kinds
    Lose, NOT loose : the former makes you sad, the latter hides the girth

    Posted via email from bangalorekaapi


    In the city, we depend on so many people, systems, organizations to just get on with life. Yet we pretend we have complete independence, and giving or taking help is usually after much thought, calculation and consideration. We cannot grow our own food, we cannot manage our own waste, we cannot get our own water, and more and more, we cannot even cook a decent percentage of our meals. We've invented this thing called 'currency' and ideas of 'fair value' and transact in it, often hiding the dependence, and the interactions without which the currency or the value we associate with the transaction are pretty useless. 

    Out there in the village, and I suspect even in smaller towns to some extent, people still manage more of their lives directly. Yet the dependence is more 'out in the open', acknowledged, and included in social interactions. There's less of the 'I don't need anyone' and 'let me not inconvenience anyone'. 


    Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

    A few minutes at a bus stop

    I stood at the stop near the HSR BDA complex, on the Outer Ring Road, today.
    Since I had time, and nobody to speak with, thoughts crossed my head, and I saw many things. Amongst them -
    • Damn, soooo many one-person cars. Drivers with the owner do not count.
    • That ONE Volvo has as many people as the 40 cars I can see occupying road space from here till wherever!
    • Who threw these bus tickets/cigarette packets/wrappers around ? Do we have the slightest right to crib about governance ?
    • All this road work is so we can have more people drive in cars alone, and then start needing more road space ? Dumb.
    • Bangalore still has lovely weather.
    • The traffic and construction dust is killing it though.
    • Thank God for the many who take the buses. Esp those who could've otherwise been in cars.
    • Hmm, no 'choice' cyclists in the 20 minutes I've been here. Still a tiny minority, obviously. Or they take a better route!
    • Why does everyone honk so much when it has absolutely no impact! Frustration, I guess.

    Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

    How to plan your finances sessions

    I'm no finance whiz, and definitely not an investment-geek.

    But I think I have figured out how to plan finances long term, and make money work for you as opposed to working for money. Long term goals, the true meaning of risk vs return, why your huge salary hardly leaves you with any liquidity, etc etc.

    I did a quick run-through for a pal, and my brother recently. And so far, it seems to be helping clear the clouds. 

    So here's the deal - if you think you need help, and are ready to share - in strict confidence - your numbers, I'll give you 3 hours of my time at 1500/- and coffee and help you make some sense of it. Its not too much cash, and I'm hardly trying to make a career out of this, but I would like you to take this session really seriously, and only if you want to shake things up a bit.

    The advice will NOT be about the exact financial instruments you should or should not invest in - cause (a) there's professionals for that sort of a thing and (b) there's legal requirements to be able to do that. It WILL be about how you look at your goals, vs income, vs cash flows, vs savings plans, etc. It'll be about planning life from "here" to 85, or so. 

    Who should even consider this ? You're probably not "already there" financially, still need to meet a plenty of goals and could even have some liabilities, and might have given financial structuring a shot or two without really having a good solid grip on things. Over this session, hopefully that'll improve. At the end of it, you should have a layman's spreadsheet that helps you plan, understand and track the finances, including upsides and downsides, etc. It'll help you make better choices without financial imprudence, or, otoh, needless tight-fistedness!

    This is crazy, but since I thought of it yesterday, I thought I must offer it. Let me know if you think it might help. If its just 1500/- down the drain, think of it as a bad movie + lousy dinner date :D

    Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

    Three Dozen Gone

    Turned 36 day before. Not so long ago, those in their "forties" were "senior" folks :D Well, its knocking at the doors!
    Seriously, the midlife has come with all the accompanying confusion, clarity, freedom, anxiety all at once. Feel healthier than a few years ago - probably due to cycling and lack of the 9-5 stress, have a larger 'zoomed out' view of many things, and yet there's a tinge of ennui.

    Looking ahead to the next dozen :)

    Posted via email from bangalorekaapi

    The Tour of Nilgiris, Redux

    Background : 2nd edition of the TFN. 70 bikers, 20+ support crew. 

    Day 1: Bangalore to Mysore : 150kms or so

    We left the Koramangala Indoor stadium around 8am, and till we got to Kengeri, it was the usual morning madness of Bangalore's traffic. A quick regroup and we were off on the mostly downhill, great tarmac route to Chennapatna, where our first support station was at Kadambam (the gentleman who owns this is a Bulleteer, and was extremely enthusiastic about the TFN, and even hopes to ride next year! Compared to last year, I rode it real easy. The knowledge of the route, and available time, meant no pressure to 'beat the sweep vehicle' and I enjoyed the ride and the route much more than the last year. Took lots of pictures, had lunch by a lakeside and made full use of whatever the support stations had to offer :) 

    P1080686.JPG  P1080695.JPG P1080707.JPG

    The weather stayed very benign right through, and even the second half - which I mostly rode with Jas - was easy. Jas had some knee issues as we got closer to Mysore, so we took it real easy and slow towards the end. Despite all this we got to the Regaalis by 5:30. The early birds made it by 1:30 or so and had already had a nap! 

    A bunch took the Volvo made available by the Transport Dept to Chamundi and the Palace. I preferred to hand around and chat over chai and snacks. The dinner was good, and accommodations top grade. The bikes, laid out gently across the lawns, made for a very pretty picture :)

    Day 2: Mysore - Hassan. 124kms + a pretty 8km detour

    The day started with a nice breakfast spread, and Vasu's instructions! The first few hours were done in a very very light spray and clouds. The roads stayed fantastic upto Hassan limits, and the roadbikers just ripped through, especially after the turn off the Madikeri Road as traffic thinned out (esp compared to the Mysore road).  Adi, I and Jas rode most of this day together. 

    The route was so amazingly scenic - we just had to stop for a gazillion pictures, chai and what not. At one looong stop near a temple, a local even tried out Jas' bike and came back grinning ear to ear :)  The whole area is totally green, and the Cauvery and other streams criss cross your path. There are numerous lakes as well, and of course we stopped at a couple for photo ops and generally chilling out!

    P1080711.JPG P1080729.JPG P1080749.JPG P1080756.JPG

    The afternoon saw some climbs though nothing serious. The sun came out strong too, so we took an hour's break at the last support station where we also had lunch. A whole bunch of kids gathered around, curious and excited, and it took Kamesh's impropmtu quiz (and lots of biscuit packets) to keep them from huddling around the bikes.

    A little before Hassan, 4 of us took a detour left at Mosale Hosahalli to check out some old Hoysala Temples. These were clearly not the objects of even infrequent visitor attention, and it took some persistent interrogation to get directions to the place. But, as the pic shows, it was totally worth it!


    The last bit to Hassan, and the town itself, was lunar. The poor roadies complained about it for a long time, but little did they know things were turning in favour of us MTBers ;) Hassan itself had little to offer, and neither did the hotel. We went deep into town and managed to hunt down a solitary board of ludo+snakes and ladders, and that salvaged our evening. 

    Day 3: Into Coorg: Madikeri via Gorur, Shanivarasanthe, Somwarapet. 125 kms 

    This is where things got interesting. After renegotiating the battered Hassan exit roads, we were on a not-too-wide stretch leading to Gorur. The road was perfectly ok for us MTBers, but the unevenness and the odd pothole appearing randomly presented a negative surprise for a lot of the roadies - especially those who'd switched not too long ago from their MTBs.

    I ripped through to Gorur, pausing for some pics (including those of some roadies as I overtook them 3 at a time :D). And at Gorur, we were welcomed by the local cops who'd not only opened the dam to us (courtesy the Transport Commissioner, who was a fellow rider on the TFN) but also arranged chai, biscuits and presented bouquets and garlands to us! Riding on the dam was one awesome experience.

    P1080779.JPG P1080783.JPG P1080784.JPG P1080788.JPG

    P1080789.JPG P1080793.JPG

    The roads got a little worse after this, and the scenery got much better. Upto Sanivarsanthe, where the next support station was, was mostly rolling hills except one steep climb and one long, fast descent before that. A lot many riders got the first taste of what it meant to be Touring these parts on this stretch. After Sanivarsanthe, the coffee plantations on both sides meant a lot of tree cover. The road was better too (though some roadbikers still had issues, with already aching shoulders). The climbs got progressively steeper as we got closer to Somwarapet, and the sun got stronger as well. We ran out of steam just before Somwarapet and locally procured Coke + Chips provided enough emergency fuel to get to the lunch point :)

    P1080799.JPG P1080800.JPG P1080802.JPG P1080803.JPG

    The route got prettier and much, much tougher between Somwarapet (just after which we had awesome rolls at the support station - I had 2 packs!) and Madikeri. The last climb was some 8kms long, and the lower gears came into play for the first time.

    The last 5kms from Madikeri to the homestay broke the spirit of many a rider, and not just the roadies. Of course, prior knowledge of the horrible horrible surface there meant I knew what was coming, and actuallu wuzzled my way through the potholes, gravel and traffic. We also picked up some more coke and chips at Madikeri, but this was devoured by hungry bikers as soon as we got to the destination. There was also nice chai served as we reached. The acco was in dorms + rooms, and those of us in the dorm were treated to some great surround-snoring deep into the night :D

    Day 4: To Iruppu, 143 kms of which I did about 125. Toughest day.

    Started the day with a fast ride to Cherambane (averaging 21kmph+ through the hills!), where I met Satya (pal who's helping me with the house we're building around there). Treated a dozen riders who stopped there to Pattal-Kadla and Salaam Bhai's chai. This turned out to be a real long break. Adi pushed ahead and missed all this, and stayed ahead all day. Jas and I then stopped at Chettimani to take a look at the current state of the construction, and were pretty much the last to reach the support station at the base of Talacauvery. We'd lost a lot of time because of the breaks and had to take a call on whether to miss out on this, vs stopping a little short of the destination for sweep. Again, I knew the craziness that awaited us a little before Iruppu in the form of craters and lousy traffic, and the choice was clear. The ride up Talacauvery was a much easier 8kms than Nandi, and up there I watched the bikes as the others went into the temple (which I've seen plenty of times already). Chai and vadas kept me in good cheer, and fuelled up for the 10km hell ahead.

    P1080809.JPG P1080818.JPG P1080820.JPG

    A quick ride down, and 6kms of slick roads later we hit 'the patch' of the entire tour. A lot many riders will remember this more than any other part of the ride. every bone, every part of the bike, shook, rattled and was severly tested. After a couple of downhills, I got used to no-brakes-fast-downhills and watching for potholes, gravels, turns all at once. It was immense fun - doing the climbs real slow at 2-2, 1-3 and then letting go on the descent. 

    The support station provided welcome lunch and Appy, and the road improved within a couple of kms after that. The backroads of Coorg, all the way to Virajpet, had lots pf coffee, little traffic and were ok for the most part except some rough stretches. The entire day was full of delights, challenges, and incidents. Helped people get off the grass after bus scares, fix flats, and brakes. And most of all, fight the devils that played with the mind!

    We took a 'snack break' at Virajpet and downed Thums Up, Chips, Badam Milk. That was enough to do a rapid ride upto Gonikoppal (averaged 24+ on this stretch!), and from there to the last support station some 16kms short of the destination. We stopped at around 6pm and waited for the truck to come pick us up. The truck was filled with bikes so we got an Omni which bumped its way to the homestay.

    The next day was a rest day so fun, games and general cacking went on late into the night. Some guys went star gazing, some found beer, and some played dumb-c.

    Day 5: Rest, Massage, Waterfalls-that-I-didn't-see and Wildlife Trips

    I got up later-than-usual-for-the-trip and had a couple of chais over morning gup. Went over to the pond in the property for a massage and some idle time. Next figured out a way to do some laundry. Sauntered over to a local shop for some 'Sunspot'. Vasu offered to, nay, insisted, on cleaning my bike's chain. There was also lunch somewhere in the midst of all this, and then someone mentioned a trip to Nagarhole which sounded like a good idea. Some enthu junta had done a quick ride to Iruppu falls by then! Very packed day!

    P1080822.JPG P1080834.JPG P1080850.JPG

    The wildlife sanctuary ride was nice enough, and apart from the usual spotted deer we saw a turtle and a lone tusker which I guess was kinda used to traffic so no charge.

    Day 6 : Iruppu - Sultan Bathery. 80kms or so. Overconfidence and Hunger.

    Apart from the stretch upto the Wayand WLS, the roads turned out to be better than on the recce and the last 25kms was a dream run. Of course, it being a 'short ride' day I 'forgot' to have proper breakfast, and the hunt for an omelette in Kerala proved to be futile. The sun came out strong, and the climbs got serious after Kattikulam (though it was very very pretty all along) and I felt really drained towards the end.

    In terms of the route, this was one of the more interesting ones since we actually passed through villages, beside numerous little Churches that dotted the landscape, lots of small streams and there were turns every few kilometres. 

    P1080854.JPG P1080855.JPG P1080857.JPG P1080866.JPG

    At one place we had some local savouries and chai, and chips and coke elsewhere. No lunch before we got to Bathery since I dumbly decided to not eat the rice at the support stations! One of the shorter rides on the trip, but took the most out of me.


    P1080869.JPG P1080894.JPG

    Oh, and the unniappams inside the WLS were toally awesome! (This will be remembered as my for-food-ride!)

    In the evening we visited the Sultan's Battery, and interacted with local enthusiasts and historians. Courtesy Sajan, a local TFN supporter, we had decent media coverage there as well.

    Day 7: Bathery to Ooty and the big 24km climb. About 100kms

    I am truly proud of how well I paced this. I use "paced" in no relation to "speed" here - that was for Gaurav Dwivedi who got to Ooty in just over 4 hours! I knew the route exactly, and unlike the previous year, was totally at peace about "will I reach before I'm swept" despite lengthening shadows, and dropping temperatures. I also did the entire climb in 2-2, 1-3 and at no point hurt any knees or ankles or other muscles. Also took fewer breaks.

    The previous and this day, we had Anand Iyer for company as well, and courtesy his constant string of jokes about this, that and everything else, I was forced to take LOL breaks lest I fell off, literally! That, perhaps, helped not notice the ascents to some extent :) Jas had some trouble with his calves, but thankfully it did not worsen.

    We took lots of tea breaks, and at Devarasholai Anand took what I think was the snap of the ride! 

    P1080895.JPG P1080900.JPG P1080903.JPG P1080913.JPG

    Just before the 24km unbroken climb, we decided to fuel up at Gudalur. Once 4 egg puffs, 2 full plumcakes were devoured by the 4 of us, the guy there obviously got curious about what we were doing :) 

    The climb was pretty, pleasant, and because most people were mentally psyched up for this one, felt easier than it was. We had lunch at one of the support stations en-route and got the hotel by 5:45 despite hazaar pics, breaks, chai, and just plain admiring the pretty vistas around us.

    P1080915.JPG P1080919.JPG P1080921.JPG

    In the evening, the exhilaration of 'having done Ooty', and imminent end of the ride meant a lot of bonding amongst riders. We took an SUV into town with a few support guys (packed like sardines, I must add) and had some yummy egg rolls, did some chocolate shopping and generally had a relaxed time. There was a very light drizzle and it only made Ooty look prettier.

    P1080923.JPG P1080926.JPG P1080931.JPG P1080934.JPG

    Day 8: The Very very Descent. 58kms. Mental Struggle for most!

    The Kalahatti is one steep downhill. Good roads, 36 hairpins, and a second's break in concentration and you will surely lose control. Yet it promises speed and if you brake too much, you'll have red hot rims. 

    I discovered the downhiller in me :D Fast descent into the bends, hard braking, and actually pedalling out of them kept me going fast and needing to overtake all the traffic. Stopped at one place to take pics, and still made it down to the base in about 20-something minutes. Totally mindblowing, and I had half a mind to take a bus back up there and do it again! Did all of it wearing jeans, too!

    P1090001.JPG P1090005.JPG P1090007.JPG

    The route went mostly through forest - Bandipur, Mudumalai. We rode in groups though the inevitable scattering happened. A lot many riders didnt really expect climbs after the downhill, so started to tire mentally. The climbs weren't too steep, but they were persistent - all the way to MC Resorts, where the TFN finally ended. The sun got bright and hot and the 'wild' surroundings were probably playing on people's minds as well. In fact, one of the riders had a fortunately-not-major run-in with a pachyderm as well.

    P1090010.JPG P1090019.JPG P1090017.JPG

    Have done 2 TFNs already. Both very different from each other. Both memorable and both tests of endurance, mental preparedness. Have made gazillions of friends on these rides. People who challenged their limits. Some who're totally astounded that they actually did it! Totally worth doing once in your lifetime, at least. 

    Posted via email from bangalorekaapi