Monday, October 12, 2009

... to heaven and back

some time last week ... an exhausted but happy set of buddies descended from the Himalayas into civilization. What a trek it was! Physically extremely demanding, with some awesome views to offer ... At the end of the trek we couldn't feel our feet, our knees were numb, my back was numb with pain, some were tanned beyond their original complexions, our stomachs could not take it and were crying out for some "food", hands numb with cold and lastly our lips gone really dry - but it felt damn good. I can close my eyes now, all i can see are the wonderful views of the valley, dry reddish vegetation, snow covered peaks - in one word bliss. One of us said "No wonder they call it the playground of the gods." With this blog i want to pen my thoughts going through my mind during the last 4 kms trek to Kedartaal from Kedar Kharak.

We reached KedarKharak with a rather heavier load on the back compared to previous 2 days. Naturally so, since we grabbed all we can from the ones going back to Gangotri from Bhoj Kharak. After passing a neverending landslide zone on the trek route, the impending assent simply intimidated me. My feet refused to walk further and I could almost hear my calf muscles cursing in all explicitness. Still I had to move on. I looked around me ... i could see only the mighty mountains with snow covered peaks - that kinda looked like cream on a conical shaped cake. With every breath walking was becoming tougher thanks to the altitude and lesser oxygen content. I almost had tears in my eyes towards the end of the assent and was comforted by a thumbs up from Vivek walking in front of me suggesting that we had made it. Just the thought of reaching that day's destination gave me some energy and i made it through the assent. Just a couple of paces and we could see a flat meadow where already a couple of groups had pitched tents for the night. I went further to be greeted by Uday, Pavan, our guide and Pandit (our porter) who made it a couple of minutes ago. I dropped my bag and breathed a sigh of relief. Uday called on to me and said "let's go for a jog." I looked up to him and said "Not now bhav, i m completely exhausted." That didn't bicker Uday's spirit. After a while i heard Vivek say "Man! he's jogging!" In my mind i was laughing at my own fitness.

Pavan started off his photo shoot by going around the camping ground with his cam and soon we spotted a herd of Bharal (mountain goat) at very close proximity. We got some "National Geographic" like snaps. Soon it was time to pitch the tents or face the bitter cold - which i want to add was easily twice that of Bhoj Kharak. All of us began strategising on where to pitch the tent - keeping in mind lessons learnt in the previous night. After a dozen sites ... we settled for a spot that was just enough for a tent in between 2 other tents and beside a big rock. "That oughta sheild us from the wind." we thought. Uday, Pavan and Vivek came up with a beautiful and very effective wind shielding for our tent. Now that we need to use just 2 tents, the other tent became a wind sheeter for our tent. Thanks to Britto's aluminium water bottle - we were able to have some decent heat in our sleeping bags. Trekkers take note - we put in boiling hot (i mean it) into that aluminium bottle, capped it tightly and put it into the sleeping bag. This was done in a round robin basis in all of our 4 sleeping bags. This gives sooo much warmth that people were sweating inside the sleeping bags. Soon after dinner, the temperature just dropped drastically and we settled in our very cozy tent for the night. Pandit said "Dada, gaana gaao" and started off with his signature "Sri Ram Sri Ram, Jai hanuman" hymn. Soon every one in the adjoining tents too joined in with Hindi and Bangla numbers. We were reluctant and sang chorus ... but soon we were singing songs from all languages loudly. It started off with A R Rahman hits, moving on to Ilayaraja songs, then finally Kannada songs. Uday was so uncomfortable with our songs ... but we were enjoying. And so the time went and i didn't realise when i slept.

Woke up to a gust of cold wind the next morning only to realise that its 5:45 am and we had to start for KedarTaal early today. I had no intention of brushing my teeth, but Uday urged me to brush giving me some gyan on fresh mouth. Pandit boiled some water for us and we were off. The plan for the day is ... start for KedarTaal early, spend some time there and go back to Bhoj Kharak for the night. With some opinions voiced over by our fellow trekkers about the time of the day during which Kedar Taal appears the best, we decided to start early (ditching breakfast) trek comfortably.

We started off from Kedar Kharak at about 7.00 am taking it real slow. I guessed that the last stretch would be a walk through snow - i was right. Walking a few paces we reached the first signs of the previous night's sub-zero temperatures: a frozen part of the stream. We moved further, more frozen streams. I had this childlike smile on my face (although i couldn't see it myself, it was me who was smiling right ? ;) coz i had only seen stuff like this on Discovery channel. That pumped me up and we walked on eating dry grapes (or raisins) in frequent intervals as a water supplement. Every step of the way we could feel the lesser oxygen content and we all were of the opinion that we had no proper acclimatization to that particular altitude although no one said it. The sun came up above the right side mountains - ah! some relief. slowly the layers started coming off. I removed my jacket and Pavan removed his. I looked up to see azure skies - we were above the clouds looking down on them! Soon we reached a point where the path just ended and there were rocks all over. Razor sharp, very unstable heaps of rocks which we have to navigate to go to an assent which was snow covered. "Abhi aadha rasta hai dada" cried the guide trying to increase our rather slow pace. We didn't budge. We kept our slow but steady pace and crossed over the rock heaps (little realising that we were walking on the glacier from which Kedar Ganga is born.) Then a little distance further i could see our snow covered path. I stopped to look around. the Sun was toward my left and i could see thalaysagar peak straight in front with its prominent summit. To my right i could see a completely snow covered pleateau sort of a thing which gradually became a mountain. To my rear was the end of the snow cover and begining of the valley floor. Is this bliss or what! Imagine, the Azure skies above your head with the whitest of the white snow cover upfront for the longest distance combined with the faint murmur of KedarGanga and her cousin streams. I closed my eyes, took a deep cold breath and let the scenery sink in.

At about half past 11 we reached a sort of a plain land surrounded by mountains. The land was flat with occassional crevices and crests showing up along the way. One such crest which was prominent from the rest caught my attention. The crest had a smooth surface as though a mason had worked on it. It was just like a cement surface. I kept thinking what it could be ... and bam! it was a glacier. The whole plateau that we were walking on since the start of the sharp rock surface was a glacier! Little did we realise that we were walking on the very glacier in which Kedar Ganga has its origins. I was kinda sad that we didn't trek to Gaumukh to see the source of Ganga ... wish fulfiled now. From this point i think we have the _best_ view of Thalaysagar. I was kinda dissappointed as to when will Kedar Taal show herself because we were continuously climbing. One more bend to go said a seasoned trekker ... that boosted our (atleast mine and Pavan's) morale and we walked on. Pavan walked ahead of me and I walked a few paces behind. The last ascent simply irritated me. I felt ... is it ever going to get over. I clinched my teeth and walked on ... I heard Pavan's exclaiming voice and looked up. He said "we made it." I started running ... i ran to where Pavan was standing and there ... i saw the lake. Its something that I had never seen before. A lake bordered by hills and mountains from all sides. We climbed down near the lake shore. To my right I could see the shore line of the lake which gradually became a mountain - completely snow covered. The farther end of the lake was gleaming white reflecting the snow covered peaks and hills. The nearer end of the mountain was reflecting the azure skies. The mix is just awesome. Some daredevils had managed to camp on the shores of the lake! The first thing I did was to splash my face with some water from the lake. Even in the _hot_ sun the water was below zero. My face felt numb for a few moments after I splashed the water. I really can't think of enough sentences to properly describe the scenery. Therefore I'll let the pictures do the talking. Have a look

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Me spoke @ Eclipse India Summit '09

I had the oppurtunity to speak at the Eclipse India Summit 2009. Eclipse India Summit is an annual forum where Eclipse/Java developers across India (this time from Srilanka too) gather and discuss stuff. There will be sessions taken by ppl for the benifit of others. Sessions are normally on upcoming Eclipse technologies or a nicer way to do existing things. This year the forum was painted with a focus on Design Patterns and basics which is good coz not a lot of us get an oppurtunity to dig too deep when we start something. I took one such "emphasis on basics session" on Eclipse Modeling Framework. It was a joint session with me and my friend and ex-colleague Annamalai ... so we thought we'll do something different with the session ... which was for 3 hours!!! Yes the audience had to bear with us for 3 hours. We, instead of dividing the presentation content amongst ourselves wanted to be different - both of us were on stage and delivering the presentation like a dialogue. It was like Malai represented the new user or developer who's new task is to learn and do something out of EMF and i played the supposed know-something-about-EMF guy who went around answering his questions.
The session started off soon after a great lunch ... in an hall with real cozy ambience. The MC actually had to ask the ppl to stand up and had them stretching to make them alert. Then the session started off ... i was kinda petrified initialy looking at all those people eagerly waiting to take something out from the session ... the show went on frequently switching from the slides to showing running examples. We started off to a packed audience ... and finished to a packed audience. In the end both me and Malai were exhausted from all the talking and standing, but it felt good. Content and video of the slides will be uploaded soon (i m waiting with my fingers crossed.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tribute to a King

Bad and Dangerous,
Yet wanted to heal the world
with an Earth Song
Billie Jean loved to Jam
and shout
They don't really care about us.
A Stranger from Moscow
he gave us Thriller.

Black or White,
fair or unfair
however he was
and however me may be perceived
he will always live on as
"The King of Pop"

Love your songs MJ!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

yeno miss hoditaayide...

Ever had that feeling that u are missing something ? I have it every day as soon as i am awake, when i m brushing my teeth, when i m having breakfast, and especially when i am riding my bike. Its just this feeling of being lost. I look around when that happens. I still got my friends, family around me but there is this gap which i am not able to fill.

Hours of aatma chintane (asking question to self) gives nothing. The buck is just passed on from one context to another. Some times i try to zero in on the possible gaps - and i hold work load responsible. If that's the reason then there is a simple remedy - trekkin!! But that's not it because i am working with a new team right now and the work load is not that demanding. Still that feeling of being lost follows me everywhere.

I thought i am not doing what i am passionate about then again, i am part of a theatre team which is doing a come back show next week. I remember very well i enjoyed being part of that team and giving performances more than anything. Now after 3 years i am going back on stage doing what i like very much ... still that feeling of being lost is impressed on some corner of my mind. It shows up quite frequently.

Can it be that my mind is idle and its thinking too much - in the wrong direction ? or can it be that i am actually missing something ? Or is it that i am taking some dream that i had (god knows when) very seriously ? do I hate anyone in office ? do I not like my job ? am not addressing any of my responsibilities ? or is it that i am not sleeping much ? such questions haunt (i tried to find a better word ... but that's my situation) me all the time. I suddenly feel like that boy who could see dead people!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bieng "moms"

    Back in college I was most of the time only listening to some of the serious discussions that happen amongst friends. The context of the discussion can be anything - from relationships to opinions, confused state of minds, etc, etc ... Normally some of my friends used to do all the talking (with content though) and i used to be passive participant of any such discussions. May be because I didn't know what to speak or I didn't read as many books as they did so as to recollect something and speak.

   Now i think the times have changed. Today (25th February 2009) I played an active part in a rather serious discussion. I got to be "moms" ... for those of you who are confused "moms" is a term we use to address a best friend. There is a lot of emotion attached in the tone we use that word in. Just the tone you say it in conveys a lot of emotions like anger, frustration, agreement, etc, etc, Any way, coming back to me being "moms" ... one of my friends was feeling a lot down today ... so what did i do ? I stepped up to the occassion and spoke to that person. 

   We went to a place where we can sit down and then i listened (dono if i listened intently)  to what my friend had to say. I was initialy confused about what to say as i was clueless how to react. I took my time, and then started being "moms" - Basically her (alright it was a she) problem was frustration with some of the latest happenings.  So i started off by saying "leave office at office and go home being urself" although I myself didn't understand it! ... but then i started stepping in her shoes and tried out something.

   I had read an article which suggests ppl to remember something good about themselves before going to bed. This makes them to be filled with positive attitude and removes all the negative and bad thoughts filled in their minds in a days due course. The memory can be anything happy. It can be an instance which made you smile, laugh, proud, etc. So i told this person to go home and read some of the Orkut testimonials written for her. Soon i noticed a hint of frown reducing from her face. Then i went on ... "have a look at your college snaps with buddies recollect your happy moments - basically go to a happy place." No sooner i was done making this statement i noticed that the frown had completely dissappeared! it had become a smile! That's when it struck me - I had actually imparted some wisdom. Now i could see the face what "moms" did when my friends spoke to me similarly in the past.

  Trust me! its a great feeling. When u manage to get a smile on someone's face without even cracking a single joke! Its hard ... but totally worth it. In the end when I dropped her off at her place, I was feeling good about myself - that I was able to spread some joy and share some thoughts which are non-technical and made sense. On my way over to my place ... i was thinking about all those ppl and articles that have positively influenced me (there are others who influenced me otherwise also but let's not get into that now). So what's my conclusion - read a lot and observe situations a lot coz you never know when they may come handy. In the end - a biiig thank you to all "moms" 

    Man! this is one senti blog I think ... don't worry I'll be back with a funny one.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mr & Mrs. College buddies

Today (the 19th of February 2009) is a day of many firsts for me. Today is the day i dared to take time off work to attend a wedding (if you know me then u'd agree that its low probability). Take time off is an understatement ... i took a whole day off! which wedding ? well 2 of my very very good friends from college got married today.

    2 of my class mates ... of the gang of about a bunch or so, where we had our good and bad times together ... bunked class together, despised some "lecturers" together, studied together, made each other laugh ... so on and so forth. Its not every time you get to be on both the bride and groom's side. Lemme tell you - the feeling is different. You get to tag along any relative of either one of them who's ragging the couple.

   We stayed at the wedding the whole day - until the time when they had to vacate the wedding hall! I also learnt a lot of logic and purpose behind some of the rituals that happen during our weddings - thanks to my friends again. Most of all i like to answer to a question like "neevu heNNin kade na gandin kade na ?" as "ibra kade noo!" We made friends with the bride's dad ... at the end of the day, he proudly told his daughter that he's found his gang! He was sharing some instances from the time he was as old as us ... he's got some interesting stuff to share.

   Well coming to the purpose of this blog: Arpitha and Kumar - the newly weds - i have known them individually and now i know them together - they couldn't get any cuter! 

poornamadah poornamidam

   poornaat poornamudachyate... so goes a Vedic verse which speaks about something that's complete. I have been reciting this verse all my school life without actually bothering to completely understand it. Today Gowri (my friend) brought up this word "poornamidham" in one of our on conversations over the internet. This one word brought out a whole set of thoughts, ideas, expressions out from all 3 of us (me Pavan and Gowri). Next thing you know ... we are trying to find out answers ... to sayings like "history repeats itself" and in what tone/sense its used.

    This might seem gibberish for a third eye ... but for me, I feel one word is all it takes to ignite some real good thoughts in a persons mind. Next thing you know, you are thinking about things that you think is not so important ... but in reality they are. Well am i sounding philosophical - i'd like to blame Gowri for this ... or should i say thank Gowri.

    Coming back to Poornamidham, the Vedic verse when translated (its impossible to correctly do it) means: "something that is complete and when given away, remains complete and the part that is given away also is complete." I believe in learning with an example ;) and so I start searching for a real life or real time example of any thought or concept. Then its struck me - what is still complete even when you give something away ? Knowledge! of course... its knowledge - 
    If you understand something completely then you are knowledgable. You can transfer the same knowledge to someone else ... but your knowledge will still be the same - complete. And the part of your wisdom that u've impressed on someone is still complete - poornamadah poornamidam. So true!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

From House to Home

 When is the house you live in called a home ? what defines a home ?
is it the size in terms of sqft ? is it the open spaces ? is it the gardens inside ? or is a home defined by the people that live in ?

  I am so tempted to agree that a home is defined by anything other than the people living in it. Well i like to call a structure which expresses something about the tastes of the people who live in as a home. I'll tell you in detail ... a home for me should have ample natural light coming in ... no noises ... may be the sound of a bird or two ... an open terrace from which i can see more trees ... the sun-rise and at night the starry skies. 

  I should wake up to the sun-light falling directly on my bed ... and to the smell of incense sticks from which i learn that my mother is performing her morning prayers ... and also to the feeble tape recorder which plays a tape of Suprbhatam sung by the great Bharat Ratna M S Subbalakshmi. I wake up to find my mother yelling at me ... about my total lack of timeliness ... and when i come out of my room yawning away to glory ... i can see my dad sitting on the couch reading the newspaper and giving a faint smile at the mother yelling routine. That will be my perfect morning in a perfect home ... in a perfect city.

  Naturally, my quest will be to search for such perfect place to realise that home in my life time. Fortunately for me I don't have to look that far, Bangalore which is the city i live in provides such good places which u may want to call home. I have a job which is the finance ... and i have my determined self ... i have the support of my parents ... i got everything in place to have many perfect mornings like i have described earlier ... or do I ?

  What do u do when the 2 people who are like your eyes can't stand each other ... what do u do when one of your eyes bleeds so much that i cannot be stopped ... what do u do when the whole atmosphere of the "home" is spoilt by that one person whom i am supposed to look up to in bad times ? what do u do when every situation you are in today can be linked to that one person and that person's choices, decisions and behavior ?

  Quite a paradox isn't it ? That is my situation ... today. All that is motivating me to move on in the direction i want to came down crashing. A Happy New Year to me! and for what ? I don't know what i have done to deserve this ... don't know what is the reason behind the chaos that's going on in one person's mind. Why does that person negatively charged so much that everything looks like a conspiracy ... I am not able to lead a social life because of that one person. I think twice to invite anybody to my home ... even my own sister. I think a hundred times before planning any family trips - picnics and vacation. hell ... i even think a zillion times before starting a casual conversation for i am scared the conversation will turn into verbal violence and high decibel levels!

  I made the mistake of partly sharing my situation with some one ... that some one said "Go out of the country for a couple of years ... u'll get a change" some one else said ... "this sticky situation will continue until one of the wicket is down." Well i have made a decision ... i am not abandoning ship. I will do all i can in my power to make my house a home. I don't know if it will even be possible in this life time ... but i can try. I am trying to change the mind which is cancered with god knows what from the past 35 years.