Monday, September 22, 2014


Sometimes life doesn't just stare you in the face, it rolls down the window, spits on you and continues on while having a bloody good laugh about the entire thing.

Monday, September 15, 2014

For nothing

I want to
...see you make your faces ...see you be you
...walk past some stray dogs to make you shriek some crabs just to get you messy
...listen to your stories just to watch you light up you laugh coz I did something silly a cpl hrs to be with for a cpl more
...light you a cigar just coz thats what you want
...pack your bag and feed your fishes so that you would travel with me
...fight with you just to have you win and remind me all day that you did
...stroll on the beach in the dark just to be with you
...walk with you hand in hand and stare into your eyes both at once
...hold your hand just never let it go again
And I want to know how I would forget you coz you don't want any of this at all

Monday, September 01, 2014

Singapore abridged

Trip Positivies
1. Ate all my meals at local hawkers markets barring the first and last at the airport. Singapore hawkers rule!
2. Had sufficient variety of pork to realize that I love thee oh lil piglets.
3. Lunch and dinner always done with Tiger beer.
4. Outside of pork I managed to reduced populations of crab, squid and frog by one each.
5. First capsule hotel experience. Gotta be lucky to get d bottom pod and silent roomies ��
6. Outdid the MRT tourist pass by travelling till my legs were numb.
7. Walked through the botanical gardens from the MRT station to Tanglin gate and back. Luckily the rains that day saved me from the humidity.
8. Actually picked up my socks and headed out on both nights for the Chinatown festival, Singapore Night fest and Heineken Cities fest.
9. Understood Selfies! Finally made use of the front camera. And yeah locals here use extendable poles to click selfies... ��

Trip Negatives
1. Could not try out the weird food options.
2. Missed trying out ifly at Sentosa
3. Didn't try out the ultimate cars
4. Budget. Some planning could've saved 10-20%

Singapore Positives
1. Didn't see a single cop outside of those at the airport
2. Cutest kids on the planet. Period.
3. Happiest urban kids. Seen kiddos in many cities but never found them to be as cheerful n playful in public as those here. For eg. In India I would say that I've seen such genuinely happy kids in our villages.
4. Great civic sense. Everyone stands on the left of the escalator so that the right part is available to those in a hurry. ��
5. Escalator speed. These are escalators on steroids compared to the ones back home. Goes to show how quick things seem to flow here.

Singapore Negatives
1. Everyone is heads down on their phone. Now that I think of it barely heard anyone on an actual call though.
2. Damn expensive for tourists esp the stay
3. Sentosa... Was just blah!
4. To walk on the left or right. People only walked randomly. I would assume this should have been sorted by now. The govt better address this with top priority ;)
5. People actually eat at McDonalds in front of hawkers market. Given the awesome street food with sufficient large doze of "this stuff will kill you" the only thing unique about McDs is the bun.

How and why?
I was motivated to salvage my second long weekend in August. So with a bit of time to go I targeted Singapore. The gods were kind and I boarded the flight from hyd to Chennai and then to Singapore. During the layovers I soon realized I am gonna be screwed coz the hotels were charging too much. What's worse is their checkin time is 2-3pm while I land at 4am. Additional day charges were gonna screw me further.

Before buckling up for Changai I had narrowed down to Adler hostel. On landing it showed to be sold out. So after a massive hunt I landed at Chic otel by around 8am. Luckily got a bottom pod which handled 6ft beasts. Saved.

All said and done this was a long overdue backpacking trip outside my comfort zone. Time to "do" some more.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Humanity at 16kft in Mitra Cafe

"One man from each of the groups or I am sending the group down"
These are the words I heard from Jayo of Mitra cafe, high up at 16.5kft of the Stok Kangri base camp, while I sipped on a hot cup of black tea.

A bit confused I soon realized that this was an ad hoc rescue mission being put together. And getting a man from each of the groups was the only way a sizeable team could be formed. As he hurriedly packed in some boiled eggs and potatoes the story started unfolding - There was a foreigner who had fallen off and had broken his ribs and shoulder bone high up in the Stok ridge. As more people trickled down the mountain the stories got grimmer and the atmosphere a lot more sombre. The line between hearsay and reality had evaporated. 

An hour later, nearly 2-3+ hrs after the incident, there were 3 IAF choppers sent in for rescue but they found it difficult to land anywhere close to the injured lad. It was only after another hour that they were able to load him and carry him back to base.

As I sit back and recollect this incident I cant help but thank people like Jayo for their selflessness. He and locals like him are the Indian version of emergency mountain rescue paramedics. They run out at a moment's notice to help complete strangers, many a times risking their own lives. And they don't do this for any monetary gain but with genuine concern to help a fellow human being. We have seen them carry sick people on stretchers on trails where I could hardly imagine one person walking through. Sometimes walking through the night with headlamps. And then they come back with smiling faces to continue at their work.

So if you have lost your faith in humanity do visit Jayo at his infamous Mitra Cafe at the Stok Kangri base camp. And whether you require his services or not do thank him and his clan for...  just being around!


Few quick points from reliable sources
1. We got an update the next day that the person who fell was and Indian and was OK and luckily had not a single bone broken.
2. The IAF choppers, or any choppers, sent in for rescue are a rarity. 
3. Acc to locals such accidents are rarer than the choppers :) However there are more AMS related incidents, with a small % leading to death due to negligence by the subject themselves.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Yes We Can!

I remembered this slogan from the American presidential elections where Obama rose to victory from near obscurity. A simple African American who gave America a much needed glimmer of hope, after the Bush administration.

As the election fervour in our very own country rises it seems like it is our very own chance of creating our own piece of Indian history. So what are our options? Let's see.

As a minority in this country the Congress has been the only choice at the voting booth. Its not about the Gandhis or the Manmohans and its not that they have done anything beneficial for the minorities of this country either. Its just that they haven't done anything detrimental. That itself is a positive for us single digit/percent communities. Yes the great secular party. Alas the last ten years have been a string of opportunities lost and scandals galore. Of purely lazy and coalition-placating policies that have pushed India back a few decades if not more. That combined with the smugness of the Gandhis and Vadras just seems like a sin to vote them back.

But with the phenomena that was Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) there was a reasonable alternative. Heck a viable alternative to vote for a clean individual. Note I say individual and not politician - this fact itself drove hundreds and thousands of new voters towards the coughing Arvind Kejriwal. Alas naivete and unplaced bravado got the better of him. While he infiltrated the system he lacked the foresight to realize that he needed to remain in it to actually make a change. That one law minister if fired that very same day, regardless of fact, would have most definitely catapulted him to a level beyond imagination. Unfortunately today AAP is just a footnote not deserving a national vote.

So we are left with Modi. Can, I, a minority in India dare say that we should vote for the saffron brigade? You know what? this time I say we do. We have tried being secular and seen where it got us. Lets go completely unsecular and paint this country saffron, if that's what it takes to get her into the 20th century (yes we need to get into the 20th before we can be in the 21st). Yeah they have the Yeddiruppas, Reddys and RSS. Who cares? Can it really get any worse if these people come back to power? Maybe he can be the real Arvind Kejriwal. Maybe he has the shrewdness to realize that he has to be in the system and hold power to really squash the termites that are eating our country hollow. If nothing else this will atleast make a great story. A man of humble beginnings taking over the reigns of this country. Atalji couldn't drive the BJP coalition with his poetry but maybe Modi can with a simple cup of tea.

Yes I honestly think its our chance of creating our own piece of history or resigning ourselves into the history books. Because if the next government does not save this country, I doubt that god herself would be able to.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Valentine's day

Feb01... The slow realization that Valentine's day is near
Feb02... Attempt to rekindle some conversations with persons of interest while trying desperately to make it look coincidental
Feb03... Conversations in full swing
Feb04... Soon realize that all person's of interest are not remotely interested in you and consider you an awesome friend
Feb05... Give up on all conversations and declare Valentine's is a farce
Feb06... Playing it cool
Feb07... Jump onto a random dating site to give it a go
Feb08... Meet a chick from the dating site and get shit scared by her mascara and delete your account
Feb09... Attempt to strike a conversation with a random stranger and get burnt
Feb10... Feeling the heat. Not really sure if you are gonna make it or not. Get that sinking feeling.
Feb11... Stop shaving to show that you're uber cool and not into this childish "Archies" event
Feb12... Finally admit to self that you are not having a date on Valentine's and download the latest seasons of how I met your mother
Feb13... React calmly as every second buffoon asks you for your plans for tomorrow
Feb14... Declare that you are happily single and/or celebrating your "freedom" 
Feb15... Wake up with a smile on your face and Thank god that Feb14 is fucking OVER

*Any similarity to anyone's first 2 weeks of Feb is purely coincidental.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Its so difficult at times to share a simple thought... and for today I'd rather not.
I can try and I'd fail... 
But I'd fear your harsh words may tear it apart and that I allow cannot.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Why blog?

I blog times to write my mind times to waste some time
..some days to vent my fury
..some days to be judge and jury
..some days to share my views
..some times to show I care
..some times to show off my wares make you envious of my travel spark some curiosity in your self find someone that agrees with me get your attention and your smile remind you that I exist remind you that I can speak remind myself that I have a voice times coz of a broken heart times to pretend I'm smart
..with hope that my words make a difference
..with a prayer that it at least makes some sense
..because it shows I'm free
.....because I still don't have a gun on me!

And yes I also can blog for a prize... see the mega haul landing page 

Monday, September 09, 2013

Let my country awake

Where every honest mind is full of fear and any patriotic head kept low 
Where education is sold to the highest bidder and knowledge not to be seen
Where the people want to break up into ever smaller fragments for a hollow dream
Where with our narrow minds we dont care about anything beyond our 4 walls
Where truth is squashed with disappearing files and the brazen killing of RTI activists by goons with no balls
Where one corrupt act tries to outdo the other and where we dont want to call our neighbor our brother
Where we beep out 'shit' and 'ass' as sleaze but swallow the crap on soaps and comedy shows with eaze
Where we learn to accept what is thrown at us without expecting any better, be it inflation, ridiculous taxes or that overflowing gutter
From this lethargy of inaction and diminishing use of reason
From this false sense of freedom and nauseating pride in our stagnation
From this abyss of never ending rot, my Father, let my country awake

Monday, July 22, 2013

Stok (k)Angri - Sea level @ 16k feet

The Himalayas have always fascinated and enticed me. Over the past few years they have been a frequent destination, many people questioning why I head here again and again.

Since my first visit to Leh I had heard about a mountain called Stok Kangri. She stood there in the distance, with her snow capped peak clearly visible from the city. Conversations with other travellers got me face to face with some who managed to summit that peak and caught my attention. While I knew I wanted to join this club there were a 100 reasons I couldn't. So this year I planned to do something about these 100 reasons, cut them down to 50 maybe, and give it a shot.

So after a few months of training I reached out to trek planners to head out to Stok sometime in July. As luck might have it all batches were full, combined with my trekking experience, it looked highly unlikely I would be able to attempt it this year. But then finally indiahikes pulled me in just 2 weeks before the 13th July start date.

One of the interesting parts of heading out is meeting new people. Here I joined up with 17 other unfamiliar faces to try and summit this peak. This gang turned out to be great fun to say the least. The experienced ones were guiding the others and some even slowing their own pace to ensure everyone was pulled along. We followed the longer route to reach the Stok base camp, which helped with the acclimatization. But more than that it gave us the time to enjoy the beauty of the mountains from a vantage point that a regular traveller never sees. We got the awesome panoramas of the great Himalayas  the gushing streams as constant companions, the magnificent edifices of the mountains and my favourite - the amorous night skies with elusive shooting stars but quite a few zipping satellites.

While everything was taken care by the organizing team there is one thing that you need to own, and that's your health. The beauty of the mountains is not digestible by all. Altitude sickness is dangerous and unfortunately quite common. You have some pre-emptive medications and if you haven't been above 8k feet you should be on those before you get there. I have been here multiple times so I took a calculated risk of not using medications. Remember medications are not fool proof either so listen to your body and seek help as soon as you feel the first need for it. Some things need a good night's sleep while others need you to call it quits and head home. Be prepared for either.

We slowly marched towards base camp with many eventful happenings, lack of mules to carry our bags, borrowing donkeys to do the job, donkeys nearly falling off cliffs with our bags and being saved by our helpers, camp site water getting murky and the team having to walk back to fill our bottles etc etc. But come day7 we were at base camp. Yay!!

The camp site was awesome. There were multiple European teams - from Denmark, a family from Austria, a team of Brits who seemed like school kids and another team from India. Tents all around. You could feel the sense of excitement in everyone's face. The summit was a 7-8hr walk with a 4k ascent from here. We rested this evening to refresh ourselves for this final push. The skies were clear and things couldn't have been better. The steep incline towards the Advanced Base Camp at approx 17k feet was staring at us and we decided to take a stab at it first thing tomorrow.

One of our team falls sick. What we initially thought to be fatigue turned out to be a lot worse and after various attempts to bring him back to health it is decided to take him to lower altitude. A team of 4 helpers take him on a stretcher and head down at 8pm. Descending during the dark. They trek down through the night and get him to Leh hospital. We hear just how serious it really was the next day. Touchwood all is well.

Mid afternoon it starts to drizzle. We just shrug it off as some high altitude freak show but it just keeps pouring. The dining tent is flooded and then we hear that one more of the team is heading down. This time nothing serious but more precautionary. We are all packed, dressed and loaded to start the ascent to the summit by 9pm but due to the rains the trek leader decides to call off the ascent for a day. But not before another team member faints right during tea time. Again everything under control.

The next day didn't improve. The ascent trail to ABC has gone from barren brown to wet grey. The few of us who didn't do this yesterday quickly try the ascent and pray for a summit attempt tonight. The rain slowly turns into snow. The first real heavy snowfall in India for most of us. While we were enjoying that we all realized that we will not be able to summit today either.

We wake up to see the mountains around base camp covered with snow. The ascent to ABC is not clear any more  The call is finally taken to abandon the summit trek and move down to Leh. With mother nature's twist we are instantly pulled down to sea level while physically at the 16k feet. She proves again that it is not us who decides which mountain to climb but the mountain who decides who will climb and when.

Path to ABC on Day1

Path to ABC on Day2

Path to ABC on Day3

We walk down via the shorter route to Stok village but without remorse. The lack of accomplishing our end goal possibly surpassed by the beauty of the journey taken and memories created with new friends.


Way Down


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why Run?

I am not a professional runner, nor am I an athlete by any stretch of my imagination. However each year I give myself a kick in the butt and head out for a couple of runs - the Hyd 10k and the SCMM Half Marathon. What's more - I don't have great records in either as yet :( My best for the 10k is the 1hr mark and the best for the half is 3hr mark. Inadvertently the most commonly asked question to me is why run? 
The only reason I do it is to see if I can. The sense of accomplishment on tasks that are seemingly beyond your reach is always greater than those that you know you can complete and excel at.

Then the other day when I bumped into Fauja Singh - the eldest marathon runner in the world @ 101yrs I was gobsmacked. If this guy can do it so can all of us. It need not be a marathon it can be anything you feel apprehensive about. One thing is for sure we aren't going to enjoy the health that Mr Fauja enjoys so let's do it for the joy of being alive today.

The greatest pleasure in life, is doing the things people say we cannot do.
-- Walter Bagehot

"Most people never get there. They're afraid or unwilling to demand enough of themselves and take the easy road, the path of least resistance. But struggling and suffering, as I now saw it, were the essence of a life worth living. If you're not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you're not constantly demanding more from yourself—expanding and learning as you go—your choosing a numb existence. You're denying yourself an extraordinary trip."
Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of All Night Runner

big man running

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Getting Leh'd via Srinagar

Thanks to Vodafone I couldn't post my bits online as I traveled. And well it is best that I couldn't. I may have missed an amazing view or a breath of fresh air in the bargain. So am pasting the bits I had put down. Its a lengthy post but if you didn't have the time you wouldn't be here would you ? :P

1. Here we go again
2. Jammu
3. Srinagar
4. Gulmarg
5. Kargil
6. To Leh
7. In Leh
8. Pangong Tso
9. Khardung la

Here we go again
The last trip to Leh was via Manali so the next one has to be via Srinagar. Have been keeping a tab on the tix prices since April but they were too expensive.  Saw a sudden drop on Monday and booked the tix on 19th. A couple of others to join in. Himalayas here I come again.

Ok so there are *absolutely no* reservations in hand. All we have are the to and fro tickets. Nice!!

So still no reservations and 2 OK landings by Spicejet we are now in Jammu. The initial plan was to spend a day here but frankly we had no clue as to what could be done here. As the plane taxied to the parking bay the pilot announced the outside temperature and the decision was made, we need to get out of here. 250rs by prepaid cab to the bus stand so Chucked it and walked outside for a rick. 150rs "fixed rate" by rick. Chucked that too. Saw an oncoming tempo and jumped in with the backpacks. 32rs ah finally in my budget ;) Couldn't fit into the seats but who needs that anyways.

Reached the stand and found that we can get to Srinagar in 8hrs by shared cab. Done but food first. Hogged down some amazing palak paneer and tried our best to bargain down the shared rates too. Got a discount of 100rs :( and took the only available Innova out of there.

As we rode through Jammu we could see it was a pretty big city. Definitely not my cup of tea. Good move to skip it.

As we rode along we reached bear Patnitop and found ourselves stuck in a huge traffic jam. Reason - the police were trying to control the Amarnath yatris. Crap didn't plan on this. So 7 hours later the jam is slowly being handled. Why can't we desis drive in a single file? Shoot the car that moves into the opposite lane I say.

After a couple of more stops which paled in comparison to the earlier jam we were finally Srinagar bound. So instead of reaching Srinagar by 10pm we reached there by 7am. Well who cares. Headed straight to the LP recommended hotel. Fuckers have raised their rates by nearly 300% in 5 years. Chucked them and took the cheaper one next door. Slept for a few hrs and then headed straight to Dal Lake. Frankly the first impression was not great. It was too crowded. The house boats are piled all along the boundary of the lake. Too many shikaras and too many people there too. What was i missing?

One shikara ride. That was what was needed. Once you get up close to the cool waters of Dal Lake you are in love. The cool waters and the friendly shikara-iers get you into the mood. The day just got better from there. The sunset is especially great out here... 

Check out those pics on picasa.

The khawa was delicious too. Thanks for the reco Alokey.

Another LP recommendation here "Shamayana" disappointed with the mutton being undercooked. Veg was ok. 

Vodafone does not have good connectivity here. Definitely no data connectivity. Thats great!

We had allotted two days for Srinagar. Considering Pehlgam was all crowded up with the Amarnath yatris we decided to skip it. Gulmarg was the obvious choice to explore. Leaving out the annoyances of getting the tickets to the cable car ride, which are surprisingly called gondolas, we reached the peak 4200m... all snow capped peaks bordering with Pakistan. The steepness of the slope was crazy. Luckily the clouds view for most of the time. Once it opened up it was as scary as staring down from the roof of a sky rise in NY. Check out those pics on picasa.

Blogged on my way here... the last of the data connectivity :)

Tip: do bookings for the cable cars online @

The whole idea of the trip was to head out to Leh from Srinagar... via Kargil and explore the route along the way. Well Srinagar to Kargil is pretty with just Sonmarg on the way so picked a shared cab again and decided to bunk at Kargil. Hell even if we didn't decided that we would have hard to. The roads were closed on us due to construction from 11am right up to 4pm leaving little time to travel. Guess what we had to actually clear the path ourselves and threw quite a few rocks over :)

We landed out at the j&k tourist hotel in Kargil only to decide to skip it for lack of hot water. For some reason the local here showed us the worst rooms in the house while there seemed to be better

Did I mention that I am in slippers up to this point. My freaking woodlands disintegrated... didn't store them well since my previous trip I guess. Got a pair of Chinese shoes at Kargil. Will defn need it in Leh.

Wanting to explore the route from Kargil to Leh we we wanted to hire a car for ourselves. Now here comes in the desi irritation. The Leh and Jammu taxi unions are at odds and they don't allow each other to do "sightseeing" for tourists in the other's territories. God when will these unions let us be?

Regardless we found a good cabbie for the ride to Leh. He showed us around in Kargil and off we went. Lamayaru, moonscapes, mulbekh and khatse were covered and we reached Leh at around 8pm. No reservation here too. Tried calling up the LP recommendations again to find out that they have raised their rates by more than 300% here too. LP please chuck India off the list of bargain travel destinations.

Thanks to the cabbie we got a decent room on old road for a good rate. Sleepyyy.

Exploring Leh today. Headed to the palace and then saw a senior woman trekking up to the monastery above. Male ego took over and we followed her. Phew we made it. Climbed up to the temple above and got some awesome pics from there too. 
Check picasa for those.

While I have been to Pangong on my last visit here I just couldn't get the image of the night sky out of my head. I could enjoy that sight a thousand times over. We booked a cab to Pangong and got a Japanese couple to share the ride with us. All of us wanted to stay there but didn't bother with advance reservations. We reached there by 2 and managed to strike a deal for the tents. 

The moon was a couple of days away from a full moon. Pretty bright. The night came and so did the stars. The sight was pretty but paled in comparison to what we saw the last time we were here. Gaurav+Atibi we were lucky as hell. On this trip I've already experienced more traffic jams than ever before and a flat too :(
Some pics at picasa

Have some panoramas of this place which turned out pretty great and no I ain't sharing those :P. 

So now we had the last day to ourselves. Khardugla was on the cards. But I frankly ain't interested. Who wants to see a pass all over again? Then our buddy finds out that people cycle down from the pass. I joined in at the last moment and the ride rattled each and every part of me. 
See details in this post.

What next? The next trip would be a trek to Stok Kangri. Crossing 20kft would be a good badge to earn.

Well Kerala may be God's own country but J&K is his very special holiday retreat. And we all know where he'd rather be ;)

So was it a good vacation
Hmmm... still trying to remember my office password.. have till Monday ;) 

2012 - Getting Leh'd all over

2010 - Just got Leh'ed

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Vacation's (carbon) footprint...

The one thing that pisses me off the most is our blatant disrespect for our environment. Over the past few years I have been consciously trying down to cut down on my carbon footprint during my travel. Here are some tips for you. Try it.. 

1. Carry your own water bottle and Refill it. Atleast restrict the number of bottles to one a person. This is very much possible.
Locals are drinking local water and not from mineral bottles and are living a much more healthier life. Use your common sense and refill your water from the appropriate sources. 
2. Don't litter. Dont throw stuff out of your car window. Chocolate wrappers, chips packets and now the great "mineral" water bottle. The general rule is that you do not throw non-biodegradable stuff on the roads. But considering there are so many of us I feel  that even biodegradable stuff should be disposed off at the nearest dumpster.
Seeing people throwing stuff out of high end SUVs bugs me to death. WTF didnt you get a basic education before getting the keys?
3. Don't be loud. Come on blasting your music in the middle of the mountains? Let the birds enjoy their peace. And if you dont realize it the loud music can actually cause an avalanche. Keep it low.
4. Don't pee just anywhere. This is purely for the guys. I know that nature calls can be brutal but please use better judgement.
Have a look at the women who do not have this option at all. If they can wait for a toilet you sure can hold it too.

We did try to be good eco citizens during our recent trip to Leh and were largely succeeded thanks to those with me. I look foward to a carbon neutral trip soon. Yes it is very much possible.. have some ideas lets see if that day arrives. 

It feels so good to know that you left the place just as you found it. Try it sometime.