Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Savan Durga Trek

It would have been just another Sunday morning if it was not for this trek. This was my first trek around Bangalore. Yes! being a Bangalorean and a trek enthusiast, it is a bit sad that I hadnt done any trek around Bangalore.

Savanadurga, is the largest monolith in Asia. It is around 60 kms from Bangalore towards Magadi. Drive towards Magadi is around 50 km. Once yo reach Magadi take the Left turn on to the Ramanagara road and drive for 8 km before you get an arch welcoming you to the Savandurga road.

Another 2 km drive along the almost non-existant road you reach an old temple of VeeraBhadra(Some believe an incarnation of Shiva, while others believe him to be one of his close associates). The Gopura of the temple has a "Nandi" (the vehicle of Lord Shiva). Just beside this temple is a small park where one could spot various birds and animals. This place is called Savanandi.

Further down this road, we reach the famous Lakshmi Narasimha Swami Temple at Savandurga. Large number of devotees throng the temple to seep the blessings of the Lord. There is also a medical herb plantation situated close to the temple. This is the starting point of the trek.

The Savandurga monolith is visible from the road much before Magadi, but one needs to almost circumvent the rock before being able to begin the ascent to the peak. At 4050 ft, this towers over most of the surrounding hillocks, or any man made structure - Normal human beings around 6 ft is negligible.

The best time to begin the trek is early morning when you could see the sunrise on the east and enjoy the serene beauty that could be associated with it. The whole feeling of the effort to make it to the peak, completely exhausted and then savor the divine feeling of the sunrise is definitely an occasion in the person's life.

We began pretty late from Bangalore after our breakfast. We traveled by car to the base from were we decided to trek to the peak. It was almost 11 am when we reached the base.

After a quick sip of the tender coconut, we were ready to begin the trek to the peak. A quick walk through the shrubs along an established trail, we immediately reached the base of the monolith. The recent showers had left some watery trail along the sides of the monolith were the natural process of breaking stones into soil was in progress.

It is really amazing the patience nature has in breaking the large rocks into smaller one, then continuing to break them further. The hot sun heats the surface, the rain water then tries to cool it in one go, leading to formation of cracks, and then seeps in. The wind then continues to cool it further over time Widening the cracks further and then repeating the process. One can easily see these at Savandurga. The work of nature over millions of years is very visible. I could see some rock broken probably a few years or decades back.

The rock side close to the temple is very smooth and poses some good challenges initially. The trek begins on a pretty steep note. One needs to maintain the stamina and push consistently to get to the first level of the fort.

Many people tire up at this level and return. There are some vendors who sell fruit juice along the way adding to the pollution (inappropriate and inadequate disposal has the tetra packs hanging on the side of the monolith).

Continuing along the slope of the hillock, we find many stones and slippery patches. One needs to navigate these carefully to avoid any damage. If there is no cloud cover, this phase might get really hard.

There are numerous routes from here to get to the next level of the fort, where the watch tower is constructed. The climb is pretty manageable till one reaches the steep uphill just before the tower. This is the second challenge and many people give up at this point to return without visiting the peak. It is not really difficult, as there are number of small steps/grips that people have made to make it easy for their followers.

At this juncture it is a real test of character for many, do the embrace the uncertainty and move ahead by stretching themselves to realize a new self or do they just accept the complexity and stay with the status quo! The question is of the mind set and the toughness!

Once a person crosses the fort besides the watch tower, there is whole different world that one gets to see. The confidence of having tackled an almost seemingly tough task is a great booster. One could rest here for some time, watch the surrounding areas from the Watch Tower and then resume the trek. From this point onwards, the bubbling city of Bangalore can be seen - some high rise buildings also could be spotted.

The next part of the trek is pretty much at the top of the peak. A small climb uphill and we come to a Mantapa. The Mantapa was probably the resting place of the watchman of the fort. The watchman could see all the sides in the surrounding given the peak and inform the King who could then take appropriate action to handle the situation. There is also a small tank that is created here, this might have been used by the watchmen for their daily purpose.

The final peak which has a Nandi Mantapa is pretty is separated by a small cave-like formation. There is some thick vegetation here which provides a good shade from the scorching heat.

The final phase of the trek is a steep climb along the side of a rock and then an easy walk to the Nandi mantapa. We reached the peak around 1:30 pm. The clouds had moved in and gave a good cover from the sun's hear. After spending around 20 minutes at the peak, we decided to get back to the base and on the way have some of the snacks that we had gotten along.

We rested near the Watchman's pond and had our food, and then continues on the descent.
We could spot the another majestic hill the Shivagange at a distance, I could feel my hear call for another trek to that hill, I would be going there soon.

Continuing on the descent with some exciting and adventurous moments we reached the base around 3 pm. With another dose of tender coconut, we were ready to get back in our car and reach Home.

This trek was a memorable one for me given that it was my first trek around Bangalore. I began to appreciate the difference in trekking in the western ghats and the rocky mountains around Bangalore.

The trek wouldn't be complete without a mention to the few typical characters I met along the way.

NCC Cadets:

The NCC cadets were on a trekking expedition with one of their group leaders. The enthusiastic people were in a hurry to climb leaving their not so able compatriots who were lacking the confidence. I guess they should have spent some time in encouraging the morale of those people who were on their own mental wars along the trek.
Another instance I saw was the rigidity in the mindset of some of the cadets to innovate and explore. There were alternate routes to a common path don't be blinded by a single choice.

The fruit juice Vendor at the Nandi Mantapa:
This guy taught me a lot about economics (- monopoly and the like), Strategy (first mover advantage)

The Director's son:
The talkitive boy got me to realize the power of dream; when one is young and how one pursues it in all (s)he does.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Leader Who Had No Title

I have been an avid follower of Robin Sharma's books for over five years now, since I first read the book - "The Monk who Sold his Ferrari". His narration has been a constant source of inspiration which pushes me into action every moment. This book is another to the series.

Unlike the Monk who sold his Ferrari and its sequel which had the "Monk" as the main character across the books, this book - "The Leader Who Had No Title" takes a war veteran as the protagonist and narrates using the trauma he goes through. He finds his mentor in an old friend of his father who leaves a life changing experience for this young lad. The story then revolves around the protagonist meeting other mentors and learning the essential features which make one a leader with out title.

The lessons that the book gives could be encapsulated with some of the following acronyms:
You need no Title to be a Leader
I - importance of innovation
M- mastery
A - authenticity
G - guts needed for business
E - ethics

Turbulent Times Build Great Leader
S - Speak with Candor
P - Prioritize
A - Adversity breeds Opportunity
R - Respond versus react
K - Kudos to offer

The Deeper your Relations, the Stronger Your Leadership
H - Helpfulness
U - Understanding
M - Mingle
A - Amuse
N - Nurture

To be a Great Leader, First Become a great Person
S - See Clearly
H - Health is Wealth
I - Inspiration Matters
N - Neglect Not your Family
E - Elevate your Lifestyle

With his usual style of writing, the book is studded with a lot of quotes - these are worth a treasure!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gavi Betta

Trekking is probably the best I can expect on a weekend - it rejuvenates me. My excitement is always towards exploring new places - the places I have never heard of. It had been three months since my last exploration to Dedupe & Jamalabad, I was on the look out for an opportunity and Sampath from Sharavathi Valley had posted a trek for the weekend - I decided to join in primarily interested in exploring the "Gavi Betta", associated activities though present didnt really interest me to begin with. It was 2 Day outing with a lot of itenary including rappelling, water sports in addition to Trek to Gavi Betta.

I know I am pretty delayed in writing this blog - almost 2 months since I trekked. The trek was on 21st and 22nd of the August.

Day 1: We began our journey from Bangalore early morning. Inspite of a delayed start from Bangalore, we reached Shanivara Sante by noon. Here we met our guide here who suggested an alternate route to the one planned through the coffee estates.

The guide took us to his relatives home were we received awesome hospitality! After a brief break and getting to know the hosts well, we continues our journey from the starting camp. I spent most of my trek time with the guide getting to know the specialties and the mindset of the person. He worked in Bangalore but returned tiered of the noise and the pollution to set up his own studio in Shanivara Sante.

The initial part of the trek was through a common jeep route, but since the road was blocked with a tree falls (thanks to the rains), we moved into the coffee estate. This was were some of our fellow trekkers had some trouble with the leeches.

Continuing the trek further, we reached another estate - there was an artificial lake created by building a dam. It was just beautiful. This water tank acted as the source of supply for the plantations downhill. A small distance further, our guide plucked a cardamom, and showed us how it looks before being processed and it reaches the store. The taste of the cardamom was sweet. He also showed us another fruit which they generally use instead of tamarind, this fruit is dried and then canned for storage.

Further on the route we reached an open area were we found granite pieces laying scattered. We climbed the hillock and were mesmerized by the panoramic view around. After a brief session of photography we continued our trek on another trail.

We crossed few valleys, stream and some beautiful scenery before getting to a fresh green opening besides a pristine lake. The weather this far was awesome with cool breeze, clouds on the horizon, clear view of the route ahead.

We rested beside the lake and I had all the time in the world to explore the small falls that the lake water made as it overflowed its boundary. The accessibility of the falls makes it a really good place for photography and probably cinematography too.

We then had our lunch before resuming the next phase of the trek. Mr Sampath of Sharavathy valley relies on his expert cook for the taste - Mr Dharmanna. He reached the peak via a different route and had prepared an awesome lunch for us to savor.

The "Vana Bhojana" (literally meaning forest meal), besides the lake and the clouds slowly moving closer created a very memorable lunch for me. We as a team had gelled well by this time and were in full flow with our jokes and comments. Post lunch, we got some wild berries as desserts which made the lunch even special.

Just as we resumed our phase two of the trek, the weather turned form pleasant to cloudy and really challenging. We couldn't spot each other at a distance more than 3 mts, the clouds were so dense. One of our trek companions had pulled her muscle and decided to stay back at the spot accompanied by Sampath. The remaining team continue the trek with our guide leading the way.

A 20 minute simple trek given the terrain, we reached an awesome clearing(actually a ridge) atop the hill. This was the peak - made completely of stone. If the clouds cleared up, we could get an awesome view of the Western Ghats and its thick vegetation from this point. We weren't really luck and so we continue with the trek, moving along the boundary of the ridge, we reached a dense vegetation from where we had to get into a steep descent along the ridge to the Cave.

The clouds had now begun to pore and the descent was getting really messy. With some heavy weights (including me) the supporting shrubs were giving way and the sod had turned slippery. The light dimmed and visibility problems were high. The high moisture & rain was instrumental in avoiding us from any shots here.

After a 10 minutes descent we reached a cave formation. "Gavi" in Kannada stands for "Cave" and "Betta" for a "hill" - this the secret of the name this hill has. Getting to the last part of the cave is really hard; it requires us to creep through low and narrow opening between the rocks, move on slippery rock to finally get to the cave. This cave has a religious significance and villagers come here to offer their prayers to the deity here.

After a really hard photo shoot given the low light intensity, we resumed our trek to return to the lake. We reached the lake in around 40 minutes.

We then began our walk back to the Tempo Traveller, which had now been stationed at the main road were the jeep route ends. Continuing along the jeep road which had turned slippery post rains; we moved ahead to get to the TT.

The consistent rains had drenched every one of us, so we were quick to change and get seated in the Tempo. The tempo moved on, taking us back to Shanivara Sante - We had hot coffee and thanked the guide before leaving to a Camp Stay were we would spend the night.

We reached Camp Leapord Rock at night, had dinner and caught some really hard earned sound sleep.

Day 2:

After an hot cup of coffee in the morning, we went on an early morning safari through Nagarahole and then reached our rappelling spot.

We had an awesome Akki Rotti (rice pan cake) and Avalakki (pounded rice recipe) along with the famous Kashaya (herbal tea) which gave us a super bunch. We then completed our Rappeling activities and returned to our base camp.

Delicious Lunch was served and post which most of us spent time in the water sports facility available there.

I enjoy trekking a lot more than the other activities and thats one of the reasons for not having all the energy to write more about day 2, but none the less the second day too was equally exciting as the first one.

We began our journey back to Bangalore, and I got down at Mysore as I needed to get to Surthkal the next day for classes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

How to Become CEO - Jeffrey J. Fox

A very quick read, encapsulates all the important rules that one would need to follow to get to being a CEO.

Jeffrey who is a Harvard Graduate, gives us 75 tips towards being successful as CEOs. Many of these are counter intuitive at times but worth a read, and get done with reading very quickly. I could read the book in plain 3 hrs!.

The rules suggested in this book give you an essential hint to the alternate way in which one would need to work towards reaching ones goal (yes thatz one of the rules too), not through the political way to get there.

A must read if you have the ambition of being a CEO!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Flip - PeterSheahen

"Flip" is an awesome book! thats my take - thanks to the match of ideologies that I have with the author - Peter Sheahan

The book deal about the importance of embracing change, adapting oneself instead of brooding and trying to deny the reality.

The book talks about the four forces -
  • compression
  • complexity
  • accountability
  • expectation
as the primary drivers of the turbulent change we see in the environment.

The remaining chapters deal with how to handle these fore factors - important keys among these being
  • Be all of fast, good, cheap and more...
  • Business is personal
  • There is no wisdom in crowds (they are important to validate not to help you innovate. innovation happens of the fringes)
  • To get control, give it up
  • Action precedes clarity
Pete provides sufficient information and evidence to support his claim and argument, and convinces the reader about the need to change. I can use quite a bit of these in my examples.

Initial part of the book looked a bit boring, but then as the book picked up each of the four factors the excitement was on the ascent and only left me hungry for more.

People trying to get an answer from the turbulent environment we exist in today, here is an useful aid.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

1 + 1 = 2 Whatz the assumption

I was thinking of it while speaking to some of my friends and here is a realization I had!

me: I ask them what is 1 + 2 ?
response: '3' came the response (with a vague stare indicating - do you think you are smart?)

me: My next question went what is your assumption?
response: Assumption? its plane maths! its arithmetic... (with the stare indicating that they were surprised with this)

me: Nope I just wondering if you realized the depth of what you just told!
response: ah!!! (with all expression of kind of frustration!, looking at each other.)

I then proceeded to ask them what is 2a + b; and the answer came (2a+b).

me: Then what is 2a + b + a
response: 3a + b

me: Yup! So what is your assumption!
response: they are like variables!

True! but the question here is essentially, do we really understand what like variables mean? They are variables true but - they are modeling something in the real world. What is that?

The variables essentially stand for class of objects; what I mean is here
Let me ask:- How much is 2 dogs + a cat (equivalent to 2a+b!)?
2 dogs + a cat (that is the answer, its nothing like 3 cats or 3 dogs)

This realization is so fundamental, I hope we realize the depth of every thing that we learn!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! - Richard P. Feynman

The sub title of the book says - "Adventures of a Curious Mind".

Feynman, a Genius in many ways, a noble laureate, a Musician, an artist, a pranksters, and much more. The sub-title aptly summarizes the book.

The book is about Feynman's curious mind. The human mind is inherently curious; but curiosity invariably gets deprived if we don't encourage ourselves to go ahead and explore the opportunity that curiosity offer.

Feynman did exactly that, enjoy what ever his mind thought about. The book is a narration of these encounters of a curious mind. The best take away for me is to be able to build on a curiosity and convert it into an option/opportunity.

In case you are in a state of deliberation with one of the curious pranks/attempts of the mind; go read this book! am quite sure you would love to get going with your attempt than think too much about the options that are available...void of curiosity.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dedupe & Jamalabad Trek

It had been over 6 months since I had gone on a trek, every time I would give a reason. This time I decided to break the routine. We decided this trek around a month back, but priorities are quick to change, and we landed up being only 5 people for the trek - Tyagraj, Naveen, Niranjan and Rajat.A team of 5 people decided to have a fun in the Western Ghats.

After a tiring work on Friday, we decided to catch up at Domlur and then leave for the trek. Excepting for Rajat who stays on the other side of KBS, all of us began our trek from Domlur.

Catching a bus to KBS on Friday evening from Domlur is never easy, there is always going to be people and you need to deal with the packed buses and traffic to reach on time. We reached there just 15 min before the bus was to leave! (thank God we had booked our bus in Advance)Rajat who came from the other part of the city was already there... it was the last seat an we though we wouldn't have any sleep.

I was damn tiered and caught sleep quite early, didnt mind the road bumps that were there on the road. Its only when the bus stopped that I woke up. After a long journey we reached Dharmasthala at 5:30 am. Tyagraja our host was very courteous to give us his new house to sleep before we began our trek. All of us had a nice nap.

Day 1:

We woke up at our own convenience, there was an awesome breakfast and then with some packed up some food for our trek. We reached Dedupe by car to compensate for the delayed start. This was my second trek to Hanadka, while Tyagaraj had spent his early childhood at his Uncles home near the falls; and the other three were very watchful of the picturesque surrounding. The road was a jeep track for a long distance and so occasionally Naveen who was craving for some more variety would choose to use an alternate route to reach the same point thorough some shrubs, bushes and dried up streams.

After a simple walk in the steaming heat for around an hour we reached Tyagaraj's uncles home. I was a very refreshing break from the heat, the cocum juice that was served was just awesome and I was shameless to ask for another one - it just tasted so good! Thanks for this one.

We also got to know that Hanadka was the last in a series of 7 falls (and one of the most beautiful and easily accessible ones). I made a mental note that, I would get to check all of these out sometime - this is for another time. The starting point of this trek it seems is from Samse - will do the checking and then start off some other time. We decided to resume our trek after a refreshing break.

All refreshed with a 30 minutes break, we moved through the plantations by the side of a pipe which provides good drinking water to the houses near by, we reached in 15 minutes to the very elegant Hanadka Falls. We spotted a waterfalls, at a distance - this was the 4th level of the falls (I for a moment thought i wish I could get there today).

I was taken aback, this time when I compared it with the first visit. It was very neat, undisturbed by the plastic & filth that careless people who come for an outing leave behind. I was feeling guilty, since my blogs might have given the access to this beautiful falls - my humble request to all the trekkers who read my blog and go to those places, please act responsibly. The ecosystem is very sensitive, do not leave behind any plastic or non-bio degradable material which might disturb the ecosystem.

Naveen, Niranjan and Rajat, were excited by the elegance of the falls and decided to have a shower in the falls. I generally retrain from having a bath in the falls that I visit. After some fun, we had a good packed lunch and decided to try out exploring some higher levels of the falls.

It was around 2 in the afternoon, and we had time till till 4:30 pm to try out some exploration. I detected a small path in the adjacent forest and followed it to reach the top of our falls. It was quite slippery and narrow and having reached the top, asked if we would really like to continue.

The enthusiasm was contagious, we reached the top of the falls and waited to refresh ourself. After a small break, we decided to follow the water on its trace and explore further. After 30 minutes of trekking we reached a split. It was a very silent and beautiful falls. This was the second level, a very neat one!

On the right we spotted another another stream joining this one. We couldn't climb the 2nd falls so we decided to follow the other stream and began climbing trough the slippery slopes and leaves.

The slopes and leaves made the climb very treacherous. Towards the last section of this climb, we could see a nice falls (not exactly a falls but a small flow of water over the rock surface). The route was through slippery rocks, we didnt have any ropes to help us climb and so we decided against taking the risk of slipping and falling on the rocks.

We had some photo sessions all along the way, and finally reached the first falls - our base. The time was around 4:45 pm. After a refreshing break at the falls again, we began walking back at 5:30 pm. We reached the car at 6:20pm.

We drove back and had a nice dinner after a long day of trek in the hot sun. After dinner and catching up with some news we had a sound sleep.

Day 2:

We got up at 7 am, freshed up and decided to get going on the 2nd Phase of the trek before it would be hot!. The trek was to Jamalabad Fort.

This too was the 2nd time I was getting to Jamalabad, and I knew that the later we get started,the tougher it would be. Given the hot sun and the steep accent it would make it really hard.

We reached the base of the fort at 8:15 AM. After purchasing the ticket, we began our trek to the peak. Nirajan who wasn't feeling comfortable - decided to stay back. The rest of us continue to the peak.

Trek was slow and challenging. The sun was raising higher, making the surrounding air hotter. We could spot a lot of mountains, houses, bridges, rivulets as we began but as we continued the distant objects dissolved into the bright light.

The climb is long and hard one when it gets hot it becomes harder. We had sufficient water and that helped us refresh ourself as we climbed. Lemon is another aid in these conditions.

After a climb of around 1:30 minutes we reached the peak. The last part of the trek was the hardest. Given the steep slope and the large steps - it gets us frightened. Slow but sure, we reached the peak. Lot of things have changed since the last time - where is the cleanliness gone!

After surveying the peak end to end, we began the descent. In 45 minutes we reached the base. After refreshing ourselves, we began back. We reached Tyagraja's home, and got back to Dharmasthala.

Tyagraj decided to stay at home for some more time, while we decided to get back to Bangalore by night and take a nap. After lunch, we caught a Suvarna Sarige and reached Hassan.

After a tiffin at the bustand we continued our journey to Bangalore. We reached home at 1230 am.

It was one awesome trek!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Making Breakthrough Innovation Happen - Porus Munshi

It has been long since I completed a book. I generally read multiple books at a time and the one that catches my interest the most is the one which gets completed the earliest.

Entrepreneurship is so much about keeping yourself inspired and at the required task most of the time. Books are probably the best source of inspiration and this book
"Making Breakthrough Innovation Happen", is probably amongst the top few books in the category.

Its a book about India and Indians who made a dent in the history of innovation. It the story of 11 companies/individual who made the impossible. Its definitely worth a read. Take a personal copy I would not share mine!
The instances in the book are:
Dainik Bhaskar
Arvind Eye Hospital
Bosch India
Trichi Police
Chola Vehicle Finance
Titan Edge
Shanta Biotech
The Surath Transformation

Each of these stories are so inspiring and get you on your feet and in action... It makes you feel better. This book would always remain to have a special impact on my life and will hold a special place.