Sunday, December 04, 2016

I am done with Social Media

What was it 2008? When the unwashed masses were still in Orkut, I got an invite for a site called Facebook.

First look - thought Facebook was like Flickr - for sharing Photos. It had a weird kind of magic that kept me hooked. Then I got tied to Twitter.

Then bought my first smartphone - Samsung Galaxy S - and used a horrible app to access Facebook ( no it was not built by Facebook ). Later FB built its own hybrid app - on Phonegap which sucked - after which they released a native app which was damn slick.

Later I moved to iPhone ecosystem - FB and Twitter were my constant companions on my first screen.

Now, after almost 8 years - I have logged out - for good. In the new phone, I have not installed FB or Twitter.

Why?

I arrived at a conculsion by myself - that SM - Social Media is no good. For a developer SM is a huge time sink and also has stolen the ability for thinking deep and hard. I tried getting my head around Angular 2 - and found I was not being able to concentrate like usual.

About the same time - I read Deep Work by Cal Newport - what an eye opener it was. Had all the points to buttress my conclusion - SM is not only bad for you - but it is also evil!

I was able to get Angular 2 internalised, became an ionic developer ( my previous developer had quit, and I could not find a replacement ), crunched quite a no. of books, put my work stuff in order and had the most productive month in November.

Early days - hands did itch to open FB and Twitter - but had to distract myself in more work.

Now I spend the entire day oblivious to what is happening in the world. I wait for the morning newspaper - Economic Times - and I read all the pages.

I still have Flipboard - and access it once a day to read about new tech stories. I have Magnus Carlsen Chess app - I set him at 5 years and beat him every time ( I managed to stalemate once :( ) . I have a sudoku app - sharpening my skills whenever I am bored.

For FB and Twitter - dont miss it anymore. Perhaps when I meet my old friends next, I will listen to their stories fully - instead of saying - oh I saw it in FB and stopping the conversation on its tracks.

Next on target is Whatsapp - our office fully runs on Whatsapp. Not sure how to wean away from it.

Yes, I am open for Coffee Meetings, Chai pe Charcha, short Phone calls :)



Saturday, October 22, 2016

Lara Croft Go

I am a gamer who had lost his way.

6 years back I had logged out of TV and logged into FB, Twitter. Kept liking and sharing and tweeting the past 6 years or so. All this time I had not completed any game - other than the occasional try outs of Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga, Temple Run. Monument Valley is an exception - the first game I purchased and played to the end after reading rave reviews of this game.

It has been a month or more - since I logged out of Social Media. It was giving too much BP with zero action or outcome. 

And to occupy the new found free time - gaming moves in. Idle brain is a devils worskshop you see.

I started on Lara Croft Go game - a 60 Rs. Download from App Store, and promptly got stuck at 3rd level or so - dont remember exactly. The game nudged me to buy a puzzle opener for Rs.160 - but I did not. Persisted and after lot of trial and errors cracked that level.

Then when I completed all the levels, they opened up one more level - I was both happy and angry...grr.. have to put up with more of these spiders and poison arrows - and man the final level was  hard! And yesterday night I completed it. 

 


The above screenshot is the final scene. All the lizards, snakes, spiders that tormented me throughout the game were coming to grab Lara - and Lara has no where to go but to walk till the edge and grab the magic immortal stone - which spits out a brilliant bright light and all the tormentors die. 

Gives immense satisfaction after completing all the levels.

Beautiful game - graphics, animation, music - the works. Does not need fast reflex - it is a turn based game and you can take your time to make the move. You make one move, spider moves one space - and even if you die you get to try again.

Next on my list is either a racing game - not sure if my reflexes are still intact ( Horizon Chase ) or another Puzzle game ( Lumino City ).

The gamer is back. 





Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rebooting this blog.

Hi venkat2 - long time!

I am on a social media detox diet - has been a week since I bothered logging into Facebook or Twitter. I rely on good old newspaper for news and ask people around me what is going on in the world.

And during this week I realised - how the art of blogging is dead. Couple of weeks back I was researching on a trip to Pondicherry - and all travelogues were from 2013 or before. No one is blogging their experience any more - which is sad.

People are sharing on their Facebook page - that too just the photos - and get likes and the posts are lost. And the world cannot see it - this is lost for ever.

I can go to Team BHP or the thousand travel sites - but nothing can beat reading a blog post - no pesky ads or distractions - just the author and me.

Back to the topic - so I have made a resolution to revive my blogging. While my personal blog is still active ( http://kvrlogs.blogspot.in ) - this blog has been dormant for quite a while. Not any more - will be writing on my 2nd journey here - the one that feeds me - which has entered the 9th year.

Yes, I am still slogging like I was in year 1. I still earn lot less than what I made when I quit ThoughtWorks. My lifestyle is still the same. Loving the startup life even more.

But a lot wiser to how I was on running the company, building the product, handling angry customers, competition, hiring, firing, figuring out the time waster vendor/VC/partners... so on and on.

Till next time.

Ta.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Kitchdi


Well thats my mind right now! Have deviated from the path the last few months - inspite of knowing the beautiful serene feeling I could be enjoying now - my mind is agitated and is all over the place, plotting many an evil plot, vengeful, hurt - messy.

My mind is similar to the parable of the boiling frog. It does not know it is slowly sinking into a mess and does not jump out.

Time to jump out of this rut.

Here is my interview of my mind.

Are you happy?

Nope. 

Why you are not happy?

I don't know.

Are you happy at work and home?

Yes absolutely. At work - did I tell you I work on 2 large monitors now - one of the developers is on a long vacation and I have borrowed his. The apps are coming out good and some of the complex things we were doing all have been stabilised. 

At home - have a beautiful dog to cuddle anytime I want. P got into a bout of sickness + injury - and is back to his usual self. Also had procured Kindle - and have an unlimited supply of books. 

Then what is bothering you?

I want more. Like I want to go on a solo trip on my bike. I have been working constantly without a break for the last 6 months or so. Want to do something I have never done before.

But isn't it dangerous?

Yes. Sitting at home I can contract dengue and die. Going around the layout on my bike, a water tank tractor can plough through me. Anything can happen any time - why stop from enjoying a long ride. 

So, why don't you just do it?

The powers who love me aren't letting me to go on this. I had made all arrangements for any eventuality - getting a dog tag with phone numbers printed, installed and tested apps to transmit my location ( perhaps this scared the people around me ). 

So that is frustrating you?

Yes.

So what are you going to do about it?

Going to reboot my life - yes lot of things are riding on me - so I cannot go riding on epic adventures. yet. 

Like?

Going to embark on an adventure of my mind - go deep. 

How?

Going on a Social Media diet. No more FB, Twitter. 
Going to crunch umpteen books. My target for 2016 is 52. I have completed 24 books till now.
Going to restart daily Sudarshan Kriya by waking up at 5:00 AM.
Going to pick one game ( Horizon chase - World Tour ) and complete all levels.
Going to break the 30 min barrier for 5k, 1 hour for 10k and  2 hour for half marathon. 

And this will make you happy once again?

Yes. I hope so. 

What if it does not make you happy?

Will buy an iPhone 7 then. Hehe :)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Living in the Future!

Today while running I was listening to a Chinese Science Fiction ( The Dark Forest ), translated to English, and recorded as an Audio book in a Studio in some corner of the world, that I downloaded from  Audible over airwaves using Cellular 4G - from a server in US or Singapore - to my iPhone.

And as I listened through my head phones, almost at the exact quality it was recorded, the phone was tracking my run with the help of  Geo Synchronous Satellites far up in the sky orbiting earth - I was wondering - man how lucky I am.

This is like living in a Future I couldn't have imagined 30 years back.

Humans have progressed from Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Medieval, Industrial to the current Information Age.

I can't place if we are in the middle or just at the threshold of Information Era.

We were slowly cruising in the Information Age - from Mainframes to Laptops to mobile phones and having incremental improvements in every field.

Out of the blue, Steve Jobs, went ahead and revealed iPhone - 10 years back - and was a turning point in the Human History.

[ Stay low Jobs haters - Google's Android did not look anything close to what iOS was. The day iPhone was released, head of Google's Android project called his team on a Nokia phone ( or might have been Blackberry ) and told - scrap everything we are doing - we have to start over. And Nokia, Blackberry were just cruising filling up their coffers with incremental upgrades ]

Having portable computing power, with ability to communicate real time with anyone in the world - not just audio but pictures and video - has shrunk this world like never before.

Then Twitter got a new lease of life after it got into a Smartphone. Any event happening anywhere in the world is now just a tweet away. A Tsunami, a plane crash, Federer saving a Match Point, Messi missing the penalty - need not wait for the next day's newspaper - it is right there for anyone in the world to read without a single second delay - they just need a Smart Phone with an internet connection. Meerkat and Periscope - lets anyone become a live TV reporter - unedited footage as and when it happens.

Then Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, ( damn I use all 3 - you Mark Z ) all these tools brought all of us closer and removed the physical distances between people.

Isn't it amazing!

And you can summon a car with your watch. Google Car, Tesla - are making self driving main stream.

Perhaps in another 10 years - we will all be chauffeured by software. Who would have thought 10 years back - we will all be carrying a super computer in our pockets.

We are truly lucky to be living in the future!









Sunday, July 03, 2016

Avalum Naanum Lyrics



This is my translation of Avalum Naanum by Madhan Karky for the movie Acham Yenbathu Madamaiyada. Yet another masterpiece by AR Rahman - the music goes to the background letting the  lyrics shine.

The movie name means - Fear is foolishness a phrase from a famous old tamil song by Kannadasan. The director of this movie - Gautam Menon, a Malayalee, names all his movie names with beautiful tamil phrases - and hard to pronounce too at times!

Vinnaithaani Varuvaaya ( Will you cross the sky to come to me )
Vaaranam Aaiyram ( 1000 Elephants )
Veetaiyaadu Vilayaadu ( Hunt and Play )
Pachaikili Muthucharam ( Green Parrot and Pearl Necklace )


The song is full of comparisons for She and I. Sounds beautiful if you understand even a little bit of Tamil.

Avalum Naanum
Amuthum Thamizhum
Avalum Naanum
Alaiyum Kadalum

She and I
Amrit and Tamil [ Tamil is as sweet as Amrit - the oldest comparison for Worlds oldest language ]
She and I
Waves and Sea

Avalum Naanum
Thavamum Arulum
Avalum Naanum
Vaerum Maramum

She and I
Penance and Boon
She and I
Root and Tree

Aalum Nizhalum
Asaivum Nadippum
Aniyum Panivum
Avalum Naanum

Banyan and  Shade
Action and Acting
Soldiers and Obedience
She and I

Avaiyum Thunivum
Uzhaippum Thazhaippum
Avalum Naanum
Alithalum Pugazhum

Meeting among Intellectuals and Boldness
Hard work and Tiredness
She and I
Donate and Appreciation [ This is a very weak translation - not having the impact ]

Meenum Punalum
Vinnum Virivum
Vetpum Thotramum
Velum Koorum

Fish and Water
Sky and Expanse
Dyed Color? and Appearance [ I am not sure about Vetpum ]
Lance and Sharpness

Aarum Karaiyum
Ambum Villum
Paatum Uraiyum
Naanum Avalum

River and Shore
Bow and Arrow
Song and Its Rendition
I and She  [ Not sure why he switched here ]

Naanum Avalum
Uyirum Udambum
Narambum Yaazhum
Poovum Manamum

I and She
Life and Body
String and Harp 
Flower and Fragrance

Avalum Naanum
Thenum Inippum
Avalum Naanum
Sirippum Magizhvum

She and I
Honey and Sweetness
She and I
Laughter and Joy

Avalum Naanum
Thingalum Kulirum
Avalum Naanum
Kathirum Oliyum

She and I [ Switch back ]
Moon and Coldness
She and I
Sun and its Rays

Avalum Naanum
Amuthum Thamizhum
Avalum Naanum
Alaiyum Kadalum

She and I
Amrit and Tamil
She and I
Waves and Sea

Avalum Naanum
Amuthum Thamizhum
Avalum Naanum
Amuthum Thamizhum

She and I
Amrit and Tamil
She and I
Amrit and Tamil

Corrections welcome. A simple song.. appreciate more after translating it. Madhan Karky you rock. 







Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sufi Returns!

Dad was lying on the terrace, at peace watching the stars. The sky was the typical red because of the city lights diffusing into the sky. The clouds that night were moving very fast. There was a star - might be a planet - overhead, and this was giving an illusion that it was moving.

The son and dad debated whether it is a plane or a planet. Then the son ran away.

He had to go play with Sufi. Yes, Sufi 2.0 has joined their lives once again after 6 months [ Sufi 1.0 ]

Sufi was on her night stroll on the terrace. The mom had her on a leash and newspaper in the other hand - running behind the energy ball - as Sufi finds the perfect place to pee and poo - after her night dinner.

Sufi came back to smell Dad lying on the terrace, putting her wet muzzle on his face and hands and feet and went away to explore the terrace.

Life for a moment is perfect once again. Might melt away someday, but for now will just enjoy these moments and live in the present - how this Sufi lives moment to moment - and the family is learning this from her.

Thank you God. Not angry with you anymore.





Sunday, June 05, 2016

Animals. I am sorry.

I was wrongly made to believe that we humans are superior and we have conquered this planet and we have dominion on the lesser animal species. We told lies to ourselves, oh we have the 6th sense which animals don't have. They just have the instinct - to procreate and survive. They do not have wishes or taste or wants or love. Put them in a cage, they will just sit there eating their food.

How grossly wrong was I / we are.

Animals are not just human, but more than human. In fact I don't think we should measure animals in the human yardstick. We have pillaged this planet and extinguished beautiful creations of God. We humans are not good.

Animals are better than Humans.

Animals are kinder than Humans.

They do not destroy the environment. They enrich it.  They kill, but only for their survival - not for pleasure.

I am sick of our race.

You might wonder - why this sudden outrage Venkat?

3 news items in succession triggered this in me. 2 Beautiful Lions shot dead because a guy tried to commit suicide by jumping into their habitat in a zoo. A Beautiful Gorilla shot dead to protect a kid that fell into its cage. In China right now as we speak for a festival millions of beautiful lovable dogs are being slaughtered for meat.

And the daily carnage that is happening all over the world - millions of Chickens, Turkey, Cows, kind goats, baby goats, gentle Buffaloes, camels, Sharks, billions of fishes and crabs  - all being slaughtered in cold blood - some with bare hands, most by automated machines - not to satiate our hunger for our survival, but for feeding our sensory buds.  Recently saw a day or two hatched chickens being put into this horrible machine, and red minced meat was coming out on the other side. ( Will not share these videos here ).

I am sick of the lies being peddled - oh you need Protein - as if our humble Daal does not have enough. I am sick of the torture these beautiful animals have to go through daily to be beefed up and finally killed in an instant mechanically. Thousands languish in cages ( oh no cannot be millions - as we have destroyed them all ).

I am feeling helpless and angry and sad.

Anyway - here are a few videos I saw where animals act unlike humans.. but with love. It is what God intended.

I will keep adding to the videos here.. whenever I come across.. reminder to myself that we don't know anything of these lovely neighbours who co-inhabit this planet - and will respect them,  love them, and wonder at them.












Thursday, May 19, 2016

2000 KMs milestone crossed. 2nd Attempt at Full Marathon

 

That's 1000 Kms in a year. Crossed 1000 Kms in April 2015

Attempting my first full marathon for the 2nd time. Sep 18th is the D Day. Last year I started training for a full marathon, but midway had to give up.[2015 Kaveri Trail Marathon]
 
Planning to run in the Kaveri Trail Marathon this year also. I use the Nike Running App ( Free on both iOS and Android ). There is a coach option, where you key in the race date and it will work out a training program. I am following it sincerely. 5 runs a week, the last one  a long run that keeps increasing till the race day. 

Excited about what lies ahead - the training days as it will get harder and harder, and finally the day of the Marathon.. Set a goal which is humanely impossible ( to me certainly it is ) -  break it down, work hard, and achieve it. 

Few days back when I was campaigning for more friends to join me in a a half or full marathon - got into a full fledged debate with a few friends in Whatzapp.

There were lot of objections. 

Not every one is born to run a marathon.
10 mins of light exercise is good for us.
Marathon is actually bad for the health.

It is all about winning the mind - a very cunning lazy creature. 

When the Mercury drops below 20 degrees, it will not let you get out of the blanket. Will trick you into continue sleeping in the warm nest.

When there is no power, it will make you heat water in gas stove to take bath. Will not let you take a cold shower. 

Will tempt you into eating junk food which is programmed to give a quick satisfaction. And turn back at a quality home cooked fare. 

Will tempt you into gulping a high calorie sugary drink that satiates the sugar craving. And will not let you sip a nourishing fruit juice or a tender coconut.

Will tempt you into watching TV for hours. And will not let you pick a deep thought provoking book. 

This is the mind we are fighting when we run. When we train. Yes we were born with this mind like everyone - and we runners try to conquer this lazy specimen. 

And unlike meditation - we cannot totally shut down the mind. We need the mind's help - because once we be-friend this mind - it can trick the poor weak body of ours into doing inhumane things.

Like finishing a 42km run - a feat on the outset that looks impossible, but many are able to do it. 

Hi Mind. I will defeat you. Win you over. Make you my friend. And together we will complete the marathon. 





Friday, May 13, 2016

Hot summer ride from Bangalore to Mumbai and back

Mid-life Crisis

The wife told everyone - "Midlife Crisis" 

Sometimes there is no rational explanation why I do certain things - like this road trip on bike from Bangalore to Mumbai and back, in peak summer, through some of the drought stricken regions. So the wife had to term it my Mid life Crisis. 

I don't analyse too much on these. Just go ahead and enjoy the experience. 

The whole trip started with me fixing the EFI of my Thunderbird ( Comprehensive guide to owning a Royal Enfield bike ) - sunk 13k to replace an important part so the bike will start. After fixing felt bad for the bike - here is a cruiser doing small errands and going in stop and go Bangalore traffic. It never runs full throttle. Time to let it run loose. 

I found a co-conspirator - a developer in the team who owns an Avenger. And we started preparing for the big trip.

Preparation

On my earlier trip to Mumbai on bike, in 2014, I had Sangeeta escort me on a car. (If you are interested here is the story )This time we have to carry our own luggages. So invested in a good carrier which will sit in the pillion seat. From a brand called Viaterra - Rs.2900.

 

 

The current Helmet I have is actually a hand-me-down. The bike I purchased from, the previous owner gave me his as he was going to US to do an MBA. But it was one size large and it did not fit me properly. On highways the wind gets in and makes a deafening noise. Also not sure how best it will protect me when a fall happens. 

I picked up an MT Helmet which fit me perfectly, and came with a sunglass visor in it. Trust me - do not go for the cheaper version without the visor - it is worth every rupee because our highways are drenched in sun and this cuts off a good amount of light. There is a lever on the outside - to engage/release - and can be easily operated with gloved hands.

 

 

MT Helmet with a super model. I think it was around Rs.5500. 

Then I got a knee pad. The shopkeeper while convincing me was saying - if you fracture your femur it is ok, it will heal. But the knee is an important part and if you injure it is expensive to replace. Pretty brutal but practical advice. Picked one too. Actually I could have done better research.

I already had a good biking glove and jacket from Cramster - bought 2 years back when I purchased the Thunderbird. I was all set. 

 

My full armour!


We thought it will be good to do a one day trip on the bike somewhere. Mainly to see how bad the heat is and also if the bikes hold up. We zeroed in on Hogenekal. Hearing us plan, the team jumped in and they rented a Scorpio from Zoomcar and it became a team trip!  

The highway to Krishnagiri is lovely. The ride from there to Hogenekal was also good - towards the end was Ghat stretch. This is a good place to go for a day ride. If you are a veggie pack your lunch - that place is only for Fish eaters. 

 

You will not find much of biker photos - unless a car accompanies one. That's our Sales champ - at the next stop he got back into the car - he said the wind is too strong.

Days before the trip

I think I am invincible. But actually my body is quite weak. The one day trip to Hogenekal was exhausting, and whenever I exhaust myself I catch a cold. Friday evening my throat started aching. That is how my cold progresses - first throat, then body pain, then blocked ear and nose, then it starts running, solidifies, then slowly it goes away after torturing me for 2 to 3 weeks. I decide to check with a doc - breaking my 2016 record. 2015 I went once in Jan to see a doc - because of a running injury. Didn't help one bit.  

Friday night I pack all my stuff. The bag is quite adequate - 50 Liters. I pack 5 shirts and 2 trousers and other stuff. Plan is to work in our Mumbai office and stay in our Mumbai Guest House - from Tuesday thru Saturday - before heading back. Will be a good rest before we head back. Smart aren't we?!

Saturday afternoon took the bike to the mechanic who changed the engine oil, and the break pads. I forgot to get an extra spark plug and clutch cable - 2 things all the long distance riders carry. Should do it when I visit next time and keep it in my bike luggage bag. 

 
At the workshop

Trip Begins.

Morning while having coffee I read in Bangalore Mirror about a Harley Davidson biker lady - a famous personality apparently - who died in a road accident near Bhopal a couple of days before. I push the news out of my head.

We have a small send off ceremony.

 

 
Not wearing gloves, as we were to stop at the Ganesha Temple in our layout for divine support.


I decide to not take the Electronic City flyover and instead head to Bannerghatta Road to take the NICE road. It was a Sunday after all. But I forgot we are in Bangalore. There was lot of traffic - even at 7:30 AM in the morning. 

But once we paid the toll at Bannerghatta and got on the NICE road serenity was restored. The childish glee set in.

80 KMPH

We had decided not to exceed 80 KMPH. The bikes can go well beyond 110-120KMPH. But Royal Enfields start rattling at that high a speed. Also there is no ABS and while hitting sudden break the coin can fall either way. 80kmph is a safe speed on Indian Highways. We decided to stick to it. 

Lorries, Buses - all go a tad slower than 80kmph. Only the cars go beyond 80. The only reason one has to keep checking the rear view mirror. Also being on 80 keeps lot of reserve speed. When over taking other vehicles moving close to 80, one can raise the throttle a bit more and quickly over take without staying abreast - because those pesky cars that go at 120-140 come really fast from behind. 

 

Selfie before a Mumbai - 900 odd kms signage. This was taken in Instagram and it inverted the photos!

State of mind

One of the things I noticed this trip was the mind was alert throughout. Typically when I drive my mind will wander all over the place - the past, the future, about the books I have read or focus on the song lyrics. On a bike the mind is always on the present - looking at the sides of the road for any vehicle, pedestrian who might suddenly get into the road, any signs for the vehicle in front of me that it might hit a sudden brake - so I adjust the distance, or plan to over take, or follow on its side, look at rear view mirror constantly, listen to the bike and the wind. On a car you are cocooned - don't feel anything other than the car's perfume throughtout the trip. On a bike - you are fully immersed in the environment - so many smells strike you from the environment - on heavy traffic areas mostly the diesel fumes :(

However, there were 3 instances when I was not alert. I was riding the bike like a zombie, changing lanes, overtaking - but internally I knew this is not safe. First 2 instances I somehow broke it by shifting seats and taking deep breaths. 3rd instance couldn't shave off - I pulled over, drank some water - and zombiness went off. These were the only instances I felt I was not safe. Have to research why this happens and be prepared for the next trip. 

Heat

God,  India is a hot country. 12 pm to 4pm is the hottest. Whenever we stopped for lunch took long breaks. Outside Pune found this nice hotel with cots. We also made sure we never got into the AC section - as we will never get out. Also the drastic change in temperature would not be good. 

 

Biker Bros

There is a secret signage Bikers give to their bros. They do not do it to all bikers - only to the decked up bikers in gear. It is a V sign, they show with their left hand still on the clutch - as they pass us. 

We did not come across many tourers like us - only idiots go on bike rides in peak summer. 

We saw some beautiful machines though - when we stopped closer to Bangalore and Mumbai. Did not spot any in the middle stretch.

 

That's a Triumph, a Ducati and a Duke

 


And that's our machines to their right.

 


 
This we spotted in Lonavala where we stopped for Breakfast on the way back. This Ducati is the one where Wolverine takes a U turn by using the steel knives he has in hand - and it costs a whopping 18 Lakhs. What a beauty! 

 
On the return at Belgaum.

 
Somewhere Between Lonavala and Pune

 
They were stopping all vehicles to check for papers. Doing their job.. No hard feeling Mamas.

 

This was in a Punjai Dhaba. First time I am seeing a RE with alloy wheels. If I don't upgrade to Triump, I will ugprade the wheels at the least. 

 
Selfie time! 

 
Enjoyed the Mumbai to Pune stretch - we were fresh and it was morning and it was just starting to get hot. 

 

At Lonavala - around 3pm. This place will turn magical once rain starts. 

 
Selfie being taken by Ashirvad

 

The name of this place is "Shedung" 

 

Before Kohlapur, in a restaurant called White House, where we stopped for dinner. 

 
Entered Mumbai around 5:30 PM and reached Mumbai office at 7:30 PM wading through Mad Mumbai traffic. Guest house is close by. 

 
Finally parked at home back in Bangalore along with the Trusty Unicorn.


People ask me how was the trip. 

Well it was mixed. When I roll back the film roll I would say - mostly it was an uncomfortable trip - mainly because of my cold. My cold was in the beginning stages so my mood was a bit off. Wherever we stopped I did not feel like getting back on the saddle. However moment I twisted the throttle my mood improved tremendously and quickly got back into my happy zone. 

The return was much more enjoyable. There are some amazing stretches. The entire Karnataka highway stretch is too good. Especially near Belgaum it becomes a 3 Laner and has near perfect roads.

Maharashtra roads are very bad. They are converting 2 to 3 lanes so lot of diversions. However there are lot of ghat roads and one can really enjoy these roads - letting the bike tilt and turn. 

Will I do it again? I have to do something about the seat which got very uncomfortable. Also need a good solution to keep water from getting to boiling hot. If I can solve these 2 problems then the trip will be pleasant. India is not going to get any cooler - so we better adapt to this. 

I will wait out the heat and the monsoon. Next trip will be after September / October - perhaps to Wayanad. Planning to trek Chembra peak.








Friday, April 08, 2016

Sufi

They were sitting in the balcony on a cool Bangalore morning - all 3 of them. The kid, Mom and Dad.

They had just lost their lovely puppy Sufi - to a canine virus - the previous night. She had entered their life just a week back.

The dad who hadn't cried that night before was sobbing. The kid had got over it - weeping uncontrollably on that fateful night along with his mother - perhaps the first time he ever cried for a living being.

The kid made jokes to cheer his dad.

It has been 3 months. The dad still misses Sufi a lot. He gets sad when he remembers Sufi and along with him makes the kid sad. They both sit and mourn and curse God.

Life.





Speaker for the Dead - Whattay Book I Say.






Don't read this book - "Speaker for the Dead" by Orson Scott Card,  if you haven't read - Ender's Game - which I highly recommend. This is my brief review from my 2014 Books Roundup.

"Brilliant Book. If you dig Science Fictions you should definitely read this. After Dune by Frank Hebert - this book captured my imagination and kept me in Enders World for the period I was reading this book.  A movie based on this book also came out in November but I missed it. "


After reading Red Rising I was looking for another Science Fiction and I picked up the 2nd part of Enders Game - and little did I expect what is in store for me.

It is unlike any science fiction I have ever read. There is the usual fancy aliens, starship travel and relativity ageing ( our Ender turns 3000 years old in this book ) - but I was hit with a very human angle.

How is to love animals as if they are human?

Now how it is to love aliens as human? This book addresses this in a beautiful way through Ender.  Living beings are classified into Framling, Raman and Varelse.  Varelse are the lowest.. and the aliens are like animals. Framling are humans. Raman is somewhere in-between .

Ender is now the Speaker for the dead. He can be called from any part of the galaxy to speak about a dead person - laying out the facts and telling the truth - bringing peace to the family.

There are 3 key parts in the book  - which are masterpieces in themselves.

In one scene Ender descends on to a widow's family - which is totally fractured because of the now dead Marco - the abusive family head on whom Ender is to speak of - and ill-mannered kids who hate Ender - and how Ender turns them around one kid at a time.

Another scene Ender, who is the Speaker for the dead - Speaks of the Widow's husband - laying out all the facts, and brings honour to the dead man and saves the Widow in the process from her misery by exposing the fact that she is an adulteress, yet making her look like a Goddess.

Final scene - towards the end - when Ender creates a treaty with the aliens - simply brilliant.

I hope they do not make a movie out of this and spoil this. But this book is too good to be left untouched by Hollywood.

Now there is the 3rd part - Xenocide - I briefly read on Goodreads about this. The reviews are really funny and discouraging - it seems one needs an iron will to read it - as author rambles a lot apparently.

And found a xkcd cartoon too on Xenocide.

Hmm.. for the time being leaving Xenocide on the table. I will build my mental courage and attack this one.







Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Comprehensive Guide to Owning a Royal Enfield Bike

One has to be totally Irrational to own a Royal Enfield bike. If you are those Rational types - who just require a vehicle to go to from A to B with the minimal fuss - I strongly recommend buying a Japanese Bike.

Also close this tab you are reading in your browser, quit the browser, close your laptop, switch off the fan and light, get out of the house, go find a lake or park, sit on the park bench and think Rational Thoughts. 

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Now - my dear Irrational Friends, Royal Enfield Friends ( if you are a RE fan you will not be reading my blog - but riding your bike now - but if you are reading this then your bike is in the workshop - for which I am sorry ) and future Royal Enfield riders.. Hello and a warm welcome to the Irrational world we all live.

You - Rational Thought guy - out of my blog. Why are you still reading my post?

Anyway - back to my advise column. The title - if you have landed here because of a Google Search - it is because I know a thing or two about Search Engine Optimisation ( SEO ). You cannot take a print out of this post, stick it in your garage / parking lot and expect to follow instructions. Sorry for having mislead you to this post. This post is me ranting while my bike is in the workshop.

Now if you are already having a RE bike, or planning to purchase a RE bike - first - buy a 2nd hand Honda bike. Trust me. You will need this. This is a very wise Rational thing to do.

My RE bike is a 2013 Thunderbird, 500 CC bought 2nd hand in 2014.

One fine day - the beast refused to start. Tried the Kick a few times. Still it will not start. Shake it left, shake it right. It will not start. Tap the tank. Touch the spark plug. Wiggle it a bit. Touch the wires. Kick. It will not start.

So I had to take the reliable Honda Unicorn bike - which by the way has crossed 10 years of life - and go around hunting for a Mechanic. This is Use #1.

Next the mechanic will say bring the beast to my shop. You cannot push this thing. It weighs a ton or so - ( around 200 kg don't worry.. we bloggers / writers exaggerate a lot ). Then he will send his boy who will ride the reliable Honda bike to your right, while you sit on the dead beast, and the boy with his left leg will push the silencer.

And your ruffian bike will just quietly glide on the roads - without a single ounce of shame. This is Use #2 for the Honda.

This bike ( all REs made after 2010 or so I think ) has an EFI - Electronic Fuel Injector. The mechanic says it is gone. Has to be replaced. Had it been a Carburettor such a problem would have never come.

Next the mechanic will try to confuse you saying Carburettors are good and EFI is stupid technology. He will change it to Carburettor and then the bike can run without any trouble. I get back home to do my own research - since I cannot call anyone in my network of pot belly friends who all either drive cars or use an Uber / Ola.

I come to realise that EFI is actually pretty good technology - the same technology used in cars and fancy bikes - it regulates the ratio of air and fuel, based on the gear,throttle,temperature,whether Maama is nearby or not - and injects a good optimum mixture into the engine - giving a good spiffy response and at any altitude or time of the day. That is why we see so many REs on Himalayas - these things are tested over there. As a geek love this.

Carburettors on the other hand - is old technology. Just filters air and pumps it into the engine with no wizardary like EFI. The bike after conversion loses 1BHP and gives a little better mileage as he claimed. However, the bike has to be cooled intermittently on long rides - as these are air cooled bikes and the efficiency goes down as it cannot suck enough air when engine is super hot. Advantage is all mechanics know how to fix this ( actually nothing goes wrong in this ). EFI when it goes wrong has to be replaced - gulp - and it costs as much as a 2nd hand 10 year old Honda bike.

So I grudgingly decide to replace the EFI - and promise not to let this happen again. All I have to do is to keep the bike's fuel level above 4 Litres always. If it goes down it hurts the EFI - and I have done it quite a number of times. No one told me this. Should have networked more damn.

I had to go now and buy the Fuel Pump. In Bangalore I had to go to JC road, right next to SBI there is a small road that takes you to Fixwell Genuine Royal Enfield Spare parts shop. The owner had parked his Harley Davidson outside the shop - what a beauty. I inwardly think - oh - so this is how you get to buy a Harley - by selling RE parts to poor souls like me. Btw - Use #4 for the Honda bike.

So - here is where I am. The Fuel pump is being fit right now - hope it starts.

Owning a RE bike is a lot of responsibility. My irrational brain made me buy this bike. However I have to be rational and take good care of this. Like having a 2nd bike - a reliable one to assist in emergencies like this, having half a tank of petrol in the bike all the time, servicing it regularly ( which I did btw ) and ride this beast on a daily basis and not let it sit in the garage for long periods of time - then it becomes a costly sofa as the wife keeps telling whenever she sees it lying there refusing to start.

Now - waiting for the call from mechanic to go pick the beast ( will take a bus this time ).

Update : 

The mechanic called me and said bike is starting fine. Went and picked it.  Yesterday couldn't ride it. Today morning it gave a scare when I was taking the wife to work - it refused to start. Switched off and on - and it started. Phoo. Close one.

Finishing off this post with a quote from The World's fastest Indian movie :

Tom: Aren't you scared you'll kill yourself if you crash? 
Burt Munro: No... You live more in five minutes on a bike like this going flat out than some people live in a lifetime.


































Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Alien Chronicles - Part 1

Greetings fellow Plingians. I am hovering around Earth right now - in our newly built LightSpeed Space Ship. 

Earth as you know is in a far far corner of the universe - in Milky Way Galaxy, in Solar System, revolving around a tiny star they call the Sun. Earth is a tiny planet - much smaller than our smallest moon of our Beautiful planet - but is stunning to look at and is mysterious. 

What impressed me were the Humans who inhabit Earth in large numbers. They have won the battle with all the other animals and are currently ruling the world.

We took a 25 Earth Years sample Human Being for analysis in our Space Ship and ran him through our Biomedical Decoder machine. The results were fascinating.

They have the usual sensory objects - for vision, for sound, for feeling etc - as expected in any aliens. However what fascinated me was somethings hidden deep in them.

There is a big bone like structure that runs from the middle half of their body and is connected to their Brain at the top of the head. They call it the Spine. Again expected in any 4 legged alien.

Starting at the base I found lot of hidden power - they call it Chakras. Our Biomedical decoder went crazy when I tried to zoom into this location. I found 7 such spots - the top most one on their head.

I put the sample Human Being back in his habitat ( I was very careful not to violate any of the inter-galaxial treaties on alien observation - the human being had no memory of the study, nor his health got affected in any way )

I downloaded new software to our Biomedical decoder as our Scientists had to rewrite the code to handle the Chakras - had to wait in Earth for 10 Earth Years ( roughly half Plingian Year.) 

I was now able to uncover interesting things. 

I picked up the same Human being - and ran the tests on his Chakras now.

Each Human, is already preprogrammed to do a major task in his lifetime. This task is to take the human race a step ahead. These chakras hold the secrets to making this lifetime task come to life.

From Mindbodygreen.com


Root Chakra

When this Chakra is opened up fully, this human being now has financial independence and the basic necessities are take care of . This Human Being can survive the day to day living without much difficulty.

Sacral Chakra

This Chakra when opened up gives a feeling of abundance, well being and pleasure.

Solar Plexus Chakra

This Chakra is associated with Self Confidene, Self Esteem and Self Worth to the Human Being

Heart Chakra

This Chakra  gives Inner peace, joy and love for all beings.

Throat Chakra

This Chakra on activating allows the Human Being to express clearly and communicate truthfully.

Third Eye Chakra

This Chakra on activation allows the Human Being to act with Intuition, Wisdom and make smart decisions towards his primary lifetime task.

Crown Chakra

This is the highest Chakra when opened up is able to connect spiritually with the bigger spiritual universe. His task gets completed easily because of magical assistance from the cosmic universe.

I did not know what the primary task for this Human Being was.

I put him back and waited for a few more years. Again picked him and ran the tests. I did this till the death of this Human Being - while doing other tests of Earth and writing those boring daily reports I have to fill daily.

And the Human Being I was sampling - went only till the Heart Chakra - he failed in his mission and I could not find out what it was. Most of the Human Beings go with their lives not knowing the main purpose of their life - the task they should accomplish - and Human evolution doesn't seem to move an inch further.

Imagine even if 1% of the Humans open up all their Chakras and complete the tasks they have been coded internally - the Humans will be knocking at our doors right now in Plingia.

I am continuing my investigations.. will narrate them in my next report.







Monday, February 15, 2016

2015 Books Roundup

Here is the post everyone was waiting for - list of books I crunched in 2015 - and here is the list for 2010,2011,20122013 and 2014.

2015 began well with The Martian. Saw the movie on October 2nd, 2015 too - well made and did not disappoint. I will recommend the book any day - brilliantly written and well researched.

Once a Runner

Then one day I took a decision - lets run a marathon. So to inspire myself picked up this classic. This is a fun read and has some hilarious moments in the hero's college days. Has lot of philosophy on running.

Seven Years in Tibet

I had seen this movie before - Brad Pitt is the hero. In this case I recommend the movie. The book is  an autobiography of a German Mountaineer who is imprisoned in British India and how he escapes and reaches Tibet. This could very well be the first book to ever be written about Tibet - as Tibet is very secretive and does not allow outsiders in. The first half was very interesting - our Hero ( Heinrich Harrier )  escapes and gets captured multiple times. Finally he makes it to Tibet surviving the harsh weather and bandits.

A Wizard of Earth Sea

Harry Potter is a poor copy of Wizard of Earth Sea ( written in 1968 ). Harry Potter is this boring kind of guy - who will ace in everything and will not do anything wrong. In the Wizard of Earth Sea however, our hero kid is quite complicated. He is prone to vanity - like any of us - and once he loses his mind and invokes a very dangerous spell which kills his teacher ( dumbledore like character ), and brings out the dark creatures ( much like Voldemort ) from the depths. Rest of the book he tries to fix this. Highly recommend the book - especially to Harry Potter fans - you should know what a poor copy Harry Potter is.

2001, A Space Odyssey

I had seen the movie long back and did not understand it. Read the book and understood to the most part but for the ending. Wont spoil it for you. The book was ahead of its times. After reading the book saw the movie again. The book was written mainly for the movie. Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke collaborated a lot - and it shows in the movie.

I ran the Kaveri Trail Half Marathon listening to this book.

The Devotion of Suspect X

There was this hit movie - Dhrishyam - a Malayalam Movie, which was remade in Tamil as Papanasam and then in Hindi - as Dhrishyam again. Was quite curious and read somewhere that the story is based on a Japanese murder thriller.

And what a story this turned out to be. A High School Mathematics teacher will do an elaborate setup to cover a murder. And a Physics professor - his school friend - will try to break it. A well structured cat and mouse game. Even if you have watched the movie - you should read this book. The movie(s) don't do justice to this story.

Natural Born Heroes - Christopher Mc Dougall

I am a big fan of Born to Run - it made me a runner. This was the second part and a huge disappointment. In this book the author tries to uncover another energy within humans - elastic energy - which the parkour athletes use - and how it had helped the Davids win against the Goliaths. The book never took off - drudged on and on till I dropped it midway. Wasted money.

Darbar - Tavleen Singh

I don't know how much of stuff written in this book is fact or fiction - but scary nevertheless. Lot of stories are covered - Sikh Riots, the self made mess in Kashmir - which our poor soldiers are still losing their lives - and the Gandhi family - who still are very much in power and will be for the next 2 centuries. You are a person who like politics or not, you are on BJP/AAP/Congress/Amma/Appa or whatever allegiance you are on - read this.

Scrum

This is the book from the horse's mouth - the creator of Scrum. If you are a manager, developer, BA, Project Manager, Client, practice agile or not - read this book.

Bhagwat Gita as is 

I had a goal to read all the religious books in my lifetime. Towards this I got this book from Iskon - thinking this is it - the unadulterated version as the title claimed. Would have read 100 pages or so - but some of the interpretations in it had my blood boiling. So left it "as is".

SingleTasking

The title says it all.  This is a small book - a blog post would have sufficed. It has study after study proving why Single Tasking is the way to go. It did help me in restrategising how I work - as at one point I was doing it all - and poorly.


Being Mortal

A must read for all of us. I witnessed my Father in law's condition deteriorate - after undergoing 6 rounds of Chemo ( 3 before and 3 after a major surgery ) - and still we could not save him. This book will help plan our life at its end, as well as our loved ones.

1984 by George Oliver.

This book is eerily close to the truth. So many of the terms we loosely use like "Big Brother"  - came from this book. The book describes a dystopian world - and the attempt by our hero to break it. After reading this book - and now when I see the newspaper -  can already see some of the things in the book being enacted. Sigh.

Sorry for ending on a sad note. Books hold a mirror - and it is not pretty what we see in the mirror.

And in terms of quantity I did very poorly - hardly 1 book a month. For 2016 I have put a high goal of 1  book per week. Lagging behind terribly. Have to plan a few book vacations. Hmm.. why not?!



























Monday, January 11, 2016

2016 Here I come!

Had Julius Ceasar decided to go on a hunt - Jan 1 might be actually Jan 15. These days, new years really does not make sense in the large scheme of things - a speck going around a little brighter speck in a  random corner of the Universe.

However - it does matter in the personal progress. Am I wiser, stronger, smarter compared to last year? What am I going to accomplish this year, that I did not do last year?

It does serve as a mile stone.

In no particular order - my goals for 2016 - where I return to Bangalore for the 2nd time in my life.

Running

In 2012 December, I ran a half marathon (21.6 KM) in a little over 4 hours.
In 2015 September, I ran a half marathon in a little under 3 hours ( 2 hours, 53 minutes )

In 2016, perhaps I will run the half in under 2 hours? Or should I aim to run a full marathon ( 42.2). I have at my disposal 2 lakes at walkable  runnable distance from my home. Today I did a 5k in 32 minutes.. will see if I can extend it to 10k in 64 minutes and try to increase distance and maintain the pace. Yes.. my age is increasing.... but I am getting younger.

Biking

In 2014, I did a Bangalore to Mumbai Ride - on a Royal Enfield, Thunderbird 500 cc ( http://kvrlogs.blogspot.in/2014/06/bangalore-to-mumbai-on-thunderbird.html ) . The longest I did after that was the Gorai Beach trip, or could be Thungareshwar from our home in Kandivali.

Perhaps this year I will ride to Nilgiris. It is a crime not to let the bike run full throttle.

Reading

2015 has been a good year with books.  Crunched a cart load of them. Yet to compile the list of 2015 - to continue my annual tradition (  http://kvrlogs.blogspot.in/2015/01/2014-books-roundup.html )

In 2014 ( or could be 2013 ) - read about a guy who planned to read 365 books that year. Now at a minimum I will crunch 52 books this year. Life is too short for the number of good books that are there waiting to be read.

Cycling

The Home-office distance is 5.2 Kms one way. The days I don't run I am planning to take the cycle. Tried it once and it was just right. Did not get too sweaty that I needed a shower. Don't know how it will be in summer.

Dog

The idea of having a pet dog bites me every year. Last year I got serious and joined a few adoption forums of Bangalore and Mumbai. Anyone coming there looking to adopt  a pure breed get nicely scolded and they leave the forum and go buy one from a pet breeder ( or puppy mills as they call ). I keep seeing the posts in these forums - cannot bring myself to adopt an Indie ( call me a hypocrite if you want  - I see them on the road all the time and cannot imagine them running inside the home ) - and at the same time cannot bring myself to buy from a breeder - as it perpetuates this inhumane practise. So waiting for a puppy to fall into my lap - hope this year I get lucky.

Programming

I started writing a Project Management tool in angular ( I evaluated so many but none fit my simple requirements  - all had too many features). Will complete it and make it available for our team.

I got a Raspberry Pi last year. Played around with but didn't do much. This year will improve upon Python and along side plan a few projects. I strongly believe low cost computing will be the next big thing. Perhaps I will hook it to our Generator in our Apartment  Complex - Being in Mumbai last 4 years I had forgotten how it used to be without power cuts. But here.. in Bangalore - when Generator is on - I cannot turn on the iron box or geyser - as the Circuit Breaker will trip immediately. This is an immediate problem I want to solve - a simple App that shows when the generator is on.

I enjoy coding. I enjoy working on a Mac. Want to learn Swift and write a Mac application - perhaps a todo list ( while Omnifocus is good I am not too happy with it ) or an Email App ( Mailbox was almost perfect.. and Dropbox idiots acquired and killed it ).

Travel

I am not a wanderlust. I am more than happy to be holed inside the home - with my mac, music and a fast internet connection - for days.

However, with the responsibility of bringing up a human being -  the 8 year old son - I have to maintain his curiosity levels and keep him exposed to different experiences - I have to plan more travel. Perhaps will show him the temples of South, or go to the bottommost tip of the country, or show him Snow..

Food

Its been more than 2 years since I turned Vegetarian. But still I consume Egg occasionally and Diary products. Perhaps this year I will kick off the Animal products entirely and go Vegan. Now that I am in Bangalore - I can afford to do this.

Fasting

Have never done fasting - other than the times when I was forced to skip a meal. But it has been disastrous - head splitting headaches, irritated mood levels.. have to conquer this. The Vegan fad has subsided ( it has become mainstream ) - and now the new fad is fasting.. the mentions are increasing in the podcasts I follow. Will as well try it.

Going Carbon Neutral

I heard that a guy in our Apartment Complex has made a van with solar panels - which is parked in our visitors parking lot half the time. Apparently he is doing research on this and has got grants etc. Yet to meet this guy. Planning to put up a panel on our roof and see how much juice I can generate.. and start learning on these technologies - perhaps when I retire off in a small farm somewhere someday I can live off the electrical grid entirely - or who knows - this might as well be my next startup - once I own all the Apartment Complex Rooftops ;)


So thats it - starting a new tradition with this - will revisit this post in 2017 to see how I did.