May 30, 2011

BR & MM Hills : In the Land Of Bandits

With the advent of summer it was time for us to flee to some hill station for a weekend family getaway, and the first destination in our list was Ooty-Coonoor. But subsequent research made us realize that Ooty at this time of year with summer holidays and flower show in progress was pretty much jam packed. So we decided to head towards some lesser known destinations of BR Hills and MM Hills , a place less frequented by tourists until recently bcoz of notorious Veerappan who dominated these regions. Also this was the first major outing since my brother bought his first car, a spanking new Honda Jazz.

Hence the itinerary was planned and we decided to take the route of Blore-Mysore-Gopalswamy Betta-Chamarajanagar-K Gudi - BR Hills - Kollegal - MM Hills - Hogenakkal (Karnataka Side) -Mettur- Dharmapuri - Hosur - Blore a total distance of 780 km in 2 days.

Day 1 : 21 May 2011 ( Blore-Mysore-Gopalswamy Betta-Chamarajanagar-K Gudi - BR Hills - Kollegal)

Gopalswamy Betta

Got up pretty early in the morning and left home at around 6 am. Initial journey went smooth along  Mysore road and the Jazz made it like a dream. From a Maruthi 800 to a Jazz is quite an upgrade and we found them worlds apart. Had breakfast at Adigas at Maddur and reached Mysore in no time. From here we moved towards Ooty road and as expected it still is in very good condition as I had experienced twice during my previous bike rides. Reached Gundlupet and from there the Gopalswamy Betta Entrance gate is just a few kilometers. The roads were quite bumpy , but the Jazz took and absorbed a lot of those bumps. At the bottom of the hill, the forest guards stopped for the entrance fee. Recently read in newspapers that the entrance fee was hiked to 500 bucks and we were ready to shell it out, but we had a surprise here, the hike had been reverted back and now the entrance charge was just Rs 50. As with my previous outing to the same place we were expecting to catch sight of some elephants , but were a tad disappointed. Also since it was nearing noon there was no mist formation at the top which this temple is so famous for. But the weather on the top was awesome, chilly weather in the middle of a day, in middle of summer. Spent some time around the temple and returned back to take our route to Chamarajanagar via Gundlupet. Had packed lunch en route since getting a decent eatery here is close to none
BR Hills Temple

View From The BR Hills Temple
 Gundlupet to Chamarajanagar route was pretty decent and from Chamarajanagar to BR Hills there are 2 routes , one via Yeriyur and one via ghat roads of K Gudi via dense forest. We took the latter and the initial section of the road was a bit rough, but the forests were very dense and we were sweeping our eyes sight left and right to catch sight of wild animals which is very common in these forests.Reached K Gudi and enquired with a forest guard and he informed that the Jungle Safari starts from 3.30 pm and we still had 1.5 hrs to go and planned to visit the BR Hills temple and return back. The path between K Gudi and  BR Hills is really awesome. Single lane road in very good condition and surrounded by some breathtaking forests views and we ended up traversing 3 times along this 20 or so odd kms of road.

K Gudi Safari

There is nothing much to be written about the state of the BR Hills temple which seems to be neglected of late. Lot of people with almost 0 facilities leads to a mayhem. Anyway at this time the temple was closed and we just roamed the temple premises and decided to drive back on K Gudi for the jungle safari. Reached exactly at 3.30 and were let into the first jeep for the evening, with a cost of 400/head. With these forests less frequented by tourists than its neighbors such as Bandipur and Nagarhole and with a tiger density of nearly 30, we had high hopes of catching sight of some these majestic creatures or atleast some wild feline, but sadly we were disappointed. We caught sight of numerous types of deers, spotted deers, sambar, barah singha(best view of the safari) and so on. Also caught hold of langoors, monkeys, Snake Headed eagle. The entire safari took around 1 hr 20 mins from the starting point. Decided to head towards MM Hills via Yeriyur route and by nightfall we reached Kollegal. Since we were unaware of the roads ahead we decided to bunk in Kollegal itself and booked rooms in below average "YepIYes Lodge"(strange name) and had dinner at "Annapoorneshwari Hotel" which was decent. Both of these are quite near to the main bus stand. Had a mosquito riddled sleep.

Day 2 : 22 May 2011 ( Kollegal - MM Hills - Hogenakkal (Karnataka Side) -Mettur- Dharmapuri - Hosur - Blore

MM Hills
Left Kollegal in the morning after having breakfast and packed one for lunch. As soon as we leave Kollegal and move towards MM Hills, a stunning view greats us. The entire horizon around us is filled with hills, feels more or less like driving in center of a meteor crater with the flat surface in the center. Awesome views. Until the hills the roads are pretty decent , but as soon as they start the roads are quite bad, with very little maintenance.One of the things I noticed about the local population of Chamarajanagar district is total disregard for vehicle traffic. Pedestrians, cyclists and even slow moving 2 wheelers move bang in the centre of the highway and even when we let them know of our presence via honks they don't let go of an inch. Quite strange behaviour indeed :P.


Reached MM Hills at near to noon and went inside to have the darshan. It was a bit crowded but we had the darshan within 45 mins. In MM Hills rooms also can be booked , but it is long process of (Telephone Enquiry + Sending a advance booking request letter via fax). ( We decided to move towards Hogenakkal falls from MM Hills since it is just 45 kms (Karnataka Side) from here and also i had never entered via this route made it a bit curious. From the MM Hills- Mettur Highway (SH 79) we need to take a 28 km detour to Hogenakkal and return back to SH 79 to move towards Mettur. This single lane road from the deviation towards Hogenakkal is one of the most scenic roads that I can remember of in Southern Karnataka. The entire 28 kms this desolate road skims along the banks of the river Cauvery and further sandwiched between green mountains on the either sides giving awesome views.


Reached Hogenakkal and had a boat ride towards the falls and this took around 45 mins. The official rates are 110/head and 6 persons max /boat. But they were loading the coracles to the brim , hence we decided to book a complete boat to ourselves which came out to be 640(w.r.t. 110*6 and 20 bucks discount :P). Had expected less amount of water bcoz this being summer, but quite surprisingly the water level was quite high. Witnessed again the spectacular views of water pouring from every nook and corner of the rocks, last witnessed nearly 2 years back.

Had lunch enroute on the awesome detour road and joined the main potholed highway. But soon the TN border came and roads became from worse to awesome. TN roads really rock. Came across Mettur dam on the way , but frankly speaking this is not worth it and the views which we get just before entering the dam area and after exiting the dam area and climbing the adjacent hill are more spectacular,  where we can witness the huge water mass the dam is holding up . Being a Sunday afternoon there was a huge rush of people trying to get into a small park which is the only part allowed for visitors , with the dam out of bounds.  The local population had got home made food in huge containers, which they ate under the trees and had a nap after this. This part of the culture is something unique to TN i guess , having never witnessed this anywhere else.

From here we took the Mercheri route and touched the NH-7 expressway some 40kms before Dharmapuri. After this it was smooth ride all the way to Blore with a break at newly opened Kamat Upachar(Just after Krishnagiri I guess) Overall a good drive with nothing that spectacular, but during this time people throng the spectacular places like vultures towards a dead carcass (in fact Hogenakkal from TN side was jam packed), hence speaking in that terms this trip was good.

Snaps Link :

Trip 'O' Meter : 780 kms

Route Map

May 17, 2011

Offbeat Movies I Love Part-III

Here is the 3rd sequel to the offbeat movie series, more or less the bread and butter of my blog with this series garnering the maximum hits. Sequel 4 coming soon :P.

1.Dragon Hunters (French/English)

The creators of this movie surely have got some imagination. This animated movie has floating pieces of land, castles and what not. Story is about 2 lowly dragon hunters who can be hired for any measly sum. They come across a knight who hires them to kill the greatest dragon of all time with a lip smacking offer. So they set on with their journey, joined by the granddaughter of the knight for the showdown with the beast. The finale is really spectacular.

2.In Bruges (English)

One of the few movies where Collin Farrel is actually tolerable. The main plot has 2 english hitmans lying low in Brudges(Belgium) after their last job had gone horribly wrong and how they lead their life, finding love, compassion and becoming human. Even though the setup is grim the situations and dialogues are very funny. A good black comedy.

3.Sin City(English)
The bad"est" ass movie I have ever seen. This movie goes into full throttle from the word go and  holds nothing back. It has got multiple stories interleaved and each of lead characters fighting their inner demons. Jessica Alba and her class dance as a cowgirl is really sexy, hard to keep the eyeballs off her :).
Caution : This movie has extreme violence, not for the faint hearted, with me cringing at many instance :P. Waiting eagerly for Sin City 2 due to release soon.

4.Shaun Of The Dead (English)

When you have got Simon Pegg and Nick Frost together, there is no need to expect anything other than a laugh riot and this surely is one. More or less a spoof of "Dawn of the Dead" with lots of zombies to be battled by the hero and the sidekicks and with a minor problem of wooing his ex-girlfriend. A non-stop laugh marathon guaranteed.

5.The Man From Earth (English)

If you thought that a movie without any action, romance, comedy,special effects (dependent on different peoples taste) is not entertaining then you got to watch this movie. Heck the setting of this movie doesnt even go other than the living room of a house with all the characters placed within it and they just talk and talk for a whole 90 mins. A very engaging movie and a must watch.

6.Kick Ass (English)

When you combine a comic book hero with reality then what you get is "Kickass". An action packed movie about how a teenager decides to fight crime with just a divers tights and a few metal screws embedded in his bones. And as expected he gets his ass kicked in most of the cases , but he never gives up. Problem starts when the city's underworld take notice of him and decide to finish him off when things get really messed up. Awesome realistic action scenes except whenever the 11 year girl is kicking butt of people 4 times her size :D.


A movie akin to movies like the The Matrix, Inception which literally plays with your head. Movie has just one astronaut (Sam Rockwell) and mission computer (GERTY) as the major characters of this movie. The astronaut is employed to work solo in a colony on the moon for 3 years. But things dont appear to be what they are, and slowly he discovers the shocking truths. Awesome storyline.

8.Udaan (Hindi)

One of the first Indian movie to address the teenage angst we all felt in those time( I am still feeling it :D) and we could expect nothing from Anurag Kashyap even though he didnt direct this one. Udaan is the coming of the age story when the lead character is pit up against a inconsiderate father whom he meets after 8 years. With the death of his mother the entire father-son relation is volatile and goes ballistic at the slightest provocation. Ronit Roy does an awesome job as a authoritarian father and rightly deserved the filmfare award eventhough many of these awards are given away based on hype and not upon true performance.

9. Cube (English)

A movie which could be said as an inspiration of the much successful "Saw" series but sans the extreme gore and violence, which is there just for the sake of it in the "Saw" series. Six people are trapped inside what seems like a giant maze and they have escape from it to save their life's, apart from the answer to the question as why they are there in the first place. When their life is question all sorts of different behavior start to emerge and we witness a nail biting piece of movie.


A fictional setup in a non-fictional korean war. Its the story of two loving brothers who are ready to sacrifice anything for the other. Their life of hard yet satisfying life is interrupted when North Korea invades and south and both the brothers are recruited into the army. Slowly there is constant friction between the brothers and it takes a dramatic turn when the elder brother is captured by the North and brainwashed , resulting in both the brothers having a mortal face-off, with a tragic ending as with all the wars.

May 7, 2011

Aboard PGSEM,IIM-B Ahoy !!!!!!!!!!

After getting my engineering degree I had sworn I would never get back to college.. All I wanted was to join a cool company and earn handsomely and lead a lavish life. No exams, no assignments, no lectures, no bunking but I had no idea these are the things we miss the most. So again I got an opportunity to lead a college life thanks to a admission offer for PGSEM(Post Graduate Program In Software Enterprise Managment) course at IIM-B, pretty much a dream come true.

Before finally zeroing on this course I had a lot of decisions in front of me. The first was whether a higher education in technology or management, the decision was quite simple. I envisioned a need for management education to have a career boost, with a rapid pace of evolution,  technology of today is crap of tomorrow (no offence meant here :)), but the management education remains more or less stable. The next choice was the management options in front of me:

  • Management Education Abroad
 Management education abroad is quite expensive and I am not comfortable taking a loan of 30-40 lacs for the same. Also it didnt make much sense going abroad for the education since I dont have any plans of settling abroad.

  • Full time MBA's in IIM's  and other top colleges
As goes the saying "Its easier to get into worlds top B-school than getting into IIM's", it is pretty much clear how fierce the cut throat competition is. Everyone wants to do it thanks to the brand name and huge pay package afterward. Getting through requires a level of dedication and hardwork, which leaves everything to chance and which I was not very keen of trying.

  • Full time MBA's at local colleges
I was pretty confident of easily getting in these colleges, but the fact that after completing this I might end up with the same level if I had continued working. So didn't seem like a career boost. Also the brand value is a bit less.

  • Part time/Correspondence MBA at local colleges
Blah !!!!!.. didnt even consider them.

  • Executive MBA(PGSEM) at IIM-B
Now finally comes my choice. Getting into this program seemed do-able the competition rate of 25 to 1 seat. Selection process includes written exam which can be CAT/GMAT or the PGSEM specific exam in the month of feb every year. Customized for Software Engineers. With this I would be working and studying simultaneously. After considering all my options this seemed like tailor made for me.

But this program had some negative points too.
  1. No campus placements, since companies wont provide employees sponsorship/permission if there was one.
  2. Since this involves "earning and learning" simultaneously, it will be a tough job to balance both, especially if one has already started a family.
  3. High cost (9.5 lakhs for 2011 batch), but quality management education is never cheap.
Preparations began for the written exam in Jan 2011 1.5 months prior to the exam. It was pretty hard to get back to studies after 3.5 years of lull.  Dusting the brains after so long is a challenge in itself. Also while registering for the exam I had to submit the SOP(Statement of Purpose) too, and nothing was more soul searching than those 5 questions which were asked :D

1. How do you see the PGSEM helping you in your goals? (150 words)
2. How would the PGSEM classroom benefit by your presence? (150 words)

3. What are two major achievements in your career? (150 words)

4. What is a major shortcoming you wish to discuss? What have you learned from it?

5. What is one issue dear to you? How do you see it resolved? (200 words)

Took nearly 2 weeks to complete 2 pages of the document with the most difficult being Q 3 & 4 and easiest being Q 5.  Anyway I wont be publishing my answers here not bcoz I fear it will be Ctrl-C + Ctrl-V ed, but bcoz I deem they way too personal :P.  The exams where quiet easy when compared to the CAT (which I have taken in 2009 and 2010 with zero preparation) standard, but the main thing one has to remember is "its not how easy it was for you, but how difficult it was for others" with only 75 seats up for grabs.

Cleared the written test and was called for an interview in IIM-B campus. Was super excited having never been to this campus and I was greatly impressed with it. It has got a old world charm to it, a campus amid lots of trees and bushes and the building oozes a sense of "blending with the surroundings". The architecture being very eco-friendly with maximum flow of light and air.

First we were given to write on a case study which goes something like this "Indian Market Underserved By Indian IT Industry". Initial couple of mins I was blank, but slowly one by one points started to pour in and in the end the allocated space for the analysis was not enough for me :P. This was followed by personal interviews , with my panel comprising of a young alumni and an older professor. They grilled me for about 20 mins ranging from personal questions like "Y I left my first company within 7 months?", "Y I want to do PGSEM ?" to questions regarding what I had written in the case study. Overall I had rated my interview went pretty decent.

After a couple of weeks the results were announced and to my disappointment I was put into waiting-list. I had given up all my hopes and had mentally prepared myself to appear for the same next year. But again luck finally smiled on me and got into mainlist from the waitlist. History has repeated itself with the same back door entry which I had got for my undergraduate seat as well as my present company :).

Finally I am all set for 2.5 years of gruelling and life-changing experience starting from June 17, 2011. It can be recalled that I had mentioned in this blog some time back that I felt stuck in one place and that I didnt have any goals in my life. Well this is my first step towards a change and I am happy to have achieved it :).

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