June 17, 2011

Brahmagiri : A "Wet, Wetter, Wettest" Ride



Along with the change in season, changes the character and the mood of  the Nature. And its always fun to explore nature in all its forms and we usually make it a point to have atleast one trek in every season, be it rain, sunshine or chill zones. Within a week of monsoons hitting the west coast and Karnataka we were all set for the 'Monsoon Trek ,2011' (2010: Kumaraparvatha, 2009: Kodachadri), and Brahmagiri (1608 m) was our choice. The  reason being this trek is reasonably easy in normal sense(read post monsoon, winter etc) and it has got a forest guest house enroute, a permanent shelter so that we wont have to slog out getting drenched in the rain during the nights. Quite shockingly initially there were 18 people ready for a monsoon trek which somehow in the end normalized to 12 (Prasanna, Manju, Raghu, Umesh, Subith, Prashanth, Shashi, Shravan, Harish, Jenny, Sai and Myself)

Day 1 : June 11, 2011 (Irupu Temple- Irupu Falls - Narimale Guest house ---> 5 kms)



Bcoz of the huge count we thought it was more economical and comfortable to book a private vehicle all for ourselves and we ended with a 18 seater mini  bus. Since the distance to Srimangala from Bangalore is just 250 kms we decided to leave quite late in the night and we left Bangalore only at 12.30 am with everyone picked and tucked in their respective seats. Had a not so comfortable sleep thanks to bed bugs. We took the route of Blore-Srirangapatna(Bypassed Mysore)-Hunsur-(Virajpet Route)Gonikoppa-Srimangala-Irupu Temple. The deviation route after Hunsur towards Virajpet was potholed and the bus kept jumping over them like crazy. Reached Srimangala at around 7am and started to wait for the forest officials to arrive. Meanwhile had our Breakfast at a nearby shanty hotel and finished our morning chores at a nearby guest house, where shockingly the bathrooms where humongous, nearly 12*12 feet size :P. 

Finally the forest guards arrived at around 9 am and we got our permission , but with one catch : that there is one stream which might be pretty strong in the this season and already 2 teams have previously returned back from this stream this season. This somehow made us to rethink our plan, but in the end we decided to proceed with it, the main cause for confusion being that the entire permission cost and Narimale Guesthouse rent came to a whooping 7.5K. The costliest trek in South India I suppose , but I understood the logic, more the cost, less will be the tourist inflow and only serious trekkers will be interested. Its more or the less the weeding out process. Also we were the only team attempting to scale the peak on this weekend.


After we reached the Irupu temple (9 kms from Srimangala), the starting point of the trek , the forest officials over there started a drama and started to question the Forest Officers at Srimangala as to how they provided the permission in such a weather , but after persistent effort by Shravan we got on with the plan. All this drama was to get some more extra chai-paani for the Forest Official guide who would be accompanying us. After waiting endlessly near Irupu falls for our guide he finally showed up and by this time we were all loaded up on anti-leech stuff(salt,calcium carbonate,tobacco,zandu balm :P). and of started the trek at 11:30 am. Initial path was through dense leech infested forests and these bloodsuckers were clinging on within no time. Soon enough it started to rain, which more or continues for the next 2 days with some small breaks in between for our photo breaks :). Reached the famed stream which was hyped up by all the officials , but surprisingly it was just a piece of cake to cross it, dont know if we were damn lucky with our timing or the forest officials were lying shamelessly :P.


video
  Monsoons In Forest

Finally reached Narimale Forest Guesthouse , a house in the middle of nowhere and interestingly all the raw materials for its construction were carried along same 5 km trek path which we traversed, it gotta have been a very tedious process. This guesthouse has 2 rooms and 1 hall, and lighting based on solar energy. We reached this Guesthouse withing 1.30 pm taking just about 1 hr 30 mins from the Iruppu falls. Since the peak was 6 kms away the guide refused to attempt the peak on this day and we had all almost the entire evening for us to kill. Played some games to entertain ourselves till the nightfall since even strolling out of the Guesthouse was not an option with the entire surroundings teaming with blood thirsty leeches. The entire night it rained and rained. It was quite reassuring that we were inside a warm and cozy structure and not out there getting drenched in the rain water, which we might confuse with something else in our sleep :D.

Narimale GuestHouse
Also the guide informed us tat recently all trekkers who seek to trek from Kerala to Karnataka and vice versa  along the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary are never given permission due to some dispute and therefore permission for Karnataka side to Munikal Caves (in Kerala) is never entertained. Hence out goes our plan of exploring these caves. There is a small rivulet which flows pretty close to the GH, which being the main source of water for the GH.


Day 2 : June 12, 2011 (Narimale Guest House - Getting Lost(2kms detour) - Brahmagiri Peak - Narimale Guest House - Irupu Falls - Irupu Temple -----> 19 kms ) 




At 6 am our Guide woke us up saying we have to start early to order to scale the peak, since the rain had subsidized a bit. We were leaving back all our luggage at the GH since we had a long day ahead. We had expected the 6 km route from the GH to the Peak to be completely in grasslands and hence we wrongly assumed that we wont be bothered by leeches and hence no one took any precautions and this was probably the biggest mistake of the day. In the end we had a blood bath with some even getting 30 odd bites :P. (read Prasanna :D). Even in the grasslands the leeches were thriving bcoz of the total absence of sunlight. 


Kerala Checkpoint In View
The grasslands had become more or less marshlands with such heavy rains. Walking through these marshlands pretty much brought the memories of childhood when we used to splatter water puddles by jumping into it."SPLAAAAT !!!!!". With such heavy rainfall the sun dried grasslands had a transformation to lively green within a matter of weeks , giving us awesome views. At some point walking through the grasslands everyone got distributed with Manja taking the wrong but logical route(hence without a guide) and all of us following him. This route headed towards Kerala border and man this route had both beautiful,breathtaking views and highest density of leeches anywhere in the trek, more or less in "femme fatale" kinda situation :P. When we were wandering in this route like a headless animal our guide appeared from nowhere and pulled us back to the main route. Later he informed that anyone wandering into Kerala Border will be detained and will have to take the motored roadway back to Karnataka and not the trek route. During the time when we were lost and roaming aimlessly the the team which were on the right path caught sight of 2 elephants grazing at a distance, and from the number of droppings we came across it can stated easily that there is a high density of  tuskers in this wildlife sanctuary. 


The Peak


The Climb
Finally back on track and the we were getting some good views of the grasslands, pretty much to infinity and thus came into view the Brahmagiri peak , which from below doesn't seem that difficult or steep at all. Infact the first impression is that its just a piece of cake , but the last section has the most difficult gradient of the entire trek. A nearly 65-70 degree upright climb and thanks to the incessant rains this part was damn slippery. After 20 min session of struggled climbing we reached the top .....and to noone's surprise there was no views thanks to the mist :P. Infact we were the first team to reach the top since the monsoons hit.... "1st team to successfully scale Brahmagiri peak in monsoons 2011"... sounds heroic :D.


At The Top
Group Snap - Minus Prasanna
 The climb down from the immediate peak was much difficult, with almost all slipping and falling down atleast once with Jenny even pulling a muscle. The return journey back to the Guesthouse was eventless apart from regular rainfall and de-leeching activity. Reached the Guesthouse, quickly packed our belongings and started the return journey to civilization. As we neared to the Iruppu falls our guide decided to fatten his wallet and took an extra baksheesh from 2 separate groups , more or less double crossing us :(. 


Iruppu Falls
 Reached the falls and there we unloaded our trekking gear and more importantly removed our shoes, and seeing the bloodied legs,hands etc the normal tourists to the falls got freaked out and some of them ran helter-skelter without even visiting the falls :D. In the end my leech bites just made it to the double digit mark and for others it varied from 1 to 32. Had a refreshing bath at the falls , in ice cold water and walked the last 1 km barefoot , which believe me is a very painful affair.

video

    [Through the Marshlands.. baccha style :P]

Boarded the bus and started the return journey back to Bangalore. Had lunch at a Kamath Hotel in Gonikoppa which was quite good and reached Bangalore and my home at 11.50 pm. Hence completed the last major trek before my college starts , resulting in no such trek/trips atleast for me in the next 3 months :(. Recently read a quote from  George Mallory(1886-1924) when asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest and his reply was simply "Because It's There". This 3 letter quote has made itself as the "most famous three words in mountaineering"  and more or less our motto to keep conquering more and more peaks :).

The Path To Enlightenment

Trek Details --->

Total Trek Distance --> 24 kms (including the 2 km detour)
Difficulty Level ---> Intermediate (In Monsoons and bcoz of the steep & slippery final section) else Easy in other seasons.
Total Cost Per Head --> 1800 bucks
Srimangala Forest Office Contact No ----> 08274246331, 09481989970
Mobile Signal Info---> BSNL/Vodafone at falls, BSNL/Airtel at guesthouse

Snaps Link ---->
https://picasaweb.google.com/unithinbhat/BrahmagiriTrek
https://picasaweb.google.com/ppr.bms/Bramhagiri?feat=email
https://picasaweb.google.com/manjunathmb.bms/Brahmagiri#
https://picasaweb.google.com/ragupalankar/Brahmagiri_12_6_2011#

June 6, 2011

Marathon Mania : The Follow Up


Yet another marathon under my belt. This time it was TCS World 10K, Bangalore 2011. OK agreed the tag "marathon" doesnt suite a 10k run , but the title of "10k mania" doesn't sound that glamorous :P. This was a good follow up of what I had started the previous year and hope to keep on continuing, and probably getting better with time. The ultimate goal being to be placed 1st in the race, and as expected thats a goal for which I  really have a long long long way to go. The main problem I had this year was training, after the run last year I have not been dedicatedly following the running regime which I restarted only in the month of March 2011 giving me just a 3 month training window.

Some Stadium Shots

This time the World 10K was organized on "World Environment Day" i.e. June 5 , and being a nature lover I was really upbeat. Also was planning to take my cycle for the commute to and fro the race venue(Kanteerva Stadium) in order to avoid burning any fuel and only fat on this day, but a total of  25km cycling and 10km run didnt seem that encouraging, finally saner minds prevailed and decided to burn fuel with my bike against my wishes :(.


Same as last year there were utter chaos in the stadium. The infrastructure was pushed to the brim. Toilets were flooding and foreigners and Indians alike were getting grossed out, but still people who are in love with the most basic form of transportation available to mankind make it a point to be present and to participate year after year.  Thankfully  past years experience had me prepared and I was pretty ready for it. Reached at around 7.20 am for the 8 am run (i didn even come that early for any of my exams :D ) and went directly towards the small opening from where all the Open 10K participants were to be let into the tracks. Initial races had the elite mens and women races and this was followed by the Open 10K race. Soon were let into the stadium and off started the race.



The weather was awesome with the monsoon clouds looming above the city of Bangalore, this made matters a bit better than last year giving a few seconds boost, nevertheless running a marathon under shade is also no less of an effort. My run was more or less controlled and I tried to maintain a constant pace, but one thing I observed against last year is that the number of people overtaking me has increased considerably over the year .... guess Bangaloreans are moving towards a healthier life style as a general rule :). Took breaks whenever the going was tough and increased or decreased my pace based on my heart rate. Also came across 3 runners who had collapsed along the sidewalk , completely exhausted from the run, and the onlookers, medics , cops were running to their rescue. Hence running even 10K requires a minimum level of preparation if not that of a full marathon.


When I crossed the 9th Km mark , I decided to push things to the edge and call upon my reserve energy which I usually have during my routine 6.3 K run, but surprisingly at that point it drew a blank :P. Hence there was no ramp-up from my side during the finals stages and could muster the energy only for a blistering run for the last 100 m where I overtook nearly 15-20 people in one shot :D. Were provided by refreshments and surprisingly a finishers medal , which was not there in the previous edition. In the end I had clocked up 55 mins 40 secs (with an overall ranking of 614) which is 4 min 17 sec improvement over the last years 59:57 timing. Great going since at least I improved my timing, but somewhere deep down I was a bit disappointed of not achieving my "sub 50 min" goal which I had set.With that I have already set my goal for next year for sub 50 finish and sub 300 ranking.

Expecting to get yet another souvenir Nike T-shirt for my sub-1500 ranking performance.

Run Summary(Official Timings)

Total Distance : 10,000 m
Time Taken : 55 mins 40 secs
Official Split Timings -----> 


Rank
Bib
Name
Category
Category Rank
split @7.5K
split @8.3K
Gun Time / Net Time
614 1744 NITHIN ULIYAR U40 506 00:42:20 00:46:43 00:56:18 / 00:55:40





June 3, 2011

The PGSEM Trailer

Finally we got a taste of a PGSEMers life, a trailer of sorts before the actual movie whose total running length is 2.5 years. A movie which will have sleepless nights, stress, fun, satisfaction, extra curricular activities, competition, learning process and finally the twist ending :P.  The orientation program as illustrated above was held for 2.5 days (some pattern connection with 2.5 years ???!!!!! ) from 27 May 2011 to 29 May 2011.

Even before we were to officially enter the college life we were provided a pre-session assignment to be completed and submitted before the orientation. There were just 5 questions , but those 5 questions really gave an insight of what to expect from the management education. Couple of them were number crunching problems such a balance sheets and so forth. The most interesting of the 5 was the question regarding "how would you promote IPL if you are made the chairperson?"... even though having no basics of marketing it was fun brainstorming on those points. Also we are divided into 4 houses and each was to come up with a name , a war cry and a captain. Our house name was "The One"er-sena  (combo of matrix and the ramayana :D ), an improvisation provided by yours truly and which somehow won the majority votes even after having some stiff competition.

Landed on 27 May morning in IIM-B campus and thus started the initial session with welcome speeches from the seniors students and the PGSEM director Prof Agarwal. This was followed by official inauguration of PGSEM batch in presence of the IIM-B director Pankaj Chandra and surprisingly my companies VP Dipesh Shah, who incidentally is also a PGSEMer. After an inspiring speeches by all the guests the inauguration concluded and this was followed by alumni interaction and they were damn frank with their answers. The below is the gist of the interaction :

  • PGSEM doesn't provide immediate change in terms of role or salary. One shouldn't expect a 10x salary hike or become VP of the company after completing PGSEM. For immediate changes one should try PGP rather than PGSEM.
  • In the long run PGSEM is very helpful for ones growth and the long run here might infer years together.
  • The chances of a PGSEMer to jump to some other domain altogether such as finance, HR etc is very slim. For that a person is better to opt for PGP.
  • Not many companies recognize PGSEMers or recruit PGSEMer specifically. If you are competent enough you will get the job.
This insightful alumni interaction was followed by some group activities such as antakshari, dumb charades etc and so on and a midnight blog(go to the end of the page) to finish of the first day. Also met a lot of my fellow batch mates, but to remember every one's name was an impossible task. Could manage just 3-4 hrs sleep which became the norm for the next day too :P.

Majority of Day 2 was filled with CSITM workshop, an event not specific to PGSEMers and we had lot of management gurus out there to present their research papers. Some were really interesting and some were outright ridiculous. It was different world altogether for us engineers having never attended a paper presentation other than technical topics. This workshop dragged the whole day and by evening we had sport competitions(with me representing the team in volleyball and badminton ) between various houses. This was followed by treasure hunt which started at midnight and dragged all the way till 2 am. This was really fun, more or less the unofficial introduction to the entire IIM-B campus which we had to explore in the death of night. Searching gardens, lampposts, football grounds, ATMs and what not. Searching the 100 acre campus with very minimal lighting was not an easy task and both the security guards and the stray dogs (who have made IIM-B as their home :P ) were a confused lot seeing so many people running from one place to another in the middle of the night.

After the treasure hunt we were needed to prepare for a  long and lengthy case study, and hence our first official study night out which extended all the way till 3.45 am. In the morning we hurried quickly to attend Prof Murthy's class on how to go through a case study and it really was an awesome class. The entire interaction lasted for nearly 4 hrs and everyone was spellbound and interested till the end. That is the quality of IIM-B prof's, Mr. Sibal :D.

This was followed by some more group activities and in the end our group "The One"er sena had won the house cup by just a very small margin . Great :). Had a 15 hr sleep back home to compensate for the insomniac nights spent in the corridors of IIM-B. More or less it was a stressful , but still a very satisfying experience. Just like my treks or cycling expeditions :P.

Posted below the blog post which we as a group wrote as a hilarious uptake of our first day experiences in IIM-B and also this won the best blog prize in the House Cup. The blog has various grammatical mistakes , highlighting our sleepless plight in the middle of the night. This is the original blog without any corrections or even font change :P.

"
Wanar Sena Diary
Day 1 (27 May 2011)
Disclaimer :  This blog is a plagiarized work of One’er sena. Any resemblance to any other blog, living or dead is not a mere coincidence.
 The virtual eWaner Sena came into life in the IIMB campus. Wanars were looking around for trees in the sprawling campus, when the kind hearted IIMB administration blessed them with executive suites with bed and cupboard with a mirror.
But the happiness did not last long.  Alas!!! wanars were presented with big fat books instead of soft yummy bananas.  If that was not enough, even before wanars could settle down, seniors announced the “3 idiots” who secured the highest marks in the pre assignment. Wanars clapped and decided to move on. When their primitive brains were trying to understand the course overview presentations, they faced the daunting task of remembering the names of all fellow wanars. Little RAM and primitive neural networks of Wanars found it impossible to map all the names with their companies and years of experience. 
When wanars were trying to get a little rest in the cool air of the AC in the cozy environment of the auditorium, seniors offered a cup of tea and snacks. Wanar sena rushed to satiate their hunger, but alas, only few biscuits were left. Competitive fellow wanars with advanced locomotive skills had already snatched away the snacks.
Filled with disappointment and sorrow on their faces, wanars returned to the cozy auditorium. Hunger was taking its toll. Now SAC (Student Assassination Cell) barged in and bombarded with their intellectual messages on the primitive brains of wanars.
Hunger was building up and rats started playing inside stomachs of the wanars. Good news. Lunch was served under the trees. IIMB made sure every wanar gets a full stomach lunch and to the wanars delight mangoes were served for dessert.   
Wanars headed right back to C11 room to meet the chairperson.  Their high expectations were shattered when reality finally dawned on them. Poor wanars thought that the course will make them VPs and CEOs, but were told that they will be lucky if they become managers after the tiresome and grueling 2.5 years of torture.  But wanars were happy that they will get a chance to go abroad in Wanar exchange program. Wanars were given a chance to interact with the distinguished Alumni. Wanars found out how they can transform to become smart individuals.
In the evening, after a sumptuous dinner, wanars were taken for a fun ride.  There were competitions between the wanar groups. Wanar leaders proved their uselessness in front of a larger wanar community. There was passionate participation from fellow wanars. Every wanar was ready to die on a war cry from their leader.
After a competitive memory game, wanars were tested on their singing talent, and movie database.  Some wanars showcased their inherent acting and mimicry skills to earn points for the most coveted house cup. When the clock struck 12 and eyes started shutting down themselves, lightening struck and thunder roared. Wanars were given a task to write this blog.

P.S. : Thanks to all our seniors for organizing the wonderful events. This blog is written for fun and no offence intended
Thanks
Group 2 Team 
"
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