Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Successfull Mangalyaan - A Day To Remember !

I do not know how many of us have really cared to notice the historic feat we had today. India’s MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission) has successfully entered into the Mars Orbit, making India as the first country in the world to achieve on its very first attempt.

The Mangalyaan (Informal name of India’s MOM) has reached Mars after a 300-day marathon covering over 670 million Kilometres. The spacecraft was launched on 5 November 2013 and it is successfully inserted into the orbit of Mars today - 24 September 2014.

Many countries have tried their luck with Mars, many time, but out of the 51 attempts only 21 were successful and India is the first country to achieve this feat on the debut. Earlier in 2003, European Space Agency (ESA) has got its orbiter right at the first attempt, but still India will gain the glory of first position, since the ESA is a conglomeration of many countries. India now joins the Martian club that consist of the United States, Russia and the European Space Agency.

What an achievement by ISRO scientists ! The whole project’s budget is just $74 Million, less than the $100 million budget of the movie “Gravity” !!! . This is nine times cheaper than NASA's $671 million Maven.  ISRO has yet again proved the through brilliance and hard work of Indians.

Really feel proud to be an Indian!. Congratulations to ISRO for this magnanimous achievement. Unfortunately, the government could spend only $74 Million for the Mangalyaan Mission (as they had to allocate $29 Billion to 2G Spectrum Mission and another 100+ billion$ on other scams), else we could have reached even the Proxima Centauri :)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Weekend Trip: Shivasamudra, Talakad & Somanthpur

This was a long waiting post, we went on this one day trip - covering Shivasamudra, Talakad and Somnathpur ,  almost a year back :), but now only got the time to write about it.

1. Shivasamudra
Shivasamudra has two striking falls - Barachukki and Gaganchukki ., situated at Mandya District of the state of Karnataka, India. I would call it as a “Mini-Niagara”!!!. The thunderous flow during the peak monsoon season is so huge as Niagara. Downstream from the falls has Asia's first Hydro – Power Plant, established at Sir M Visvesvaraya in the year 1902. Yeah!, it’s India - You do have a set of ancient temples located in and around Shivasamudram :) .

Total height of the Falls : 98 metres (322 ft)
Watercourse : Kaveri River
Average flow rate : 934 cubic metres/s (33,000 cubic ft/s).
This trip was on a peak monsoon season., when the falls were gushing with water. That’s the best time to visit the falls. Mesmerizing droplets rising in the air about 50 feet high from the falls!!!. It was such a beauty to witness.  But, there was no way to get-in to the waters . Since the water current was more, they did not allow us to get near the water. We clicked a few adventurous pics, spent some time and packed-up.
Straight from Shivasamudra, we headed to Talakad.

2. Talakad:
Talakadu is an ancient town on the banks of river Cauvery, most of its area filled with White Sand. Talakad has an interesting history to read through. It’s believed that entire talakad town was buried under sand  once due to a legendry curse from Alemalamma – the queen of Vijayanagar Empire. They say that, the Queen's curse turned the once flourishing Talakadu into a place like desert. We still can see a number of temples/towers half-sunk under the sand dunes.

We reached there at around 1PM. Had one of the best lunches of my life. The same Veg. Biriyani with set of side dishes, prepared by my wife – but the chilly drizzling at the greeny water front made it magical! , except some disturbance from the monkeys over there. But, fighting with the monkeys and saving our food was itself so much fun :P , me and my daughter enjoyed that part too , very much!

We took the fun coracle ride over the back waters (couldn’t go onto the main river, as the flow was so huge and dangerous). After relaxing for sometime, we packed-up for the next location Somanthpura.

3. Somnathpur:
The Keshava temple at Somnathpur situates at around 35km from Mysore, is an immeasurably beautiful Hoysala temple. It was built in 1268 AD. History says that it took 58 years to complete the construction of the temple, that much stone art carvings it has. It’s well maintained. Truly an amazing piece of human excellence and creativity, but we failed to enter the premises, as we reached there just a few minutes late. (Needless to say,our government officials are so punctual while closing :) ..
It was already 6.30PM and  we were dead tired, so after a tea and snack at Somnathpura we packed our bags to home.

This was one of the best one day trips ever!!!.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What's new in iPhone 6

It's just my personal opinion, Apple hasn't brought any revolutionary changes to iPhone 6, other than their superb and secured ecosystem.

It's little bigger, slimmer, then..what? After getting to know about iphone 6, iphone 6 plus and wearable watch, I must say there is nothing which is beyond our imagination, nothing innovative (that used to be the trademark of Apple:( ) .

I feel Apple is just trying to catch up with others in the market, with a bigger display and wearables. I wish, Apple to be the trendsetter, not just as follower of others!
PS: I am not a hater of Apple, I myself was a geniune user of iPhone for years, but not now.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Barachukki and Gaganachukki Falls

After so much of fun at Sangama, we headed to Shivasamudram in the 2nd half of the day. This is our 2nd trip to shivasamudra,  was at an off-season- but still had decent water flow. Within another hour or so we found ourselves at mesmerizing Gangan Chuki falls !!!. It was around 3PM, the sunny afternoon light was augmenting the scenic beauty of the falls!!

We spent some time enjoying the sceneries of the Gangan Chukki falls and left for the Barachukki, which is just 10minutes away from there. Without wasting a minute, we rushed down to the bottom, and the Coracle ride took us almost to the feet of the falls! Watching the gushing waters from right at the bottom of it, was so spectacular !!!.
After the coracle ride, We decided to get drenched , all of us got into the cold waters, including the kids. And did I miss something???? Yeah,  Adventure!. We tested our swimming skills at the wild waters :P .It was incited by the most daring person in our group (yeah, no need to guess… it was NOT me :)  and soon a few of us joined. Can’t stay long… the rocks were very slippery and the cold water made us completely numb within 15-20 minutes.

We dressed up, spent some more time enjoying in clicking the cameras, and climbed up back to our car at around 6PM. As soon as we start, the rain also started. It blasted heavily till we break for a hot coffee at Kanakpura. With the company of some nice music for rest of the travel, we reached home at sharp 9PM. We’re so tired, did not even feel like having dinner. For the sake of health, we had a few chapathis and wrapped ourselves into the bed in minutes.

We really cherished the whole day. This became yet another memorable trip.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

One day getaway – Sangama & Mekedattu

We did not go out of Bangalore for quite a long time, was desperately looking for a getaway out of all our routines! . As recommended by a friend, we decided to pack our bags for a single day trip to “Mekedattu”.

We’re nine people, hired a Chevrolet , was good enough for the short trip. Mekedattu is not so long, just  100KMs  one way from Bangalore.

The word Mekedattu means a “goat’s leap” in Kannada. The place is a rocky terrain the river Kaveri flows through narrow gorges that one would believe that a goat can leap across it. But It is not really that narrow and we did not see goats in that area though :P
We planned to start at 7AM, the vehicle arrived on-time, but we’re late as usual :). Not bad, we could make it at around 8.15AM at least. Good that we had a couple in our group who had been there already – to guide us (in fact they’d to guide the driver too, he was also not sure about the route).

We started-off with the “nice” NICE road drive, and headed to Kanakpura Road. There was not much traffic anywhere, since it was a Saturday. The nature all along the road was awesome – super green trees on the sides, blue sky, milky river flow… throughout the drive was so pleasant, it totally upto us to sit in the front and enjoy them or sit back and snore :P

One of our friends had brought nice idly’s with chicken curry. Had a good group breakfast at the outskirts of Kankapura town. In about another 20minutes, we had to take a left from the main road, reached the Sangama in the next 40 minutes.

Sangama is the place where River Akravathy convergences with Cauvery river. Our vehicles can go up to this point only. We parked our car and got into the chill water.

Mekedattu is another 5 KMs from the banks of the Sangama. We took the super shuttle service – an old bus which takes passengers to-fro Mekedattu. That’s the only option available to reach Mekedattu, or else you can walk! . But believe me, the bus itself was an tourist attraction, still alive from the stone age :P . The fare was INR.50 per person for a 2 way trip.

In 10-15 minutes, we’re there at the Mekedattu, could enjoy the deep Cauvery gorges and beautiful rocks all over. Rocks were so softy & slippery, with little kids we couldn’t try any adventures over there, came back to Sangama after a few nice snaps (History is important!!!! :) )

Sangama is the place where we all cherished a lot, kids especially. There was not much water; it was not deep even for my 3 year old daughter.  We had brought Mushroom Biryani with apt junky side dishes for the lunch (what a wonder, my wife’s cooking came out very well for the first time :P). We enjoyed the food still while we’re bathing.
Dragging our kids (they’re not ready to come out of the water even 2 hours of fun), we headed for the chuki falls, which another 1 hour from the Sangama. Will write the Chuki falls experience in a separate post.

At around 7PM, we started our return journey from Chuki falls. We’re in Koramangala at about 9.15PM ;  friends got us some hot madurai parathas for the dinner – what nice way to sign-off a happy trip :), we thoroughly enjoyed it!.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Thoughts on “Charlie Wilson’s War”

I usually constrain myself from controversial topics. But, this movie provoked my thoughts and made me to write this post.

Last Sunday was extremely boring. None of the recent movies were appealing, so was just searching at the top lists of my favorites like Tom Hanks , Di-caprio …and finally zero downed with a slightly older Tom Hanks  movie - “Charlie Wilson’s War”. The details the movie gives us about the United States involvement with Afghanistan in the late 70 and in 80's and about how the governments operated behind the scenes is an eye-opener and well worth knowing more about. I am wondering how I missed this movie so far !

The story is about how the Russia invaded Afghanistan – why an ordinary Congressman Charlie Wilson got into the support operation of Mujahedeens – and how he influenced the CIA budget (for supporting the Mujahideen troops) from just a $5M to $10M initially, and then went on over a billion dollars!!!. And all these money were used to train the Mujahedeens  with mighty arms and high-end war techniques., to fight against their common rival –  Russia.

Soon, Mujahideens were no longer only Afghans, many people from countries like Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt and Saudi Arabia joined the their troops. As the US was feeding their hunger and anger, Afghan forces blown down thousands of Russian jets and tankers. And at one point of time, mighty Russia admitted their defeat and drawn out of Afghanistan.

After Russia’s exit, Charlie instisted America to continue funding Afghanistan to educate them and build employment and infrastructure for the country. But, the then US government was least bothered on his request and they too pulled-out of Afghanistan. That’s one of the greatest mistakes!  :(

 As both the Russia and America evacuated from Afghanistan, thousands of Mujahideens were left with loads of arms and no enemy to fight :P !. They separated into multiple troops within them and started fighting against India and many countries, even against the US . Not to forget, that was the time when the Kashmir border issue became terror! (it was not such a big issue before the end of the cold war)

The world, especially India is bearing the pain for the mistakes of the US-USSR Cold war. I suppose the Russians are now happy. But It’s India paying the price, Pakistan is paying, Afghanistan is paying… And more importantly, the United States is also paying..... If US didn't start funding Mujahideens or at least did not move away immediately after the cold war (without fulfilling Charlie’s full vision of educating and creating employement/infrastructure in Afghanistan), there would have been no Al-quida today and no 9/11 !!!