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January 19, 2016

I did the kumara parvatha trek this weekend and it was amazing!

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 10:03 PM

This past weekend I decided to go to Kumara Parvatha for a two day Trek instead of spending it lazing about at home and even though my legs have gone on strike and refuse to work after the trip it was an amazing experience. The trip was organized by Shirky as part of the Bangalore Entertainment meetup group. This is the third trip I have done with him as part of the meetup (the others were to Gokarna and Mangalore for beach parties) and as always it was great fun.

Kumara parvatha is supposed to be the most difficult trek in Karnataka’s and comes to about 30km of trekking. The one advise I have for anyone attempting this trek is that this is not a trek for beginners, do not expect any amenities. It is hard and you need to be the kind of person who appreciates natural beauty to appreciate it. If you haven’t trekked before it is very easy to feel demotivated and put off from the entire concept of Trekking. Basically don’t expect Changing room, rest room, bedroom, shower, porters etc on this trek. Unfortunately there were some folks in the group who didn’t do their research and for some reason decided to come for the trek without any preparation or research on what to expect. For the most part everyone took it in stride and chalked it up to a good learning experience, however there were some folks (and I am not going to name names as that is not the point of this post) who decided to blame everyone except themselves for their lack of preparation which caused some issues later in the trek and post completion.

We started the Trek with 21 people from Bangalore via KSRTC bus and from the start itself the trip was quite eventful. We had our first casualty (one of the girls fell and hurt her knee) even before we boarded the bus and one of the guys lost his phone. When we called the number the person who found the phone picked up our call and asked for the pin to unlock the phone, when we refused for obvious reasons he told us that he had no intention of returning the phone. Thankfully it wasn’t an expensive phone but still, it was disappointing.


Group photo at the beginning of the Trek

We got to Kukke Subramanya at ~5am after an uneventful drive and freshened up over there before starting the trek at ~8am. The morning was brisk but within a few mins of walking I was dripping in sweat and ready for a halt :). We managed to walk for a whole 10 mins before we took our first halt which set the trend for the rest of the trek.

We made it to Battara mane by ~11am. This was after we stopped quite frequently for rest and spent a good 20 mins or so at a stream we found mid-way to recover. Battara mane which translates to Battara’s house is ~7kms from the beginning of the trek and is the midpoint of the route. For the most part the trail was in the forest so the sun wasn’t a big problem but the last kilometer or so was in grassland so it was burning hot and exhausting.


Refreshing halt at a mountain stream on route to Battara mane

Initially we had planned to continue to KP after a brief rest and food but we were told that camping on KP is banned due to a recent forest fire caused by Trekkers. So we decided to camp at the Forest department’s camping site about half a kilometer from Battara’s house. Which honestly speaking was a great stroke of luck because I don’t think a lot of the group would have made it that far and considering the amount of fuss that was raised about the conditions over here I shudder to think how folks would have reacted when they were told that there are not bathrooms/food areas at KP.

We had lunch at Battara’s and that was one of the more disappointing parts of the trek as the food was not that great. I had read online that it was very simple south Indian food but that doesn’t cover it. The food was bad. You pay 100 Rs for Rice and Sambhar which was more like Rice and Rasam because I didn’t really see any vegetables in it. Oh and you also got pickle :). The food is self service with no utensils like spoons provided so you get to eat with you hand. I saw a bunch of foreigners trying their hand at it and they enjoyed it. However if you are able to you should carry your own food as you can’t really have the food provided multiple times. We got to enjoy it 3 times and that was more than enough. For dinner you should ensure you are there early because at times you can have a shortage of plates and have to wait. In our group folks made do with 6-8 people eating from a single plate and it was hilarious.

After lunch we rested for a bit and then walked over to the Forest departments camp site where we proceeded to try putting up our tents. Interestingly only two of us had ever set up a tent before and it took a group effort with 10-12 people helping over an hour and half to get the first one setup. A few folks figured it was more important to sleep than help us setup the tents but in the end I think we were better off with them not helping. Though I did hear a few complaints from those folks later in the evening about how disorganized the event was and how no one knew how to setup tents etc.


Relaxing after finally managing to setup the tents

After the tents were finally up we checked out the nearby View point and got some amazing pics (see below). This time I spent a lot less time taking photos & more time enjoying the view and the company. I will share more photos once I receive them from the folks brave enough to carry a DSLR on the trek. Once it got dark we started a campfire and played a few rounds of antakshari with a couple of interruptions by cattle who wanted to stop by to say hello and try to eat any food items left unattended. By 10 we were ready to crash. Some of the folks felt that the view of the night sky was awesome enough that they decided to sleep outside. This turned out to be an eventful decision as they were woken up by cows a few times when the cows tried to eat their hair.


View from the sunset view point


Group photo at the sunset view point


Sunset

We woke up at 4:30am the next day as we wanted to start the next stage of the trek by 5:30am. Taking down the tents in absolute dark using flashlight was an interesting experience but with the help of most of the people we got it done fairly quickly and were ready to start on the remaining part of the trek. At this time 8 people decided that they did not have the capacity to complete the trek and wanted out. So they declined to continue and went back down the trail. Unfortunately they also declined to carry their sleeping bags/tent back down so we had no option but to carry them down ourselves.

We stored our tents/equipment etc at the forest department and started the trek with just food and water. Unfortunately by the time we got to Kallumantapa three of us out of the 13 remaining were not feeling well enough to continue so with a disappointed heart we came back down leaving the last 10 members of the group to finish the trek.


The valley covered in mist at ~7am


Breakfast at Kallumantapa

After we got back I slept for a bit waiting for the remainder of the group to get back while the other two went ahead down the trail to try to catch an earlier bus back. Once the remainder of our got back from conquering the peak and recovered we had lunch and started back. At this time since the earlier folks had not taken any of their sleeping bags etc with them we were left with 11 people to carry 15 sleeping bags, 6 tents and all our personal bags. Obviously this was quite painful and by the time we got down my knees were on strike and it took us long enough that we finished the last 30 mins of the trek in the dark using flashlights.

Once we got out from the trail we dragged ourselves to the lodge and got a room to freshen up post which I was feeling human enough to get dinner which was finally something other than rice and sambhar. At 9:30pm we boarded our bus back and reached Bangalore at 4:30am. At which time we found out that due to the last min confusion on who was carrying what we managed to loose one of the tents. Which was a brief downer but still, stuff happens in trips so it wasn’t too bad. Got home at 5:30 and crashed like a log.

Even though I didn’t get to finish the trek it felt great pushing my limits and I am def planning on doing this again in the near future so that I can say that I completed KP.

Well, this is all for now. Will write more later.

– Suramya

January 12, 2016

Got some personality Insights from IBM’s Watson

Filed under: Interesting Sites,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 1:01 AM

I was watching Felicia Day’s Flog earlier today and in it one of the sites she talks about is Personality Insights. This site claims to be able to help you gain insight into how and why people think, act, and feel the way they do by applying linguistic analytics and personality theory to their writings.

Since I was intrigued I decided to try it out using text from two of my Blog posts from the past. The first one was using the text from Some thoughts on the mails on how folks born in x-y range are the best. According to this:

I am likely to:

  • Reply on social media
  • Buy eco-friendly

Which is about a 50% accurate as I normally don’t reply on/use social media that much. Though I do prefer to be eco-friendly when possible so that part can be taken as accurate.

I am unlikely to:

  • Buy healthy foods
  • Use a coupon
  • Click on an ad

All of which are mostly true. I don’t normally click on ad’s, unless I manage to do it accidentally. I use an ad blocker and try to filter out as many of the annoying ads as I can. Using a coupon requires way too much effort so I tend not to do so unless its relatively simple and doesn’t require too much effort. As for healthy foods, most of the time they are absolutely tasteless so I avoid them for the most part.

Other than that, the site thinks I am an extrovert (not really), assertive (which is kind of true) and my ‘ choices are driven by a desire for connectedness.’ Not sure what that means exactly but sounds really deep and inspiring. 🙂


Screen shot of the results of the test, with more details

The second entry was a more recent entry from September on the App created to tell slow people that they are bored and why this is a bad idea. The results of this one contradict the previous one in a few major area’s, although to be fair the text sample is a lot smaller so that could have skewed the result (as per the site). According to this:

I am likely to:

  • Change careers
  • Click on an ad
  • Follow on social media

This one is only about 33% accurate as I have been known to change careers quite often before I joined GS. I def don’t click on ads and rarely follow folks on social media. To give you an idea I started using twitter mid 2015.

I am unlikely to:

  • Buy eco-friendly
  • Reply on social media
  • Spend on health and fitness

This is about 60% accurate, I prefer to buy eco-friendly but rarely reply on social media and hardly ever spend on health and fitness. Other than that the site thinks I am unconventional and shrewd (first time I have had someone tell me that) who is unconcerned with art (which is true, I find most of the so called art boring and silly. Don’t even get me started on ‘modern art’ ) and chooses based on a desire of efficiency (which is true, I like to think that I am efficient)


Results from the second text sample

In all this was an interesting read and though parts of it made me laugh it does give you a glimpse of what might be coming in the near future when computers will be able to diagnose your personality and figure out your mood based on your behavior and writings.

Well this is all for now, will write more later.

– Suramya

January 8, 2016

Happy New Year!

Filed under: My Life,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 9:09 PM

Wishing all the readers of this blog a very Happy new Year. 2015 passed really quickly in some aspects and was slow as molasses in others. Which is to say that the year had both pluses and negative points (as usual). Some of the pluses:

  • I have a adorable new niece [pic below]
  • I got to Travel to some interesting places with interesting people
  • Work is fun as usual, moved to a new team with new responsibilities and more technical role.
  • Made new friends
  • Attended live concerts by some of my all time favorite singers (AR Rehman, Usha Uthup)

There were a few downsides as well but don’t feel like dwelling on them so… In any case its a new year so time for New Year resolutions. Actually now that I think about it this is the first time I am making a formal resolution, usually I just decide and then wing it. But change is good and once I have it out in the open it will force me to follow through so without further ado here we go:

  • Last few years have been slow on the writing side for me, both on the Blog and on the Articles front. This year I am going to make an active effort to make a blog post every week (more frequently if possible) and at least one article every quarter.
  • Travel more. This is something I started implementing in the tail end of 2015 but will continue to do more in 2016. This will include both domestic and international travel.
  • Actually do something productive with the Raspberry Pi instead of using it as a glorified paperweight.

Well this is all for now. Will write more later.

– Suramya


My Niece

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