Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

December 30, 2017

Checking out the Classic Coffee trail

Filed under: My Life,Trips — Suramya @ 11:24 PM

A few weekend’s ago I got the opportunity to go for ‘The Classic Coffee Trail’ organized by the wonderful folks over at ‘Food Lovers’. Now some of you might be wondering who someone who doesn’t really like drinking coffee would go for an event about coffee. I went for two main reasons:

* I love to learn and this looked like a great opportunity to learn about coffee and expand my horizons
* It was highly recommended by Sachin and Diana who were also going to the event.

We started the trip by waking up at 4:30am on Saturday so that we could leave by 5:30am. This was especially painful as I had an early morning on Friday as well (woke up at 3am) as I had a day long work trip to Chennai. But sleep is no match for Red bull followed by a shower. So by the time Sachin and Diana were at my place I was wide awake and ready to roll. The drive down to Sakleshpur was pretty scenic and uneventful for the most part. Sachin and Diana alternated driving while me and Jani relaxed in the back. At first I managed to stay awake but after a point the red bull effect wore off and apparently I had a full conversation with Sachin while being about 90% asleep. I am not sure what is more scary, the fact that I could have a full intelligent conversation while sleeping or that Sachin was sleepy enough that he didn’t realize that I was pretty much talking in my sleep.

We made good time and got to the Harley Estate by 11 or so where we were met by Kripal from Food Lovers who had organized the event. I must say that Kripal and his team made every effort to make our trip smooth and as enjoyable as possible starting with the phone calls before the trip to ensure we knew the route and continuing during the event with the attention to detail. While waiting for the rest of the attendees to arrive we got to meet Chandini D. Maneesh and Tapaswini Purnesh who were our hosts for the weekend. Both sisters are very friendly & knowledgeable about coffee. Even though I am not a coffee drinker I was tempted to start after listening to the both of them talking about Coffee with such energy and enthusiasm.

We were staying in ‘Whispering Tree’ that was a good 10 mins jeep ride from the entrance of the estate. The cottage is nestled in the forest and at night some of the folks heard animals in the forest and the local farmers had to constantly make noise to prevent wild boar from destroying their crops. Right outside the cottage there was a hammock which looked very inviting so I immediately laid claim to it before anyone else could beat me to it. After a few minutes of relaxation I suddenly found out why the hammock was so conveniently empty. Turns out that there was a nest of fire ants on one of the trees to which the hammock was tied and they loved the opportunity to take a bite out of me. Infact they took several bites before I managed to get them all off me. But I did get revenge on the ants finally as there is a local dish that is made out of ground ants and it was served to us the next day for breakfast. Even though I didn’t eat it it gave me great pleasure to watch others eating the ants. ๐Ÿ™‚


Jeep Ride to the cottage


Relaxing on the non-ant infested hammock

After we relaxed for a bit it was time for Lunch which was served in a lush meadow with a stream running alongside it. A small waterfall a few hundred feet away was tempting me to go for a swim but since we had all neglected to bring swimsuits we had to make do with just putting our feet in the water which was nice and cold. In all I thought that this place would be amazing to camp in and I was pleased to find out that they do allow folks to pitch tents in the area and have a camp out. The food was very tasty and went very well with the lovely wine we had. All too soon the lunch was over and we started the coffee tour, which started with a coffee tasting where we tasted the same coffee prepared using 3 different methods and it was unbelievable how much difference the brewing method makes in the final taste of the drink. I learned more about coffee brewing in one hour than I had in the past 36 years of my life.



Enjoying cooling down in a cold stream of water


Lunch at the Gazebo


Group Photo at the beginning of the tour (after lunch) [PC: Food Lovers]

Once the tasting was done we walked over to the main bean processing unit where the day’s collection of beans was ready to be processed. Each bean picker weighed their day’s pickings and then dumped them in this pit that led to a gigantic pulping machine to separate the skin and pulp from the bean. After the skin and pulp were separated they are separated by weight by passing them through water channels where the lighter beans float and the heaver ones sink. They are then passed through a series of rotating drums to separate the beans by size after than they are dried by spreading them on drying tables for a few days and then finally sun dried on the floor. To prevent spoilage the beans are turned regularly by big rakes and at evening just as the sun goes down they are collected into a massive pile and covered with tarp to avoid dew. This is required because it gets pretty cold at night and there is dew everywhere which is quite bad for coffee beans.

After the tour, we sat around and chatted for a little while enjoying some great snacks and coffee (obviously). Once everyone was done we went back to our cottages to rest and prepare for dinner. Dinner started with a bonfire, barbecue and some great wine. (It wasn’t just me who said that, Sachin liked it as well and he’s the expert ๐Ÿ™‚ ). The food was simple but quite tasty. We spent a couple of hours just talking about random stuff and enjoyed being outsite without worrying about work/pollution etc. Though some of the folks were worried about the night life coming to say hi to us. Fortunately nothing decided to come say hello and all too soon it was time for us to call it a night so we crashed.


Group Pic at Dinner [PC: Food Lovers]

The next day started really early as we were scheduled for a plantation walk. I seriously considered sleeping in and letting others go on without me but I am glad I didn’t since the walk was a lot of fun. We got to watch the plantation workers pluck the berries and tasted the raw berry which was surprisingly sweet. Since the Harley Estate follows the selective harvesting method they only pick the ripe cherries from the trees which as you can imagine is a pretty labor intensive process. The walk was not very taxing and since it wasn’t rainy season we even managed to avoid leeches which was a big plus (I am not a fan but Jani finds them to be ‘sexy’ for some reason).


Learning about Coffee picking

Post the walk we were all pretty hungry and fell upon the breakfast like starving people. Me and Jani strategically seated ourselves so that the servers had to pass us everytime they came up with food so we had the first pick of the food. ๐Ÿ™‚ This ensured that we were done with breakfast while others were still waiting for food and we spent the time after we were done stuffing our faces just sitting in the sun relaxing.


Look at the pretty flowers (and us)


Enjoying early morning coffee in the sun

Finally everyone was done with breakfast and it was time for us to bid farewell to each other and with a heavy heart we packed up our bags and started the long drive back. The drive back was mostly uneventful and we reached Bangalore without any issues and promptly got stuck in traffic.

If you ever want to combine a relaxed trip with learning about coffee I highly recommend this place. Check it out if you have the time.

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

– Suramya

December 14, 2017

My primary desktop is dead

Filed under: Computer Hardware,My Life,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 12:00 AM

The fan on my computer was giving me some problem (it sounded like an aircraft taking off) so I thought I’ll replace it with a new one. The new fan/heatsink arrived earlier this week and today I finally had the time to try installing it.

First I had to remove the old fan and heat sink so I looked at the video online on how to remove the fan and followed the instructions exactly. But unfortunately the Glue used to stick the CPU to the heat sink was a little too strong and while I was trying to remove the heat sink I managed to get the top half the CPU separated from the bottom half. So now my computer is a very expensive paper weight still I get a new CPU. 

Looking online I found that the AM3+ socket that my motherboard uses has been phased out and even though there are processors that will work with it for the same cost or slightly cheaper I can get a new more powerful CPU and motherboard. So obviously I am going for the latter option.

I have selected a new board and CPU on Amazon but didn’t order it yet because I want to check the cost at some of the local shops before I order. Plus the Amazon order will take a couple of days to get here and I want to avoid the delay.

Its not that I don’t have a machine right now as I have two laptops but the desktop was my primary machine configured to be exactly the way I like it and it’s annoying to have to use a laptop which is not configured exactly the same as the desktop. 

I am dictating this blog post on my phone using the Google voice type and it’s about 99% accurate which is pretty cool. I still can’t figure out how to put punctuation during the dictation but other than that it works perfectly.

Well this is all for now will write more later hopefully on my new desktop.

– Suramya

December 6, 2017

How to ensure that your friend request is never accepted

Filed under: My Life — Suramya @ 11:59 PM

Those of you who know me know that I don’t log on to facebook very often. At max I will check it every few months or when someone asks me to log on to check something specific (or when I have to accept an event invite which is only on FB). So its quite common for folks to send me a friend request that sits in my inbox for a few months at a time with no response.

Yesterday I was on FB to reply to all the birthday messages and I happened to check the messenger messages from people not on my friend list. That was where I found this gem. This is from a person (lets call him Mr P) who I met during a trek and he apparently sent me a friend request after the trek and since I log on so infrequently I didn’t see the request. Instead of sending me a polite reminder as some of the other folks have (both on FB and via whatsapp) he sent me the below message. When I first read this I actually seriously considered posting the screenshot here without blurring out his name but in the end decided that just because he is acting like an idiot, it doesn’t mean that I should as well.

After reading the message a few things are quite clear, there is no way I am ever adding him as a friend on any social media. But let me go ahead and answer his questions anyways. His questions are in italics while my answers are in normal font:


>i would say f off moron..
Ok, that’s a lovely way to start a conversation. I am now eager to talk to you. I mean how can I not, when I have waited so long to be properly insulted.

>who wouldn’t accepted my frient request…
Umm… I would hazard a guess and say pretty much everyone who got a message like this from you. If I was on the fence about adding you as a friend this would ensure that I don’t add you. There is a saying in hindi: Koyle ki dalali me muh kala (If you go in the coal mine you will end up with a black face) and the moral is that you are who you associate with. If you have a friend who is an ass you will come across as an ass as well in the worst case and as someone who agrees with their behavior in the best case. So if I add you as a friend I will seem to condone your behavior which is something I am def not doing.

>Are u a billioner…
Not yet, but working towards it. ๐Ÿ™‚ why? Are you planning on asking for a loan?

>F u honey
The closest I have had someone call me honey till now is a friend who told me that I was like a grumpy bear in the morning till I woke up fully. But in anycase, thanks but no thanks. You are not my type ๐Ÿ˜‰


I will no longer be interacting with him if we ever meet in person on a trek or elsewhere because he has confirmed my opinion of him as an immature idiot.

Have you received any such requests/messages when you don’t accept / respond to a friend request? If so how do you react? Other than posting this blog entry I have not replied to his message/interacted with him at all.

– Suramya

December 5, 2017

Dominos Pizza online has stronger password requirements than Citibank India Online

Filed under: Computer Related,My Thoughts,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 11:59 PM

Today I decided to change my IPIN (Internet Pin) on Citibank as I haven’t changed it in a while and its a good idea to change it on a regular basis. So I logged in to my account and clicked on the password reset link and I got the following text:

The first item there is fairly standard but what really surprised me were items # 3,4 & 6. What do you mean I can’t have any special characters in my password? Why can’t I have a password longer than 16 Characters when the NIST password guidelines recommend that you allow a password of up to 64 char’s in length.

In contrast The Dominos Pizza’s Online portal has stronger security and requires you to have Upper case, Lower Case, Numeric Char and a Special Character in the password. Making it a lot more secure and harder to crack than the Citibank password.

This is not all. The best part is yet to come. I use a password manager and my generated password was 22 characters long this time, so I pasted it into the form and the system accepted the password change. Now since I am a paranoid person I decided to check if the password changed successfully by logging in with the new password. Imagine my surprise when an error message popped up on screen when I tried to log in telling me that my password can’t be longer than 16 chars. I was confused since the password change form took my 22 char password without trouble, so I tried logging in with the old password and that obviously didn’t work. Finally I tried removing the extra 6 characters from my password and was able to log in.

Basically the stupid system truncated my password to 16 and then saved it instead of warning me that my password was too long when I was changing the password which would have been the logical thing to do.

Citibank needs to update its system to follow the NIST rules and start allowing people to choose more secure passwords.

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

– Suramya

December 4, 2017

Singapore: A trip to remember

Filed under: My Life,Trips — Suramya @ 10:32 PM

Just about a month ago I went to Singapore for a 4 day trip and I loved the city. The people were very friendly for the most part and I quite enjoyed my time there. I have been there once before on a disastrous trip back in 2011 where I ended up spending 2 days at the Airport because of issues with a transit visa. Thankfully this trip didn’t have any such problems.

We got there early in the morning on Sat and we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express where the rooms were quite tiny. Infact the entire room along with the bathroom would fit into my living room here in India but the stay was quite comfortable and I liked the hotel. The one issue I did have was due to the hotel being an express hotel so they didn’t have an all night restaurant or room service. They did have an all night bar where the only veg option was a Pasta where they literally boiled noodles, soaked the result in olive oil and then added huge chunks of garlic (boiled to tastelessness) and served. I ate that one night and that was more than enough.

The first day (Sat) we mainly roamed around near the hotel as we were still a bit jetlagged and feeling lazy. ๐Ÿ™‚ While walking around we saw this restaurant called Central Perk that looked very familiar and decided to have a late lunch there. It took me a few mins to realize why it looked so familiar and then I realized that the place was a replica of the restaurant from ‘Friends’. It had great food with some of the best fries I have had in all my travels. The portions were huge and it was a struggle to avoid wasting food. In addition to the great ambience the staff was super friendly as well and we spent quite a lot of time eating/relaxing at the place. After lunch we walked over to the China town and shopped for a bit over there.


Friends themed restaurant

That night we met up with Sid, Rithika, Varsha, Manav and a few other friends for dinner. It was great fun to meet up with people I hadn’t met for years and wasn’t expecting to meet. (We had gone out expecting to meet only Sid & Rithika)

The next day we went to Santosa Island starting with the ‘Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom‘. It was an eye opening experience to see all the different species of butterflies in one place because we don’t normally think about there being so many types of butterflies in the world. It also had a section dedicated to the insect kingdom but I didn’t really find that part as interesting except for the 370 million year old fossil they had on display.


Butterflies are supposed to taste great


A 370 Million year of fossil

Next we tried out the Megazip and Megazip Adventure line where you zip over forests and beaches at a height of 75 meters traveling at speeds upto 60kph for almost half a kilometer. They have 3 lines running in parallel so you get to race your friends down to the beach. We also did the Mega jump which is a 15 mtr jump from the top of the tower but I didn’t find that as exciting as the zip line.

We walked around quite a bit as we had to wait till 7:40pm for the ‘Wings of time’ show. At first I was annoyed that we had to wait for so long but it did give us enough time to walk around the entire island and check out all the attractions. We ended up sitting at a beach side restaurant for a drink because we were tired of walking around and had time to kill and saw a really picturesque sunset. Finally it was time for the show and it was worth the wait. The way they projected the show on spray’s of water was very different and innovative. After the show we took the cable car back to the main island and then the subway back to the hotel.

We spent the whole of Monday at Universal Studio’s and as expected it was awesome. I loved the rides and could have spent another day over there. The Transformers and Cylon rides were the most fun for me but Jani wasn’t a big fan of the roller coasters so she didn’t enjoy them that much. By the time the park closed we had tried out pretty much all the rides and loved it.


Universal Studios

After the place closed we had dinner and went on for the night safari at the zoo. It was a different experience but I didn’t like it that much. Possibly because I am not a big fan of animals locked up in a zoo (even in one without evident bars). This took a while and by the time we were done it was quite late so we headed back to the hotel and crashed.

On my final day we moved out from the hotel and checked Jani in to the Marina Bay Sands as she was going to stay back for another 3 days for her conference. The hotel is quite lovely and I wish I had more time to explore all the stuff/places they had in the hotel but I had limited time. So we decided to check out the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest instead. I am not that interested in flowers and horticulture but even I was impressed by the sheer variety of the flowers they have managed to cultivate in this area. The Cloud Forest was a whole another experience all together as well, when you walk it the first thing you see is mist followed by a 3 story waterfall. It was nice and chilly inside the domes and I loved it. The dome has some lovely plant life and I got to see a Venus Fly-trap for the first time in their Lost world exhibit.


The Flower Dome

All too soon the trip was at an end and I had to take the cab to the Airport where I had some time to kill and ended up buying a nice klipsch speaker as I needed one quite badly and got a good deal on the speaker as well.

Going forward will try to document any trips immediately after the trip ends so that I can do justice to the narrative and experience. This is all for now, will write more later.

– Suramya

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