Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

November 15, 2019

Family trip to Gandikota & Belum Caves

Filed under: Travel/Trips,Uncategorized — Suramya @ 12:46 AM

After almost a year of planning we finally did a family road trip to Gandikota. Surabhi and me have been wanting to go for the trip for ages but due to various constraints we haven’t managed to get a time that worked for all of us. This weekend was an extended weekend since 1st was a holiday in Karnataka (Karnataka Rajostava) so we all decided to drive down for the long weekend.

We started early in the morning from our house and drove over to pick up Surabhi, Vinit and the kids. To our surprise they were all ready to start on time 🙂 which is a minor miracle if you know Vinit and Surabhi well enough. We put the kids to sleep in the backseat of their car the same way our parents used to put me and Surabhi to sleep during their long trips and then both the cars started (we took two cars so that the kids could sleep comfortably in the back and we had space to stretch out) Another notable part of the drive was that we took our driver with us for the first time, otherwise I always drive when we do road-trips (except when we are renting a TT).


Vir and Sara sleeping in the car

The drive was relaxing with good roads for the majority of the way and since we had started early we managed to miss the majority of the traffic and made good time. About 3/4 of the way to Gandikota we stopped for breakfast as we know that the last part of the drive was through some really isolated parts and the only thing to eat would have been plants. I know that we are vegetarians but even then I prefer my food to be cooked and not raw ;). Since it was still early most of the shops were still closed but we found this small shop that was open and they served us piping hot food and the cost of all our food was less than what it would have costed for 1 person’s food in Bangalore. During traveling I have found that the small shops serving local food are the best value for money and consistently provide great food. Keep in mind that you should order the local delicacies and not stuff from other places. e.g. if you are ordering paneer or Chinese food at a small roadside shop in Tamil Nadu then be prepared to get a unique interpretation of how the dish should taste.


Random stop on the way to enjoy the lovely scenery

After breakfast all of us were back on road and we made good time to the location. When we booked the tents the guy had sent us a GPS location and when reached the location there were a few buildings but no sign of a place where we could collect the tents etc. To make things interesting we were not getting a good signal on the phones but after a few mins we managed to make contact with the guy and he guided us to the Resort run by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Department. This is pretty much the only place to stay near the fort/gorge except for tents, so if you are traveling there and want to stay in the resort you will need to do an advance booking. Although I would personally recommend that you stay in tents for a much more fun experience.

We got there just in time for lunch which was served in the resort itself. The food was basic but well prepared. So we had lunch and had a lot of time to kill since we were going to get the tents in the evening (around 4-5pm) as it was too hot during the day to stay in tents. Because we were traveling with kids and wanted to have immediate access to a restroom we decided to get a room with an attached bathroom. The resort was booked up but there was a standalone room about 200mts from the resort with an attached bathroom that was available so we got that. It was a great decision as we then had a place (with AC) that we could laze around in during the day till it became cool enough to get the tents and start the camping part of the trip.

All of us except the kids slept for a few hours and while we were sleeping the water-tank above the room starting overflowing creating an open air shower. Vir and Sara immediately took advantage of the fact and took an imprompto shower in the overflowing water. Not sure how clean the water was but since Surabhi made sure they took another bath to clean up I don’t think it was that big a deal and I am sure it was a lot of fun.

In the evening we got the tents allocated, Vinit and Surabhi had taken their own tent and we set them up right at the gorge tip (about 10-15 feet from the edge). The view from the campsite as the sun was setting was just amazing. As I was expecting a clear sky with hardly any artificial light I had taken my telescope with us and as soon as it got dark I set it up and was able to see Jupiter, and some of the other planets. While I was doing that along with Vir and Sara, the rest of the folks got the campfire going and used it to cook Maggie noodles. Vir and Sara (plus Vinit) were super excited to cook on a campfire, me and Jani on the other hand had dinner that was provided by Gandikota Adventure Camp. Once again the food was basic but decently made.


Gandikota Gorge (AKA Grand Canyon of India)

Due to this being a long weekend the campsite was super crowded and it was also the noisiest campsite that I have ever camped in. There were multiple groups playing music and singing along (some of them quite badly) but for the most part people were accommodating and when asked reduced the volume of music. The night was cool but since the rock underneath had absorbed the heat during the day, the tent became quite warm within a few mins of us turning in. As you know I am not a fan of the heat so me and Jani opened the zip and slept off with our heads outside the tent which was surprisingly comfortable and since it was a clear sky we got an amazing view of the heavens to gaze at while we were falling asleep. The only (minor) issue we faced was that the tent was at a slight incline and we both kept rolling to the side of the tent and poor Jani kept getting squished.


Sunset at the Gorge

We all woke up early in the morning to catch the sunrise and in sharp contrast to the noise previous night everyone was quiet and reverent in the morning. As the sun rose the view of the gorge was out of the world and so peaceful that we didn’t feel like moving or doing anything other than just chilling. But all good things end so we had to get our stuff and head back to the room to change/use the bathroom etc. That’s when we found out that right next to our room there were a lot of pay to use toilets/showers available and there was a long queue for them. But we had our own bathroom so we got ready quickly and headed out for breakfast which was served at the resort itself.


View just as the sun was rising

The food was ok, but surprisingly tea/coffee wasn’t included in the breakfast and had to be purchased separately. Since I don’t drink either it wasn’t much difference for me but both Vinit and Jani were annoyed. While we had our food the kids made new friends and enjoyed the play area.

As Surabhi was not well she went back to the room to sleep and the rest of us went to the Gandikota fort to explore and it was worth the effort. The fort itself wasn’t much and there was a functional village within its walls complete with farm animals and chickens, but the view from the view point was phenomenal and worth the effort to walk there in-spite of the heat and sun. We got some amazing pics at the location and spent a while just chilling while the kids explored. By the time we got back Surabhi was awake and feeling a lot better so we made her jealous by showing the pics we had taken and discussed what to do next.


View from inside the fort

Other than the fort there is not much to do around the camp and the guide had suggested that we drive over to Belum caves in the evening. Even though me and Jani had already seen the caves earlier it was worth a second visit so we drove over to the caves. Unfortunately it had been raining the past few days and due to the water draining into the cave complex part of the caves had become filled with mud/slush. When we had come the last time that wasn’t the case and we had walked over the entire complex. This time however it would have meant that we would have to walk through knee deep mud so we decided that we weren’t that eager to see the caves and went down with the agreement that we would only explore the caves till the point they were dry and walk-able (for us and the kids) and if it got muddy we would retreat back to the surface.


Group photo inside Belum caves

We did manage to explore a good portion of the cave before the mud and tired (therefore cranky) kids made us head back to the surface where we fortified ourselves for the drive back with tea, juice and snacks. Vinit, Vir and Sara also got a fish spa done (which was a new addition) but the food options here were still quite sparse. If you are visiting be prepared for very basic (and limited) meal options, else you can carry your own food and have a picnic.


Vir the caveman

The drive back was uneventful and quite lovely. We got back as the sun was setting so we freshened up and immediately headed back to the camp-site. This time there were a lot less tents but a lot more noisy crowd. We had multiple trekking groups in the venue and most of them were playing music and dancing. One group in particular that was fortunately a good distance away from our tent was doing what sounded like a tribal fire dance that they show in the movies about jungle tribes (circling the campfire chanting oga-laga-oga-laga). We enjoyed the night and jsut chatted for a long time. After a while we decided to crash but unfortunately there was a group of guys from AP right next to our tent who were one of the more obnoxious and loud groups that I have ever encountered. We actually had to ask them to keep it down multiple times and finally around 1am Jani walked over and told the guys to shutdown the music. They responded by saying that they would stop it in another hour. When we told them that was unacceptable they finally turned it down and started winding down. Though they were so drunk at this point that their soft voices were still very loud and irritating. Thankfully they finally fell asleep and we got a bit of peace and quiet.

Next morning, these folks tried running away without disposing their trash and when Vinit asked them to cleanup their excuse was that they were attacked by a cow when they started to clean up and that’s why they hadn’t done it. Vinit responded by telling them that there was no cow around right then so they should clean up before it came back. After trying a few other excuses they had no choice but to clean up after themselves.


Jani is not a morning person 🙂

We freshened up and went for breakfast after which we started back. The drive back was a lot more slower because we were hitting peak traffic and it took us forever to get back to Bangalore. Once we got into Bangalore we hit the lovely Bangalore traffic and got to spend some quality time with the other commuters.

This was the first trip that we had done and will be doing a lot more such trips in the future assuming we can coordinate our schedules.

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

– Suramya

October 16, 2019

Netflix greenlights animated series ‘Ghee Happy’ starring Hindu deities as Children

Filed under: My Thoughts,Uncategorized — Suramya @ 12:10 PM

Very happy to hear about this new NetFlix animated series Ghee Happy that has just been approved for development. It is a cartoon that will follow Hindu deities as children discovering their powers in a deity daycare. The series has not started production yet and it will be a few years before its launched but its a positive step.

Indian mythology is so rich and diverse and most kids nowadays have no idea about it. Talk to a kid and they will be able to name multiple gods from the Greek pantheon but ask them to do the same from the Hindu pantheon you will get 2-3 names at a max. This is because the Greek gods have been part of so many stories and adaptations over the years that are not 100% accurate but keep the basic story the same. Till very recently there were hardly any novels/stories about any of the Hindu gods or even about the Indian epics. This was because people were scared to offend others who would take offense about any deviation from the standard telling of the tales. Even with this I won’t be surprised if some idiot files a court case against the cartoon once its launched because they are offended.

I think we should allow such adaptations provided they are in good taste and not deliberately offensive. I would love to see similar series about the Christianity and Islam but don’t think that would happen in the near future. Although I do know there is a comic series where Jesus is a primary character and was in a lot of trouble because of it.

Source: Netflix greenlights Pixar veteran’s animated series ‘Ghee Happy’

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

– Suramya

October 13, 2019

Our Trip to Varkala

Filed under: My Life,Travel/Trips,Uncategorized — Suramya @ 11:01 PM

This last weekend it was a long holiday so we went on a trip to Varkala, Kerala. Its about 700kms from Bangalore and as per Google maps would take about 13 hours to drive there. As I had no interest in driving for 13+ hours and reaching the site exhausted we decided to take an overnight sleeper bus to Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) and then hire a car to take us to Varkala which is about another 2 hours drive. Initially we did think about taking a TT (Tempo Traveller) as we normally do as that would have come out to be a bit cheaper but then the majority voted for taking a bus so that we get some rest and not reach the resort exhausted as travel in a TT is not the world most comfortable way to travel.

We started from my place around 7:30pm as our bus boarding was at 9:15pm but since it was raining we couldn’t get any cabs so we ended up taking my car where all 7 of us (including the driver) squeezed into the car and even with the traffic we reached the pickup point early enough that we had time to have a quick dinner before boarding the bus. Due to the delay in us booking the tickets we were right in the back of the bus and the road was initially quite bumpy and the driver really loved the brakes. I almost took a header down from the upper berth but thankfully managed to grab a railing before I pitched over fully. The seats were quite comfortable and clean so after playing a round of UNO we crashed (we would have continued playing but the lights were turned off and it made it hard to play. Plus we were all tired as well so we decided to sleep early.

Once we reached Thiruvananthapuram and got into the car the first order of business was food so we went to a local restaurant and attacked the food. It was quite good, or we were just that hungry that we finished the food in record time. Post brunch we drove to Poovar Backwaters and took a 3 hour boat ride through the backwaters. The boat ride was quite fun and I enjoyed the beautiful views. This place is a birdwatcher’s paradise and I can’t remember how many different varieties of birds I saw during the ride. About halfway through the ride we stopped for a snack break at a floating restaurant and it was ok, nothing too special though the juice I had was fresh and tasty. Apparently the tea was one of the worst people have had but since I don’t drink tea I can’t comment on that.


All ready to explore the Backwaters

After the snacks we rode over to the Golden Sands beach which was basically a regular beach between the backwaters and the ocean. They just gave it a fancy name to attract visitors. We had to cut the beach visit short as it started drizzling and in any case we couldn’t get into the water as it was dangerous. We did see a crab and were trying to catch it when a big wave came and the crab escaped in the water. You should have seen how quickly everyone ran when they realized that the crab was MIA in the water.


The place was a bird watchers paradise

After the beach we spent another 1 1/2 hours touring the mangroves and by the time the 3 hours were up we were all more than ready to head back. The last 45 mins or so were esp boring as we basically went round the place in circles and we all were a bit sleepy by this time but Jani and Akanksha were especially hit as they had both taken motion sickness tablets and one of the side effects of this particular table is excessive drowsiness.

Since we were all tired and had no interest in looking at more mangroves/backwater we headed out to the hotel. On the way we stopped at Vizhinjam Light House making it just before the closing time giving us about 15-20 mins to explore the lighthouse. For some weird reason they have a requirement that everyone climbing the lighthouse has to remove their shoes. As it had started drizzling this meant that we had wet feet/socks when we climbed the stairs. The view from the location is spectacular and worth the time to see at least once.


View from the lighthouse

After the light house we drove to the hotel and checked in. We got lucky and got one of the suites giving us a nice place to hang out and chill. The hotel is located at a great location and was a good experience for the most part. The major issue we faced during the stay was that the service is super slow. To give an idea of the slowness it took over an hour for them to serve us dinner after we ordered and I was ready to go to the kitchen to yell at them when they finally served the food. I was happy with what I ordered but the rest of the folks were not super impressed with the food. The other issue I had was that the linen / bed sheets etc were super old and quite rough/uncomfortable.

But the view from the room was amazing. We could see the swimming pool from the window and just beyond that was the beach. We got up early morning the next day to enjoy a swim before starting the touristy things. It was a bit of a surprise when we got down and walked over to the beach and saw the entire beach front area in front of the hotel taken over by Pandits and worshipers for puja (prayer). So we walked a bit toward the empty part of the beach beyond the fishermen selling fresh catch and entered the water.


View from our room

The water was phenomenal, and the waves were super powerful and a lot of fun. We got thrown around quite a bit and had a blast. We could only go in a few meters into the surf and that was more than enough to chill/fool around. Jani stayed out to keep an eye on us and spotted a dead puffer fish on the beach which is something I hadn’t see before.


Dead Puffer fish we found on the beach

We spent about an hour in the water before we had to head back as we had a tight schedule for the rest of the day. We had a quick breakfast at the hotel and headed out to visit the Jatayu Earth Center/Adventure Camp. The idea was that we would spend a few hours at the adventure camp, visit the statue and then head back.

Unfortunately, by the time we reached the center it was 11:30am and hot enough that you could fry an egg on the road, so we discussed and reached a consensus to skip the adventure sports and just take the cable car to the top to see the statue. We could have taken the steps and trekked to the top but due to the heat none of us dared. The statue was impressive and the 65 acre land around the statue was filled with a forest and looked amazing. After fooling around for a bit and taking a lot of pics we took refuge under some trees and then under the wings of Jatayu.


Us at the Jatayu Earth Center


Sharukh and Ayush trying to copy Jatayu’s pose

Once we got down from the statue it was late enough that we were starting to feel hungry again so we headed out to ‘5 Spoons’ restaurant which was ok. Most of the items on the menu were not available and the dishes we did get were average. However the Chilli Paneer we got was surprisingly good.

Post lunch we headed back to the hotel with a plan to get Kerala massages at the hotel followed by a long and relaxing swim in the pool. Scheduling the massage took some time as the staff was super slow. To make things interesting they could only schedule massages for 2 people at a time. While the rest of the folks went for a swim me and Jani volunteered for the first slot. After we agreed and were about to head in we found out that there was no guy available for the men’s massage so I had to wait for 30 mins while their massage guy came over.

The massage was interesting in a lot of ways. When I got to the room I was asked to strip and wear this strip of cloth the size/width of a thong. The windows of the room didn’t have curtains and I could see houses and folks chilling from where I was standing. I only hope that the women’s side had more protection from peeping toms. The guy giving the massage was quite decent and while it wasn’t the best massage I had it definitely wasn’t the worst either. I felt a lot more relaxed after the massage and went for a swim after the massage.

For dinner we walked over to another restaurant walking distance from the hotel and were joined by 2 other friends who were coincidentally in Varkala at the same time during their road trip. The dinner was fine but it took them ages to get the food. The Veg sizzler was quite nice and apparently the seafood platter was good as well. The rest of the dishes were quite average. Because of the slow service it took us a while to finish dinner and then we retired to our room to chill.

As it was Ayush’s birthday we had planned on a surprise birthday celebration. While Shahrukh kept Ayush busy me, Jani, Sharukh and Shashank blew up balloons and decorated the cake etc. Post cake cutting we proceeded with the traditional beating the crap out of the birthday boy ritual. Fortunately for Ayush both Jani and Akanksha were softhearted enough to stop the beating after only a few hits. We then opened the local wine we had picked up and I can say without any hesitation that it was the worst wine I have had the pleasure of tasting. We only managed to have a few sips each before we gave up and abandoned the rest of the bottle.


Celebrating Ayush’s birthday

Next day we didn’t have much planned so we got up early morning and spent the morning playing in the pool. We stayed in the water till the last possible min and it was great. Unfortunately we had to leave the pool as it was getting late and we had to freshen up before we checked out from the hotel thus we got out, freshened up and walked over to another restaurant for breakfast where the food was a lot better and we had the entire place to ourselves.

Once we were done with food we checked out and then drove over to Kovalam beach. We took the beach road which was quite scenic but in bad repair so the drive took a while. Just as we reached the beach it started raining so we had to run to the nearest restaurant which was right on the beach. Personally I am not a huge fan of Kovalam beach as I think its overrated, crowded and not worth the time. There are other beaches nearby which are a lot better and more friendly but this is a beach that is so famous that everyone wants to visit atleast once. This was the second time I visited and though it was a litter less chaotic than the last time I was there it was still too crowded. The food at kovalam was quite nice and we ended up spending almost 1 1/2 hours there.

Post lunch, we drove to our pickup point near the music college and we reached there almost an hour before our boarding was supposed to start and there was nothing around where we could sit. Finally we sat down in a Gandhi museum near the pickup point, but luck was with us that the bus reached early and we boarded. Once again we were at the end of the bus and had a great & bumpy ride. This bus was via ‘orange tours’ and I didn’t like the bus quality. There were cockroaches in the bus and the blanket they provided was stinking so badly that I had to open the window to get fresh air and avoid throwing up. The driver was quite good though, he got us to Bangalore an hour earlier than we expected so we reached home by 8am and got ready by 8:30 and was on the way to office on time.

Overall the trip was quite fun. The next time we will take Kerela Lines both ways as their quality & cleanliness was much better than Orange Tours. Well, this is all for now. Will post more later.

– Suramya

February 13, 2009

Save The World – One Click At A Time!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Suramya @ 12:35 AM

Save The World – One Click At A Time!

On each of these websites, you can click a button to support the cause — each click creates funding, and costs you nothing! Bookmark these sites, and click once a day!

thehungersite.com

thechildhealthsite.com

theliteracysite.com

theanimalrescuesite.com

therainforestsite.com

Thanks,

Suramya

November 14, 2006

Post that made me laugh…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Suramya @ 3:23 AM

This blog post made me laugh… Its by Maritza Campos who is the creator of College Rommies from Hell. She was complaining about getting old:

Anyway, yesterday was my birthday. I’m so OLD. 30 years is so old.

Yesterday hubby told me Bah, you don’t look a day over 22.

And I told him WHAT? I used to not look a day over 12!!!

– Suramya

April 9, 2005

Knowlege @Suramya.com inaugurated

Filed under: Uncategorized — Suramya @ 2:42 AM

Welcome to Knowledge @Suramya.com. This is a brand new blog where I will be posting the stuff I find interesting and think might be useful. It will contain everything from links to interesting articles to computer definitions to tutorials.

Originally all this info was supposed to be in a KnowledgeBase but I didn’t find any KB software which I liked so I decided to use a Blog instead.

If you are looking for a more non-technical blog check out my other blog: http://www.suramya.com/blog

– Suramya

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