SPAM. I hate it. So do you

Just found an old article I wrote on Spam. I had won first prize for an article competition for this one. I am quite proud about it ūüôā and I ended up writing this since someone had spoofed my email. I have no clue as to what happend to the prize / prize money I received ! Apparently the only thing I remember is finding about Domain Keys just few minutes before the final deadline of the competition. Oh yes, its written using LaTeX

So here it is: SPAM. I hate it. So do you 

The Balance sheet of Life.

The Gallery

I am sitting on a bench facing the small patch of land by the river. On my right there are two others¬†who are Japanese and another European man. On the bench facing the river there are couple of other¬†Japanese and an Indian talking to a European lady about languages. There were more people on the three¬†benches that formed a small gallery. In front of us a man wrapped in white clothes and clean shaven¬†head walks to the fire, stops and drops few herbs into it. The near by man, a doms, handed over a long¬†bamboo stick and the man wrapped in white clothes took it and touches something hollow three times.¬†I could hear the thud sound thrice. As he handed over the bamboo and walked away, muscles on my face tightened,¬†I didn’t blink. I looked at the man sitting next to me, he didn’t blink either and I could see that¬†his face muscles are tightened just like mine & the fire nearby is reflected in his eyes. Suddenly dogs¬†started howling, it got louder and become so loud that for a moment I thought its pre-recorded sounds played¬†in a loud speaker. But it wasn’t it. It died out just like it started.

 

Harischandra Ghat, Banaras, 2012 April 29.

 

There are few more fires burning by Ganges and the care takers are reshuffling the wood to help the¬†fire. They use the long bamboo sticks and moved around woods using two smaller bamboo sticks as if¬†they are tongs. A small boy of perhaps 3 years of age is playing nearby, may be the younger¬†brother of the boy who is looking after the fire. Power came back and the area is now lightened up¬†with the sodium vapor lamps. I could see men sitting little far from the fires and a new set of people¬†arrived soothing the loud silence with “Ram nam satya hai” and went closer to the river. There were hardly any women around.¬†I am sitting facing a small building and I knew that there are more benches on the other side of it.¬†I started walking there, still looking at the fires. I walked past a small shop selling some sort of powders,¬†perhaps sandal wood, earthen pots to collect the ashes and heaps of wood for the fire. Few kids were playing¬†cricket with a small piece of wood¬†and they are confused as the ball just gone missing. I was about to sit on one of the benches next¬†to an old man and a sadhu that someone came hassling and settled there. I sat down on the floor next to the¬†bench. There is yet another small construction – a small temple and a Trishul with a small fire burning¬†next to it. In front me a dog is sharing the rugs with a sadhu who is busy powdering something with a stone.¬†There were just a handful dogs and all were merrily wandering around apart from the one which is leisurely ¬†relaxing on the rugs.

 

The old man sitting on the bench in front me turned around and asked “boat ?” and I said something in Hindi¬†and now the man asks in Hindi, “Nau chahiye kya ?” I said, “nahi bhayya” and he leaves me alone. I sat there¬†just being myself and still wondering where am I or rather what am I. It was peaceful and my thoughts about on going¬†business meetings vanished, the outcomes didn’t bothered anymore. I thought about the day passed where I was thinking¬†about a project proposal, it was funny, holed up in the most ancient city on the planet and thinking about a project¬†where objectives were not clear, the past months, past years, the years that gone by which has placed me here, the times¬†when I had to stop every three steps to mend straps of the sandal ¬†& back to present when I carry the most expensive and sophisticated¬†gadgets available. About thousands people whom I have met over the years, many with whom there is no contact anymore. Well, what’s¬†there in balance sheet now ? Nothing very impressive but I knew it didn’t matter. The so called cheap chappal which lasts for 3 steps¬†or the gadget which drains every three hours, everything is pretty much the same. The profitability of a life cannot be measured¬†in what is left behind for one leaves few memories in the hearts of others to fade away. There is nothing else. Nothing else matters.¬†A sadhu turned around and looked at me, I tried to smile at him, he didn’t respond at all. He stood up ¬†and walked to the temple, walks¬†around a bit and settles back to his place on the bench. A family arrives and they wants to go for a boat ride to see the Ganga Aarathi.

 

 

The same place earlier in the day:

 

The idea of starting a boat ride from a place which puts ‘the end’ amuses me and I followed them to the Ganges. Few boatmen approaches them¬†and they started bargain with them. The fire beside them casted dancing shadows on the men and women.

Another boat man approaches me, unsure of my origin, he talks to me in some foreign language which I don’t¬†understand, I ask him “aap kaham sai hai?” .. “Hum tho Banarasi hai” he replies. We talk about the boats, who owns the boats etc and I told¬†him that I am trying to be with myself for now, he looks into my eyes, we both understands each other and he walks away. A medium sized beetle falls on the floor, split of a second a small dog rushes and savours it. Might be a lucky one to die here !

 

On far right lights from the buildings reflected in the still waters of Ganges the breeze fills me with the remains of the fire. The family manages a profitable bargain and sails away towards Dashashwamedh Ghat.

 

Aarathi at Dashashwamedh Ghat:

 

A profitable bargain ! What’s profit ? The traditional wisdom defines it as sums in a P & L statement.¬†What’s mine ? Numbers from few complicated excel spreadsheets appeared in memory, not so bad they were. A small, glittering cloth fluttered in front me. The orange coloured cloths are available in the shops where they sell powders and earth pots, this is the same cloth left behind¬†by someone, I felt quite uncomfortable about the double meaning, the pun, a balance sheet here.

Few men and women are sitting near are me silently¬†staring into the fire infront of them. For a moment I had the urge to throw away the bag, the shirt I had which is already half unbuttoned to survive¬†the heat. I stood up, picked up my bag and camera and started walking. I was feeling peaceful, a sense of satisfaction. As I was strolling¬†yet another sadhu started into my eyes, an intense, piercing look and he made sure his eyes are locked with mine by slowly moving his expressionless¬†face still working on powdering the dry leaves of salvation in his hands. I didn’t blink, kept on the stare and smiled at him. I walked past the scales where they measure¬†the profitability of life, groups of men, dogs, cows, people on the benches near the fires, children playing by the fire. I knew I will have to return,¬†because this is where we all belong, I knew that this is very easy to sell a Ferrari and become a monk but thats being incompetent, I still need¬†to fill the cells of my balance sheet which exists in the souls of the people around me and become a monk owning a Ferrari or more.

Scales weighing wood, the final profitability calculator:

 

 

 

Epilogue

I sat down after crossing few more ghats and went back to the hotel room after a while. Later I went back to Delhi, finished of yet another meeting, lost the project for which I was there. But the journey adds a whole new dimension to life and a better understanding of everything around us. I am thankful to my folks @ Agileblaze, my family, friends, people who made these journeys possible & to the almighty to help me walk the path of enlightenment and teaching what really matters. I am back home, busy filling my balance sheet.

To be washed away by Mullaperiyar.

Mullaperiyar, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Idukki

Yesterday, the Christmas day I had gone out to get few vegetables which we had missed out during the shopping. Everywhere the discussion was about Indian Prime minister meeting with the head of a province / state to discuss about a dam which is supposed to collapse any moment killing millions of people.

For the uninitiated: Mullapperiyar is masonry gravity dam which 100+ year old, built during the British rule and it helps millions of people in Tamilnadu to earn their lively hood. The farmers in around 4 Р5 districts depends on this water to grow vegetable which feeds among other people, lots of people in the 100% consumer oriented, white collar job preferring, well informed and literate masses the neighboring state Kerala. The dam under dispute is made of largely mud and is situated in a tectonically sensitive region prone to tremors. The dam may collapse in 10 Р15 years if there are no natural calamities and there is a probability of causing the biggest tragedy known to humans. In the long term it will make another set of people who is using the same water to grow agriculture products will be perished. This makes the scenario a tough one to solve. The information overload created by social media, the trend following masses of Kerala is under a mass hysteria.

The main stream media shows only what people needs and no-expert opinion or condition of other dam etc are not considered and from young to old, everyone in Kerala believes the dam will break any moment and the neighboring state and some of the forces is using the occasion to gather some attention. Its interesting to note that the Kerala side is ready to build a new dam, somehow they believe that earth quakes will not happen during the period and are open to share water with neighboring state. The other side claims that the dam made of mud will withstand more water and claims that there will not be earthquakes.

Now from a logical point of view, I have no opinions or I am not biased. As far as I am considered, all the dams should be destroyed, all the nuclear plants must be destroyed and no plastics should be used etc etc. A long term solution without impacting both the sides seems to be a solution Рwhich is not about building a new dam or decommissioning the existing one but reducing the water level and then both the sides sitting together around a table and discussing the matters the natural way. Yes, what is happening now is manglish speaking, sorry manglish spitting VJs and radio jockies are celebrating this as a Facebook revolution and this very post has a heading to attract some organic keyword based search from search engines.

 

Now, back to the photo and Christmas New year celebrations. People tend to believe its their last time to celebrate and not leaving any opportunity to celebrate. Years back I remember it was lot more difficult to educate and bring people together to fight against causes. Now its lot more easier. The only trouble is no-one seems to be bothered about real causes. Say Aadhaar aka UID project of India which is about slaving people for their entire life time and probably even after death if their bodies are not burned. In a land of poets and generations of people who never bothered about death or pain but only about freedom and fought for it this is indeed a strange phenomenon.

We had poets who wrote, slavery is unacceptable but death is. Have we forgotten ? The irony is complete when another set of people are promoting anarchy in the name of freedom and even using the father or nation for media campaigns. Right now media teams will be getting ready for the 4th season of Lokpal and finding stories supporting and against Anna Hazzare. There are nuclear reactors being built in the neighboring regions which will again make all of us live a dangerous life, probably eating mutated fish, with bulged bellies or long ears and we may not die. We will not die in a immediate flood but suffer, we will have mutated children looking like aliens in hollywood movies. Yet we prefer to live like zombies ?

Or are we just zombies who lost the ability to use common sense and educational background to choose between right and wrong ?

Anyways, I have my post with enough keywords, I will get lot of clicks just like some main stream news papers who has landing pages filled with the proper keywords. Give me my hits, help me make money. I wish I had a FM station & a TV station or two also !!

On a different note, the Idukki dam is about to complete its 50 year life span and we have to start a facebook page and start campaigning to build a new one right away. (And thus, I got one more keyword РIdukki. Hurray!!!)

Wishing a Happy New Year and its us who paints our lives happy or miserable and no one can help you do that.

for Aavani

Avani, Our friend Suresh’s seven year daughter is suffering from an illness called Medullo Blastoma (highly malignant Brain Tumor). She had undergone a surgery in Baby Memorial Hospital, Calicut, Kerala. She has to be taken to HCG hospital, Bangalore for further diagnosis and treatment within next few days. The financial requirements for the further treatment is estimated at 4 – 5 Lakh Indian Rupees (10,000 USD) & we are trying to help in emergency. As its difficult to raise such a large sum immediately, we are¬†requesting help from the community.

We have opened an account for the solely for the purpose and requesting everyone to contribute whatever little you can.

Hareesh who is Aavani’s neighbor can be reached at ¬†+919656223338 for more information about Avani or Visit – http://helpaavani.blogspot.com‚Äč where we will post updates.

Requesting everyone to help and share the news among your immedeate friends. If you are working in a office may be something like collecting from your friends and depositing to the account will help out.

If you think you help the little violinist, here is further details:

Account Name :    Aavani Suresh treatment Fund
Bank & Branch :   State bank of India, Calicut Govt medical College Branch
Savings Account Number : 318 6628 2581
IFSC Code : SBIN0002206
Swift Code : SBININBB392

Detailed information:

Aavani Suresh, 7 year old girl child, was having a history of vomiting and consulted paediatrician (Dr Rosely Kurian, Near Presentation School, Chevayur, Calicut). The child was also having mild fever. The paediatrician prescribed antibiotic, and paracetamol and the vomiting subsided during the course of medicine. Two days after the completion of the course of medicine, the vomiting in the morning started again. The paediatrician found some problem and advised Mr Suresh (Father of Aavani) that an ENT consultation is required for the child. Mr Suresh took the child to Baby Memorial Hospital, Calicut and consulted Dr Gopakumar(ENT specialist, Baby memorial Hospital). Dr Gopakumar also found out that the child is having balancing problem when closing her eyes and recommended to do MRI scan of brain.

They have done MRI plain and MRI with Medicine. In MRI scan, the radiologist reported likewise ‚Äúpossibly¬†Ependymoma, differential diagnosis includes Medullo Blastoma‚ÄĚ. The MRI result was shocking. There was a
large tumour of 3 cm diameter in the fourth ventricle of the brain near the brain stem. After seeing the MRI, Dr Gopakumar recommended to meet Neurosurgeon Dr Shivakumar(Baby memorial Hospital) for further
treatment.

Dr Shivakumar told that this is a case of Medullo Blastoma and needs surgical removal. Better to do it as early as possible because the tumour is growing rapidly and it is obstructing the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in
the brain. He also told Mr Suresh that he could go for a second opinion with any other neurosurgeon of his choice. Mr Suresh met two neuro specialists and they also told him that there is no option other than surgical removal of the tumour. Mr Suresh met Dr Shivakumar to discuss about chances of complication, cost of surgery etc. Dr Shivakumar told that there are so many complications in every neurosurgery, but there is no other option. The surgery will take about eight hours and the approximate cost will be around ninety thousand rupees. He also told that, after the surgery, the tumour cells have to be sent for a Biopsy to see whether the cells are malignant (cancerous) or not.

Mr Suresh and his friends gave consent for Neurosurgical removal of the tumour and the surgery was done on 20th July 2011 by Dr Shivakumar at Baby memorial Hospital, Calicut. The surgery was successfully completed without much complications and the sample of the tumour was sent for Biopsy. Dr Shivakumar told that the surgery was successful and the biopsy report will come in a week’s time. On 26th, the biopsy report came with a very sad news that the tumour cells are highly malignant and suggested craniospinal radiation. Dr Shivakumar told that the child requires radiation therapy after fifteen days (usually it takes about 15 days for the brain to stabilise after the surgery). Dr Shivakumar also suggested that it is better to go to a paediatric oncology specialised centre with latest equipments which helps to reduce the after effects of radiation.

As per the suggestion from some of the well experienced nuclear medicine specialists who deal with radiation therapy, we decided to go to HCG oncology centre, Bangalore, for further treatment. (Hospital website: http://www.hcgoncology.com/). This hospital is selected because of their very latest equipments and highly experienced team in paediatric radiation oncology. We have already submitted all relevant medical documents to the Doctor’s panel at HCG oncology hospital and we are waiting for their reply in order to get admitted. As per the initial discussion they informed us that the average treatment cost will be around 5 lakhs. We are expecting the admission in the hospital within two to four days for further treatment.

Update: 4th August, 2011

Aavani has left to Bangalore with her parents in a car from Calicut via Palakkad-Selam-Hosur & few friends are trying to arrange accommodation in Bangalore. She will reach Bangalore tomorrow morning.

Aavani about to leave for Bangalore ...

Pigeons in the hostel and Google+

Now that Google has re-realized the potential of social networking or cashing on human relationships I am writing down my ramblings on the phenomenon called “everyone needs to satisfy their ego or attention” aka Facebook effect.

Somehow I was lured into the social networking arena long back I remember signing up with a alternate mail address in Orkut and filling in minimal information because of ¬†privacy concerns. Irony was when in 2005 I became one of the first¬†cloned¬†human beings and had trouble chasing down the culprits. (Finally decided not take legal action as two of the involved parties will face deporting from Gulf and¬†permanent¬†ban). The positive side of the incident was I became increasingly aware of the potential and dangers of the medium, read about anything and everything in the topic including the definite papers from Orkut. One of the most interesting communities I found on Orkut was “I hate pigeons in the hostel” This was a perfect example the ideas explained in the paper “Exploiting geographical location information of web pages” but here, not just location information was shared, but a person’s innermost feelings and opinions about pigeons were available at the disposal for exploitation /¬†targeting. Eventually I had moved out of social networks and tried to build a real world network called Koottam.org along the lines of certain couch sharing projects and is still pretty much active.

 

Let’s take deviation and take a look at Google’s revenue stream. Most of it comes from display advertisement even though the company is fighting Apple in the handheld market and Microsoft in the enterprise market by providing office clones via browsers. To complete the eco-system Google Appengine and enterprise market place also is being established. But all these businesses are still in pre-alpha mode compared to the display advertiment market which it effectively does by ¬†making use of content partners aka¬†Google Display Network, various frontends like Gmail, Google groups, Orkut, AdSense etc. Though poineers in social networking Google never seemed to be interested in the business until Facebook started pushing Like buttons and various share options aggressively. At the time of writing major tech portals only allow one to post comments after signing in via Facebook or Twitter and of the 5 random¬†display partners¬†from the Google display network I verified talks nothing about Google but has either Facbook Like or Share enabled and some even have a facebook fan page occupying half the home page. In short Facebook was slowly eating into the core business of Google and sharing this information with a new search engine called Bing. This new search engine had recently established a¬†praetorship¬†with Yahoo! another not so big search engine. Along with this, the internet killer, sorry, Facebook slowly started replacing content with Facebook pages and presents not so cool, but easy statics about their pages to every one ¬†500 million people who was unware of online advertising or tools like Urchin (Google Analytics) or Google Adwords.

 

I am not sure how many of the google display partnersites are integrated with Facebook but considering the large number of penetration, including Youtube its pretty much evident that Facebook/Bing tracking systems gets updated about activity in Google’s vast display business simultaneously. And there was a big catch Facebook and thus Bing always knew whether the visitor likes pigoens or not but Google has completely missed the point and employed the pigeons for ranking pages. This information about pigeons which Google ignore is a big threat to the core business as it depends on CPC / CPA. With the massive amount of data available to Facebook and the possible integrations with Bing, it will not take them much longer to come up with Adworks¬†competition¬†with better¬†targeting. I will be surprised if Facebook doesn’t launch¬†advertising¬†outside of their massive platform via facebook share like widgets.

 

I am not impressed about Google+ expect for the added privacy features but that comes with a price called circles which are¬†extremely¬†difficult to create and manage even using a 22″ monitor. Also until today, I mainted different email ids and accounts for managing social networks and communication. Suddenly, combining social network to my primary e-mail id itself is the biggest privacy issuse as far as I am concerned.

But ¬†Google will eventually learn about what we think about¬†pigeons¬†and over come the competition. Reason being the new doors which google has opened with the new product and upgrades to google adwords, Google apps etc. Its common knowledge that the social networks are the biggest consumers of content on portals like YouTube. With the recent announcement of DRM based YouTube rentals and availability of Social Gold reward coins I am assuming Google will be able to do some crazy things. Google Offers another very promising new launch which can be piggy backed on G+. A very cool idea Google Offers can try is ability to exchange Google’s virtual currency for offers via the new service. Game¬†developers¬†will be very soon opened doors to develop games on G+ & armed with the virtual currency Google has finally a weapon against Facebook’s plans to become world’s biggest bank. I am looking forward to see the roll out of location aware offers via G+ which can be further¬†incentives¬†by SocialGold and tieup all this with Google’s primary business of display advertisements. I am not forgetting about Google TV and building an extension to adwords which can show ads on TV and make people share it on G+ and much more. Groups is another massive amount of untapped data which G+ could make use of and from what I have read, the Google groups team is already sitting in the same building as that of the Emerald Sea building and cooking things. Looks like G+ is the technology giants attempt, a well¬†rehearsed¬†and executed attempt against threats from Bing+Yahoo & all knowing Facebook. Hope it works out and internet remains a free place rather than limited as pages within someone’s data center.

Existing customers Vs New customers.

The usual way to start this topic will be “for any organization at some point of time they will have to decide how to deal with growing demands from existing clients and the need to expand and acquire new clients”¬† Anyways, we are also facing it. I thought of writing down what we decided about it.

Its so happening that we are putting all our might after fine tuning an e-commerce portal we are working on but now we are facing page load time issue, and on a dead-end on the SEM platform we are developing for a client due to technical glitches from the APIs of the 2 search engines competing for second position & the third project from our first client – angel – need more resources. At the same time our cloud IaaS team is starting to work on couple of exciting assignments. To make things worse we are on an aggressive marketing mode which is bringing in new enquirers every-other day which needs a lot of attention.

What we do ?

Before things getting into such a situation, we had a discussion. We wanted to win new projects & increase revenue stream, hire new people & achieve the dream of becoming a 100 member team providing the best in the class solutions by 2011. But, wait. I thought about the angel who got hooked with us more than an year ago and waited for us to increase capacity, the other client who sang happy birthday for me from other side of planet earth over a cranky phone connection we had then, and various other things happening around us.

During the discussion I had  2 examples in mind which is given below.

We have a place where they sell chicken dishes which resembles  Arabian dishes. The outlet is in a prime spot on the highway, there is enough parking space, its near a college with may be 2000 students etc. I used to go there occasionally as they used to open till mid night when I finally find myself thinking about dinner. Besides all the good things like a prime location and all other favorable conditions, they never had customers. The quality of the food was bad, the customer service and focus was not existing. I still keep going as I had no choice and the last I went was few months back when they kept me waiting for nearly ten minutes just to collect the bill.

I can’t really write about the second case, but its something like this. The provider is a monopoly and nearly everyone uses them. But whenever people need proactive service, they choose a new generation alternative. So people keep two service providers and the old provider is slowly loosing business and it will be loose its business in few years and the restaurant in case one will be closed in few months.

I sounded bit affirmative than usual in the discussion and finally decided that we will not be spending even a second of attention on new clients unless the existing requirements are met. The existing clients have not only made us what we are now but they trust their future with us. We are 100% confident that we will deliver our best & come out of this. Let this post act as a record.

I send a mail to the angel to hear his opinion on resource allocation & ended it as follows:

You are an angel for us & angels/existing-clients gets the best attention than new clients !

everything else will follow.

trekking to Agasthyakoodam ‚Äď day two.

Due to issues ranging from global warming & Mallan yet again finding a Kallana ( a pigmi elephant found in Agastyakoodam area) I couldn’t post the second part for so long ! well well. This is yet another March and this year also it seems I am not in a position to complain about a bad hike. I have no hike. The world is still flat and the life is going on. Oh, yea we made sure that 33% of the seats in our democratic temples are reserved for woman, we are about to make sure that the radio active rays from nuclear reactors exploding due to manufacturing defects etc by the companies who provides the equipment will not cause damage more than 500 crores, we had something called budget and as usual opposition were unhappy and in my little state – Keralam – certain political parties took all possible measure to make sure that in the next elections they don’t stand a chance to ‘serve’ us.

Ok, The trip to Agastyakoodam happened long ago, before¬† any of this happened. The world was still flat then and the date was 29th Jan 2010. We were at the base camp and made plans to start bit early the next day. I was was sure that not going to work and slept peacefully inside my sleeping bag. We woke up around 6:30 AM, got our breakfast packed and after few cups of tea started our trek to the peak nearly 8 O’ clock.

to be or not be ?

to be or not be ? (photo removed )

From the base camp the peak looked challenging and we were aware that the climate dramatically changes at the top. But today it seems its a pleasant day and we will not face much difficulty. I had all geared up and assortment of stuff including lenses, additional battery and first aid kit packed inside a photographer’s jacket and a wind sheeter to protect all this from rain and few plastic covers.

sun rays playing hide and seek

sun rays playing hide and seek

The initial trek was easy but seemed to be a terrain where we find elephants a lot which was bit scary. But the possibility of seeing a pigmy elephant was nice too ūüėČ

dare to conquer – swami thiruvadikal enjoying the view

Once we were out of thick forest the steep climbs started and mist started arriving from nowhere. Four of us had visited the peak earlier and they started explaining about their earlier journey and how they crossed a dangerous stream which is just ahead of us.

mist starts appearing

mist starts appearing

The atmosphere started getting colder and windy. Mist was coming with the wind and the wind was strong enough that we started feeling it agiainst us. I found it was a good decision to leave the camera bag behind.

mist starts flooding with the wind. We can see it spreading in this photo. In ten minutes we were immersed in it.

the stream which 3 of our team had crossed with much difficulty during their previous expedition. I must It was a real dangerous attempt from their side. Something too far from adventure ..

the stream which 3 of our team had crossed with much difficulty during their previous expedition. I must It was a real dangerous attempt from their side. Something which others should not try at home.

edge

edge

its a good idea to be careful here.

its a good idea to be careful here. Travels give us a time to contemplate about life. It sometimes leaves us with nothing to hold on to. All that can take us forward is how carefully we plan our next step.

Last 5 photos were taken in 10 minutes and the place was suddenly misty and we couldn’t see anything beyond 5 meters or so now. We started climbing up decided to have our break fast near Ponkalappara.

mist everywhere

mist everywhere

After the steep climb we reached a clearing. The place had suddenly became extremely cold and wet. If the same climate is going to continue it is going to difficult to climb the remaining path and that was not a pleasant thought at all.

mist, windchill

mist, windchill

We sat down near a small stream for breakfast. I had poori with me and some had uppumaavu. By the time the whole place was covered with mist and all that was remaining now was rain. It looked like we must expect heavy rain any moment now. The sudden change in climate was very strange and quite unexpected.

break fast time.

breakfast time.

The climate soon started getting better. Yea, as I was told a 100 times this place is different !

One life. We all have a life to leave marks behind. Here is how someone to choose to leave a mark behind. This was created by someone so that whoever climbs the mighty mountain remembers him. (there is no myth behind this. its very recent - modern)

One life. We all have a life to leave marks behind. Here is how someone to choose to leave a mark behind. This was created by someone so that whoever climbs the mighty mountain remembers him. (there is no myth behind this. its very recent – modern)

Man is always keen to worship what he doesn’t understand. It seems a recent example will be film stars whom we don’t understand. We build temples for them when we find it difficult to understand how a feeble man can fight hundreds and cause “Neo Effect” on bullets. The earthly mark in the previous photo may became a similar one in next 100 years.

if we dont understand, we will worship. If we understand we will destroy. We are humans.

if we don’t understand, we will worship. If we understand we will destroy. We are humans.

where the mystery forest starts

where the mystery forest starts

The climate had become normal again and the visibility was good too. We started climbing up through a narrow slippery stream. The terrain again looked promising but I never expected it will make me realize that being alive is such a great thing and life is so beautiful.

Part1 is here: Trekking to Agasthyakoodam day one

Note: Agasthyakoodam is also called as Agasthyarkoodam

trekking to Agasthyakoodam – day one.

On 27th I got a call from a friend asking are you ready for the trip ? Oh, I had completely forgotten about the whole thing and had a most productive day ahead with numerous calls and emails and finally packed up and reached the Cochin KSRTC bus stand by midnight. Had a packet of biscuit and cashew nuts as dinner and me and Rejish started our¬† 5 hour bus journey to Trivandrum from where have to start by 6 AM. Surprisingly the bus managed to reach the destination in less than 5 hours and we could sleep for¬† another 1 hour at friend’s place. Finally we managed to start at 7 AM and reached Banacaud by 9:30 AM. Completed the formalities with the forest officials, packed our lunch and yes we are ready for 3 day wanderlust.

The area is kept clean and well preserved by the forest department and the EDC РIn  a land where government departments functioning the way it is supposed to be is quite unheard of, this is something we must appreciate. The officials were friendly and I could drag them to a small talk about my sleeping bag which is quite small compared to the ones they use.

As per our plan the journey ends at Athirumala which is 17 kms from the base camp at Bonacud. And most of it is through dense forest and atleast 5 kms of the path is difficult terrain. And with a bag weighing too much with equipments it was not fun. From the camp at Athirumala its 6 kms to the Agastyakoodam peak. And we plan to climb the peak on the second day. I must say that splitting the journey to 3 days was an excellent idea as we got ample time to enjoy the wilderness.

enroute Agastyakoodam

en-route Agastyakoodam

swami thirivadikal enroute Agastyakoodam

swami ‘thirivadikal’ enroute Agastyakoodam

This part of western ghats is called the “abode of biodiversity”. The green virgin forest filled with herbal plants gives one the impression that we are in a huge herbal¬† garden. The Agastyakoodam is related with Buddhism and to the wise man Agastya who formulated grammar¬† to Tamil and he is believed to be an Ayurvedic expert too.

cauliflorous tree enroute Agastyakoodam

cauliflorous tree enroute Agastyakoodam

cauliflorous tree - closeup

cauliflorous tree – closeup

strong winds are a peculiarity of the area. Here we can see the grass dancing in the wind. But this is nothing compared to the wind at the peak.

strong winds are a peculiarity of the area. Here we can see the grass dancing in the wind. But this is nothing compared to the wind at the peak.

Oh yea, we were a team of seven backpackers. see them below:

backpackers

backpackers

in harmony with nature ?

in harmony with nature ?

we had our lunch here. Under a sky that looked like this !

we had our lunch here. Under a sky that looked like this.

the camp at attayaar. The difficult terrain starts here. The board that says Athirumala was kept here and in one of the next photos we can see it being carried to the final camp.

the camp at attayaar. The difficult terrain starts here. The board that says Athirumala was kept here and in one of the next photos we can see it being carried to the final camp.

The terrain that followed Attayar was bit difficult but compensated by breath taking landscape.

the path ahead - less traveled, difficult and beautiful

the path ahead – less traveled, difficult and beautiful

the Athirumala board which traveled with us :-)

the Athirumala board which traveled with us ūüôā

landscape between attayar and athirumala - one can even see the historic dust on my lens. Well, I am goving to clean every piece of equipment this time. All has years of dust on them and water. Yea, my D80 still works fine with all the water and dust. My next cameras will be Nikon too. I dont need reviews anymore on brand wars.

landscape between attayar and athirumala – one can even see the historic dust on my lens. Well, I am going to clean every piece of equipment this time. All has years of dust on them and water inside. Yea, my D80 still works fine with all the water and dust. My next cameras will be Nikon too. I don’t need reviews anymore on brand wars.

a variety of Thulasi found in the area. This is just a sample from the mysterious collection of herbs starting from Arogyapacha, Vathamparathi etc

a variety of Thulasi found in the area. This is just a sample from the mysterious collection of herbs starting from Arogyapacha, Vathamparathi etc

The above photo is taken from an area of where the forest is thick and dark. We can find small holes in the rocks along the path which was used to grind herbs. The area also has peculiar stones which looks like remains of some ancient life forms.

fossil ?

fossils ?

a stone resembling bone. Passerby has left turmeric powder on it and it turned yellow now.

Passerby has left turmeric powder on it and it turned yellow now.

The final camp at the bottom of the peak follows this dense forest area and we got the majestic view of the peak from here.

the first glance of Agastyakoodam

the first glance of Agastyakoodam

We reached the final camp around 4 PM. We were tired but not really exhausted because we were walking at an average speed. Soon after tea and a leisurely bath at the nearby stream we came back and settled at the camp. And we were all set for the climb early morning next day. And the destination was a 1886 meter, heritage mountain with its lush  green herbal garden and myths.

Agastyakoodam aka Agastyarkoodam - the majestic peak with its lores, herbs and wonders of mother nature which makes us understand how silly we humans are.

Agastyakoodam aka Agastyarkoodam – the majestic peak with its lores, herbs and wonders of mother nature which makes us understand how silly we humans are.