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Naresh Jain's Random Thoughts on Software Development and Adventure Sports
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Archive for the ‘Escapade’ Category

Embracing Naturopathy and Yogic Science

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Over the last 5 months I’ve lost 20 kgs. People ask me what diet am I following? (Glad no one asked me, where I got my liposuction done).

I think there are 2 main factors behind this:

  • Zero international travel (up until last month)
  • And I tried to get may act together.

So, in Feb I took a 10 day break from the concrete jungles and headed over to Jindal Nature Cure Institute. At Jindal, I surrendered myself to mother nature. The beauty of this place is, its a charitable hospital, not a luxurious spa.

At Jindal they put you through a very rigorous, yet relaxing process to get your life back in form. Everything is natural, which means no side-effects.

A typical day in life @ Jindal would be:

  • 45 mins compulsory brisk walk @ 5:00 AM
  • 15 mins Yogic Kriyas
  • 10 mins Open Laughter Session
  • First fresh Juice of the day @ 7:00 AM
  • 45 mins Pranayama session @ 7:30 AM
  • 10 mins Mud packs for eyes and kidneys @ 8:20 AM
  • Wonderful massages, steam/sauna bath and other water treatments @ 8:30 AM
  • Second fresh Juice of the day @ 9:15 AM
  • 9:30 AM, time for 45 mins Yoga class
  • 10:30 AM, time for Eye exercises.
  • Since I choose to stay on Liquid Diet, I would have my lunch (2 glasses of fresh juice) @ 11:15 AM
  • Post lunch was free time. Some people choose to go to Gym, I was too busy catching up with my sleep.
  • 2:00 PM, time for another Juice.
  • Second round of eye & kidney pack and massage post 2:00 PM.
  • 3:30 PM time for 5th Juice of the day
  • 3:40 PM second 30 mins Yoga class of the day.
  • 4:30 PM, time for a quick 10 mins reflexology track walk.
  • 4:45  – 5:45 PM, time for a wonderful walk around the Lake
  • 6:00 PM swim time. Good 30 mins swim in cold chilling water.
  • 6:45 PM: Dinner time. Yes, 2 more juices for me please.
  • Post dinner, time for some more walks
  • 7:30 PM: Socializing time. Usually I would play Table Tennis for 30 mins and skip the boring lectures by guest speakers.
  • 8:15 PM: Last drink for the day. Hot Tulsi water with lime.
  • Time for some more walking and gazing the stars. The sky never looked so beautiful before.
  • 10:00 PM lights off. Retire to your dreams.

Yes its a busy schedule, but its fun. 10 days is a good time frame.

After 10 days, I had just lost 4 kgs. (3.5 Kg fat, 0.3 Kg water and 0.2 Kg muscle). I was disappointed with the results. Obviously, after coming back, I won’t be able to maintain this life-style.

Surprisingly after coming back, I’ve not gained weight at all. In fact I’ve lost 16 more kgs and now my weight is stabilizing. After coming back, I’ve tried to follow:

  • Daily
    • 2-4 Glasses of water soon after waking up
    • 30 mins Jog/Cycle/Swim/Yoga & Pranayam in the morning
    • Throughout the day, try to drink at least 12 glasses (3 lt.) of water
    • Try to eat more raw food (fruits and vegetables with their skins)
    • Keep a gap of 3 hrs between dinner and sleep
    • Reduce my intake of salt, sugar and processed wheat flour (3 white killers)
  • Weekly
    • Fast one whole day on liquid diet
    • Vamana Dhauti (forceful vomiting)
    • Oil Massage + Steam Bath

That’s it folks. The secret behind me looking 5 years younger.

Tabasco Baby!

Monday, April 7th, 2008

I arrived in Mumbai after spending a week in Kiev, Ukraine. I was invited to Ukraine by Alexey Krivitsky to conduct a two day Uncertification workshop called XP Days Ukraine and to speak at the Fourth Agile Ukraine Gathering. Big Thanks to Alexey for organizing this wonderful wonderful visit. Also big thanks to GlobalLogic for hosting me in Ukraine and Agile Alliance for funding my travel.

I was pleasantly surprised with the awesome infrastructure in Kiev and with friendly people around. Most of the people I met during my workshop and during the Agile Ukraine Gathering, amazed me with their smartness and knowledge. Even though the IT industry is a new booming industry out there, people’s knowledge and maturity was very high. Based on my 6 day stay there, I feel Kiev is a lot more advanced that any city in India. There is also a lot of work in progress. I would assume in 2-3 years time, Kiev would be one of the world’s most advanced cities.

The roads are very well built, just like roads in US. Telecommunication and Electricity seems to be very well planned. It was a 5 mins job to get a new cell phone connection with international dialing. This would take a week in India. Quite a lot of mobile service providers with really good service. In any part of the city you have good signals. Most people have high speed cable internet at home. Everyone has cable TV with a set-top box. I’ve been told that there are no power cuts. Some southern parts of Ukraine have water issues, but Kiev does not have any such issues.

Based on my understanding there are enough education institutes in Kiev to cater to the needs of the local population. A lot of people from other parts of Ukraine also come there for education and job. I was told that Kiev is not the only such city in Ukraine, there are at least 5 other cities which are equally well developed.

IT is a relatively new industry out there. There are really smart people who like to be in the IT industry. Also in the IT industry jobs pay a lot more (may be 5 times more) than what employees get paid in a factory. My understanding is that Developers with 5+ years of work-x are difficult to find. Also similar issue on the management side. Not many people around with lots of experience to guide the development teams. Having said that the guys I met are the kind of people I would like to hire. There were about 30 people I would blindly hire. Really really smart guys and gals. Most of these folk work as team leads for leading outsourcing companies out there. Also a lot of these folks understand and practice Agile but are frustrated because their clients or managers don’t get it. If you are looking to start a new office, I think Kiev is a great location.

One Hryvnia or Grivna (Ukrainian Currency) is about 8 Indian Rupee or 5 Grivna is about one US Dollar. Compared to Indian standards the cost of living is quite high in Kiev. Because of this and the fact that IT is a booming industry the salaries are quite comparable to the salaries of highest paid developers in India. A good salary for an experience developer in Ukraine is about 12,000 Grivna ($2500) per month after taxes. (They have some crazy tax rules and most people have found a loop whole in the system to avoid taxes).

Right now Ukraine has a lot of outsourced (not just off-shored) work from Denmark, few other European countries and many be a very few US projects. The time difference between most of the European countries and Ukraine is about 1-2 hours. So its quite easy to ignore the timezone issue. But Language is still a bit of an issue. Most people in the IT industry can understand English well. Most of them can also speak quite fluently. But if you would go to a store or restaurant, not many people can speak English. Most of the menus, sign-boards and hoardings are in Ukrainian. So Language can be a bit of a challenge, but not as big as it would be with China. I could survive for a week, I think others can also.

Local Transportation is quite well organized in Kiev. There are buses, subways, taxis, tramp train and long distance trains. In spite of having so many options for transportation, the buses can get quite loaded during peak hours. The subway is not very well connected to all parts of the city and hence most people use either the local buses or drive their own cars. One of the really nice things about the buses is they are environment friendly. They run on electricity instead of petrol or gas. All the streets have electric cables from which these buses draw electricity. Also in terms of the cars you can see on the road, you’ll find a huge variety of cars. The city is loaded with European cars. They also have a few Japanese car and quite a lot of Chevy cars. Chevrolet brought Daewoo which had a local manufacturing unit in Ukraine and hence you see Chevy.

Food is quite bland from an Indian standard. I could not survive without Tabasco (hence the blog title). Every restaurant I went, I had to explicitly ask for Tabasco sauce. (I’m really glad that in most of the places it was available). Also for Vegetarians it might be a little difficult to find food in most places. There are restaurants that serve pastas, salads, soups and pizzas that can keep the Vegetarians happy. On the last day, we did find an Indian Restaurant called Himalaya. The food was yummy. (Ummm…I love Indian Food).

One other thing that caught my attention was electronic signboards on the highway which show you the max speed, weather info and other usual stuff. I have never seen weather info on similar signboards. I think its a great idea.

Look what I found….
Pink Flyod - The Wall

Valley Green, Philadelphia

Thursday, October 6th, 2005

About the place: Valley Green is located in the Wissahickon Valley of Fairmount Park in the City of Philadelphia. The Park (4,180 acres) is the largest landscaped park in the U.S. Users of Park trails include all people using trails whether on foot, bicycle, horse, carriage, horse-drawn vehicle or any other permitted vehicle. For more details http://www.fairmountpark.org/

Climate: Temperature is usually around 63.0 F (17.2 C) in the summers. [July – Oct]

The Hike itself: There are different hiking trails in the Wissahickon Valley. You can find more details about them on the website. All these trails are clearly marked unlike what it is back in India. Most of the hikes are a day long hike. Camping overnight is not allowed.
There is a trail that goes along a small stream and it‘s pretty simple and nice.

Route: Catch a Septa bus, route no. 27 from Philadelphia. There is a bus every 20 mins. Get down at Wises Mill Rd or Wissahickon Valley. It‘s about a 40 mins ride. The bus will drop you on the freeway. From here, there is a sign board on the right hand side which takes you the actual trail. On your way back, you can catch the same bus.

Food: There is a very nice restaurant called Valley Green Inn restaurant. At any time of the year, whatever the occasion, this place offers a charming and comfortable experience for good food, spirits and company. The Inn is open seven days a week, year round.

Some snaps:

Just before a small waterfall.

Just before a small waterfall

The waterfall

The waterfall

I was really surprised looking at the standstill water just before the fall. Looks like there is some underwater current. Hence swimming in these streams is prohibited.

Happy hiking!

Hiking 8 miles on the Appalachian Trail!

Wednesday, October 5th, 2005

Last weekend I visited New York to meet one of my buddies. He stays in Holmes, NY. From his house, there is a 10 min drive to a point, from where one can get onto the Appalachian Trail [AT]. This is a simple 2 hour hike. But it‘s nice to have the privilege of getting onto the AT, hike for sometime, relax and come back.

The trail is pretty flat and simple. The forest is not really dense and the weather is just perfect for hiking. There is a good deer population in this part of the trail. Towards the end of the hike, there is a decent sized lake/pond. Some people go fishing here. But otherwise it‘s just clam and beautiful.

The leaves have not yet started changing the color and the hunting season is not yet started. So, if anyone is planning hike around this place, I would recommend, this is the best time.

I‘m planning to hike the Catskills next.

What can tourism do to a place!

Monday, May 9th, 2005

Scenic beauty locked between four countries

Recently I had been to a hill station located between four countries. Yes you have guessed it right. I‘m talking about the world famous hill station Darjeeling. It lies in northern West Bengal, between Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Comprising mainly of mountain terrain, Darjeeling stands at a height of 2134m (7053 ft) at the base of the almighty Himalayan mountain range. The name Darjeeling is a composition of ‘dorje‘ meaning ‘thunderbolt‘ and ‘ling‘ meaning ‘place‘ … ‘the Land of Thunderbolt‘. Darjeeling is often referred to as the ‘Queen of hill stations‘. There are countless things (both natural and man made) that make Darjeeling what it is today.

Being introduced to a place on such a high note, everyone would be eager to visit this heaven on earth. Darjeeling is a living example of how tourism can screw up a place. I was very disappointed with the zillion humans and the mess they created out of Darjeeling. Most of the beautiful forests have been replaced with tea plantations and houses. And if you think on the same lines, then certainly Darjeeling is not a place to visit. Instead try out this small hill station called Mirik, which is located mid way between Siliguri and Darjeeling.

Being promoted as a new hill station, Mirik is just a small valley in the Sing-lila hills region, about 50 Km from both Siliguri and Darjeeling; at an altitude of 1767 m. Weather is very pleasant here. The town is centered around the Sumendu Lake. The lake is the main attraction here and there is a 3.5 Km. path around it. You can go boating and house riding here. The dense forest of pine, cardamom and the orange will definitely captivate your heart. Another attraction of Mirik is Pashupatinagar market at the border of India and Nepal.

Accommodation in Mirik is good and cheap with hotels concentrated near the Mirik Lake. Jagjeet hotel is the most famous hotel in this place. Sadly this place does not have a school and most of the kids from this place have to go to Siliguri or Darjeeling in the search of good schools. There are no discos, pubs, theaters or any other means of entertainment in this place apart from Mother Nature.

While I might be changing a lot of people‘s mind, I hope you would take care of the place and make sure this does not become the next Darjeeling.

Weekend get-away from Mumbai

Monday, May 9th, 2005

Last weekend I was off to Matheran. Matheran is a small hill station on the way to Pune from Mumbai. It‘s approximately 90 Kms from Mumbai central. There is something special about this place which I have not seen in any other hill station. They do not allow any kind of vehicles to this place. About 3 Kms before Matheran, there is a place called Dasturi, which is the last point where one can drive up to. People have to park their vehicles at Dasturi and from there either hike up, take a horse ride or sit in one of the man pulled cart. I wonder if they allow an ambulance. Anyway it‘s good to see a place free from vehicle pollution. Living in India, this is a blessing.

About the place: Located on a narrow north-south ridge, 800m up in the Sahyadri Range, sidetracked plateau of the Western Ghats that overhang the Konkan. The name is a Marathi term, denoting the “Mother Nature”. It was discovered by a British, Mr. Huge Mallet, the then Collector of Thane, in 1850.

Varied types of plants and herbs, having medicinal value are found in abundance in the mountain jungles of Matheran. Probably the number of monkeys in these hills outnumbers the human population, and both the red-faced breed, as well as the black-faced ones are found here.

How to get there:
Road Map: Mumbai Central to Vashi (30 KM) to Panvel (20 KM) to Chowk Phata, Karjat (20 KM) to Neral (10 KM) to Dasturi (7 KM).
From Mumbai take the Pune highway. After Vashi/Panvel catch the old Pune highway. Do not take the express way to Pune.

Train route: It is well connected by rail both, from Mumbai and Pune upto Neral Junction Station, a station at the bottom of the hill. From Neral a small Toy Train (Narrow gauge) takes you through a zigzag route of about 21 kms. to Matheran in 2 hours time. Some marvelous valley scenes can be observed during this journey. Three small stations called Jumma Patti, Water Pipe and Aman Lodge are on the way to Matheran.
This is recommended for people who are not used to the crazy Indian roads and traffic. The ghat section from Neral to Dasturi is really amazing. It must be at least 75 year old road. And will guarantee you a rollercoaster ride, with some real adventurous moments. Why not give it a shot?

What did I do?
I left Mumbai at around 5:00 AM in the morning, drove up to this place. Reached Dasturi at about 7:15 AM. Parked the car there and took a horse ride till Matheran. Its amazing to see the number and kind of people waiting to welcome you and become your guide. It gets quite irritating after a while, so the best policy is to keep quite. Behave as if you were deaf and dumb. It took me about 30 mins to reach Byke, the hotel where I had my booking. I must say, Byke is a good place to stay. Quite expense, but worth the experience. They have quite good facilities and amazing food.

Saturday was mostly relaxing time. They have a health club where they give you an hour‘s massage. It‘s quite different from the massages I have had so far. The massage is followed by sauna bath and steam bath. After all this relaxation, I can bet you would want to hit the bed.

Sunday morning I decided to go for a small trek. I walked towards the Charlotte Lake. From there I turned towards the Lord point and started following a thin foot trail. As I was walking on the edge of the mountain, it was a beautiful view. Without knowing where I‘m headed to, I just kept following the path. The path was getting narrower and narrower. I could sense that this was an off-beat track; it had a lot of spider web. The forest was getting thicker and the whole atmosphere was just sucking me in. On the way I could see a lot of broken houses. It was getting a bit scary as there was not trace of humans. I saw some beautiful birds on the way. Finally I reached a point called Belvedere point where there were some signs of civilization. This is motivating enough for me to continue. I followed the same path and reached one tree hill point. This had a very beautiful view. At this point I decide to head back. Now I decide to take a different route back. After searching for sometime, I found a huge track going back. Just followed it and reached Byke. The whole exercise too me about 4 hours.

Reenergized, I reached the resort and pounced on the breakfast, like I had rediscovered food. Towards the afternoon I took a stroll down to the market. It was fascinating to watch the economics of this place.

In the evening I headed back to the concrete jungles of Mumbai. Mission accomplished.

Trek to Ombattu Betta

Tuesday, January 4th, 2005

About the Place:
Ombattu Gudde is a peak at about 971 meters above sea level, and at a distance of about 20 kms from Gundiya Checkpost, inside the Kabbinale Reserved Forest. The peak is so named because there are 9 prominent humps on top, almost in a straight…

Trek from Palani to Kodaikanal

Saturday, December 11th, 2004

About the Place :
Kodai or Kodaikanal is on the southern crest of the Palani hills, about 120 km from Madurai, at an altitude of 2100 mt. It is an idyllic getaway for regular tourists, trekker and honeymooners. Kodaikanal is one of the most popular &…

Monsoon Trek to Brahmagiri

Saturday, December 11th, 2004

About the Place:
Part of the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, the Brahmagiri hills are one of the most scenic spots of the Western Ghats. Declared a sanctuary (181.29 sq. km) on 5th June 1974 it has evergreen and semi green forests as well as shola grassland…

Trek to Tadiyandamol

Saturday, December 11th, 2004

About the Place :
Tadiyandamol is in Vir raj pet taluq in Coorg district in South West Karnataka. Tadiyandamol means “Highest Point” in Kodava language. This peak is the highest one in the Madikeri district situated near Vir raj pet about a 30kms…

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