That's probably the best way to describe a Bungeeeee jump. I went for one last Thursday. The tower was 120ft high, that's almost 10 floors of a building. For long time I wanted to do this, but the first time when they were here in the city, I was in college and found it too expensive and un-affordable. The next time around, I did not go for no specific reasons. I finally managed it this time, for good.
When we walked into the venue and saw people dropping down from the tower, it did not look all that easy. But seeing them only seemed to increase the desire to challenge gravity. After the first big free fall, the flexible rope would again drag the person up and you keep swinging in the air for a few more times. The fun seemed to last pretty long. We registered for the jump and had a fairly long wait for our turn. It was fun to watch a good many people take the jump, some people screaming all the way down. I wasn't really feeling all that confident but it wasn't scary either.
When my turn came, I started climbing the stairs to the tower. It took 4 and a half minutes to reach the top. It did not look all that high from the top, but definitely pretty high for a free fall. Once I get up there on the tower, there will be around 10 more minutes of waiting until the remaining people on the tower finish their turn. During this time you can get a close look at people jumping and also have a good idea about the height and the fall. The moment of real decision comes in when your turn comes you are called in to jump. The instructor does not tell you much. All he does is tie you up to the rope and say, just go to the platform and fall down freely. It does not sound as easy as it looks. When you step onto the open diving platform, you know that you don't trust any of these guys. You know you don't trust the rope to hold you back when you are falling. You know you don't want to fall at all but just get back and run. But you also know that the longer you wait, the feeling grows on you and more difficult it is. So you let go of yourself quickly and just fall down..... And that is the moment...... you are not sure what is happening but you know everything is wrong around you and you are falling really really really fast..... there is nothing in your control.... it is an amazing feeling. But before you know, you are at the bottom and the rope is pulling you back. During the next couple of swings of the rope, you would be on complete control and things look normal. It is all over in a matter of few seconds and slowly you are back where you left from: sturdy and solid and trustable ground. Sigh! It was great while it lasted. But got over too soon.....
I would want to take another jump sometime, but I think I need at least double the height. And I sorely missed my camera that day.
Today seems to be one of those rare days with a nice aura and happiness filled around it. I am not sure why but I am smiling at everything I see, even to blokes who break traffic rules and irritate me everyday. I am not fretting as usual when I enter into office. What is it that makes you feel good for no special reason? Is it the same thing that makes a bad day for no good reason?
So it was the much anticipated day of the Bangalore blogger's meet last Sunday. There weren't any pressmen around to cover the meet so we had some good time without any one troubling us important people. ;-)
The meet was planned at Cafe Coffee Day in Bombay Store. The place was suggested by smart guy Harris, for it was pretty close to his house. Had we known this before there was no way we could agree on the venue. ;-) I walked into MG Road a little early as I had to shop for some films and filters. A camera in my hand was supposed to be identifier for all of us. Got stuck with a couple of friends there when Harris bumped into me on MGRoad. We both walked into Bombay Store at almost precisely 6pm(planned time) and started waiting for others. We waited and waited for nearly 30 minutes and no one seemed turned up. Ayesha had mentioned that she is going to be a bit late but what abt others? We decided to walk a bit hunting for people only to figure out that rest of the guys were standing only a few yards away! A few minutes later, Ayesha walked in and we were on our way to coffee day.
The conversation started about how we got into blogging, whom do we all visit and such things. Besides the Bangalore bloggers around, the conversation also rolled into starry Sukanya, Tania, Tesh and many more. Everyone felt it is the comments that give kicks for the blog. We went on to know more about each of us, who-does-what who's-from-where and all. (Godly)Suresh and Anand seemed to have some invisible chain linked to them. It was nice to hear they were born at the same place, studied together, now working together and finally blogging together! They would even say if you want to reach one of us, you can call the other person! :-) Like it is journalists in Bombay, it seemed to be what else but techies all the way in the blogging community of Bangalore. Ayesha would say "I am not techie" but I certify that she is. :-) But unlike the normal projections of a typical techie, everyone seemed to have a great sense of humor and we were yapping and laughing non-stop all the way. After a couple of photos and some coffee, Sathish had to leave to attend the call of Sooraj. After yapping a while, we moved on to India Coffee House for some munch. We would have kept yapping for much longer but the Coffee House guys seemed to be ready to throw us out if we would not get going. So finally we moved out, got a few more pics in Barton Center and ended our 2 and a half hours long meet. Everyone had a great time, though the session was only named as ice-breaker. We plan to meet again, soon.
There wasn't much to write for a week or so. After a good 3 days weekend, coming back to work on Tuesday was no fun. Add to that was a really bad Tuesday where nothing went by the plan and I was sitting with shit loads of work to finish. Very unsual of me, most of the week I ended up at workplace for around 2 hours beyond the closure time. Fortunately the streak seams to have ended and things are limping back to normalcy. And in time for the weekend. Have been reading Lord of the Rings in the evenings and Tolkein magic seems to be on me now. Very difficult to put down the book. I am glad it spans over 1000 pages so the book can be enjoyed for a long time. :-)
I got myself a pair of glasses 2 days back! The anti-glare kind that helps you save your eyes form the clutches of the comp monitor and also for night drives, not the ones for vision problems. Was surprised how irritating they can be to wear. I hope I get used to it and not abandon it, at least for the 2 grands+ I paid for it. Am imagining myself like one of those geeks in hollywood movies with fat glasses, always glued to a stupid comp and muttering some strange nonsense that no one understands. ;-) Sucks full time. lol.
Well, the weekend is 'round the bend and we have a blogger's meet scheduled for Sunday. Have a good time fellas...
A few days back, when sitting around and brooding about my own life in past, futue, my destiny, desires and ambitions, the things I hate about life, things that I would love to do and many such things, I kinda realized that more often than not, I let things happen than I do things myself. I also figured out that there is a strange 'lack' of things that I can't really define well and that this feeling is not new. There is also a feel of uncertainity, feel of absence of perfectly defined destiny and fear of loosing out lot of things in life. Occassionally, I even face depression cycles based on this. I tried to go searching for answers to this question. I tried recollecting things from many a lot books that I have read, tried to observe people around me, and did a lot of thinking on this. I figured out I was not alone and this is not something very new. I did not really find a clear answer to my questions, but at the end, I finally ended up coining a term for this state of mind: I called it 'pre-midlife crisis', based on the well known 'midlife crisis'. I think most of you ppl know what I mean here... ;-)
Today, to make a few more checks and learn more of it, I Googled on this term to check if 'pre-midlife crisis' is a novel term or someone has already researched this. Google, trustable as ever, gave me some relevant infor. I was happy to see that it is an existing term, though not as popularly known, like the 'midlife crisis'(pat, pat budding psychologist ;-) ). There is also a parallel term 'Quarterlife crisis'. It seems there is even a book on this: "Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties", written by some 'Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner'. Read reviews of the same in Amazon, and also figured out that firstandsecond is selling this book. I am off to buy the book. Will tell ya more when I complete reading it... :-)
I saw a pair of them a few days back when I was walking near my house in the evening. Believe it or not I had never seen an owl before! I am familiar with their calls though. When I was a small kid, I guess there were a lot of owls around my house. I used to be scared to go out of home in the night because you could constantly hear them making 'gook gook' sound and it was scary. Mom would say they are owls, and owls did not sound or look very friendly in the pictures. And owls always seemed to have a role to play in spooky stories. True to their nocturnal nature, they would not be seen anywhere around in day time.
Now, when I see them for the first time, I think they are actually cute. They were small ones, almost the size of a pigeon. I watched them fluttering around for a minutes or so until they flew away. Since it was already beginning to get dark, I was not able to see them very clearly. I then rushed home and opened my 'Salim Ali'. Going by the description and picure in the book, what I saw are 'Shorteared owls' but can't be too sure....
Pictures on the net: Shorteared owl. This link also has the picture of a very beautiful 'Snow owl'; The now famous hedwig of Harry Potter.
It's not good: When you make a typo while going to one of your regular sites(www.rediff.com)
It's a pain: When someone has actually hosted a site with this name, anticipating that you might make a typo and reach there!(www.redif.com). And you realize the mistake only after a bit of waiting for the page to load, and some confusion and surprise seeing a 'different look' page
It's annoying: When this spoofy site remains in the browser history and pops up during autocompletion each time you try to go to your regular site.
It's an irritation: When you try to close this spoofy site, it leaves a series of popups(www.inditimes.com). Grrrrr..... I hate popups.
It's bad: When the spoofy site is porn site(I happened to land on one such, long back)
It's worse: When the spoofy site is a porn site and you are at office!
It's hopeless: When you dan't leern fastt and be caraful whilo typing
Missed an update from the previous day: We also visited a light house nearby after sunset. Until now I used to think light houses are a thing of the past but apparently that is not true. From the hill where the light house is located is a panoramic view of lights of Panaji city at night, and Mandovi river near the sea. We saw quite a few boats and cruises enjoying the night on the river. We all wished we were in one of those boats and also contemplated on buying boats and living near the shores. :-)
This day, 4th November 2002 was the last day in Goa. Only thing that was remaining to do was to go to Sun Village Resorts at 10-30am to get a hang of diving and then start driving to Bangalore. We got up fairly early and decided to checkout nearby Arpora Fort. It was a good idea to go there. Fort was located on a hill with very long view of sea shore. One side was the Vagator beach and to the other side, sea waters made an entry into the land, forming a bay. Or was that a river? There was no one around whom we could ask, but from the map we had, it looked like a bay. Looking at the sea and the waves not from the beach but from somewhere a few hundred feet high gives a completely different picture.
We returned from the fort and drove to the resort. Had a filling breakfast there that lasted beyond lucnhtime. :-) When we came out of the restaurant, the diving crew had already arrived. There were a few people already in queue and we had a bit of waiting to do. During the wait, I had a fairly long chat with the divers and got to know a bit about the sport, the fishes you get to see down there, some enjoyable experiences of the divers and a lot more. One of the guys was telling about a story where he was standing still in water, and fish would come to him out of curiocity, repeatedly bang into his goggles while he got a close look at the fish. He also talked about some friendly fishes that would let you swim with them in the school. All that made me all the more enthusiastic about diving(marketing?) and there, my turn had come to dive. I put on the gear. It consits of a belt with some heavy metal piece attached to it to ensure that you can get down the water easily, a pair of long shoes you might have seen in tv that helps you move forward, a jacket that has the air cylinder attached to it, an air regulator/mouth piece to inhale water from and goggles. Even wearing all that was not an simple job. :-) After putting on the gear, I struggled a bit to get used to breathing with the mouth but soon got used to doing that. Then it was all like a breeze going around the pool. It was a good experience. We all returned back hoping to come back for a full time course, time and money permitting.
So there we started our drive back to the city around 12pm. Even the drive back was good. Most of the drive was thru a lot of greenery. After half an hour or so, we entered the western ghat region and started steep and curvy climbs. The picturusque drive lasted for nearly 45 minutes when we reached the planes of deccan. We drove on continuosly for 4 hours and arrived near Hubli. We had to pass via Hubli-Dharwad bypass road which seems to be a newly built toll highway. The road was surprisingly good, wide, away from villages and was almost deserted. We got a chance to put the car on a stress test and managed to reach speeds as high as 150kph, very safely. Must say this is faster than the speed limit in many states in US. Even after this, the road was pretty decent all the way till Bangalore. Most of the time, we stayed at 90 to 110kph. It helped us to reach the city a little earlier than projected - at around 12-30am and we were able to catch some sleep that night, before heading to work the next day. And the next day, I woke up to the grind, again. :-))
.....the road trip continued: Day 4: Chaos and Confusions
So here comes the 4th day, the last full day in Goa. It was a good day of learning how disordered and chaotic can an unplanned trip can become. Our agenda for the complete day: Watersports. For all of us, this was the major attraction of Goa, even more than the famous beaches. The previous day, we had gone to nearby Taj Holiday Village inquiring about it, only to be told to come again the next day and ask. In the meantime, we also had called up Barracuda Diving about what we can do tomorrow, and again did not get much details.
We called Taj in the next morning to find out that there weren't any interesting options. So the first thing, we simply headed to 'Cida de Goa' beach resort near Miramar, Panaji where Barracuda Diving was supposedly located. On asking, we were given some watersport options in the resort, like WindSurfing, speedboat and more. But Barracuda Diving had recently shifted to Marriott beach resort that was a 10 minute drive from there. So there, we go to Marriott and finally met people from the diving school. Our plan was to Snorkel and spend the day while understanding whatever we can about diving. But it so turned out that the boat that goes to diving site had left around 30 minutes back and the next schedule is 2 days later. We were stranded with nothing much to do for the day. It is too hot to get into a beach or something during mid-day. We then decided on whiling our time till evening and return to 'Cida de Goa' to learn some windsurfing there.
So, with lot of time to spend, we entered a nearby Barista and spent half an hour. From there, we went to Old Goa to visit the 17th Century built Church of St Francis of Assisi. Old goa is nearly 20 minutes drive from Panaji. All these times, we were talking how good an idea it was to take a car here. Without one, we would have been stuck to one or two places and could have moved around very little. The St. Francis Church also housed a museum and had some paintings from the Portugese days. Believe it or not it was the first time in life I was going to a Church! I was moved by the majesty of the place and the calmness that it evokes. Strangely, I felt the same good feel that I had felt under the stars when we were sitting the previous night on the Vagator beach. We lit candles and sat in the Church for sometime. I felt I could sit there silently and spend all the day. Visiting the Church was a good decision and that made the best of the day.
We returned to Panaji from there, finished our lunch and again went to Barista. Around 4pm, we returned to Cida de Goa to try windsurfing. It so turned out we had not done good home work again. They had no staff to teach you windsurfing, so all you could do is hire a surfboard and hit the sea if you are a pro. Same with snorkels too. So the remaining options were the not really pleasent ones - like parasailing, speed boat rides and the like. So just to minimize our disappoinement, we bought some boat rides and returned from there.
The only bright spot of the day was visiting Barracude Diving school. Karen from the school informed us about some promotional package where they introduce to diving gears and also give you a session in swimming pool(FYI: you have to begin in swimming pool even for a profession course). And one such session is scheduled in a 'Sun Village Resort' the next morning. So planning about that, we returned to the basecamp after dinner. We then went to Vagator beach(that was around 9pm I guess) with some mats and torch and decided to spend some time in the night there. The evening tides were rising and the sea was much more active than the previous day. We were there for an hour or so watching the tides and the stars. I think it is really nice to sit in a beach during the night than day, as long as you don't get into water. Nearly 30 minutes after we were in the beach, we noticed lot of crabs were coming out of their hide. Since they were small and stayed away from us, they were not a problem. But after an hour we saw the numbers growing and wherever you see, there were crabs crabs and just crabs. To me, it was nice to see so much life around even near a populated beach, but it was definitely not a good idea to stay there any longer. So we left around 10pm and hit the bed. We had one night and almost half day more in Goa.
After two days of journey by car, I slowly began to realize a few things that I found missing in the car. It did not have a remote fuel lid, remote boot opener and driver side power windows. The gears and clutch were hard but that was probably because of how old the car is and when was it serviced. The music system was nowhere close to the one that I was used to. And air conditioning was pathetic for the size of the car; it used to take ages to bring the temperature down. Probably I was pampered a bit with my car, but I did feel those are essential things in a car. Never mind, they are only accessories. Handling and driveablity of the car were excellent and that was something really important. At least, the 'josh machine' lived up to its nickname. In the next part of the journey, we had to travel on National Highway 17 all the way north until we reach Panaji. The highway runs close to the coast and sometimes you can get a good view of the sea from the road. Road was in pretty good condition and driving was a breeze. After driving for an hour or 2 the road was going on a hill and we noticed a beautiful beach around 2kms away from the road. It was a pretty long beach and the there were a lot of green hills near the shore. We dorve down near the beach for a look. It was mostly empty but for a few fishermen. We asked them if they could take us to an island we could see from the beach. They seemed to be willing but circumstances not. It was very windy that morning, so row boats would take a long time, and the only mechanised boat available there was short of fuel. So we just whiled away for half an hour near the waters, taking pictures et al and continued furthur.
Next, we stopped on the way at Karwar port. Unlike some other ports, these people were letting in visitors for a small fee. So we went inside and even got a chance to take a look inside one of the 2 ships parked(anchored) there. They were not very big ones though.
After Karwar was our last destination in the route: Panaji, Goa. As soon as we left the borders of karnataka, the road turned bad and narrow. We drove for a few more hours till we reached Panaji and arrived there for lunch time. The first thing we did after lunch was to get the music system repaired(Thank god!). Around 4pm or so, we started off exploring beaches near Panaji. The first one was Calangute. It is probably one of the most well known beaches here. It was too crowded so we got off the place quickly and went to next place. I think the name is Baga beach or something. This one was crowded too, so we just continued. A little after sunset, when there was still some light, we reached Vagator beach. This was a good place and fortunately not very crowded. We walked into the beach and sat there looking at the sea for an hour or more, and found an accomodation near the beach. This became our base camp for our furthur explorations in Goa.
On the night of day one, the music system in the car had suddenly stopped working. This was the worst thing that could happen to all of us. No music for next four days! Lot of you would agree that it would be something tough to live with. So first thing in the morning, we called the 24 hour helpline of the rental company and asked them how they could help. Naturally, there was little they could do sitting in Bangalore. Since it was too early in Shimoga, we could not find anyone who could get the system in shape. So cursing our luck, after a good breakfast, we hit the road around 7am.
We had to continue on NH 206 for next 160kms. Next destination was Jog, which is around 100km away from Shimoga. The road was fairly decent and we cruised on smoothly. On the way, we stopped in the town of Sagar and found someone to have a look at the system. But that did not help and we had continue without music. We reached Jog around 10am. I have probably been here a 100 times but it is always nice to come back once again. We stood there looking at the waterfall for around 30 minutes.
Jog falls, re-published from archives
We then went around the waterfall to the cliff where water goes down from. It is a great view to bend down from the top of the cliff and see the water falling. And we were at the perfect time of the day to see the falling waters forming a rainbow. It was very beautiful. Words fail on describing this. I just sat there on the cliff speechless for a few minutes, seeing the majesty of the 900ft fall.
Our next destination from here was Murdeshwara, also called Mrudeshwara I think. Jog is the starting point of drive into the western ghats. It was my turn behind the wheels from here. :-) The road thru the western ghats is very picturesque and goes thru dense rain forests, hills and valleys. The stretch of around 25kms was great fun to drive. We stopped on the way at a Vista Point to have a look at the Sharavathi valley.
Sharavathi valley, re-published from archives
A few words about the Sharavathi valley: This is one of my favourite places and I have been seeing this place since my childhood days. But the place was totally different this time around. They have built a dam against the flow at the end of the valley. The result is a much widened river, lot of trees submerged and huge amounts of forrest lost. The river is now so jampacked that in within a distance of 20kms, there are 4 dams built into it! Now there are lot of places where you see concrete where all you would see before was trees trees and more trees. I wish people were more sane and leave the pristine river and valley undistrurbed. I wish they learn to protect the nature before they destroy everything and is too late.
We drove 70kms more to reach our next rendezvous, Murdeshwara. We were there at sometime around 2pm. This place is an (almost)island with a very narrow landmass joining it to the mainland. I was here around 10-15 years back. Then, the island was a small hill with a Shiva temple built in a small portion of the island. The narrow landmass joining the mainland was asphalted and both sides of the road were beaches!!
I was at surprise here too. Where there was just a temple in the island, now there is a big hotel right next to the sea, there is a restaurant built a few meters in the sea and a whole lot of new constructions. More than all that, the most shocking thing was that the hill itself was brought down to make way for some more construction!! It is actually illegal to construct anything within 200m from the seashore, but that did not seem to deter any one.
We spent rest of the day near the beach. It was good fun. We walked around the beach for sometime, played frisbee for half an hour and then got into the water and stayed there until the sunset. After 7, we went inside the temple and spent some time there. Around 8pm or so, we left Murdeshwar and went to Honnavar for the night's stay. I feel this was the best of all the 4 days of our trip.
For sometime we had been planning a long trip on the roads of western coast line of Karnataka and Goa. Last weekend being a 4 day holiday, it was the best time to realize it. The plan was to take a car and leave Bangalore on Thursday evening, enter the coast near the town of Honnavara(translated, means something like 'El Dorado'!) and drive north till Panaji and return to Bangalore around Monday evening or midnight. It was actually tough to find people to fill the car(!), so at the end, there were three of us leaving Bangalore instead of originally planned four.
The problem of making decisions started even before we began the trip. The question was 'what car to take'? The options were to take my car, another fellow traveller's car or to rent one. The criterion for selecting the car were comfort, speed and tolerance to bad roads, and economics. It would cost big time to hire a car but getting a big car would mean a comfortable journey. Finally we rented a car from a travels company as this would also shield our cars from risks of a long journey. After working out our choices on the cars, we zeroed in on a Ford Ikon. Our choice turned out to be a good one. At the end of the journey, we are glad we took this car and not any thing lesser. As a good part of the journey was spent with the car, this travelog may also end up being a review of the car, and the roads we passed by. Of the three of us, only two could drive and we decided to drive alternately as directed by fatigue. But for both of us, driving happened to be more fun than tiring business :-). Since we had a car, we packed in as much stuff as we could without worrying about having to carry too much luggage. To quote an example, I took three sets of footwear with me. Without the car, I would have settled for the one I would be wearing. There was not much effort required in preparing the car, as the rental company had it in a fairly good condition.
We designed our routes with the help of tracks from india over land and maps of India. It will be of help refer to this Karnataka road map and this india over land route if you would ever like to repeat this road trip or if you are keenly interested in knowing the route we travelled.
We left Bangalore around 6pm Thursday. As usual, we were late against the planned 4-30pm. The first day's plan was to reach Shimoga as early as we can and catch some sleep there. The road to Shimoga comprises of 70kms of National Highway 4 from Bangalore to Tumkur and 200kms of National highway 206 from Tumkur onwards. The whole journey is slow and painful. The first part of the journey has very high traffic. Though the roads are empty from Tumkur, we face many bad stretches of road which makes things no better. The car performed pretty well in both parts of the road. It had the much needed pickup for overtaking in the highways. Shocks performed beyond our expectations in bad stretches. The only problem was the vibration in the steering wheel at speeds above 100. I was surprised to see that in such a sturdy car. We drove at speeds of around 70 to 120kph. Driving at 120s would normally not have been possible but we had a leader to help us out on the road. For nearly an hour, we tailed a Hyundai Accent that was going at very high speed. We discovered it is a good idea to tail another vehicle in the night than driving on the open road. That way, we have little to worry about visiblity problem and safety in fast driving. The driver of the Accent seemed to have a good control over his car and was driving at fairly high speed. We would not have managed such speeds if we had not tailed him. We reached Shimoga at around 12-45 in the might. After deciding to rise at around 6 in the morning we hit the bed thinking of the next day's drive.
The post seems to be getting really really long. I think I'll post one day's happenings every day. So, to be continued..... :-)
I am submitting pics from the trip only today. So I can start posting them after 2 days from today.
Have a lot to update and very little time. 4 day weekend away from the city was absolutely great. I had some great fun, including working with some scuba diving gears! Boy!! That was all real cool. Will be writing some long posts when I find time. :-)