Under Armour – Recruit 2.0 Laptop backpack

For quite a few months, I was looking for a backpack, which could be coupled for both travel and office use. I was seriously impressed with Wildcraft backpacks but the models which they had to offer was more into adventure and treks. As I kept filtering my choices, I found Nike and Puma bags were good, but they still didn’t provide the satisfaction that I was looking for. This is when, I saw Under Armour backpacks. I am aware of UA’s product and their products are pretty amazing, with Dwayne Johnson as their brand ambassador, it totally reverberates in their products – Hustle and Perfection.

Under Armour has a good hold in USA, but in India, it is still growing and trying to establish themselves as contenders against Nike, Puma, Adidas etc. I always like to try products of different companies, but only the best products which assures quality and perfection and justifies the price tag. I have never been a blind follower or influenced by a particular brand and blindly follow them for the sake of it. If a particular brand’s product justifies my needs, then I am game for it. This is what inspired me to buy Under Armour – Recruit 2.0 Laptop Backpack.

Product Design Details :

  • Padded haul loop.
  • Two main compartments with zip closure.
  • Padded back which provides necessary cushion.
  • Two external pockets.
  • Two stash pockets.
  • Padded shoulder straps.
  • Highly water resistant.

Notable Features :

  • Tough, abrasion resistant bottom panel.
  • Soft lined laptop sleeve.
  • Water repellent front valuable pockets.
  • Adjustable, padded, HeatGear shoulder straps for total comfort.
  • Adjustable straps on front for extra organization.
  • 2 main compartment.
  • 3 external pockets.
  • No. of zips : 3.

Size & Fit :

  • Height : 48 cm.
  • Width : 31 cm.
  • Depth : 17 cm.
  • Volume : 25.2 L.
  • Can hold up to 38.1 cm (15 inches) laptop.

I have been using this bag very recently, but I am super impressed with this product. I wanted to test it’s water repellant technology, as most of the time even though the company guarantees the water resistant technology but it fails miserably. But this product exceeded the expectations. With the onset of early monsoon here in Mumbai, it was an excellent opportunity to test this product as I had an appointment with Passport Seva Kendra and I was carrying important original documents and it’s Xerox copies. Keeping trust on the backpack, decided to put the documents in the bag without any water repellant covers. I was skeptical at first, but I was confident of the fact that my trust, judgment and bucks spent won’t go waste. After riding in extreme rains today, for close to 70 kms, I was elated with the fact that, not even a single drop of water penetrated inside the bag and all the documents were as dry as a bone!

All these advantages comes at a price, but Under Armour Recruit 2.0 comes at a modest price of Rs. 5000/ or $65.44. For Indian customers, check in www.myntra.com time to time, to grab it for a steal during the sale deals which pops up on a daily basis.

Field test of UA Recruit 2.0

Links to check the Under Armour products :

https://www.underarmour.com/en-us

Conclusion :

If you are looking for a backpack which can hold your laptop along with other essentials for either your normal commute or office commute, this backpack is an absolute must have. There are other products in the same range which Under Armour offers, analyze your needs and justify your requirements, buy whichever makes you feel comfortable irrespective of the price tag.

Bike trip to Pawna Dam

I have always been an impulsive rider, I just zoom in my Apple Maps (also Google Maps for more accuracy, since Apple maps sucks big time atleast in India) a night before, mark a place and calculate the distance based on the time it will take me to cover those distance. Corporate jobs suck out your life and energy, but in order to be sane, I need to travel during weekends or whenever I get any holidays. Coming back to the topic, as I was looking at nearby place i.e. anything in the range of 200 kms, a particular place kept popping up like those cookies buttons which pops up when you visit someone’s website or blogs!! I had heard about Pawna Dam through a lot of common friends of mine, but was never really inspired to actually go there and check it out. Not many people know, but I do keep a bucket list in my diary, wherein I jot down all the places which I need to visit before I leave this planet for forever and voila, that list contained Pawna Dam. That’s when I decided, let’s utilize this motivation and get this done with. Switched off my internet, set my alarm for 5:00 AM, switched off the lights and went into deep abyss with memories of previous bike rides and the excitement I may face for tomorrow’s journey.

Next Morning

I usually don’t have much issue in waking up early, so as soon as my iPhone started making crazy but beautiful vocie trying to impress me to wake up, I decided to zip it’s mouth by pressing the STOP button (poor thing :D). Did my morning chores and wore my rider jacket with the combination of military denims and adventure shoes, charged up my iPhone to 100%, wore my leather gloves along with my reliable full faced helmet and kick started my sleeping giant to life.

The bike has always been very comfortable of waking it up even in odd hours, so it doesn’t put much of a drama (oh god, I would love to have a girl friend like that!). A little throttle, and the engine is back to it’s life and fully ready to chase the next adventure. Off late, I have made this a practice to not use Apple maps / Google maps while going or finding the destination. The only reason why I planned to do that, is because travelling is all about communication with locals and getting to know them and having some adventure and I have loads of patience when it comes to communicating with locals (but yeah this time it exceeded all the patience I ever had).

Off I started around 06:45 AM, only to find my neighboring street was way more crowded than it should be. I do a lot of running during early morning hours and I know exactly who are those consistent runners who burn the street in the morning with countless miles on those rubber soles. But that morning was something different, I could see people running, jogging, chatting, taking selfies, walking and crawling on the streets, and I knew there was some race event that day (off late that’s what race events have become). So I slowly dodged my way to highway, riding the straight streets in a regular criss-cross pattern.

The butter smooth roads and clear visibility of sun ensured I was now on highway, and I need to switch to maximum gears to race against the wind and move towards the destination. I have rode Mumbai-Pune tonnes of times, so I exactly knew the road by heart and it was all etched in my mind, but the only problem was I didn’t know where Pawna Dam was I made the mistake of referring it to Pawna Lake. I reached Pune through Old Mumbai highway in no time despite taking a 15 mins break to have some hot tea and Vada Pav (local Mumbai delicacy of bread stuffed with potatoes). I was so confident of finding this place, that I kept riding inside Pune city only to realise I had come in away from the destination. So I kept asking the locals where the Pawna Lake was and none of them actually knew it existed (unfortunately they knew it as Dam and not lake), so I kept going the wrong way until it the sun was almost 90 deg aligned towards my helmet i.e. it was noon! Now I knew, this communication thing wasn’t going to work and I have to get back to Google to help me out and voila Google showed I was 30 kms away from the destination in opposite direction. Now that I knew where I had to exactly go, I reached there in an hour obviously the roads had it’s own speed breakers and bumps to make me comfortable and speed wasn’t my best friend for those 30 kms.

Delicious Vada Pavs…

Breathtaking View

The moment I reached there, I parked my bike and they charged a mere Rs.10 for that, and I could witness a huge lake with crystal clear water with cool breeze. Being a solo rider, I had to find my solo spot wherein I could enjoy what the nature had to offer, so I walked 300-400 m and found the perfect spot with small fishes ready to serve me with free fish acupuncture which are quite costly in metro cities and they charge a bomb for that!

Walking my way towards freedom…

I decided I had to stay here for an hour and half immerse all the Vitamin D and Vitamin Free before heading back to society (which is governed by rules and rules alone).

Chilling in Pawna Dam

After I was content with the view, I decided to head back to my bike only to find some beautiful goose entertaining the people around them and enjoying the lake all by itself. I decided to capture this moment without disturbing the goose’s freedom which you could see below.

Bunch of Goose enjoying…

After clicking some videos and photos, I decided it was time to head back home, but I always make sure not to return by the same route but take the alternate route. So decided to take another route which ultimately would help me pave my way through mountains, trails and broken roads with countryside view.

The unexplored..

Return Journey :

The return journey was way better than expected, fortunately I didn’t encounter much traffic on my way back home. The thing about Pawna dam is it’s such a clement place and the journey was pleasant too without much of fuss, and I reached home before eventide. But I learnt not using GPS while travelling is good and it brings a sense of adventure and unknown factor but also when all other means fail to reach destination, sometimes one needs to be smart enough to take some help either through people or through technology, as they say one can learn from anyone at any point of time. Keep learning and keep exploring and always keep your mind open like water. The ability of water to take any form or shape makes it unique, hope it makes you too.

Black Lives Matter

As I woke up this morning, I felt a certain rage within myself to the injustice the black people are facing in USA. I had been watching videos and lot of articles, blogs written by real people and not articles of mainstream media journalists who twists the narratives as per their comfort.

Watching these innocent people die under the hands of police who have even taken laws in their own hands is heartbreaking. Laws were made by the people and for the safety of the people. We also need to understand that, even police are nothing but PEOPLE! Joining the police force doesn’t give them any authority to own law and twist the laws as per their ease!

The police are meant to protect and obey the law! But as it happens in any parts of the world, if the powers are left unchecked especially of people who are in a position to misuse the laws, then humanity needs to come together and unite to defeat this disease! A disease which is even deadlier than nCOVID19 itself!           

What started as peaceful protest has aggravated into riots and violence. But wasn’t it a known thing? Had the police done their duty when they had the chance, this would have never happened in first place! The police failed to do their duty and even now Derek Chauvin has been charged with 3rd degree murder (atleast should have been charged with 2nd degree murder)! And the other 3 police officers are equally responsible for George Floyd’s death. Even they should be tried and jailed, and there is enough video evidence already!

This is a dominoes effect and is all interconnected, and if one thing fails, every other thing fails! Reminds me of a dialogue that takes place between Commissioner Gordon and John Blake (Robin) of Dark Knight Rises, it goes like this,

Jim Gordon :  “There’s a point, far out there when the structures fail you, and the rules aren’t weapons anymore, they’re… shackles letting the bad guy get ahead. One day… you may face such a moment of crisis. And in that moment, I hope you have a friend like I did, to plunge their hands into the filth so that you can keep yours clean!”

Blake is appalled by this news, and responds by saying “your hands look plenty dirty to me, Commissioner”. And eventually, John Blake leaves the police force and the words he said to Commissioner Gordon goes like this and is very powerful,

Gordon : I can’t change your mind about quitting the force?

Blake : What you said about structures becoming shackles… you were right. I just can’t take it. I mean, nobody will ever know who it was that saved an entire city.

This conversation was happening with reference to save city from bad guys, unfortunately this now applies to almost police force and to save the city from their brutality. The structures have indeed become shackles and the moment when people are afraid of police, then that is the tipping of the iceberg and that’s when you need a paradigm shift in your thinking and the whole system needs to be questioned and needs revamp. If the police department or justice department say, there are always a few bad apples, then how difficult it is to remove those few bad apples?? Does it require taking of multiple lives and atrocities before removing that officer? Is the officer so untouchable by law?

George Floyd’s words “I can’t breathe” as he battled so hard for his life and for his basic right to breath air, still reverberates in my ears every second!! No one has the right to take another man’s life especially in such circumstances.

What about the shop owner?

The police did what they always do, not to protect but kill and harass black people. But what about the shop owner? Based on the details, I have read till now, I could see the girl had asked the owner that she “suspected” it may be counterfeit dollar bill. That African-American girl was only 17 yo and rightfully called the owner to confirm what should be her next step. The owner instead of thinking wisely, took the most immature step that one would ever take, CALL POLICE! George Floyd despite the huge physical presence was all cooperative, the owner could have asked the girl to confirm once with Mr. Floyd regarding the counterfeit bill, and could have talked about it, and I believe Floyd would have cleared the confusion or may be would have given another $20 bill instead of the one he gave! The owner may have acted in his defence, but it also shows the mentality of the owner too, as soon as he heard the girl say about the situation, he panicked and instructed her to call the police! In India, many times such thing happens, and the shop owner discusses the legitimacy of the note and if found fake, kindly asks the person to change it and give another note or do digital payment through Paytm or amazon pay etc, the person also obliges to it! No one even thinks about calling the police for something as trivial as this! That is why we need to know the exact conversation that happened between the girl and the shop owner. If the girl had mentioned “black guy or African-American guy” and the owner decided to call police because of that, then it also shows the evil which resides deep in the system especially in the mindset of the people! I am not judging anybody here, but yes if we need to eradicate this disease, then we need to understand the whole story and conversation that led to before this event.

Enraged!

I have always believed, equal rights is the basic right of any living things. It’s a delicate balance, the moment one society starts getting more privileges, it automatically outweighs the another. The law and the system is as good as the people in it! And if it outweighs, there is always repercussions, that’s why the balances always needs to be EQUAL, NOT LESS – NOT MORE!

I had penned this poem, in memory of late George Floyd which I had shared in my twitter feed too. Here is the link to that.

Black Lives Matter

How can racism be eradicated?

There is no one shot solution for that, but yes like all problems there is a solution for it and it needs to be eradicated from the grassroots level. Schools and educational institutions should actively encourage children of all races to socialize more and sow the seeds of love rather than hate. If a child gets this inscribed in his mind, then it will remain forever with him and under no circumstances whether personal or professional reason will he/she ever encourage racism. This is a long road and may take years, but if the new generation is taught this right from their childhood, then they will pass on this knowledge to their children and on and on, and eventually racism or hatred will be eradicated and the only thing which will prevail is LOVE and LOVE ALONE!

As I write this blog, I am pained and hurt but I also have HOPE for a better future and that the world will heal one day, one step at a time. Ending this blog with a famous quote by Rosa Parks:

“Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome”.

The Art of acting on your Dreams

The only thing that makes humans unique is their ability to dream and to act upon that dream. The ability to think and, visualize and make that dream into reality has ensured we are always a step ahead from other mammals or living things.

But only a handful few ever get realize their potential, and only handful few are always ahead of the curve; the majority of the homo sapiens population are just survivors like animals who ensure they do things in their limited capacity and check out the day one hour at a time.

I have been scratching my head every time when I see someone achieve something worthwhile, whether it is climbing Mt. Everest, going to space, becoming president of a country, building a multi billion dollar industry from the scratch or being the best blogger with millions of followers! Let me make it clear, I haven’t been jealous with their success but in awe, as to how do these guys manage to achieve something extraordinary with the same amount of time that every living being on this earth has been given, which is 24 hrs!

I have read all types of articles, listened to podcasts of these super achievers, watching countless hours of videos, read autobiographies and even followed their Instagram / twitter accounts for a while, only to understand how do these people work, what is their mindset and how are they ahead of the curve, always?!

I had listened to Steve Jobs speech in Stanford about Connecting the dots during my college days, even it didn’t make much sense then, as I was that impatient guy who had little attention span and swiping videos ahead, but after I graduated from college, I chanced upon that video again during my professional life, a life where the fancy college dreams fades away and the reality sinks in, where each day is a survival. As they say, “Survival of the fittest”.

Steve Jobs commencement speech in 2005 at Stanford University

Connecting the dots made more sense now, but still the young and pumping hot blood in me didn’t have the patience to actually understand what Steve Jobs actually meant until very recently! Over a period of time, it all made sense and I was genuinely able to connect the dots more clearly now.

All those people who were successful in their respective field had all these traits inscribed in concrete within them. The traits were BELIEF, FOCUS, DETERMINATION, CONSISTENT, COMMITMENT, PRACTICE, PERSEVERANCE, POSITIVITY, PERFECTION and NEVER BACK DOWN ATTITUDE. No matter what the situation, all these top achievers in their respective field, never cared about what other people would say or how crazy their dreams were, these high achievers had visualized their dreams and were ready to do the grind with those 10 commandments.

Whether it was visualizing the iMac or becoming world champion or sending satellite outside our solar system; all these ideas were crazy for normal people but not for those people who were willing to adhere to those 10 commandments for years and years until the crazy idea turned into reality.

One needs to put in countless hours with a will and passion to improve on a daily basis to become successful. And it is easy, but these 10 commandments needs to be inscribed in our mind and heart and one needs to be crazily passionate about it to turn that dream into reality.

How do we go about it?

I have realized, it is quite simple (simple is such an underrated word :D). Passion will always find a way but not until one starts getting involved in the things one loves to do. So we need to list out what are the things that we are most passionate about, and try to do those things on a regular basis but most importantly without expecting results. Remember, it is not a sprint but a marathon or may be an ultra marathon depending on what have you set your mind to achieve. But if you take that one single step, and keep taking that step towards your goal on a daily basis with those 10 commandments, you will achieve your dreams one day or the other, but the only question is, are you ready to take that grind and are you ready to put in those hours and follow those 10 commandments with utmost sincerity and honesty, and most importantly are you crazy enough to pursue your crazy dreams to turn it into reality?

All these questions only YOU can answer.

With this, hope I have given you some food for thought and would like to end this blog with a favorite quote of mine said by the great sage Swami Vivekananda.

“ Arise, Awake and Stop not until the goal is reached”

Let me know in the comments below, what are your dreams (if you are comfortable to share) and are you crazy enough to adhere to the 10 commandments to achieve it? I am sure YOU can, let us make it a reality. Wishing my readers the best, BE CRAZY, BE YOU!

Work from Home – New Reality?

Coronavirus or more scientifically called as nCOVID-19 started from a small city in Wuhan, China. And as this disease kept spreading, people infact corporates started to think alternatives for how to continue with work?

So, it made a pandemic like COVID-19 to make the corporates realize that Work From Home is infact POSSIBLE! Work from Home has become a reality now, with each passing day, employees have never been in more control of their work and deliverables.

How is going to office affecting productivity?

  1. Commuting hours has been the main culprit in draining the creative juices and energy of an employee. On an average Indians spend atleast 7% of their day commuting to office, averaging less than 3 minutes per km, in terms of hours spent on road; it is a min. of 2-3 hours and again that depends on the location of the house from your office. Now, this is the average one-way commute, now that gets double up with 2 way commute.
  2. Hassle with drivers or commuters in trains, buses etc. It is said that, morning hours are the most productive hours wherein the employee tends to give his best at work and also to the surroundings in the office. Now, even a small argument with drivers or trains or buses can switch the mood of an employee to more of a sombre one, which usually tends to happen most of the time.
  3. Office politics are the main reason why an employee is never able to get the confidence to work or be productive with his work. Constant gossiping and meddling with an employee’s work discourages the employee to work with full efficiency
  4. Tea breaks, lunch breaks, chat breaks consumes most of the time in office. With employee’s rounding everyone up often for refreshments breaks, which has become some kind of ritual nowadays in office, it has become more of a hindrance than boon. With constant gossips even in those refreshment breaks, it tends to kill those creative juice and dedication towards work.

How will Work from Home increase productivity?

  1. Commuting hours is SAVED by approx. 4-5 hours to and fro. Using those hours to work, imagine the productivity and visible difference it will bring in? The mind remains uncluttered and not tired which itself is more than enough to get the work done. Imagine using these hours for researching about a project or for that any subject related to the work which will inturn bring in more depth and clarity to the work on hand.
  2. When there is no commuting, then obviously there is no hassle with drivers or commuters or traffics etc. The mind remains fresh and this can be channeled to work which will in turn bring in more productivity with how we deliver the work. And I am pretty obvious, it will bring in more freshness and more quality to work.
  3. The advantage of work from home eliminates the term office politics as there is nothing to be worried about gossips. The only thing that matter is work and delivering the targets.
  4. No need for extensive refreshment breaks, as when you work in solitude, you do tend to take quality breaks wherein you are not dependent on other person but on yourself to refresh your mind and get back to workspace with a more energized and settled mind.

People may argue, that there are certain cons in WFH. But, that has always been the case in any field right? Team meetings and meetings in person is a drawback but with time, even those issues can be address through extensive use of Video portals like MS Teams, Skype, Zoom or any forms of video communications. And if F2F meetings are a necessity, one can tend to do it in Café too or in places like which are conducive for meetings.

With time, and with increasing real estate costs, fossil fuels costs, even cost of living; this type of mode of work will indeed become a reality in near future. And when that becomes a reality, let’s not get panic and worry about how things will fall in place, but rather embrace it and accept that THINGS WILL FALL IN PLACE with time.

Interview with Mr. Bharath Thammineni

Speaker :Mr. Bharath Thammineni  

Interviewer : Mr. Col. Romil Barthwal

Mr. Bharath Thammineni, is an avid mountaineer and summits some of the world’s most beautiful and challenging mountains. His CV is already impressive with summits to Mt. Everest both from South side and North side, Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Elbrus and many more.

Bharath’s thirst for adventure and the willingness to keep setting new benchmarks. We had a web session on 08th April,2020 via ZOOM, organized by Mr. Col. Romil Barthwal who is also an avid mountaineer who has summited Mt. Everest. We chatted on April 8,2020 as Mr. Bharath was gracious enough to get interviewed by Col. Romil, during the coronavirus crisis.

The interview was conducted by Mr. Romil Barthwal and I was one of the attendees who was more than inspired by the interview and noted everything down like a student!

  1. How should one prepare for mountaineering and trekking?

Mountaineering improves lot of mental strength. Above 7000m in O2 cylinder, there is hardly any time and need to prepare well and reach the target. Timing is important.

Mistakes people usually do :

People target Mt. Everest straightaway. Bharath says, as tempting as it can get but that should not be main motivation. It’s a process and to be a successful mountaineer, one needs to embrace the grind. Bharath, points out some of the mistake which he committed on his quest to Mt. Everest.

  1. Mr. Bharath says, his 1st peak was Mt. Everest. Surprising as it may get, but he hits it back frankly, by saying he never enjoyed the journey to Mt. Everest, the reason being he never went through the process. And he, hardly had any interactions with fellow mountaineers too.
    1. The second most important this he points out is, he did only basic mountaineering course which he dropped off eventually. The basic course which is a 30 day course for beginners and it should be done by any aspiring mountaineers to know the intricacies of climbing mountains and facing the challenges there. This course helps the candidates (future mountaineers) to stay away from home (this eventually helps you with the idea of loneliness and increasing the mental strength) and post which advanced mountaineering course should be done (even though this is not mandatory but doing it will be an added advantage). Also, Bharath points out that, before going to Mt. Everest, one should atleast scale a 6500m+ peaks. Any peak until 7000m can be done without O2 cylinders but he points out there is always a huge difference between 7000m peaks without O2 and 8000m peaks with O2 cylinders.
  2. What are 3 most important aspects people should know for climbing Mt. Everest without any issues?
    1. Mental strength reqd.
    1. Positive attitude reqd. to reach summit and come back to base camp which takes twice the effort. When u are close to summit and get exhausted, don’t prolong it, rather take conscious decision to come back to base camp and come back to base camp. Do not be adamant. Never let your guard down until u r back to base camp.
    1. Proper Planning is reqd. for 8000m+ peaks, atleast a year’s plan. And obviously an exhaustive / planned training is reqd.
  3. Challenging incident of Mr. Bharath in Mt. Everest?
    1. In 2015 Everest expedition, Nepal earthquake all expeditions were called off. Bharath, climbed from North side on April 25th towards advance basecamp which is situated at 6400m. All team members were called to base camp and he planned Everest in 2012, which took almost 3 years to raise fund and he decided to climb in 2015. But due to the earthquake, the expedition was cancelled and within a shot all money blew away. So he had to start from the scratch and it took another 5 years, post that successfully climbed Mt. Everest only on 2017 despite suffering heavy losses.
    1. Mt. Lhotse is a highly technical peak. In Mt. Lhotse climbing with crampon, heavy luggages and walking on rock is quite challenging.
  4. Aspects of planning reqd both physically and mentally?
    1. The physical and mental traits depends person to person.
    1. According to Mr. Bharath, it’s 65% mental strength and 35% physical strength.
    1. Mental strength can be developed with basic and advanced mountaineering course.
  5. Food challenges, gear challenges?
    1. Food : Nepali cooks are available at base camp. The food is basically protein, oatmeal with boiled water etc and packaged foods. Mostly vegetarian food are available especially after 6500m.
    1. Climbing towards Advanced base camp, Mr. Bharath made sure he took lot of dry fruits, Toffee, chocs, sugar etc which gives instant energy and keeps the mind engaged.
    1. Gears : light weight shoes are preferable. Lots of companies are there in Kathmandu for gears. Much cheaper in Nepal than in India due to less import taxes.
  6. Challenges in North side and South side?
    1. North side is quite windy and cold. South side one can climb and descent comparatively easily.
    1. As per govt. norms, the ratio is 4:1 i.e. 4 ppl will climb from south and one from North.
  7. Lot of ppl dying on Everest, how can one minimize the risk of casualty?
    1. People are not prepared for sudden issues or challenges, and not able to deal with it.
    1. Proper training is required. Need to handle situation on your own with proper knowledge. Training needs to be ruthless.
  8. Any specific training reqd for Everest?
    1. Better to have many 6500m+ peaks under their belt to actually get the mindset and physical strength ready with proper acclimatization.
  9. Technical aspects of Mt. Everest?
    1. Kanchenjunga is more challenging than Everest as it’s more steep. Walking on rock with crampon is quite difficult; people tend to slip and there is hardly any friction on those rocks. Annapurna is an avalanche prone area and only 242 people have climbed the peak till date.
  10. Why casualties while coming down from Mt. Everest?
    1. Mr. Bharath says, Mentality of Asians is an issue w.r.t. money spent etc, and there is no control to mind and body. We tend to worry a lot about the investments etc rather than enjoying the challenges and embracing the present situation. We need to take conscious decision at that point of time, mountains can be climbed next year too, but life is more important.
  11. What kind of training and exercise one needs to do?
    1. Basic training is reqd (no heavy weights), but Mr. Bharath stresses more on cardio. He says, people should try carrying backpacks with salt bags inside it rather than loading it with rocks and running with that load. Carrying slat packets and training with it, won’t damage our back. Also he stresses out on, Inclined position walking which is a crucial factor while summiting mountains like walking on stairs 10 floors, 10 times. Ppl who are extremely fit at land, needs to test themselves at 5000m peaks with higher altitudes.
  12. Traffic rush at Everest can it be controlled?
    1. Mr. Bharath says we need to understand, This traffic rush is only and only for Mt. Everest especially from South side. Other mountains are more than free with no issues at all (wrt traffic while climbing). Summit window for climbing Mt. Everest is generally 8-9 days.
  13. Any criteria by Indian govt.?
    1. There is no involvement from Indian govt. Only Chinese and Nepal govt decides as it comes under their jurisdiction. The Govt. expects that the mountaineers need to do atleast basic course or 1 summit of 6500m+ peaks, but during peak season even that goes unchecked as it’s all about minting money, because it’s the only source of income for Nepal Govt.
  14. How to generate funds?
    1. Companies spends a lot on CSR funds, so one needs to talk to companies, if at all funds are required.
  15. Take on mountain peaks 8000m+?
    1. There are 14 8000m+ peaks. But of the 14, Indians are allowed to climb in only 9 8000m+ peaks, the rest is in PoK, where due to ongoing border tensions, Indians are not allowed.

This was an excellent interview which reaffirms my love for mountains and nature. And if you are interested to check out more such interviews of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things, pls make sure you subscribe to Col. Romil Barthwal’s YouTube channel “Passion talks”. Don’t forget to like, share and most importantly SUBSCRIBE!

Link :

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnyu5eVGHYIkCihMToE2u5A

Work from home – New reality?

Coronavirus or more scientifically called as COVID-19 started from a small city in Wuhan, China. And as this disease kept spreading, people infact corporates started to think alternatives for how to continue with the job?

So, it made a pandemic like COVID-19 to make the corporates realize that Work From Home is infact POSSIBLE! Work from Home has become a reality now, with each passing day, employees have never been in more control of their work and deliverables.

How is going to office affecting productivity?

Commuting hours has been the main culprit in draining the creative juices and energy of an employee. On an average Indians spend atleast 7% of their day commuting to office, averaging less than 3 minutes per km, in terms of hours spent on road; it is a min. of 2-3 hours and again that depends on the location of the house from your office. Now, this is the average one-way commute, now that gets double up with 2 way commute.

Hassle with drivers or commuters in trains, buses etc. It is said that, morning hours are the most productive hours wherein the employee tends to give his best at work and also to the surroundings in the office. Now, even a small argument with drivers or trains or buses can switch the mood of an employee to more of a sombre one, which usually tends to happen most of the time.

Office politics are the main reason why an employee is never able to get the confidence to work or be productive with his work. Constant gossiping and meddling with an employee’s work discourages the employee to work with full efficiency.

Tea breaks, lunch breaks, chat breaks consumes most of the time in office. With employee’s rounding everyone up often for refreshments breaks, which has become some kind of ritual nowadays in office, it has become more of a hindrance than boon. With constant gossips even in those refreshment breaks, it tends to kill those creative juice and dedication towards work.

How will Work from Home increase productivity?

  1. Commuting hours is SAVED by approx. 4-5 hours to and fro. Using those hours to work, imagine the productivity and visible difference it will bring in? The mind remains uncluttered and not tired which itself is more than enough to get the work done. Imagine using these hours for researching about a project or for that any subject related to the work which will inturn bring in more depth and clarity to the work on hand.
  2. When there is no commuting, then obviously there is no hassle with drivers or commuters or traffics etc. The mind remains fresh and this can be channeled to work which will in turn bring in more productivity with how we deliver the work. And I am pretty obvious, it will bring in more freshness and more quality to work.
  3. The advantage of work from home eliminates the term office politics as there is nothing to be worried about gossips. The only thing that matter is work and delivering the targets.
  4. No need for extensive refreshment breaks, as when you work in solitude, you do tend to take quality breaks wherein you are not dependent on other person but on yourself to refresh your mind and get back to workspace with a more energized and settled mind.

People may argue, that there are certain cons in WFH. But, that has always been the case in any field right? Team meetings and meetings in person is a drawback but with time, even those issues can be address through extensive use of Video portals like MS Teams, Skype, Zoom or any forms of video communications. And if F2F meetings are a necessity, one can tend to do it in Café too or in places like which are conducive for meetings.

With time, and with increasing real estate costs, fossil fuels costs, even cost of living; this type of mode of work will indeed become a reality in near future. And when that becomes a reality, let’s not get panic and worry about how things will fall in place, but rather embrace it and accept that with time THINGS WILL FALL IN PLACE.

Coronavirus : Detailed Blog-Part 1

The whole world is gripped with fear of coronavirus. Corona means “crown” and hence the name. Just few months back, hardly anyone knew about this virus, until it exploded exponentially like a crazy wildfire. Let’s get a brief idea about coronavirus, it’s origin before actually getting into the timeline of the events.

Coronavirus :

Coronavirus is dubbed as “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2,” or SARS-CoV-2. These are a family of virus which affect only animals but in certain cases transmit to humans too. Based on the characteristics, there are 4 main ‘genera’ namely :

  1. Alpha
  2. Beta
  3. Delta
  4. Gamma

But only Alpha and Beta is transferrable to humans. Some of the most common carriers are bats but they usually do not transmit virus directly to humans and transmit it through intermediary animals. The source for COVID-19 is directed to Wuhan, China but the investigation is still on, since its been confirmed that Wuhan’s seafood market was unlikely to be a single source of the outbreak. The investigation is still ON, regarding the source of the outbreak. Recently, a study by researchers in China suggested that pangolins may have been the initial propagators of SARS-CoV-2, as its genomic sequence appeared to be 99% like that of a coronavirus specific to these animals. But the evidence is inconclusive.

Wuhan’s wet market :

Wuhan’s wet market is the focal point of all this outbreak. The way the animals or anything that moves are kept in cages in vertical cages up above another and coupled with poor hygiene is highly appalling. A sheer look at the images supports the fact of the outbreak.

This particular video by “VOX” also throws some light into this issue :

Timeline of the outbreak :

December 31, 2019 – Cases of pneumonia detected in Wuhan, China, are first reported to the WHO. During this reported period, the virus is unknown. The cases occur between December 12 and December 29, according to Wuhan Municipal Health.

January 1, 2020 – Chinese health authorities close the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market after it is discovered that wild animals sold there may be the source of the virus.

January 5, 2020 – China announces that the unknown pneumonia cases in Wuhan are not SARS or MERS. In a statement, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission says a retrospective probe into the outbreak has been initiated.

January 7, 2020 – Chinese authorities confirm that they have identified the virus as a novel coronavirus, initially named 2019-nCoV by the WHO.

January 11, 2020 – The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission announces the first death caused by the coronavirus. A 61-year-old man, exposed to the virus at the seafood market, died on January 9 after respiratory failure caused by severe pneumonia.

January 13, 2020 – Thai authorities report a case of infection caused by the coronavirus. The infected individual is a Chinese national who had arrived from Wuhan.

January 16, 2020 – Japanese authorities confirm that a Japanese man who traveled to Wuhan is infected with the virus.

January 17, 2020 – Chinese health officials confirm that a second person has died in China. The United States responds to the outbreak by implementing screenings for symptoms at airports in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles.

January 20, 2020 – China reports 139 new cases of the sickness, including a third death.

January 20, 2020 – The National Institutes of Health announces that it is working on a vaccine against the coronavirus. “The NIH is in the process of taking the first steps towards the development of a vaccine,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

January 21, 2020 – Officials in Washington state confirm the first case on US soil.

January 22, 2020 – Wuhan says it will “temporarily” close its airport and railway stations for departing passengers following news that the death toll from the Wuhan Coronavirus has risen to 17. Chinese authorities confirm at least 547 cases in the mainland.

January 23, 2020 – At an emergency committee convened by the World Health Organization, the WHO says that the Wuhan coronavirus does not yet constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

January 23, 2020 – The Beijing Culture and Tourism Bureau cancels all large-scale Lunar New Year celebrations in an effort to contain the growing spread of Wuhan coronavirus. On the same day, Chinese authorities enforce a partial lockdown of transport in and out of Wuhan. Authorities in the nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou Huanggang announce a series of similar measures.

January 26, 2020 – The China Association of Travel Services reports that all tours, including international ones, will be suspended.

January 28, 2020 – Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom in Beijing. At the meeting, Xi and the WHO agree to send a team of international experts, including US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff, to China to investigate the coronavirus outbreak.

January 29, 2020 – The White House announces the formation of a new task force that will help monitor and contain the spread of the virus, and ensure Americans have accurate and up-to-date health and travel information, it says.

January 30, 2020 – The United States reports its first confirmed case of person-to-person transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus. On the same day, the WHO determines that the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

January 31, 2020 – The Donald Trump administration announces it will deny entry to foreign nationals who have traveled in China in the last 14 days.

February 2, 2020 – A man in the Philippines dies from the Wuhan coronavirus — the first time a death has been reported outside mainland China since the outbreak began.

February 3, 2020 – China’s Foreign Ministry accuses the US government of inappropriately reacting to the outbreak and spreading fear by enforcing travel restrictions.

February 4, 2020 – The Japanese Health Ministry announces that ten people aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship moored in Yokohama Bay are confirmed to have the coronavirus. The ship, which is carrying more than 3,700 people, is placed under quarantine scheduled to end on February 19.

February 7, 2020 – Li Wenliang, a Wuhan doctor who was targeted by police for trying to sound the alarm on a “SARS-like” virus in December, dies of the coronavirus. Following news of Li’s death, the topics “Wuhan government owes Dr. Li Wenliang an apology,” and “We want freedom of speech,” trend on China’s Twitter-like platform, Weibo, before disappearing from the heavily censored platform.

February 8, 2020 – The US Embassy in Beijing confirms that a 60-year-old US national died in Wuhan on February 6, marking the first confirmed death of a foreigner.

February 10, 2020 – Xi inspects efforts to contain the Wuhan coronavirus in Beijing, the first time he has appeared on the front lines of the fight against the outbreak. On the same day, a team of international experts from WHO arrives in China to assist with containing the coronavirus outbreak.

February 10, 2020 – The Anthem of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, sets sail from Bayonne, New Jersey, after a coronavirus scare had kept it docked and its passengers waiting for days.

February 11, 2020 – The WHO names the coronavirus Covid-19.

February 13, 2020 – China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency announces that Shanghai mayor Ying Yong will be replacing Jiang Chaoliang amid the outbreak. Wuhan Communist Party chief Ma Guoqiang has also been replaced by Wang Zhonglin, party chief of Jinan city in Shandong province, according to Xinhua.

February 14, 2020 – A Chinese tourist who tested positive for the virus dies in France, becoming the first person to die in the outbreak in Europe.

February 14, 2020 – Egypt announces its first case of Wuhan coronavirus on Friday, according to a joint statement by Egypt’s Ministry of Health and the WHO. The confirmed case marks the first in Africa since the virus was detected.

February 15, 2020 – The official Communist Party journal Qiushi publishes the transcript of a speech made on February 3 by Xi in which he “issued requirements for the prevention and control of the new coronavirus” on January 7, revealing Xi knew about and was directing the response to the virus on almost two weeks before he commented on it publicly.

February 18, 2020 – Xi says in a phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that China’s measures to prevent and control the epidemic “are achieving visible progress,” according to state news Xinhua.

February 19, 2020 – Passengers who have tested negative for the novel coronavirus begin disembarking from the stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship, despite mounting evidence from infectious disease experts they could unknowingly be carrying the virus back into their communities.

February 21, 2020 – The CDC changes criteria for counting confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the United States and begins tracking two separate and distinct groups: those repatriated by the US Department of State and those identified by the US public health network.

February 25, 2020 – The NIH announces that a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the antiviral drug remdesivir in adults diagnosed with coronavirus has started at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. The first participant is an American who was evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan.

February 25, 2020 – In an effort to contain the largest outbreak in Europe, Italy’s Lombardy region press office issues a list of towns and villages that are in complete lockdown. Around 100,000 people are affected by the travel restrictions.

February 26, 2020 – CDC officials say that a California patient being treated for novel coronavirus is the first US case of unknown origin. The patient, who didn’t have any relevant travel history nor exposure to another known patient, is the first possible US case of “community spread.”

February 26, 2020 – President Trump places Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the US government response to the novel coronavirus, amid growing criticism of the White House’s handling of the outbreak.

February 29, 2020 – A state health official announces that a patient infected with the novel coronavirus in Washington state has died, marking the first death due to the virus in the United States. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declares a state of emergency, directing state agencies to use all resources necessary to respond to the outbreak.

March 1, 2020 – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declares a public health emergency in the state of Florida. Over the next several days, Kentucky, New York, Maryland, Utah and Oregon declare states of emergency.

March 3, 2020 – The Federal Reserve slashes interest rates by half a percentage point in an attempt to give the US economy a jolt in the face of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. It is the first unscheduled, emergency rate cut since 2008, and it also marks the biggest one-time cut since then.

March 3, 2020 – Officials announce that Iran will temporarily release 54,000 people from prisons and deploy hundreds of thousands of health workers as officials announced a slew of measures to contain the world’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak outside China. It is also announced that 23 members of Iran’s parliament tested positive for the virus.

March 4, 2020 – The CDC formally removes earlier restrictions that limited coronavirus testing of the general public to people in the hospital, unless they had close contact with confirmed coronavirus cases. According to the CDC, clinicians should now “use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested.”

March 8, 2020 – Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signs a decree placing travel restrictions on the entire Lombardy region and 14 other provinces, restricting the movements of more than 10 million people in the northern part of the country.

March 9, 2020 – Conte announces that the whole country of Italy is on lockdown.

March 11, 2020 – The WHO declares the novel coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic. WHO says the outbreak is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus.

March 11, 2020 – In an Oval Office address, Trump announces that he is restricting travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. The ban, which applies to the 26 countries in the Schengen Area, applies only to foreign nationals and not American citizens and permanent residents who’d be screened before entering the country.

March 13, 2020 – Trump declares a national emergency to free up $50 billion in federal resources to combat coronavirus.

March 18, 2020 – Trump signs into law a coronavirus relief package that includes provisions for free testing for Covid-19 and paid emergency leave.

March 19, 2020 – At a news conference, officials from China’s National Health Commission report no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases for the first time since the pandemic began.

March 23, 2020 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres calls for an immediate global ceasefire amid the pandemic to fight “the common enemy.”

March 24, 2020 – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach agree to postpone the Olympics until 2021 amid the outbreak.

March 25, 2020 – The White House and Senate leaders reach an agreement on a $2 trillion stimulus deal to offset the economic damage of coronavirus, producing one of the most expensive and far-reaching measures in the history of Congress.

Dashboard :

Source : World Health Organization (WHO)

Sources :

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/novel-coronavirus-your-questions-answered#5.-What-are-its-symptoms?

https://www.who.int/

https://ktvz.com/health/2020/03/26/wuhan-coronavirus-timeline-fast-facts/

Trek to Kalavantin Durg

“What is LIFE, if not lived with a pinch of craziness, risk and loads of Adventure”

I usually plan my adventure rides in weekend and keep googling of places to visit all through the week. Google maps has always been my best friend, right from helping me decide the place as well as with navigation and suggestions. While I was googling, some of the treks one needs to visit in Maharashtra, I found that, there were more than 40 trekking points (thanks to western ghats) available in Maharashtra. So closing on the nearest trek, made me realize there were 2 most riskiest and difficult treks just 20 kms away from my locality! I had decided that this was a trek that needs to be done at any cost even if it was during the hot and humid February!

Kalavantin Durg :

Prabalgad Fort, also known as Kalavantin Durg or Kalavantin’s Fort, is located between Matheran and Panvel in Maharashtra, at an elevation of 2,300 ft(701 metres approx.) in the Western Ghats. In order to climb this fort, one needs to walk all uphills, traverse through a little bit of dense forests, steep and narrow slopes, rugged terrain with hardly any support and 80 degree inclined narrow rock-cut steps! This is the reason why it is also called as “World’s Dangerous Trek“! Named after Queen Kalavantin, the Kalavantin fort is also famed as “Climb to Heaven

Trek to Kalavantin Durg :

Now that the plan was all set, myself and my friend rode the bike all the way to the base of the mountain. As soon as we reached the place, as shown in Google Maps, we were confused and dejected to witness there was hardly any soul in that place and we couldn’t actually find a way to this trek. We kept looking for people like a chicken and were taking pics under the impression that the trek was over even before it started. After an hour or so, when we had given all hopes and were about to return, we saw some village boys coming down the mountains. We quickly asked them, where exactly is Kalavantin Durg, and they made the picture clear for us. Thanks to google maps, we had actually come to back side of the mountain and not through Thakurwadi which is the initial point to start the trek. Its a 47.8 kms trek from there, but we were clever or may be google maps was cleverer than us!

Thinking of how to climb the mountain!

But, seeing our excitement, the boys told us not to lose hope, and start trekking from the back side of mountain, it will directly lead to the entry point where the ticket is issued. But they did warn us, that the trails are real hard to find in the uphill and you need to very cautious. The adventure spirit in us, couldn’t let this chance go away and we gleefully started our trek all alone. The back side of the mountains are used by the villagers once in a while for commuting and there are hardly any trail marks left behind, so one needs to be very cautious and alert in not missing the trail and climb upward.

Finding the trail, through dense forest on back side of the mountain.

After close to 45 mins, we reached the entry point for trek towards Kalavantin Durg, this is where the officials there will give you a white slip and one needs to pay Rs.50 INR per person, and the officials diligently maintains the persons name, phone number, place, TIME IN and TIME OUT for future records. Make sure you don’t miss that white slip, as it is required to be shown at the top to the officials who will help you climb the rope to top of the fort. If you don’t have the slip, they may not allow you to climb atop the fort, and all those efforts will go in vain. You will find refreshments including Lemon water there, make sure you keep cash for change, due to network issues the so called “Digital India” slogan of cashless transaction will not work here.

We hydrated ourselves and started our ascent above. The more you move up, the better the view. We didn’t find much difficulty in travelling up but one needs to keep in mind, that there is no support or any kind of hand rails for support. So make sure you move ahead step by step and move at your own comfortable pace. There are snack center available every 2 kms or so who provide some really hot maggi, tea or lime water as refreshments and they are sold at rather cheap price. After climbing for 2.5 hours or so through steep slopes and rugged terrains, we reached to the most difficult part of the trek.

Mid-way through the mountains

Mind blown and gasping for breath, I was amazed by the way the sculptors made those ZIG-ZAG steps at an angle of precisely 80 degrees on the steep mountains without any modern technology to avail. The rock-cut steps in that pattern turned out to be quite adventurous to climb although precautions need to be taken during monsoon as there are no hand rails for support, so even a little slip may make you fall along with others who are climbing up! So make sure, you wear shoes with proper grip. After climbing those 50 odd steps, we reached the base of the top, where you need to rope climb 15 feet. 2 or 3 officials are there who will help you climb those and make sure you show them the ticket which you bought down the entry point, only then will you be allowed to climb the rope. Once you climb through the rope, the view is simply AMAZINGGG!! You could see almost all of sahyadri mountain range and that made me realize how important this fort would have been for the kings then, as it would give you clear view of who would be invading in your land and how important HISTORY IS!

Dreaded 80 degree stair case in steep mountain!

Kalavantin Durg and forts like these have their own significance, so people should read the history too and understand the significance of the fort and the climb rather than just trekking.

After staying atop for 30 mins or so, I climbed my way down and thereon me and my friend started our way back to where we parked our bike. We did have hot maggi and some cold lemon water on our way down and made our way back home gleefully.

View from top of the fort.
Another view from top of the fort

Things to carry :

Make sure you carry the below things :

  1. Light bag.
  2. 1L or 2L bottles with water ofcourse.
  3. Cash max. in the range of Rs. 500 – Rs.1000.
  4. Wear light dri-fit trousers (Quechua trousers are recommendable – Decathlon store)
  5. Light dri-fit shirts (Quechua safari shirts are again recommendable -Decathlon store)
  6. One Round safari cap (you can find in any Decathlon store).
  7. Proper hiking shoes with good grip.
  8. Thermal mat to lay down if tired.
  9. Rain cheater (during monsoon)
  10. Tents (Quechua with rod suspension is recommendable – Decathlon store).
  11. Energy bars if required.

Route :

There are 2 routes as shown below :

  1. You can take a train from Mumbai to Panvel and then hire a vehicle like a tum-tum or auto-rickshaw to reach Thakurwadi. A number of trains ply between Mumbai and Panvel. Thakurwadi is the base point for starting the trek and is approx. 45 kms from Panvel.
  2. Else Drop your bikes on back side of mountain and start the trek from the back side of the mountains and reach the entry point directly. (Refer google maps and type Kalavantin Durg, it will navigate you to this location). Check the image below :

YouTube video about the trek :

If interested to actually live the words I have just written, make sure you watch the video shared below and don’t forget to subscribe.

Kalavantin Durg, Maharashtra

Trip to Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

The moment I set my foot in this beautiful country – Sri Lanka, I had decided to visit this place – Polonnaruwa, A city of ancient ruins. This place reminded me more of Hampi, Karnataka, India. A sense of calm and peace can be felt immediately, when you visit this place. Right from the dense forests surrounding the place, traversing through the dense jungles on either side of the road and monkeys patrolling the place in search of food, it brings a unique blend and makes the travel much more enjoyable.

We did start quite early around 04:00 AM, even though the distance is a meagre 229 km, to be exact and yeah in India it would take not more than 8-10 hours (to and fro), the reason being expressways! But yeah, Sri Lankan roads (most of it) has only one lane and it gets more stressful that overtaking options are very limited just like in Monaco Grand Prix (but atleast the cars were running at high speeds). So it took us a healthy 5.15 hours to reach Polonnaruwa and another 7-8 hours to reach back to Homagama, due to heavy traffic and frequent rains. One piece of advice : Make sure you get really good foods, movies, songs loaded in your car, since its a long way back home from there and gets quite monotonous and boring.

So leaving all the negativity apart, wrt driving in Sri Lankan roads, we entered this humongous place called Polonnaruwa. This place is indeed huge and has close to 45 sectors that one needs to visit to actually understand the ruins in this place. Make sure you read a bit of history to actually enjoy the place and understand about the place (that’s what history is all about, right?) .

As soon as we entered the place, we found how beautiful Sri Lanka is and how rich the country was with their natural resources like gem stones etc until it was plundered by Westerners and South Indian kings. In one instance, as the Guide said referring to the king’s palace, “it used to be close to 7 floor height, but due to constant invasion and loots, the palace was eventually burnt and destroyed”. Its sad to see, that only 1 or 2 floors with structures remains intact and looks quite fragile to be honest. But it did give us an idea, of how big this palace would have been and how good it would have looked had it remained intact. Some of the images are shown below, so that it may inspire you to actually visit this place and appreciate Sri Lanka’s rich heritage.

This is a place which is recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Site and no one is allowed to wear any footwears or wear caps / hats when inside the sacred dome of Lord Buddha. No matter how hot the surface is, it is something that we should respect and yeah I did see lot of foreigners sweating crazy in this weather and looked more roasted and fried like chicken than what KFC usually offers!

Due to the extreme heat and humidity we made sure we constantly drank a lot of coconut waters to keep ourselves hydrated. In any place, the coconut water is drunk by immersing the straw inside it, and yeah even we did the same, and as a matter of fact we did enjoy the sweetness that the coconut water had to offer. But immediately, our Sri Lankan colleagues pointed out, not to drink with straw, it kills the sweetness! So, the coconut water was already sweet, how sweeter could it get? They told us, that we drink the water in the old fashioned way of sucking the liquid through our mouth. That seemed strange, but yeah we did give it a try, and once we ditched the straw, we found that the water was indeed more sweeter than earlier! The inner fibres of the king coconut has coconut water immersed in it due to continuous touch of the water it brings more sweetness when we suck it through the coconut than through the straw.

The most exciting part of our journey in Polonnaruwa was definitely the visit to the “Three Buddha Statues”. As I admired these monolith statues which were erected in 3 different position of Buddha, I could feel a sense of calmness and peace radiating through the statues. It is said that, before the asbestos sheet was erected to protect these statues from constant heat and rain; during full moon days, when the moonlight would fall on those statues, it would sparkle like diamond due to the composition of the rocks from which it was made. Obviously, we couldn’t see it; but who could deny the fact. All the 3 statues depicts 3 different life stages of Lord Buddha.

Buddha Statue with meditation gesture, in more ancient words “Dhyana or Samadhi Mudra

As you move, towards the right you will find another statue which is in meditative pose but in standing pose as shown below. As you observe the photos keenly, you could see there are some foundation floors which could be seen but in dilapidated condition. But archaeologists believe, this particular standing statue had its own shrine but those shrines over a period of time eroded due to lack of maintenance and constant exposure to weather changes.

And as you move further right, you will find the sleeping pose of Lord Buddha. This position is the most mysterious position and still has lot of confusion whether Lord Buddha is in meditative state or in sleeping state or is this the pose of Nirvana. What I could infer from the position at start looked like Lord Buddha was sleeping but the more closely I observed this pose, the more it became clearer that Lord Buddha had achieved Nirvana and this looked more like the Nirvana pose. Visible features which made me believe this was, the way the ear lobes drifted down rather than being erect and also the position of the chest. (What do you guys observe, feel free to comment?)

Sleeping or the Nirvana pose of Lord Buddha

By the time we finished with this tour, we were already quite famished and dehydrated with the scorching Sri Lankan heat. And we decided, it was time to return back to base, but not before we gorged on some really tasty Sri Lankan delicacy in the stalls arranged inside the heritage site. So while we started our return journey, we chanced upon many restaurants but one of the restaurant just stood out. It was as simple as it could get with open ventilation with views of countryside on all direction and they served buffet both veg and non-veg served with some cold ginger beer (this one was super tasty). We were quite hungry and immediately, we took over whatever we could find and sat on tables and chairs which were from the era of Flintstones well may be Flintwoods! This restaurant stood out for all the right reasons right from tasty food to its ambience it had to offer.

Just look at the view this restaurant had to offer!

After the heavy meal, we started our way back home infact back to our hotels but not until we saw some elephants up real close and loads of traffic jam and little bit of rain shower down the road mixed it up with some Indian beats which we had loaded in our drive!

Baby elephant playing around with those fresh juicy grasses.

Though the days after that, were horrifying, terrifying, confusing and also shook the world, but yeah will blog about it some other day.