Sunday, July 31, 2011

Memoirs from the Journal - Leh Trip

Mine and Lalits thoughts captured at the end of the day from the Journal. 

26th Jun (Sunday)
- The trip starts 35 days of vacation.. off to Delhi-Manali-Leh

27th Jun (Monday)
- Trains in India have not changed in the last 10-15 years
- There continues to be a severe lack of waste management everywhere & on trains
- "People Will leave things. As is where is" - improve the system and people will respect it ? 

28th Jun (Tuesday)
- The stations need to improve, Okla station "the entry was full of much"
- Shatabdi (Delhi to Kalka)  - "Excellent, Euro Class". Time and money efficient.
- Pahadgunj 'Heard of it many times, First time there'. A pretty filthy street.
- "Are we living in an Oasis in Bangalore ?"

29th Jun (Wednesday)
- Shimla and Mr. Bindra the 'Photo wala' who still uses 'Burmese Paper'
- Alfa restaurant with the excellent food and views from the windows (both Front and Back)
- The Kalka Shimla Heritage train journey. Good views but the speed sucks.

30th Jun (Thursday)
- In Manali now. The walk after Vashist Temple. The falls and smoking point next to the stream and Korean restaurant.
- Lunch and Beyond at Evergreen Cafe.(old manali)
- The score (Good and the bad wait) & Tashi Topgyal.

1st July (Friday)
- First good coffee of the trip (Amigoes German bakery + Honey nut). A good spanish breakfast with spinach omlette.
- Peed on the way to Rohtang and ate Bhutta. Rani Nala bad roads.
- Mika and Asha. The dutch women.
- Night halt at open tent (lalits stargazing between 2-3am)

2nd July (Saturday)
- Baralacha La - the first views of a glacial filled valley from here and being at the end point of the Chandartal-Baralachala Trek.
- Start of the rivers from Glaciers to streams to rivulets to a river (making of the Indus) 
- Tanglang La was the Roof of the hills around us. The first Head ache are felt here, acclimatization begins ? 
- Worlds highest transit camp 
- Claudi and the the Tirunelveli female

3rd Jul (Sunday)
-'Summer Kitchen' Lunch
- Nangso guest house , a quite and peaceful place.
- Candle light at Leh Cafe
- Discovery of a friendly cafe "Desert Rain" in Nausher Market. The best cafe in Leh (for me)

4th July (Monday) 
- Bike ride to Thiksey and the sunset ride beyond the airport
- Thiksey monastery was great and peaceful. Bhudhism , 6 stages of life and the view of the green and dry divide all across Ladakh /Leh.
- Winter gear purchase as a bargain. 'North Face' jackets and shoes + Sleeping bag
- Dinner at 'Tibetan Kitchen'  with Pankaj 'Surgeon', Prisellia , Mika + Asha. Best fired Momos here. 

5th July (Tuesday) 
- Ride to pangang so lake. And 'Soni' the pashminas.
- The wet cowboy cap and its final burial in a trash can (good lake side breeze)
- Sunset views and the walk beyond the flags  including the photography walk.
- Midnight hospital run and the tail of an unknown mountain creature. Yeti ? Snow Leopard? Lost dog? 

6th July (Wednesday)
- Oldest Theater in Leh. End of the search for 'Koflach' shoes (Siachen shoes) , quality vs cost vs utility vs bragging rights.
- Dinner of Wheat bread, Jam & Cheese.'Tang Party' organized by Pearl.

7th July (Thursday) 
- Rafting in Zanskar.from Scorpoche to Nemo (confluence of Zanskar and Indus). Lalit replacing the 'expert' Pearl at the front. 
- Jumping into the water. Thermal shock in the freezing balls and hands.
- Wonderful outdoor home cooked meal at 'Wimbeldon Guest house'. Rajma, palak, alu n chawal.
- Meeting 'Samara' and 'Patricia' the spanish girls. Organizing the Nubra trip. 

8th July (Friday) 
- Topless bums at Khardungla. A bet for a bottle. Still to come by.
- Hot springs from the Rock face, the dam building and Rock Climbing. How water shower in the bath.
- Double humped camels, Pearl the water baby in the stream and me and pearl as the 'Camel Rider'
- Hungry Lalit gorging on the biryani and loosing it in parts over the night.
- Nice trip with Particia and Samara

9th Jul (Saturday) 
- Good breakfast at 'Summer Harvest'
- Leh palace and views
- Patch up tea with Stanzin.
- Farewell dinner for Pankaj, Priscilla, Asha and Mika. Again bumping into spanish girls with Matt.
- Buying the North face pants.

10th July (Sunday) 
- Mask Festival in Hemis.  With the violent and abusing firangs (European and Italian) White bearded 'dadiyal' jumping around for pics and the trigger happy 'Thai' with the huge cameras.
- Red Masked dancer posing away including the shoes and hands.
- Watermelon, fried rice and chole bhature lunch.
- Riverside nap and relaxation.
- Our stuck car and the clevevr Sardarji helping with the science of removing it.

Leh (Overall) 
- Consistently bad toilets 
- Ginger Lemon Honey Tea discovered
- Very poor waste management in India
- A bullet ride to Thinksey
- Meeting a lot of interesting travelers. 

- thoughts recorded. Signing off. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cost of Mobile Phones - Trends among friends

Over dinner & tea we were discussing the exploits and the number of cell phones that each one of us have owned and how much do we spend on the instrument.

- Since 2002 have spent 67500Rs. on buying phones. i.e. about Rs8,000 p.a.
- This is distributed among 8 instruments (4.5,11,10,1.5, 19,6.5,11, 4 = 67.5K)
- My average cost of ownership based on talk time usage has been about Rs0.85 - Rs1/minute of usage.
- 3 phone have been lost but the others have stopped due to technical faults.

-Has spent Rs 39,000 on 4 instruments over the last 5.5 years. i.e. Rs6K p.a.
-1 upgraded, 1 lost, 1 stopped working

Andrew - has spent Rs75K since 2002 on numerous instruments. The most expensive being a Rs 30K iPhone which was stolen from his car. Totally 3 lost.
-On an average having spent Rs 8.5K per year on an instrument.

Lalit has spent Rs53K on his 7 instruments but has sold phones for Rs8-9K hence cost of ownership is Rs44K for 10 Years i.e. 4.4 K per year.

Hence on an statistical basis you find people in the 20-30 year age group in India (upwardly mobile middle class) has spent from Rs 4.5k - Rs8.5K per year on instrument alone.
From an durable perspective the mobile phone stands only 2nd after Laptops in spends on white goods.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Hike 2 - Magalisburg Hills (above Hartbeesspoort Dam)

One more hike on the Magalisburg hills. Back 2 back on 2 weekends.. Yes i loved it..

This time didnt go along with the JHK (Joburg Hiking Club) , but with the PFHC [Pretoria Friends (or French) Hiking Club]. This was a smaller & more concise group and it was more fun.

Met a great bunch of people.. always nice to meet new and interesting people from different walks of life..

[From Left: Stephanine (Agri Economist), Me (Ram gypsy), Christine (French Embassy queen), Aurelie (Social reformist, Education), Luis (Brazilian - Urugian), Duncan (Cape budding Economist)]

Was the usual run of 400+Kms.. 4-5 hrs of hiking.. Peaceful sunday.. lunch atop a hill

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hiking in Magalisberg

Last Saturday i was at home thinking of ways to make the weekend more interesting. Using the power of google i discovered the Johannesburg Hiking Club ( As i have been always a person who loves outdoors & having gone on numerous hikes in India. I took this opportunity.
THe JHK had a good concept called 'Sunday Hikes', i liked this because of the convenience of not having to plan a hike.

Sunday morning i woke up at 5:30 am... quickly packed some lunch & water for the hike in my laptop bag and headed for Joburg (160Kms) with only 1.5 hrs to meet the rendezvous, i had to step on the accelerator. After a couple of wrong turns and realigning myself to the city map i finally made it, but 10 min late. Everyone was packed and were leaving, luckly i met one of the organizer and took him along to the hiking trail. This ride was 70Kms, totaling to 230Kms even before starting the hike.

We were asked to self profile ourselves into group (Slow, Medium minus, Medium plus). Having come with the leader of Medium Plus i choose this group. Bad choice. There was a group of around 8 ppl in this group who were just looking down and clambering up the hill. Halfway up i decided to desert them and join the Medium minus, to get an opportunity to enjoy the scenery, hike peacefully and meet interesting people. This was a larger group with 22 people (70% looked like they were retired in life), whew and i thought that hiking was for the young and energetic.

I met an interesting french group (Olivier, Christine & aurelie), they were a part of the french embassy in pretoria. We spent many hours swapping notes on africa, europe, india.Politics, economics, safety, multicultural integration etc. Time flew by, we had a nice halt for some snacks and later for lunch. tried to get a power nap though, but we got moving too soon.

The terrain was constant for most part, the formation looks predominantly made of wind & water eroded sedimentary rock, interspersed with a lot of ankle to knee high grass. The bright & sunny winter day made it perfect for hiking. I had earlier zipped around these hills in a car and longed to climb it. I was happy that i had got an opportunity to explore these hills.

We finished by around 3:30 pm. And i was back home by 6:15pm.
12 Hrs - 465 kms driving, 6 hrs hiking.... A relaxing day or a hectic one ?? I am choosing the former.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jaisalmer - A Rendevouz with the Thar Desert

- Contributed by Prerna - 

Totally unexpected and out-of-the blue trip on the 12th and 13th September and thats what made it so much of fun. Jaisalmer has been one of my dream destinations and it was jaisalmer vs. Diu, but then the desert seemed more inviting..The journey was long - 600+ km from Ahmedabad (close to 65 kms form the border india- Pak ) and very uncomfortable to say the least, but still totally worth it. 

It is the golden city ( reminds me of greece where every bulding on the islands was painted white), every building uses sandstone. The fort is the only monument in the world that has people living in it- families and  hotels and havelis. We visited the Jain temples - which had very intricate carvings and staues of Lord mahavira all over. The only other hindu god present was Ganesha. The jeep ride to the camping  place next to the desert was amazing - on both sides there was only barren land with an occasional camel eating on shrubbery. The vastness and the expanse of the land was taking time to absorb in. The sam village( where the camp) was 45 km from the city and once we reached there, we immediately started out on our camels for the sunset on the desert. I cant even begin to express what it was like to be on the silk sands of the desert. We were rolling, running and diving over the sand dunes. Highlight of the evening was the Rajasthani folk music- it was brilliant and i really mean it.  The sky was perfect with the milky way that could be spotted and a candlelight dinner with rajasthani food was as good as it gets.