Sunday, November 30, 2014

No Shave November

The Whats Up Guy No Shave November


Yes that's me. That's me with a month full of beard. I had always been meaning to participate in the No Shave November.

What the No Shave November


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Roopkund Trek


Batch Roopkund Trek With India Hikes


Roopkund Trek is one of the top 5 Treks in India. We trekked 48 kms in 6 days and reached a maximum height of 15,750 feet (4,800 mts). We saw snow fall and hails, walked above and through clouds, saw huge green meadows, climbed slippery and steep slopes and finally saw skeletons that are more than 1000 years old. This has been one of the best and most difficult treks I have ever done. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Nature Calls On Roopkund Trek


Nature Calls On Roopkund Trek



This is probably the biggest problem we had during our week long hike to the amazing Roopkund. Except for the last camp at Bhagwabasa we had pretty good toilets in all the camps. But the problem wasn't that, it was the cold.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Roopkund Trek With India Hikes - Day 6

View Roopkund Trek With India Hikes Day 6

After an amazing summit day to Roopkund it was time to return to the base camp in Lohajung. It was a day with mixed feelings of sadness and joy. Sad because today was the last day of trekking. Happy because we can finally take a bath. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Roopkund Trek With India Hikes - Day 4

Mountains View Roopkund Trek With India Hikes Day 4

After a rather easy trek to Pathar Nachauni, we had another easy trek to Bhagawabasa. This trek was so easy and the next camp so mesmerizing that the highlight of this day was the Bhagwabasa camp rather than the trek. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Roopkund Trek With India Hikes - Day 3

Above Clouds Roopkund Trek With India Hikes Day 3


After a grueling 4000 ft climb the third day of the trek was an easy 3 km stretch. However the weather was changing rapidly so we had to hurry up. We had to reach the next camp before it started raining. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Roopkund Trek With India Hikes - Day 0


Bridge-Day-0-Roopkund-Trek-India-Hikes


Amar, Ullas, Aruna, Vinodini, Elizabeth and I had made it to Delhi and our next stop was Kathgodam for our first ever Himalayan Trek. As per our itinerary it would have been sufficient if we had reached Kathgodam early in the morning on 27th September.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Qutub Minar - A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Aeroplane Above Qutub Minar Delhi

Qutub Minar is one of the most easily recognised monument in India. Built by Qutab-ud-din Aibak, Qutub Minar is the second tallest Minar in India. It is 73 meters tall and has 379 steps. However it is no longer allowed to enter the Minar after a stampede that occurred in 1981. 

Delhi


The capital of India New Delhi and Old Delhi, the erstwhile capital of the mughal empire have some of the best monuments in India. It is and has always been the centre of political activity in India. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Gregor And The Prophecy Of Bane By Suzanne Collins - Quite Predictable

Gregor And The Prophecy Of Bane Suzanne Collins Book Review Report

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane By Suzanne Collins is the second book of the Underland Chronicles. The other books in the series are Gregor The Overlander, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, Gregor and the Marks of Secret.

Book Report 


Gregors life hasn't returned to normalcy as he had expected, once his dad was back from the under land. The fever from under land doesn't seem to reduce. Boots suddenly disappears in Central Park and Gregor feels that the Cockroaches from the under land have kidnapped her, and he goes behind them. 

Gregor is set for another quest due to a new prophecy and this time Boot's life is in trouble. 

While the first book was exciting but had not many twists, the story line was not predictable. This book however has lots of twists but most are predictable. Probably a younger reader might not feel so. Overall an average book. 

Characters 


Gregor - The kid from New York who has to be the warrior for Underland.
Twitchtip - the scent seer who helps Gregor. Ripred - The friendly rat in Underland. 


Book Review - Spoiler Alert!!!


Gregor goes into the tunnel in Central Park in search of Boots. He believes that the Cockroaches from the under land took Boots. In the tunnel he is chased by two rats from the under land. And then most unexpectedly Ares came to his rescue. The bat he had bonded with the last time he was in the under land.

While in the last book the bats were not described up close. They were always flying and silent. This time however Ares brings out the finer aspects of what a bat is. So the Cockroaches took Boots because the rats want to kill her. The entire prophecy is explained and it looks like the rats want to kill boots because they feel that will break Gregor the only warrior who can defeat the white rat that is hiding now.

Once boots arrives in Regalia safely, Gregor decides that they will not leave till this prophecy is done with. It's not safe for Boots. Gregor managed to save his cloths from being burnt. And overheard some conversations about his training. It seems like he has to turn into a warrior soon. The training was attended by more cousins of Luxa. The training exercise of blood cannons took an amazing turn when Gregor managed to cut all the cannonballs with his sword.

The hideout of Ares is something that Gregor needed. It's still not clear how Gregor did that. The sudden alarm that is raised for rats entering Regalia is quite scary.Boots is their target. It turns out it was just Ripred, the friendly rat in Under land. He does sent 12 guards to hospital before Gregor reaches and stops the battle. He has another rat with him - Twitchtip

The journey this time had to be done on water and the under landers even had boats, but what was most surprising was the light source they used on water - giant fireflies. They weren't a good travel companion though. The squid was a surprising but a clichéd peril in the waters. It would have been better if there were some thing more bizarre. The way Gregor saves Twitchtip is amazing and very brave. Twitchtip tells Gregor what's the secret of his amazing fighting skills. He is a "rager".
The island with the crazy insects is really scary and that's the kind of bizarre creatures I was hoping for. They just ate a huge bat in seconds. They are like flying piranhas.

The fight with serpents was rather devastating for the party. But Gregor thinks boots is dead. I however am sure that she isn't. But that gives him the resolve and the confidence he lacked before. When Gregor found the Bane, it turned out out be a baby rat. Somehow I had expected that. While Gregor manages to get the baby Bane out of rats lands, he has no clue what to do with it.

Giving the Bane to Ripred might not have been the best thing to do. But going back to Regalia after that was the worst. Now they have been put into the dungeons. Just when things did not make sense, Neressa clears everything. The prophecy is fulfilled but I am not sure why Boots isn't back yet.

And just then Boots was back and from what it looks like Temp is dead and Luxa is either a prisoner or dead. But there was no reason for him to stay there now and he came back home and got the next prophecy too.

Other Reviews


Gregor And The Prophecy Of Bane in Google Books
Gregor And The Prophecy Of Bane in Goodreads

Summary



Gregor And The Prophecy Of Bane - Book Report And Review
Quite Predictable
Rating: 3
Reviewed by Sougata Khan on .


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bryant Park Kodaikanal - A Thorough Dissappointment

Bryant Park Kodaikanal


Kodaikanal


The City of Kodaikanal or Kodai is one of the best hill stations in India. The name means "Gift of the Forest" in Tamil and is also known as the Princess of Hill Stations. Kodaikanal was mostly a jungle occupied by the Palaiyar tribal people before the British decided to develop it as a get away from the high temperatures of the plains. This happened long back in the 1800s.  At about 7,200 feet above sea level kodai has a cool climate throughout the year and is a very popular destination during the summers. 

Bryant Park


Bryant Park was built by a forest officer H.D.Bryant from madurai in 1908. It is a mini botanical garden. While it is spread across 20 acres and has flower shows in the summer, when we went it was nothing more than a big park with disproportionate entry fees. 


The only face savers were a couple of good photo locations. Otherwise the park had nothing to offer at all. So I would suggest to visit the Park only if you are sure that the flowers are blooming or a flower show is going on. 


There was only one tree that surprised me which was the Rose Tree. I haven't seen a rose tree yet, I didn't even know they existed. 



Rose Tree In Bryant Park Kodaikanal

Rose Tree In Bryant Park Kodaikanal

Roses In Bryant Park Kodaikanal

Roses In Bryant Park Kodaikanal

Trees in Bryant Park Kodaikanal

Trees in Bryant Park Kodaikanal

Bushes In Bryant Park Kodaikanal

Bushes In Bryant Park Kodaikanal

Greenhouse


Green House In Bryant Park Kodaikanal

Green House In Bryant Park Kodaikanal


Brocolli Like Plant In Bryant Park Kodaikanal

Brocolli Like Plant In Bryant Park Kodaikanal


Green Plants In Bryant Park Kodaikanal

Green Plants In Bryant Park Kodaikanal


Bird Nests In Bryant Park Kodaikanal

Bird Nests In Bryant Park Kodaikanal


The Greenhouse was a bigger disappointment. Its never a good experience inside the hot humid glass structure, and one can only bear it to see something unusual. But the green house here didn't have anything worth a second look. To top it, photography wasn't allowed in the Green House. 

I will try and plan a trip during the flower show and visit Bryant Park, otherwise I am not going here again. 

Summary



Bryant Park - A Travelogue
A Thorough Dissapointment
Rating: 2
Lower Shola Road, Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu 624101 India 
Reviewed by Sougata Khan on .


Friday, June 27, 2014

Gregor The Overlander By Suzanne Collins - Surprisingly Good

Gregor The Overlander Suzanne Collins Book Report Review

Gregor The Overlander By Suzanne Collins is the first book of the Underland Chronicles. The other books in the series are Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, Gregor and the Marks of Secret.

Book Report 


Gregor goes down an air chute behind his sister Boots and reaches the Under land which is a mysterious place. 

He soon realizes that the under land has many creatures that could kill him and even the journey itself would have killed him, but he was lucky. And then he starts a quest with the people of the under land that changes his life.

I wouldn't usually touch a book that is meant for teens but after reading Hunger Games it seemed like a safe bet. 

This is certainly not the genre I would ideally read and it seemed unusual that I liked the book almost till the end, but that was only because the book doesn't have a complicated story line. It's more like a fairy tale. But the story is quite fascinating for most of it. 

I think this concept can be expanded to novels for adults and would do pretty well. Something like the journey to the centre of the earth. 


Characters 


Gregor - 11 year old boy from New York. He certainly shows bravery and resourcefulness throughout the book.
Boots - Gregors 2 year old sister. She obviously doesn't do anything with specific intentions. But her childish plays make her a favourite of almost everyone. 
Luxa - Queen of the Under land. She is quite a warrior but finally her emotions betray her.
Vikus - The Grandfather of Luxa. He takes very calculated steps and is extremely wise. 

Book Review - Spoiler Alert!!!


The first thing Gregor encounters are giant cockroaches and they talked back to him and called him over lander. Regalia is a beautiful city with high buildings and torches to light the paths. Gregor clearly should have first enquired about the dangers that are there in the under land before trying to escape. 

It's clear that rats want to eat humans. Gregor was quite lucky that the under landers managed to reach in time. The rats hatred for the humans seems rather puzzling. The prophecy seems to be getting fulfilled bit by bit  but it is filled with deaths and an unsure ending. 

The "questers" as Gregor put it keep. reducing in number as they continue. They find Gregors dad rather easily but the condition in which he is really bad What a surprise that Henry is a spy. The entire prophecy was based on Gregor trying to sacrifice his life and Ares saved him from the fall. 

When it seemed like though the prophecy was fulfilled they still might die as they did not know which direction to fly to. Gregors dad and boots fever vanished and his dad showed them the way by creating a compass using a needle. 

The vote to banish Ares was pretty dumb and Gregor paired with Ares to prove his point but im not sure how that will turn out when he goes back. 

The trip back is rather simple and short. Ends like a fairy tale. 

Other Reviews


Gregor The Overlander in Google Books
Gregor The Overlander in Goodreads

Summary


Gregor The Overlander - Book Report and Review
Surprisingly Good
Rating: 3
Reviewed by Sougata Khan on .


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Blossom Book House - Ocean Of Books

Blossom Book House Review


Blossom Book House or simply Blossoms is one of the most well known places in Bangalore. It features in most of the must visit lists for Bangalore. And it certainly deserves that place. In essence its four floors filled with books of at least a dozen categories. It is located on church street and is quite easy to find. The place is literally over flowing with books and its not uncommon to find heaps of books kept in the alley simply because the shelves are full. 

Books At Blossom Book House Review

Overflowing Books Blossom Book House Review

Stairs Blossom Book House Review

India Old Newspaper Blossom Book House Review

The walls are usually filled with posters of plays and events and in one of the places clippings of old newspapers. 

The Variety!!


Enid Blyton Blossom Book House Review

Let Us C Blossom Book House Review

Manga At Blossom Book House Review

Tinkle At Blossom Book House Review

The range of books available here is unbelievable. It was quite nostalgic to see Enid Blyton books that I had read when I was in school, and repulsive to see books like "Let Us C". There were comics too from Tinkle to Archies. But what surprised me most was the Manga Books, that's something I did not know was available in Bangalore anywhere!

Books I Found


The Fault In Our Stars Blossom Book House Review

Midnight Boy At Blossom Book House Review

Browsing through books at a book store is in my opinion not the best way to find books. I believe in research on the internet and going to a store to buy the book. But stumbling upon a good book in a store or buying a book as per the book stores suggestion is something I do not mind once in a while. I found copies of the Best Seller - The Fault In Our Stars, the movie of which is releasing soon in India. 

I saw the book Midnight Boy and the cover appealed to me. I like books that are mysterious and evil. Muhahahaha. However I couldn't be sure if it was good but after a bit of research it turns out that it has got pretty good ratings on Goodreads.com. I guess I'll have to get it soon. 


Blossom Book House - Ocean Of Books
A Must Visit Place In Bangalore
Rating: 4.5
Church Street, Bangalore, Karnataka 560001 India 
Reviewed by Sougata Khan on .


Friday, June 20, 2014

Koshy's - A Flash From The Past

Koshy's


Cuisine


Koshy's has a menu that is extensive and historically was much larger. They have continental, North Indian, South Indian, Chinese and beverages. Despite having such an extensive menu most people stick to continental and South Indian Items.

Koshy's 


The Restaurant is located on St. Marks Road, very close to Hard Rock Cafe. This place has a historical significance to Bangalore. Quite a few well known personalities like Jawaharlal Nehru, Nikita Khrushchev, Queen Elizabeth II have dined here. There is no parking available near the restaurant. Depending on the time you go, be prepared to hunt for a spot. 

As the non AC section is as such non-AC it would be prudent to avoid it during summer afternoons. 

Food




Cold Coffee Koshy's Review

Iced Tea Koshy's Review

Smiles Koshy's Review

Spanish Omellette Koshy's Review

Ham Sandwich Koshy's Review

Caramel Custard Koshy's Review

Ice Cream Koshy's Review

We ordered Smiles after reading reviews, Cold Coffee, Iced Tea, Spanish Omelette and Ham Sandwich. Ended it with Caramel Custard and Ice Cream. The food in general was good but does not quite meet the hype that surrounds this place. The Smiles that have such good reviews are nothing but McCain Smiles. The Cold Coffee is literally Normal Coffee that has been chilled. The Iced Tea was very very strong in both Tea and Lemon, something I personally like but others may not have the same tastes. The Spanish Omelette is a safe bet and was pretty good. The Ham Sandwich was simple and good. The Custard and Ice Cream were good too. 

Ambiance


The Ambiance is probably the only reason anyone might want to go here. The place has a very vintage décor and looks like a place forgotten by time. The restaurant is very old and has maintained the same feeling till date. 

Service


While we were lucky with the waiter we got, other reviews usually say they aren't good. While all the waiters were extremely busy and it was quite difficult to get their attention, our waiter was always polite to us in whatever little attention he could give us. This must be kept in mind while visiting the place. Do not have too much expectations even in odd hours. 

Price


The price simply did not justify the food. But then I guess we were paying for the décor and the history of the place. 


Summary



Koshy's - A Flash From The Past
Ambiance Like No Other
Rating: 3
St. Marks Road, Bangalore, Karnataka 560001 India 
Reviewed by Sougata Khan on .


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