Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Saving the city, one sapling at a time !

"A city dies when its lakes die”

Tree Plantation Drive - June 5, 2016
Today Bangalore is growing without realising that it is actually dying. 

Thanks to Urban encroachment, deforestation and unsustainable extraction of ground water, Namma Bengaluru which was once described as the land of thousand lakes, today is left with less than 200 of those lakes and faces major drinking water problem. 

River Cauvery alone is unable to meet the growing demands of the city. Revival of water bodies and Replenishment of depleted groundwater level is the only solution.

Tippagondanahalli reservoir, which used to supply water to 30% of Bengaluru city population two decades ago -  is now dry. Kumudvathi and  Arkavathi  were source rivers for this reservoir. The Kumudvathi River, if revived has the potential to augment Cauvery's water to satisfy Bangalore’s needs.

 The Art of Living Foundation, under " Volunteer For A Better India Movement",  has taken up the initiative of rejuvenating Kumudvathi the river.  The key measures taken are : controlling soil erosion through boulder checks,  recharging ground water and planting trees.

Among these, planting trees is a long-term but permanent solution for restoring the eco-system.  As part of Cisco CSR  - A group of  20+ cisco volunteers / their family, along with volunteers from AOL, participated  in  the “Tree Plantation Drive at Machanayakanahalli, in Kumudvathi catchment area” on June 5th - “ World Environment Day”. Is there a better way to celebrate the day   ?.

Highlights of our tree plantation drive :
  • We planted about 400 saplings of Jamun, Jackfruit, Wild Mango, Neem, Lakshmi Taru and Ficus varieties.
  • Educative session on Soil erosion control, Ground water recharging and river Rejuvenation.
  • Commitment from Local Farmers and school to nurture the saplings.
  • Visit to the ground water reservoir built as part of initial phase of this project, which now acts as a source of water for cattle throughout the year
  • Tasty Local food
  • Participation from across age groups – While the kids enjoyed planting saplings, playing in mud & water; the elderly enthusiastic lady was a true inspiration to all of us.

At the end of the day, each of us felt satisfied to have taken a step towards making this a better planet to live, not only by planting trees but also by showing our kids what is the right thing to do !

Saving the city, one sapling at a time !

Monday, June 29, 2015

Together we can !

In the era in which we use Google maps to reach any destination, shouldn't we need something to show us the right direction in the Journey of Life ? That's called the powerful tool of mentoring !!

When I came across, I felt it was a great initiative and as I  have been benefited by all my mentors who provided me timely guidance, decided to be a part of it.  I have always felt complete and satisfied about mentoring people at work too, hence there was no looking back.

The enrollment was through a simple email registration and then there was a day long workshop, where we were introduced to the program and got to know the organization in depth. The ask was clear - for an effective mentoring program, we had to commit to spend 6-8 hrs per month for 8 months.

The mission of the MentorTogether program, is to provide underprivileged youth with enduring and empowering one-on-one relationships with mentors, to help them achieve their goals & dreams. The work based mentoring program has several modules, the preliminary modules are carefully designed to focus on relationship building between mentor & mentee. The subsequent modules are youth-oriented, and focus on the soft skills required by them to be successful in their career.

The team, at MentorTogether, matches the mentor/mentee after doing a thorough study of the mentee’s requirements/background and mentors’ abilities. In  the mentor-mentee meeting, I met Pragati - A small town girl, with great dreams of making it big in her career.

In our initial few meetings, we focused on knowing each other and building trust. In these meetings,  I found that Pragati’s immediate challenge was to clear the aptitude tests in her ongoing campus recruitment processes. So we took a deviation from the pre-defined course and  did some aptitude exercises together. This included online tests, solving puzzles and math problems. Gradually I could see Pragati getting more confident about the tests. Our efforts did not go futile, as in the next few campus events, she was able to clear the aptitude tests.

In the subsequent meetings, we worked on body language, communication skills, negotiation and presentation skills. We did role play, watched relevant videos , debated, discussed and played some games to sharpen the skills.

The major challenge for us was “time”.  Both of us were committed and flexible enough to meet anywhere depending on the time constraints. We met in my office / house /her hostel / few Sundays we met in Jayanagar Park too !

Pragathi has now graduated and has been successful in finding a job of her choice, I am extremely happy for her and am thankful to the MentorTogether team to have let me help her out in her journey. Our journey in the context of the program is over,  but our friendship has just begun !!

Now,  I am all excited to be another Google map in the next MentorTogether Program :)

If you want to be a mentor please visit :

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Hampta Pass Trek - A tryst with the Himalayas

The call from the gigantic mountains has been there for few years now. Sometimes its the fear , sometimes its the natural calamities that didn't let me go....finally this time all things fell in place and I was going to the Hamta Pass trek organized by KMA.

Preparations started by booking flight tickets, exercising, shopping trekking essentials and anxious packing.

On  May 16th, flew to Delhi.  From airport we went to Himachal Bhavan, where we were supposed to alight a bus to Manali in the evening. Very close to Himachal Bhavan there is a Bengali place where we had awesome food and some sweetest sweets :) little did I know that this sweet hogging extravaganza would continue for the next ten days.

I realized I had missed to get lens cover for my camera, bought  it in Delh and alighted the bus to Manali. Delhi traffic didn't help me much in forgetting the ORR of Bangalore :)

Bus stopped at a place called “Karnal Haveli” - Great ambiance, folk songs being played outside, brilliant lighting , had the time permitted we would have stayed longer. But since it was the dinner break, had to wind up quickly.


Next morning we arrived at Manali bus stand, from there went to Prini base camp . A simple cosy place, where I got introduced  to all my fellow trekkers.

We were told we wouldn't be getting the luxury of 
hot water bath , mobile charging points and mobile signal for the next 6 days, so we spent most of the energy in charging phones here :D 

Evening was an acclimatisation trek, now thinking of it...I wouldn't even call it a trek. we went to sharvari temple, i didn’t visit the temple, for me gods were outside, in the beautiful peaks and mountains. It rained heavily and we all got a sense of how the days going forward would be.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Beach hopping at Andamans !

** Quite a Big post, read it when you have lot of time !! **

Thanks to Vinsy :) it all happened because of her. After Bali trip, we both hadn't traveled much..She came up with this idea of going to Andaman. 

Initial ground work started...went through few blogs, talked to few friends. While planning we realized that it takes at least 15 days to cover the whole bunch of islands. We just had 5 days in hand, so we restricted our trip to 2 islands, Havelock and Neil.

2 weekends of shopping [ favorite part of any trip ;) ] and some "Be-Careful" sessions at home ...we were all set to visit the archipelago.

Flight from Chennai to Port Blair was at 5:00 am, we reached Chennai airport previous night and spent the whole night admiring the Mosquitoes on airport duty :)

Reached Port Blair around 7:00 Am, from there took a ferry to reach Havelock islands. Symphony Plams resorts at Havelock is beautiful..our cottage was just 100 Mts away from the beach.There are 3 major beaches in Havelock - Radhanagar, Elephanta and kalapattar.

On Day-1, we went to Radhanagar Beach. Had rented a two wheeler and the ride to the beach was pleasant with cool breeze and greenery on both sides. First look at the beach...and I was in love with the silky white sand,  turquoise sea and lush green forest :)  Gorgeous!  Went for a long walk on the beach. Occasional sight of European tourists reminded me of Greek sailors ;)

Radhanagar Beach

Clicked a few portraits and wanted to take our pics together..couldn't find setup my tripod and tried few click-run-pose photos :) By this time Vinsy was fed up of my Camera-friendliness :D
Waited for the sunset...but was disappointed by the clouds !...we had 4 more days...hoping to get perfect sunset in the coming days,left to the hotel.

Day-2 : was the most exciting day of the trip. It was time for Scuba diving :). All geared up, we were taken to other side of Radhanagar Beach, where in a shallow region we were taught how to breath  underwater using the oxygen mask and some basic underwater communication skills. After the initial training session, we entered a whole new world...initial sinking feeling did increase my heart beat...but later it was BLISS !!!!! Silently gliding through the water, with the only sound of bubbles, I was going deeper and deeper...ears hurt with pressure change, equalized my ears ..everything around was greenish blue! I saw some corals, big ones, some of them looked like giant mushrooms, a fat colorful fish, a group of small shining fishes...marine life is so beautiful...May be this is God's version of origami :)
The "Discovery Channel" experience is one for lifetime :)
Finding Nemo!

Evening, we went to "Kalapathar beach", I wonder why they named it should have been.."Gorapatthar beach" ! this beach  is a huge collection of sea shells...lot of variety, I didn't collect any, for the scare of the slimy living beings inside ! Vinsy collected few for her niece !
In the night, wanted to shoot stars, in the pitch dark beach, lying on my back..gazed at the dark sky/stars for sometime...this was BLISS-Part2 :-)..clicked few pics..but didn't get any great pics.

Day-3 : Early morning went to the beach near the cottage to catch the rising sun, clouds were stubborn this time too ! There was a swing at the beach, my favorite place. Sat in the swing with my morning tea and pleasant ocean :)  Later went to Elephanta Beach! Awesome beach with some gigantic fallen trees ! Snorkeling and other water sports didn't fancy us much!  played in sand and water..few portraits..then back to resort!
Swinging at the beach !

In the afternoon headed to Neil island. Evening visited the Lakshmanpur beach. Its a serene and long beach. Forests along the beach are mesmerizing. This beach is nature's romantic poem :). [ಪ್ರಕೃತಿಯ ಪ್ರೇಮಕಾವ್ಯ]

Nothingness at Neil
Visited the coral bridge, naturally formed structure, connecting the main land to a small island. Can visit this place only during low tides. Neil island is very calm. A perfect place to enjoy "Nothingness" :) . 
Coral Bridge

From Neil, we headed to Port Blair.  On the ferry, the captain allowed us onto bridge and it was quite amusing to stand at the edge of the ferry while it zooms through the blue ocean.

At Port Blair, we visited the Cellular Jail - Kalapani. Can't believe such a beautiful island has witnessed so much of brutality. These cells are constructed in such a way so as to isolate prisoners from one another. It is very disturbing even to imagine how people lived here.
Kaala paani

After Cellular jail, we did some shopping, and we thought of indulging in a spa. This turned out to be real Kalapani for us :D. It was too expensive and not great.

We were at Veer Savarkar International Airport to catch the flight to Chennai at 7:00 AM, saying  ..."Alvida Andaman" :)

Monday, June 04, 2012

Red Brown Pink Yellow Green....

Last week after reading Vinu's blog, I was reminded of my childhood card making hobby.  I used to draw some desgins, rangolis and make cards. Once my "best friend " Chetan wanted me to draw Wood-pecker for him for his birthday ..I made a card with some bird picture, with its beak somewhat like Wood-pecker :) and Chetan was happy :)

Now, wanted to try my hand at it again.. June 5th   - one of my dearest friend's bday and another friend was flying to I decided to make two three [ 1  backup :D ]

This time I didn't want to draw any Wood-pecker. Instead, thought of making use of my photography skills. Searched harddisk and found a few eligible pics taken in Lal Bagh during flower show. Got these printed, bought fevicol and hand made color paper from Staples [red,brown,pink,yellow,green,lavender..and many more] and started!

Cut the color papers, made borders, designs, pasted the photos. I was so engrossed in card making, didn't realize it was 2 am :). And yup all 3 cards were ready :)
First card with a pink rose, second one with some decorative wind chime and third with bells :). Hopefully my friends will like these cards :)

Monday, January 09, 2012

Life 2.0

This birthday seemed a bit lucky. Got final nod for a major long pending decision. Now am all set for a new start :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bali :)

One of those regular phone conversations...when vincy and I were exchanging notes about the boredom of life...we thought we should go on some trip...listed a lot of tourist places..considered the budget/time constraints....finally chose "Bali" as "the Destination". Vincy booked the stay and travel and I did some research on places to go in Bali and things to do.

Finally on the "D day", we were informed our return flights were cancelled !! :( ...both of us very unsure if the trip was still a reality. Somehow alternate flights were booked and yippee!! we boarded flight to Denpasar, Bali. It is a total of 8 Hr journey with a 2 hr stop at Kuala Lampur. We arrived at the Denpasar Airport Bali and headed to Patra Bali resort, which is just a 10 min drive from the airport. A beautiful resort with spa, pool, bar, restaurant and a beach by the side.

In the evening our plan was to go to Tanah Lot , floating temple..but the cab driver whom we had booked misguided us and took us to a different temple at Uluwathu. It is a temple on the cliff and is very picturesque.

Clicked a few pics and headed to the Uluwathu beach, this is an awesome beach, need to pass through few caves to reach the beach. Clicked a lot of sun set pics here...wasn't satisfied at all is one of the most beautiful sunset I have witnessed.

Day 2, the plan was to visit north Bali i.e singaraja, explore Lovina beach and witness sunset at Tanah Lot. It is a 2 hr drive from Kuta [ place where the patra bali resort is present ] to North of Bali. The drive mostly consists of smooth roads with lush green paddy fields on both the sides. We reached the Git Git water falls by noon. Need to walk about 3-4 Kms from the parking place to reach the water falls. Along the walk way is coffee and clove plantation. While walking down to the falls many cute kids approacehd to sell beeds and bangles. They start off the conversation saying you are beautiful...good some for my luck...etc etc ..we had lot of fun mimicking them later. The water fall is about 60 mts high, the place is very peaceful with music from variety of birds. As we approached the water falls, it started raining. Managed to take a few shots of the water falls and then played in the water till it stopped raining.
From the falls, we headed to Lovina beach. It is a beautiful beach with blackish chromatic sand, it is known for dolphin watching. Best time to go for dolphin watching is in the early morning, since it was already 3, we skipped the dolphin tour and headed to Tanah Lot floating temple. On the way stopped at a few fruit shops, tasted a few local fruits. Salak is one of them. The Salak, famously known as the snake fruit, comes attractively packaged in its own distinctively patterned, leathery hide, tastes like rose apple fruit available here. Couldn't taste the other local fruit Durian, its strong smell didn't attract us much :)

In the evening, we visited Tanah Lot temple. The temple is built on a rock and surrounded by water from all sides, so it seems as though it is floating :). Floating temple along with the sun set has made this a famous tourist destination in Bali. The place is damn crowded and can see everyone competing to take the sunset pictures :). After this, did a bit of shopping at the same place and headed to enjoy the night life.

Day 3: Visited the Kintamani volcano at mount Batur. It is one of the active volcano which has erupted several times, the last eruption in March 1963. The lava can be seen from a distance with a solid black color. And also on the slope of the volcano there is a large lake. At first the driver took us to nearby hill top and showed us the distant view of the volcano. With great difficulty had to explain him that we wanted to trek and reach the peak of the mountain. Finally we went to the foot of the volcano and arranged for a guide. It was a moderate trek , which took around 2 hrs to reach the top. As we approached the top, it started raining, had to rush to the top. View from the top was magnificent. The crater was colorful and could see a bit of volcanic smoke as well.

From there headed to the elephant cave temple in Ubud, then to downtown for shopping. Had to borrow money from the driver as we had left money back in hotel. Later, had nice pizza and sangria at an Italian place and headed back to hotel.

Day 4 : Visited the beach next to the resort in the morning followed by last minute shopping at kuta shopping center. After this it was Home sweet home :)