An unforgettable journey to the end of the world – Rameshwaram

So a long pending journey. A trip to Rameshwaram or to Dhanushkodi. I had been to Rameshwaram during 1999, for spreading the ashes of my grand mother. But it was a quick journey that we spend hardly half a day there, and couldn’t go to the Dhanushkodi. Since then it was a long dream to visit there again, and it took 16 years to make it true. The idea of the trip came up all of a sudden, when I was talking with one of my childhood friend, Kittu, and he told that he along with my other childhood friends are planning for a trip, may to Rameshwaram. I pushed myself immediately into the trip plan and within a week, everything was set. Initial plan was to go by train. From Trivandrum take the train till Nagercoil and from Nagercoil take the Kanyakumari Rameswaram express which reaches Nagercoil at 10:23. And the train travels overnight and reaches Rameshwaram at around 5:30 in the morning, which sounds perfect. But later two of our friends dropped out and we became 5 in number and so cancelled the train and decided to go by my car, which I think was the best decision we took. This was the route we took. Wondered how we were living before the age of GPS maps. :D Capture So the trip started on Saturday 23rd May 2015, 3:00 AM, from my house. We were 5, me, Rajesh, Kittu, Prasad and Vishnu. Rajesh and Vishnu knows driving and so they were the backup driver. After filling a full tank of petrol we started through the narrow “National Highway” connecting Trivandrum and Nagercoil and we reached Nagercoil around 4.15AM. After having a early morning tea we sped through the highway, which is a real highway towards Tirunelveli. Just before reaching Tirunelveli, take the right towards Tuticorin, yet another highway and from Tuticorin take left towards East Coast Road. A fellow advice to anyone who is travelling through here, carry something to eat with you, or have something from Nagercoil or otherwise get into Tutucorin city to have something. Otherwise you will sit hungry like us till Rameswaram. :D The East coast road, which apparently takes to Chennai is a nice road, not so wide, a two line road, which runs along the coast. Though you cannot see the Sea, you can feel the heavy wind and the crouching heat outside. And small villages that may just pop up and out of nowhere, people who still rely on bullock carts. Near Tutucorin you can even see the salt farms around you. But you will definitely love the drive through here. DSC07696 DSC07717 And don’t forget all these routes, except the East coast road are tolled ones and prepare for that as well. The road finally takes us to the great Pamban bridge. It was India’s first sea bridge, and was the longest sea bridge in India until the opening of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. There are two bridges, one for road and another for rail. And the bridges are nearly 1 KM long through the sea, which looks like two different sea on both sides. One will be rough and other calm. One point of caution : There is an entry toll for the bridge, which is Rs.9 for cars as of today. But the toll people will take more from you telling the board is outdated. So beware of that. You can stop in the bridge and enjoy the sea, the wind and the sun. The rail bridge is for the most part, a conventional bridge resting on concrete piers, but has a double leaf bascule section midway, which can be raised to let ships and barges pass through. DSC07744

After spending nearly 30 mins on the bridge, we drove to the Island. Rameshwaram is an island, which I would say is still undeveloped. It had seen many stories of the Sri Lankan refugees during the times of Sri Lankan war. So because of that you can see huge cut outs or posters of now dead leader of LTTE, Prabhakaran. Also there are LTTE flags everywhere. But Rameshwaram is pretty safe, don’t worry. :)

Rameshwaram town is nearly 11 kms after the Pamban bridge, and just before entering the town, you need to pay an entry free, Rameswaram Municipality Entry Fee of Rs.100 as of now. Believe me, that would be the last toll you need to pay. :D And from there the congestion of small town starts. We had booked a place to stay before hand so our next task was to find it out. We booked at “Sethu Residency”, a small not too bad lodge, which has AC and TV and charged 800 per room without AC. You wont be needing AC much, since there is wind all the time, that too we went on peak summer.

The town looks very much undeveloped. Later we knew the reason. Even though thousands of people come for pilgrimage, all the revenue, except the 100 rupees municipality entry fee, goes to individuals. Everything is without receipts or bills. There are some quite nice eat out places, mostly veg, AND DONT TRY NON-VEG THERE. The road which leads to the temple is so narrow and its better to leave your car in your hotel or lodge and go by walking, that’s what we did. Rameshwaram-9901_7

You are not allowed to take mobiles or cameras inside the temple, so this would be the last picture from me. Read wikipedia about this temple, and believe me, its worth visiting. Very old temple, built around 1500. On entry, we were greeted by some people looks like guide, and asked for 250 rupees per person including all tickets and queueless darsan of deity. We agreed and proceeded.

The inside of temple is worth seeing, with all those stone works and architecture. Rameshwaram temple has 22 theerthams (wells) and you need to take bath from all these. The guide will pull water using a bucket and pour over us. Each teertham has different significance and the water on each well is different! I would suggest to take this bath to everyone, though it might not be true, the different water in different wells, which are so adjacent to each other is worth seeing. Also these 22 wells are placed in the shape of Ohm.

So after taking bath from all 22, we went inside the temple, (where only hindus are allowed!!!!!!), to have darsan. As promised, nowhere we needed to stand on queue, we had darsan of all deities easily. And we all felt blessed!

Since it was late, we went back to room and planned to go to Dhanushkodi, which is the last tip of India, from where Sri Lanka is just 18 kms through see. Midnight we got an idea and we all hoped into the car and drove back to the Pamban Bridge. One of the best decision we took again, because it was such a great experience. In middle of the bridge, with winds screaming around at 60 kmph, and sound of oceans. Waaoh, we didn’t knew how time flew and we stand there for nearly 1 hour. With a relaxed, peaceful mind we came back to our room.

Next day our jeep driver, whom we booked through the lodge, came early at 6:30. We cant drive our normal cars to Dhanushkodi. Because the last 4 km is pure beach, and only 4 wheel drives can go there. There are lots of such jeeps and mini buses taking people there. You can either catch them from Rameswaram or drive till the beach, and you get mini bus from there. Jeep will be exclusively for us, and he charged 1300 for 5 of us. And I heard the mini bus charges 200 per person from Dhanushkodi. So it was good for us to take the jeep.

Dhanishkodi, is an old ruined town, which got ruined by cyclone or typhoon during 60s. Till then, it was having people living, railway stations, good roads and all. But now they have only remnants of these old buildings. We could see works were going on to renovate it. The road towards Dhanushkodi, 18km, is super. Straight, trees on both sides, beach on both sides, and very few vehicles. After some 14 km, the beach starts and it was a roller coaster ride in the jeep. But it was also fun.

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Finally after a long roller coaster drive, we reached at one of the best beach I had ever been. If you take top 5 beaches in India, this should be in that. But as I said, like Rameswaram, this is also so undeveloped. But with the new efforts from government, this might come up back to life. The water is so shallow, that we could walk though the water may be upto couple of kilometers. I don’t know exactly, but we could walk till some 500 meters, if you see the boat in the picture, we were on that boat taking pictures. And an advice would be to go there early morning, as I could imagine after 9 it will be crouching sun over there and also get yourself bathed in sun screen before hitting there. There are couple of shacks who sold soda or tender coconut water. Other than that, its a deserted beach. But we spend some quality time there, playing bathing and all.

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It’s believed that, Rama on the way to save Sita from Ravana in Lanka, constructed the bridge from this point towards Sri Lanka. The so-called ‘Adams Bridge’ is still there, but we cannot see that, as it is under the water due to raising level of sea. But satellite images shows these stones. Its made of some floating stones. Though it sounds fantasy, there is a place in Rameswaram, an ashram, where they have saved some 4-5 such stones. They won’t get drowned in the water and just floats. Looks like rock, but it seems to me like some other formation. But still, Dhanushkodi, or Rama Sethu Point, have very much significance in the Hindu Tradition.

With mind full of peacefulness, we returned back to our lodge in our Jeep. Sent the driver off, got ready, had typical Tamil breakfast and started our return journey. Waving good bye to the Pamban bridge, to the toll keepers, to the salt fields of Tutucorin, and through the highway, we drove back home, cutting straight through the heavy wind and sun. Thanks Rameshwaram for such a great trip, unforgettable trip, rejuvenating us with your spirits. You will always be remembered. :)

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Overcoming Thanatophobia (Fear of Death)

Thanatophobia :  This is the name phobia google suggested me for the feeling I was going through for may be last 3-4 months. Thanks to google to give me the exact word for this. Thanatophobia, means fear of death, or fear of dying. But am not sure this word completely suits the feeling I was going through. Yet it is true that I was undergoing this phobia, wait, I think I still have that underlying somewhere within me.

I am a seasonal Thanatophobian. This started way before when I was 12 or 13 years of old. My granny was 88 years old at that time, and thinking about her was the first time I started fearing death. But somehow I got rid of it, may be after her death. Then it started climbing me again when I was doing my graduation. I used to go for one hardware course after my college and used to get late while coming back. The time waiting for the bus, at the night, alone, brought me the feeling again. Succesfully got rid of that again.

Now I got under the phobia again after Lays had left to her home for her delivery of Totto. :-) I was alone in my room, at nights while surfing through facebook, while watching TV, anything, my mind went under the fear of dying. It started after seeing the movie, The Bucket List. After that night, it was very difficult to sleep. Whenever I close my eyes, the fear of death climbed back. Later I found out that its not the death am afraid of, am afraid of getting old and then facing the fact that anypoint from now I will be dead. What will happen after that, is their any soul inside us which will leave, then I am happy. If there is no soul, and death is the end of all, bhum, thats the worst thing that will happen.

I tried to find out the reasons why this phobia came back. The reasons were simple, I was alone, and that too time without sunlight brings weird thoughts into your mind. Day time you will be too busy to think these things. The solution for this was right inside these reasons. Dont get free time at night. Make yourself busy until your eyes tell to that go to sleep idiot.

That was the point when I decided to make my reading habit more strong. I did had this habit, but was not that aggressive. Now I am an aggressive reader. Read till my eyes get burned out and sleep on the book itself. And BINGO, I am surprised that the phobia is not creeping out anymore. I hope any one of you reading this will get some hint to overcome this. Make your mind understand the fact that death is unstoppable, and believe in god. Death is not the end of all, believe that.

But still am sure that Thanatophobia is lying inside me undercover, ready to jump out anytime.

Now Reading : Serious Men By Manu Joseph

First chapters is too interesting. The synopsis is below :

Ayyan Mani appears to be just another man in Mumbai, stranded in the rot of a good marriage, an unremarkable life and a dead-end job as personal assistant to an insufferable astronomer called Arvind Acharya at the Institute of Theory and Research. To entertain himself and to give his wife the hope that they are heading towards a spectacular future, Ayyan embarks upon a secret game, weaving an outrageous fiction around his ten-yearold son. As he builds the small plots to promote the myth, he sets in motion a chain of events that soon threatens to overtake him. When the formidable reputation of Arvind Acharya, who is obsessed with the theory that microscopic extraterrestrials are falling on Earth all the time, plummets after a major scandal, and he is rocked by the vicious office politics in the institute, Ayyan sees in the crisis an opportunity to further his own game and make his son a national celebrity. But in the exhilaration of the game lurks danger…

The Space Between Us : A review

My Rating : **½

I bought this book with lots of expectation, but in one way I was disappointed with the content.

The story revolves around the life of two women. One middle class house wife, Sera, whose husband is no more and is living with her daughter and son-in-law. The second is actually the center character, Bheema, who is the maid of Sera. She lives in a slum along with her grand-daughter Maya, whose parents are no more. The story starts with the revelation that Maya is pregnant from someone whose name she is not ready to reveal. Bheema takes the help of Sera to get that aborted and find out who is responsible. In between that, author takes us to the flash back lives of both Bheema and Sera, their miserable past life. At the end, when Maya finally reveals the name of the man who made her pregnant, the story takes a u-turn.

The main problem in the book, is obviously with the language used. There are lots of Hindi words coming in between the story, which kills the charm in between. In the first few chapters, the author, Thrity Umrigar (www.umrigar.com), succeeds in getting some eagerness from the reader, but later on the book become a little bit dragging. To be honest, I was just running through the last chapter to finish it, since the climax was pretty boring.

Losing My Virginity And Other Dumb Ideas : The lost one

My Rating : ***

My 4th purchase from Flipkart.com. This guys are simply awesome in their service, economical, accurate and prompt service, more than that Cash On Delivery and Free shipping for anywhere in India.

Obviously I bought this book seeing the title and a couple of reviews. I was looking for a light read book, where I need not put in lots of brain to get it understood, and if this is the intention this book is the perfect choice.  And the Flipkart.com delivered this for just above Rs.100.

The story starts with Mumbai grown girl, staying alone, working as a translator for Foreign Embassies, becoming 30 years of old. She realizes with a bang that she is still a virgin and takes a firm decision to get herself de-virginized. The entire book is regarding her search for the same. In course of that she gets into love with a married man and things get more complicated thereafter. The later part of the book deals with her efforts to overcome the same and it is well depicted by the author.

In short, it is a short book, ideal for light, fun and quick read. The language is better compared to the other Indian authors. The author, Madhuri Banerjee (madhuribanerjee.blogspot.com), is young and seems like having a good fortune with this book, as its one of the best seller. I rated 3 stars, not for the quality of the book, but the quality compared to the similar light read books.

PS : If you are going to buy the book seeing the title, just as I did ;) , you may get disappointed. But author is generous enough to give you little bit of fun in between. :-)

Indian IT Series- Part 1 – Effective Management

After working for nearly five years in the Indian Software Industry, I think its high time I should scribble about some of the findings I made during my career so far. Hopefully this comes as the first part of the series, which I titled as “Indian IT Series”. A foreward to all who may read this :: These writings contain viewpoint from a software developer and its not intended to hurt anyone.

This episode, I am gonna tell my opinion about the Management Tier of this industry. I believe that this is the main tier which have a major impact of the outcome of a company or a project. I think I am not at a level to tell any opinion about the management of a company, rather I would love to explode my thinking on project level management or the level just above that. Fortunately or unfortunately, I had worked under both type of managers : the best and the worst. Also I had undergone two entirely different IT cultures :: restriction oriented and freedom oriented :: Kerala and Bangalore. :)

Some DOs that developers expecting from a Manager :

  • Give adequate creative freedom
  • Act as a filter, which filters out the pressure coming from above
  • Appreciate all the good work
  • Understand the capabilities of the developer and stand with them
  • Support them in whatever situations possible
  • Do support them in case they are stretching beyond working hours
  • Be friendly and open
  • Bring maximum transparency to the team
  • Be honest and talk on face
  • Share the responsibilities with your petty developers
  • Try to implement a flexible working hours possible
  • Be an understanding manager
  • Even though any of your member make an error, make them aware of that, train them and give them another oppurtunity.

Some DONTs that developers dont want from a Manager :

  • Don’t bug them frequently by asking the status every 5 minutes
  • Don’t induce un-necessary restrictions, this will change their attitude
  • Don’t involve them in to0 much junk work like process documents and timesheets
  • Don’t fingerpoint your developers
  • Don’t act friendly and then stab on their back
  • Don’t blame your developer in front of an audience and there by humiliating them
  • Don’t question the developers on the time they are spending
  • Don’t force developers to stretch, just explain the need of sitting late.
  • Don’t expect developers to stretch everyday, they are as human as you

These are the points that come from the top of my head. Interestingly, I collected these points from my colleagues and hence I think this is a true expectation from the developers.

Friends

Friends are the biggest asset in our life. How many friends you have, is not more. I love making friendships, literally all over the world, thanks to the social networking sites like Facebook and Orkut.

We can classify friends into seasonal and lifelong friends. The majority of our friends will be seasonal, and I classify almost 80-85% of my friends as seasonal. We go to school, we have some friends. Go to college, we will make new friends and as time passes, the school friends may get erased slowly. From College to work, as usual new friends come and college friends slowly starts disappearing. By this time the old school friends might have vanished.

But what I feel, is the old school friends or the child hood friends will be the life long friends compared to the seasonal friends. During child hood, our minds will be very less exposed to the selfishness and artificiality. Hence the friendships built during that time will be coming direct from the heart. By the passage of time, though these bad things may creep into the mind, but the warmth of that friendship will be lying in some corner of our hearts afresh.

Last week once I was too much screwed down and was feeling all time low. But in between that I found one of my old childhood play friend on the way and believe me the 2 hour spend with him changed my whole day. I realized the value of the old friends and after that I spend much time to find out and get in contact with the lost friends. Once again thanks to Facebook and Orkut for creating a oppurtunity for rejuvenate the lost friendships.

So what are you waiting for, login to your social networking area and get back your old friends, which will make the rest of your life truly valuable.

Shortest and Usual Love Story

Whenver I ask someone about their love story nowadays, I get the same answer :

We were friends then thought of marrying and we married.

This is the shortest love story as well as my shortest post :)

Just Read and Now Reading…

I am very happy that I brushed up my old habit of reading, which was sleeping for a long period. Thanks to Chetan Bhagat and Aravind Adiga, whose books rejuvenated my reading habit. White Tiger, Crisis, Bancroft Strategy, Munpe Parakkunna Pakshikal are some of the last victims I read.

White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (3½)

Crisis by Robin Cook (3)

Bancroft Strategy by Robert Ludlum (2½) –

Munpe Parakkunna Pakshikal by C.Radhakrishnan (3) – It’s one of book which I took lot of time to finish. The story tells about the life of a naxalist in the 70’s and 80’s, and as  usual trying to make the naxals a great hero. The story revolves around a journalist who is inspired with the naxal and trying to save the naxal’s life. There is no difference in the way the author is telling this story, but still the starting chapters are worth reading. You won’t even think stop reading the novel when the author is telling the starting life of the naxal. But the middle chapters is stretched like rubber and you will eventually lose the reading instinct. But if you survive that part, like what I did, then the ending chapters are really amazing. You will feel like you had just finished reading a suspense novel, even though the suspense is very small. If you are patient enough and have a strong bias to left movement, it’s a worth read.

Thalamurakal by OV Vijayan-( 4 ) Yet another good work from the great author. After a lagged start it keeps on telling a story of a big old feudal family which comes down when the caste system broke. Even in the starting you will find it difficult to interlink the chapters, later you will identify the beauty of the way the author had laid down the story. Amazing touch and for the lagged start am reducing one star :P

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown-(3) Follower of the symbolic series written by Dan Brown. Different from Da Vinci Code, this fiction is more like a thriller, which used all the existing symbols in and around Vatican city. It talks about many things regarding Christianity which as a non-christian I was unaware of. But the whole effect of the book was gone when I watched the film, and listen me, don’t watch the film before reading this great book.

The Summons by John Grisham – (3) Good suspense work from the great author. One law professor is left with a huge amount of money from the room where he found his father dead. The changes that comes to the professor after he got this money and the difficulties he faced keeping this money is the main subject. After a lot of  thrilling events, something happens, which proves to be the turning point. But the disappointing part is that all the suspense is broken in the last chapter which is very small and readers are left with a feel that the novel ended suddenly. But apart of this, this work is worth reading and enjoyable.

2States by Chetan Bhagat – Now reading. But after the first 50 pages, I could say that it is no more different than his old titles. The same IIM campus, same style love stories, same mixed hostels… Anyway since I jumped into it, am still reading it. Yet to be rated ;)

Kerala v Karnataka

That’s it… Am Back into this blogosphere after a long gap. :) So much of work and writing Malayalam blogs (http://knappan.wordpress.com) may be some of the reasons which caused me to may stay away from devilsoldier. :( But something that happened yesterday here at Bangalore forced me to scribble this new post. Just a small comparison between my current native Bangalore and my Home State Kerala, God’s own country.

The God’s own country, Kerala is famous and notorious for many reasons. Even though am proud to say that I hail from Kerala, there is something which make me ashame to tell that am a Keralaite. The ‘harthal’ culture is the main thing I hate in Kerala. ‘Harthal’ is the modified version of ‘Bandh’, where all normal functions of a city or a place is put on halt to protest against some reasons. All the political parties misused this ‘bandh’ for almost all and every things. Fed up with all these, Kerala court had banned these Bandhs and everyone thought that that’s the end of those things. But there came next version of Bandh, ‘Harthal’ which was the new birth of ‘bandh’. But sincerely when I was a student, I would wait eagerly for some Bandh or Harthal. But now, after becoming one professional, am understanding the pain and discomfort caused by these protests to a regular employee. Loss of one day leave or one day wages will be more than one can afford, at least for some one. Even though majority of people being against these protests, political parties will go along with these protests and ruin citizen’s life now and then. Kerala witness one harthal every week or couple of weeks at least. Cities or Places coming to stand still on these days, MNC’s struggling hard to get their employees to the workplace to meet the commitments, daily waged laborers finding it hard to leave without their daily wage, foreigners and out of station people getting trapped at Bus Stations or railway stations without knowing the harthal and so on had become a regular scene across Kerala. With these increasing number of harthals, I think it had lost its significance and became one simple way to destroy normal people’s life.

Yesterday (August 09, 2009), Karnataka CM, BSY, took a firm step to unveil the statue of Tamil Philosophical Poet, Thiruvalluvar, at Bangalore through which the tension between both the states may come down. But this lead to lots of controversies raised by Kannada activists, which started a hell lot of protests by these activists. Eventually they also called for a ‘Bangalore Bandh’ yesterday :) . Amidst the whole protests, the statue was unveiled by Tamil Nadu CM. But what astonished me was the response to the Bandh by the Bangaloreans. Only reason which made the Bandh partially complete was because it was on a Sunday. All buses, taxis and autos were plying in full strength, almost all shops remained open, malls and multiplexes worked as usual, which was a surprise for a man like me, who came from Harthal’s own country, Kerala. I am here at Bangalore for last three years and if I remember correctly it was only the second Bandh here in Bangalore after 2007 February (I think) for the cauvery issue.

I am really becoming jealous of this silicon city, for keeping this kind of attitude towards those politicians who want to exploit the normal people’s (mango people’s) silence. I wish the people of my Kerala should also have learned from the Bangaloreans, about how to handle these types of stupid Harthals.

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