Sunday, January 15, 2012

Trek to Venkatagiri Hills!

Before I start, let me just insert a statutory warning:
Trekking can get intensely addictive with EMPERORS. Indulge yourself in with care. Whoever agrees with the above cautionary note can proceed to read further.
Destination: Venkatagiri hills, Andhra Pradesh
Date: 19-20 November, 2011
Difficulty level: Moderate +

As the night gave way to the waking hours of the dawn, the sidewalk in front of Nathans café, Koyambedu got buzzling with a couple of energetic folks carrying their trekking gears around 12.30 am, sipping cardamom flavoured hot tea. Soon the groups from Tidel Park, Madhya Kailash and Guindy joined us in front of the café. As usual the regulars got into a friendly huddle in gaiety and started churning out the details of past adventures and the ones to come soon. Newcomers were quickly introduced to the group and all were ready, set to explore and celebrate the spirit of CTC at the Venkatagiri hills.

With a little bit of delays here and there, all the undertaking forms signed and cash paid, Arun - Prem signaled all of us to get into the cars. We had Balaji’s Mahindra Thar jeep, Praveen’s Volkswagen Vento along with good old Maruthi Swift this time! All gears, water bottles, food etc, were put inside the cars and we were ready to take leave. Strict instructions from Arun to the others driving the cars to “ follow the lead car and not miss the route.”
We had to manage heavy traffic on the highways due to a road accident and take a different route. After passing through various toll booths, trucks, and villages we reached Tada where we again got delayed due to traffic. Meanwhile, we all were introducing ourselves and getting to know each other in the jeep where I was seated. Some were listening to songs, some were talking about their previous experiences and others concentrated on the road coming ahead. When we reached the access road to Venkatagiri village we stopped for a while and took a small break. People with DSLR’s were busy shooting the sunrise, others with bottles in their hands went to off to remote places! :P

The common gears and food stuffs were taken out and distributed equally. Excellent food along with essentials like fruits, rotis ,pickle, buns and jam, chocolates etc, were grabbed up by everyone according to the quantity mentioned by the organizers. Santosh was spot on when he later renamed CTC as 'Chennai Trekking and Eating Club'. We were overwhelmed with the extensive food that we carried along that filled our tummies which would make any luxurious buffet serving look pale in comparison. If we were to rate the culinary experience in all of our treks combined this one trek could beat them all hands down. Big cheers to Arun and all the folks who had a hand in the food department!

Even after all this, as we proceeded to Venkatagiri village, we stopped by in few shops to have breakfast. We had super soft idlies and vadas there. The morning looked crisp, fresh and the rays of sun yet to shine through the blue sky and clouds scooting by gently in the breeze. It was further charged by the super energetic chatter that started by Santosh and his shouts of “Oru solo photo machi” being the centre of attention. With Santosh and his solo team engaging the whole group and stepping up the entertainment vibe, this trek looked already ‘ON’!

This being a trek onto hills with no streams made it quite a challenge for all of us. We had to manage with just 3 liters of water till we could get on the top of the peak. Finally we started to move one behind the other following the trail. We were climbing up really high, and within few meters of climb you can actually feel the rise in altitude. Breathing gets heavier and your pace slows down. Few start taking help of the sticks nearby for their support and others moved on slowly following each other and clinging on to trees, branches and stones for support. Introductions, photographs, jokes and water sipping followed up with an intense climb getting difficult by each step. At last we reached the first resting spot, which had a small naturally formed water pond. We all were shocked as no water was flowing through it and imagined the same on the top of the hills where we expected a small stream. Since a very few of us made it early to the resting spot, had to wait for others. We decide to have lunch here and everyone was busy sharing the jam n pickle packets with the rotis.

After few more group clicks, gossips and power naps we further proceeded to the top of the peak. After braving severe cramps on both the legs, hands pricked with thorns, with a heavy breathing and tired body, we reached the top of the peak. The view was mind blowing and awesome. All the tiredness vanished within minutes due to the chill gentle wind hitting on our faces and the breath taking views of the Venkatagiri village and the hills around us. We all were shocked to see the remains of an old fort on top of the peak which was built by the robbers to store their looty. We were informed by Arun later that this was the quickest group to reach the top of Venkatagiri peak ever in CTC until now. I was amazed at Chella sir’s speed and fitness at this age.

Next we started off with a cascade of activities. Some were getting all the water bottles together to fill it up from the small stream, while few were busy collecting dry logs for the camp fire. Others were setting up tents, unpacking the things needed for cooking and as usual few others started clicking pictures. As the sun was setting, it started to become more cold and windy. Arun and co got busy with cutting vegetables and cooking some mouth watering hot and delicious vegetable soup and biriyani. Three huge tents for most of them to sleep were erected. All sleeping bags, mufflers, jackets and torches were out. Finally Senthil called out for few us to assemble with the bowls for the soup. It felt really warm to have the hot soup on that cold night. Next came the delicious biriyani and within minutes it was all over. With our tummies filled, the happy bunch of us started the camp fire activity. People had collected loads of wooden logs and as far as I know, this was the biggest camp fire set up by anyone in CTC. Three cheers to all the emperors!! We had nice fun dancing around, posing for snaps, eating pop-corn, listening to Rakesh play the flute and of course the endless jokes on Santosh! After few hours of fun and frolic, everyone was tired and decided to hit their sacks to energize themselves for the trip back down the next morning. It was a very chilly night and dew was found everywhere around the tent. Anything that we touched was wet. The morning dawned upon and it was amazing to let the sun’s rays fall onto you. When Senthil was busy preparing tea for all of us, another photo session started off.

After a long walk and talk with Prem and Adithya Verma, it was time to pack up.Prem I am not revealing the games we played to find out who will fill the water :D . Hot mouth watering maggi for breakfast was ready and as usual it was licked clean from bowls in minutes. We cleaned up all the trash, packed and rolled the tarpaulins, filled water and got ready for the steep descent down. With the few final clicks on the top we started our journey back down.We were really fast as climbing down was very easy compared to the up. We were asked to wait near the first resting spot as everyone could have introduction session amongst ourselves and for a final group snap. Once everyone reached there, it was fun to let everyone talk about themselves and atlast after the final full 32 member group picture was taken, we decided to quicken our pace and get down as soon as possible.

Arun and Prem planned for an exploration of a waterfall near the foot hills. Another few hours and we were down near the foot hills. One group missed the trail and got lost at the foot hills but with the help of Arun’s whistle, google maps supporting I-Phones and Balaji’s Mahindra Thar, we were all able to regroup soon.Then it was decided to proceed further for the exploration of another waterfalls close by. By this time many were tired and hence only 16 out of 32 decided to go further. We bid goodbye to the group that left and with the help of Balaji’s exceptional driving, we drove off-road for about 8kms to reach the waterfalls. It was amazing to dip yourselves into it after two days of water crunch! After a quick dip and few clicks we left the place as it was getting dark and late. All of us were very equally tired too. After we reached the village, we had an awesome dinner at the village hotel. After paying the bills it was now time for us to bid final goodbyes and of course exchanged our contact numbers. Need to thank Balaji to dropping me back home.

It was indeed an awesome trek to cherish with the ‘EMPERORS’. Personal thanks for every one of them for making this trip a big successful and enjoyable one. Kudos to Arun and Prem for organizing such an ultimate fun filled and one of the most memorable trips of our lives. Looking forward to more such treks and explorations.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


A woman came home from work late, tired and irritated, to find her 5-year old son waiting for her at the door.
SON: 'Mummy, may I ask you a question?'
MOM: 'Yeah sure, what it is?' replied the woman.
SON: 'Mummy, how much do you make an hour?'
MOM: 'That's none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?' the woman said angrily.
SON: 'I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?'
MOM: 'If you must know, I make Rs. 50 an hour.'
SON: 'Oh,' the little boy replied, with his head down.
SON: 'Mummy, may I please borrow Rs.25?'
The mother was furious, 'If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being so selfish. I don't work hard everyday for such childish frivolities.'

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door..

The woman sat down and started to get even angrier about the little boy's questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?

After about an hour or so, the woman had calmed down , and started to think:
Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that Rs.25.00 and he really didn't ask for money very often.The woman went to the door of the little boy's room and opened the door.

'Are you asleep, son?' She asked.
'No Mummy, I'm awake,' replied the boy.
'I've been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier' said the woman. 'It's been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here's the Rs.25 you asked for.'

The little boy sat straight up, smiling. 'Oh, thank you Mummy!' he yelled. Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some crumpled up bills.

The woman saw that the boy already had money, started to get angry again.
The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his mother.
'Why do you want more money if you already have some?' the mother grumbled.
'Because I didn't have enough, but now I do,' the little boy replied.
'Mummy, I have Rs.50 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.'

The mother was crushed. She put his arms around her little son, and she begged for his forgiveness.

It's just a short reminder to all of you working so hard in life. We should not let time slip through our fingers without having spent some time with those who really matter to us, those close to our hearts. Do remember to share at least that Rs.50 worth of your time with someone you love.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Story of Appreciation!!

Well there has been an extensive gap between the time i last blogged here. Probably the delay was due to the fact that I wanted the post to be exclusive and very different and I was waiting all this while to get a topic that would spark such a post! And at last, I found this mail a very interesting and touching one which i would like you all to read through!!

One young academically excellent person went to apply for a managerial position in a big company.He passed the first interview,the director had to make
the last decision.

The director discovered from the CV that the youth's academic achievements were excellent all the way, from the secondary school until the postgraduate research, never had a year when he did not score.

The director asked, "Did you obtain any scholarships in school?" the
youth answered "none".The director asked, " Was it your father who paid for your school fees?" The youth answered, "My father passed away when I was one year old, it was my mother who paid for my school fees. The director asked, " Where did your mother work?" The youth answered, "My mother worked as clothes cleaner. The director requested the youth to show his hands. The youth showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect.

The director asked, " Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes
before?" The youth answered, "Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books. Furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me. The director said, "I have a request. When you go back today, go and clean your mother's hands, and then see me tomorrow morning.*

The youth felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back, he happily requested his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange, happy but with mixed feelings, she showed her hands to the kid.

The youth cleaned his mother's hands slowly. His tear fell as he did that. It was the first time he noticed that his mother's hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful that his mother
shivered when they were cleaned with water.

This was the first time the youth realized that it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fee. The bruises in the mother's hands were the price that the mother had to pay for his graduation, academic excellence and his future.

After finishing the cleaning of his mother hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother.That night, mother and son talked for a very long time.

Next morning, the youth went to the director's office.The Director noticed the tears in the youth's eyes, asked: " Can you tell me what have you done and learned yesterday in your house?" The youth answered, " I cleaned my mother's hand, and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes'

The Director asked, " please tell me your feelings."

The youth said,
Number 1, I know now what is appreciation. Without my mother, there would not be the successful me today.
Number 2, by working together and helping my mother, only I now realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done.
Number 3, I have come to appreciate the importance and value of family relationship.

The director said, " This is what I am looking for to be my manager.
I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of
others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired.

Later on, this young person worked very hard, and received the respect of his subordinates. Every employee worked diligently and as a team. The company's performance improved tremendously.

A child, who has been protected and habitually given whatever he wanted, would develop "entitlement mentality" and would always put himself first. He would be ignorant of his parent's efforts. When he starts work, he assumes that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he would never know the sufferings of his employees and would always blame others. For this kind of people, who may be good academically, may be successful for a while, but eventually would not feel sense of achievement. He will grumble and be full of hatred and fight for more. If we are this kind of protective parents, are we really showing love or are we destroying the kid instead?*

You can let your kid live in a big house, eat a good meal, learn piano, watch a big screen TV. But when you are cutting grass, please let them experience it. After a meal, let them wash their plates and bowls together with their brothers and sisters. It is not because you do not have money to hire a maid, but it is because you want to love them in a right way. You want them to understand, no matter how rich their parents are, one day their hair will grow gray, same as the mother of that young person. The most important thing is your kid learns how to appreciate the effort and experience the difficulty and learns the ability to work with others to get things done.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

This should be posted in every school

Love him or hate him , he sure hits the nail on the head with this!

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1 : Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2 : The world doesn't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss

Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6 : If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault , so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7 : Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8 : Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer.This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9 : Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10 : Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11 : Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Feel young and energetic :)

This post here on my blog comes after a really long time. These lines made me shape my life so much and hence I thought it apt to share it with you people too!! Feel free to comment about it.

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us, to get to know someone we didn't already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being. She said, 'Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?'

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, 'Of course you may!' and she gave me a giant squeeze. 'Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?' I asked.

She jokingly replied, 'I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids.' 'No seriously,' I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age. 
'I always dreamed of having a college education and now I'm getting one!' she told me. After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this 'time machine' as she shared her wisdom and experience with me. Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up. At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I'll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, 'I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know. 'As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, 'We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.

There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You've got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don't even know it! There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody! can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets. The elderly usually don't have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets. 'She concluded her speech by courageously singing 'The Rose.' She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives. At the year's end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those months ago.
One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep.
Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too late to be all you can possibly be.
REMEMBER, GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY. GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL. We make a Living by what we get. We make a Life by what we give.

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.


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