Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Test your vocabulary

Great site to test ones vocabulary.

Link here

My vocabulary stands at some 31500 ish. whats yours?

Update: my results here

Nice site. Try it!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Bisle Ghat : Jeep track ride

My friends and I did the Bisle Ghat road trip a year ago, to this date. The route is quite fantastic and it is easily one of the most foresty routes that I have ever done till date.

The trip by itself was a lot more ambitious - the plan was to cover some 900-1000 kms in 3 days. We (me and 2 of my friends) started from bangalore on a monsoon bike trip and  went to Shravanabelagola to see the huge 57 feet monolithic statue of Gomateshwara. We got quite complacent and ended up staying there for a lot more time than we should have - we had initially tentatively decided to halt at Sakleshpur for the night and the going was getting tougher by the afternoon... till Eicher Maps came to our rescue. Luckily, I had carried that and saw that there is an alternate route to Sakleshpur directly from Shravanabelagola without getting into Hassan and avoiding the usual highway route. [I remember Hole Narsipur and Arkalgud coming somewhere along the way. If someone wants the entire alternate route, let me know] Off we went on this route and never were we prepared for the sights that followed - the route was breathtaking by its own right [the roads were being laid at the time we travelled... but knowing Karnataka and India at large, they might be in the same condition now too]


We came across some of the most amazing grasslands and meadows that we have ever seen [my friends concur too.] Except for the fact that there was cattle excrement everywhere, there was not a bit of dirt and the land just kept its undulating pattern of a thick layer of mountain grass without a break as far as the eyes could see. There was so much of greenery and grass on both the sides that I felt compelled to stop my bike and sit around and ponder over the many beauties of nature and also, in the real world, wait for my friends to join in.

Off we went to Sakleshpur from here [Note for the rider: The route is fantabulous. One would do well to take it slow and have a nice look at the route. The bisle ghat, incidentally, retraces a fair bit of this route (even I realised this only on the next day) - more on this later]

The next day my friend suggested that we do the Bisle ghat. A few enquiries got us nothing on the route to be taken and we were left to our own devices... after a bit of checking and re-checking, we were surprised but not really shocked to be retracing the same route back to Shravanabelagola on the alternate route [I found this bit of the journey quite fitting]

Bisle Ghat is arrived at by turning right at one of the junctions along the way [Rider is out on his own here. Just keep asking people for bisle ghat - inspite of repeated enquiries, we couldnt get the name of the junction / village where we were supposed to turn. Alternately, one can posibly ask for the route to Subramanya and might get pointed to in the same direction - One needs to move through the Bisle Ghat to travel to Subramanya in this route.]

The ride to bisle ghat seems quite normal initially - even quite boring. The mile posts are all marked in Kannada and unless one is a localite, one cant get any warmth by looking at the mileposts which themeselves are few and far between. After 10-15 kms, the roads definitely become worser and the scenery becomes much prettier till we reach bisle view point [look out for a green colored forest dept board and a gate on your left - if you are travelling from Sakleshpur, that is]. A decent hike from the gate takes one to the view point  - a real good view of all the hills and mountains nearby, clouds permitting. We just had enough time to see around very very quickly before the clouds took over and hid the view till we left.

View from Bisle

I got quite caught on with the route and all of us decided to go to the logical end of the route - which is a few kms away from Subramanya. The route is about 25-30 kms long, long stretches where one cant really find any conclusive evidence of tarmac. Fairly rough riding, and has more potholes in that stretch than one will ever encounter in a full trip of 250-300 kms. So, beware and also note that the route is extremely scenic and real dark and desolate at a few places. The perfect spot for tigers and leopards to laze around, if you ask me. Besides, the route is so rarely used that the distinction between the road and the forest is quite blurred.

We came back to Saklespur from Subramanya through the actual highway which isnt half as bad either. Phenomenal views from that highway too. Besides, if one is lucky and observant, he can view the railway tracks and a rare train moving on that too!

Clouds just about to take over

All in all, a lovely ride and well worth the trip which ended up being a lovely "monsoon" ride indeed.
Riders note: The route is quite rough and has steep patches and big potholes alongside the fact that the roads are quite desolate and it might be a long time before someone reaches out to help you in time of need. One would do well to have another rider along [coming from someone who also does solo trips, thats something]

Update: 31st Mar 2014: Did the bisle ghat along with Gomateswara, Sakleshpur, Kokke Subramanya, Dhramastala and other related places again. By car though. Boy, take a bow. Almost same feeling. The monsoon trip makes the mountains and forests much denser and merrier. But a fantastic trip in its own right. Thanks A for accompanying. Many more to come?

Friday, 8 July 2011

New mining bill

Just a quick though on the new mining bill, the draft of which has been put up yesterday. The crux of the bill: 26% of net Profit of all miners to be shared amongst locals. All core non-mining related companies involved should disburse 100% of royalty paid to the locals.

I find this quite ridiculous. If the govt were really interested in ensuring that people get their just desserts, so to speak, they should probably look for some kind of affirmative action (read: preference given to tribal people working in the mines in some capacity) as opposed to a 26% tax on miners.

a. How does anyone ensure that this 26% goes to the right people. [Just for Coal India, last year PAT was ~4000 cr. 26% translates to 1000 odd crores. Non-miners like SAIL and NMDC in this field paid a royalty of 4000 cr last yr to the govt... which would mean 4000 crores to the "locals"]
b. Is there a good way of finding who the locals are and they get their due? Is there going to be an audit to ensure the process and the trials and tribulations involved are transparent?
c. Time and again, we see that the best way to involve and grow society and make it grow at a decent rate is to educate it and give it ample job opportunities. How will a yearly money transfer change things and the status quo? Why are the other options not being brought to the table?
d. If the current PM who understand economic incentives doesnt get it, who ever will?

The way it looks, its a generous way of ensuring that wealth can be transferred from one place to another in ingenious ways without accountability. Kudos to the guys behind this idea.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The anthropogenic planet

I do have a soft corner for exhaustive pictures and infographics lately.

This picture conveys so much. Gives details about all urban areas of the world and all major trade routes - be it air, naval or land.

Notable points:
Apparently, the Europeans love air travel
Australia is a lot less urbanized than I expected.
India seems to be quite rich lately in roads (Vajpayee's golden quadrilateral effect?)
The upper reaches of Canada and Russia are still less developed.
Greenland is still non-existent (but I did expect this)

Link here
Overall, a delicious picture!

Friday, 1 July 2011

A picture says a million words... and emotions

Todays must watch. Explains the financial crisis in just one single picture excellently.

Link here