A Trek in the Himalayas

While, I’ve done 25+ treks in the Sahyadris, this was my first trekking trip to the Himalayas. Our group included Nazir, Kuldeep, Jude and me.

  • Plan: BOM → DED → Purola  → Sankhri  → Taluka  → Seema  → Har Ki Dun  → Seema/Taluka  → Sankhri   Purola  → DED  → BOM
  • Dates: 21st April through 26th April
  • We didn’t join an organized trekking group. Our goal was to trek on our own without help from porters, guides or ponies, cook our own food, and carry our own sleeping system.
  • Bought stuff from Decathalon
    • 70+10 liter Symbium back-pack
    • Woolen socks
    • Gloves – silk liners + fleece ones
    • 0 degree sleeping bag
    • Fleece Neck warmer, Fleece Cap, Fleece pants and a Fleece pullover.
  • Stuff to go in the backpack – see photo: https://goo.gl/photos/27zWv5hXJXDiTHUQ6
  • Got a special trail mix made with (250 gms x 4 packets)- Roasted almonds, Roasted walnuts, Peanuts, Cranberries, Raisins (red), Roasted Oats and Chocolate chips.
  • Apart from Trail mix, the food items we were carrying were –
    • Ready to eat packets of – Paneer, Choley, Rice, various soups
    • Thepla, Cream cheese and bagels, Water crackers and cheddar cheese
    • Tea prep material
    • Gud (Jaggery)
  • Kuldeep got us a direct Jet Airways flight from BOM to DED
  • We got our backpacks cling-wrapped at the airport
  • Had arranged for a mini-bus to come pick us up. Surinder Rana, who’s the brother of Bachan Rana, had come to pick us up along with Vijay, the cook. Both were quite affable chaps. We  took a liking to them immediately (the two chaps on the left) – https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipMwY7yGdV9oSNNubVn-xNUMDRAxT1HXECuS6PA9gmOFCU8iPMZQrYyIR9CoxI39ug/photo/AF1QipOt3WuMhp5Sl0d2X-Un6Fgbzwgfa_uL_TfwlvfI?key=T3gwT2NMRWJ1djc5MldjNXRTY25jV1hVaUJ6bm13
  • Day 1, we drove down from Dehradun’s Jolly Grant airport to Purola. We had to pick up a couple from the famous Doon school enroute to our destination.
  • The ride was fairly uneventful, with us in high energy – we shared tales of Mahabharata, Ramayana, Shravan kumar, Pandavas, Rivers – Rupin, Supin & Tons, and some stupid jokes.
  • Enroute to Purola, we stopped at Kempty Falls (it was a trickle at this time of the year) for some masala soda and gobi parathas.
  • Time: Dehradun Jolly Grant airport to Purola – 6 hours
  • 21st night, we ate at a cheap restaurant, and stayed the night over at an even cheaper place – Shubham Palace. It’s a palace for namesake only The rooms were cramped, no toiletries, and even no drinking water provided. Avoid staying at this place, if you can.
  • 21st night, we repacked our stuff – to balance out the weight amongst the group. Threw away a lot of redundant stuff within the group into a duffel bag.
  • 22nd at 6am, our bus came to pick us up for Sankhari.
  • On the route to Sankhari, we entered the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary. Paid Rs. 1000 towards person, tent and some other god-knows-what charges.
  • From Sankhari, we purchased some Ponchos. Only if we knew, they’re good for one time use only.
  • Got off the bus, and boarded a Jeep which would take us to Taluka – the starting point for our trek.
  • For some part of the journey we sat on the roof of the Jeep and it was quite an experience.
  • Distance: Sankhri to Taluka – 12 kms
  • Reached Taluka at around ~10 am.
  • Had breakfast of Veggie Parathas, Pickle and Tea at Thakur Bhojanalaya. We liked it so much, we even got some packed for our trek.
  • Started trek at 11 am from Taluka.
  • Each of us carrying 12 Kgs of stuff in our backpacks – sleeping tents, sleeping bags, mattress, food, cooking vessels, warm clothes and other misc stuff.
  • For the duration of our trek we were accompanied by the beautiful, gushing and the very cool river – Supin.
  • The trek was about 11 kms. It rained twice during our trek. Oh yes, the ponchos came in handy, but mine tore when I tried to wear it during the second rain.
  • The first time it rained, we had crackers and cheddar cheese.
  • The second time we had some tea, biscuits and just hung around waiting for it to stop.
  • The villagers are needy for medicine. Specially the painkillers and fever medicines. These areas are so remote, that they don’t have access to even the basic stuff that we take for granted.
  • End of day 1, we camped at a meadow spot just a few minutes away from the campsites of Indiahikes and that Bachan fellow. Our place was near a power station building building of some sorts.
  • Distance: Taluka to camping spot – 12.5 kms, just a 1.5 km shy of Seema.
  • At the campsite on day 1, Kuldeep cooked us some tomato basil soup, followed by rice, choley, and paneer. The warmth of food feels nice when you’re at a place that’s 8 degree cold, and the winds are blowing crazy. Thanks to Kuldeep for carrying a Primus, Kerosene (which Surinder Rana had got for us), and other paraphernalia for cooking us a decent meal.
  • It rained that night, and the winds were blowing cold. We slept at 10.30 pm. The clouds were in, so the stars weren’t visible.
  • The following morning, we woke up at around 6. The temperature recorded was 6 degrees.
  • Kuldeep got some tea going.
  • Along with Tea, we had Bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. How cool is that!
  • A couple of rounds of tea, eating breakfast, laying your clothes to dry in the sun, washing utensils, packing up our stuff, taking a dump, brushing our teeth – and before we knew, it was 10 am. When sunlight hits your campsite, it makes all the difference weather wise. The day started cold, but felt very nice as soon as sunlight came in.
  • So we started day 2 trek at 10.30 am.
  • We crossed the Seema village by 11.00 am, and got on to the bridge to cross the Supin river.
  • On the way to Seema, we saw the Osla village nestled high on the other side of the valley, in the mountains.
  • The trek from the bridge onwards is a steep one ascending into the mountains further.
  • Trekking along, we were eating our trail mix, filling up our water bottles from the river streams. The water is quite good to drink- none of us fell sick :)
  •  At around 12.30 pm, I started feeling queasy in my stomach. It could’ve been altitude sickness, or just plain exhaustion. I had taken a few rest stops along the way, but at 12.30 pm, I just gave up. There was about 10 kms of trek ahead of us, including a 400 meter climb along a ridge – Kalkatiyadhar. Also, we had to decide whether to continue or just return back. Hard choices. If we decided to continue, we would have to trek about 10 kms in the nest 3 hours. Very hard – considering our energy levels, specially mine, and the weight of our backpacks.
  • I rested for about 15 minutes, and then we decided to head back :(
  • On the way back, we could see the Seema village from up above the mountain.
  • As we retraced our way back, we missed the path to Seema village, and ended up in Osla.
  • Total distance trekked on day 2: 7.3 kms
  • Nazir and Jude found us a shelter in Osla. A cute little house, which doubled up as a site for Gio adventures.We decided to spend the night in Osla.
  • We had our lunch, rotis with some local veggie. Then we had our tea at around 6 pm.
  • The village has no electricity.
  • Luckily, this place had a western toilet. Small joys of life.
  • Kuldeep and I decided to head back to Taluka the following morning. We would have our bags carried by a pony, and then trek down as fast as we can so as to reach Taluka by 11 am.
  • Nazir decided to continue his trek to Har Ki Dun the following morning.
  • After a sumptuous dinner of Rajma Chawal, we repacked our bags. Left back all the food packets – clearly we had been packing for the apocalypse :) Too much food.
  • We slept at 9.30 pm.
  • Woke up at 5 pm, on day 3. Got ready by 6 am.
  • Had a quick breakfast of plain parathas.
  • Jude, Kuldeep and I started our descent down to Taluka at 6.20 am.
  • Almost ran down, passing by our camp site, and all the places we had crossed on day-2.
  • By 11 am, we reached Taluka.
  • Distance from Osla to Taluka: 13.4 kms
  • Negotiated with the Jeep owner to drop us off to Mussoorrie.
  • We reached Mussoorie by 6.30 pm.
  • Enroute, we booked our flights to Mumbai, and a hotel in Mussoorie.
  • Spent the night in Mussoorie resting and recovering. Showered by after 3 days of living in the wild.
  • Had a stomach filling breakfast of Aloo parathas, Butter Toast and some tea/coffee in the morning.
  • Then packed up and took the flight back to Mumbai on day 4. Reached Mumbai at 5.40 pm.

 

See all pictures of our trek here

Here’s the checklist of items we took for the trek

 

 

Bike Ride on Stevens Creek Trail

 

 

As a kid I used to bike to school, but that was years ago. I tried a short bike ride last week with Sunil and his kids, and it was much fun. So I was hoping that I’ll get a chance to do a longer ride, perhaps on a trail before I head back to India.

According to the weather forecast, it was supposed to rain today. But in the morning we saw some sunlight peeking through the clouds and decided to grab the opportunity for a ride.

We got on to the trail from Heatherstone. The trail was well maintained. There weren’t too many people, but the ones out there were biking, running, or walking their dogs. The creek was full of gushing water thanks to the recent rains in the Bay area. There was gentle breeze, and the sky was cloudy.There was greenery and some water bodies all around us during the trail.

We rode for about 3 hours, and covered 24 miles, details here on Strava.  This is going to be one of my most memorable experiences for a long time.

It’s fun being a kid again. 🚲

Morning tea at Garbett after overnight camping

My first camping trip

  • Lazy Saturday morning
  • Sudden urge to go camping by noon – thanks to ze wife for the motivation
  • Got some friends to join. It’s decided, we’re going to Garbett point.
  • Oh shit – no tent, sleeping bag nor any camping experience
  • Jude borrowed tent from a friend for me, Kuldeep arranged sleeping bag for me.
  • Got act together – food, jacket, misc. stuff, shoved things in a bag and took off
  • Reached Matheran by 8 pm
  • Trekked about 5km from parking lot to camping site
  • Getting colder as the night progressed
  • Half moon, sky full of stars
  • Set up the tents
  • Got the barbecue going – ’twas windy, so a slight challenge. Prior barbecue experience in the US helped.
  • F&B: marinated cottage cheese pieces, cauliflower florets, baby potatoes, corn on the cob and gentleman jack for slow sipping. Nazir brought the non-veg stuff. Kuldeep brought Danska.
  • Bluetooth speaker (thanks Swapnil) and some really good music (thanks Jude), pitch darkness, no distractions.
  • Cool breeze, starry night, friends for company. What more can one ask for?
  • Saw the moon set, spotted Jupiter, Ursa Major, Milky way, North star and then some others.
  • Yikes – 12.30 am already, oh let’s get some sleep
  • Stepped inside tent, into the sleeping bag, and then Kuldeep asks whether I want to go for a stroll. Yes.
  • 30 minutes of conversation later, Kuldeep is feeling super sleepy. It’s a wrap.
  • Slept like a baby. These T2 tents from Decathalon are quite good. Double-walled and well made. Full insulation. Note to self: must get them soon.
  • 6.30 am Sunday – a little mist and magic in the morning.
  • 6.45 am – preparations on for morning cuppa tea. Kuldeep and Jude are setting up the fire.
  • 7.15 am – hot cup of tea, cool morning and sunrise. Some villagers make their way up to the spot on their way to work in Matheran.
  • Had Good day biscuits, Oranges and Guava for breakfast.
  • Learned the art and science of rolling up the tents.
  • 9.00 am – Packed stuff back in to the bags. Hiked back to parking lot.

My first camping trip comes to an end, but a lifetime of memories are mine to keep.

Some photos: https://goo.gl/photos/2m44xtvU9EbtCroU6

 

Top libraries used in mobile apps

Apart from the native and obvious ones (FB, Google etc.) here’s a list of the most popular libraries used in top 100 apps –

iOS

The number of apps these libraries were found in out of 100 top iOS apps
  • #7 Crashlytics – 37 apps
  • #8 Flurry – 31 apps
  • #16 Google Analytics – 20 apps
  • #21 Adjust – 16 apps
  • #49 Tapjoy – 9 apps
  • #61 Localytics – 7 apps
  • #64 Kochava – 7 apps
  • #66 Mixpanel – 7 apps
  • #100 Parse – 4 apps
source: https://medium.com/ios-os-x-development/libraries-used-in-the-top-100-ios-apps-5b845ad927b7

Android – 

The number of apps these libraries were found in out of 100 top Android apps
  • Crashlytics – 15 apps
  • Google Analytics – 14 apps
  • Flurry – 13 apps
  • Mixpanel – 7 apps
  • Adjust – 5 apps
  • Localytics – 2 apps
  • Tapjoy – 2 apps
  • AppsFlyer – 2 apps
source: http://androidadvance.com/most_common_libraries_used_in_android_apps.htm
Disclosure: I’m the founder of CleverTap – a real-time mobile user engagement and analytics platform . CleverTap helps your marketer identify, track and engage app users using push notifications, in-app messages and emails.

7 questions that every Startup must answer

Zero to One book cover

I recently read Zero to One by Peter Thiel. In one of the chapters, he lists down seven questions that every business must satisfactorily answer –

  1. The Engineering Question – Can you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements? A 10x improvement over existing solutions.
  2. The Timing Question – Is now the right time to start your particular business?
  3. The Monopoly Question – Are you starting with a big share of a small market? Figure out the appropriate market and it’s size – whether it’s local, national or global.
  4. The People Question – Do you have the right team?
  5. The Distribution Question – Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product? Building a kick-ass product is one thing, getting your target market to buy/install/use it is another.
  6. The Durability Question – Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future? What sequence of events in the future can kill your business?
  7. The Secret Question – Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see? Basically, a perspective that only you and your startup team share which others don’t know of.

The Chapters I enjoyed were – #11 If you build it, will they come and #5 Last mover advantage.

 

 

3 Reasons Why You Don’t Appreciate Kishore Kumar As Much As You Should

The Kabootar Chronicles

Yesterday was Kishore Kumar’s 85th Birthday…and Google did what it does best and made a Doodle for this occasion.

Pictured: What Google Does Best And of course Times of India paid tribute to Kishore by posting an article about the Google Doodle paying tribute to Kishore.

Kishore Kumar is best known as one of the greatest and most versatile singers ever to lend his voice to another person in Indian films. But he is also fondly remembered by thousands of fans like me as one of the greatest comic actors India has ever produced. He was also a director, producer, writer and music composer with some amount of success to his credit.

Imdb lists 760 films in which he has been credited as playback singer, 94 acting credits, 8 credits each for direction and music composition and 5 credits each as producer and writer. But for all of these credits and all the adulation he…

View original post 1,508 more words

A Ping solution for a website/mobile app to ping from various locations across India – Make money right away,Do this Product Startup

Santosh Panda's Blog

Problem : A Ping solution for a website/mobile app that can ping test from various locations across India.

Who needs it?

Here are the Startups who need it

1. Anand Jain – Co-Founder of WizRocket

2. Miten Sampat – GM TimesCity

3. Naman Sarawagi – Founder of FindYogi

4. Santosh Panda – Co-Founder of Explara

5. Hrishikesh Rajpathak – Co-founder of Dishoomit

Is there a solution already?

Yes, there are solution like

1. site24x7.com/ping-test.html by Zoho which can only Ping test from Mumbai, Chennai

2. Akamai – Can do brilliant job but it comes with their CDN/related solutions which has huge XXXX $ cost

3. Pingdom and many such but none covers India as such or various locations across India.

There are not any one out there which could cover various locations across India.

Here is a thread of the pain point via Twitter thread discussion : https://twitter.com/santoshpanda/status/493079105370206209

For sure, there are many…

View original post 24 more words