Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fanship Days: Exploring the Road Less Travelled

Sometimes, road less travelled always gives you the greatest feeling of contentment. I was happily coding and writing research papers, then this call to take road less travelled came. It had small trees that shined in green and glittered with sweetest of sweet fruits. But where the path led to? I didn’t know… And I took that road. The road less travelled…
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” - Andre Gide
I was loaned from my organization that paid my salary to work for a genius called Ferose, master mind behind high profile, India Inclusion Summit, author of recent national bestseller, Gifted, and more importantly, one of main architect who transformed SAP Labs India into a great place to work. They called it fellowship. I call it “Fanship”. I remember running behind Ferose for a picture with him on my very first day at SAP, way back in 2011. He was dressed up in Dabaang Police uniform and he had arrested many hearts that day. I am not planning for a bail anyways!
Author in right corner! In 2011!!

I learnt quite a few interesting things from this experience. I started reading official mails, got involved in organizational updates, researched ecosystems & stakeholders, thought of employee engagement initiatives, googled on how to brand & market, figured out why these executives take home fat cheque every month, started valuing time, attended meetings, worried about sales & quarter results, learnt to communicate better and in particular, started understanding what it really means to follow design thinking to solve problems!

But these are not the small trees I mentioned in my first para…

I first met Ashwin & Bharat, thanks to my failed attempt to shoot a video trailer for Gifted. I learnt what hope is and how humanity has thrived…
Ashwin, Bharat, Ankit, Sundeep, Vilas with Ferose

Then it was Sundeep Rao, his non-stop arrays of jokes & self-thoos on life & beyond, showed me how one can visualize and construct a heaven for oneself…

Vindhya, run by Ashok & Pavitra, what a day it was watching Gifted trailer on a white cloth that was hung couple of minutes before the event began. Lovely homely atmosphere at a corporate… Right intentions can change the world. You’ll agree with me if you have been to Vindhya before.

I got a chance to interact with Kiran Bedi for almost 2 hours. She happens to be guide & mentor to my boss. I was quiet for most of the time I spent with her… I concentrated on grasping things. It has given me enough fodder to think… to think…
Vindhya Gifted Book Launch

Highlight is definitely my Trivandrum visit, NISH & conversing with Paul Kronenberg will remain close to my heart. Register for IIS 2014 to meet them!

My respect & admiration to this lady who runs EnAble India, Shanti Ragavan, has only grown everytime I have met her. If you wonder how & where to derive positive energy from, meet her.

Dr. Shruti Mohapatra, was invited to our office and I got a chance to spend a day hosting her. Her activism & work, has made her torch-bearer in the space of Inclusion. She has had tremendous influence on me and keeping calm alongside fighting for one’s right- is her greatest trait. Even today, her kind smile haunts me and inspires me to keep fighting- any problems for that matter. She is surely an epitome of the saying-“Truth always prevails, no matter what”

This Diwali, more than any sweets, greetings & gifts, what I cherished the most was simple heartfelt message sent by Haseena, acid attack survivor, who I happened to connect through my dear friend, Malvika Iyer.
Dr. Shruti Mohapatra
Many small trees indeed…

Community driven India Inclusion Summit 2014, is shaping up in style now! I am one of many volunteers there... Biggest tree in the road less travelled… Where my path might just close…

There looms big question mark on my career. As I actively look up for jobs to take up after my fellowship, which is within next 2 months, many argue that I won't be able to code like a pro developer again… And many of them opinion that I experimented very early in my career… But for me/now, not knowing much is an advantage, hunger stays, and I am content with those new footmarks of mine in the road less travelled, I am indebted to the learning that I have received, I cycle back home. Where am I going from here? I sub-consciously remember Dr. Shruti Mohapatra’s kind smile. And I smile…
"An unexamined life is not worth living."- Socrates

Friday, October 17, 2014

Trip to Sirsi: Aarankusamittodam Nenevudenna Manam Banvaasi Deshamam

Rains… Clouds… Greenery… 3 words kept buzzing in our minds when we started from Bangalore at 9.40 pm after a hectic week. I took no time and crashed in our pleasant overnight KSRTC sleeper coach bus to Sirsi. Next morning, sleepy town that had unique 5-road circle welcomed us with phone network. Why is it so unique? We went on to discover that our phone networks only when we are this

Sirsi is in the middle of Malnad, which is famous for its natural beauty and various other treasures of nature. Monsoon was just wrapping up, waterfalls were overflowing and greenery was all over, we could not have asked for more. We had booked not-so-great Bakula homestay, 9 kms from Sirsi. Although the homestay was in good landscapes, bad food and poor hospitality killed it all- we had a memorable fight with the homestay owner who happens to be related to local MLA! Nevertheless, we had good time by making up with great games of Carom & a long night around campfire!

#Sirsi town is centrally located to all waterfalls, temples, beaches and viewpoints. Town has a famous 16th century Marikamba Temple. We also made sure to get a taste of gobi machurian & gudbud at Hotel Satkar, which was strongly recommended by our taxi driver, Rajeev!

# Yaana , 32 kms from Sirsi, is known for the wonderful rock formation. There are 2 sanctorum: dedicated to Ganga Chandika Bairaveshwara and Parvathi. Priest welcomed us and narrated to us the glorious history that included Sage Ashwattama, Pushpaka
Unchalli Falls
Vimana and Pandavas. We had to trek to go round the temple that displayed the beauty of mammoth tall rocks. Local shops here served very good snacks like bhoti, shankara pole, mirchi mandakki, little hearts & punarpuli juice.

# Manjuguni Venkataramana temple, known as Tirupati of Karnataka, was a special inclusion in our schedule to accommodate lunch. It was one of the best foods we had during our entire trip consisting of typical malnad culinary items like boiled rice, tambuli, kayi payasa and appe mango pickle. Old lady was serving and her enthu was unmatchable. We missed having locally prepared “Attirasa” here.

#Unchalli Falls was classic example of prosperity monsoon boaster’s. It was just amazing with water
hitting the face and those who went close to get better view were drenched. I remember enacting Modi for Swatchh Bharat Andolan by picking up lays packets after wonderful chai here!

#Bheemanvare gudda or Bheeman gudda had best visuals of Western Ghats but not much visibility! Amazing trail of a km that led to top of the hill was the best part. For a moment Sun appeared but we mistook it moon! This explains the God level serenity!

# Magod Falls was the best of all! It had rained a lot on the 50km drive and mood was perfectly set. We arrived to learn that clouds had not opened up since last 3 hours and nobody had caught glimpse of waterfalls. We took round in this zero-visibility park and hoped for luck! Finally the moment
Magod Falls
arrived! Royally following L-shaped fall and then a u-turn, describing this waterfall was beyond words and I got into free anchoring for video makers who had come there! Homemade mandakki and chai was like icing on the cake!

#Banavasi temple, 22 kms from Sirsi, is the oldest town and first capital of ancient Karnataka state and has Madhukeshwara Temple built starting from 2nd century. Tales on how it survived Muslim emperors attacks (havali shivalinga story), shiva linga’s from various parts of India, parallels to Varanasi, amazingly carved 2 eyes of Nandi looking at different directions at Shiv & Parvathi, nritya mantapam with convex concave pillar and architectural marvel wooden bed made up 10 pieces are the best part of this temple. I was carried away. Mind was remembering poem of Adikavi Pampa written when he visited Banavasi in 9th century: “aarankusamittodam nenevudenna manam banvaasi deshamam” “puttidirdode maridumbiyaagi men kogileyaagi nandanavanadol banavaasideshadol” {If to be born, one should take birth in Banavasi. It is a virtue to be born in Banavasi as a human being. If by
Bheeman Gudda Walk
any chance, one cannot take birth as a human being, at least he should be born as a bee or a bird in the garden of Banavasi.}

We left Sirsi refreshed & rejuvenated on an early Sunday morning. We stopped at Shivamogga to watch blockbuster Kannada movie, Bahaddur, and for a heavy lunch at hotel Mathura, before we headed back to Bangalore to reach before 11pm! Sirsi, a must visit! Glorious small town with history, fun and knowledge packaged together!

Here is me describing the beauty of the waterfalls in typical TV9 Kannada channel style:{Shot by Srinivasa, photo-traveller, stranger to me, who was doing photography here!}

[Thanks to Manu D K, Akhilesh, Yashu & Sushma for making this trip memorable! Photo credits: Akhilesh & Yashu]