Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hogennekal... The Experience

So we finally reached Hogennekal… and at express speeds at that. But the sight there was very different from what we expected. It seemed that the whole of Bangalore had descended there for the holiday… just like us.

A guy on a cycle came and started enquiring if we were interested in a rowboat ride and oil massage… His name was Krishnamurthy and we took him in as our guide/paddler. After much search (and a scare… we saw the police puncturing the tyres of those who parked vehicles in a no parking zone), we finally found a place to park the car and started making our way to the river bed…

Mr. KrishnaMurthy

What struck us first was the fact that there was too much water in there… I was a bit scared to go in… but our guide Mr.Krishnamurthy assured us that the part we will be going to, the river is much calmer… Pity, they could have a started kayaking experience here…

First View of Hogennekal (Too Much Water)

We all got on the round boat (made famous by a lot of south-indian movies) and he started paddling... It was too hot and too slow.. and we started getting bored.. The water near the waterfall was too turbulent for us to even get near it. We were kind of disappointed.

The Paddling Begins

Main Falls
(Pity, it was too turbulent,
otherwise you usually go right next to it)

Seeing that we were bored, murthy asked if we wanted to take a spin, not realizing what he ment (he ment it literally as we found out later), we said yes... And this is what happened...

A Literal Merry Go Round

Then Krishnamurthy stopped at an island… the others proceeded to have a tasty lunch of fish & idly, when I (being a weird guy who doesn’t eat sea/river food), had to adjust with the guavas that I bought before we got onto sailing. Then we did a small walk to a place where we could see the falls and took some photos there. We were BORED !!!

Fried Fish... It was everywhere

Me & PRV (enroute the walk to the falls)

The Smaller Falls

Me, Joseph & Ragul a-top a rock overlooking the falls

Water, Water, Everywhere

We asked murthy to take us to a place where we can swim and have fun… So off we went, this time, to another island… But damn it was too crowded. Murthy scooted, only to come back later, to show us a sexy spot where we had a whole deserted wood to ourselves. There was a natural pool there, quite like a Jacuzzi and we had awesome fun there for almost an hour. The rocks were slippery & sharp. The water was very turbulent and all of us hurt ourselves in one way or another, brushing against stones and all. I had the worst cut, slipping onto a sharp rock that cut right under my leg.

We Found our Jacuzzi

Jump In... Its Awesome


Deep Cut :(

Once all this was done, we headed back to the shore, paid murthy and had a quite drive back to Bangalore (now racing, not against time, but against fuel… as the tank was running out fast). The trip, all in all was quite good, the most awesome parts being the drive and the Jacuzzi. We reached home back at 18:30.

Come on Guys, Lets Go!
(PRV, Raring to Go)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Off to Hogennekal... A Drive to Remember

The Independence Day! The 59th for my dear nation… We decided to celebrate this with a trip to celebrate our personal independence. So we decided to start at 06:00 to reach a water paradise called “Hogennekal”, about 180 km from Bangalore.

Alarm rings, I wake up… only to see that the time is almost 07:00 and all my roommates are busy sleeping. We finally get going. As we pass Silk Board, we reset the trip meter and the time’s 09:00. So Me, Praveen aka PRV, Ragul & Joseph were out for a day of fun.

Da Gang

We hit Hosur road, usually cluttered with traffic moving at snail pace, but on this holiday, it’s as clear as a…?? Well it’s very clear :) And so the adventure starts.

The Clear Road

With our very own PRV (who we later christened “Shumy” for obvious reasons) on the wheel, we cruise at speeds in excess of 100 km/hr. Then the talk came up that he had touched a max speed of 140 on his lat trip, so we decided to better that…

Throwing caution to the winds, we sped forward, with all our eyes (except PRV’s of course) on the Speedometer. We touch 120..30..40..50 (Joseph’s camera goes “click” “click” incessantly). We hit 160 and that speed holds for quite a while, but even the slim traffic was enough to hinder us from moving forward. Then we hit a stretch, going downhill and also a clear road before us…

PRV hits the accelerator hard and 160..170 (click again)...171(click)… 175... click & bump. At that top speed, we hit a small hump on the road… and the whole pic goes for a spin… the photo at top speed is ruined… So here they both are. We later found out that our average speed for the last 50 mins was about 110km/hr.

Clicked at 171 km/hr

Click... Bump (175 km/hr)

We hit Krishnagiri, then head off toward Dharmapuri. We stop at a toll booth… and we were approached by a guard named “Rayappan”. He came in front of the car and started shouting looking at the car “Kappa Leema 0 1 Alpha Hotel 5 2 4 9”… and we were like “WHAT??”… It took sometime to register the fact that he was actually reading the license plate of our car (KL01AH5249). So much for the learned Rayappan :)

Mr. Rayappan

As we go forward, I get down at a place to ask directions… and my dear roomies just sped along… I was not amused… Thankfully for me (and for them), they stopped and we proceeded to Hogennakal. Then cruising along to Dharmapuri… we see green fields and lush background. We couldn’t help but stop and take some pics… it was fun. Then I lay on the road and took a pic (I always wanted to do that).

They Ditched Me :(

Lush Green Fields... enroute

The Multihanded Persona

On the road again...

On the way we saw a guy in a Black Santro, with 3 girls in it… The dude was trying to impress them by trying all kinds of antics on the car… He sped past us, accidentally awakening the Schumacher in PRV. Then it was a true F1 race (complete with a pit-stop at the toll booth), we zoomed past them… with PRV driving like a seasoned pro (though we thought he went mad). See a part of the zippy ride (PLEASE DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!)

The Zippy Ride...

We then stopped for a breather... only to find that we were going so fast, that a fly got stuck & killed on to the front grill of the car...

A Buggy Situation


We finally reached Hogennekal at around 12:00… The adventure continues

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Kola Konflict - The Other Side :)

The Cola Conflict has now created space that can be duly filled with our own "Desi" versions... How about a refreshing drink of Coconut Water, Aaam Pana, Lassi... all bottled to your needs :)

But beware.. stuff like Coconut water, bottled and aged ,may give into fermentation and become "potent" alcoholic drinks (yeah... as good or better than beer) :))

What about colas?? Are they doomed... I say, they continue with their operations and alter their target audience... here's a piece i found on The Guardian... :)

Coca-Cola pesticide issue is bad news for us common folks, but good news for chilli and cotton farms who WANT to keep bugs off their crops? Farmers, instead of paying hefty fees to international chemical companies for patented pesticides, are reportedly spraying their chilli and cotton fields with Coca-Cola. Only last month, hundreds of farmers were turning to Coke in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh.

Gotu Laxmaiah, a farmer from Ramakrishnapuram in Andra Pradesh, said he was delighted with his new cola spray, which he applied this year to several hectares of cotton. "I observed that the pests began to die after the soft drink was sprayed on my cotton"... he also adds that the cola sprays are invaluable because they are safe to handle, do not need to be diluted and, mainly, are cheap.

One litre of highly concentrated Avant, Tracer and Nuvocron, three popular pesticides, costs around 10,000 rupees, but one-and-a-half litres of locally made Coca-Cola is 30 rupees. To spray an acre would be a mere 270 rupees. Thats called being economical :)

A leading Indian agriculture analyst, Devinder Sharma, said: "I think Coke has found its right use. Farmers have traditionally used sugary solutions to attract red ants to feed on insect larvae. I think the colas are also performing the same role."

The properties of Coke have been discussed for years. Other "prospective" uses include...
  • Lavatory Cleaner
  • Windscreen Wipe
  • Rust Spot Remover
Uncorroborated reports from China claimed that the ill-fated New Coke was widely used in China as a spermicide. And it is clearly not Coke's legendary "secret" ingredient that is upsetting the bugs. The farmers also swear by Pepsi, Thums Up, and other local soft drinks.

So there you go guys... this seems like an awsome proposal, citing the fact that prevalent form of employment in India relate to agricultural means...

The Kola Konflict - Lets Think

Lets think a minute on this...

1. "Water Levels Are falling due to Cola Factories"
Very true... the cheapest option that is available for the colas is to draw the ground water from where the plant is located. Any other option??? Ask colas to find alternative sources?? (nah... they wont do it, it increases costs). I suggest that the factories should be loacted near placs where the water table is easily replenished ! E.g. Near the shore... They would have to add a de-Salination equipment in the plant... but on the brighter side we can have "Pepsi Salt" & "Coke Salt" in our disposal.

1. "Pesticides in Colas"
In this regard, i totally support the colas... whatever be the talk about equipments that can remove these pesticides, its just a bamboozling fact that "Our ground water is so polluted that we cannot drink it".

Ok today we ban colas, then what about people drinking the same water from borewells & hand pumps?? What about those "safe" fruits and vegetables that grow on the soil and water that are infested with these pesticides??

The Truth is, its we who are polluting our water, the Cola Conflict is just a repercussion of the giant tremor that is awaiting us.

The Kola Konflict - Round 2

While all this was going on.... in August 2003, the Centre for Science and Environment said in New Delhi that "12 major cold drink brands sold in Delhi and around contain a deadly cocktail of pesticide residues,"

According to the tests conducted by the Pollution Monitoring Laboratory (PML) at CSE, all samples contained residues of four extremely toxic pesticides and insecticides: lindane, DDT, malathion and chlorpyrifos.

Debates got renewed, the mob flared, the politicians were quick to their feet against the colas...

The Left parties in Kerala, nurturing their wounds from the "Plachimada" revised verdict, now in power, struck back in retribution. They banned all colas in the state, upholding the interest of the people as their primary concern...

Round 2... Winner Mr. Achu mama, loser the KOLAS !!!

The Kola Konflict - Round 1

Last Thursday... a "big" news caught my eye on the front page of the Times of India...
"KERALA CANS COKE, PEPSI...." (click and read the article)

The article was kind of glorifying the Kerala Chief Minister Mr. V.S.Achuthanandan for taking the bold step and banning the "harmful" drinks that include the prominent brands sold by the two companies, i.e. — Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Mirinda, Mountain Dew, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Blue, Fanta, Limca, Sprite, Thums Up, and 7-up, citing the fact that they contain excess pesticides in them.

I personally found this very amusing and funny though the implications are too bulging to be ignored. As every other coin, this also has two sides to it...

1. It all started with the people of "Plachimada" (a small village in Kerala) raising a hue and cry over the fact that, since the Coca Cola factory was established there in 2000, the ground water levels have dropped dramatically causing a crisis for the aboriginal people who live in the surroundings. The agitation forced the locally elected government, the Permatty Panchayat, to not renew the license. In a resolution passed on 7Apr 2003, the Panchayat stated:

“As the excessive exploitation of ground water by the Coca Cola Company in Plachimada is causing acute drinking water scarcity in Perumatty Panchayat and nearby places, it is resolved in public interest not to renew the licence of the said company.”

The issue went to the Kerala High Court. Two issues were at stake.
  • 1. The issue of democracy and the rights of the Panchayat.
  • 2. The issue of excessive exploitation of water by Coca Cola.
According to the Panchayat, it is the ultimate authority to decide on the matters related to water resources. In a judgment given on December 16, 2003, a Division bench of the Kerala High Court, Hon. Justice Balakrishna Nair ruled that Coca Cola did not have unfettered rights to withdraw water. The judge ruled that “the extraction of ground water, even at the admitted amounts of the 2nd respondent is illegal. It has no legal right to extract this much of natural wealth.”

The plant was thus shut down under the combination of people’s action, the panchayat decisions, and the court decision.

However, on 7th April 2005, Hon’ble Justice K Ramachandran and Hon’ble Justice Balachandran of Kerala High Court, overruled the order of 16.12.03. They ruled:

“We have to assume that a person has the right to extract water from his property. Maintenance of traditional drinking water resources, could not have been envisaged as preventing an owner of a well from extracting water therefrom, as he wishes. The Panchayat had no ownership about such private water source in effect denying the proprietary rights of the occupier and the proposition of law laid down by the learned judge is too wide, for unqualified acceptance.”

End of Round 1....

Monday, August 07, 2006

Floating Display ?? WOW !

I saw this on Manish's Blog... and it looked right out of a Sci-Fi Movie...
A projector that display's images/video, right in "thin air". This has been a fantasy of most techno-geeks from the time George Lucas lit the flame with a similar idea in "Star Wars". And now, its a reality... Brought to you by IO2Technology, from downtown SanFranciso, California. Its called a "Helios Display"..

In IO2's words...
"Heliodisplay images are not holographic although they are free-space, employing a rear projection system in which images are captured onto a nearly invisible plane of transformed air. What the viewer sees is floating mid-air image or video. These projected images and video are two-dimensional, (i.e. planar) but appear 3D since there is no physical depth reference. While conventional displays have the benefit of being attached to a physical substrate, Heliodisplay projections are suspended in air, so you will notice some waviness to the quality of the projections."

See it for yourself (afterall, seeing is believing)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Adobe Audition & My Return to Karaoke

After a long break... i decided to get back to my karaoke experiments... Recorded 2 songs

1. Cocaine by Eric Clapton
Cocaine is a song written by Oklahoma singer-songwriter J.J. Cale, and most notably covered by Eric Clapton on his 1977 album Slowhand. Contrary to popular belief, “Cocaine” is an anti-drug song. Clapton commented, “…that’s an anti-drug-song. The fans only listen to the refrain: ‘She don’t lie, she don’t lie, cocaine.’ But it says, ‘If you wanna get down, down on the ground, cocaine.’ It explains how young people destroy themselves with drugs”

Song: Cocaine
Originally sung by: Eric Clapton
Album: Slowhand
Sung by: Raghu

2. Back To You by Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams has been a favourite of mine for along time, though i prefer "harder" songs now :)
Here's my first B.A. song...

Song: Back To You
Originally sung by: Bryan Adams
Album: The Best of Me
Sung by: Raghu

This karaoke excercise also allowed me to experiment with a new software "Adobe Audition" . I was using Cool Edit Pro until now, to do my recordings. But i came to know that Adobe had bought over that software and re-christiended it as Audition (adding a bunch of very cool features).

I'm an Electronics Engineer by degree... It was kinda cool to see those DSP concepts that i grudgingly studied (oh.. how i hated DSP) put to awsome use. "Back Tou You" was the first song where i tried audio processing. I did a "Click-Hiss Elimination" which i should say sounded promising.

One major problem for me, as a singer is that i cannot sing at the pitch that the original song has been sung by the artist (as i do not have the range to do that). This makes the song sound not as inviting as the original. But Audition has a solution for me... "Pitch Correction". You can manually alter the pitch of your voice (and pretty close to what would have been, me singing in that pitch) and add it to the master record...

Pitch Correction in Audition

"Back To You" was one song i sung half a key down, so i decided to try the pitch correction, and here is the result. I thought it was pretty cool.

"Back To You" - altered version
(powered by Adobe Audition)

Let me know how it sounds...