Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Highway - Chocolate scam

Have you ever received 1Re change from any of the toll booth in NH4 highway? Have you observed that most of the toll fee along the entire NH4 highway is like Rs19, Rs39, Rs44 etc. Have you observed that you always get a cadbury eclairs chocolate instead of 1Re change. Well how does it matter after all its just 1Re. Now if I travel from Bangalore to Goa with around 6-7 toll booths along the entire stretch it's just around 6-7Rs extra one way. What's the big deal?  
At the first place paying for toll doesn't make sense after paying all the taxes, roads are the basic necessity the government has to provide. Well at least we have few good roads after paying these toll, so I shouldn't be expecting too much. But then the concern I have here is, how are these rates fixed and who does it? How are these numbers 19, 39, 44 etc derived, it's always 1Re less. With around 4-8 collection center in each booth  and with around 60,000 - 1 lakh vehicles moving along the NH4 on an average, each booth would be earning around 60 to 1 lakh rupees extra. Now how much would Cadbury charge me for each eclairs if I promise to sell around 60,000 to 1 lakh chocolates from each booth ?  I guess it should not be more than 30-40 paise per chocolate. That is around 60-70 thousand rupees a day for each toll booth.
If this thing is knowingly or unknowingly happening across the entire country across all highways then this should be the next big potential highway chocolate scam!

Monday, December 19, 2011

PDS - Public Distribution System

When the food security bill was passed by the union cabinet ministry, I wanted to get back home and read more about the PDS (Public Distribution System)scam in Karnataka. At times I feel the common man of this country is like helpless or is made a fool by a bunch of rulers. I can only guess and get scared where this food security bill will head with no proper storage facility for the food grains procured by the government. More food will be procured by the government to feed the poor, there by creating a shortage and price rise for the rest. With no proper storage or distribution mechanism there is a high possibility that these food grains will be sold in black creating loss to the exchequer. How it can be done, I understood by reading the investigation report of Dr.R.Balasubramaniam, who investigated the PDS scam.

The current reality is that 57% of the PDS food grain doesn't reach the intended poor people. The planning commission has identified that for every Rs4 spent on PDS only Re1 reaches the poor which meant 75% of the money spent on PDS doesn't reach the needy. It's a well camouflaged setup in the system to loot money from this country. Telling this I am not against PDS but until there is a proper mechanism to deliver, this will be a big scam.

In Karnataka the government has distributed 1.6crore ration cards while the total number of families in the state itself is 1.2crore, which means there are nearly 40lakh ghost and ineligible cards. As per the study there are around 44lakh BPL (Below Poverty Line) families in Karnataka, but the government's claim that there are 96 lakh BPL families. This means 52 lakh families who actually belonged to the APL (Above Poverty Line) are included in the BPL list and are given subsidies which they are not entitled for. Also around 5.8lakh BPL families are excluded from this list. At the wholesaler shops it is observed that weighing scales are faulty, low quality products, adulteration, no bills issued and charging higher prices for commodities.

Allocation of supplies made by the government towards in-active cards leads to over allotment loss which is estimated around 38% i.e is around Rs54 crore every month. The loss incurred due to the leakage of grains that happens at all levels of supply chain which includes wholesale transportation, at the wholesaler level, during the rural transportation is estimated to be around 39% i.e around Rs56.6 crore every month. Households not eligible to rations, but drawing rations cause active suspect losses to treasury which is estimated around 17% i.e Rs24.5Crore every month. By charging higher price to the consumers, thus stealing the benefit intended by the government 4% loss is estimated i.e Rs 5.82crore in a month.

Overall as per an estimation Rs 144.8crore is lost every month from this one state Karnataka. Now can we imagine what will happen and how much money will be looted from the country without a proper mechanism or system in place?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dandeli - Old Magazine Hut

Around 5 years back had visited Dandeli on bike, on my way to Goa for new year. This place has changed a lot over 5 years. I see lots of resorts which have come up, lot many vehicles on the road. Yet some of the places deep inside if you are willing to explore is amazing be it the roads or the greenery. Probably this is the best place in Karnataka for Birding, how ever it was disappointing for wildlife siting.

I asked Diwi to stay with us over the night so that we can start very early in the morning. We started around 4.30 and by around 7 we where in Chitradurga. I have been to most of the hotels in Chitradurga as most of them are from my relatives, especially the older ones. But Diwi asked to try "Lakshmi Tiffin Room" for the "Kali Dosa". This was one of the best "Kali Dosa" I had ever tried. I made best use of it by having as much as I could. It was not right but then, I had to leave Durga without visiting my relatives as we were suppose to be in Dandeli by 12.
NH4 is probably one of the best roads in the country over a long stretch. I was consistently driving at 120-140 kmph. Reached Hubli by around 9:30 -10, however from Hubli towards Dharwad the speed dropped and then from Dharwad to Dandeli, the roads are not good. We reached Dandeli around 12.30 and we had the biggest shock, I wanted to stay in "Old Magazine Hut" @ Ganeshgudi but I didn't know the name of the place and asked for help from Jungle lodge team while booking who mistook and had booked us in "Kali Adventure Camp - Dandeli". This was not the place I wanted to stay, it was very disappointing but then after speaking to the Jungle lodges team, they were quick to put us in 2 log huts in Ganeshgudi.
We had a quick lunch at Dandeli and headed for rafting, I have done rafting thrice in Rishikesh in different weather conditions and once just after rains in red muddy water which was the most dangerous. When compared to that there was nothing in this but then, rafting again after long time was fun also it was great fun for all the beginners. Kali also has got the best rapids in Karnataka but then the water current is so much dependent of the water that is been released from the Dam.
Old Magazine hut in Ganeshgudi is almost in the middle of the forest and there has been many instances of wild life sighting at the camp site. I would still rate K.Gudi as the best of all. While driving to Ganeshgudi at night from Dandeli, I switched off the lights of my Car for a couple of seconds to get a feel of Darkness ahead and it was great fun. After having dinner in front of the camp fire we moved to our rooms.
We got up at 6 and went for birding and sighted lots of interesting birds .We sighted Malabar Trogon female/male, Red whisked bulbul, Asian paradise fly catcher (white), Golden fronted leaf bird, Sun bird, Emerald Dove, Red cheeked barbet, Blue capped rock thrush, Ruby throat bulbul, Yellow browed bulbul, White rumped Shama, Malabar grey hornbill, Malabar gaint squirrel and also Flying squirrel.
After breakfast we started driving towards Syntheri Rocks, the roads are the best with thick forest and very few vehicles. The roads are in good condition making it even more pleasant drive. We reached Syntheri rocks around 11 and spent some time enjoying the beauty of the water falls in front of the huge granite rock. I had got down into water at many places but here they have put up boards not to get into water and also there are guards who stop you from even going near the water, did not make much sense.
After coming back to Ganeshgudi, having lunch we went for the coracle ride. I didn't enjoy this, felt this was more for older people. Coming back from coracle ride we went for the peak behind the Ganeshgudi camping for sunset view. Its around 20min hike behind the camping site from where we get the entire view of the forest and also the back waters of Kali river. It was relaxing to feel the cool breeze but then at the last moment sun hid behind the clouds and we missed the beautiful sunset view.
We planned to go for safari next day, but then later felt it was a waste of time. Dandeli is not the place for Safari. You can best enjoy Dandeli for birding and then relaxing. I enjoyed the most photo shooting the "Hump nosed pit Viper" in front of our rooms. Viper was in an aggressive mood trying to strike again and again but gave some of the best shots for my camera.
On our journey back we stopped at "Dandeli Appa - temple", here we could watch around 30-40 crocodiles of Kali river which had come out to warm themselves. We heard that if we had come at around 9 we could have got a spectacular view of around 70 crocodiles in the river. I was a bit scared looking at these crocodiles for the sheer number as I was swimming in this river just a day before, but there has been no instances of any one being attacked by crocodile in Dandeli.
The return journey was very tiring as the traffic along the entire stretch was very heavy and finally we reached home around 12 in the midnight.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sakleshpur Railway Track Trek

Green route trek -- akka Sakleshpur raliway track trek, once the abandoned track, paradise for beginners had been on my mind for a long time. Very recently probably an year back this track was reopened for passenger train after which lots of people have found it hard to complete this trek due to restrictions from railway officials. If they find you especially the chief engineer who comes on rounds, that's the end of your trek.

We started very late around 11.30 -12 in the mid night and yet reached Sakleshpur at around 4am in the morning. After some coffee and refreshing in a local hotel we started our trek from Donigal railway station. We spoke to the local station master at Donigal and asked for permission but he had to say, permission as such is not given but many do the trek, until they are caught by the chief engineer. We started at around 6 and stopped at around 9:30 for breakfast.
There was this water stream, with a beautiful waterfalls. I got into my swimming costume and was in water within no time. Water was very cold and refreshing. After spending some time in water, finished with our breakfast and started continuing in the track.

A couple of bridges and here we are about to get into the first tunnel and I hear the sound of train from behind. I started shouting train train for all those who were already inside the tunnel. There was an outlet in the middle of the tunnel and most of them managed to sneak out through it. However Vikram who was already out of the tunnel from other end, hearing the sound of the train got confused and started running in to the tunnel. I don't know what Vicky was thinking :-). But Vicky kept shouting for all the people inside the tunnel to keep left where there was some space to stand and Raghu who even wears cooling glass inside the dark tunnel got confused and jumped to the right only to land in a pit. Luckily nothing happened and all were safe also the goods train was very slow to react

A couple of more bridges and tunnels and here we come across a railway guard who told us that we were lucky that the engineer is not here and we have managed to come till here. Ahead of us we had a couple of big tunnels and beautiful bridges and here comes the Bihari engineer (Not to forget about the railway job scam when Lalu was the Railways minister, today we find many places even in Karnataka with officers from Bihar) with his broken English stopped us and asked us to return. We were annoyed that he kept us calling terrorists and Dacoits but then to an extent I was also happy that he did not budge even for money. He was right on his part doing his duty, trespassing railway property is crime.
Section 147 in the Railways Act, 1989
147. Trespass and refusal to desist from trespass
1) If any person enters upon or into any part of a railway without lawful authority, or having lawfully entered upon or into such part misuses such property or refuses to leave, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both:
Provided that in the absence of special and adequate reasons to the contrary to be mentioned in the judgement of the court, such punishment shall not be less than a fine of five hundred rupees
2) Any person referred to in sub-section (1) may be removed from the railway by any railway servant or by any other person whom such railway servant may call to his aid.

We waited for almost 40min with some hope to continue but then there was nothing that could have been done as the officer had warned us that we would be arrested in next station if we had proceeded further. We missed a couple of beautiful bridges and tunnels ahead and not to mention the camping at night. But then we turned back and while some of them got a lift to Sakleshpur, we started exploring the falls. Finally we found the best view of the falls and we enjoyed for almost 2 hours in the falls and then finally getting into the water. It was amazing fun after long time I had some quality time in a water falls. It was also very relaxing for our feet. Walking for almost 6 hours on the railway track on the stones can hurt your feet badly. In fact I had pain in my feet for almost 2 days. Also it was my first trek after I had twisted my ankle and I was not comfortable, it still hurts probably I need to see a doctor.
This is a nice trek to be tried during winter only, you can only complete it if your lucky not to be found by the officer. It is not a difficult trek but then some of the places you got beautiful landscape. Don't forget to wear some good shoes as stones on the tracks are gonna hurt your feet. Not much of guidance is required for this, you just need to start from Donigal station which is around 5kms from Sakleshpur and then walk on the track till Yedukameri. Probably next time we will start from Yedukameri and complete the remaining stretch of the trek.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Naada Habba - Mysore Dasera

Even after being born and bought up in this state Karnataka where in Mysore Dasara is world famous, had never been to Mysore to see Dasara. This time I decided not to miss it and finally was in Mysore for the Jumbu Savari on Vijaya Dashami. Even though Mysore is not as commercialized as Bangalore its fast catching up. The sheer reason why I love Mysore, the cultural capital of this state is simplicity of people living here but slowly every where its giving out to commercialization. Yet this place reminds of our childhood days where in life used to be so simple and slow moving.

There was a huge crowd outside the palace gates, yet reached early around 10:30am. Dasara procession started around 12. Many times and in fact every year in various newspapers I had seen lots of pics from the Dasara procession however this time I felt its the energy of the artists to be felt at the venue. It was amazing to watch the drummers dancing with their drums. It was very hot but I am sure most of the artists had come dressed up very early in the morning. I was really surprised when I heard these artists do not just perform in front of the palace but its a procession which starts from the Palace and going through various parts of the city ends up in Banni mantapa. Most of the artists were in fact performing bare foot. It was so hot, yet they were just lost in their own world. Drummers rocked the procession with the local folk beats.

After the performances of various artists, it was the turn of "Balarama"- The Royal Elephant accompanied by 2 female elephants along his sides to carry the 750kg golden ambari (howdah) carrying goddess Chamundeshwari in it. It was the majestic walk of Balarama with the Ambari which makes every one in the crowd stand up from their seat. Its the moment every one had been waiting for the day to watch. After the pooja to goddess Chamundeshwari from the state Chief minister, the procession heads towards Banni mantapa where it finally ends.

Evening there was parade and acrobatic stunts from police teams along with 21 gun salute at Banni mantapa. It was spectacular to watch bikers in their royal enfield bikes showing their skills with various stunts. But the best of the lot was Panjina Meravanige (Fire Torch Procession) followed by laser show and fireworks to end.

We started from home at around 10am and after spending the entire day on the roads watching the spectacular events we returned home around 11pm in the night dead tired with lots of pics and lots of memories.

Like always, after all the good things I was disappointed with the crowd management, lack of security, improper seating arrangements and lack of basic necessities like toilets or food at the venue. Even worse was the crowd itself throwing waste on roads and spoiling the beauty of the venue.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


It had been almost an year since I last trekked. Trekking is something I love the most reason being I feel it gives me time to be with myself and also it tests my mental fitness to push myself even in the worst conditions. It was a perfect trek reason being I had an injury which made things worse and I kept thinking what is the limit I can push myself and where will I break down. I felt really happy and lot more confident when I trusted my legs and walked till the end.

Initially the plan was to trek Ombattu gudda during rains. But with a river bed along the trekking path and with heavy monsoons in the region, we gave up the idea of trekking Ombattu gudda and narrowed down on Kudremukh. Kudremukh a very common house hold name to hear in Karnataka for its iron ore mines, had been on my trekking radar for a long time and for some reason I never visited this place.

I always say trekking in rains makes the trek at least twice dangerous and risky reason being slopes/rocks are very slippery and you can injure your ankle/knee easily, streams will be overflowing and at some places it can be risky to cross the stream without anticipating the water levels if it rains heavily for the return journey, can easily get lost in the thick green cover during the monsoon if left out from the group, at peak there might be thick clouds making visibility almost nil so either you can get lost or can surprise a wild animals, and finally who can forget the blood sucking leeches during the monsoon in western ghats.

We started at around 11pm from Harsha's house and headed towards Khalsa. We stopped at around 12 near dinner at a Dhaba on the Bangalore - Hassan highway after which we again stopped at Kottigehara for having neeru dosa at around 4:30 am. We reached Khalsa around 6:30 in the morning. From Khalsa you need to head towards Kudremukh - Shamsha road for around 10kms and then stop at Balgal.

After getting down at Balgal, we started walking towards Satish's house which is around 6kms walk. We took around 1:30 - 2hours before we reached Satish's house. We had heavy breakfast at his house and started our trek towards the peak. Even though I enjoy the rain treks a lot, I miss the opportunity to use my camera at will and it takes lot of pain to carry it. You have to be very careful about your camera as it rains real hard. Make sure you have enough protection.

Kudremukh is a national park and trekking without permission is illegal, also you are not allowed to camp in the peak and hence one is forced to reach back to the starting point before night. From Satish's house we started to walk towards the peak around 9:30am. One can also take a jeep from Balgal to Satish's house. They charge around 500rs for 8 people.

I loved this place for the reason, there was no plastics. After so many treks I feel very places are left so clean. It was perfect green cover till the peak. I would rate this one of the finest trek for the green cover and clean environment.

We reached peak around 3 in the afternoon, after a quick lunch started heading back to Satish's house. It also started to rain consistently till we reached the house at around 6:30pm. It was during this stretch that an old ligament tear in my right leg opened up and I had sever pain walking down. By the time we reached Satish's house almost everyone were dead tired and almost every one were bleeding with leech bites. After a hot water bath and heavy dinner it was time for some rest with dead legs.

We got up early and went to Somavathy falls which is just around 10min walk from Satish's house. After spending some time near the falls we started walking towards the main road. We reached around 12 and then we started back to bangalore

GPS Maps:

Trek Directions:
Bangalore - Hassan - Beluru - Moodigere - Kottigehara - Sunkasaale - Kalasa
At Kottigehara - don't forget to have neeru dosa :-)
From Kalasa ask for directions towards Balgal, its around 10kms.
If you are late to Balgal you can take a Jeep to Satish's house from where you can start the trek. Its around 6kms walk to Satish's house.
Camping is not allowed here and permission from Forest department is a must. Satish can arrange for the same.
Don't forget to carry some food during trek, torch and salt for leech bites.

Satish Mullodi : 08263249595
Arun - 9481578065/9481074530/8722847688

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Macro Shots

It was an oppurtunity to find the subject and shoot it using my new canon EF 100mm f2.8 macro USM. Here are the results of my experiments with macro.