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A Few Good Things

"Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." – Ibn Battuta

A Few Good Things

Author: vak1969 (Page 1 of 20)

Why Me # Ravana

Every story has two sides to it. The version of the winner that projects him to be the greatest and everything else as evil.

From Alexander to Churchill history has always been written by the victor. Nehru  went on to add “History is always written by the victors and conquerors, or at any rate the victors version is given prominence and holds the field“. And Napoleon stated “History is a set of lies agreed upon“.

With this context lets step back and look at the story of Ramayana and question if it is fair to vilify an erudite scholar, a valiant soldier and a great king like Ravana…. just because he was a vanquished Asura.

From the current #me too debate to ancient history women have always been at the receiving end of mans lust. Every king & emperor filled his harem with women, and none of them walked in on their own free will. Men in power whether politicians or corporate leaders and spiritual masters (Baba Asaram, Nityanand ….) have been in the news for treating women as mere objects.

Thousands of years back when the rules of the world were probably very different and norms of society were just being created was Ravana’s action of carrying away Sita the greatest crime of mankind.

Yes Rama vanquished Ravana – and since then poor Ravana has been the symbol of a perfect villain. But was Ravana indeed a villain as he is portrayed? Is there a second perspective to this. Were the Asuras really demons and the “Bad people” – or was this a creation of the victor.

The word Asura has a close resemblance to “Ahura” which comes from the Persian Language and means great warriors. Ravana, Bahubali were all Asura kings who were known for being great administrators and valiant warriors. Across the border in Sri Lanka the stories of Ravana  are very different from what you hear in India.

Sri Lankan lore has it that Sri Lanka under the scholarly Ravana saw great advancements in science and medicine. The Pushpaka Vimana or the aeroplane which he flew is held as an example of great scientific achievements made during his regime. Ravana also holds a high position as a physician and there exists, to this day, seven books on Ayurveda in his name. He is also believed to have authored Ravana Sanhita, an anthology of Hindu astrology and his description as a ten-headed person, Daśamukha or Daśagrīva, is believed to be a reference to his vast knowledge and intelligence.

In many depictions of Ravan, he can be seen carrying a veena. It is believed that he had a keen interest in music and was a highly accomplished veena player.

Ravana’s empire spread over Balidweepa (today’s Bali), Malayadweep (Malaysia), Angadweepa, Varahdweepa, Shankhadweepa, Yavadweepa, Andhralaya and Kushadweepa.  

He was a great practitioner of statecraft. When Ravana was dying on the battlefield Rama instructed his brother Lakshmana to go to Ravana and learn the art of statecraft and diplomacy from the dying king

Ravana was not only a stupendous fighter, but also an expert of the Vedas and an expert in Astrology. It is said that when his son Meghanada was to be born from his wife Mandodari’s womb, Ravana “instructed” all the planets and the Sun to be in their proper position for the auspicious “lagna” so that his son would become immortal. But Saturn suddenly changed its position. Noticing this, a furious Ravana attacked Saturn with his mace and broke off one of its legs, maiming him for life.

Ravana was one of the greatest devotees of Lord Shiva, and composed the Shiva Tandava Stotram.

There are references which state that Ravana got this name later in life, and that too from Shiva. Ravana wanted Shiva to relocate from Kailash to Lanka, and to make this possible, he tried to lift the mountain. But Shiva, being who he is, put down his foot onto the mountain, thus crushing Ravana’s finger with his one toe. Ravana let out a huge roar of pain, but at the same time, he was so enamoured by Shiva’s power, he composed and sang the Shiva Tandav Stotram. It is believed that Ravana plucked out nerves from his own hand to provide accompanying music. Shiva, thus impressed, named him Ravana (the one who roars loud).

The essence of Indian mythology is obviously beyond the simple good vs evil story line. If you care to dig deep, there’s an interesting story at every step.
Ravana played his role as a villain, but it was that of a much-needed villain, that brought balance to the equation. No wonder there are many people in the world, who still worship him.

 

Navratri 999 : 9 Dishes, 9 Colours, 9 Ragas for the 9 days

Did you know that the 9 days of Navratri are associated with 9 different colours?  I am sharing not just the colours of the day but also the Flowers, Food and Raga that are considered auspicious for each of the 9 days.

A Few Good Things wishes you a very happy Navratri & Durga Puja.  

Day 1: Shailaputri

Known as Pratipada, this day is associated to Shailaputri (literally “Daughter of Mountain”), an incarnation of Parvati. It is in this form that the Goddess is worshiped as the consort of Shiva. She is depicted as riding the bull – Nandi, with a trishula in her right hand and lotus in her left. Shailaputri is considered to be the direct incarnation of Mahakali. The color of the day is red, which depicts action and vigor. It is believed that Goddess slayed the demons Madhu and Kaidaba on this day. Jasmine and Vilvam are primarily used to perform the puja. Ven Pongal and Karamani Sundal are considered the perfect offerings for this day. Singing devotional numbers in Thodi raga will please the Goddess

Day 2: Brahmcharini

On Dwitiya, Goddess Brahmcharini, another incarnation of Parvati, is worshiped. In this form, Parvati became Sati, her unmarried self. Brahmcharini is worshiped for emancipation or moksha and endowment of peace and prosperity. Depicted as walking bare feet and holding a japamala and kamandalu in her hands, she symbolizes bliss and calm. The color of the day is Royal Blue which depicts calmness-cum-energy. In South India  the Goddess is worshiped as Kowmaari or Rajarajeswari. Jasmine and Tulsi are used for worship on the second day. Puliyodarai, Puttu and mangoes are usually offered as naivedyam. Raga Kalyani has a special significance today.

Day 3: Chandraghanta

Tritiya commemorates the worship of Chandraghanta – the name derived from the fact that after marrying Shiva, Parvati adorned her forehead with half-chandra (Lit moon). She is the embodiment of beauty and is also symbolic of bravery, and hence, the color of the day is yellow. In South India Goddess is worshiped as Varali Ambigai or Vaaraahi on this day. It’s considered auspicious to draw “Kolam” either in rice flour (rose or lotus designs are recommended) or using flowers. Shenbakam, Champangi and Marikozhunthu are ideal for performing the puja. Sakkarai Pongal and Ellu Podi are offered as naivedyam. Songs in Kaambhodhi raga can be sung today

Day 4: Kushmunda

Goddess Kushmunda is worshiped on Chaturthi. Believed to be the creative power of universe, Kushmunda is associated to the endowment of vegetation on earth and hence, the color of the day is Green. She is depicted as having eight arms and sits on a Tiger. In S India Goddess is worshiped in the form of a Lakshmi. “Padi kolam” in rice flour or rangoli in the shape of steps  is drawn in the houses. The idol of the Goddess is adorned with wild turmeric (Kasthuri Manjal). It’s believed that the fragrance of Jaathi Malli and Rose please the Goddess. Offer either Kadhamba Sadam, Curd Rice, Green Peas and Groundnut Sundal or Lemon Rice as naivedyam. Sing songs in Bhairavi raga in praise of the Goddess.

Day 5: Skandmata

Skandamata, the goddess worshiped on Panchami, is the mother of Skanda (or Kartikeya). The color grey is symbolic of the transforming strength of a mother when her child is confronted with danger. She is depicted riding a ferocious lion, having four arms, and holding her baby.

In S India Goddess is worshiped in the form of Vaishnavi. You can decorate her in the form of Mohini as well.

Pavazha Malii, Paarijaatham and Mullai are considered among the most auspicious ones for the puja today. Offer Ven Pongal,  Payasam and Payir Sundal today.In praise of the Goddess, sing songs, especially the Panchamaavaranai Keerthanai, in raga Panthuvarali.

Day 6: Katyayani

Born to a sage, Katya, she is an incarnation of Durga and is shown to exhibit courage which is symbolized by the color Orange / Red. Known as the warrior goddess, she is considered one of the most violent forms of Goddess Parvati. In this avatar, the Devi rides a lion and has four hands.

In S India Goddess is worshiped in the form of Indraani. Flowers for the puja should be in red — Hibiscus and Kumkum flower are among the most preferred. You can also use Parijatham for the puja.

Offer Coconut Rice or Ellu Sadam today. Neeelambari raga is considered auspicious today.

Day 7: Kalratri

Considered the most ferocious form of Goddess Durga, Kalaratri is revered on Saptmi. It is believed that Parvati removed her fair skin to kill the demons Sumbh and Nisumbh. The color of the day is white. Her skin turns black.

In S India it is  believed that Goddess appears as Annapoorni today. Use Thazhampoo, Thumbai and Jasmine to perform the puja. While Lemon Rice is ideal, you can also offer Vellai Sadam, Kalkandu Sadam or Sarkkarai Pongal today. Chickpeas Sundal can also be considered for naivedyam. The raga for the day is Bilahari.

Day 8: Mahagauri

Mahagauri symbolizes intelligence and peace. The color associated to this day is Pink which depicts optimism.

On this day, the Goddess is worshiped in the form of Narasimhi or Durga in S India. After slaying the demon, Rakthabeejan, she appears as karuna moorthy.

The flowers for puja today include Rose, Sambangi and Magizham. Offer Paal Saadam or Paayasaannam and Appam as naivedyam. It’s considered auspicious to sing songs in Punnagavarali today.

Day 9: Sidhidatri. Color associated for this day is also Pink or any bright colour

On this day, Goddess Durga attained all the Siddhis and also defeated the demons. In TN & Kerala this day is observed as Saraswati Puja. People break their fasts on this day

On this day performing puja using Lotus and Marikozhundu is considered auspicious. You can offer Ellu Sadam, Konda Kadalai Sundal  as naivedyam. It’s considered auspicious to sing songs in Raga Vasantha today.

Vijaya Dasami

Today, Goddess takes the form of Devi Vijaya. While jasmine and rose can be used for the special puja, Sweet Pongal and other sweets can be offered as naivedyam

The other approach to colours 

The second approach believes that the sequence changes every year. How to determine this is based on a simple rule

  • The first Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be having White, Red, Royal blue, Yellow, Green, Grey and Orange. in whichever order they come. 7 days hence 7 colors.
  • The first repeating week day that is in second cycle of week the colors followed are Pink and purple and/or sky blue alternatively. + 2 remaining days +2 colors
  • If you apply this logic for 2018 – the colors are as below

________________________________________________

Day 1 – 10 October 2018 – Royal Blue

First day of Navratri. Goddess Durga is worshiped as Shailaputri on this day and she is dressed in Royal Blue color.

Day 2 – 11 October 2018 –Yellow

Second day of Navratri. Goddess Durga is worshiped as Brahmacharini on this day and she is dressed in Yellow color.

Day 3 – 12 October 2018 – Green

Third day of Navratri. Goddess Durga is worshiped as Chandraghanta on this day and she is dressed in Green color.

Day 4 – 13 October 2018 – Gray

Fourth day of Navratri. Goddess Durga is worshiped as Kushmanda on this day and she is dressed in Gray color.

Day 5 – 14 October 2018 – Orange

Fifth day of Navratri. Goddess Durga is worshiped as Skandamata on this day and she is dressed in Orange color.

Day 6 – 15 October 2018 – White

Sixth day of Navratri. Goddess Durga is worshiped as Katyayini on this day and she is dressed in White color.

Day 7 – 16 October 2018 – Red

Seventh day of Navratri. Goddess Durga is worshiped as Kalaratri on this day and she is dressed in Red color.

Day 8 – 17 October 2018 – Sky Blue

Eighth day of Navratri. Goddess Durga is worshiped as Mahagauri on this day and she is dressed in Sky Blue color.

Day 9 – 18 October 2018 – Pink

Ninth and last day of Navratri. Goddess Durga is worshiped as Siddhidatri on this day and she is dressed in Pink color.

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Peace with God

My Soul has a Hat – Mario de Andrade (San Paolo 1893-1945)

A beautiful poem by Mario de Andrade (San Paolo 1893-1945) Poet, novelist, essayist and musicologist. One of the founders of Brazilian modernism. Shared by my friend – a Poet herself.

MY SOUL HAS A HAT

I counted my years 

& realized that I have

Less time to live by, 

Than I have lived so far.

I feel like a child who won a pack of candies: at first he ate them with pleasure 

But when he realized that there was little left, he began to taste them intensely.

I have no time for endless meetings

where the statutes, rules, procedures & internal regulations are discussed, 

knowing that nothing will be done.

I no longer have the patience 

To stand absurd people who,

despite their chronological age, 

have not grown up.

My time is too short: 

I want the essence, 

my spirit is in a hurry. 

I do not have much candy

In the package anymore.

I want to live next to humans, 

very realistic people who know

How to laugh at their mistakes,

Who are not inflated by their own triumphs 

& who take responsibility for their actions.

In this way, human dignity is defended 

and we live in truth and honesty.

It is the essentials that make life useful.

I want to surround myself with people

who know how to touch the hearts of those whom hard strokes of life

have learned to grow with sweet touches of the soul.

Yes, I’m in a hurry.

I’m in a hurry to live with the intensity that only maturity can give.

I do not intend to waste any of the remaining desserts.

I am sure they will be exquisite, 

much more than those eaten so far.

My goal is to reach the end satisfied 

and at peace with my loved ones and my conscience.

We have two lives

& the second begins when you realize you only have one.

————————————-

Sweets

Iyer Sweets – Traditional home made South Indian Sweets and Savouries

Love sweets – but worried about the quality of ingredients used at the neighbourhood sweet shop. Hunting for the authentic “Boondi Laddu” that you had at a marriage in Chennai. You hunt ends at Iyer Sweets – Bangalore.

Iyer Sweets brings you home made Sweets and Savouries – Using quality ingredients and made hygienically at home by an experienced Palghat Iyer couple. All of this priced reasonably.

This Navratri / Diwali place your order with Iyer Sweets and you can boast that you made it yourself

 

Useful information for placing orders 

Signature Sweets & Savouries rates

  • Traditional South Indian Boondi Laddu – Rs 570/Kg
  • Traditional South Indian Mysore Pak – Rs 550 / Kg
  • Maa Laddu – Rs 570/Kg
  • Ribbon Pakodam – Rs 350/ Kg
  • Mullu Thenkozal / Muthusaram – Rs 350/Kg
  • Mixture – Rs 400/Kg

Placing your order 

  • For placing orders and additional details call or WhatsApp :
    • +91 9242940601
    • +91 9945733135
  • Minimum Order Value : Rs 1000/- (Rupees One Thousand Only)
  • Minimum Quantity : 500 g
  • Online payment preferred ( PayTm, Google Pay , WhatsApp ) – Cash also accepted
  • Delivery Free for orders above Rs 3000/-
  • Delivery charges – Dunzo / Local Courier charges on actuals.  You may also pick up the items from Iyer Sweets
  • Items are packed in normal plastic / paper bags. Additional hard box packaging for travel / shipments will be charged as per requirements based on discussions
  • We prepare items freshly for each order and don’t keep stock. Please place orders 10 days  in advance for Diwali/Dushera and 5 days in advance for Non Festive season.

 

Nano Jeans

The Crumbling Apple Pie

We have been an Apple family since 2010. We have 4 iPhones, 2 MacBooks, 2 iPads an iMac and 2 iPod’s. Recently my 17 year old daughters hand me down iPhone 5S needed replacement – it was slow and the 16 GB was just not enough storage. It was logical to expect that she would ask for an iPhone iPhone 7 or 8 – but to my surprise she wanted an Android Phone. She had compelling reasons – It’s half the price, has a big screen, is super fast and has a lot of storage. Add to that she never used the Apple Ecosystem.

That summarises the story of Apple in India. A Niche brand that had a 2% market share in the Smart Phone Market (In 2014) with aggressive plans is now seeing a steep de-growth. As per Counterpoint research the company had a 1% MS in Q2 2018 and unit shipments for 2018 are expected to be 2.4M ( 2017 – 3.2M Units)*. But before we comment on Apple India struggling lets look at the big picture.

Most of us remember the amazing launch presentations of Steve Jobs when he literally pulled out a rabbit from his hat. Be it the iPod from his hip pocket or the MacBookAir from an envelope – Steve was a marketing genius.

Steves Keynotes during the New product launches including his last Keynote at WWDC in 2011 attracted attention like the Grammy’s & Oscar’s. The craze was global even if Steve’s focus was largely the Western Economies. At every launch there were huge Q’s lining up the stores and product availability was always a challenge. He genuinely Exceeded Expectations – both with his presentation and the Product.

Compare that with the launch on Sep 12th this year by the current CEO Tim Cook. The big takeaway was the launch of Dual SIM iPhones. Sadly this feature was launched in 2000 by Benefon and became popular from 2010 – 2011. As of mid 2014 almost 60% of Smartphones sold in India were Dual SIM phones. So the worlds most innovative Phone company launches a feature that is 18 years old.

Since Steve Jobs that has been the summary of Apple launches. Lots of colours, numerous models, better camera, better resolution – but hardly any innovation on technology. And the question that begs to be asked is a 58 year old Tim Cook out of touch with technology in an industry that is run by 30 – 40 year olds (Mark Zuckerberg 34 , Sundar Pichai 47, Elon Musk 47). Yes he is a brilliant operations and financial wizard – and with dexterous buy backs and steep priced products has ensured that Apple’s profitability and stock price continue to rise against all odds.

The question that needs to be asked is how long can this continue? Is it a case of Gaining Momentum – Losing Altitude? With declining sales in Mac and iPads and the Apple Watch a very niche product sold mainly in US & W Europe – Apple has relied heavily on the steep prices of the iPhone.

A few years back iPhones in India were launched at a 40 – 50K INR pricing. That was steep – but this year the most affordable product the iPhone XR will be launched at Rs 76,900. While the premium range retails for 1 Lac – 1.34 Lacs. With that pricing you cannot attract the youth brigade.

When Tim Cook met PM Modi in May 2016 – there was a high level of expectancy that this was the moment when the worlds largest tech company would shift gears and accelerate. But sadly little has transpired – and things have gone from bad to worse – a steep erosion of market share in the last 2 years.  

While Apple operates a basic facility with its partner to assemble a few models of iPhones in India, Samsung has set up the worlds largest Smart Phone manufacturing plant in India in July 2018. That makes business sense as it saves the company 20% Customs Duty. And with the raging USD one can expect import duties to get steeper.

They quickly followed it up with the launch of the worlds largest retail outlet at Bangalore spread across 33,000 feet that was launched in Sep 2018. Now that is a commitment difficult to meet. 

The decline in Market share for Apple India also reflects in  the ramping down on operations from five national distributors to two. Many retailers across the country have been forced to close shutters with dwindling volume of sales.

The Apple Ecosystem – a Key differentiator has failed to engage audience in India. Most youngsters use platforms like Wynk to listen to music and movies are streamed from Netflix and Amazon Prime. Apple TV is almost never in the consideration list when you decide to buy a streaming device. Apple maps is almost never used. The lack of adoption of iTunes and the Ecosystem has been the biggest setback to Apple India. This ensures that there is no  stickiness and hence the retention rate of existing iPhone users which worldwide is stated to be over 90% is a lot lower in India.

Indian retail is always a challenging market – and India has once again proved to the worlds greatest tech company that success here doesn’t come easily. Companies that don’t adapt to the needs of the country are bound to fail and Apple is a good example.

The End 

* References 

Satsung Foundation Struggle

Sri M Talks Bangalore : Nov 2,3,4 – 2018

The Satsang Foundation invites you to a talk on “Towards Greater Awareness, Essence of the Upanishads”.

The talk will be delivered by Sri M at Freedom Park on Nov 2nd, 3rd & 4th at 6.30 PM. The entire topic will be covered in 3 sessions over these  3 days. On Nov 2nd (Day – 1) please be seated by 5.45 PM for a 30 Min Bhajan session by Tara Kini before the Talks.

 

About Sri M 

Sri M was born in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. At the age of nineteen and a half, attracted by a strange and irresistible urge to go to the Himalayas, he left home. At the Vyasa cave, beyond the Himalayan shrine of Badrinath, he met his Master and lived with him for three and a half years wandering freely, the length and breadth of the snow clad Himalayan region. What he learnt from his Master Maheshwarnath Babaji transformed his consciousness totally. Back in the plains he lived a normal life as instructed by his Master. But he was constantly preparing himself to teach all that he had learnt and experienced. At a signal from his Master he entered the teaching phase of his life. Sri M is today a renowned Master of Kriya Yoga, Vedanata, The Bhagwat Gita and Sufism and has delivered talks all over the world, at home in the religious teachings of most major religions.

Sri M born as Mumtaz Ali Khan, often says “Go to the Core. Theories are of no use”. Based out of Madanapalli (A small town in Andhra Pradesh 120 Km from Bangalore) Sri M leads a simple life – teaching and heading “The Satsang Foundation” a charitable concern promoting excellence in Education, Health Care and Unity amongst all. He also heads the Manav Ekta Foundation. His autobiography “Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master – A Yogi’s Autobiography” is a bestseller. His fictional book “Shunya” is one of the national best sellers in the Mind, Body, Spirit section of AMAZON. (For more information on Sri M visit http://satsang-foundation.org)

How you can contribute for the Nov 2nd, 3rd, 4th event 

This program is put together with the voluntary contribution of friends and well wishers of the Satsang Foundation and devotees of Sri M. If you would like to contribute

By Bank Transfer
Beneficiary Name: THE SATSANG FOUNDATION
Account No: 910010018440471
Type of Account: Savings
Bank: AXIS BANK LTD.
Branch: Cox Town Branch, Prestige Lion Gate, Municipal No. 6, Mosque Road, Bengaluru 560 005
Branch IFSC No: UTIB0000231
Please add ‘Bengaluru Events’ in the Notes option in the Payments Section.

After making the payment please share the following details at +91 9845218532 – Name in Bank Account, Bank from Which Transfer was done, Transaction ID, Mobile Number.

For any assistance required feel free to contact the organisers at events@satsang-foundation.org or +91 9686938895

Where is Freedom Park Located 

It is centrally located at Seshadri Road, Gandhi Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560009. Ample Car Parking is available. The closest Metro Station is Vidhan Soudha or Sir M Vishwesharaya (1 Km from both stations). There will be open air seating in a natural green surrounding. Weather in Nov may be cool – so please dress accordingly.

What is the duration of the talk. 

The Talk will start at 6.30 PM sharp. Please be seated by 6 PM. On Day – 1 there is a musical program for 30 Min that will start at 6 PM. Talk duration each day is expected to be 60 – 90 minutes. There will be no Prasad / Food served after the event.

Are the Talks on 3 days on the same Topic

The Topic for the Talk on all 3 days is “Towards Greater Awareness, Essence of the Upanishads“. It is an extended talk that will run in continuation over 3 days.

Will there be an opportunity to meet Sri M 1 : 1 during these events

There will be no 1 : 1 meetings during these sessions.

Do I need to register for this event

There is no registration required – and the event is free. So please do get your friends and family for the event.

Will I get 80 G benefit on my donations 

Yes. All donations to The Satsang Foundation are exempt from Income Tax U/S 80 G of the IT Act.This exemption is applicable for Indian Tax payers and is not valid for foreign nationals. For all receipts, please contact Manjula on office@satsang-foundation.org or call on 080 2548 0062.

Thank You

 

 

 

 

 

StoneWall Riots

50th anniversary of 1969 – The greatest year of the century

If you were to choose the most eventful year ever – which would it be? Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 bestseller  “Outliers: The Story of Success” talks about the impact that people born in 1955 have made. Yes Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Whoopi Gooldberg and many more born in 1955 transformed the world. I dug in and after some research came up with a clear winner by a mile. A year that transformed the world in multiple areas – Technology, Politics, Music, Civil Rights…. and that year would be 1969. ( Well, some of the transformation started in 1968 and accelerated through 1969)

First the facts that we all know of.

History was made and one small step for man became a huge leap for mankind. Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module pilot Edwin “Buzz” E. Aldrin landed in the Sea of Tranquility, on The Moon on July 20, 1969. Remember this was a time when the largest computers had computing power lesser than your smartphone of today.

March 2nd, 1969 was also when the Anglo-French supersonic airliner Concorde made its maiden flight. During the test flight, Concorde’s speed never rose above 300mph and its altitude reached a lowly maximum of 10,000 feet. During commercial journeys it would reach speeds of up to 1,350mph – more than twice as fast as conventional aircraft – and fly as high as 60,000 feet. This was also the year when Boeing 747 made its 1st passenger flight.

A lot more happened on the technology side

  • The 1st ATM was installed in New York
  • ARPANET (later to become a little thing called the Internet) was commissioned by DoD for research into networking. First set up with 4 nodes – Stanford, UCLA, UCSB, and Univ of Utah. First attempt at sending packets was from UCLA to Stanford on October 29. The first 2 characters were successfully transferred, but the third keystroke crashed the system. (hmmmm…maybe Bill Gates was involved! – he was already 14 by then)
  • UNIX then called as UNICS was invented at Bell Labs led by Thompson & Ritchie working on a PDP7. Dec 28th, 1969 was also the year when Linus Torvalds was born – he would go on to become the creator and principal developer of the Linux Kernel.
  • Seiko rolled out the worlds 1st Quartz watch
  • May 1st 1969 AMD – Advanced Micro Devices was founded by Jerry Sanders and seven others from Fairchild Semiconductor. (Less than a year back on July 18th 1968 – Intel was started by the legendary Andy Grove)
  • It was in 1969 that David Paul Gregg patented the optical or laser disc, although he came up with the idea in 1958.
  • Doctors at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, made medical history on April 22, 1969, when they performed the first human eye transplant on 54-year-old John Madden. Because the donor eye had not been preserved enough to keep it viable, the procedure failed to restore Madden’s sight. The procedure itself, however, went down in history as a medical miracle.

A lot of changes were happening on the people front. Revolution and change was in the air. The Hippie’s movement – a countercultural movement that rejected  mainstream American life had engulfed the youth. The movement originated on college campuses in the United States, although it spread to other countries, including Canada and Britain. This was the era of Pop, Rock & Roll, Jazz & the Blues. Blend the Hippes lifestyle with music and you have the greatest music festival of the century – The Woodstock. 

  • The famous Woodstock music festival took place in upstate New York between August 15–18, 1969, which attracted an audience of more than 400,000. The festival featured legends like Jimi Hendrix, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Sly and the Family Stone. The event would help define an era.
  • Apart from being one of the only Indian musicians to perform at Woodstock, renowned Sitar player Ravi Shankar did not share his contemporaries’ excitement about the festival. He once said it was a terrifying experience, where the large crowds lounging in the mud reminded him of water buffaloes in India.
  • Also that summer, the Beatles, then arguably still the western world’s most popular band, released one of their final albums: Abbey Road. And the Beatles performed their last concert in 1969. This was also the year when John Lennon & Yoko Ono were married on March 20th.
  • 1969 is also quoted in the Hotel California song. It is assumed to refer to  the year when the Satanic bible was released.
  • June 1969 is famous for the Stonewall Riots. (Also referred to as the Stonewall uprising or the Stonewall rebellion) were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBT) community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States

  • The US Civil Rights movement led by Martin Luther King was in its final phase. King had been assassinated in late 1968 but had laid the foundation for change.
  • The Vietnam war had peaked, more than 34,000 American soldiers died in the strife. President Richard M. Nixon assumed responsibility for the Vietnam War as he swore the oath of office on January 20, 1969. He knew that ending this war honorably was essential to his success in the presidency. He kept his promise and the US withdrew from Vietnam in 1973. Ho Chi Minh the communist leader of North Vietnam died on 2nd Sep 1969. 
  • 1969 was also the year when almost all of the world’s nations come together to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
  • Two of the worlds largest retailers opened stores in 1969 – The 1st GAP store opened and Walmart was incorporated as Walmart Stores Inc.
  • In late 1968 McDonald launched the Big Mac – A meal disguised as a sandwich – and it became extremely popular in 1969.
  •  The football legend Pele scored his 1000th international goal on Nov 19th, 1969
  • The Godfather by Mario Puzo was published in 1969
  • Sesame Street debuts on television and the last episode of the original “Star Trek” airs on NBC. During the episode, titled “Turnabout Intruder,” one of Captain Kirk’s former lovers steals his body.

India in 1969 

  • A lot happened in India also in 1969 which has had its impact till date. India’s grand old party The Congress split into two factions led by Indira Gandhi and Morarji Desai.
  • Indira Gandhi made the bold move of nationalising 14 banks that controlled 70% of the country’s deposits

  • The actor we all love Amitabh Bachchan made his debut in 1969 with Saat Hindustani 

  • 1969 was also the turnaround year for superstar Rajesh Khanna. In 1968, Khanna didn’t have a single film. In fact, the vacuum had stretched into the tenth month of 1969, prompting his doting but disturbed father to ask him to rethink his career plans. “To pursue a career that keeps rejecting you persistently is foolishness,” he told him. “In life, one should learn to read the writing on the wall early. Maybe a career in films is not for you. Give it serious thought.”Fortunately for Khanna, a ‘small’ unassuming film saved him from further ignominy. Ittefaq — directed by a man with a Midas touch, Yash Chopra, on a shoe-string budget and shot in 28 days without frills — turned the tide. The film, a thriller, had no songs, no dance, no big stars. It might have had a better initial draw than any other Khanna-starrer based on the reputation of the B.R. Chopra banner, but the movie’s popularity really owed to Khanna — who was about to rewrite the rules of stardom. Ittefaq was followed by Aradhana, another stop-gap venture produced and directed by a stalwart, Shakti Samanta. Released in November 1969, it took off on a whirlwind run
  • It was in 1969 that Goenkaji started teaching Vipassana Meditation in India – making true the prophecy that Buddha has made 2500 years back.
  • Two of India’s greatest cricketers launched themselves in 1969. Gundappa Vishwanath made his test cricket debut Vs Australia at Kanpur in 1969 and scored a century. And Sunil Manohar Gavaskar was selected to play in the 1968 – 69 Ranji season.

  • And on Dec 11th , 1969 India’s greatest Chess player V.Anand was born.

  • 1969 was also the year when many great talents were born. Jennifer Lopez, Steffi Graf , Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Zeta Jones, Mathew Perry (Chandler of Friends), Michael Schumacher, Sheryl Sandberg , Ajay Devgun, Javagal Srinath, Mandakini and Arnab Goswami.

If all of this doesn’t make 1969 the greatest year ever – what will ? No wonder its the topic of a book titled “1969 The year everything changed – By Rob Kirkpatrick

 

 

 

 

Kailash Mansarovar Travel Tips

I feel energised visiting ancient Shiva temples. Having visited the Pancha Bhootha Temples and most of the Jyotirlingas I have had a deep desire to visit Kailash Mansarovar. This materialised between July 30th & Aug 14th in 2018 – a great advance 50th Birthday treat for me. A long and challenging trip that was executed to perfection by the Isha Sacred Walks team.

There is something mystical about Kailash that has drawn pilgrims for thousands of years. Many keep coming again and again. I would say this is how a temple should be – spread over 1000’s of km’s across pristine nature, no rituals, no flowers, no aartis, no poojari – just you and the Lord in direct contact. Kailash Mansarovar,

By the Grace of God and the blessings of the Masters the trip worked out magically. Here is a  summary before I delve into the details

  • We travelled via Lhasa (Bangalore – Kathmandu – Lhasa by flight) and then 1500 km bus drive @ 500 km / day from Lhasa to Mansarovar.
  • Lhasa is at 12,500 feet and Mansarovar – Kailash at 16500/17000 feet. For a perspective Simla is 7000 feet and Leh/Ladakah is 12,000 feet.
  • Our journey was across a fortnight spanning 14 different hotel rooms. Wake up at 5 AM, Pack your bags by 5.30 AM, Guru Pooja and Kriya till 7 AM, Breakfast then start the journey at 8.30 AM driving almost 10 hrs every day. Reach the hotel by 7.30 PM – Dinner – Bath – Sleep. It was a blur as the 14 days whizzed by.
  • Temperatures  ranged from – 5 to 10 degrees, cold and wet, and at times the high altitude sun searing down on you. The challenge of altitude sickness, lack of appetite, tiredness – all of this overcome with one singleminded purpose – the goal to visit and experience  Kailash Mansarovar.

map

The journey in Phases 

Phase – 1 : Planning 

I made my bookings in Dec 2017. I had been hunting for a good reliable agency and finally decided that Isha Sacred walks was the best. They have been at this for years and do a professional job with the highest regard for safety and convenience. This year Isha is conducting passage for 21 groups with ~ 70 people in each group. Thats a total of ~ 1500 Yatris which contributes to almost 15% of all who will visit Kailash Mansarovar. The pre travel communications for packing / medicines / fitness were crisp and efficient.

Phase – 2 : Arrival at Kathmandu  (Day – 1) 

Our assembly point was at Kathmandu. I reached a day early to visit the city and the famous Pashiupathinath Temple (The package covers this on the return leg). Kathmandu looks like a bombed city – dusty, potholed roads, congested, chaotic. We stayed at The Yak & Yeti in central Kathmandu a nice 5 star property. We completed our debrief, tied the Abhaysutra’s, collected our kits (Isha gives you a Duffel bag, back pack, sling bag and a Down jacket on returnable basis), converted currency to Yuan. We were strictly informed to remove all books / T Shirts that had any connotation of “Free Tibet” and travel as Yatris and not activists. One wrong message can put the whole group in jeopardy. Next morning we started with Guru Puja and Kriyas (Something we did every day) and then headed to the airport for the flight to Lhasa with our coordinators.

Phase – 3 : Acclimatisation at Lhasa (Day – 2/3)

The flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa is less than 90 minutes. Clearing immigration was a hassle – the Chinese are not very friendly and it took us over an hour to complete the process. Lhasa at 12500 feet is a modern city, well maintained with the hallmark Chinese infrastructure of broad roads and nice footpaths. We stayed at the Lhasa Mansarovar hotel – a nice spacious property with good facilities. Breakfast was the regular hotel buffet but lunch and dinner were Indian meals cooked specially for us. That was one of the highlights of the trip – we had fresh piping hot Indian food all through the trip.  Mansarovar hotel

The weather in Lhasa was bright and sunny and we had time to visit the ancient Jokhan Temple, The Potala Palace and The Summer Palace. Tibetans are happy friendly people, and they always oblige to take photos. But they seem to be a minority amidst the Chinese population.

The city was disciplined, organised and clean. We spent more time at Lhasa on our return leg and had dinner at a beautiful place, so more about it then.

 

Phase – 4 : Bus Trip from Lhasa to Mansarovar (Day – 4/5/6)

From Lhasa our journey shifted to buses for the next 9 days. Lhasa to Mansarovar is almost 1500 Km and we covered ~ 500 Km / day. Our first stop was at Shigatse, the 2nd largest town of Tibet at 12,500 feet. And this was the shortest drive of the trip for 6 hrs. From Shigatse we drove to Saga and reached a altitude of over 16,000 feet. This was a long day with over 10 hrs of driving. And then from Saga to Mansarovar.

Family trip

As we travelled from Lhasa the quality of the hotels started deteriorating. However, till Saga we had rooms with hot water and bathrooms.

We were lucky to get Indian food all through. Even lunch was packed. Breakfast was Khichdi, Upma, Cereal, Fruits, Milk, Tea, Coffee and lunch was Rice, Dal, Sabji, Rajma, Canned Sweets, Bhujia, Apple etc.

The landscape changes after Lhasa. Tibet is the worlds highest plateau. It’s a cold desert. All you see is undulating plains of grasslands with Yaks and Sheep and hardy nomads. There are no trees.

After reaching Shigaste (12500 feet), I fell sick. A combination of AMS and GERD hit me. I lost my appetite and felt feverish and weak. I rarely fall sick and was a little underprepared with my medicine kit. The YAK Butter, Milk Powder and Puri with Rajma for lunch must have caused the problem in this high altitude zone. Luckily we had doctors travelling with us in the bus and stationed at the hotels. They were checking everyone twice a day and thanks to their support I recovered in a few days.

(Doc in Green T Shirt was a fellow Yatri who was doing Gods own service by treating and helping us. I owe it to him for getting back in shape)Kailash Mansarovar,

On this trip it is best to avoid greasy food. I had carried a lot of “Groundnut Chikki” which I gave away. Figs, dates, biscuits, ginger balls, chocolates , energy bars etc are good to have. The family of Yatris helped me out with medicines and useful supplies all through. It’s amazing how people who you have never never met before come together as a family to help you in your time of need.

If you suffer from GERD or acidity, stick to a light diet. We got bananas and apples every day – so you can stock up on that. Falling sick has nothing to do with age. Our group of 75 had people from 26 – 66 and many of the people in their mid 50’s were the fittest of the lot.

Kathmandu

Diamox to prevent altitude sickness is a must have twice a day. It is recommended to start it 5 days before you leave for Kathmandu. With Diamox you drink a lot of water so that means frequent restroom breaks. Which is a challenge. There are no decent loos on the highway so your breaks are always in the open.  Diamox kept me waking up every hr at night all through the trip adding to the tiredness. At these altitudes its difficult to get a restful 5 hr sleep at night. And I am a super sensitive light sleeper.

Phase – 5 : We reach Mansarovar on Day 6

After 3 days of long drives we finally reached Mansarovar. We stayed at a camp right across the lake. Our camp was a Pucca brick structure room with no attached bath. For the next 4 days we would have to manage with no bathrooms, which was a challenge. The toilets were sink pits inside small tents and with no air circulation, it can be smelly. You have the option of using open air starry sky toilets also – which was a better option. At 4 AM, pitch dark, no power, armed with a torch on your head like a coal miner, wet wipes, toilet paper roll, a rain coat, layers of warm clothing you hunt for a nice starry corner. (Suggestion if you are using the tent loos carry some Camphor with you – the smell of Camphor minimises the stink)

Mansarovar lake

Mansarovar is a large lake. It is mystical and has a close linkage with Kailash. We could see the South Face of Kailash from our camp. Many have seen lights and divine bodies taking a dip at the lake during the Brahma Muhurtam  – we also woke up at 2.30 AM and spent some time but were not lucky to witness any celestial beings.

The next morning we did our meditation and prayers by the lake. It is a serene experience and as you sit quietly you can’t but help choke and feel the tears running down your eyes.travel tipsMany brave souls took a bath in the chill cold water. The authorities don’t allow you to take a dip – so the sherpas get water in drums. Recovering from fever, I splashed water all over my body and it was very refreshing.

Phase – 6 : The final Trek to Kailash – day 7 /8

After breakfast we had a short 1 hr ride to Yam Dwar and started our trek. Many people do the full 72 Km Parikrama that takes 3 days. We did a total of 32 Km (16 Km up and down). Starting from Yam Dwar and walking along the Western face till we reached the Northern face of Kailas where we camped for 2 nights.  We had views of the Southern Face, Western Face and the Northern face.

travel tips

You have an option of taking a pony. Most people walk. Its a easy trek. Broad path, scenic views, fresh air. You can do it comfortably in 4 – 6 hrs.  Good to have a porter as at this altitude even a few 100 grams can tire you out. The porters cost 850 Yuan for the round trip and the Pony costs 2200 Yuan. There are a few stopover points for tea and snacks to catch you breath and warm your hands.

travel tips

I was all set to walk but after 3 days of fever the doctor insisted I take a pony. Isha paid for the pony – which was a wonderful gesture, 2200 Yuan is almost Rs 24,000. The horses are young, wild and very sensitive. We were in a group of 4 horses and the Yatri on the 1st horse opened his umbrella, which got his horse troubled. In the neighing and confusion, my pony suddenly started running and knocked me down. For a few minutes I was in a state of shock, wondering if I had broken bones. Fortunately by the grace of God all was well, the thick jacket had saved me and all I had was a few bruises. In this panick moment I saw the horse man remove my RADO watch – but was in no state to stop him. With little oxygen, your memory loss is high and I forgot the incident. After the fall, I refused to sit on the pony and trekked the remaining way to Kailash and back. It was only late in the evening after I reached Kailash that I realised that my watch was missing. By sheer luck the organisers managed to get it back. Miracles do happen in Kailash.

Kailash Mansarovar,

Kailash is the source of enormous energy. The mountain looks different from others in its vicinity. Its majestic and towering. It draws sadhaks from across religions – Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Tibetans. Many come and spend years drawing energy and knowledge. The 1st Jain Tirthankara Rishaba spent over 7 years, Milarepa the buddhist monk spent many years. Sages, wise men, monks, students are all drawn to the power of Kailash. Some say it was made by extra terrestrials, others say it is the centre of the universe, and the global HQ of energy and power which the puny human mind cannot comprehend. Many holy rivers originate from here. You go to Kailash to dissolve. Not to ask, but to merge and take back a spark of that energy with you. You are lucky if you can connect and get that spark embedded in you.

After you reach Kailash you sit quietly trying to absorb this infinite power. You thank the Gods and the divine masters for a safe journey. And you can sense a catharsis within you as the tears swell up and flow silently. We spent 2 nights at Kailash – I wish we could have spent more. I did get a view of the full mountain, but it was cloudy most of the time. We did not have blue skies and at night could not see the stars. Old timers say that later part of Aug the weather gets clearer.

Our stay at Kailash was also in pucca camps similar to Mansarovar. The toilets were better as they were not tents. they were better designed with open roofs. It snowed at night making it very cold. The rooms were comfortable and the piping hot food was a treat. People started reaching Kailash by 4.30 PM and the last set by 7.30 PM. The sun sets only by 9 PM. Tibet is set to Beijing time so its 2 hrs 30 min ahead of India.

Next morning after breakfast we did our group meditation in front of Kailash and visited the Milarepa Monastery close by. The brave Sherpas went close to the mountain glaciers and collected “Kailash Teertha” for us. Fresh with minerals and the energy of Lord Shiva – one drop is all you need to energise yourself.

Kailash Mansarovar,

Phase – 7 : The Trek Back – Day 9

You dont feel like coming back from Kailash but after 2 nights we had to head back. The return walk is easier. This section is not steep and we touched a max of 17,000 feet. There are however parts of the 72 km Parikrama that are steep and a tough trek with altitude touching 18,000 feet. Many buddhist devotees do the entire Parikrama by prostrating. That takes nearly 45 days to complete. Yak land

Our luggage came by Yak’s. This is Yak land – they are strong wild beasts and the local population survives on everything YAK. From Meat, Wool, Milk, Leather – life in Tibet is tough and would not be possible without the Yaks.

Tibetans are tough people and with all the challenges they are a smiling lot. They may be Buddhists but their religion is steeped in tradition and rites and has a lot of Tantric aspects of Hinduism. They say that when the invaders came the Tantric knowledge of Hinduism was smuggled to Kashmir, Tibet, Nepal & Assam as it was safest here in the remote Himalayas. Somehow from here it managed to find its way to Kerala also.

Kailash Mansarovar,

After 4 days of no bath we finally reached Darchen – to a nice hotel with a bathroom and hot water. What luxuries. A nice warm bath, lovely hot food, contentment, a sense of accomplishment and happiness gave way to a relaxed nights sleep.

Phase – 8 : Back to Lhasa

Over the next 3 days we drove back the long 1500 Km back to Lhasa Via Saga & Shigatse. Most of the drive was along the Brahmaputra that was in spate and we had a few long stop overs were the bridges were broken or landslides had blocked the roads. Small incidents nothing serious. We were lucky.

After reaching Lhasa we  ventured out for dinner to a lovely places called The Tibetan Family Kitchen. Nobody knows a word of english in Lhasa – locating the place was a challenge. After a few misses I was lucky to find a young English speaking couple who escorted me to the restaurant. There are good helpful people everywhere.

Tibetan

The service and food at the restaurant was outstanding. We ordered almost every veg dish (Their speciality was Yak Meat) and enjoyed the meal. The group of 75 was split across 4 buses – we were in Bus 4 and over the last 12 days had built a good camaraderie with the group. Far far away in Lhasa, it was fun dining with a few good people.  The lady who runs the restaurant was the perfect host. She booked us cabs and got us back safely to our hotel. Kailash Mansarovar,

Phase – 9 : Back to Kathmandu

On the 13th of Aug we headed back to Kathmandu. And the jinx of 13th played up for a bit. Our flight almost landed at Kathmandu and then had to turn back to Lhasa as the weather was bad. A short stopover for refuelling and we were headed back to Kathmandu reaching in time for a late lunch at 2.30. the 2 1/2 hr time lag was a blessing.

That evening we had a Satsang with Sadhguru at the Gokarna hotel. Its rare to meet Sadhguru in a small group of 150 people. We were lucky. We were the 1st batch, A1, and there was a batch heading to Kailash the next day. The Satsang was for both groups. Sadhguru was in full flow and enthralled us for almost 2 hrs in an interactive session.

Phase – 9 : Back to Bangalore

Aug 14th we headed back to Bangalore. We had left on July 30th. It was day 16. We had covered a lot and had accumulated memories for a lifetime. We had survived on an adrenalin rush till now and as I sunk into the  Jet Airways seats, I was overcome by exhaustion. It’s going to take a few days to recover. Something tells me that this is not the last trip – I will head back again to Kailash again in the near future. And as I sign off a special thanks to our team lead from Isha, the young Pooja from the ashram, who did a stellar job with her band of volunteers in managing and coordinating this trip so well. A big thanks to the volunteers, sherpas, cooks, all the support staff who make this trip possible and the friendly helpful fellow yatris who were like family forging new bonds.

Kailash Mansarovar,

Other Tips 

  • Travel light. Dont pack too many woollens, reuse. Ensure 3 sets of Thermals, Undergarments change every day, Socks for every 2 days. Dress in layers.
  • Carry healthy food – Dates/Figs/Biscuits/Chocolates/Energy Bars/Gur/ Something salty – helps to munch something in the long bus rides.
  • Carry 2 – 3 pairs of Gloves, Caps, Mufflers – they tend to get misplaced. A good raincoat is a must. Wear ziplocks over your your socks so that they dont get wet as you trek.
  • Pack all your clothes in Ziplocks / Plastic covers. Use number locks for duffel bags.
  • Carry a flask for hot water and a regular water bottle.
  • A head torch can be very useful
  • Medicines I ended up having – Dymox, Domistal, Omniprosol, Allegra, Azithrol, Dexam, B Complex. (Carry the list that Isha subscribe – http://www.sacredwalks.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/First-Aid-Kit.pdf
  • Packing suggestions : http://www.sacredwalks.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/E-Brochures/Kailash-Packing-Suggestions.pdf
  • There is network connectivity available in almost all the places including Kailash & Mansarovar. Battery pack is needed only at Kailash & Mansarovar.
  • Hotels in China have Wi Fi – but FB/ WhatsApp / Google are banned – activate Airtel Roaming pack before you travel.
  • How much does this cost? Ex Kathmandu 2.85 Lacs. Flight to Kathmandu, 1 extra night stay, Porter, Misc etc add 30 K – so thats a total of 3.15 Lacs for the trip/person.

A few more Views from the trip

 Mythily with the bus drivers friend 
Kailash Mansarovar,

A Tibetian lady selling flowers at the Jokhan temple Kailash Mansarovar,

Meghna & Vikramjit Travel tips

Playing TT at the park at Shigatse Playing TT at the park at Shigatse

Afternoon view of KailashKailash Mansarovar

A performer / model near the Potala Palace Kailash Mansarovar

Community dance at Park at ShigatseCommunity dance at Park at Shigatse

Locals we met Enroute
Kailash Mansarovar

Mustard fields on the road to Saga Kailash Mansarovar

Room at Lhasa

Day Trip 19 – Rangasthala, An ancient Vishnu temple at Chikkaballapur near Bangalore

An ancient Vishnu temple that was built by the Cholas and later developed by the Vijayanagara empire, Rangasthala in Tippanahalli village, Chikkaballapur around 70 Km from Bangalore is a well kept secret. (Locals claim that the temple is over a 1000 years old and the main shrine was installed by the Sapta Rishis in the Treta Yuga)

Surrounded by misty hills and green fields lies this beautiful temple of lord Vishnu. The idol of Ranganatha is 4.5 feet in length with Bhoo Devi and Neela Devi at His feet. Lord is in Yoga Nidra and his Shesha (Lord Vishnus Snake) is spreading his hood like an umbrella. The idol is beautifully sculpted out of Black Saligrama stone and it is believed that the sanctum sanctorum was installed by the Sapta Rishis. Locals state that if devotees visit this temple after  Adi Ranga in Srirangapatna, Madhya Ranga in Shimsha and Anta Ranga in Srirangam, they achieve liberation or moksha. Hence the Lord is known as Moksha Ranganatha.

We were lucky to witness the elaborate “Abhishekam” of the Lord in Milk, Curd, Sandal etc with the divine chanting of mantras. A rare sight and the priests had no objections to photography and video. And guess what – we were the only people in the temple seated right next to the sanctum sanctorum.

On the wall there are sculptures of Saptarishis, Brahma, Rambha, Urvashi etc. It feels like the Lord is in Vaikunta and he is surrounded by all the gods who are prostrating in front of him.

The temple is serene and peaceful and its a joy to sit quietly and soak in the energy and vibrations exuding from its premises. On a weekday its empty.

The architecture of the temple is very “Chola” with the intricately sculptured pillars that support the temple. It is very well maintained and clean.

Adjacent to the temple is a large step well. That is currently not operational. But one can visualise how beautiful it would have been when it was brimming with water.

We left temple at 11.15 AM and reached our lunch place at Race Course Road –  South Ruchis Square exactly at 1 PM.  This is a newly opened pure veg restaurant that serves Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. I would call this Bangalore’s nicest fine dining S Indian restaurant. Nice interiors, good service and most importantly the food was sumptuous. You have a choice of a regular S Indian Thali or Millet Thali. Lots and lots of varieties in the Thali. And guess what, its priced at a very affordable Rs 180/-. This was the second great find of the day.

Other useful points

  • Drive Time from Koramangla Via Devanahalli Airport ~ 2 Hrs. Breakfast stop – Udupi Swaada. Nice place with clean bathrooms. Lots of restaurants on this stretch. We left Koramangla at 7.30 AM and reached our breakfast halt (10 Km after the airport) at 8.45 AM and after a leisurely tasty breakfast were at the temple at 9.45 AM. The last 15 Km are thru the town of Chikkaballapur, roads are good – last 1 Km is mud road. Google maps gets you to the temple correctly.
  • Budget 60 – 90 Minutes at the temple.
  • On the way back if you have time you can stop at the Devanahalli fort where Tipu Sultan was born. You can see it as your drive on the highway. Inside the fort there is another Vishnu temple. We had a 3.30 PM return deadline so could not cover this.
  • A Shirdi Sai Baba temple on the main road between Chickballapur and Devanahalli is also worth visiting
  • Back home at Koramangla 2.15 PM.

A beautiful documentary on this temple by Hackberry that I found on YouTube


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For other fascinating day trips in and around Bangalore visit below

Explore Bangalore – 21 Curated Day Trips

 

 

From Technology Outsourcing to Social Entrepreneurship – The journey of Dr Sridhar Mitta

As part of A Few Good People – This blog features Dr Sridhar Mitta, a pioneering visionary who not only established Wipro as a global leader in Technology Outsourcing but also built the foundation for the industry. Dr Mitta has influenced the lives of thousands and on this Guru Purnima I would like to pay my respects to this wonderful man.  

In 1980 when a young 30 year old walked into Wipro’s nascent Information Technology Division as a founding employee he achieved two things. He helped catapult Wipro into a Global Technology giant and set the ball rolling to position India as a Global Outsourcing hub.

 Dr Sridhar Mitta, Bangalore in 1980, with a population of ~ 2M was a quaint little town deserving the sobriquet of a pensioners paradise and a hub of  Research Institutes. The Janata government had shown the door to IBM, The PC was yet to be discovered, Infosys did not exist and the Indian Rupee was trading at 1 USD = Rs 7.86.

This was also the time when a young Azim Premji (AHP) at the helm of Wipro was hungry to expand. Whether it was vision or chance one would never know – but AHP who always had the knack for identifying great talent hired Ashok Narasimhan (A smart savvy financial controller from Telco) and Dr Mitta. Between them they were tasked to build the IT / Technology business at Wipro. 

Dr Mitta armed with a MTech from IIT Kharagpur and a PhD in Control Systems from Oklahoma State University (He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009) was the right choice for Wipro. He was a visionary but hands on. A wonderful team player he was crystal clear on the road ahead as he went about it step by step with determination and passion.

I recollect my first interaction with him in 1992. At our induction  program he  predicted that in the coming years the PC would be like a telephone, just a black box – and the whole attention would be on Software and Services. How right he was.

Over the next 20 years the successful trio of AHP, Ashok Soota and Dr Mitta built Wipro into a global giant. (Mr Ashok Soota took over as the President of Wipro Infotech from Ashok Narasimhan in 1984)

 Dr Sridhar MittaSridhar Mitta celebrates his birthday with Mr Premji, Ashok Soota & Sudip Banerjee

The first phase between 1980 and 1990 was the “Make in India” journey. Intel was coming out with blazing fast microprocessors and Wipro started building multi-user Minicomputers the S86, S286, S386, Landmark 486, Pentium based Synergy series etc. some of them based on the Unix operating system

Designing a Multi Processing Computer in the 80’s was not easy. Remember there was no Internet and Google. The R&D team under Dr Mitta built deep expertise in Chip design, Board design, Operating System, Compilers, Interoperability, Testing and all the zillion things that go into making a reliable high end system.

Dr Mitta recalls that in those days Wipro was the 1st choice for any IIT Graduate because of the quality of work and company ethics. People, Process & Technology were the bedrock for the R&D team and that was Wipro’s positioning for many years. Quality work always gets noticed and global tech companies like Intel started exploring partnerships with Wipro’s R&D team.  This would prove to be the foundation for the next wave of innovation. 

 R&D teamThe young engineers from Global R&D. Most have grown to be Tech entrepreneurs,CTO's and CEO's of leading companies

By the early 90’s it was evident that the India was liberalising. HCL had tied up with HP, Compaq had an alliance with Microland. All the large players were beginning  to make an entry. They had global scale and size and it would be unviable to try and compete with them in manufacturing given the small size of the Indian market.

The visionary in Dr Mitta saw an opportunity amidst this threat. He started contacting his friends  in the US who were working in large Tech companies like Intel, Sun, Tandem and NCR. The bold pitch was to ask for projects that could be done by his team of highly qualified engineers from India. He was crystal clear that there would be no body shopping (The model that software exporters had adopted initially).

The going was not easy as foreign travel needed RBI permission and there were strict controls on the amount of Forex you could carry. He recollects – “We survived on less than $50 a day living with friends and at times eating one meal a day. It was tough. But we were fired with a mission.” Infrastructure, power and network bandwidth were the other challenges that the team had to surmount.

Doing work remotely needed a strong process. Wipro led the industry in embarking for ISO and later CMM certification. This gave a high degree of comfort to clients on the process maturity of the company. Thus was born Tech Outsourcing from India. A wave that has transformed the lives of millions and positioned India globally.

Dr Mitta      Dr Mitta with the numerous awards won by Wipro Global R&D

After that there was no looking back as Wipro’s R&D transformed to Global R&D executing high end work for tech giants in US, Europe & Japan.This was when Dr Mitta decided to explore his entrepreneurial calling. After a 20 year stint at Wipro starting as employee No 1 he had now become the President of Wipro Global R&D. But deep down the technologist in him was itching for doing more innovative work that would impact society.

He spent a decade in EnThink and E4E two innovative startups. EnThink was an Intellectual Property design and licensing start-up located in silicon valley. At E4E  he helped develop the concept of EAP – Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program working closely with TIE (A Global organisation fostering entrepreneurship). By now he had seen the challenges of the rapidly growing IT Industry in Indian cities. It was time to connect the dots and bring his 40 years of experience in creating something new and innovative. This led to the creation of NextWealth.

While conceptualising NextWealth he met the legendary Dr C.K.Prahlad who spent a lot of time with Dr Mitta and finally concurred that his basis for NextWealth was foolproof. Dr Mitta still remembers his advice ” Think beyond Best Practice, invent the NextPractice – The next big business model“.  The founders wanted the company to be named NextPractice but since that domain was not available they settled for NextWealth.

Dr Mitta           Dr Mitta with Anand Talwai & Mythily Ramesh

NextWealth was Co – Founded with leaders from Wipro and the team of Dr Mitta, Anand Talwai, S.R.Gopalan and Mythily Ramesh steering it ahead.

NextWealth was created to add social value through entrepreneurship. The company has a unique business model that solves many of the challenges of the day.

  1. The Vision of the company is to provide 10,000 jobs in smaller towns. They call it The Distributed Delivery model.
  2. Each job generates 5 ancillary jobs and kick starts the local economy. NextWealth promotes not just employment but overall economic development in smaller towns.  “40 Years back Bay Area outsourced work to India 5000 miles away so why can’t Indian companies outsource work 500 miles away in their own backyard? Questions Dr Mitta.
  3. A lot of good talent is available in smaller towns at very affordable prices. This kills two birds with one stone – Lower costs and almost nil attrition.

The company identifies business opportunities and partners with entrepreneurs in smaller towns. The local entrepreneur runs the centre with  inputs from the experienced leadership team at NextWealth. The company has now partnered with competent entrepreneurs in smaller towns like Salem, Chittoor, Mysore, Hubli and Bhilai and has established its business model with many customers.

Over the last few years NextWealth has delivered with some very demanding Global & Indian customers in eCommerce, Finance, IT & Retail. Their core expertise is on deriving insights from Digital Data that can be monetized by blending people and automation. The focus areas are

  • Customer Interaction
  • Assisted Digitisation &
  • Business Process Management

It is a Win Win formulae for Customers, Employees and the Entrepreneur. A mid sized company that can scale rapidly and deliver quality output at very affordable rates. Quality of staff is good and with the right training and mentoring the staff excelled. And it was no surprise that more than 50% of the staff are women.

NextWealth

I visited their largest centre near Salem. It was buzzing with energy. The process & security standards were foolproof. NextWealth supports over 40 customers in a variety of high end digital services. (Judgemental, Cognitive, Analytics, Lead management and Lead conversion customer support) and is meeting metrics ever day and every week

Backed with the vision and operational depth of Dr Mitta and his leadership team NextWealth is now ready to take on large complex projects. The proof of concept phase is over. NextWealth is now ready to accelerate this proven model. It is truly delivering its promise “Human Touch to Digital processes”. 

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