Dwaraka

Not a place for tourists is what it looks like. And neither do the people one encounters makes you change that opinion. 90% of them visiting dwaraka would be for religious purpose.
What have you got in dwaraka, click here.

When we reached Dwaraka we were around 30mins away from mangal aarthi. That is where the stay at Hotel Nand Nandan is recommended. Click here for review of hotel. Clean rooms with A/C and friendly staff and about 200mts from the main temple. When you visit the temple make sure you leave everything back in the room except the wallet. During aarthi time the crowd just goes bonkers. There is a separate section for ladies and gents. Atleast the gents section there is no problem and they just follow the line till front of God, few seconds and out. In the ladies side its actually a made rush.
There is lot of architecture on the temple and some interesting stuff where it looks like balcony areas on the top. There is some work ongoing also. Different denominations available to get prasadam. One thing to remember is people here don’t say “thank you” but “jai sri krishna”.

There are lot of shops around and its pretty old city with narrow streets and lot of shops to eat. Of course one should not miss out “steamed dhkola”.

There are lot of temples around depends on the visitor’s interest. If you want to visit all the temples its a tightly packed schedule. One cannot miss the ride on jetty across to Beth Dwaraka and this should definitely be on the trip chart. Its a short ride and Beth Dwaraka is apparently the residence of Krishna. There are lot more of the city under the sea. Once you get down from the boat to go to temple you could also sit on to the cart and there is a guy who would pull you up. Don’t miss out the food served at the temple “bhojanalya”. In Beth Dwaraka, one could also walk till the other ends of the island. To the end we walked is the crematorium with a temple and a mosque next to it. Its almost like the tip point. Then wait for the jetty back to Dwaraka.

Once back to Dwaraka, head to sunset point in the evening and enjoy watching the sun go down. Then end the day with “steamed dhokla”! 2 plates of that and ones dinner would be done.

For photos click here.

Gir

The royal beast, king of the jungle, lion calling. Not part of the initial plan of the tour was later modified just to see the Asiatic Lions. The only park for lions in India and one other in Africa. To know more about the national park, click here.

This definitely was enough to include in the plan. Did some readings of available hotels on tripadvisor. The entire tour was ad-hoc with no hotel bookings.
From Mumbai we drove and drove through National Highway, State Highway, on wrong route. Till later in the evening re-routed to correct direction towards Sasan Gir. In villages typically by 8:00pm all shops would close down and by 9:00pm there wouldn’t be any soul on the road. Had to hurry up and reached Sasan Gir by 9:30pm. With lot of reviews and quite late went directly to Gir Birding Lodge. Luckily they had rooms available. Without further thought, put all our luggage. The best part is we were damn hungry. They did not have enough vegetables. Still they managed an excellent meal which was way beyond the initial discussion and our expectation. We would have been happy even with curd rice at that time. To read my review of the place you could click here. They cook food right there and three times a day. Evening snacks are also available.

Next day, I woke up to sounds of peacock. I went all over the place and was pleasantly surprised to see that this lodge shares coumpound wall with the national park. With no sightings of peacock, I returned disappointed and when I sat down in front porch of the room they just cross across. This lodge is lucky in that way. Basically a mango farm and with such proximity to national park, animals jump in every now and then. And there are umpteen types of birds. I kept clicking on whatever bird was spotted since I do not know almost all their names.

To visit the national park one has to go to “Sinh Sadan” stand in the queue and get a ticket. There is also an option to book safari online. If you stand in the queue for a ticket, one has to be there good 3hrs before safari time atleast. Safari timings are 6:00am and 3:30pm. We managed to spot 4 lions out of 411 lions which are there inside. All 15 vehicles would not go in same direction. There is also a tribal sect who reside inside the forest.

This is true with all national parks. The safari would not go into dense areas. They would take you in areas which are marked. One reason could be for security of visitors and also prevent animals from getting troubled by over-excited tourists. How much ever is communicated, the tourists loudly exclaim their happiness on seeing lion! Lion being king of jungle does not attack until provoked or extremely hungry.
For a visit to national parks, it would make sense to tie up or get badge from organisations like National Geographic. Atleast for us we were not satisfied with just going around and not exploring further.

Hearing to sounds of birds, bright blue peacock is just enough to spend time outside the national park.

For photos click here.

Mushroom Kuzhambu (Sambhar) – Recipe

Another new stuff that I tried out.

Ingredients:

Mushroom – 300gms
Potato – 100gms
Tomato – 50gms (1 piece)
Onion – 1 piece
Grated Coconut – 1/2cup
Sombu (Fennel Seeds) – 2 spoons
Black Pepper – 1 spoon
Sambar Powder – 2 spoons
Green Chillies – 4 pieces
Turmeric powder – 1/4 spoon
Cloves (Krambhu) – 2 pieces
Cinnamon – 1 long piece
Oil
Salt – (to taste)

Recipe:

Make a paste of coconut, sombu, black pepper and little onion.

Cut onions, potatoes, tomatoes, mushroom (after cleaning).
Slice green chillies.

In a pan, add oil and mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds pop up, add mashed cinnamon and cloves. Then add green chillies and fry it. Followed by onion, tomatoes. After couple of minutes, add potatoes. Half fry the potatoes. Now add mushroom. And put sambar powder, turmeric powder and salt.
Close the pan with lid and fry till mushrooms become soft.

Add the grinded paste. Mix the contents. Add water and allow it to boil.
Garnish with coriander leaves or coriander powder.
Mix well.

Mushroom kuzhambu is now ready to be served with chappatis or rice.

Run the Rann 2014

15th February 2014 early morning 5:00am, am up and ready dressed for what is probably going to be the toughest run that I would have ever done so far. A quick breakfast, water bag packed and waist belt packed. Few chocolate bars, enerzal, kit for wound. With almost all mandatory stuff packed. By 7:00am all runners, running the 101kms, 42kms and 21kms are ready and getting into the bus to be dropped at start point which is at Dholaveera.
I was in the 42kms category. One of my colleague Gokul and myself have already decided to stay together for the entire course come what may. We heard lot about the terrain for the run and now we were going to experience it. It is pretty much cold in the morning. Nowhere close to Bangalore chillness.

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We start off with the salt lake to the left, sun slowly rising up on the right. A very beautiful ball of sun. We maintain a steady pace on the marsh sometimes leg slipping into the marsh and sometimes hard surface of the salt sand. Little later we go up towards the hilly section. In the course we find not at all places we would be able to run and even if we run not at the same pace. There are rocks or stones and at times leg trips over it.

It is so far not tough to be on the route with red ribbons tied to either the thorn bushes or fixed on small flag posts. Moving further we still trip over stones and keep climbing up and down. Then out of blue we find rocky terrain where we need to climb up holding to rocks. And same is the situation when climbing down. There are water stations at regular intervals within 4-5kms distance. So far so good.
And then starts more twist to the terrain. There is a red ribbon flag post and looking down its like jump down and down and down or scroll down holding to rocks. Around 18kms mark which is where we turn left (101kms and 42kms runners) and the 21kms runners turn right. There are few runners who did miss the ribbons and get into different directions and were brought back on track.
At this around same distance there is a runner from Mexico who also joins us. We three stay together. We stayed together till the end from here on. At a point on top of cliff we scream our lungs out for a short video. Gokul has a problem with his right knee and the way he was running was dangerous for his leg. Our mexican friend had a bandage for the pain and I found a sharp stone to cut the bandage. The pain was more due to constant tripping over rocks. Of course we always maintained not to fall down at any point of time which would have been very bad. I took regular photos to fill memories later date. And there were fossil rocks too.

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We cross some more aid stations and the distance told to us is 12kms to finish line at each station. We are motivated but actually not when the next station also tells us the same. In one of the aid station I give my water bag since it was leaking from both sides and filled with water bottles instead. We maneuver towards 28th kms mark where there is a station and school kids and their teachers standing with placards written ‘Welcome’ and the kids shouting ‘welcome welcome’ beating drums and clapping. We fill water bottles, orange, pour water on head, convey our mandatory thanks and climb up the rocky hill again and turn right, the left turn on top is for 101kms runners.

We could see the salt lake and the marsh and we were like we are almost there. From 12kms to finish line now we graduated to 14kms to finish line. When we got down it was not towards salt lake but rather into sand. Now we were mixing a bit of jog and walk and jog and walk. Not to leave behind the sun is rather sharp on us. 28kms in around 4hours I think. My garmin had got reset at around 21kms and was doing another lap. In the beach sand or river sand we were there and at occasional times found shade from the thorn bushes. Now I was also cramping up. I cannot blame this time that I did not drink enough water. I was drinking water regularly that I was also able to feel my stomach filled with water, enerzal, orange, choci.

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We are again walking and mixing walk-jog. We are getting tired. The only thing that keeps pushing us is the remaining distance to the finish line which would be around 10kms. So, by approximation we are sure by 6.5hrs we would at the finish line. We are already basking ourselves in the proud feeling. At the next station we are told 15kms to reach. Our mind starts acting crazy. Is there any other option. We cannot drop out. Though heat is getting on to us. Some more gatorade, glucose, water. Finally after another 5kms we are onto the salt lake marsh and to the next aid station only to hear another 15kms to finish line.

This is where we 3 being together helped. Either one of used to walk ahead so that none of us would drop out. Lot of times we would be walking together. Heat is on us. And its just plain salt lake with no living being in sight. We try to walk fast but we are also slowing down.
Now I don’t even remember what all we talked about. We talked about our work, our personal life and many things under the sun, literally! Yes literally under the sun. By now, I had taken the hanky from my bag and tied it around my head, was constantly pouring water to keep it wet and wore cap on top of it.
This talking helped us and we were sure that at every other aid station the distance would be still 12kms to finish line. Long stretches of marsh and pits in between, salt deposits, bright sunshine.
With all the struggle we reach the last aid station! What a relief, no words to describe. Now we are definitely going to reach the finish line. Walked again, took some rest, walked again. We had absolutely no more energy to run or to jog. Took another quick break and in the last 50mts, we 3 jogged together past the finish line to all claps and cheers and a medal put on to our neck.

What a feeling. We check the garmin stats and we had run 53kms. We definitely were not going to complain for the extra distance. It was not extra by 1-2kms by 11kms. Why would we complain when we feel more proud of having done the ultra while actually registering for 42kms.
We were not alone in our distance calculation, every other runner had the same stats!

Running on flat roads was good to be fit but am sure only after couple of such trail runs is when I would feel confident. But still there could be surprises!

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Mumbai Marathon 2014

Almost 3yrs since I ran my last full marathon I was too tempted and motivated to run Mumbai Marathon this year. And begin the calendar year of running.
Last few marathons had been half marathons and the last half marathon was The Wipro Chennai Marathon in December 2013 where I ran in 2hrs2mins.

That also kicked off my practice for Mumbai. I ran almost 3days a week covering about 45-60+kms in a week. And was also consistent with my stretches. I did not get injured which put me off previously.

18th January was a day of bib collection and some smooth food which would not impact the stomach. 19th january was the d-day. All set with my usual running attire we walked towards the start point and I got off at section C. I had my usual pouch which contained chocolate bar, 200ml water bottle, lemon pieces and garmin watch. I did not want watch on my hand since I felt it would tempt me to keep looking at the watch. I moved out of the start line by around 5:45am, 5mins after the flag off.
I managed to maintain steady pace and met a colleague and friend Gokul. We both managed same pace sometimes up and down. When I felt like having a refreshment I was happy to see oranges which I grabbed few and held in my hand. At regular intervals kept eating bits of orange. I did not feel like stopping for water nor enerzal. At a point where i did not find orange I grabbed enerzal and drank half of it.

Post 20kms, we were out of sea link. This was one stretch I was not very comfortable previously. Almost 5kms on this sea link was a perfect run on this day with a perfect weather and the orange ball of sun rising up. Maintaining the same speed the kms kept increasing and the distance to end point was closing up.
30kms over, 33kms over and then it stuck. I was cramping up on left knee and then right thigh. Not having water was a big mistake which i was realising now. I walked few meters, ran few meters. Alternating between walking and running, I was able to cross few more kms. Managed to get bottle of water to pour on my head, sponge to squeeze water off, enerzal to drink. With this I inched towards 40kms mark. Then I was determined no more walking and slowly kept running. Fortunately, I was not cramping up. But sadly I saw the 4hr15mins bus crossing by.
That was it. No more turning back, just push off with whatever strength was there in the body. With that as motto, I ran and ran. Seemed like longest km and was very happy to see the clock reading 4hrs15mins when I crossed over the finish line. I was happy but no energy left, dragged towards refreshment counter to collect some water bottles and my medal.

Thats it, I have done it was first expression. I was comfortable throughout the run and my best run in Mumbai and my personal best timings.

Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2014 – Marathon 5:40 Start Back
Bib Number 5336
Name SATHISH KRISHNASWAMY
Gender MALE
Category OPEN
Overall Rank 496
Category Rank 361
Gender Rank 470
Split@10.5 Km 0:58:14 at an Avg Speed of 10.82 Kmph
Split@15 Km 1:22:58 at an Avg Speed of 10.85 Kmph
Split@20.1 Km 1:51:16 at an Avg Speed of 10.84 Kmph
Split@21.1 Km 1:56:44 at an Avg Speed of 10.85 Kmph
Split@27 Km 2:29:41 at an Avg Speed of 10.82 Kmph
Split@29.2 Km 2:42:47 at an Avg Speed of 10.76 Kmph
Split@30.3 Km 2:49:10 at an Avg Speed of 10.75 Kmph
Split@31.5 Km 2:56:38 at an Avg Speed of 10.7 Kmph
Net Time 4:15:36 at an Avg Speed of 9.9 Kmph
Gross Time 4:20:31

Thats the statistics on 19th january!

My training as recorded in dailymile was:
October 2013 – 114kms
November 2013 – 73kms
December 2013 – 198kms
January 2014 – 136kms

This was what helped me cross the line comfortably. Thanks to doctor Gladson Johnson of Attitude Prime who helped me with stretches.

Veeram (Tamil) – Movie Review

If Vijay movie has been released then it cannot be without Ajith movie. Of course the fan following of Ajith in cities is more than Vijay as is evident by the amount of whistling in theaters.

The saving grace for this movie is Santhanam for his comedy and he has not gone overboard with his stuff. Most of the comedy is in the first half. And in the second half while we almost forget Santham, he comes in. Not that it makes much impact to the movie further on.

Tamanna has done her role though there are not much expressions that she can showcase. Of course she does her bit by the exposure of her navel as with many other movies of her. She does have a role here.

Ajith even though has a body which is not able to move quick and fast unlike Vijay, does suit for this role. Ajith as the elder brother who brings up other 4 brothers does show lot of maturity. Ajith is an eyesore when it comes to dance even though Devi Sri Prasad has done his bit of giving mass songs.

Ajith does not believe in marriage because it would separate him and the brothers. Everything turns around when Tamanna moves into the house next to his.

overall can be skipped. I would rate it as 2/5 just for Santhanam and Devi Sri Prasad!

Jilla (Tamil) – Movie Review

Another of only hero type movie. Vijay our hero, Kajal Agarwal as heroine, Mohanlal and Parota Soori.
Kajal Agarwal one would wonder why she is there in a hero subject except hero gripping her back as a revenge return for what Kajal Agarwal did to Vijay.
I believe movies today should also show another warning message “Eve-teasing is an offence and not encouraged except in movies”.

What is the story?
Vijay (Shakhti) sees his father killed by a cop and hates anyone in khakhi uniform. He brought up by Mohanlal (Shiva). Mohanlal is a don and to get even with police force puts vijay into the force.
By turn of events Vijay starts his action against Mohanlal to prevent him from doing anything wrong further. This brings Mohanlal to remove ties with Vijay and also kill him.

What would happen towards the end is anybody’s guess.

Movie has nothing much to offer. Songs would be forgotten, nothing on comedy front, Kajal Agarwal doesn’t do anything big.
Background score is also disappointment.
Vijay’s usual punch dialogues go without any punch.

Could be avoided. My rating 1.5/5.