Saturday, April 30, 2011

First Impression

Unknowingly the subconscious mind is always at work, we try to draw conclusions within a few seconds of seeing something or someone. The first impression that we derive is actually a product of our unconscious calculations based on our past experiences, beliefs and likings. This initial gut feeling is of great value, I have heard people say I just felt it, I knew it, it was love at first time, I knew we are going to win, I knew he was genuine, I felt it was not right etc..

Correctness of the first impression cannot be generalized to avant-garde stuff. Specially when a product is new and first of its type and not stereo typical the first impression will not be accurate. In Malcolm Gladwell's excellent book on First Impressions called as "Blink", he talks about the Aeron Chair, which generated some of the worst first impressions, including being named as the "Chair of Death". This chair defied all initial market research to get itself establish itself as the best selling chair in the particular companies history. The trick was the product got some lucky breaks and the management believed in it.
Aeron's Chair

Another classic example of misjudged first impression that I too shared with a lot of other people was on the music of AR Rahman. I can remember time and time again when he makes a new release I always think its not my cup of tea but over time getting addicted to them. I can still remember listening songs of the gentlemen movie for the first time and thinking its crap, but then later starting to like the very same thing. I think it was because his type of music was not the genre of music I had got used to. He was at a juncture of redefining Tamil listeners taste bud, which upto then was used to Illayarajah's melodies.

So when it comes to innovations, the first impressions, initial feedback at times turns out to be negative, this is the point at which product developers should be sharp and be capable of identifying whether are we talking about something new so that the masses don't grasp it still or is it a case of absolute crap which will never be liked. I can draw a comparison to something I have in hand, but will reserve it for now!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sunsets and sun rises

I have an unconditional liking to take sunrise and sun set pictures. I love the colors, serenity and the calmness of it. I have almost always tried to capture it every where I go. I was wondering how I had got this liking. I am not naturally artistic, obviously I should have had some inspiration from somewhere, but until recently I didn't know how I got this.

flying highSun between leavesthe dawn

Now I think I found the answer, its again a Maniratnam movie effect, Look at this song, the timing at which the song has been shot. I had grown up watching and admiring too much of this!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tips for writing Official Mails

1. Always start the mail addressing people, its not nice to send a mail without an addressing section - Say, Hi, Dear or etc followed by the recipients name. Sender/customer might have done it, but trying to reply the same way brings down your own caliber.

2. Add the right people to the TO and CC, don't mix them up

3. Adding everyone in the planet to the CC list doesn't usually help the purpose, recipients usually become very defensive

4. Writing a mail or parts of it in capital is usually interpreted as screaming

5. Making the whole mail bold or writing in giant font size is usually considered insulting.

6. Use the words please, Thank you

7. Start the mail by greeting if there had been some important event for the recipient in the recent past can be new year, award to person or company etc. (If its around the corner you might want to mention it at the end of the mail)

8. When you using Email Signatures make sure the details are correct and they are your own details

9. Read the mail one or few times and see whether if it sounds right before sending it to a customer.

10. Never send mails without a subject line. Always make sure a meaningful subject line is added.

11 Never forward a mail which has been sent as confidential to anyone else

12. Never forward mail threads with past internal communication sequences to customers

I know that its pretty ironical that the man who supposedly personifies the definition of rudeness to say this, but these simple stuff can actually help the people in professional environments specially with customers.

The following Is the Comment by JK on the Buzz for this Blog,

Jeyakumaran Chandrasegaram - 1) The timing of the email. When do you think the recipient would get it? Morning, evening or after hours?

2) Subject should never just be "Hi"

3) Dear followed by Title (Mr/Mrs/Ms) surname. Hi followed by first name

4) Address to the person in the TO list. If many are in TO list use "Hi Both", if many "Hi All" just saying "Hi" considered ignorant.

5) Think if you are the recipient would you understand the content. Don't just dump the information alone. But the flow and explaining the context is importance.

6) Numbered points are nice, so people can give inline replies. Use different colors when replying if possible.

Note: Since we know we are rude, we makesure we don't sound so in our emails!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Community Building

In recent times, inspired by the community building activities my company undertakes, I had been reading different community building strategies. A few points always pop up during these discussions, they are creating a tipping point, crossing the chasm etc. These are all books of indisputable caliber and must reads if you want to understand the behavioral characteristics of the communities. Anyway, there is one community building video which I picked on TED talks, never fails to impress me, every time you watch it, I say damn it, its so true.

Believe it or not I was trying to drill home a point with a set of customers, and this was the trump card I used to communicate, it was almost a 3 minute crash course on community building, I cannot ask them to read all those books but I could always make them watch a 3 minute video. This video made my day!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jakarta Travel Tips

Since I started this daily blogging exercise, this is the first travel I had undertaken. Seems like the going has got tough, but someone told me that, when the going gets tough the tough gets going ;)

Btw I should be greatly thankful to the kind people who had come up with suggestions for my future blog topics. But you do not have to list them on skype status just send me a mail :P

Jakarta is a nice place, its just that old lady (or is it old fat lady) who might not agree on this. But the people are usually relaxed,  nice and warm. Just remember the following when in here,

urban sunrise
Sun rise in Jakarta

1. As soon as you get out of the air port, you can get your money exchanged at the counter just outside the arrival lounge, and then you can find taxi touts there, always use the blue bird(executive taxi service). They are good and reliable. You can get a fixed price to the location you want to goto, from air port, or you can go on the metered rate (yes they do have meter), but when on meter you need to pay for the toll separately. They have the SUVs too, if you want to be a bit posh ;)
2. When you exchange money don't be surprised to find that you all of a sudden become a millionaire. :D. Count it right you need to deal in thousands and lakhs here.
3. Don't expect too many drivers to understand English and specially with an Indian or Sri Lankan accent.
4. Make sure you have 150,000 rupiah left in your hand when you go for departure, you need to pay that as departure fees.
5. The traffic jams are notorious, Friday afternoons , Monday mornings and after office hours can be really bad, and you can get stuck for hours.So if you are going to the airport, locals will advice you to get to air port as early as possible, just do it.
6. The weather changes very quickly and place is known for flooding and the worst that can happen is to get stuck in traffic on a rainy day.
7. Apparently theres alot of shopping malls here and they are pretty up market places offering reasonable prices.
8. btw if you are a vegetarian, good luck,, pack your survival kit.


Traffic building up in Jakarta

Monday, April 25, 2011

Embracing CMMI and Organizational Culture

This blog is almost turning out into a travel blog, so finally I decide to break away from the shell I had got into and finally wrote about something else :D

CMMI as we know is a model for process improvement, its not a process by itself, its a set of guidelines for organisations/units to implement their own process and help the organization to improve performance . From what I have been observing in recent times, organisations who want to adopt this should give greater consideration to decide whether CMMI is the right route for them. Its now becoming a fad and it seems that organizations get drawn to it without much consideration.

A fundamental rule for organisational acquisitions is to actually compare and contrast the core values of the two organizations involved in the merger. When the organizations in a acquisition/merger have contrasting core values the chances of failure is high. It doesn't apply only to organizations, but also to human relationships (specially the more intimate ones) where people who have contrasting core values will find it hard to get on together. Its a proven time tested fact.

In the same way when an organization wants to embrace CMMI model, they should closely scrutinize the assumptions/values on which the CMMI model is based.  As I understand the following can be considered as the core values of CMMI.

1. If commonly held values in the organization are strictly adhered to the chances of the organizational success is more. I would put it as an approach where you have a "cookie cutter" model.
2. Historical success formula is repeatable
3. Projects done are of similar nature
4. Organization is medium to big scale, where enough empathize and resourcing can be given to process improvements.
5. Large proportion of the work is expected to be done in the standardized way.

If an organization wants to embrace CMMI i think they should compare and see whether if they are already there or whether if they want to get there.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Very often I am asked by people why I like Kandy so much, sometimes they put the question the other way around, when they ask, why I hate Colombo. Its pretty hard to explain to a person who has not been there, but on the other hand I don't have to explain this to a person who had lived there.

sunsets over Kandy Lake
Kandy lake at sunset

The reasons cover the entire spectrum of human life, starting from the people, climate, surroundings and the list goes on. People from Colombo never fail to question, "so why aren't you being in Kandy?". But then the only weakness of Kandy is that its not a commercial hub, so to make a living most people opt to go to other places. But they still live with found memories of the times they had there and never fail to go back to Kandy at every given chance.

kandy lake
Colours at the Kandy lake

I just made this comparison, out of those who come from different parts of the country to work in Colombo its the people who had lived in Kandy who make sure they rush back there whenever given a chance, just go on a Friday to the fort railway station or the bus stand you would see it, its only the queue to Kandy is crowded , where as others rather tend to stay back as they doesn't seem to see much differences between staying in Colombo and their hometown.

fallen treehouse in the middle of greenarykandy lake
Kandy lake (on extreme left and extreme right) and Kadugannawa in the middle

I am sure, I am going to get some critical comments from some people of Colombo (btw how do u call them colombians? ), bring it on I am ready to face the music.

Read my past post in taking a train journey too,

digana landscapes

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Incredible India: Monument of Love

We woke up on the first of January and set off to the Nizamudin railway station to take the 7 O'Clock Train to Agra. We had to take a connecting bus from the Delhi railway station to the Nizamudin station, we got into the bus. Since we were not sure of the point to get down, JK slowly started a conversation with a fellow passenger.

On the way to agra
Views from the Train

As usual we were introduced as the university students and then it turns out that they guy we are speaking to is a anchor in NDTV. He was really helpful and was willing to give his number and wanted JK to give his number return. JK was in a dilemma since what he had was a Singapore roaming number and not a Sri Lankan number, although he introduced himself as a Sri Lankan. Somehow he blamed it on the handset and escapes.

Taj Mahal
Illusive Target destination named Taj Mahal

We reached the station on time, but we were told that train is delayed by 3 hours, so we didnt have an option but to buy news papers and sit on the ground and read up the paper from end to end. Anyway it was good to do a bit of catching up on current affairs after being totally disconnected with the rest of the world for 8 days.

Finally the train reaches the station and the scene unleashed, was something that could easily make into a classic Maniratnam movie, J re-unites with his lost love and his kid. It was sentimental, beautiful and touching. He was shy and not allowing us to take pictures.
no pics

Then the supposedly 3 hour train journey, takes more than 4 hours and guys wanted a way to kill time and the flirting sessions commence. I think I shouldn't write it here. FULL STOP.

We arrive at Agra and then the three wheeler drivers start dictating terms, it was annoying, we didn't know how long it would take from the station to Taj Mahal and after the first day experience we were suspicious whenever they approached us and tried to advice. Then we found that a three wheel was needed to reach there, so took one of them and arrived at the gate,to find that the queues were really long and it was already almost 3 PM and they do not allow people to get in after 5 PM. The black market tickets was a thriving business, since the ticket selling point was far away. We got 3 tickets, but then it was local tickets, yours truly was really worried about having local tickets and last thing we want to face was to be thrown out for not having foreigner ticket. I think my worrying got to the others and we decided to get the foreigner tickets, so the plan was for JK to get the tickets and come and for us to be in the queue till he comes.

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal - Will it be the image we would miss?

It turns out to be an utter disaster, JK takes more than 20 mins to return (not his fault because the ticket counter has been a few kilo meters away), the non moving queue upto that point starts to move fast, we get almost close to the gate, we try to tell the people and wait till JK comes to get in, but then no one is in the mood to listen to us and we are eventually pushed out of the queue, I tried to explain to the policeman what happened, but it fell in deaf years. It was frustrating, we had gone all through this from morning and seemed as we would miss even a glimpse of seeing this monument.

Then we decide to try our last possible option, we walked upto the officer in-charge and explained to him, he was a nice man, asked us to meet him as soon as JK gets there with the tickets. Then by the time JK comes there, the officer is not longer there, so we got to the sides of the line, squeeze our self at the entry point, telling the shouting policemen that we got permission from the officer, before he could do much we already mixed in to the queue and sneaked into Taj Mahal!

Taj Mahal was even more majestic than what I expected it to be. We were there right at the sunset. It was beautiful, gigantic, memorable, BUT I wouldn't want to visit it again, unless I am forced to.

The Add ;)
The pose

We come out of Taj Mahal and make it to the railway station and we are told that the train is delayed by 3 hours, we decide to wait, but then slowly we see the delay time starting to increase. We had our return flight in the morning, so had to go to Delhi somehow. So we decide to get a taxi, it costed atleast 50 times the train ticket price. But no option but we had to take a taxi. So once we got into the taxi we breathed a sigh of relief, we now got the belief that we would reach Delhi in time for the flight. But then hopes in India are short lived, as we have met another classic taxi driver again, every 15 mins he decided to take 15 mins naps. Now we started to edgy, we couldn't force a sleepy man to drive and in the same time we had to catch a flight. So we tried to pursue him to drive. Now every now and then he tried to find a reason to get parts of the final amount promised to him. Already we were suspicious of him and this got really annoying, since the agreement at the start was to pay the full amount on arrival. His English was very poor and tries to ask for 500 RS from us and ends up asking for 50,000 RS. We had to tell him to fly a kite, and then at one point we had to explain that we are not giving anything more till we get to the hotel. Finally we reach the hotel in time and get to the airport also on time. All of this being said the experience in India was unbelievable, looking back its so memorable!

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal

The lesson learnt, if trying to see the monument of love is so painful, how painful will be/is love! :P

So finally we touch down and the next day I make it to office, where I am asked to take a vaccination and goto Africa within the next 4 days! Life is a journey!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Incredible India!(?)

After a memorable stay in Nepal,we set off to New Delhi. We arrived without a hotel booking, without a plan and without any idea on what to expect in India. The heading on the arrival form read as !ncredible India, so we picked up that clause on arrival and continue to use it till date ;) I think we will use it for the rest of the life time.IMG_3287

We had luckily written down a hotel phone number from the lonely planet site, so we called and checked whether if they have rooms, answer was positive, we were told that we can get there in 30 mins. We walked out of the air port and there we found a prepaid taxi booth, so we paid the amount and got into the taxi. Taxi pulled out of the air port and within 500 meters the driver stops it for fueling. While being in the queue of the fueling station, he opts to take an ablutions break in public, then returns to find vehicles stranded behind in the line and turns to them and abuses them. We were made to wonder which guy should be at the receiving end.

India gate
India Gate

After a 20 minute wait we re-start on the journey and we breathed a sigh of relief. The vehicle progressed for another 10 minutes very smoothly.Then there was a bit of traffic and he had to stop the vehicle. When the green light came on the vehicles started to move, but our taxi was left stranded. Driver got out and pretended as if he was trying to fix it, taxi was in the middle of the road and blocking all traffic, so all of us got down from the vehicle and pushed it to the side of the road. He continued to meddle with all the parts of the old vehicle while we were looking on helplessly kicking our heals in the middle of the road for the next hour, finally some luck dawned on us and the engine started. So we made progress and then all of a sudden he wanted to kick us out without finding the exact place. We made up our minds to stay in the vehicle till he drops us off at the exact address. I think it took a while for him to realize that we are their neighbors and we are good as them, when it comes to handling these gimmicks.

Birla Temple
Birla Temple

Finally we reached the hotel. We checked in left the bags and took a walk to the nearby Delhi railway station, we wanted to book a ticket to Taj Mahal trip, the tourist ticket booking center was very helpful we got tickets booked to Agra for the 1st of January.

We went into a punjabi vegetarian eating place right opposite the station and had our dinner. It was different and we enjoyed it. Next we when to the hotel and spoke to them and got a day trip around Delhi organized. We got a much better taxi and a much better driver this time around. The plan was to go around and see the places of interest in Delhi.

lotus temple
Lotus Temple

Our trip included visits to Birla Temple, Lotus temple, India Gate ( The place where ppl usually stand infront of and take a pic to say I have been to Delhi :D) , Rashtrapathi bavan, and A drive upto the gate of the museum and then opted to skip it, since it was too expensive and we would only get to spend max one hour.

Anyway, two places in delhi will always be remembered for two different reasons, one is the Indra Gandhi's museum, her house has been converted into a museum. Whether you like her not, what we cannot deny is that she was indeed a strong character and this visit gave us a chance to get a peak in to her life.

Secondly the red fort, we never went into it, but blog is too public a place to publish the episode "What Happened at Red Fort?" :D

On the next episode it will be "!incredible India: Almost loosing the Symbol of eternal love"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Himalayan Heights - Devi's fall

We were told that we were lucky to be there during end of December and being able to view the sun rise and the sun set clearly on the annapoorna range. End of October is supposedly the best period to view the range and starting from December the visibility starts to drop.

Devi's fall
Devi's fall

We made the decent and returned to Pokhara. Had a dhal baath and then packed again to visit the Devi's fall. We walked all the way to Devi's falls. Apparently it's named as Devi's fall in memory of a tourist who tried to look at the falls and ended up falling in to it.

First we went to the upper end of the falls. It was not too impressive, specially for us who came from a place where we have the beautiful water falls, this was below par. The exciting part was to cross over to the other side of the road and go to the underground cave. Entry ticket was relatively bit expensive, so we were wondering whether if its worth to go in, anyway opted to go and see. Walking through a underground passage and watching the water fall through the rocks was an exciting experience.

by the way Nepal is the only country which respects the SAARC, for all tourist locations they have a special rate, I have never seen this in any of the saarch countries i have been to including, India, Maldives, Bangaladesh and Sri Lanka. We made sure we got all the discounts quoting this :D. They even provided waiver for the on arrival visa entry fee for SAARC nationals.

Then the next day we spent the day at the street festival, unfortunately I was feeling sick so opted to take rest, but I was told that it was more like the carnivals that are in Sri Lanka. After a memorable stay in Pokhara we returned to Katmandu and bid adieu to our excellent guide Krishna (anyone who wants to take a trip there get him to be your guide). Next day we set off to the air port and departed to new Delhi.

In the next Episode it will be Incredible India?!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Creative Commons

To be honest, when I see my pictures being used by someone else it brings great joy. I have told this to the handful of people who ask whether if they can use my picture for something or the other. But it was just yesterday that it clicked to me that I was publishing my pictures with all rights reserved. Never took this seriously, until a friend pointed this out to me and asked me to walk the talk.

So now its official,  I have switched all the pictures that I have in flickr to Attribution Creative Commons. That is the most accommodating of the 6 license schemes available in creative commons. You can have a read about the six license schemes here,

Technically speaking Attribution Creative Commons allows even the commercial usage but requires the user to acknowledge. In my case you do not need to do that, just use it and if you really feel like showing me just send what you have done for me to see.

Btw I gave myself a gift by getting flickr pro account. Lets see whether if I would get value for money.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Himalayan Heights - hSenid Certified Trekkers at Sarankot

Just after having lunch, we packed up our backpacks and started off on the hike to Sarankot. The ascend was very smooth, we took breaks, Krishna bought a bag of oranges and we ate them on the way. While ascending we could see alot of people paragliding from the peak and taking a ride all the way up to the Pokhara lake.

pokhara lake
Sarankot over looking the Pokhara lake

We went and checked into a small lodge at the peak, the range was very cloudy and the hopes of seeing the sunset over the himalayan range was fading. We decided to make our way to the peak and sit there and see whatever thats visible. We reached the view point at the top. While waiting for the clouds to clear we were talking to an old couple from Finland. While we were freezing in the cold weather, they told us that its a perfect summer day for them and its "hot" when compared to the -40 during the winter. Next like any typical Finish they started the nokia boasting session, later on H commented, they sounded like the owners of Nokia. Thanks to apple we could make some fun out of them, this prompted them to tell us, "you know nokia is working a secret project to build a rival to iphone". Lets wait and see how informed they were?!

sarankot sun set
Sarankot sun set

Slowly the clouds started to clear and each peak teased its way to brightness. A feeling of real sense of joy rushed into the system. It was turning out to be memorable. The beauty of the annapoorna range was beyond comparison.

Holy Mountain

The holy mountain also referred as the fish tail was majestic and it had a sense of attraction. No wonder many had tried in vain to conquer its peak and fallen in the process. It looked really mysterious and was a monument of curiosity. It was beyond comparison when a guy standing there was explaining and ranking most of those peaks in the worlds highest list. The sunset was glorious the colours over the range changed to different shades, peaked and then faded into darkness.

Sun set colours

We went to the lodge, and was forced to have the dinner in lamp light. Dinner today was a bit more special it was served with spirits and the usual joy of being the non-spirited at a spirited place and listening to all the scoops didn't happen as expected. These guys were pretending and the poaching happened on the non-spirited. It doesn't always go according to plans :D

Sun rise colours

Then we slept at almost a make shift place and woke up to make it to the view point in time for the sun rise. The place was crowded and then when the sun rose from the east the light was falling on the annapoorna range on the west. The rays falling on it gave almost an effect of slowly unveiling the himalayas for us. It was almost a spiritual experience to have seen the sun rise. I have taken pics of sunrise in many countries, but this was beyond comparison, It was indeed a once in a life time experience, you wouldn't feel like making a decline, the feeling was beyond comprehension, you feel the world would stop and allow you to be there and let you admire the beauty of nature. A feeling of eternal satisfaction embraced the soul.


After the sunrise, we had a modeling session, and we managed to take the cover page for Harsha's autobiography and the other person it was a picture for the matrimonial advertisement :D

Autobiography pic

Then we make made the descend downhill. It was faster. In the next episode it will Devi's fall and Street festival.

Valley as seen from Sarankot

Monday, April 18, 2011

Himalayan Heights - Reaching Pokhara

After an eventful day in Katmandu valley, we woke up in freezing cold and Krishna, our guide was already there to take us, we hurriedly packed our back packs and set off to Pokhara. The bus ride took about 8 hours ( i think we started at 7 AM and reached Pokhara at about 3).  It was a decent bus ride, wasn't bad as the reviews sounded. Pokhara was a totally different from Kathmandu, strangely its relatively warmer, its a quieter, cleaner and very relaxing. Basically its not a city, so the people are nice, humble and honest. Unfortunately yours truly doesn't know to ride a bike, but if you can ride a bike, its a perfect place for taking bike rides.

Pokhara at Dusk
Pokhara lake - The way it welcome us

Nepali food perfectly suits me,where ever I go I could always find decent vegetarian food. The dhal bath was the my usual choice for lunch, where you get a serving of rice with dhal and other vegetables. The type of other vegetables you would get depends on the class of restaurant you are eating at. But then remember irrespective of the class of the restaurant Nepal food has a distinct Nepali aroma. Ask JK he will tell about it :D

Serene lake
Pokhara lake - Serene!

Next day we woke up and took a boat ride to cross the scenic pokhara lake and then we hiked to the peace pakoda. We took some pictures of this lake and when I showed the pics to JK, he said "wait I had seen this picture somewhere else" and opened his iPhone to show that apple had a wall paper taken at the same location.

On the top of the peak there is the Peace pakoda, a buddihist stupa has been gifted by the Japanese. From this peak there is a nice view of the himalayan range. Then we made the decent had lunch and set off on the hike to Sarankot. Earlier plan was to make the hike on the following day morning, but Krishna being very sharp at this advised lets go there and try to catch a glimpse of both the sun set and sun rise. peace pakoda

View from Peace Pakoda

So hopefully in the next write up it will be on Sarankot!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Monkey business

two lil ones
Todays Capture: Two lil ones

Very often people ask me why I take so many pictures of monkeys. These creatures had been around me for too long. My early memories of them are, being about 6 year old and walking around with pebbles in my hand to avoid them attacking me and my amma trying to chase them but they once in a way they somehow manage to steal something from her kitchen.

safely in mother's care

If you look at the small ones you end up thinking that they are cute too. Anyway to take a monkey picture I dont have to go too long, they make the visits and do the posing, if my camera is there its a matter of making the clicks. Thats an advantage of living in a city close to the heart of mother nature ;)

business lookyawn of a monkey!Leaderfood for twoin care

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Himalayan Heights – Kathmandu in search of Art!

The two who flew in from the island,lets call them H and S, arrived there in the afternoon and went to the hotel. KJ who flew in from the city country was already checked in, but was missing from the hotel room, (to date no one know where he really went to during those hours).He returned a few hours later and the three thought they were damn smart, they opted wear casual attire, the kind of stuff you would expect people to wear in the streets of sl or Singa and decided to take a stroll around the area.Nepal

hmmm The area is called as Thamel, an absolute tourist spot, which has become a transit heaven for the tourists. In there you would find all types of people, the show offs who try to dress up and pretend as if they are a few yards away from nirvana, the absolute gypsy like travelers, the backpackers, the Tibetan monks  and then the con men too. Its a place with boutique style shops all around, a good place to do some souvenir shopping.Not forgetting to mention that its supposedly a place with vibrant night life with bars and restaurants . After a few minutes of walking S started to feel as if the fingers were getting numb and the entire body was freezing. It just clicked on them how "prepared" they were for the climate, immediate task was to hunt for a pair of gloves, cap which can cover the ear and a Jacket. But then would you believe that they get back to the hotel room from the freezer and H suggesting that we need to switch on the fan!

Next on the advice of the nice people at Annapoorna hotel they went to himalyan trek, a tour organizing company. They were presented several options, mainly it was a choice between the mountains and wild life, they opted for the mountains.  Then it was bargaining time for the package, it included a day trip around Katmandu, then travel to Pokhara for 4 days accompanied by a guide. Best part of the bargain was introducing themselves as university students. I never expected that this is a dummy that you could sell, considering the real ages (specially the two eldest ones ;)  lol ), but they did and everyone believed it for the next 8 days! perfect set

curvingsDurbar squareIMG_2415
Durbar Square

So these supposedly "university students" woke up in the morning next day expecting to start the katmandu day trip, to be told that there is a banth (strike) and we will have to start the trip at 12 noon, but I it cleared by about 11 and they set off on a journey to the historical sites of Katmandu.

Katmandu valley as seen from Suyambunath temple

Then again the ardent reader of the lot picked up something else, where its said there are temples with art which can be given a few more ratings than the murals of Sigiriya. Now this made the even the atheists to turn into enthusiastic "pilgrims".


They started the day by going to Durbar square, Suyambunath (the monkey temple), the two Stupa's swayambu and boudhanath. Then came the most memorable part, They walked into Pasupathinath temple. It was almost dusks, the sunset was picturesque, they walk in to see a row of continuous camp fire like structures on the banks of Bagmati river. The smoke coming from the fire was very much evident from a distance itself. When they were about to enter the ardent reader announces that this is a temple where you could find that kind of "art". Then while they walk near to the site, the reality starts to dawn on them, it was not actually camp fires that they saw, its the sight of cremation. You see continuous flow of fallen beings carried in and being cremated at this holy site. While taking a walk around they did find the erotic carvings, if it was seen out of that context it could have been definitely called as pornographic, but within the context where you see the carvings and then from the same place when you turn your head by 10 degrees you see a corpse being cremated and next to the fire you see a little boy who set the fire seated there starring at the horizon without any emotion while his hair was being shaved off, man it gives you a totally different feeling. It reminded the cycle of life, birth, passion, death and the process of continuation. These lyrics were playing into the mind "பொருளுக்கு அலைந்திடும் பொருளற்ற வாழ்கையும் துரத்துதே"

Pasupathinath Temple vicinity and the Bagmati River

Let me make a confession, all this time i was referring the travelers as them, one of the 3 is yours truly, who is usually called as heartless,left the site with watery eyes.

The ardent reader picked another gem from the book, he said that taking pictures of this site is considered a shameful act. Yes very correctly I did realize that just because I had a camera I should not be taking pictures everywhere. I made sure that I deleted all the pictures I took from a distance, specially associated with cremation and learnt the lesson for life.


In the next Chapter of Himalayan Heights it will be about hSenid Certified Trackers!