Life Expectancy In Water

Some interesting statistics with respect to life expectancy in water. Good to know the next time you fall overboard or into a river or are marooned at sea. 

 

ImagePi

[ Picture source: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/253768.pdf ] 

 

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The Day I Spotted 4 Tigers In The Wild – Nagarhole Diaries

Spotting a tiger in the wild in India is quite challenging. Seriously.

Tigers need space. Infact, this animal on top of the food chain needs lots of it. And space(habitat) is really hard to come by thanks to widespread deforestation and forest encroachment.

There has been an impetus for protecting tiger population and conserving their habitat. Project Tiger, which was started in India in 1973, gave an estimate of 1411 tigers in the 2008 census and subsequently estimated an increase in population to 1600+ in 2010. I seriously think that this is a gross overestimation. I feel there are far fewer than 1600.

Wait a minute, this is an optimistic post! This post is about having seen them and having some faith restored.  I can now proclaim to have seen at least 4 of them in the wild. This is by no means a trivial event for me. In fact seeing 4 of them on 1 day after having visited numerous national parks almost 10-11 times to get a glimpse. This day was a red-letter-day.

After having set off in a friend’s brand new car, we reached Nagarhole and started spotting the usual fauna. We were destined for Kabini, but there was some confusion with the bookings(cough.cough.. bullet bala) and we settled for Nagarhole (blessing in disguise No. 1) .We enquired with the forest office at Nagarhole and that was booked out as well.(blessing in disguise No. 2). We got out of the park and booked ourselves into this place.

We drove around the park and spotted quite a lot of wildlife on the way. We were greeted by an elephant charge. [ The tiger story is at the end, btw]

Followed by wild boar.

A Peacock…

An eagle

Deer at full gallop.

Peek-a-boo

A langur

A few bison

A cat stalking birds 🙂

Macro’s are not my thing, but this one was too prominently out there and begged to be clicked with that vibrant green b/g

A herd of elephants frolicking

This was the usual stuff that everyone sees. We were there for the tigers. Expectations will nil. We set out on the last safari for the day. About 10 mins into the safari, we heard exclamations of a tiger spotting. We looked and saw a tiger, about 15 feet away, majestically seated under a bush. With the loud exclamations and the sound of the engine, it got up and slid away into the bushes. It took about 3-4 seconds to bring up my camera , 2-3 seconds to focus and by that time, it was gone. All I could manage is this picture. You can see just a little bit of the tiger. This is the only picture that anyone has of the sighting!

Content after our first tiger sighting in years, we moved on. Exactly after 3 minutes, we saw another tiger leaping across the safari track, leaping a few feet to high ground and disappearing. We were elated to say the least. The safari ended and we made a log registry entry of the tiger sighting at the forest office. We were lucky.

We had received a tip from the forest range officer that there is a temple about 20kms away and the road to reach it passes through the Kerala side of the forest range and a sighting is possible as the forest cover there was very thick. The thing about Kerala is that they don’t restrict vehicular movement in the night in the national park. Karnataka, on the contrary, does not permit vehicular traffic in Nagarhole between 6pm and 6am. Since  we were there for sighting the tigers and since we had nothing else to do at 7pm and we were officially in Kerala, we drove in anticipation. Similar to the safari, about 15 mins into the drive, we saw a tiger and a bison engaged in a fight. The tiger sped with the light of the headlamps while the bison stood there looking in the direction in which the tiger sped away. We were elated. We all thought we should buy a lottery ticket and we would have won in that as well. We reached the temple (in the middle of nowhere with a couple of small eating shacks) , had dinner, and started back. It must have been around 10pm or so when we reached the intersection of the temple road and the road to the guest house. There was a fork in the road and the other side of the fork was a road down south to kerala. We set ourselves a time limit of 30 minutes to drive down that road before heading back. All this while , we were still in the kerala side of the forest range. As we drove along the fork, we spotted another tiger at around 10-20pm walking parallel to the road. This tiger kept walking parallel to the road for about 2-3 minutes. We were amazed. Our fourth sighting for the day! The last was the best. We had a good 2-3 minutes view of the tiger.

The whole experience was insane! On earlier trips, when the expectations were high, the experience was very forgettable! With zero expectations came the experience that will not be forgotten!

Date of sightings: 16th June 2012.

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1 Really Simple Breathing Technique For Strenuous Or High Altitude Ascents

Here is 1 really simple breathing technique that can be used by just about anyone during that really strenuous ascent or during high altitude treks or when you run out of steam when you are attempting the staircase of a 10 storey building.

“Hyperventilate”

The trick is simple. Hyperventilate. And do this with your mouth closed. A controlled rhythmic conscious hyperventilation increases the oxygen in your blood. At high altitudes, your body automatically increases your breathing rate for acclimatization. However, doing it yourself aids the process. As you ascend, oxygen levels in the atmosphere drop necessitating compensation by breathing deeper or increasing breathing rate. Here is a chart that shows the drop in pressure and oxygen with increase in altitude.

Please don’t hyperventilate at sea-level as this leads to an increase in blood pH (making it more alkaline)(alkosis) due to reduced CO2 in the blood.

Hope this helps when you get sucker-punched during your next high-altitude ascent!

p.S: I am not a doctor.

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One Reason Why Street Photographers Should Start With B/W.

It has only been a few months since I have developed an interest for ‘street’ photography among other genres of photography. The street is where the action and drama is. Streets have perhaps the most important and compelling compositional entity of a photograph – People!  When I was presenting at the Open Show Bangalore , I was asked why I showcased my pictures in black and white(b/w). I did not have an answer then. Now I do. The answer is because I am an amateur and while shooting I have 1 less aspect of a photograph to worry about.

 

Kathmandu Bhaktapur Up In Smoke

Nepal –  Bhaktapur –  Up In Smoke

Equality ?

Equality ?

 

As I have mostly seen, the very subtle differences in composition and framing makes the difference between a bad photograph and a good one. I feel with color out of the mind, an amateur(like me) can concentrate more on the composition and framing and have 1 less element (of color) to worry about.

Probably one day, when my compositions are better than what they are today, I will add color to my street pictures. If you feel otherwise, do voice  your opinion in the comments section!

 

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Sir David Attenborough’s Documentaries – Timeless Masterpieces

Sir David Attenborough – Born 8th May 1926 , Age 85. His birthday is 3 days away.

David Attenborough

David Attenborough. Pic courtesy JrScientist under Flickr Creative Commons License

Wishing you a very Happy 86th Birthday in advance,Sir David.

On September 26th 2007, I wrote a blogpost on my old blog about how I chanced upon the work of David Attenborough on TV. I was captivated and fascinated by his extremely amicable narrative style. He is a class apart.

On that day, I had decided that I will, one day, buy the entire collection of his works. His main work is The Life Series spanning 29 years between 1979 and 2008. Besides the Life Series, he has worked on numerous other documentaries , most notably the triad series of the BBC Natural History Unit which consists of The Blue Planet(2001), Planet Earth(2006) and The Frozen Planet(2011). Planet Earth is the most expensive nature documentary ever produced by BBC at a staggering 16million pounds. Planet earth was also commissioned for TV networks  in over 150 countries.(Source BBC Press)

Having bought the DVD collections and as I sit back every evening watching these documentaries, I can say without doubt that this is one of the best DVD collections I have ever bought.(To be frank , these are the only DVD box sets I have ever bought. I make sure I spare myself from all the useless movie DVD’s).  As I watch every episode, I am constantly reminded of Al-Gore’s (former vice-president of  USA)  2006 documentary: An Inconvenient Truth. The next time you plan to visit a multiplex to watch a crappy melodramatic bollywood movie or plan to buy an IPL(Indian Premier League) ticket, go buy yourself some David Attenborough docu’s instead.

Sir David Attenborough, take a bow.

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Apocalypse Now (errr….Always)

In the last few years, during my travels, I have had very interesting experiences. Almost always, the satanic (Yamraj*)  forces have conspired to add a few twists, turns  and seemingly apocalyptic events during my trips. I am not tempting fate here, but I cannot help but admire  this subtle conclave of disasters that strike. I am happy that these forces have been acting up on a spatial inverse of me.

Allow me to enumerate them in reverse order of screwed-up-ness. (countdown)

6. A couple of  incidences like the Bodoland agitation in Siliguri enroute Bhutan in 2009 and crossing Hyderabad in the thick of the Telangana agitation(think rioting)  in Hyderabad when going from Bangalore to Kolkata via Hyderabad en route Bhutan in 2009.

Bhutan

5. Witnessed live firing in Srinagar in 2007. J&K is notorious in this regard. On a family trip to J&K , we were enjoying the scenic beauty of the numerous gardens of Srinagar alongside Dal lake. We were in a tourist bus and being shown around town. All of a sudden we heard gunshots and when we looked out of the window, we saw some armed men shooting in the direction of a mosque. The driver of our bus took a sharp turn and we sped away from the scene. We could see  through the windows at the back of the bus,  the commotion and panic surging through the people.

Dal Lake

Dal Lake

4. Experienced an earthquake(6.9 magnitude) that shook the ground beneath the feet by a good 5-6 feet when trekking in darkness at around 16000 feet in Mt Everest region near  Namche in Nepal. This earthquake also shook Sikkim, Bhutan and parts of Bangladesh. It was around 7PM when it occurred and it was the only day that we were trekking into the night. It was also the longest day of the entire trek of Mt Everest Base Camp. 2 friends and I had started our descent from Periche’ and after a 2 hour delay due to our sherpa getting injured, we planned to reach Namche the same day. There was a very loud clap followed by hysterical distant screams and sound of landslides. We were fortunately not jolted too much or we might have tumbled down the mountain sides.

Namche Bazaar - Where the quake struck

3. Drove on a bike through Anantnag, 54 kms south of Srinagar on the Jammu Srinagar highway 1A , where about 400 mobsters were pelting stones, rocks and bricks. We had taken a wrong turn and suddenly found ourselves in the middle of the mob with all mobsters encircling us,  and asking us about where we are from and where we were going. One of our bikes had a flag which fortunately was a buddhist prayer flag and not an Indian flag. If it were an Indian flag , I would not be here today writing this. We were then declared as tourists and let out of the chakravyuh** of  rioters . Needless to say, our hearts were in our mouths.

Anantnag

Anantnag ***

Srinagar-Jammu

Srinagar-Jammu ***

Flag of turmoil ( flag on the bike)

Flag of turmoil ( flag on the bike) ***

2. Bomb scare and suspect hijack on a flight. All passengers got delayed for almost 10 hours. Sapan, Sharath and I checked in at  Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport for our return journey to Delhi. We had been on a trek to Everest base camp. We had been trekking and travelling for about 19 days now. The flight started taxiing when we heard about a plane crash. A Mt Everest mountain flight had crashed into the mountains. Say what , we were trekking the same area a few days back. When travelling from Kathmandu to Lukla in a Donear 9 seater, we had seen numerous aircrafts in the Kathmandu airport which had some raw tinkering done on it. It was like the welding you see in a garage on an old car( possibly an ambassador or an old premier padmini fiat) . It was disheartening to hear, but I was not surprised. These small planes are really tough to manage once they develop a fault. This news, though disheartening, was not alarming. As we continued taxi-ing on the runway and as the pilot was gaining groundspeed, we heard the reverse thrust and the brakes being applied.We thought it was a technical snag, but after a few minutes of silence, we saw all sorts of personnel converging on our aircraft. Within minutes, multiple armed vans surrounded us. The pilot announced that we will all be disembarked till further notice.  We were not allowed to take out any belongings. As we exited the plane , it was evident: We were on a plane that had a bomb scare/hijack threat. About 180 passengers were escorted to a holding area along the runway. The investigation ensued and after about 10 hours, we were cleared for takeoff. Meanwhile we were witness to the procedures that are followed when a bomb scare situation arises.The troublemaker, a lady from Italy who had  been shouting doomsday slogans and abusing co-passengers( a bunch of girls from Delhi) was arrested. She had apparently told everyone she met that there is a bomb and that the world is going to end. This event caused an airspace shutdown of Kathmandu airport for over two hours! Multiple agencies had to ratify the aircraft clear – The airline , airport personnel, airport police, army, commando units, security agencies etc.

Kathmandu Airport - Amidst a storm

Kathmandu Airport - Amidst a storm

Kathmandu Airport - Amidst a storm

Kathmandu Airport - Amidst a storm

1. Leh cloudburst and flash floods. I have seen the flash floods of 2010 unfolding right in front of my eyes. A few friends and I had just reached Kargil at 10PM after a full day ride to Dha and Hanu villages, Aryan civilization settlements. We were touring Ladakh on bikes. We saw news OB vans all over the town and when enquired , we were told that Leh had been lashed by a cloudburst and flash floods just an hour or two ago. We had dinner and went to sleep. The rains in Kargil were just beginning. At around 1AM, the cloudburst and flash floods struck Kargil. The only bridge connecting Kargil to the NH was washed out and was covered in 4 feet of sand,rocks and slush. An entire mountain face had been washed away taking along with it numerous houses. The scenario in Leh was worse. We were stuck in Kargil for 2 days and 1 of those 2 days incidently turned out to be a Kargil bandh. We had made a hotel (Hotel Siachen) our refuge which was nicknamed “Hotel Baghdad” of Kargil. Akin to the Hotel Baghdad, this hotel was the only hotel which remained open during the Kargil war in 1999. As the floods were unfolding, we saw 10’s of journalists setting up their equipment in the main dining hall of Hotel Siachen. It looked like a mini NASA command center for those 2 days. We eventually departed Kargil for Srinagar and truly saw the destruction that was beset upon the state.

Kargil before the floods hit

Kargil before the floods hit

Kargil Flash Floods OB Van

Kargil Flash Floods OB Van ***

Hotel Siachen - The "Hotel Baghdad" of Kargil

Hotel Siachen - The "Hotel Baghdad" of Kargil ***

What were some the most scariest moments that you have gone through?

*Yamraj: The hindu god of death.

**Chakravyuh : A multi-tier defensive battle formation that looks like a blooming lotus which once an enemy enters, is impossible to get out of.

Pictures with ***are credit to : Sreenath , Kiran, Shrishail.

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I’m one feet from the edge and I’m thinking…..

I’m six feet from the edge and I’m thinking  6 feet ain’t so far down…. – go the lyrics of a song from Creed. This blog post is about a  bit more than 6 feet. Lets say it’s about 550 feet.

The first time you pull up and get down from your vehicle , you are instantly overcome by hysteria. Your mind refuses to accept what you see. Your assertion that you are a moron to attempt what your eyes see is validated. And then you step onto it.

You are taken to a calm and peaceful resort where the dangers of what you are attempting become evident. You are given a no-nonsense disclaimer form which says you agree not to sue in case you die and you are doing this on your own accord and no-one but you is responsible.

Your weight is taken and you are divided into 2 groups. Your weight is written on the back of your fist. You feel like you are being tagged like a featherless chicken ready to face the knife. You are offered lunch , but you know better – A chicken is offered it’s last meal before facing the knife. You politely make an excuse and request the stewards to hold on to your lunch for 2 hours and tell them that lunch shall be devoured in case you successfully return.

You are escorted onto the bridge.  The shock that you experienced earlier in the day begins to re-surge through your veins. When you got down from the vehicle and stepped onto the bridge for the very first time earlier in the day, your mind went numb. This is the 2nd time on the bridge, but this is it. This is the moment of reckoning.  The crossing of the bridge in the morning to reach the resort was a mere preview. Your mind does not know what to think.  It oscillates violently between  a blank void, fear, impeding doom, a sense of calm and what not. You are then taken to the middle of the bridge and asked to hold on as they call out the name of the first chicken. You are delighted that you are not the first. You rejoice that you will live for 5 minutes more. You then see the first person jump and your heart skips five beats.

If you haven’t already guessed, I am talking about Bungee jumping from the worlds 6th highest bungee in the world. This is located on the border of Tibet and Nepal , 3 hours north of Kathmandu,Nepal. The place is called “The Last Resort”. A cousin of mine has alluded to the bungee jump in Nepal a few years ago at a dinner. I had made a mental note of doing this jump whenever I visit Nepal. I got the opportunity to visit Nepal in September 2011 when a couple of my friends and I decided to trek to the Base camp of Mt Everest. I got the details of the jump on the interwebs, booked if and I was all set. Just to check out what it felt like , I decided to see a few YouTube video’s of the jump before trying it out. When I viewed it for the first time, it was outrageous,insane and unbelievable that someone would jump off a bridge so high. I knew that I had to do it. I had decided to do it , no matter what. Come hell or high water.

Then, your turn comes. They call out your name and weight.

You are harnessed and strapped. The videographer asks you for a few sound bites. You have no recollection of what you said because you are already in a state of trance and in a zen like state of mind. The only sound that your hear is that of the raging river about 600 feet below your feet. You can see the white water through the base of the bridge. You bend over the bridge and get a final look of where you are jumping. Suddenly, your vision gets narrower and narrower. Tunnel vision strikes. To make matters worse, you are asked to remove your spectacles and keep them in your pocket. All you hear is the seemingly distant voices of the Jump co-ordinator who gives you the final instructions. You take small penguin-like baby steps to the edge with the instructor at your back. You spread your arms and  look straight ahead. Time comes to a stand still when you hear the words ……3……….2………..1……. Bungyyyyyy…yyyyy…….yyy………….yy…………..y.

You take off from the platform like a bird.  You are free-falling straight down head first. The first 2 seconds of the free fall  is insane. For someone who has never jumped more than 15 feet from a swimming pool high board, this is insanity. The adrenaline rushes through your body. The blood rushes to your head. You scream your lungs out. Not having a fear of heights helps. I didn’t have a fear of heights so I could relish the moment. After a few seconds of free fall, you feel the bungee cord beginning to take effect. you reach the bottom apex of your jump at maximum stretch of the cord and then you are yanked back to a negative G-force. The negative G’s pump more adrenaline through your veins and in my opinion the negative G’s are way better in terms of thrill! By this time , which is about a few seconds after you jumped , you are on a high! You experience multiple falls and yank-backs  and bounce around a few times before coming to an upside down halt. By now , you have screamed your lungs out and just experienced the thrill of a lifetime. You are then lowered down to the river below when you are pulled to the bank of the river onto a platform using a really long pole.

As you lie down on the platform getting untied , you come to terms of what just happened…….

The coordinators ask you if you want to jump again.

Do I want to bungee jump again? HELL YEAH! 

Pictures below. Click to view large size images.

More details about The Last Resort here : http://www.thelastresort.com.np/content/28

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Hello world (Reloaded)

I’m going to keep this short and sweet.

Bye blogspot and aloha WordPress! I’ve moved from my previous blog at http://www.blogspot.com. If you’ve reached here from blogspot, kudos to you for staying with me !

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