Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Royal Mysore

Royals and Royalty may be the words of the past, are not necessarily ‘cool’ words anymore, but impressions of the past stay alive in the monument and the glories that are left behind.

Indians have a tendency to romance history or crudely put it as, 'living in the past', hmm it’s not such a bad thing after all, as we indeed have a great history to be proud of, a history which defines who we are and we can make the world a better place if we take some leads from the past.

The beauty of history is that you can look at it from a different prospective as you grow older; my visit to Mysore recently made me think about ethnic issues the world is facing. Mysore is synonymous with Woodyear, Tippu and British at the same time. The city of Mysore showcases the harmony of all the three major religions practices, call it united by rule or respect for one another, the city truly lives up to its tag “Peaceful Mysore”.

Well made roads, greenery, weather, beautiful locations, tourist attractions was always part of Mysore; the most important aspect is that the city never got over shadowed by the big sister/brother Bangalore. Years before Bangalore became the IT capital it envied the quality of education, quality of life in Mysore, one cannot argue between Bangalore and Mysore but Mysore not just sells its landmarks better but also maintains them and creates more each day.

If one has to define Mysore in real terms then it’s the CBS (City Bus Station) under the JnNURM project the CBS speaks every aspect of Mysore. The past, the present and the future that’s absolutely picture perfect. I have visited several cities may amaze me but Mysore takes it all, by imbibing all the good of the past, present and the future.

The clean roads, the travel friendly bus staff, great mix of Infosys & Palace, St Philomena’s Church the Mohalla’s, tourist friendly people, police who take their job seriously all give Mysore a Thumb-up. But what takes the cake is the robust transport system the city has developed, the number of tourist have double just by making every place in Mysore accessible.

As I left Mysore, my reasoning on role in development only got stronger, that if there is one thing that brings development closer to every city, town, village etc it is “Transport”. If our system and our governance is able to focus on ensuring every person in this country has the access to good transport and is able to commute then development will be speedier , stable and sustainable.

Visiting Mysore as a traveler was indeed a “ROYAL” Treat, I go with 5 out of 5 for the city of Mysore.

- Kavitha Reddy

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Our MiG -23

Miggi tera jalwa Miggi tera pyar….ahe emotional hatyachaar…is what it is with MiG….she truly justifies that very song….

If I have to call her Ziddi..ah ah people who know me also know what I mean and they will shamelessly say “after all who’s dog is it!!”.

Sometimes, I doubt if she thinks she is human or thinks we are her species…either ways her mood swings, tantrums, demands, affection, playfulness, understanding make me wonder who she really is. Ripping, Tearing, Smashing, Jumping and Racing was part of her from the day one, but at 31 kgs she is power unleash literally.

Our house is a changed place, for the cleanness freaks we are, who love to collects artifacts and keep changing the look and feel of the house once in a while, have now forgotten all of it, because MiG loves to mess it up.

She goes around wearing her choke chain as if she is the female version of Salman Khan and the minute we take the camera she is ready posing with her trademark head tilt. She is also nicknamed Rakhee Sawant…purely.....for the attention she seeks, her nautankis and the best part is she gets all of it…..

After all the play and everything she wants is done…. she sits in the kitchen till I finish cooking and till I finally serve her, oh ya…she gets to eat first!!! I have to first show her what I am serving her, get her to taste it, once satisfied she goes up to her room where I have to take her food, else “sorry I don’t like the food…give me more chicken”….

One person who is amazed the most is my friend Jigna, who gets into a state of shock when MiG does what she does!!

Now that she has a trainer and we are trying to get some method to her madness its fun watching her learn new things, but truly do not want her to be too tamed and extra obedient…..after all there is NO fun being NICE!!!!

- Kavitha Reddy

Sunday, November 1, 2009

De-risking Living-on the Edge

We were 17100 Ft, just few meters away from Camp-2, “Avalanche, watch-out” came the call!! We moved quickly towards the end of the avalanche fall-line and switched-on the Avalanche Victim Detector (AVD) to transmission mode, within seconds we were covered by flakes of snow. We were very lucky to be able to move out of the fall-line, else we would be been pounded by heaps of ice blocks and snow with sure casualties.

Every adventurer loves to live-on the edge, but leaving it to luck is something that should never be done in Adventure. An adventure activity comes with its own risks; the assessment of possible risks before taking up the activity enables to de-risk them to a large extent.

Adventure related Risks can be classified as Nature Risk, Navigation Risk, Equipment Risk, Medical Risk and Operational Risk.

Nature Risk, this is perhaps one risk that is almost beyond human control, but studying the specifics of the locations/areas and evaluating the conditions is perhaps the best way to address it. We may never be able to predict Avalanches, Landslides, Floods, Wild Animals, Weather and other Climatic changes accurately, but it is necessary is to be prepared to handle eventualities both technically and professionally.

While returning from Mt Jaonli expedition, right before the junction where Lodgad River merges into River Bhagirathi, the water level had increased substantially. The only crossing option was the log bridge that was swept away by the gushing waters of Lodgad. With no other option left, we risked our lives and crossed over to safety, with the help of a fallen tree.

Navigation Risk, with advanced gadgets like Walky-talkies, GPS and Google maps; today we are able to map the terrains more accurately. Information from these sources helps us in precise navigation and data recording. But what it unique about adventure is the impact of the nature - a change-of-course of a river, a de-route due to landslide, missing a cairn, a crevasse, an avalanche zone can take you miles away from the destination, and also posing new challenges that may not be part of the earlier plan or assessment.

Equipment Risk, quality of equipments used for any adventure activity should be given paramount importance. Deploying UIAA certified equipments that are well maintained and are in a highly usable condition is recommended; never try to save few bucks when it comes to equipments. One risk that you can be in your control to a very large extent is the equipment risk. Ensuring that the personnel managing the activity comply’s with the highest standards on the equipment front is critical. Never forget that a rope snapping, a harness de-buckling, a raft deflating, a carabineer cracking or jamming can cost you life.

Medical Risk, disclosing the correct information about the medical condition and giving a personal declaration is mandatory for any adventure seeker. If you are in a group or part of an organized event informing and updating about your state of health without any hesitation is the only way to address an eventuality.

Even though sever medical conditions like heart attack may be instantaneous, it can be averted if one is able to communicate the state-of-mind and takes help when ever required. Communication without hesitation or ego hassles is the best way for a great adventure trip. You know your body better than anyone else and pushing yourself extensively is not advisable.

On a longer adventure activity one may have a doctor to accompany, but it is not practical or economically viable for shorter events. An easily administrable medical kit, listing out medication that may be allergic and getting a basic medical check-up done before going on an adventure is recommended. If you are going to high altitude areas, having HAP’s (High Altitude Porter), oxygen cylinders, GAMO bag, stretchers, splints, doctor on ground and helicopter rescue option (if possible) is mandatory.

The other situations that may lead to severe are insect bites or snake bites, for which administering a medication can be difficult, trying to travel away from dangerous terrains is the only best option, but also ensuring that someone in the group knows the basics of snake bite administration should never be ruled out.

Operation Risk, primary operational risk is that of the personnel (Guides, Organizers, etc), it’s extremely important to check on the experience, qualification in adventure and certifications of the people whom you are hiring for adventure activity. Even the basic guidelines given by Indian Tourism Ministry is, to go with operators who are certified with state governments or with someone who is certified by recognized Mountaineering institutes in India.

The secondary operational risk is that, even though India has a fairly large number of adventure tourist both local and global there are no specific or structured insurance or rescue options in place, and what ever is available is either too expensive or inadequate or highly unrealistic.

The one time we needed a helicopter was when we were on an all women expedition to Mt White Sail in the Himachal area. Given tha, it was a personal expedition; we did not have INR 2 lac advance deposit towards any possible rescue operation. We are summit camp at appox 18000 ft, our HAP who was helping us in the expedition developed HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema), a life threatening altitude sickness condition. We were left to our will to get him down on a stretcher, even with a thin staff we managed to bring him down safely and later took him to the hospital. Expect for our presence of mind, preparedness both in terms of equipments and personnel, we had everything racing against us.

India is the only place in the world with Snow-Mountains, Rocky hills, Forests, Beaches, Rivers and Desert making it more exciting for an adventure seeker globally. Given this amazing geographic spread India can offer adventure activities all 365-days through the year.

Indian tourism over the last few years with its ‘Incredible India’ campaign has seen a tremendous increase both in revenue and foreign exchange, adventure tourism alone accounts to appox 450 crores. Adventure tourism generates employment particularly in the Himalayan range. Majority of the population in these terrains are dependent on adventure tourism for their livelihood, for many it is probably the only means to make a living and hence, it is both economically and socially important for a country like ours to promote and develop adventure tourism.

We have heard about several adventure activities that has taken lives, the most recent being the death during a bungee jumping activity in Bangalore. But “Drunken driving is no reason to ban cars or to remove pedestrian crossings”, banning or putting restrictions (which are, generally the first reaction) on adventure activities or its operators for any mishaps or accidents are no real solution.

At a policy level, a National & State-wise comprehensive policy that follows global conventional guidelines and mechanism to assess the safety protocols followed by its operators should be put in place to make Adventure Tourism safe and safer on a consistent basis.

Most importantly, at an individual level ensuring that there is no compromise on the quality of equipments or quality of the personnel who are handling it is indeed the first step to towards a safer Adventure Holiday.

A famous mountaineer once said, “Summit is optional, Basecamp is mandatory”, one should always put the safety of self and the group ahead of glories.

- Kavitha Reddy
Co-Founder & Director of BASECAMP Adventures
..........................(Was published in Deccan Herald 01-11-09)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Love thy Neighbor!!!


India’s reply to China by landing AN-32 just 23 kms form the China border in the Ladhak region today was indeed a step in the right direction, and that’s probably the only language China understands. It’s good to see that for once the forces are asked to take a proactive step and stake claim what is rightfully ours.

China is no Pakistan and that’s the problem, it’s not a democratic country, it does not understand soft power nor does it need US aid, so where does that leave India? The only way to keep the Dragon fire from spreading is by splashing water and keeping it wet time and again.

Given the fact that the politicians does not want the forces to gain more power than they want them to have, the forces are pushed up the wall to play a reactive role than a proactive role. What do we do with our troublesome neighbors? Trained terrorist from Pakistan, Tiger trouble from the Lankan waters, Fake currency from Nepal & Bangladesh, Dragon fire from Karakoram range to Kanchenjunga, do we sill want to say ‘love thy neighbor’ or stick to only ‘diplomacy or soft power’?

We have been pussy footing on all the major decision related to our neighbors for way to long, and its time we take a stand. In policy making the only way of forward is by taking a position and pussy footing would only mean pushing the decision for another day, without realizing that we still have to live that another day.

- Kavitha Reddy

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tharoor Twitter & Trash…..

Holy crap”….what can I say, appalled by MoS for External Affairs tweet. Mr Tharoor surely does not understand the meaning of “Leading by example”.

Narayanmurthy, Azim Premji and many other eminent personalities are admired for their simplicity; they are the richest guys, whey do they have to do what they do? It’s simply “Leading by example”.

The world knows that Mr Tharoor can afford to travel business class, stay in 7-star hotels and does not need tax payer’s money to do so. He may be used to lavish lifestyle, after all UN survives on funds and never accountable for the balance sheet, but he is in India now, were connecting to 1+ billon people will not happen on twitter but by leading from the front.

It’s not about austerity or hypocrisy or bla, bla, bla…its signal that one must see… there are thousands of officers & bureaucrats whose expenses add up to the exchequer and if the bosses lead from the front the rest will follow.

How ever trivial it sound/look the austerity drive is definitely a step in the right direction, and we need this austerity campaign to trickle down to every department in the government making it more accountable and responsible for tax payers money.

Mr Tharoor should never forget the fact that UPA came to power because of the ‘aam admi campaign’ and BJP got bombed by the ‘India shining campaign’.

I have been an admirer of Mr Tharoor and followed his writings, book, speeches and entry into politics. I believed that as a diplomat he can make a positive impact and drive the Foreign policy agenda better than anyone in India, but I must say that he has lost a fan.

- Kavitha Reddy

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Satyam Shivam Sundaram - DD

Doordarshan (DD) turned 50 years yesterday!!!! I grew-up watching DD. It will not be incorrect to say that DD built character with programs like Buniyad, Nukkad, Hum Log, Mahabharat, Ramayan, weekly National award movies, Surabi, Fuji, Udaan, Rajini, Malgudi days, Life line, Sword of Tippu, World this week, Giant Robot and several other programs, that still are so fresh in my mind.

The programs had a message, every day I switched on the TV set to learn something new. The news reports delivered the news with absolutely no emotion what so ever, which gave a choice for the viewers to take a stand on the news/events, unlike today’s news channels which shove the opinion on the viewer.

IBN had invited Salma (the rose lady) on the occasion of 50 years and I quite appreciated it, Rajdeep & Anuba asked her what she feels about the current news channels, she said she is still in a dilemma if the current news channels are showing what public wants or what news channels want to public to see. She was so spirited about being part of DD and believes that DD is a different league, which I definitely agree to.

The impact is not measured on the basis on the breaking news or the glamour shows it’s measured on the basis of who you can related or remember people related to it. I do admit that I do not watch DD much, one can argue that fact that it’s because I have a choice now. Choice is good but it cannot create the fiery police officer of Udaan, the cute hero Abhimanyu Roy, Swami and his friends, Rini, Komal Singh, Renuka and may other who helped us find ourselves over years.

As Salma said, DD has a bright future do not close the chapter yet. Visit http://www.ddindia.com/

- Kavitha Reddy

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Deccan Herald - "Make Adventure your career in incredible India"

My Article in Deccan Herald - Education section 13th Aug 09

Thanks to Dinesh, Ashok, Maj Vishal, Anita & Bala for sharing their success story.

- Kavitha Redddy

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Falling in Love with Jaonli

Couple of years ago, I spent most of the time in my map reading classes taking forward and backward bearing of Jaonli, never imagined that I would be climbing it some day.

Unclimbed for the last 25 years was reason enough to change Bhagirathi expedition to Jaonli expedition!! Being part of the 1st Indian women team to summit Jaonli in the same year that marks the 25th anniversary of the 1st Indian women summit of Everest is something I will cherish for ever.

The toughest trek to the Basecamp gave a trailer of the toughness of the peak. Hike-up in a dense jungle, crawling under the shrubs in heavy rainfall, traverse the hills and clinging on to everything possible with Lodhgad river gushing right below, frustrating walk on the fresh landslides with ever sliding rocks, never ending moraines, heavier rug sacks and tons of energy took us to something that looked like football field, which became our advance basecamp.

The first look at Jaonli, I made up my mind to write a book, a peak that made me braver, stronger than ever and left me craving for more. Taking pictures when almost pounded under an avalanche or when slipped in a crevasse or dozing off anchored to an ice axe at 21000 ft on the summit day, I enjoyed being on Jaonli every single minute. Each time I returned to a lower camp I only wondered if we really kicked our crampon-ed toes up those huge ice walls.

Even though I can never trade-off Annapurna for any mountain, I am sure I will die on a mountain, freeing my spirit to crawl in & out of the crevasses, shower under avalanches and slide around the glittering snow field all year long.

- Kavitha Reddy

Mt Jaonli - 6632 Mts, IMF Expedition May-June 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Show the FINGER!!

I voted today, for a party that can give a safe, secular, strong and stable government. For me voting is not a right, it’s a responsibility, a responsibility which entitles me to hold our politicians accountable. Even though I had to go in search of the booth due to the recent delimitation, it did not deter my determination to deliver my duty as a responsible citizen of this country.

As a kid I grew up among people who were in public life, it will not be an exaggeration if I say that, when I learnt alphabet, “B” was for ballot box. I cherish the first hand experience of campaigns, elections, vote share, voting patterns, counting and post-election evaluation. I learnt that, which booth, which panchyat, which hobli, which taluk, which assembly segment did not vote in favor of a candidate is as important as celebrating winning.

This elections is rather very important, I believe that the government that comes to power will define the road map of our country for the next 30 years. This is an opportunity of a life time, a time when India can change the course of the economic recession, a time when India can play the role of a super power and a key nation in addressing issues related to terrorism globally.

This election may even bring up the debate on the role of regional parties, small parties and independents in national politics. I tend to agree with Dr Manmohan Singh, that the independent candidates are the spoilers for consolidation of secular votes.

Logically, what can an independent MP do at a national level? They have to align with some party or the other, what would be their contribution on a national policy? How will they make an impact on economic policies, foreign policy or any other key issue that is related to the larger vision of the nation? One may be a good person and can spend his/her funds allocated on developmental work of the constituency in an appropriate way, is that all we want from an MP? What if the independent voted by us supports a party that may not be of our choice?

ay be the independents should be banned from contesting at least parliament election, yes it’s important to have good people in the government, but independents are no solution to that. May be if they join the national and regional parties they can clean up the parties in the process, rather than being spectator and giving external view.

I look at the parliament elections not just on basis of electricity, water or any local issues; I want a government that’s capable of:

- Providing inclusive economic growth
- Fighting terrorism
- Rural development & infrastructure
- Representing India’s views strongly at a global platform
- Providing quality education to every single kid
- Ensure that no one dies out of hunger
- Being responsible in reducing/slowing global warming
- Following secular views
- Giving a full-term stable government
- Putting the country first

Elections are our belief in democratic process, and that we have the ability and the choice to choose our next government. In fact, I decided not to watch IPL when the arrogant Lailt Modi made a statement that he cannot postpone IPL for election, he is indeed setting a bad example by taking the cricketers to South Africa and keeping them away from the democratic process. Well I want to tell Mr Modi that he has lost his right to ask for anything from the government of India!! Shame on such people, my house keeper took her entire family to her village for the big voting day, she knows her responsibility better than most of the so called “Urban, elite, educated class”.

I do hope that every Indian who is eligible to votes and bring a strong government at the center.

Kavitha Reddy

Saturday, March 14, 2009

MiG the FIGHTER

She lives up to her name! Tearing, ripping, smashing, somersaulting, fighting and crashing everything that comes her way. After naming her MiG even Indian Air force decided to take MiG’s off the runway, such is the might of our MiG.

MiG is just 2-months old, but her deeds seem to exceed her size, she poses sitting outside the gate as a cute little thing attracting every single person in the neighborhood and sometime even doing funny acts to get attention. We have more friends in the neighborhood then before because of MiG.

With her cute looks she has already stunned Dexter, Tiger and Chinnu, all the 3-boys wait near the gate every day just to get a glimpse of her. Chinnu refuses to move till he gets to see her and is forced back home every single day. It will not be too far when she starts flirting with all the 3-boys causing dog-war, heart-breaks in the neighborhood, Dexter & Tiger for sure will be at each others neck as they are from the same home.


For the first 2-weeks she was all over the ground floor of our house happily peeing and shitting everywhere, even after her toilet training she peed at every single place as, she was too busy playing and going to the toilet for a leak was not a priority. Once she started climbing up the stairs, our heart skipped a beat, our house internal staircase is not little dog friendly, so we decided to put her in the terrace room, where it was safer and she has the terrace all for herself.


Evenings, CR and me look at each other and run upstairs to get her, and enjoy playing and seeing her do stupid things, our living room is her favorite place. She runs behind me up and down the staircase to the kitchen, looking at me in anticipation of food, if refused she gets angry barks, growls and raises hell, if still no response sits or lies flat of the floor with a sad face and she know that sells.


She totally likes her name, “MiG come here”….she runs to me as if there is no tomorrow, she loves licking my feet and biting my fingers, tried hard getting her everything that she can chew but cant replace her choice even now.


My house keeper loves to play with MiG, and demands to get her down when ever she is doing work and MiG anyways loves attention, she is all ready to jump around making faces and nibbling her feet and chasing the house keeper around.


Leaving to office is a task, she knows that she will be locked in her room and angrily sits at the door making it impossible to close the door behind. She yells, screams and kicks hell for few minutes and calms down to play with her dangler, climbing rope and a runner toy.


MiG is truly a darling; she keeps all the pressure and tension away at all time and having her around is a lot of fun.


I am looking forward for her to grow bigger, trek with me, making her a true outdoor girl.


- Kavitha Reddy

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hey Ram!!

Karnataka government response to the horrendous Mangalore incident days after the National outrage headed the recent Bramos test fire way, “just off the target”.

- It’s a shame that the CM has blamed the “Pub culture” for the incident instead of asking the police and the judicial system to imprison the so-called “Ram Sena men” for life, so that no one ever dares to try it again.

- It’s a shame that the NCW when to Mangalore and were questioning the “Pub license”, “security at the pub” and looking into visitor register rather than meeting those traumatized women, taking a first hand information and assuring them that justice will be done.

- It’s a shame that that politicians want to ban pubs to ensure security for women, what if there is a rape in a school or college will they ban education too?

On every other news channel the only thing the bloody politicians like Mr BP Sengal said was that we should ban “Pub culture”, and also went to the extent of justifying that the hooligans did harmless protest all these years and since nothing happened they did what they did.

Let’s justify our case to Mr BP Sengal, every citizen in this country have been protesting against the misdeeds of our corrupt, power hungry, useless politicians and we see nothing happening, so now lets get violent and butcher them once for all, what say?

These justifications are not only stupid but also irresponsible; there can be NO justification for violence of any kind whatever maybe the reason. The people of our country need one thing, “able to live without fear” irrespective of “WHO” we are.

The young girls were beaten, traumatized, abused and chased by 40 odd goons who claim to be the guardians of Indian culture!!

- Who are they to define Indian culture?

- Who are they to tell women (who are as equal as any man in this country) what they should do and what they should not do?

- Who gave them the approval or permission to do what they did?

- What do they know about “Indian culture” or “Hindu culture” which they seem to be representing?

Beating women is not Indian culture, Violence is not Indian culture, Taking law into your own hands is not Indian culture, Abusing unarmed people is not Indian culture, Destroying others hard earned property/assets is not Indian culture, and the hooligans violated all that is part of any “human culture”!! They do not belong to human society, if people who attacked Mumbai are terrorist then people who attacked women in the Mangalore pub are also terrorist and there is NO difference what so ever.

All these idiotic outfits with idiotic ideologies should be banned, why are they getting registered in the first place? If they think they are capable of doing anything good for the country then,

- Let them, Join the forces and fight the real enemies

- Let them, Fight against bribery, corruption, injustice

- Let them, Get the politicians to do their jobs

- Let them, Get every kid in this country to go to school

- Let them, Ensure that every village in this country gets basic facilities

- Let them, Fight to ensure that dreams of every kid in this country comes true

- Let them, Fight to ensure that no one dies out of hungry in this country

There are more than a one million things that one can fight for in this country to make it a better place. Real courage is in fighting for those one million things and not in committing crime in the name of “GOD”.

The tragedy is that, all the hooligans who were arrested after a prolonged outburst after nearly 72 hours post the incident, walked free. They walked out with no remorse what so ever celebrating their “achievement”, thumping their chests and announcing that they will do it all over again and it’s their victory.

NCW defended their inability by bringing is legalities, asking the women to come forward and register a case, completely ignoring the fact that it was all visible on camera!! And what would be the need for some one to register a case? If camera is NO evidence to the act then what is?

I feared that they will trivialize the issue, the real incident will be covered up with unwanted details and at the end of it and that’s exactly what happened. The vociferous Ms Renuka Choudary should hang herself in shame, it’s easy to talk on a TV channel and condemn the incident and also say its Talibanisation!! And finally do nothing about it.

Again relating this back to Mumbai attack we are all angry on Pakistan as they have ignored the evidence, and what have we done in case of Mangalore? If letting go the goons of Managlore incident is right then what Pakistan has done is also right.

It’s sad that we as a society glorified and have given muscle to this brutal act, forgetting that fact that we are a free country and every one in this country is equal irrespective of religion, gender, caste or creed and we the people have the right to choose our lives as permitted by the constitution of this country.

- Kavitha Reddy

Monday, January 5, 2009

Post Cards from Malaysia

“New Year at Malaysia”, I too wondered why!!! But since it was family & friends….

Genting, Kuala Lumpur (KL) & Langkwai in 7 days, was quite a tight schedule. As we arrived at Kuala Lumpur airport and left to Genting, a 2-hour drive to this mini Disney world across the main city gave a glimpse of the planning, infrastructure and maintenance one would expect in a key tourist destination of Asia. Malaysia got its independence in 1957 for the colonial rule, and makes me wonder how the country has emerged as one of the popular tourist destination globally. Thinking about it, Tourism, Oil, Rubber, Wood are most probably the largest or only contributor to Malaysia’s GDP.

Just looking around all through the way, we reached the famous cable car point, asked the cab to reach the hotel, we waited over an hour with tons of people around to take a RM 5 ride to the main city of Genting, its basically an indoor center, with all types of fun rides, crazy magic shows, artificial snow ski center, casinos, hotels, food courts and shopping centers.

It was like being in a khumb mela, with people all over and noises that reeled my head for hours, 2 days was quite a thing to tolerate. With nothing else to do all we did was some 20 rounds of window shopping, some real shopping and cribbing over smelly food courts. It would be wrong to say I hated it, but would rather say did not like it much. Some of us were already tired and exhausted, it was showing all over our faces. The 2 kids who were with us had some fun, but I guess all the 9 of us were completely pooped out. The only memorable part was the India food we got to have for dinner on both the days.

I was quite eager to leave Genting, we did so on the 31st morning, right after breakfast. KL was not new to me; even though I had not explored it much in my earlier visits it looked too familiar. We took a monorail to another shopping mall and by then I was frustrated looking at the same stuff. I generally dislike shopping and by now I hated it.

We just had enough time to get back to the hotel, take a shower and get ready for the “New Year” party, with limited choice we ended up in a 5 star hotel, where there was some ok music and a just ok crowd, I did not even realize when it all started and ended even without a drink. We were back in the hotel by 2 pm starving and tired, the hotel did not have a 24-hour room service so we ended up at “Maju Curry” a small restaurant that serves Indian food right behind our hotel. Food never tasted better than this, we ate all the food we could and cleaned it down with a nice filter coffee.

Full of 1st Jan and 1st half of 2nd Jan was all we were left with in KL and we had not visited a single place, its was a total piss off, I realized the difference between a tourist and a traveler. I am driven by curiosity and eagerness to see things, but ever ones objective was not the same, with all the resistance we started our day going to China Town, no clue why we were wasting our time there till about 12 noon. Time was running out and the tempers were running loose, with much drama and tension we hired a taxi for a day and went straight to the Batu caves, a hindu temple (lord Muruga) some 270 odd steps we are at the temple right in time for an abishikam, the caves are beautiful and quite unique in all its textures as its more of sand stone that has caved in over a long period of time.

Row of street lights with bulbs popping out of the hibiscus shaped structures looked very creative, Malaysia’s national flower is hibiscus and the way they have used them in the streetlights around the park that covers the Bird park, Orchid park and the Butterfly park was very fascinating. Our next stop was the bird park, world’s largest aviary in captive, it was superbly maintained, large species of birds, many of which I did not even know, it was an eye opener indeed, the most popular among are the peacocks that are walking all over the place with no real fear of the people walking around. The hornbills that I only saw in Dandeli forest were also there, breath taking one was a large vulture whose wings were about 2.5 ft each.

We left the bird park after some souvenir shopping; on the way was the palace of the king of Malaysia, its really not visible from the main gate, but that did not deter us from taking pictures with the guards outside. On the list was the Chinese Buddhist temple, and anything about China or Buddhist is colorful. Even though it’s not an old temple, it had all the ingredients of the old look with bright colors, for ones it was peaceful and calm.

We also visited the Freedom square, the National mosque before hitting one more shopping mall adjacent to the Petronos towers. If there is one symbol that represents Malaysia it’s the Petronos Twin towers. I tried, as many shots I could to get the entire length of the tower on camera, was almost successful. With no more love left for any shopping I sipped a large glasses of juice till the rest of them returned to the meeting point. We returned to the hotel and crashed right after dinner.

2nd Jan was the last day in KL, so we left early to visit the National museum, which was a treat, I loved the ancient weapons section and the concept of arranging the sections based on the era, which ends with “Malaysia now”. The history of Malaysia is quite similar to that of India, with the colonial rule. The entire artifacts, weapons etc have a lot of Chinese influence but resembles a lot with India too. Malaysia is a multi-culture country, even though its predominantly muslim, every other section of the people can safely call it home and leave peacefully with varied religious beliefs.

After lunch at an India restaurant, we rushed to KL towers, which houses some games and a snake sanctuary, its amazing to see such a place in the heart of the city, and was indeed a great experience to see very large size snakes. Coffee and we were off to the airport, flew to Langkawi after a long wait. It’s a 50-minute flight to the Island of Langkawi, we reached the hotel driving from one end to the other end of the island within 45 minutes. I dozed off with no much trouble, was indeed happy that the place shuts by 9.30 pm and was spared from yet another shopping spree.

Morning was bright we visited the wildlife park, where the prime attraction was feeding the Ostrich and holding a parrot, it sounds funny but it was really cool. After much deliberation we went up to the view point on the cable car, the highest elevation on a cable car in the world I guess, it raises 42 degrees, and gives a great view of the island, since its on a mountain, the green cover below is quite a treat. I was by now running out of space in my camera, had to delete not so good pics to accommodate the new ones.

Our next stop was the Crocodile farm, not much of an exciting place, just average, but the underwater world was the finest of all the places we visited, even though its not a large place the number of species it has was quite informative. I loved the pics of the fishes I took; I can say that they are the best pics of the trip. After spending some time on the beach we headed back to the hotel.

Our flight to KL was at 12 noon and from KL to Bangalore was at 9.55 pm, so we planed to visit to Formula 1 track, but Air Asia had different plans, our flight did not take-off till 5.45 pm. We reached KL domestic airport and rushed to the international section, after a long flight (given how tired we were) we reached home in the wee hours of 5th Jan.

Lesson for the next year: “Spend the New Year on a calm beach side”.

- Kavitha Reddy