PHP iptcembed Gallery3 to Flickr

A journey of sharing photo only got me into having a website of my own. When digital camera came out with decent mega pixel was an early adapter of the same. But soon realized sharing Pictures on email was not an option and  hosted pictures  on Tripod. Oh! they used to give 10MB of free hosting :) now Flicker gives one 1TB free. So long  story small after the managing own gallyery app writen initally with csv and php , later mysql and php and lastly Gallery for almost 10 years. found gallery development is kind of not that active it used to be. So thought of moving into Flickr which was big no in-between as they had restriction on free accounts. But now those restriction gone managing 7000+ picture and importing them with proper details remained a BIG challenage. At last came up with iptcembed  where all the details where written into  JPEG file itself and imported those image as set to Flickr.And all your details, tag, captions are set properly.

Here is how I did it

1. Copy Gallery's items table to temp table so we do not mess with live data
2. Add a new column to the temp table
ALTER TABLE `Yours_G3_items-new` ADD `album_name` TEXT NOT NULL
3. Find out the parent album id of each items and add that data in the new column.
UPDATE Yours_G3_items-new,Yours_G3_items  SET Yours_G3_items-new.album_name = Yours_G3_items.title WHERE Yours_G3_items-new.parent_id = Yours_G3_items.id
4. Export the new table with "|" as separator and "" as enclosed.

Now the PHP script
<?
//File to be opened
$file="/tmp/csv.txt";
$gallery_album_base = ..../gallery3/var/albums";
$new_gallery_album_base = <new location>/albums" ;
//
$handle = fopen($file, 'r') or die ("Fail to open input file \n\r") ;
$ln= 0 ;
// Some Functions Start
function csv_explode($delim='|', $str, $enclose='"', $preserve=false){
$resArr = array();
$n = 0;
$expEncArr = explode($enclose, $str);
foreach($expEncArr as $EncItem){
if($n++%2){
array_push($resArr, array_pop($resArr) . ($preserve?$enclose:'') . $EncItem.($preserve?$enclose:''));
}else{
$expDelArr = explode($delim, $EncItem);
array_push($resArr, array_pop($resArr) . array_shift($expDelArr));
$resArr = array_merge($resArr, $expDelArr);
}
}
return $resArr;
}

// iptc_make_tag() function by Thies C. Arntzen
function iptc_make_tag($rec, $data, $value)
{
$length = strlen($value);
$retval = chr(0x1C) . chr($rec) . chr($data);
if($length < 0x8000)
{
$retval .= chr($length >> 8) . chr($length & 0xFF);
}
else
{
$retval .= chr(0x80) .
chr(0x04) .
chr(($length >> 24) & 0xFF) .
chr(($length >> 16) & 0xFF) .
chr(($length >> 8) & 0xFF) .
chr($length & 0xFF);
}
return $retval . $value;
}
// Some Functions End
while ($line = fgets ($handle)){
$line = str_ireplace("\x0D", "", $line);
$line = urldecode ($line);
++$ln;
print ("just line : $ln \n");
if ($line===FALSE) print ("FALSE\n");
else {
//print ("I am $ln \n");
//print ($line) ;
$variables = csv_explode ("|", $line);
//print_r ($variables);
//26(album or photo) 25(title), 13(image_path), 4(details),33(album_name/tag)

if ( $variables[26] == photo ){
//Path new and old path
$old_path = $gallery_album_base . '/' . $variables[13];
$image_name_new = $new_gallery_album_base . '/' . $variables[13];
$path_parts = pathinfo ($image_name_new);
if (!file_exists($path_parts['dirname'])) {
print ("makeing directory {$path_parts['dirname']} \n") ;
mkdir ($path_parts['dirname'], 0777,true);
}

// Set the IPTC tags
$iptc = array(
'2#120' => "$variables[4]",
'2#105' => "$variables[25]",
'2#005' => "$variables[25]",
'2#015' => "$variables[33]",
'2#116' => 'Copyright, www santm com'
);
// Convert the IPTC tags into binary code
$data = '';
foreach($iptc as $tag => $string)
{
$tag = substr($tag, 2);
$data .= iptc_make_tag(2, $tag, $string);
}
// Embed the IPTC data
$content = iptcembed($data, $old_path);
// Write the new image data out to the file.
$fp = fopen($image_name_new, "wb");
fwrite($fp, $content);
fclose($fp);
print ("working on $image_name_new \n");
//$size = getimagesize($image_name_new, $info);
//if(isset($info['APP13']))
//{
// $iptc = iptcparse($info['APP13']);
// var_dump($iptc);
//}
} //end of if photo loop
} // end of else loop
} // end of while loop
# Close the File.
fclose($handle);
?>
I Wish there was API where I could import the image from my old hosting company to Flickr directly instead of uploading them via their PC up-loader.

More here on major phpfunction

http://www.php.net/function.iptcembed
http://www.php.net/function.pathinfo
http://php.net/manual/fr/function.explode.php

Moving away from self hosting

Well after all these years of self hosting and WordPress I am kind of let go the Self-hosting. Moved pamela.santm.com to Tumblr and all the pictures from Gallery3 to Flickr

Still need to move www.santm.com somewhere and aarush.santm,com pictures to somewhere, most likely it will be Flickr again. hope to complete the all these before 2013 finishes.

Kurseong

Kurseong


The first-daywe got little suspicious with the transport rates being quoted by Kanchan View Hotel Manager. We reported that back to Calcutta the tour operator Mr. D. Ghosh. But once you are away from home and you have limited option to negotiate a bargain. The Hotel person by now have charged us 2500 for the first day covering only Tagore Smritivan , monastery and forest bungalow. For the second day we paid 2500 to cover 5/6 places but the distance was more. By now we have checked few blogs and travel sites thanks to borrowed usb modem and quite certain that we are being robed :( The charge for travelling to Burniok to Kurseong was a whopping 4500. Somehow by now we kind of lost faith on that travel agent :( of Calcutta. 

Only good part we got a new Mahindra Xylo and started travelling back to Jorethang on the same road and took a turn there towards Kurseong The road was really bad as we entered West Bengal luckily we were in a SUV. The road was narrow, long and without any major village to stop or rest over for few minutes.
We called the guest house in Kurseong to get a direction and he explained the same to our driver. On the way weather also changed its mood and it became very dark and started to rain as we approached Kurseong. Ghum (highest point on Toy train line ) was completely submerged in cloud. We could hardly see anything beyond few meters. Once we reached Kurseong we were lost with direction and had to come back to towards Darjeeling again to reach our home-stay. The home-stay is on a hill top near St. Mary. We approached it via such a narrow lane that there was no chance for our SUV to go to the end and had to drag our luggage ourselves. It was not a pleasant way to approach a new place & moreover there was no help from the home-stay and it was raining. By the time we got into our room it was almost 2:30 PM and it was really cold. Although the house had wooden floor but it was really cold and we felt little unprepared for this weather in the middle of summer. We had some hot Maggi and sandwiches as snack or late lunch. My mother decided for a rest while we decided to explore the market of Kurseong. So we walked back to the highway (Darjeeling -Siliguri NH 55) and got a shared jeep (taxi) which took us to the market.

The market we explored about travel option of our own this time. We fixed one taxi for next day's sightseeing and also inquired about rate for going to Darjeeling and Siliguri. With that our suspicion became reality ? that we were cheated by our travel agent.

We walked around the market area and it started to rain. We left the market area behind and tried our luck in stopping a taxi to drop us back. But that turned out negative and we continued and reached “Kurseong Tourist Lodge”. Stopped there for a break we ordered coffee and French fries for Aarush. Must admit after a long time had a good coffee in the kingdom of tea :). The sky got little cleared and we started walking back again on NH 55 to reach our home-stay. Walking along the Highway and toy train had its share of fun. Aarush did an excellent walk of 3 KM walk with uphill. Dinner was a simple-one egg-curry with rice and we headed to bed as it was really a long day for us.

Next day, the weather was not better compared to first day. After breakfast we started with our sightseeing. The first stop was Dow Hill Girls School. The place was not open to public that day and due to rain and cloud we could hardly see anything. This school is 130+ years old started in 1879. From there we went to Dow Hill (Deer Park) which is little further on the same road. It seems there is a big plan to make a zoo/entertainment park with rope-way in couple of years. Knowing it is West Bengal I have personal doubt that it will ever be made.

From there we went to Makaibari Tea Estate, normally on a regular day you can visit the factory and have a guided tour of tea leave processing. But being Sunday factory was closed and we just bought some tea. En route we passed Castleton Tea estate which is one of the most expensive Darjeeling tea. While heading back we stopped for few minutes to explore Cochrane Place and taking pictures around tea garden as Sun suddenly came out between the cloud. This resort/hotel is really cool and worth checking out if you are looking for better stay with excellent view.

After this we came to TV tower which is also known as Eagle Crag. It is a high point and provides panoramic view of the valley down . The sky was not very clear but it was better than the initial morning and we could see the road going to Siliguri and the great flat land near from there. The river Torsa;’s white mark was very faint.

The driver suggested some options which really did not appealed us but then he suggest Goethals Memorial School. For that we drove past our home-stay. This time we got lucky and guard let us in the school yard. This school is the boy’s convent started in 1907. There are many distinguished alumni’s who represented India from Olympics to Corporate leadership. It was a real nice feeling to explore this school from outside, reminded us of the Montfort School of Yercaud,TN.

The driver dropped us back to the same place where we had snacks previous day evening. The place was packed with tourist but luckily we managed a table and had some hot meal there. We went back to our home-stay with a local Taxi.

Now like weather our camera also made a big drama, one of the plastic pins of memory card got broken and it refused to work. We explored St Mary’s Hill in the evening. It was a nice stroll from home-stay. We crossed Eastern Forest Rangers' College (another British Legacy) on our way. It is a scenic natural area covered with lush green forests all around and the way leading to The Grotto. A statue of Mariam (Mother of Isa) is placed inside a open cave. There were only one or two worshipers when we were there to lit candles.

Well that is also end of Kurseong, settled the bill & booked a Taxi for next day morning to take us early in the morning to train station to get a ride on famous Toy train to Darjeeling

Mysore Half Marathon 2013


This was Mysore Celebration Run 2013 ; well there was BIG celebration at Pacemakers running group. Coach was brand ambassador of the run, we had a promo run in Bangalore for the same. Few runners from group also got featured in Life is Calling's web site.

Initially I was against this run as I rescheduled my Mother's return flight from Bangalore to Siliguri on the same Sunday :(. But big thanks to Maa and Pamela as they supported to run me this event. Initial plan was Pamela to drop Maa at airport, but at the end Maa said she would go via Taxi of her own. I traveled in car with fellow runners post lunch on Saturday and with small coffee break reached Mysore around 18:30. We had a simple South-Indian rice meal - a well carb-loading with rice. The hotel we stayed was 100 meters from the start/finish line.

On the race day we did not had to wake up that early compared to weekends run as run was starting at 06:30. Prepared myself for a hot day with a very light sleeve-less , ca and sun-glass. Was double minded about the tee as it felt little chilled as we walked out of the hotel. But as soon as did warm-up felt great about the choice of attire.

Initial plan I had in my mind was to stick with one lady runner from our group and try to finish as best I could. We started together but around 2KM mark there was little down hill and I continued my pace which I was comfortable once I go ahead from her. I continued my own pace and most time did not checked my garmin at all. I knew I was running faster than normal weekend runs but there was no discomfort. Around the lake where we took "U" turn could see all the the elites were coming back and a majority of them were from our group. Around 17 and 18 KM I wish the finish line was nearer as mind always plays devil game at the end.

The last 500 Meters there were Pacemakers waiting to cheers and pace the last part. I tired my best to push myself and get get a 1:50 finish. Well a minute shorter I would have beat my own record from 2003. But the length of the race is not 21.1 so if I really need to finish 1:50 next time I need to save 2/3 minutes overall and a target of around 1:45 would be dream come true.

Special thank to Flashbulbzz for the capturing these wonder pictures.

West Sikkim - Hee Bermiok

We initially planned to visit Bhutan during summer vacation of ’13. Somehow during the planning phase we found it was overshooting our budget. And moreover, was advised against it during late April & Early May as there is a high chances of rain during that time. So we had no plan and no places to visit while we are going to be in Siliguri for 10/12 days.

We called one travel agent in Calcutta from train and told him about our requirement and he said he would be able to put an itinerary of 6 nights ( 2nights Sikkim, 2 Kursuang and 2 in Darjeeling). We had no clue on the suggested itinerary as we were too preoccupied with our trip to Gaya.


Day-1



The d-day before of our trip cab driver called and informed us he is coming down to pick us. He suggested it would be a good idea to start from Siliguri as early as possible. We started around 7 from home to Bermiok (West Sikkim) via Sevoke road. The road along Assam riffles was just magnificent straight road without any potholes(a miracle in India) and trees lined on the both side. Soon we were climbing the twisted roads and crossed Coronation Bridge over the Teesta river ( few days later the bridge become news when “An Indian Guinness World Record holder who attempted to cross a river suspended from a zip wire attached to his ponytail has died during the stunt”. We continued on the Siliguri-Gantogk(NH31A) road and took a turn at Melli for Jorethang and continued on Melli-NayaBazar Road. After Jorthang the road became more steeper and narrow you really need to know how to manage those hills and steep incline and hairpin bends with zero visibility. Only relief was there were not many cars on the road. We reached Bermiok after passing by Nayabazar, Rinchenpong, Kaluk. The road was more or less well maintained but many places would be quick target of rains and land-slide is common which would cause major havoc for commuters.

The Hotel( Kanchan Hotel) was pre-booked and we were the only one to stay there. Surprisingly, the last visitor to this place was two months back. The rooms were nothing great but as they are on the hill you could see Kanchenjunga Range from your room. Suddenly, we realized we are feeling cold as this place is 5650 ft above MSL. But the caretaker gave us the first surprise mentioning we need to spend 2500 on Taxi for sight seeing. It was a shock but we did not have a choice. In the meantime, the sky was getting cloudy which is very common post noon in hills. We had a simple Bengali lunch Dal, some veggies and fish.

Post lunch we started with Tagore Smriti , a nice park dedicated to Rabindranath Tagore. Personally, doubt did Tagore ever visited this part of Sikkim as there is no solid proof for the same but the local tour guides thinks he did. From there we went to Rinchenpong monastery. There were small monks inside the monastery for their afternoon classes so we did not went in. This is a very old monastery built in 1717 with wood. The driver/guide told us there is another monastery ( Resum Monastery) if we are willing to walk up-hill. We wanted to explore so continued it was long walk up-hill with many steps. My mother stopped climbing in the middle and we three continued. It was a price-less walk reminding Master-card Advertisement as it was complete silence and the soundings are too green and pristine. Once we reached the top there was not much to see honestly. There is a old monastery which seems now part of dispute between different sect or family and there are few families staying as caretaker. Photograph of the monastery was not allowed so we took some pictures outside and headed back.

Now we headed towards to the British “Dak-Bunglow”( Now Government Guest House) , we crossed Poison lake on the way. The story of poison lake goes like this “when the British attacked Sikim(1860). They reached up to Rinchenpong when Lepchas (the original inhabitants of Sikkim) poisoned the water of the pond, the only source of water in Rinchenpong. In the process killing almost half of the British troops and forcing them to retreat.”

Well it became dark by 4:30 PM and we headed back to hotel and enjoyed hot tea with pakodas. Sitting at the rooftop restaurant we enjoyed clear sky and innumerable number of stars glittering on the sky, the lights of Pelling and Gayzing was illuminating like diamonds. Cold was getting unbearable so after an early dinner we retreated to the room quickly.


Day-2


Wow! what a sun-rise with rain washed blue sky we got a clear view of Kanchenjunga Range. It was simply magnificent. We clicked many shots and special thanks to Pamela for being up so early. Post breakfast we left for other local destinations. We started with Chayataal a picnic spot. This a Government resort on a remote hill top. The road is really bad there was no tar and with previous night rain it was really muddy. We found it bit strange and could not understand why government of Sikkim is allowing guest house/hotel/Govt- Bunglow like mushrooms. If it continues for another couple of years this remote part will become like Uttarakhand tsunami one day.The USP for this western Sikkim is remoteness, being closer to nature with plenty of trees if that is gone it will be a real shame.

From Chayataal as headed down we stopped at Rock Garden; another park/picnic spot. It is located next to a stream and it was walking up and down taking pictures. The place is really nice to enjoy yourself with nature and not being bothered as there was no other tourist around.

Now we traversed the hills towards Pelling(Major town of West Sikkim) and crossed the beautiful valley of Dentam, stopped at Cheese Factory and bought some cheese for ourselves,. We took the road going towards Uttarey and visited the famous suspension bridge ‘Sinshore bridge.’ From Sinshore Bridge we took an U-turn came down to Dentum and drove towards Changey falls. Now we are on the complete opposite hill range and could see the road that we came in the morning. The Changey falls was OK but as we were end of summer there was not much water but good enough.

On the way back to Dantum we asked the driver to stop Kalej Khola, this is near Dantum Bridge. We went to the stream to soak our feet the water was cold but it was really relaxing. We were hungry and headed back to our hotel for lunch. Post lunch we went for a stroll on the same road for couple of kilometers.

Indian Babus(Govt Official)

Today went to the local BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) office to get my property Tax receipt which I paid in June there. Was told to go other one as this office is being closed. God only knows why Government build office first and operate there for few years and move to another one. On going to next office

 The guy told without looking at me "Come Monday"


Me -  "Sir Monday is Off due to Ganesha Festival"


Him -  swallows  his words and says "OK come Tuesday"


Me -  "Sir I need it today"


Him - Now he looks up and says "come afternoon"


Me -"Sir it is already afternoon as it is 12:20 PM"


Him - "OK get the bank statement" to prove the money is credited as you paid by Cheque"


Me - little annoyed  -"It is three months and I am telling you it is debited from my account"


Him - takes the acknowledgement slip and goes to a room and comes back  in 5 seconds.


Me - Goes to the same room after 30 Sec; ask the lady with computer for the receipt.


She hands me over the print outs.(surprise surprise so this is the time it really takes 1 minutes max) 


Me  asked for Official Seal


She points back to the first guy


Me  come back with the printouts he signs and puts the round seal.


Thanked him very politely. And got out of there.


The whole thing took only 10/15 minutes a max and my good luck that my work was done. Best part he spoke in Kanada and I kept on replying in English.  Whatever we do as Indian with watching MTV and eating McDonald a visit to Government Office still  remains nightmare which I postpone and procrastinate for ever. As those Officer or a Clark does not change their attitude.

 

Blessed

Blessing is a simple word, but yesterday night (Monday) just before sleeping I was thinking about the same again and again. Wished for a gadget to record my thought as I was too tired to use any keyboard or voice recorder. At times we  wonder and sometime make fun of those award ceremonies where people on the stage  keep on thanking people around him or her and sometimes even their dogs. I always love to read the preface of a book where authors thank about their loved ones and early critics and business partners. Webby Award (considered as Oscar of Internet) being techie kept it simple --- as they have "5 word Acceptance Speeches” rule. Well I was not thinking about those awards and long speeches but more about the people around me who are allowing me to cherish my daily life on my own way.

After a horrible finish in Bangalore TCS 10K(1hr plus) and Chennai Half Marathon(2:27 my watch/2:09 race web site). I was determined to be regular with Coach Kothandapani K C and Pacemakers group. Earlier, was just running once a week with the group on weekend for long run and that too bit irregular. Now for one month started to leave home at 4:30 AM to reach Kanteerava Stadium for Tuesday and Thursday training. Tuesday, is interval training something I never ever tired before when I  started to run,  in early 2000. I struggled for weeks but eventually saw some improvement in me but there is still a lot to go. Thursdays we do tempo or core strengthening exercise which really helps running as core is the power house of our body. And couple of Nandi hill runs on the weekend ensured we were not scared of those flyovers in upcoming Airtel Hyderabad Half Marathon .

In recent time, asked my younger brother to ship a  pair of running  shoes (4E-wide feet) & Garmin(GPS Watch). These items were personally carried to Bangalore by friends and colleague from US. These items are not easily available in India and if they are, they cost an arm and leg.

Can not thank enough Pamela for being there like a rock. Now a days, Pamela rushes faster than Bolt on those 2 days as she prepares breakfast, lunch box  and ensures Aarush and herself is ready with shower, breakfast and out of home by 07:30 to be at school on time.  Also,  in recent time lucky to have family members around who baby-seated Aarush on Saturdays as we are now running on Saturdays for long run instead of Sundays.

The result just speak for itself, finished Hyderabad Half Marathon strong with 2:01:33 on my Garmin. It is my best in recent time and  I am happy with the split timing for each Kilometers. I was consistent throughout and had only few kilometers where I ran slower than pace 6. The last KM I was able to push myself and was around 5:10 pace again ; where crossed a fellow runner from the running group and felt like winning the Gold medal. Yes, there was hard work, determination, strategy which helped me to achieve this. A minute shorter would have been a icing on the cake. But again, all these could not have been possible without these people and their belief in me; so feeling really blessed.

The race was an amazing one, met few finest Indian runners from other cities. The arrangement of transport, train tickets, hotel arrangement was too good; again special thanks to Coach and pacemakers team for that. The post-run lunch was something which I am going to drool and talk about for months to come. It was a unmarked restaurant named "Dine Hill", we were bit hesitant initially but once went inside for food; seeing the people and their plates we got a big cultural shock. There were those huge dishes which are as big as the size of the table and 4-5 people eat together from the same plate. We asked the restaurant guy if he is going to give us separate plate; He said YES but added why do not you try this way of sharing and eating food with friends - love grows between friends.




Pipeline Road Run


There was a discussion in the running group to practice hill-run before upcoming Hyderabad run which I am trying to be a regular member. Normally the "numero uno" destination for hill training around Bangalore is Nandi Hill ; which is 60KM north of the city. Have already run Nandi hills few times and yes Nandi is grueling specially the last 3 KM. Nandi run is 15KM in total where you go 7.5 KM up and come down the same. But the run does not duplicate Hyderabad where we need to cross 3 flyovers. Pipe-line road at south of Bangalore parallel to Kanakpura Road is very similar to Hyderabad . The initial plan was to run 21 KM one way and had a sumptuous breakfast at one farm house.

On the D-day morning the plan was little changed as decided to do 12.5KM up and down to complete 25KM and then take our cars to the farm house for breakfast. So we started running from KSIT Engineering College and followed pipe-line road and crossed NICE-road, Ravishankar Guruji Ashram, Angana, and reached APS Engineering collage where Pipe-line road cross Kanakpura Road again. I turned back and completed my 25KM while few went ahead and reached the farm house directly. Here is the elevation graph from my new GARMIN :) I am very proud to say I did not stopped the whole trail and was able to run all along and completed it :) :)



  • Distance: 25.40 km

  • Time: 2:40:44

  • Avg Pace: 6:20 min/km



1st class sleeper

It was a dream from a long time to travel in 1st class in Indian Railway. The last time I traveled in 1st class was early 1985 when we went to Puri ( a must stop for Bengali ). So when the dates for summer vacation became clear started booking for train tickets. It was month of December when we booked ticked for April. Wanted to book 2nd AC ticket but to my surprise it was already sold out so opted for AC 1st Class. The price of AC 1st class is almost like air-fare on a positive side you get a personal cabin/coupe and great food and service but it still takes looong time to travel between Bangalore and Calcutta. It takes 2.5 hours in flight and 28 hours in the fastest train which is called as Duronto (quick). We wished to get a coupe for ourselves as when you book a AC 1st Class ticket you don’t get a seat number like other class just till 4 hours of train departure that is when Railway prepares the boarding chart. Doing few search on internet one gentleman suggested the best way to get a coupe to yourselves is go to the boarding railway station and get a special ticket for your pet for a minimal price. Now that way Railway will not mix you with others and on the day of journey you can always say you left behind your pet with a friend.


The Journey:



The day of journey started with two unpleasant news. The first one maid called up to inform that she is not coming. Oh! that was hard, Pamela had to clean the house, utensils to her best as she was leaving for almost 4 weeks. And the second was rash on Aarush back. Hmm not a great start as we were not sure what the hell is this. The pre-booked taxi came well before hand and to our surprise we reached Yashwantpur in jiffy. We had to wait for an hour before boarding the train which was unpleasant with heat but a good warm-up session for the hottest summer ahead as we leave Bangalore.

The train started on time and we were greeted with red roses and wet tissue from the greeting staff. Soon they gave water bottles and told us they will be serving soup soon and checked if we need anything before that. The food was great and it was served with proper cutlery and there was foldable tables. They even came back to check if we need any extra item while having lunch. We had Indian Lunch and continental dinner and in between he had snacks, tea-coffee and soups.

The journey was really relaxing the way I wanted till we reached Cuttack (Orissa) next day, where our train and other trains including Rajdhani were stuck for 2 hours as there was protest from local people demanding one over-bridge. This two hours delay just killed all the fun, as soon passenger started to agitate and there was a big drama when people were complaining we in 1st AC still enjoying AC while they are not J. But the reality was we did not but as AC-1st class are cabins and have less people it was getting hot slowly. But again that reminded us of Calcutta which is synonymous with agitation all the time. Over the years people of Bengal have really do not know how to take ownership and lead to solve problem of their own they are always blaming someone. Any way after all that we started for Calcutta and soon it was lunch time.

Well we reached a rain soaked Calcutta post dark, it was relief from heat but took a long time to reach our pre-booked hotel at central Calcutta. A journey we will cherish long time as not sure next when I am going to have the luxury of time.

Chennai DRHM

Chennai DRHM ( Dream Runners Half Marathon) was on 1st Sunday of July i.e. 7th July 2013. It was the first run out of Bangalore for me. Last time I registered for Mumbai Standard Chartered was in 2008 and was gifted with Aarush just few days before the race :D  Well Aarush is the reason why I can not run on weekdays morning but he is the catalyst who introduced me to The Pacemakers running group of Bangalore.

 It was a great escape for me from Bangalore and daily routine. a big thanks to Pamela for supporting me on this. Knew it was not going to be my best run given the fact I was not practicing at all. The last time ran was beginning of June after that it was all about running around household and office work. Working late and on weekends and busy with Aarush's school and what not. In fact I was so messed up  posted The Pacemakers  Facebook page that “I am not going” but thanks to Pamela after an hour  posted  “I will” be going.

Thanks to fellow runners a cab was booked and woke up Saturday Morning at 4:30 and meet them at the gate at 5. We were at Containment Station by 5:40 where already few fellow runners were waiting, at 6:10 boarded the Shatabdi. The train journey was fun brought back the memory of college days where traveled  in a large group for the last time.  It was fun to be noisy and so many small group chit chat ... it was real entertaining.

As soon reached Chennai the humid heat welcomed us and oh! that smell of Chennai Central. Thanks to our Tamil friends we moved to the electrical (local)  train platform and took a local train towards hotel, the last part from station to hotel was long walk . We crossed many ministerial bungalows as walked from Station to our hotel Raj Palace.

Reaching hotel there was enough opinions for lunch venue/cuisine between 30+ hungry stomachs personally stayed back had the same in the hotel and had a long nap till dark. It was ladies Final at Wimbledon and soon our room was packed with 20+ people as it is more fun to watch in group. Everyone thought it would be a big fight between German and French. But Bartoli finished the tournament quickly in a straight set with ace. Well she did not beat any big names in this tournament but she beat those who did ... a dream came true.

Dinner was like lunch again many opinion and this time personally went out to explore little beyond hotel to ‘Saravana Bhavan’ the place was packed as usual and had Paneer Dosa a foolish choice before a long run tried to mitigate with Dahi Vada (yogurt to neutralize the richness of Cottage Cheese and oil) . The bus ride back to hotel was long we had we had a walk mile personally liked it after a big meal.


Race Day ….


Woke up at 3:30 had a quick shower and realized it is going to be a tough one as was not feeling good in stomach. We were supposed to be out of hotel by 4 but there was big time drama by the arranged cab drivers, was part of the last drop. The sky was dark with cloud and it rained a lot in the night but still the weather felt hot and very very humid bay around 75~85%  precipitation. Tried to follow Coach’s warm-up session but the school ground was full of sand and dropped out from the running one. The race started at 5 and started my stop watch for the first time running with a watch and that too a GPS enabled,  started with few pacemakers for the first few kilometers and then started running of my own pace which  felt very good about. And every Kilometers Garmin showed my speed and all was looking very nice. Soon say the lead runner coming back and it was none other than our Nanjundappa. The second runner was at least a KM behind him. Soon saw many of the Pacemakers taking the turn. But my run took a downhill  as I struggled from 13KM onwards. I felt there are too much water in my bladder and I am tired from the humid condition.  So I walked run and continued till the end and many people crossed me in that process. The 2 KM I tried again to push myself but by that time I was out. As soon as I finished the race said bye to pacemakers group and walked back to hotel. Well it was a long walk but did not want to haggle with Autos.

The race was very organized with lots of police and volunteers and roads are so good that it does not seem like India. The coarse was also perfect as we ran along Bay of Bengal and the famous Marina Bay only humidity was a concern but there is no way we can avoid that in this time of the year. The sun was completely out as sky was covered with dark cloud I think it can not be better than this in July in Chennai.


Reaching Hotel, freshened up had a big breakfast and by that time all others also came back. There was a celebration in hotel where someone walked and got beers  personally skipped beer just after exercise but the fun was too good to be missed.  The train  journey back was as much fun but this time everyone was little bit tired. Enjoyed every moment of this trip and next is one going to be Hyderabad Half Marathon  in late August. Well the result below is wrong to my it will be in the range of 2:27. In TCS 10k official time made me mad now it is making me smile :D


Google Page Test, CloudFlare and W3 total Cache

Installed all these three on pamela.santm.com and blog.santm.com which are running on wordpress 3.6 trunk. moved the dns details to cloudflare. While Pamela's hobby site did very well Google page test result our blog result was not great. Looks like the culprit is inbuilt gallery of wordpress which is re-sizing images and seving them on fly causing high server time. the command that helped me a lot is "mogrify -strip *.jpg" which is part of imagemagick tool kit and removes exif data from images.



Aarush~nama

Last Saturday, it was father & son time again as Pamela in school after long summer vacation. Aarush was doing his part to keep my hands busy and asked him are you a Nut for being such naughty? And the apt reply was “Yes, I am; I am a coconut”. Could not stop laughing for a long time. Even though we call it a nut but coconut is not a nut botanically?

Handshake

A great gesture of being humble by Mr. David Thomson today.  He did shook-hand  with the entire front row as we officially inaugurated of our new Office today.    Luckily I  was there early bird :)  and was touched by his firm handshake. He is the  wealthiest man personally saw in person  he used to be ranked in top 10 richest man according Forbes few years back.

BookShelf

This was complete DYI project. Theses books are not going to be touched soon.




10 years hitch

Wow it is 10 years already for a blog/web site  which has always been early adopter of WordPress trunk :)

Opinion - does it really matter ?

Opinion – a simple word everyone has one. Thanks to new social media which makes it so easy to spread it. They express it say it is personal (me included). Does it really personal once expressed ? I am not a social science expert but there are some opinions heard, read in recent time wondered what to do with them.  Tried argue with few at the beginning but at the end ignored them all. Hope you will do the same, if not leave your comments.
Scene-1 Mr. President visiting CA and ends up apologizing for a comment which sound natural but did not go well in media. Sorry Mr. President wrong choice of words everyone has such high expectation from you. If it was your predecessor may be we have not read about it Newspaper’s opinion page.
Scene-2 One Chief Minister of India decides which countries are allowed to play in one Indian state for IPL. Well she is not the first one to do there was a stage set for the same in Mumbai long time back. Looks like it is not impacting cricket much and everyone is happy with IPL Season –Six.
Scene-3 One Indian minister comments on drought. I am leaving it out and saving myself from typing.
Scene-4 In Facebook, there are opinion on Aloe-Vera to politics, economy, technology, history and what not. Well like top 3 example I could just ignore them or comment or hit the humble ‘like-button’. Not sure why there is dislike button ? May be it is more “Gamification process” than “engaging”.
Scene-5 in a recent party heard people refusing airline based on their country of origin. Does it really make sense ? 

The same person avail other products/services of that same country directly or indirectly for sure in today’s connect world. Just for the record I was drunk and wise and remained mute :)
As said in the first really thinking on the digital/social context as here I am expressing my opinion without any heart-full argument on the same.

Mangalore

As mentioned we split  the travel in October with a week in between at Bangalore  Durga Pooja.  The destination for part two had to have sea and beach to cleansing the body and soul. Personally more of sea person if I have to choose between hills & sea.  We settled for Mangalore.  We booked for one hotel in the city which had maximum discount for 3 nights. We tried SumerSands the number-Uno destination for Managlore on travel. Now a resort with private beach was actually made for Expats community.

We started from Bangalore at 5 AM Sharp this time after loading the car with bags and baggage previous night. We were running low with cash but opted to find an ATM along the road and left Bangalore in hurry. This time road to Nilmangala  via Yashwantpur was more pleasant compared to last week and soon we were on NH 48. Till Kunigal  the road is now a proper 4 Lanes with tool. We paid toll twice on this part of the road but I was not complaining as I was doing constant 110/120 Km/Hr. The road from Hassan was old  undivided two lanes. But as we left early we did not face any traffic and we were soon near Sakleshpur. It was only 7:45 and I could not believe myself  that we crossed 223 KM in 2:30 hours in Indian road.



We stopped for ATM and got the dough, but missed the petrol pump next door. After breakfast, we wanted to fill fuel as the fuel needle was touching “E”. but to our surprise we crossed the small town of Sakleshpur and was already  started  the famous  Shiradi Ghat section. Soon we realized our mobile phones are out of network,  panicked little bit as there was no way to find out how far is the next petrol station. Switched off the  AC to gain one/two Kilometers of extra millage. The road condition detoriated as the pot holes got bigger and bigger.  The fuel needle was touching “E” but luckily the LED did not glow constantly. It became ON once or twice. We asked few groups of truck drivers  and their answer were very promising.  The milestones were not that comforting as they did not tell us how far we are from Gas Station.

Soon we crossed a forest check post, and we asked how far is the petrol station and got the best news the next one only couple of KM away. And just like that the Ghat section ended we filled full tank and headed for Mangalore. There was long queue for paying 5 Rupees Toll just outside Mangalore but with that we still managed to reach Managalore city by 11:30.  Nokia’s GPS was very accurate and we reached the major landmark (Hampankatta Circle) near our  Saffron Boutique Hotel  but from there it took another 10-15 minutes to reach there.

The hotel was great , newly renovated and we had a simple veg. lunch there. But the temperature and humidity was a killer and we decided for a nap.

After nap we drove towards Ullal ( 10KM south ) from Mangalore for Summer Sands. We reached soon and it was very hot at 16:00.  They charged us 100 INR per person at the gate and gave us some snacks voucher. Aarush was very impatient to get into the water. But after spending some time in the shade eating the snacks me and Aarush changed and got into the water. The beach being private was clean but it is  very rough where no one ventured to go inside deep water,  as back wave was really dangerous. I needed to keep an constant eye on Aaursh, as few times he got drifted from his seating place with the wave. He  really  played a lot;  was not happy to get out.

But now when he got out we were worried what to give for dinner as it was only 19:00.  Dinner was not  ready before 19:30 but with request the resort was able to serve us food little early and we   had a quick dinner for ourselves. On the way back, I had to stop in front of a shop which had street light to check my rear bumper which was making little sound. The shop owner was  true “Good Samaritan” fixed the bumper for free using his indigenous skills and technique which really lasted long.

Next morning, after breakfast we left for North direction  driving past Managalore port, Chemical factory and major refinery. We drove to  Panambur beach first, the beach was OK OK nothing great. There is one light house with little shacks. After that we crossed  Surathkal (KREC, Alma matter of my younger brother) according to guidebook Surathkal beach is one of the clean and hidden gem of Mangalore but we skipped it for Udupi. Udupi is famous for it Krishna Temple and during noon you get Prasad as whole meal. Udupi and its cuisine can be found across India famous for vegetarian  dishes.  The direction to temple was clear but as we approached, the road got narrower and parking became difficult. After parking the car in a designated parking lot we walked  to reach the temple. The Sun was a real killer. There was some queue in the temple but not very long. After paying our homage to Lord Krisha we were waiting for the special Prasad and after 40 minutes or so understood there was no Prasad that day as it was ‘Ekadashi (eleventh day of moon calendar).

We came out of the temple and walked back to car and not sure what to do next. We were hungry but the Sun and heat suggested stay inside only. So after deliberation  headed for Malpe beach. We missed the sign for beach and took a detour around Maple jetty oh! boy there was the smell of fish.  There was one nice big resort called Paradise. We stopped there had a long lunch intentionally and ordered desert and cold drinks in steps just to kill time we almost sat there for 3 hours. At last around 4 headed for the beach.

The beach was crowded but soon we realized this has one of the best ‘white –sand’ we have been to.  The waves were more gentle compared to its southern cousin and there were many adventure activities going on. You can go up in the parachute ride, the banana ride and water jet. Me and Aarush enjoyed a long stay in the warm water.  Once it started to get dark we left the beach and headed towards the car. We could not even leave Malpe when the thunderstorm hit us. It was heavy  rain with lighting. It caused havoc on the road. We continued driving and probably the worst rain driving for me. Ultimately,  stopped and pull over as it was little scary to drive behind red lights of other car with no visibility of the general road.  But any way we could not stop for ever - so after 10/15 minutes started and continued driving.  We reached a rain soaked Mangalore quite late.

Took an Auto from Hotel after getting fresh and headed  for a small fast food place called “Hot Bitez” Oppsite  Canara College on Jail Road. We picked this place from a blog with a catchy title .  Well, the food was OK OK  with fries and burger you can be never be wrong with Aarush, On our way back we enjoyed the festival of “Dusherra rally” where children to adult dress up like tiger and they are accompanied by drums and music. It is like a carnival. They start from the city center and go around. The party starts around midnight and last till wee hours of the morning. We were tired to enjoy this for long. But it was a shame of not having DSLR with us to capture the color and expression at that time.

Next day, after a breakfast we drove down south again and this time we drove for 70 KM south and visit the famous Bekal fort in Kerala. The fort was built around 1650 over 40 acres of land. In recent time it got prominent when famous director Mani Ratnam shoot his mega film Bombay in early nineties.  A very beautiful fort with many watch towers, with  breath taking view of Arabian sea as we walked along the parameters.

It was a holiday on the occasion of Id,  complete Kerala was closed. We made a big fool of ourselves by not having food at Bekal Fort before leaving from there. We reached  Summersand again and had a late lunch there. After spending time on beach we opted to leave early and have a proper dinner in Mangalore city. We asked our hotel reception to suggest a Mangalorian restaurant and they suggested one. We went by auto and the place was nice, crowded with families waiting for their turn. We were really hungry and ordered  lots of food. The food came after some time but it was so spicy that Pamela who normally handles hot and spicy food well could not handle too. It was a disaster in simple words, Aarush was very sleepy and we could not force him much.

Next day, was our last day in Mangalore and we started slow. We visited the famous ‘St. Aloysius Chapel” which is inside a educational campus. There are beautiful stained glass and the floor is simply awesome with mosaic. We went by auto and after spending sometime went to picture butterfly in near by Tagore park. After that we just walked back towards our hotel . We stopped at the famous Ideal Ice Cream Parlor and tried  their famous “Gadbad”. Aaursh really liked it as it was his breakfast and soon we ordered the Dilkush,  after the big ice-creams we headed back to our room, packed our things, payed the bill and started for Bangalore.

This time our tank was full when we cross Ghat section but as we crossed it around mid-day there were traffic and driving uphill had its own fun on those curves. Just after crossing Chikmanglur town we stopped for lunch. It was very crowded. Post lunch we drove straight to Bangalore without any stop.

Bijapur-Chitradurga

Day-5, Woke up at 4:30 in the morning as I could barely sleep whole night. Had mu bath and got little bit packing down to ensure we leave Bijapur at the earliest. Woke Pamela & Aarush around 5:30 and we started to walk to Gol Gumbaz. Unfortunately the lady who manages the ticket counter did not show up till 6:30. We were the first one to enter. After the local guard gving us little more history lesson asked us to climb the steps quickly before anyone. We climbed the seven story building using medieval steps which gets steeper as you climb. Aarsush did a great job of climbing all by himself. We were the only one at thw whispering gallery and able to whisper between ourselves across the hall. It is a amazing feeling of hearing the slightest of sound across football field. But after 10 minutes of so we got lousy intruders and we called it a go. Climbing down was more difficult at times.


Reaching hotel we had breakfast and Aarush and Pamela took shower and by 9 headed out for Bangalore. The drive was again on newly constructed NH-13 and by 11 we reached Hospect. We did not stopped and continued driving and by 13:30 reached Chitradurga. We first tried Hotel Aishwarya Fort which was just a dignified bar bar and bar. We left it as me and Aarush even could not use their rest room. We came to Naveen Regency which was a pleasant surprise. The hotel was clean and there was no drinking in the restaurant which made it more comfortable.

After a nice lunch we headed for ‘Chitradurga Fort’ – Chitra(picture) durga(fort). This fort was built between 10-18th centuries by different rulers and at last post independence it was part of Mysore dynasty before handing over to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). As it was weekday there were hardly any tourist there. Once we entered the fort one guide approached us and after little bargain he agreed to be our guide.

As the fort was built over many centuries it was like a mini town within the fort itself. There are many layers of walls to cross to reach the fort entry. To minimize any attack there are sharp turns, narrow but strong doors which can withstand attack from charging elephants. We kept on climbing as we explored the beauty and history. After a climb of 40/45 minutes we reached a plateau where there are the main temple and swing area.

From there we again climbed down to go to the back side of the fort. The back side of the fort is not that fortified. But it has natural boundaries. And most attack on th fort has been on the front as the accessibility is very poor. The attraction is “Onake Obavva”, where one lady managed to kill many soldiers of Hyder Ali as they tried to enter from the back. You can read it all here.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onake_Obavva)

Now after many steps and ups and downs Aarush was tired and so are we. A day of climbing steps with history which started in morning in Bijapur. We started around 5 PM for Bangalore and did not make any stop as we missed one decent Kamat near Tumkur L . The traffic was horrible as usual and it got only worse as we approached home. We stopped at McDonald just in-front of our home as Aaursh was not happy with this trip at all .. all the temples .. daemons and mythological figures. Any way it was a long drive on the last day but very much doable.

Badami and Bijapur

Day-4, Morning we woke up early and headed towards to Bansankari Temple to start our day. Bansankari has lady idol with eight hands which is worshiped meticulously around. We saw one lady rolling herself around the whole temple periphery with wet cloth which signifies she just took a bath in the nearby holy-pond. We got a good darshan of the devi idol as there was not much crowd in the morning.

We came to hotel and waited for our breakfast which was bit late as we woke up early. After breakfast we headed for the Badami caves. Badami has 4 caves inspired by Ellora. There are lots of monkeys in the base and cave-1 (dedicated to lord Shiva). You must not carry any food or water bottle, we got ourself a guide who has been in this business for last 20 years and he explained in details each cave and allowed us enough time to take plenty of pictures. Though the objects are same as we have seen in Hampi, Aihole and Patadkal but as they curved them out of the rock and created temple in cave formed these objected remained in better shape as at least they are saved from direct rain.


Once we completed all the caves we took our car through the busy market, I just stopped at times for few minutes before moving another inch as there was no space on both ends. Somehow we reached the Bhutanatha temple again Aarush opted for staying in car and we quickly went around the temple.

We came to hotel to checkout and hotel guys suggested we should go to Mahakuta temple before headed in towards Bijapur. This is a Shiva Temple and there is a pond which is considered quite holy to take a dip. After spending a short time there we headed towards to Bijapur directly skipping lunch.

The afternoon sun was hot like last two days and we continued nonstop to Bijapur( 120 KM). Personally was not very favorable about this choice as thought of having a lunch at Badami before heading towards the highway.
Anyway reached Bijapur and we opted for Hotel Pearl on Station road. The hotel is a very basic one and does not carry any recommendation, some websites and friends mentioned about Hotel Madhuvan were we did enquire from Bangalore. Any way after a quick checkin we headed towards the attractions of Bijapur.

We started with Jod Gumbaz (twin tomb) and from there we went to Ibrahim Rauza. As we were shooting photograph one guide appeared to offer his service. We agreed for a town wide tour with whatever can be covered in the remaining sun light. It was good to have him in the car as we did not have to ask for any direction every non and then and moved from one attraction to another. We covered Malik-e-Maidan(the great canon), Barakaman, Jami Masjid , Taj Bawdi, Mehtar Mahal, Asar Mahal. The only key attraction that was left was Gol Gumaz and guide told us the history and asked us to get up early in the morning to get good experience of the same.

He left us around 6 PM next to the Barakaman in one restaurant where we three tired and hungry person waited for their service to start at 7. Aaursh did his best had some food and we also quickly finished our food and headed to hotel. There was no hot water anymore and we were told it will start again in the morning 4. Really hated the whole thing.

Aihole and Patadkal

Day-3, post breakfast we hit the road, this time we followed the GPS voice of Pamela’s Lumia more attentively and with ease we head out of Hospet and join the highway. The highway NH-13 between Hospet and Bijapur is recently widen to 4 lane. It was a pleasure driving, the road was not at all crowded and surprisingly the trucks maintained the left lane. Was driving around 110/120 KMph without any trouble and soon reached Hungund. From there we took left turn towards Aihole.



There are plenty of sign for Aihole but when we reached we were greeted with a rustic village. There was no guides or local man asking us and by mistake we crossed the village and started with Jain Temple which is located on the isolated back side of the hill.

From there we came to village and visited – Hucchappayya Math Complex, Mallikarjuna Complex, Ravana Pahdi & Hucchimalli temple complex. Aarush had little snack while the car was under a tree shade. But the sun again was too hot and scotching hot. All these places we were the only visitor most of the times.

From there we went to Durga temple complex – the key attraction of Aihole. This time we found guide and after little bargain we hired one. After 90  minutes of tour we called it a day in Aihole.

The construction & sculpture at Aihole is considered the basic or primary for Karnataka. This is the very place where people inspired by Ellora started their love affair with stone.

From there we took the road towards Patadkal. The roads is a typical village road and the sun was very hard on us.  We reached there around 15:00; we did not had any proper lunch as there was no suitable place along the road to stop. We waited in the car had little more snacks & fruits that we had with us. We got in to the UNESCO Heritage site around 15:30 when the shadow got little longer. We hired a guide and without him the true beauty and history of this place would have remained unknown to us. There are seven temples dedicated mostly to Lord Shiva. Other than one remaining six is not functional as either the idol is broken or missing. The key of Patadakal is unique mix of South and North Indian temples. After 2 hours of trip down the memory lane we called it a day and left for Badami. As soon as we came out of the main temple complex we found the lone Jain temple on our right hand side and we did a quick stop there.

The road to Badami with orange sunlight with the backdrop of hills was very beautiful. The rocks were glowing with soft sunlight. We reached Badami before sunset and ordered some coffee and snacks as we reached our hotel Badami Court.

Dinner was a simple one, and after a long day we hit the bed early.