Monday, June 8, 2015

Kayaking at Hyderabad Water Sports Regatta

It was a fine Saturday morning and getting up was quite a task but I did get up knowing full well that I was due for a day of adventure. I had attended the Kayakathon the previous year and it had been nothing short of riveting. Needing a 1st finish in the last race to clinch the bronze overall, our team finished first and we stood 3rd overall. I still remember that my hands gave up on the halfway mark but I pushed through somehow with every ounce of energy left in me. It was a thrilling finish and I still recall almost plunging into the water with excitement.

With similar ideas of finishing at the top, I started from home in the morning. I had a few friends from office joining me for the event. Majid, with whom I had worked in a professional capacity earlier, was organizing the event. We reached Sanjeevaiah Park and there were at least about 100 people there eagerly waiting for instructions. I saw some anxious faces, quite visibly apprehensive about the water. I was not sure what plagued them, the fear of water or the thought of falling into the muck.

(The participants for the race cheering on the teams)

The teams were divided and I was chosen in Gowtham’s team. Gowtham was our coach. Suboth, Sahibar(colleagues from office) and I were in one team. I was sure that with good teamwork, we stood a chance to win. Suheim Sheikh(the founder of Yatch Club of Hyderabad) gave us some nuggets of good advice before the start. Post that, Gowtham gave us instructions about the format of the race. We called ourselves the “Hussain Bolts”, the obvious Usain Bolt pun gave a nice ring to the name. We were to have about 6 races and the best team, overall, would win. This was similar to the last Kayakathon and I was glad to have some experience on my side. I expected a good finish. And I guess good is what we got.

(The team 4 – Hussain Bolts. Hitesh is extra)
We had a practice run right before the race began and my friend Suboth and I head out kayaking. Suboth was sitting infront, with me in the middle and Prasad(one of the children who sail at the Yatch club) steering the boat at the back. As we were really excited and pumped, we got a bit carried away and rowed too hard. We paddled in the opposite directions while Prasad steered hard to the left. The kayak lost control and we toppled into the water. The next thing that happened was that hilarity engulfed us and we couldn’t stop laughing while floating in the Hussain Sagar water. The rescue boat arrived and looking at us, they chucked as well while lifting us out of the water. We returned to the shores with everyone having a good laugh about the fall. We were initiated, I thought. Less did I know that more initiation was to follow.

Suboth and I started the first race. . We collided with 2 other kayaks in the beginning and that cost us a lot of time. It was a spectacular effort and we finished last. We were aghast but sure that we would recover. Anusha and Shiva started the next race and thanks to a collision initially, their kayak toppled very close to the shore. Though this was something that was not to be laughed at, we couldn’t help but laugh our hearts out. As they were in shallow water, Prasad came walking to the shore but Shiva tried to swim in the water and we were all in splits at the majestic swim. Something was not going right for us. As Prasad was tired, I decided to steer the kayak in the 3rd round with Harsh and Sameer. Thankfully, this time we finished the race at the 4th position.

(Harsh and Sameer turning in a decent performance)

The next race had Sahibar and Ritish and they finished 6th. We were back to our consistent ways :D. We had Anusha and Shiva ready for the fifth race as they had not completed the race previously. We set out and finished the race 4th, happy that we could clock in a decent time.

At this point, there was a slight tweak in rules by Suheim and 2 more races were added. We now had 8 races in all. The team was tired at the moment but we knew we had to pull off a blinder to stand a chance to finish anywhere close to 3rd. Thoughts of last kayakathon flashed through my mind and I believed we could produce some brilliance. What happened next was nothing short of hilarious.
I was to steer in one race and participate in the other. That would make it 5 races in all for me. My hands were secretly amused at how I would pull it off. The first race had Sameer and Harsh with Prasad steering and they finished a comforting 3rd. I was really pleased with Harsh as he was way too tired to pedal before the last stretch but we cheered him on and he finished the race. I was to steer the next race with Sahibar and Suboth. Suboth was in the front of the Kayak again and I sensed an impending doom. Right at the start, Hitesh, one of my colleagues from office fell in water as his team’s Kayak toppled. Seeing this, Sahibar and I couldn’t control our laughter. So much that we momentarily forgot about the race and just went on guffawing over the incident. Less did we know that we would meet a similar fate in the next minute. Suboth paddled hard left, Sahbiar paddled right and I tried steering them on course. Result: Another topple.

(Moments before the topple. I’m laughing or shouting, I have no idea)

(With the kayak into the water)
At this point, I could not control my laughter. Suboth and I had toppled again and it was evident that together, we were recipe for disaster. The rescue boat arrived and for a change even they were in splits. The life guard innocently asked “Aap log dusri baar gire na?” after which followed another round of laughter. We were out of the water and headed straight to shore where people were not surprised at all to see us fall. Again.

(Even the life guard has a good laugh over it)

We were done with 7 races and one last race remained. Suboth and I teamed up again and I still remember Majid’s words before we started. “Dude, just finish the race this time.” We started and collided with another boat at the beginning. Thankfully, we did not topple this time but finished last by a very narrow margin (glorifying defeat).

There was a tie breaker for the the 1st position and Team number 1 finished first. Hitesh’s and Neha’s team clinched the silver medal. We clinched the Hussain Sagar water. There was a post-event ceremony where the winners were awarded while we applauded. They provided T-shirts and snacks later. Though we did not win a medal, I think this was the first time I had this much fun at a kayaking event. The topples may have contributed to it all. Overall, the event was a big success and everyone had their fair share of adventure.
(Participants from Deloitte. Photography by Ritish)

Hussain Sagar is a beautiful lake. Although, efforts are being made to clean it, we still have a long way to go for that and events like these would definitely draw attention of authorities to priorities the cleaning of the lake. To GHAC, Yatch Club and more such awesome events in the future.

Blog by Sahil Kaul

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Climbing Bhairavgad and will be back again

Yes we are sure to find water at the top, it’s been long since I have pushed this body beyond it’s normal routine I need radical change to get over the routine that has attached its tentacle to my mind. With the bruises and ankle injury a gruesome trek of uphill ain’t easy but the old man kept saying about water that brought renewed vigor to my pace.

I was separated from my team, baba lured me into it and i followed him it was already 30 mins and I realized after finding I need to go back and get my team, no way they are going to make it here it’s too tangled up a route, the similar mistake that we did other night by not taking guide though he wanted 500 Rs that was beyond reason to me but anyhow it has little value. “It’s been long I have been here I can’t find the water source” shielding his eyes by his hand he was standing tall and looking for it everywhere, I had no bottles with me but then he was carrying one bottle, I would have ended up asking him but after scooping around we could locate it. Time to go back and get the rest of team I helped myself with the water (plenty of it since I was sweating the same amount) and berries that I could find in the jungle, they were pretty awesome but I kept eating them until my head starting nauseating from eating them.

That leopard was almost surveying our blockades, says the policeman. All while adjusting his pants. They never wanted us to go there but anyhow night plan was shattered with the darkness and no gps or compass to guide us and moonlight was sufficient only for romantic couples.
The first patch seemed interesting the first team climbed it all but as they proceed with the newbie team mate it was almost hot and the sun was raging in its fury and reminding us of his reign and limitless scorching power in the summer.

 I managed to follow through my partner but soon realized these grips are insane and I have much less practice in this kind of grips and as I panicked I gave in I could barely reach the climb to 2nd patch and realized how hard I was using the anchors and the futility of this punched me hard and I gave in, after all I felt no point in climbing using aids. Abruptly I rappelled down disappointing my partner who wanted to climb it just for the heights if not for the challenge his eyes were poking deep into my coward face but me of i was lost in my mortality to answer any of his calls. 
While going back we managed to get lost and the fact we were losing daylight and berries were unpalatable they were affecting certain sense in my mind, the Nauseating way. I did smelled rotten flesh two time that indicated the stories about leopard might be true, I kept the members close so that we might not bump into him, in the end we managed to reach the village to travel back to home but with lot of contentment that I not only learned to climb but gained much wisdom by leaving the climb to future.
- Devender Patiyal

A Beginners guide to layered clothing

So, You made up your mind for your first trek and immediate thing you get strikeup with is about what to buy and what not especially about layered clothing. Here is a quick guide on how to choose your layered clothing.

Layering solves the problem of being too hot wearing those bulky jackets and too cold taking them off. It is the best option which allows you to make quick changes based on changes in weather and exertion level.

Each layer has a distinctive function:
·         First layer (base layer right next to the skin which manages moisture)
·         Second layer (insulating layer which provides protection from cold)
·         Third layer (outer shell layer which acts as a shield from rain and wind)

First layer: (Moisture transfer)
Main feature of base layer is it moves sweat away from yo

your body and keeps you dry even when you are sweating.  Being dry helps you both in summer and winter seasons. It wicks away the moisture from your skin to the top of fabric from where it evaporates. 

For high activity level, base layer should be made of either Merino wool or polyester and for low activity level , Silk.

Note: Cotton is a big no no as a base layer as it absorbs sweat , takes longer to dry leaving you chilled.

Second Layer: (Insulation)

This works by trapping dead air space by maintaining warm air in and cold air out. It manages the moisture from base layer.

·         Wool: Wool is a good natural insulator, it keeps you warm even when if it gets wet but it’s a little heavy. rough and takes time to get dry. Merino wool  is soft, warm enough.

·         Fleece: This is a better option than wool as these are half as heavy as wool and is fast drying.
Few fleece garments comes with wind proof membrane.

·         Down: This gives you maximum warmth for its weight but the main drawback is that it loses its insulating power when it is wet. This is the best option for very cold and dry weather.

Third Layer: (Protection from weather)

The primary function of this layer is to protect you when conditions get worst(rain, snow and wind). These are offered in two types soft shell and hard shell.

·         Soft shell: These gives you more freedom of movement, more breathable, may be water resistant but not water proof. Few come with windproof membrane.

·         Hard shell: These are both waterproof and windproof but not as breathable as soft shells. The best jacket will offer adjustable openings (cuffs, collar and waist), vents( for breath-ability), hood(that can be rolled up under the collar when not in use) and waterproof zippers.

Note: As hard shells are less breathable look for something which got more vents, under the arms would be preferable as more the vents more the chance for a leak.

Pics Courtesy : decathlon
Writeup - Imroz

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hyderabad Bird Race 2015

The 6th Hyderabad Bird Race was held on Sunday, 08 Feb  2015 in Hyderabad. The race was conducted by Birdwatchers' Society of Andhra Pradesh (BSAP), and Great Hyderabad Adventure Club (GHAC), along with Yuhina Eco-media and HSBC. The Bird Race was a dawn to dusk event
where teams of bird-watchers spent the entire day birding in and around the green habitats in the city.  The Birders were flagged off early in the morning from the Hotel The Plaza, Begumpet. This was the sixth time such an event was held in Hyderabad in which around 88 participants took part in groups of 4 each. This year a lot of youngsters took part in the bird race and were assigned an experienced birder to help them identify the birds. About 150 species of birds were recorded around the city.

There were no pre-determined routes to the Bird Race. Participants observed the birds at multiple locations all over the city and the outskirts and came up with their own tally of species.  An evening
program was held at Hotel Plaza where the top three teams were recognized based on the tallies checked by the judges.

Mr. G.V Prasad, Co-Chairman & CEO Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd, a long-time member of BSAP and an avid bird watcher was the chief guest and attended the evening function. The concept of India bird races takes place in 15 cities across India including Hyderabad and is supported by HSBC. Mr. Aasheesh Pittie, President, BSAP, welcomed the guests and spoke on the importance of birds in maintaining the ecosystem.  Mr. Diyanat Ali, Founder Director, Great Hyderabad
Adventure Club spoke on the management and leadership lessons that can be adopted from birds into our life and work.

Earlier bird races in Hyderabad have recorded more than 200 species of birds. The teams visited open habitats, agricultural tracts. Semi-arid landscapes, inland wetlands, secondary growth, and areas with human population.  Most frequented places were Manjeera sanctuary, Narsapur forest, Himayat Sagar, Ananthagiri Hills. Many birders reported the sightings of flamingos at the Gandipet backwaters. Other prominent birds that were sighted were Golden Oriole, Paradise Flycatcher, Tree
pie, Blue tailed bee eater, Blue faced malkoha.

While the bird race was meant to be primarily fun activity, it also gives an insight into various species of birds and their changing habitats.  Some birders reported the disappearing habitats, shrinking
lakes and felling of trees and digging of mud at many birding habitats around the city and the growing concern of many birders is that they will have to travel to far off distances for birding as the habitats in and around the city are lost to development an encroachment.

The event helped to create awareness and conservation ethos among the citizens for bird and environment conservation.

The winners of the Hyderabad Bird Race 2015 were

1) First Position- Team Name: Munias 
Sighting: 146 birds
Team Lead: Sudhir Moorty 
Members – Ms Anita Negi , Mr Satvik, Mr Gauthama

2) Second Position- Team Name: Pitta
Sighting: 140 birds
Team Lead: Ms Gulshan
Members – Mr Mahipal, Mr Santosh, Ms Kalpana 

3) Third Position- Team Name: Falcons
Sighting: 131 birds
Team Lead: Mr Asif Hussain,
Members – Mr Hemant Kumar, Mr Siddhart Shah

Pics courtesy - Hemant Kumar