Monday, March 31, 2014

SurvivalCon workshop

Survival skills are techniques used by trained personnel in a dangerous or emergency situation (e.g. natural disasters) to save themselves or others in need of help! These techniques are meant to provide basic necessities for human life: water, food, shelter, and habitat, the ability to think straight and not panic, to signal for help, to navigate safely, to avoid unpleasant interactions with animals and plants, and cure any present injuries. Survival skills are often basic ideas and abilities that ancient humans have used for thousands of years. The objective of the SurvivalCon introductory training workshop was to train the participants in the know-how of the necessary skills to survive in times of emergencies like natural disasters or other survival situations.

SurvivalCon was a training  conducted for a group of volunteers from all walks of life and all parts of the country who in future can assist the govt or public during natural disasters or emergency situations. The workshop was being held at Forest Reserve near to Hyderabad, wherein the instructors for the workshop were veterans from the Army, Adventure, Self Defence, Medicos and Survival Experts.

More details on the training can be had at

In the three day training program the participants learnt lifesaving skills like extracting water from green leaves, finding food by foraging from natural resources; like food from leaves and edible roots of plants plus how to communicate in catastrophe conditions by use of HAM Radio! Participants also learnt to perform search and rescue, Self Defence, incorporate Leadership and Teamwork that are required during in a homogenous or a heterogeneous groups in survival situations. 

Upon the completion of the training the participants were amazed on rediscovering the combination of ancient ways of survival, use of natural resources and technology for survival and communication. From many one of the participants Mr Alok Vijyant, Director handling National Security, Government of India made a quote that states the significance of such trainings to save lives.     

“Need for survivability is an option exercised by situation not in the control of an individual. How to live in such crisis situations when nothing works for you is the skill-set that this conference intends to build.
The utopian situation would be to make every individual aware of sucH skills, never the less one must aspire to have as many in the society. Here at SurvivalCon Camp we were taught skills to create water from nowhere, find foods for survival, basis of commando skills, self-defence and use of technology such as communication skills by use of HAM Radio (Community Radio), map reading and navigation etc.” 

The mission of SurvivalCon is to create a large volunteer base of trained force in every state that can respond to assist when the situations demands. The idea of SurvivalCon was conceptualized by Rajshekar Murthy, an Indian Information security expert, social entrepreneur & founder of ISAC from Delhi and Diyanat Ali, an Adventure & Experiential Trainer and Founder of the Great Hyderabad Adventure Club from Hyderabad. 

Diyanat Ali strongly feels that such trainings are usually reserved for the armed forces on whom such a big population of our country depends in case of natural disasters. The SurvivalCon trainings will equip the citizens of the country to be forthcoming and become a trained volunteer force to assist in the time of need. 

Rajshekar Murthy stated that being techies the skills learnt at SurvivalCon would help the participants to take the combination of technical and survival skills wherein they would now try and incorporate some of the dynamics of physics by exploitation of natural resources such as sun and wind for charging technical equipment’s to operate in severe survival conditions. 

We plan to take the workshop to other part of the country and prepare at least annually 5000 such professionals in each state who could volunteer to help the affected regions during crisis.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Welcome Summer - Tips for trekking in summer

Flowers are in full bloom. The leaves are shredding, The Shrubs are getting dry, The Rocks are getting Hot.  The days are longer and the Sun is at its full glory and after few odd showers and hail, summer is finally here in Hyderabad. Welcome Summer

Trekking or any adventure activities in the outdoors in the sun requires special care in summer. I would like to stress that the most important thing about trekking or climbing in summer is staying properly hydrated. Trekking or climbing in hot or humid weather depletes your body of liquids. To replace lost fluids and electrolytes you need to drink water frequently. If you wait until you feel thirsty, you’ll more than likely already be dehydrated. The more dehydrated you become, the less efficient your body is at cooling itself down. Your body becomes less efficient at  the activity  leading to heat related illness.

Thirst is not a good guide for when to drink water. You body cannot absorb water all at a sudden and you need to sip water frequently like every 15-20 minutes. The frequency  and colour of your urine is also a good indicator of dehydration.  If its darker than pale yellow / Straw Colour then you are already dehydrated and need to rest and drink water.

Make sure you carry plenty of water or sports drink on any trek. Sports drinks are good sources of liquids because they replace both fluids and electrolytes. The good old poor man method of carrying salt and sugar works as well. Mix 2 pinches of salt with 1 teaspoons of sugar to one 1 litre of water and sip it on the go while in the sun. Avoid taking too much glucose or sports powders directly in powder form. I have seen many a trekkers gulping down packets of glucose or sports powders without any measurements. The body will use more  water to clear the extra salt and that can make you dehydrated.

If you run out of water then you are in trouble. Make sure you carry enough water in spare always. If you are lucky to find a water source either boil the water or use a purification tablet to avoid getting ill. There are lot of gadgets in the market that come with microfilters and do the job of filtering water from any contaminated source instantly. I stick to old age method of boiling water or use chlorine drops/tablets and wait for 30 minutes before drinking. If you run out of water and cannot find water it would be best to stay in a shade till the heat is down and then move out later in the evening or early mornings to fetch water. One can survive without water for upto 3 days.

Keep your energies high by carrying some snack with you. Food is your body's primary source for fuel and salts (electrolytes) while trekking. Try eating a salty snack every time you take a drink. Avoid foods that require water for digestion like Oily food, Chips  Non Veg or fried snacks or biscuits. Fresh citrus Fruits and Vegetables like cucumber are great natural sources of electrolytes and water. Stay away from sodas, cool drinks, caffeinated drinks or alcohol as they will only promote dehydration.

Dar ke agay jeet hai magar sun ke agay dehydration hai. 

Besides staying properly hydrated, these are a few other things you can do to help avoid over-heating while out on the trail.

Go slow and rest often in shade.  try trekking or climbing in the early morning as this is coolest part of the day.

Wear moisture-wicking clothing made of polypropylene or polyester to carry sweat and moisture away from your body. Moisture-wicking material keeps you dryer, cooler and more comfortable than a sweat-soaked cotton shirt. It’s also a good idea to wear light colored clothing because it tends to reflect heat away from your body.

Wear a cap or a hat to protect your head,  cover your face and neck from the sun with a hanky or some cloth. These days you get caps and hats where you can attach a cloth to protect the neck and ears. 

Apply sunscreen that has 40 SPF value or higher. Sun screen creams are not just for the girls. Sun-burned skin makes you feel hotter and can damage skin overtime. You have to apply the sun screen 30 minutes before you head out and every 3 hours for maximum protection.

Trekking Shoes should be comfortable and breathable. carry extra pair of socks and change often if you sweat more from your feet. 

Sprinkle Dusting/anti fungal powder in areas where there will be more sweat like arm pits/ groin area as it will protect from rashes and bacteria/fungal growth. Carry a  rash treatment cream or lotion like calamine lotion or Aloe vera cream to treat sweat rashes

 It's important to understand that no one is immune to heat related illness, not even the most finely conditioned adventurer or athlete. The body copes with heat and acclimatizes over few days. If you are a person who stays mostly indoors and goes out on a full day trek in summer then there are high chances that you will suffer from heat exhaustion.

People who are obese or are inactive have an increased risk. The elderly are at higher risk because of impaired cardiac output and decreased ability to sweat. Infants and young children also are susceptible to heat related illness like Heat Exhaustion

The best way to get started in summers is to start small and gradually increase the time you spend outdoors. Do the activities in the early morning and evening and avoid the sun between 12 pm to 3:00 pm. Keep yourself hydrated and always Listen to your body and it will let you know when to stop.

About The author: Diyanat Ali is an Adventurer,  Experiential Trainer and Facilitator. He founded the Great Hyderabad Adventure Club in May 2008 and nurtured it to become the most active adventure club in India finding its way to the limca book of records 2013.  He comes with over 20 years of trekking and adventure experience.

Diyanat can be reach on diyanat (at)

Monday, March 3, 2014

HSBC Hyderabad Bird Race 2014

The 5th Hyderabad Bird Race was held on Sunday, 02nd  March 2014 in Hyderabad. The race was conducted by  Birdwatchers’ Society of Andhra Pradesh (BSAP), and Great Hyderabad Adventure Club (GHAC), along with The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (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 by Chief Guest and APIIC
MD Mr Jayesh Ranjan, IAS . This was the fifth time such an event was held n Hyderabad in which around 90 participants took part in groups of 4 each. The age of the participants was a young as 4 and as old as
65.  About 155 species of birds were recorded around the city.

Mr Jayesh Ranjan, IAS addressing the gathering at the bird race evening

There were no pre-determined routes to the Bird Race - Participants observed the birds at multiple locations all within 50  km radius of the city and came up with their own tally of species.  An evening program was held at Hotel Haritha Plaza where the top three teams were given prices based on the tallies checked by the judges. Mr Jayesh Ranjan MD APIIC also attended the evening function and gave away  prices to the winning teams. The event was Sponsored by HSBC, Mr Aritro Mukerjee VP – HSBC Premier, spoke on the concept of India bird races that takes part in 15 cities across India including Hyderabad and assured HSBC’s continues support to the event. Diyanat Ali, Founder Director Great Hyderabad Adventure Club spoke on the health many health benefits associated with bird watching which help in developing good memory and focus, reduces stress and anxiety and makes the birder patient, calm and composed.

Participants of the Hyderabad Bird Race

Earlier bird races in Hyderabad have recorded more than 260 species of birds. The teams visited   open habitats, agricultural tracts, semi-arid landscapes, inland wetlands, secondary growth, and areas with human population.  As per Humayun member BSAP, the Bar headed goose which is  a migratory bird coming from Central Asia and Himalayas are still being found in the city which is an unusual phenomenon  as they leave the city by  February .  Many birders reported the sightings of flamingos at the Gandipet backwaters.

Bar headed Goose
Grey Heron

While the bird race was meant to be primarily fun activity, it also gives a 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 like ameenpur lake, narsapur forest 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.

Rudy Shellduck

White Breasted Kingfisher

The event helped to create awareness and conservation ethos among the citizens for bird and environment conservation. The participants were also sensitized towards the bird injuries that kill hundreds of birds
during the kite flying festival Sankratri.

The winners of the Hyderabad Bird Race 2014 were

1)      First - Team Name Geese with participants Manipal, Prasad, Eva, Bindu
2)      Second - Team Name: Eagles with participants Asif, Ashwin, Siddharth and Hemant
3)      Third - Team Name: Falcons with participants Prashant, Suryatej, Manjoy and Gururaju

Writeup By Diyanat Ali
Evening Function Pics by Humayun of BSAP
Morning Flag off and Birds Pictures by Hemant from BSAP