Great weather, awesome views and an amicable peak – Mt. Rainier Climb

Rainier-Route

Last weekend (Aug 6-7, 2011), I summited Mt. Rainier through the Emmons glacier. We had the best weather I have seen on the mountain so far, the views as usual were stunning and the company (Melissa, Jim & Heidi) was joyous!  What better way to spend a weekend, yeah? But wait there is more … I was climbing to support the cause of Asha for Education and fund-raise! In addition to our rope team three more Asha team rope teams summited Rainier! Kudos to all the climbers and the cause!

A little bit about the climb..

We started about 4am on Saturday from Seattle. After getting our permits we got to the White pass trail head around 8am. The glacier basin trail has been remarkably improved, thanks to all the trail volunteers. It felt like a highway! We chomped a wrap and called it lunch around 11am just before we started ascending the inter glacier. We got to Camp Schurman after an itchy scramble around 2pm.

Thanks to the rangers we had a shovel available in the snow-cave to fetch some good snow to start the long process of melting liters of water to be consumed! Given the heavy snow conditions this year there was no running water around. After a hot mountain meal and some hot chocolate we headed to bed around 7pm with the pact to do a summit push around mid-night.

Random assortment of tents at Camp Schurman

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Day 7: Tiruchendur to Kanyakumari

I’ll keep today’s post short since its already past 11pm. We started early this morning from Rameshwaram taking a bus to Tiruchendur. After discussion last night our plan was try to gain a day so that we can splurge it in Kerala and at the same time make sure we get good biking.

We put all our stuff on the bus at 7am. It was raining pretty hard then and we were glad that we chose to bus out, but by they time bike were on the top of the bus myself and Rahul were totally drenched! Afterwards i left some of my clothes drying in the bus (well, I had laundry from last night too, which i cleaned before we decided to start super early).

Anyway as per the plan we got to Tiruchendur at about 1pm and were impressed by the timings, to make some more room we went an hour ahead and the bus driver dropped us in time for about 60km ride in to Kanyakumari. After a short break and lunch we started our ride at 2:45pm and where in Kanyakumari at about 5:40pm. To be short, this was an awesome ride!! A perfect riding weather with amazing views and a not so busy decent road — what else can we ask!! It was breathtaking!!

After getting in to Kanyakumari (well yet another temple town full of tourists), we got checked in a hotel with a great sea view and got ourself some Thali dinner. Rahul and Tulika headed to rest and i’m still punching keys.

Tomorrow we head to Kovalam and we will be in another state — yay! Kerala!!!!

Day 2: Mahabalipuram to Auroville

Today was my first long day clocking about 100km. I started the ride at 8:30am with some bananas and awesome kafi.

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Pic 1.  Breakfast South Indian style with a belly, missing the moustache

It was an amazing day, the ride was scenic and as the locals call it – ECR (East Coast Road) was a great road to ride on. Some pictures to whet your appetite.

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Pic 2.  Scenic Road!

At about 10:30am I had an awesome breakfast #2 at a local street side shop

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Pic 3. Breakfast #2.

I called Rishi’s father (Rod) at about noon to let him know that I’m about 20km from Auroville at Markalam. After making my way in to Pondicherry at about 2:15pm and a short break for some Lemon juice I reached the Auroville visitor center at about 3pm.

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Pic 4. Entering Pondicherry and place (Mango Resort) where I relaxed with Lemon juice.

Now on to the main topic of this post:

Auroville

Auroville is utopian concept very well implemented in my opinion. This ashram intends to create a new way of life inclusive of all nationalities of the world.

Auroville’s make a plethora of things —

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Pic 6. Auroville-an Art

This ashram was setup by the Mother in co-ordination with Aurobindo ashram, with big help from government of India (Imagine visa’s for folks from 50+ countries and permission for them to work and keep the identity of Ashram intact).

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Pic 7.  Founder of Auroville and her deep study of flowers.

Auroville wants to create a place where nation can show their identity through pavilions and invite their citizens to join in the Auroville experiment.

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Pic 8. Unity Pavilion

Last but not the least the they have an amazing meditation hall called the “Matri-Mandir”. This gold plated dome with italian marble is 50m in diameter and create an amazing sense of peace! It’s a feat and a must see primarily because of its serenity!

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Pic 9. Center of Auroville – Matrimandir and the banyan tree.

Sri Aurobindo’s Philosophy

Thanks to discussion with Rishi’s father – Rod, I was introduced to works of Sri Aurobindo esp. Savitri and The Life Divine. He infact has written a short book which introduces these two.

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Pic 10. Rod’s book – Mantra, Metrics and Meaning.

The short of the long I learnt from our discussion is – Sri Aurobindo had a very non-traditional take on Hinduism. His point in Life divine is to enrich your life through creativity and not through extreme penance. One should give up low feeling like – pride and ego but a higher level will flow in. Creativity can be expressed in power, love and numerous other forms like Krishna did. This is deemed to be the true vedantic version of Hinduism.

Thanks to my gracious host today (Rod & Kirti Hemsell)

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Pic 11 .Rod and Kirti

I’ll make a brief stop at Pondicherry tommorrow then head onward to Tanjavur from Chidambaram tomorrow (slight change of plans here)

Day 0 : Milind’s Superstar Class

Today I got an opppurtunity to see first hand how Teach for India’s classes work. I went to visit Milind’s Superstar class. It was great to see a group of 40+ 2 grade kids churning their ways from un-fortune towards a bright future through education.

It was interesting to see a Teach for India’s approach to learning work. Milind was doing a great job engaging and teach the kids, at the same time his set of volunteers were making sure that the kids got more 1:1 teacher time. I was also reminded of how important the superstar rules are, and we has grown ups also needs to read and follow them regularly.

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Pic1. Superstar class, Rules of the Class,

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Pic 2. Milind and Volunteers teaching in the class.

I have a very good video of Milind teaching vowels to the 2nd graders. I’ll upload it and put a link here as soon as I get better internet connection.

One interesting twist in this experience was that Milind offered me to try and teach “Action words” to a small group of 5 kids. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and was first hand grappled with the problem of keeping 7-8 year olds engaged in the learning process. I was also touched by the fact that the kids offered touching handshakes and wanted Vaibhav-Bhaiyya to come back!

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Pic 3. Group of super stars learning who learn a bit of “action words” from me.

I start my tour (http://www.vitraag.com/tourofsouthindia ) tomorrow to help raise fundraise for Milind’s cause. Infact you can get to the action right from here Smile.

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Pic 4. Pledge for Milind’s superstar class and Teach For India.

Flying Wheels 2010

Today I spent the an awesome sunny day cycling through Redmond, Duvall, Snohomish as past of the the Flying wheels summer century ride.

I have done this ride in twice before (2006 – 70miles, 2007 – 100 miles). I had a sort of deja vu from 2007 I started getting cramps around mile 70, but the good part of I’m quite happy with how i pushed myself. I learnt two things –

1. Human body is amazing, if you push it can survive a lot of things. I ended up pushing through the last 3 miles hill with cramps, after a few pedals the cramps disappeared.

2. Make sure your condition your muscles for performance not just endurance. I did hard run on Thursday and I was still sore from it. I should use my training time effectively, just like Body by Science.

Anyways, the Asha Team and Emel (a friend from Run, Dinner Social) did awesome! Most riders finished the 65 mile loop, now folks are eyeing the STP. Emel did awesome on her first century beating me by a full hour!

My stats: Ride time 8 hours 20 min. No where good but given the conditions I’m very happy with how i pushed myself.

Now the pictures.

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7:30 start ended up being 8:20 start as i forgot my helmet :)

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Gorgeous sunny day!
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Rest Stops – I did about 1:30 of rest stop time (Slacker :))

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Finish line fiesta and team Asha

Sponsor my ride – help a cause!!

Every year I do the Seattle to Portland bike ride as a part of fund raiser. Next weekend I will be testifying my bike + butt endurance skills for 202 miles between Seattle and Portland. If you are interested in supporting Asha for Education and it’s cause of bringing change through education in India please support my ride by pledging and donating here. One of very personally gratifying things I was able to do with support of Asha was to help sponsor a school for hearing impaired back in my home town.

Enjoy the long weekend and happy Independence day.

MayaBoli School For Hearing Impaired


MayaBoli Deaf and Dumb School
Originally uploaded by vbha.

On 1 Dec 2005 I got the opportunity to visit the Mayaboli Deaf and Dumb school in Yeola. This is a rural area in Nashik district in Maharastra. The school is a proud symbol of what dedication and good will can do even in a resource less environment.

The school houses around 80 deaf or dumb kids. Most (around 70) stay in the school. The school is currently on a rental property which is doubled as a hostel. It has no dedicated financial resource but largely survives on the effort Mr. Arjun Kokate. Local donors have made it a tradition to celebrate occasions like birthdays by contributing to this cause. The school has been functional since last 10 years and it currently up to grade 7. They do follow the curriculum of state board. It takes about a year and half or more to teach a normal school year curriculum to these kids. Of course preschool is much elongated. The staff is around 20 people, including teachers, cooks and other workers.

Pictures are can say more than what I would attempt to paraphrase, , please check them at: http://www.flickr.com/groups/mayaboli/

The goal of this project is to have a self sustainable school upto 10th grade atleast, making sure that the students which it trains are able to stand up for themselves rest of the life. The founder of the school Mr. Arjun Kokate is very well known social worker in the area. He has dedicated his life and so has his wife to the cause of education.

AllGoRhythms 2005, How did it go?


AshaAllgoCoordsShakingOut
Originally uploaded by vbha.

The photos from AllGoRhythms 2005 show presented by Asha, Seattle on Oct 22, 2005.

The show was sold out and the band played bollywood masala music for about 4.5 hours and a number of once more! The audience never got enough of dance numbers!! It was lovely to see folks from all ages crowed near the stage to shake with the dhinchak zatka numbers:).