Procrastination

Procrastination

Procrastination and me

My life so far can be defined as a conflict between the will to do and the desire to procrastinate. And more often than not, the desire has trumped the will.Just to give some perspective, I procrastinated for weeks just to write this blog. And the funny thing is that I did it knowingly . That’s the beauty of procrastination, it’s like the prettiest girl/boy, you know it will do you no good to go after him/her. But you will still fall for it EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Procrastination is the difference between planning to go to a gym and actually going to a gym. I have so many plans in my life and the only thing between me and those plans is tomorrow. It seems to me that tomorrow is today’s biggest enemy. And naturally whatever I want to do today is for a better tomorrow.But tomorrow never understands. It’s like Severus Snape and Harry Potter. Harry believed Severus was his biggest enemy. But in reality, Severus meant only good things for Harry and he didn’t realize until the very end. Admit it, that was sad when Harry came to know the truth about Snape.

There is an analogy that I think represents the feelings associated with the ‘will to do’ and the ‘desire to procrastinate’. The ‘will to do’ is like Hillary Clinton, you know it is the right choice, it’s boring and dull, and you struggled with it in the past. And the thought leaves a bad taste in the mouth . On the other hand, the desire to procrastinate is like Donald Drumpf, you know it is the wrong choice, it is unethical and in the case of Donald Drumpf also misogynist but it is exciting and you want to try it just because it is fun.

Some Perspective

I find it interesting that procrastination almost always has a negative outcome. There is another interesting thing that I noticed. The few cases where I don’t procrastinate also end up having a negative outcome .Procrastination is like, India against Pakistan in a world cup,  no matter India (Procrastination) will win.It’s like procrastination wins when it’s heads and we lose when its tails.

I was listening to a TED talk and the speaker made a very interesting point. He said there are two types procrastinations that we do with different tasks. Tasks for which we set a finite timeline and tasks for which we don’t set a timeline. The good thing about the former is that we often complete them. But most of these tasks are imposed on us by others, like project submissions, product launches at work etc. The latter, the tasks without a timeline are the ones that we often never achieve. The sad thing is that theses tasks are our own goals and we don’t have a fixed timeline to achieve them. Like I would like to travel the world, learn Mandarin, get a skydiving license and watch Wimbledon live on the center courts just to name a few.

It is a real pity that the goals I have always take the last seat since. The tasks I do complete, I do them half-heartedly and in a dash at the because of procrastination. When I think of it this way it really seems a very depressing ,but kind of true also. But I hope someday I will get around completing the goals that really matter to me. Until then I have tomorrow.

Here is a link that will help tomorrow:  Mind of a Master Procrastinator

 

F.R.I.E.N.D.S after college

F.R.I.E.N.D.S after college

A caterpillar is slimy, ugly and  struggles a lot  to survive. I don’t even know if a caterpillar knows that it will turn into a butterfly someday. I assure you that this cliched analogy will make more sense than a (I)phone without  an audio jack. I wanted to start with something that can represent the feeling that I want to drive home.

homealone
Harry and Marv: Influence of friends

 

F.R.I.E.N.D.S, both the show and people, played a very important role in my life. I think  my friends shaped my personality and have played a critical role in where I am. Not sure whether it has been for bad or the worse, tough I am confident it is not for the good. Remember the villains of Home Alone movie Harry and Marv, they are one good example of the influence of your friends.Be it be their profession or their stupidity. Nonetheless, their friendship and influence on each other made for a great movie.

 

 

Here is an example of the influence my friends had on me, I remember being immensely satisfied and somewhat proud  when I scored the highest marks among my friends. Even if in reality I was comparing among the bottom 10 students of the class. It is an accomplishment to be the best of the worse among your friends. I also had friends who were more sincere and better at academics. I tended to perform better when I hung out with them.  And then there were other friends like Harry and Marv.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S at college

Friends I made in college were different from all the friends I had earlier. We all left our homes, there were no one to talk and rely on, except each other. We did not have smartphones and hence relied on each for support (man I feel old now). After a few awkward conversations, everyone opened up and post that there were no formalities. Everyone knew each other’s vulnerability pressure points and how to exploit them. The main objective became to celebrate the failure and denounce the successes. Though it may sound somewhat counterintuitive, but it turned out to be a great foundation to our friendship.

There were also some important skills/rules that I learned with these bunch of friends. First and foremost, that your self-respect is as important as the  human Appendix. It did serve a purpose in past,now it creates unnecessary pain, and it would be better to get rid of it. Second, there are very very creative ways to insult your friends.Third, randomness and impulsive decision make the best stories. Fourth,irrespective of the ask, my friends will always do their best to help me and then insult me on the same problem.

Friendship at a college hostel is different because it is a friendship without supervision. It is  a natural selection, with an element of interdependence that differentiated college friendship with every other friendship. I think that college friendships are meant to last the longest.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S after college

My first year after graduation was an extended college with a key difference of having more money and cars. Consequently, there were more opportunities to do impulsive and stupid stuff. Also, most of my friends were in and around the city I stayed.It was one of the best years. But as the Game of Thrones can not go for more than 8 seasons , Harry potter for more than 7 books,Sachin Tendulkar  for 24 years and a friend of mine till 5 ft 5 in tall. It had to end and everyone moved to do something else.

 

When everyone moved apart I realized that there is a lot of effort and time that goes on making a good friend. The internal jokes,the ‘HEIGHT’ of jokes, the backgrounds of failures and breakups is hard to find again. Another interesting thing is that after college my friends have started accomplishing stuff both professionally and one personally (Pitin). You know your friends have come a long way when the friend who always made up stuff during college is a guest lecturer at business schools and still making up stuff.

Coming back to the first reference of a caterpillar’s life. When you know someone from their early days of being caterpillars. It’s always hard to appreciate the extent of their accomplishments. Other people see those accomplishments but college friends see the irony and humor in those accomplishments. One of the biggest departures from normality would be the first marriage (Pitin). I have no idea how this will change our friendship but it will be interesting to see. It is always interesting to see the contrast in reaction when you see someone accomplishing something and when your good friend does the same.

To all those impulsive and stupid decisions and hoping for more to come.

 

 

The MS Analytics Buzz

The MS Analytics Buzz

Introduction

I think in every culture and language on earth there is a version of the saying: ‘Hard work pays off’. MS Analytics program at Georgia Tech definitely made me do ‘Hard work’ along with making me pay for it. I hope eventually the ‘pays off’ part comes to reality when I pay off my loan. In my experience, I have found the ‘pays off’ part of the saying always dubious.

 

Analytics is a buzz word today and incidentally, everything at Gatech has a ‘Buzz’ word . I think the best part of this program is that it is virtuous and unbiased in allocating misery and suffering to anyone irrespective of their background. I think this attribute about this program also results in better camaraderie and kinship among classmates. This is a perfect example of correlation with causation which the professors tell is a difficult thing to find in the real world.

 

The MSA program is also a journey of self-discovery. I literally had to discover which department I was associated with. There are only 2 courses that are exclusive to MS Analytics . Rest is a mixture of which course has a vacancy and which  Dr. Sokol can get you in. There are so many courses and things to do that it becomes imperative to self discover in order to survive. Self-discovery is a need rather than virtue at MS Analytics .

 

One more important lesson I learned during this program was the art and science of panicking. Don’t get me wrong, panic gets things done but it has to be channeled in a constructive manner. When you have an innumerable number of assignments, tests, and career fairs to attend panicking at the right moment takes someone a long way. I am 95% confident that in the regression determining the success in the program coefficient panicking will have significant p-value, way below 5%.

 

Program Analysis

 

The interdisciplinary nature of the program makes it unique, beneficial and challenging all at the same time. Since all the classes are in different departments, walking around the campus and losing few pounds in the process comes in the package. Along with this , there is a significant increase in Pizza intake in the daily diet that comes with joining this program. There is a lot of interaction with students from multiple backgrounds. The program provides a  first-hand experience of how different department approach an analytics problem. The interdisciplinary nature of the program also gives valuable insight regarding which department serves the best food.

 

Every professor in every class has a preferred programming language. This is really confusing and frustrating since one needs to learn a new language in every class. But one good outcome of this trouble is that I saw that SAS is not the chosen one. There will be fights on whether R,SAS or python is better. I will just say that let the language with a better Rlogo-square win.

 

I found the speaker series managed by Josh and now by Anshul very useful and a good break from the academic lessons. Conferences are an interesting part of this program. These conferences can also be used as weekend getaways and since the school is paying for it (from the fee we pay), it can be a lot of fun. One more interesting aspect of this program is innate competitiveness with the MBA students which is hard to explain but very interesting.

Conclusion

These are a couple of lines that I think summarize the courses:

The going will get tough and the goal will be afar

because there is 6242 and there is jar jar

 

I would consider this program as full-time work rather than school. With a slight difference that instead of being paid I was the one paying and there were no weekends.I really enjoyed the year with all the ups and downs and all the projects with Team Omazing.  I believe I learned the most professionally this year than any time in my life. As  I mentioned the ‘Payoff’ part is a little tricky but I think it might come along eventually. I would like to mention that I had a great time studying with all from the MSA batch of you this past year even with you know who.

 

The Art and Science of insulting

The Art and Science of insulting

The only thing I remember learning at my undergrad was the art and science of insulting. As you know, insults can be broadly classified as insults with consequences and those without consequences. The former can result in wars where hundreds and thousands of people die (Draupadi Vs Duryodhan). The latter is what I dealt and learnt at my college.

 

During the course of those 4 years, I learnt to discard any respect or pity that I had to myself or any of my friends.  This is the underlying necessary assumption for insults without consequences. Like any other skill, insulting others also requires practice and dedication. One needs good teachers and a great learning environment to become good at insulting others. When I joined college, I have to confess that I was naïve and didn’t understand, appreciate or follow this great skill. I learnt from watching the adept in their acts and was really impressed by the nuances of their skill.  For the sake of context and simplicity lets call Pitin the person whom we will insult.

 

One more important thing that I learnt at college was that insulting is a team game. The role of the audience is as important as the main insulter. Pitin only feels insulted when the audience laughs at what insulter is saying. So, effective insults require a lot of collaboration and teamwork. The magnitude of insult is directly proportional to the amount of laughter an insulter can generate from the audience. 

 

Relying solely on Pitin to provide content for insults is a mark of an amateur insulter. Professional insulters create situations that generate interesting content. Great insulters are always good friends with Pitin and never insult Pitin privately. They usually gain Pitin’s unwavering trust and that’s what makes him all the more susceptible to their play. Insulting is a group activity and you don’t want Pitin to feel cornered. So switching to other members of the group to be Pitins is highly recommended. And remember best insults are those where Pitin is oblivious to what is about to come and is unaware of the trap .

 

One more important trick that I have seen the adept use is what we call as the ‘PUMP’. A PUMP is an act where you say something to Pitin that he anticipates and desires but is totally untrue. For instance following is a trick that works most easily. You need an accomplice who knows the game. Let’s say you are with Pitin in a bar or anywhere with some commotion and there is a girl. Make sure that Pitin also sees the girl, don’t say anything just make some funny faces and keep him guessing. After some time when Pitin has his back on the girl, your other friend should take the cue and leave you alone with Pitin. I also hope this will work for girls.

 

When you are alone with Pitin just casually slip in that the girl behind is watching him. Tell him not to turn his back and that he is on fire today. This is the inception of the idea. Now, the second friend plays the part of making sure the idea sticks (This is was what Leo was talking in the movie inception). The other friend should casually whisper to you  that the girl is looking at Pitin’s direction making sure Pitin can overhear him/her. After execution of a pump like this, you have Pitin by the neck and he feels pumped up  and can be talked into doing exactly what you want. This is a tried and tested technique and its perfect execution will have Pitin at your mercy .

 

Great insulters have many tricks like these up their sleeve and continuously get better at their execution. To keep all the cards in your hands you should always have leverage over Pitin. Always reserve an embarrassing incident that Pitin dreads. The teachers at my college taught me that once you lose the leverage then the insults are not fun enough.Like when the main weapon in the arsenal is fired the enemy can no longer be intimidated. Remember being a sport and always play pitin once in a while, if your friends are good at this skill you will play Pitin more than you like. I assure you all, all it needs is a jolly group of people and Pitin for you to be a master of the game.

Independence

Independence

The people of Britain voted for independence from the EU. This decision might have serious political, social and economic implication for the world. It will definitely nudge the already destabilized EU into more trouble. Though I think the vote was more of a wake-up call for the elite liberal, who have a tendency to lose hold of reality. Now, Britain has to figure out a lot of things on its own. It’s like taking a decision to stay independently from the family, which let’s face is awkward and has a transition period.

Come to think of it, we also strive for our independence. We believe that we will be better off taking our own decisions rather than someone telling us what to do. One reason we might think this way is because it feels that we were always cheated. I remember when I was young; being told that once I do well in my class 10th board exam I will be set for life (best joke pulled on me so far). Once I was in class 10 I was made to realize that the real deal was after I graduate class 10. Next, I was convinced by everyone that once I did well in a competitive exam that would be the end of my troubles. Yeah, I was fooled once again.

Once I joined college I realized that it is just the beginning of my troubles. Next, the expectation was to land a good Job or get into a better school for higher studies. I am currently at this stage.  Some of my friends(one really: Pitin his name) have already advanced to the next steps. Following is an illustration of the tricks:

The Trick Chart
The Trick Chart

But there was a silver lining at all this which I acknowledge now. Whenever I fell for a trick, I gained certain independence and authority for the way I want to fall for the next trick. Success in falling for a particular trick better positioned me to negotiate  the terms of the next trick.

This is one of the most important lessons I learned in life. Britain is now on the back foot with falling sterling and markets. But if they can pull themselves up; stabilize their economy and generate jobs they will have an upper hand while negotiating with EU. Alternatively, one can burn the other family, but in case you are not Cersei Lannister, it would be difficult to do.

One thing is also certain that we discover our true abilities and potential when we are independent and face hardships. Take the example of Jon Snow who was dead in the previous season and now is the King in the North (because of his decisions) or Anakin Skywalker who became Darth Vader once he decided to make his own decisions (though didn’t turn out to be very good for the galaxy).

We need independence to prove,fail and develop skills in the process. I think hard work never goes wasted and we always learn from  failures. The best thing about learning from failures is that we cannot be an ass about those learnings which is the NOT case when we learn something from our successes. We get cocky and pretentious when we achieve something. Believe me, I have heard myself after the very-very few successes I had thus far.

Getting to the end goal is a mix of the advises given and the decisions made. People give us advises all through our life and it’s not that just Jon Snow (* Targaryen) who knows nothing. But the most important thing is to acknowledge that we know nothing and listen. Take decisions that serve our end purpose. Once you become an assassin don’t follow the many faced god but rather kill Walder Frey (which was awesome).

 Mistakes and misses are going to happen whenever we start something new. But  the idea is to get better and wiser at making these mistakes. One interesting thing I noticed is that learning from the mistakes of others only works when we observe the mistakes rather than listen to it. I realized the importance of locking my room when someone stole my laptop, not when 100 people  warned me about the consequence  (personal experience). Mistakes and learning go hand in hand and I recommend keeping an eye for the mistakes of others.

Independence is one of the major virtues that we strive in life. Achieving it requires risks, success, luck and an end goal. Hope you all get your independence. And Brexit does not invite another economic recession.

Your first friend’s wedding

Your first friend’s wedding

Disclaimer: The characters used in the blog are not purely fictional and may have some resemblance to a real person.

There are many incidents in your life that can be life altering.  Some may be firsthand experiences and other incidents might affect you indirectly . One such “Incident”  is your first friend’s wedding. It is one of those things which is expected but you don’t have a planned reaction to it. It’s like the resurgence of Jon Snow which was expected by all but now we have mixed feelings.

The wedding of your first friend is a sign of adulthood which let’s face it, is scary. If you may,  plot the ‘change in your life’ (delta)  on the y-axis and time (Age) on the x-axis. You will find the function to be non-differentiable. I think following is a good illustration:

Change is not always for good
The graph of life

The marriage of your first friend is analogous to the first batsman scoring a century in a T20 game. Every batsman knows that there would be some jerk(Chris Gayle in this case) who will make it a general expectation. Likewise, when your first friend(let’s say his name is Pitin) marries, it opens the gates to the world of Narnia where everything is crazy.

Remember when you were in college and the professor took a surprise test which you were totally unprepared for because one student asked for it. That one student who was always opposed to deadline extensions and sat on the first bench was always eager to submit homework on time, sometimes even early; and was always a pain in the ass. Yeah, Pitin is that student.

To bring some perspective here: When you see your distant friends getting married on facebook, there is a feeling of aloofness and it does not register that it can even happen to your close friends. But it’s a totally different ballgame when you don’t come to know about a wedding from a facebook post with 300 likes and 50 ‘Awws’ but from a direct phone call from the bride or the groom. When the marriage card is addressed to you, not your parents ,it is like receiving a certificate of adulthood. I call it the ‘Dread of Pitin’. It is an indication that things are changing.

To be realistic this is inevitable, how much you pray, whatever you do; there would always be a Monday after a Sunday. The point is that Monday is considered  the worst day of the week  just because it is the first day. Similarly, the first friend who marries has to carry the label of Monday. It is also the first time you are expected to buy something thoughtful for your friend when they are throwing a Daru party (which a wedding in this case)

Wedding of your first friend is a pivotal moment in your life. All those who have already attended the wedding of their friend Pitin would agree. And all those who are yet to receive the certificate ‘Dread of Pitin’ should pray that they are not the Pitin of their group. Even if you are, pray that you don’t have friends like the Pitin of our group has. Happy Wedding. No Pressure.

I am a big star wars fan so check this: Wedding 1- Rise of the Empire Click Begin

 

 

The pivotal Moments in life

The pivotal Moments in life

Disclaimer: All character that appears in this blog are non-fictional. This is a true account of the horrors I faced during the conversation mentioned.

When seeing the birds eye view of life, we will notice that life is defined by some pivotal moments. Rest everything is a follow-up to that decision or incident. When we were young most of our pivotal decisions were made by our parents. We lived with the consequences of those decisions, one perfect example is the great Rahul Gandhi. I think he and  the congress party are both suffering from wrong decisions of his parents.

 

As a kid, our life outside the home is always decided by the kind of friends we make at school and in our neighborhood. Just imagine if Harry Potter was friends with Draco Malfoy vs Ron Weasley. I am talking about all this bull shit because I had a pivotal moment in my life recently. Before getting to the point I wanted to give some backdrop unlike the fate of Jon Snow. I want people to know what is going on before they are stabbed ( a reference to an acquaintance ).

 

One of the big pivotal moment of my life was when my parents decided that I was OK at math. I don’t have many complaints in regard to my parents choosing my career, I consider my parents to be at least smarter than Tushar Kapoor’s parents while choosing a career for their children (why is he still an actor ?). So I became an engineer, got a job worked for a couple of years with hopes of making big and starting my own company someday, but with no concrete progress in that regard.

I was having a great time with my college friends while working, we had money, spare time, and resources. As you can imagine our spending decisions were similar Vijay Malaya’ s in terms of business soundness. Buying stuff we didn’t need, spending in places that made no sense and so on (but we didn’t have a calendar though). Some of my friends had girlfriends I to teased them with prospects of marriage as Indian government does of bringing back black money and ending corruption. Both make the subject uncomfortable, with no likelihood of either becoming true in the in the near future. As Joey from friends will say “it is a Moo point. It’s a cows opinion it does not matter.”

 

But one of my friends who was committed for a few days walked up to me one fine day and said Seth Suit Silva le( get a wedding suit tailored ). I remember being stumped with no response, two other friends who heard him had the same expression of denial on their faces. We were as confused as Graeme Smith is against Zaheer Khan.

My feelings could be best understood by Tommen Baratheon, it seems that I had nothing left. We had no clue what to do, it’s like you are making a joke that Sir Jadeja can take 10 wickets and score a triple century in the same match. When he actually does, then the joke is not funny and the one cracking the joke looks stupid. It was a pivotal moment in my life when the jokes I cracked were no longer classified as jokes but as somehow reality.

 

You could see on my friends face that he was shit scared himself but he dodged the inevitable for another year. The next pivotal moment came when my parents forced me to study further. Apparently, B tech is not a good enough qualification. So I decided that I want to learn more in the technical domain and would like to study analytics. This has opened more avenues for me and I think my parents again forced me to a good decision. Moral of the story, listen to your mom.

 

Now after the end of my course, my friend who was engaged during the course of my course called me. He was also interviewing for a company in the same city that I was also planning to stay. During the first half of the conversation, I was pretty excited that my friend was coming to stay with me. But as soon as he recommended that he wants to stay with me, it triggered my panic mode.

I just hung up the phone and it  dawned on me that he will be married very soon. I was as frightened as Suresh Raina is of short balls. I consider this as a pivotal moment in my life. The prospects of him staying in the same place with me scared the shit out of me. My other friends proposing the prospects of me becoming an unpaid nanny didn’t help a lot.

 

As the great Joker said ‘ all you need is a push rest the gravity takes care’. My friend is now pushed and he is going to fall. Only Batman can save us now.

Scenic and Surreal Iceland-I

Scenic and Surreal Iceland-I

There are always a million reasons not do something but all that matters is that one reason which makes all the difference.My trip to Iceland was one a perfect example of this thought.

 

How this trip came to reality was an adventure in itself. My very good friends Amandeep Boparai and Nayan Chaudhary met sometime during May of 2015 and discussed the prospects of going on a trip somewhere (somehow we all three end up in the most unexpected of places). Someone suggested Iceland and because of the absurdity of the suggestion it was taken seriously. After some help and consultation from our good friends google and trip advisor our resolve in the absurdity of Iceland strengthened.

 

Then came the question of how to fund this trip. All of us were master students studying in different universities, two of us are in US and another one is in Paris. I borrowed money and booked the cheapest flight tickets(NON-Refundable(very important)) on impulse for October in the middle of my semester.

 

Now there was no going back. Once we booked the tickets we started looking for VISA ; there are just few consulates in US that give Icelandic Visa and they don’t conduct interviews every day. I had to fly to Houston on my birthday to get my VISA. We had to take various permissions from the college(But I think I have the coolest program director) for VISA. Just getting to Iceland had costed us lot of money.

 

pic-1 Iceland
Our Home in Iceland
After working late nights for weeks to plan for the lost classes and trying to be on top of all assignments and submission we finally flew to Iceland. Iceland greeted us with the coldest breeze outside the Keflavík  airport. It was so cold that we had to go inside the airport and get our caps and gloves out. We had already booked a 2015 Land Cruiser (it’s a super car). I recommend if you travelling to Iceland rent from “Reykjavik Rent a car” and don’t forget to take all kinds of insurance since the cars are super expensive (SCWD is a must).

 
 
 
 
 

pic-8
Me and Chaudhary had to pick Bopa from Reykjavík to complete the pack. We planned the itinerary in hopes that we can stick to a plan and cover as much as possible during our 5 day visit. But as is the case with most of the cases most of the decisions were impromptu and I am glad that they were.
Our first stop was Þingvellir National Park (for game of thrones fans it is the place where the Brienne of Tarth defeated the hound ). It’s one of the most beautiful places  I have seen with plenty waterfalls, green rocks that are too beautiful to be true

 

pic-3
Next we reached Gullfoss (foss means fall in Icelandic)  in the midst of snow and super high speed winds. The hike to  Gullfoss was an adventure in itself. The path was covered in ice and there was a strong wind to make it more interesting. The barricades along the cliff of the waterfall were very frail, and with no traction on the ground  it felt that we could have been literally blown away. The water fall is intimidating, ferocious and awesome at the same time. I would definitely recommend visiting there.

 
 

Our first night in Iceland was rough. It was snowing like hell and to make matters interesting the wind was blowing like anything. The wind was so strong that it seemed that snow was falling horizontally on the windscreen. It was something that I had never seen in my life.

 

pic 4

 

We slept in the car for the night and woke up to see a town covered in white with a snow covered mountain on one side and  sea on the other. The whole town of Vik was covered in a white blanket of snow it was one of the most unique views that I have ever seen.

 

pic-4

With the snow and the strong wind accompanying us we drove towards Dyrhólaey (one of the many black sand beaches in Iceland) . As we were moving towards the coast it stopped snowing but there was no respite from the wind. We could actually see the landscape turning from white to green in a matter of few meters. The black sand beach is beautiful (all those people who have seen How to train your dragon can relate to it) with rocks and birds flying around, really a sight to watch.

 

We drove past the snow storm to one of the most beautiful places in Iceland Skógafoss (you might have seen this in the new Shahrukh Khan Movie Dilwale) It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. You can almost always see a rainbow if its sunny and the whole experience is surreal and serene.  Very close to Skógafoss is Seljalandsfoss. Seljalandsfos is unique as you can go behind this fall which is a rare thing (Another scene from Dilwale).

Truly Mesmerizing Skógafoss
Truly Mesmerizing Skógafoss
Behind Seljalandsfoss
Behind Seljalandsfoss

 

Plane in the middle of nowhere
Plane in the middle of no where
The next place that I recommend visiting is the Sólheimasandur plane crash. To reach the site we had to drive off road for couple of km (Some US plane crashed here in the 70’s)(again in Dilwale). The most weird thing about the place was that it was snowing and just 300-400 m away there was a farm fence. The left side of the fence was completely white, the right side was completely green. It was one of the spookiest things I have ever seen.

 
 
 

Check the next next blog for the rest of the trip. For the time being enjoy our drive on the Iceland roads:

Scenic and Surreal Iceland-II

Scenic and Surreal Iceland-II

Continuing from where we left. After covering the south of Iceland we headed towards the east and the north.(Check out the previous blog):
 After it encountering heavy snow fall for the first couple of days the third day was a welcome clear day. We drove east with sea on our right and mountain ranges on our left and suddenly after one of those ordinary bends out of nowhere we came across this out of the world lagoon called as  Jökulsárlón. The lagoon originates from a melting glacier which “by the way” is right adjacent to the sea.

 

Unrealistically Beautiful
Unrealistically Beautiful
The lagoon itself is nothing short of a paradise in itself. I will highly recommend everyone to take a boat ride in the lagoon, you won’t regret it. There are blue, white ,black (because of the ash from the volcanoes) Icebergs in the clean lagoon water. If you are patient enough you might even see seals in the water. Once we crossed the bridge over the lagoon towards the sea we saw big ice bergs on the black beach. That was one of the weirdest thing I had ever seen(Icebergs on a beach)
Glacier and sea together
Glacier and sea together
pic-2-3The drive through the east is beautiful.We took a road through the highlands of the country. The highlands are themselves a treat to watch but not easily accessible. It actually felt like we were driving on top of a wall (the Game of thrones one).
Let me try to describe the drive: Driving on top of a flat mountain with snow on either side of the roads with a brook running along the road that has small waterfalls that are partially frozen. We were speechless and scared at the same time because we realized if we were stuck here there is no going back.

 

The special east
The special east
The Highlsnds
The Highlands
pic-newAfter passing through the highlands we headed north. Now just imagine the odds:Driving in the middle of the night with a clear sky, it had snowed heavily for the past two days to provide a perfect white cover around the black road, it was full moon night .
It was really cold outside (around -10 C). The snow from the roadsides and mountains was reflecting perfect moonlight. To top it all there were hot Geysir on either side that were visible in the moonlight It was seriously a romantic site.But we were driving in the middle of the night at 50km/hr with no headlights(yeah without the headlights).The moonlight reflection was so bright that everything was visible.I was spellbound and in awe during the whole 50 km drive. It’s one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

 

After that spectacular drive we reached Lake Mývatn and parked our car at the perfect spot to see northern lights. But alas we were unlucky, though we had a clear sky but there was no solar activity that day. We could see the northern lights in the camera,with the camera set it to a higher exposure. It was less than -15 degree Celsius  outside and we decided to call it a day and slept in our car again.

 
 

Jacuzzi in snow
Jacuzzi in snow

Next we headed to go to Dettifoss but the roads had a heavy snow cover that we decoded to turn back (we might even had an accident but lets concentrate on the important things here). There are many nature baths in Iceland and they are the best places to relax and re energize from your trips. The water is naturally hot and it is one of the most energizing experiences . The hot pools are surrounded by snow . You can stay back and relax as long as you want and if you willing to shed some wallet weight they serve beer and food in the bath.

 
 
 

Goðafoss is right behind us
Goðafoss is right behind us

We continued our journey towards north and stopped at Goðafoss where we had dinner in pitch darkness. It was cold like hell and I remember our hands and ears getting numb.But it was one of the most amazing places to have dinner. We reached Akureyri  which  is one of the biggest towns in north of Iceland and it is one of the most beautiful cities of Iceland.

 

 

pic-2-9

 

Next we decided to explore the less popular Westfjords and see Dynjandi. The drive to that Dynjandi was a treat in itself. We saw many frozen lakes on our way to the waterfall and the waterfall in itself was majestic. We covered few other falls on our way back to Reykjavik and completed our amazing trip.

 

 

If you love horse riding, adventurous glacier walks and scuba dives then these are some other reason to go to Iceland. We didn’t cover the whale watching and many other things that the country has to offer.I am definitely going back
Overall I can assure you that you won’t regret your trip to Iceland and will remember it for the rest of your life. The only downside is that the weather is very unpredictable and the country is slightly more expensive. Try bringing in a camera that shoots good images in night and have a portable camera ready (I-phone and Samsung Galaxy are pretty good).

 

Just leaving you with some of my favorite pics from the trip and thanks to google for this amazing video(use google photos)
Amazing landscape
Amazing landscape

Trip to Vietnam

Trip to Vietnam

I think most people know Vietnam from the famous guerrilla war they fought with America from the 1950’s till the 1970’s. But here I would like to present my experience vacationing this beautiful country.

As soon as you land in Ho chi min city (named after their great leader Mr. Ho chi min who was the face of their independence) you are greeted with a humidity similar to Mumbai and a peculiar smell of fish. The main life line of the city seems to be the Siagon river which was also the historical name of the city. It is one of the most modern cities of Vietnam where you will find all the facilities that money can buy. The main tourist attraction of the city are the Cu chi tunnels.

Cu chi tunnels gives you a perspective of how the war of Vietnam was fought. Why the Americans had trouble fighting the small and poor Vietnamese. The tunnels are narrow, deep and run a network that is several kilometers long.I am a thin guy and I could barely enter the tunnel and there was no way for an American soldier to enter the tunnel opening with all their gear.

 

Its unequivocal that Vietnamese designed these tunnels with a lot of planning ,creativity and practical thinking.For instance for every entry into the tunnel they also made another opening camouflaging it in the dense jungle at a distance of just 2 m from the first entry. So whenever an American tried to follow a Vietnamese in a tunnel the Vietnamese soldier would come out of the second exit and shoot the soldier. They built in various booby traps all across the jungle which were camouflaged in the best way possible. The Vietnamese used resources of the US against them, they  recycled everything from US bomb scrap to US tanks. The tank mines that they used were made from the scrap of bombs that the US forces used for bombing them. It is worth visiting Cu chi tunnels and see how the Vietnamese fought against all odds . The best part about Cu Chi tunnels is that you get to fire M10, Ak-47 and the Rambo gun M-60. The feeling is pretty awesome.

The next place we visited was Da-lat, which is an hours flight from Ho Chi Min. It’s a hill station that the French colonist used as their vacation destination along with the then king of Vietnam. It’s a very beautiful city with a scenic view similar any standard hill station. The French architecture, embroidery exhibition shop, the flowers exhibition and the vacation palace of the last king are the some of the places worth visiting and enjoying in Da lat. Especially the XQ- hand embroidery is pretty good and if you are interested in art and stuff you will find it pretty amazing. The embroidery that they have done is every detailed and exceptional.

One thing that you can not miss in Da-Lat is the tribal show  with the tribal dances and drinks. It was one of the most lively and audience engaging events that I have seen in my life. A must attend.

Da-Nang which is like a cosmopolitan town of Vietnam is an hours flight from Da-lat . From Da-nang at 50 km drive are the Bana Hills. The prime attraction at Bana hills are cable cars which holds 4 Guiness world records. The cable ride takes will take you around 1 Km high and its around 5 Km in perimeter. The 17 minute ride up is beautiful and serene and the BANA resort at the top is grand and elegant. 

You can see the lush green mountains, waterfalls and at the same time on the other side the you can see the ocean across the city of Da-nang. I think it is one of the most novel and unique views one can ever come across. At the top of the mountain there is a beautiful statue Buddha along with some of the most well kept gardens that I have ever come across. It is a beautiful sight and  a place that you would definitely not like to miss.

Next  place on our itinerary was Hue which was the ancient capital of Vietnam and also the seat of their last Monarch. Through the city flows one of the cleanest and most beautiful rivers named the perfume river. Along the bank of this Perfume rivers is an ancient Pagoda (Buddhist temple) which were worth the visit.

We also visited Hoi An which has been declared as a heritage site by UNESCO.The city is preserved to its ancient self and grandeur. The place is a paradise for back packers and shopping enthusiasts. The folk music show on the boats that was pretty good. To me the best thing about the city were its rickshaws .The rickshaws have two wheels in the front and the Rickshaw drivers sits behind you. It was a fun experience.

Next we visited Hanoi which is the current capital of the country and is situated in the north. There we saw a Dragon water show that was pretty darn special.A must attend and for all the Indians is ‘Namaste India’ restaurant in Hanoi, it has one of the best Indian food that you can get.

From Hanoi its a 4 hour drive to Ha long bay, which is in itself one of the seven natural wonders of the world with almost 2000 islands. I highly recommend that you can try one of the cruise ships and spend on day in the bay. It was a beautiful, calm and serene experience.

The caves in the Islands of Ha long bay are simply amazing and one of the most astonishing sites that I have ever come across. The caves are intricate and i was awed by its natural beauty and enormity. 

If possible try booking Pelican 2 as your ship for the journey, we had very good time with crew and even taught them how to dance on Made in India.

Overall you will find the country very beautiful and worth spending the vacation. The right blend of history, modern amenities and the happy and warm nature of its people across all the tourist sites make this country a perfect holiday destination that not many people have explored.


As a few personal recommendation I would suggest that you should visit the beach, the 7 saloon pub, and the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort while you are in Da nang and there is a bridge made in the shape of a dragon from which they breath fire on weekends.If you are travelling with your family or your girlfriend please carry an extra baggage because there are several shopping destinations across the country. The craftsman ship of the people is exemplary and at the same time they are warm and friendly. Though there is a language barrier and most of the people don’t understand English, so hiring a guide might not be a bad idea.

PS:There is road named after Ho Chi Min in south Delhi