Trip to Kausani and Nainital with Almora on the way

Not your typical crowded hill station, Kausani in Uttrakhand is a fairly enjoyable place but only if looking at Nanda Devi, the 2nd highest peak in India, can give you the high. And if you have even slightest interest in photography, then waking up at 5 in the morning to watch and capture the Sun rising from the Himalayas is as breathtaking as anything can be.

And these two things made sure that my one night stay at Kausani was unforgettable. To this you add the drive from Gurgaon with stopover at Haldwani, Nainital and Almora and I had a blast for four days. It’s a different matter that 6-8 hours of driving with getting up early every day did take its toll. But after looking at the pictures I got to click, who is complaining.

How to reach Kausani?

In case you are planning a trip to Kausani from Delhi/Gurgaon, start early in the day and make Nainital your halt for the first night. Nainital in itself is a hugely popular tourist destination and perhaps the best and closest hill station from Delhi. So, be ready for traffic jams, parking woes, crowded places and yes, corrupt police too.

In Nainital, you can enjoy the boat ride in the lake, for the religious kind there is temple, a gurudwara and a mosque too. Do try the food at the market, there are some shops which serve really sumptuous food. And for the ones who like shopping, there are shops selling amazing and ahead of fashion clothes.

The next day, start at your comfort and drive down to Bhawali, from there take the route to Almora, then Kosi and you’ll be in Kausani, 6 hours tops. The road condition is more or less ok with the spectacular valley just before Kausani taking the cake.

We didn’t go into the Almora town and were happy to click some pictures only. You make take a call and spend some time there as well. I did hope that maybe my experience of last time would get repeated but there were no leopards on the road this time. There were some wild birds though and I did get to click their pictures.

Places to visit in Kausani

Nanda Devi is the star attraction

Like I said earlier, the key attraction in Kausani is the view of Nanda Devi. And don’t be surprised that every hotel (about 35) there offer a view of the peak and that’s their biggest and only selling point. Also, not all hotels are up to the mark, they are still making profit though.

In addition to Nanda Devi, there are so many peaks around it that you’ll be amazed. And surprisingly, to the naked eye, Nanda Devi doesn’t strike as the tallest of them all. But it surely is. Once you are there, take out your camera and start clicking. In case you are wondering what if you miss the sun rise, I think that should be least of your worries. The hotel staff will be banging on your doors at 5 in the morning.

Shiva temple in Baijnath is quite good

On your 2nd day of stay at Kausani, you can visit Shiva temple at Baijnath, about 17-18 km away. The 9-10th century temple is on a river bed and is a cool place to visit especially for the ones who love history and historical places.

While on your way to or way back from the temple, you may visit the Shawl making factory. The place is fairly interesting and you can see how shawls are made, you can buy some for you too. But one drawback is the price of the goods, that’s a little too much. But the entire system there points to the fact that it’s been tailor made to make more money out of tourists. But I guess that’s true of all tourist places.

And yes, there are some tea gardens that they say are good. But when I was there in end of June, I could see no such thing. But it could just be a case of bad timing.

Places to stay in Kausani

Like I was saying earlier, there are plenty of hotels though not all are of good standard. Ours was just OK types. The worse thing was, we booked the hotel using Agoda.com and they claimed we got a discount. But when I checked at the hotel, the ‘discounted price’ we paid was actually the actual price as well.

I guess in the entire journey from Gurgaon to Nainital to Kausani, the corrupt cop and the cheater Agoda.com were the only two low points. Otherwise, Kausani and of course Nainital are really good places for spending couple of days away from the heat of Delhi.

Pro Kabaddi League Season 2 Starts From July 18, 2015

Pro Kabaddi League season 2 starts from July 18 and it’s going to rock again. Like countless fans I have been waiting for the PKL season 2 dates to be announced and the schedule is finally out. And what brought even bigger smile to my face is the fapkl12ct that as I was losing patience, I tweeted to Mr Anand Mahindra on when are they going to announce the season 2 and he responded to my tweet. Thanks you sir  for rejuvenating kabaddi!

Pro Kabaddi League season 2 Calendar:

Here are the important dates for Pro Kabaddi League season 2

• Saturday, July 18, Mumbai: Kick off with UMumba vs Pink Panthers – picking up from 2014 finals
• From July 22, action moves to Kolkata
• On July 26, Jaipur will start rocking
• July 30, is when Patna will see live action
• On August 04, PKL goes to Hyderabad
• And finally, on August 08, Delhi will have its date with PKL. And I will be in the Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium
• On August 12, Bengaluru will be the center of attraction
• And on August 16, Pune will become the last stop over for PKL’s league phase.
• Mumbai will have the honor of hosting the semi-finals on August 21 as well as the final on Sunday, August 23.

Find the complete schedule at http://prokabaddi.com/schedule/

Pro Kabaddi League season 2 teams:

The teams fighting for the top honors are same as last year.

1. BENGAL WARRIORS
2. BENGALURU BULLS
3. DABANG DELHI
4. JAIPUR PINK PANTHERS
5. PATNA PIRATES
6. PUNERI PALTAN
7. TELUGU TITANS
8. U MUMBA

Find out more at http://prokabaddi.com/teams/

After somewhat surprising champion in season 1 in 2014(read more), I am not sure on whom should I put my money. The best part of the PKL was that every match was awesome and I am sure season 2 will be better and more enjoyable. And yes, this time I want to watch at least one match LIVE and become part of the madness.

Countdown has begun. All set for Thigh Fives!!!

In love with photography

And the experiment continues. Small steps but hopefully taking me forward. A few of my latest clicks.

Only for the movie buffs…

There are some dialogues from the movies which never leave your mind. They make those memorable movies even more so. There are some which always have some reminiscences attached to them, at least for me for sure.

Here are a few gems. Not sure if you can recognize the movies, but I always can. In fact why don’t you give it a try? And if you haven’t watched these movies, maybe you may.
“Hey, Dad! You wanna have a catch?
I’d like that.”
– You know this movie is totally unreal but there’s something about it and not everyone can appreciate that.

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” – A totally unexpected last line for that movie and still so profund.

“You talkin’ to me?” – Anger of so many soldiers, war veterans.

“You can’t handle the truth” – Arrogance of one man can cost him everything.

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine” – And they say this may be the most romantic movie of all and I may have to agree with them.

“Houston, we’ve had a problem” – I have read that this became the ‘official’ call as well. Well.

“I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.” – Only one actor could have said it so convincingly and matter of factly.

“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist” – One of the most apt dialogues for a/any movie.

“I hope to see my friend and shake his hand.” – All that time, for hope, for this one gesture as a free man.

“I could have gotten one more person… and I didn’t! And I… I didn’t!” – Nothing more needs said.

Now, how many have you seen and how many movies you could figure out from the dialogues??

My site in number in 2014..

Crunchy numbers

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. My site was viewed about 9,400 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

The busiest day of the year was April 13th with 82 views. The most popular post that day was How to Get High Security Registration Plate for Your Car in Gurgaon.

In 2014, there were 24 new posts, growing the total archive to 62 posts.

Longest Streak: 2 days 3 October – 4 October

Best Day: Sunday with 12 posts total

Attractions in 2014

Where did you come from?

That’s 85 countries in all!

Most visitors came from India. The United States & Brazil were not far behind.

Who were you?

Your most commented on post in 2014 was The Saas Bahu Soap Operas of America

These were your 5 most active commenters:

  • Manuj 2 comments
  • vishaw 1 comment
  • ashok 1 comment
  • Rajesh 1 comment

Highlights of 2014: As I blogged it

2014 was different, but I think every year is different. May be that’s why we all look forward to a new year and at the end of every year enjoy pondering over the year gone by. And I love doing it by taking a look back at what all I wrote about. And 2014 was definitely a year different than my years usually have been. And like always I had a rocking time doing what I enjoy thoroughly, writing.

Travelling vicariously

The one major change for me in 2014 was no travelling but I still made sure I wrote about it. In fact I had an amazing time ‘watching’ some absolutely fantastic places in Himachal Pradesh through my parents’ adventurous travels. This was an unchartered territory for me, writing basis someone else’s experiences and writing about one tour in two parts. I may not have been at those places, but I surely loved writing every single word.

As for my personal trips, I only reached till Mughal Gardens in Delhi and a trip to Tijara Ji.

Photograhy is the next love

In addition to writing, photography is my other passion, actually, it’s still at nascent stage but I enjoy it so much. And in 2014 I combined the two.

Moving from Cricket to Kabaddi

India’s sports fans had a transformation, and so did my writing. After IPL, PKL became the 2nd most watched sports in India and what a league it was. I have never twitted about a sport, and I did. My tweets have rarely been retweeted, and many on PKL were. And my two blogs on PKL helped quite a few fans stay updated on players and matches of PKL 2014 and helped them get some information on PKL 2015.

And like so many people all over the world, I did touch upon the FIFA World Cup.

Indian TV had the obvious and not so obvious shows

I had fun time writing about what goes on on the Indian television and well on the American television as well especially oh-so-similar crime dramas. And it was a great year for the Indian TV in some sense, after House MD debuted here and like a flash almost all seasons have been covered already, can you believe that?

What else was new for me?

Well, I wrote about food and I am sure I have helped many foodies looking for the best street food in Gurgaon and best south Indian food in Delhi. What many of you would have missed is my ideas for the car manufacturers in India and I am sure I can help them lower car prices with some simple tips.

Writers and their books

2014 had so much happening when it came to writers and their books. Kushwant Singh and Pran left us wanting for more and Sachin Tendulkar told us how he made sure is always ‘Played It My Way’. And I added my humble bits as well.

And the most important of them all

But for me the most important write up was the one on Stem Cell Banking. There are countless people in India who struggle to find the right information and I thought I may share what all I could gather and that what I did.

Abstract

And strangely enough I wrote about my urge to write. Well, and I am not sure how that went, I mean the article, not my urge. And then some.

Playing It My Way…

After a lot of excitement, by stealing whatever little time possible and taking over a month’s time, I finally completed reading Playing It My Way – the much awaited autobiography by Sachin Tendulkar. And here’s what I feel about it.

image

Playing It My Way

What to expect from the book?

And I have to confess when I picked up “Playing It My Way”, I was not too sure as to what to expect out of this book. This was after all the autobiography of Sachin Tendulkar, one of the greatest cricketers of all times, one of the greatest sportspersons of his generation and a legend in every sense of the word. My expectations from this ‘autobiography’ got biased thanks to the other ‘autobiographies’ I have read. Those have been about people about whom I have learnt most of the things by reading their ‘autobiographies’ and by reading a few other sources. But ‘autobiography’ of Sachin, well, I have grown watching him play, right from his debut series against Pakistan to his last series against the West Indies.

Like countless Sachin fans I have been following his life on an almost day to day basis. And thanks to the overly crazy and weird Indian media and the world media too, each of his moves have been documented and shown as ‘breaking news’ for close to quarter of a century. Under the circumstances, what was it that I was hoping Sachin would tell us through Playing It My Way played on my mind.

There is plenty

Yes, thankfully there is plenty and Sachin has shared a lot of stories in Playing It My Way but he has refrained from sharing a few as well. He himself has mentioned that it may not be appropriate to talk about some of the stuff for some reasons. But still you will find a lot that you never knew before and I am sure like me you’ll love it too.

The beginning

Sachin Tendulkar’s early life, his growing up years as a cricketer before he made the India debut has some many interesting stories and incidents which make him so human. He has been revered as a God in India and when you read in Playing It My Way about the struggles he had to go through, you’ll be humbled. And you’ll know why he himself comes across as such a genuine person every time you see him on your TV screen or read about him in a newspaper or a magazine.

The stardom

When he talks about his playing days as a cricketer representing India, you’ll find a lot of things you may know though not entirely but to a good extent, thanks to the constant media eyes that followed him. However, reading about the pain he went through while fighting through the periods of injuries would surely be something you would have not known earlier and will make you respect him more.

Then there are many interesting incidents not related to cricket that he talks about which make Playing It My Way an interesting read. Though perhaps to keep the focus majorly on cricket, he has even included match statistics/score cards which I personally did not spend any time reading or going through. But for those who are number freaks, this will serve as a ready source of information.

The records

His first runs, his first century, his record breaking moments, his record making moments, his extraordinary performances, his triumphs, his failures (yes he did have those too, and he talks about them as well), Sachin takes the readers through his life, his journey in a smooth fashion in Playing It My Way. Sometimes it feels like a straight drive, at times a nicely timed pull, a perfect flick or a cover drive, and it always feels like magic which used to flow from his bat.

The partnerships.. The scandals.. The speculations.. The misses..

Sachin enjoyed countless successful partnerships between the 22 yards and he talks about those. But the one he undoubtedly cherishes the most is the one with Anjali, his wife. There are innumerable stories on how they met but Sachin shares the real story and it’s as remarkable as it should have been.

He also talks about a few scandals including ‘Monkeygate’ but has not talked about ‘fixing’, a scandal perhaps many were hoping to read a lot on. But this is his story and he chooses to share the way he wants.

One of the stories you will surely enjoy is his 194 not out in Pakistan. He has quite frankly talked about his displeasure and ‘leave me alone’ talk with Rahul. Inspite of this, their friendship remained strong as ever.

The farewell

The later part of Playing It My Way could be the main highlight for many. You are likely to get emotional (once again) reading his farewell speech even though you would have watched it live on TV, read it on WhatsApp (like I did) and gone through it time and again. And you won’t mind reading it time and again and then again.

Go ahead, read it

In Playing It My Way I am sure there is something new for every reader. I for one have decided to refrain from mentioning anything specific here, be it the well-known or the unknown facts. After having had the privilege of having read Sachin’s life in his own words through Playing It My Way, I can vouch that once you have read it too, your love and respect for him is going to rise more. He comes across as as ordinary or simple or common as a person could be and at the same time he becomes even more extraordinary or to put it rightly he justifies being the ‘God’ as so many of we Indians revere him as.   

My advice, go ahead and grab a copy of Playing It My Way for yourself, read it and if nothing else you’ll at least feel a strange kind of pride, a pride that comes from knowing Sachin ‘the person’ a little bit more.

Read my review on goodreads too..

Playing It My Way: My AutobiographyPlaying It My Way: My Autobiography by Sachin Tendulkar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

http://mishrarohit.com/2014/12/20/pla…

View all my reviews

Stem Cell Banking: preserving Cord Blood and Umbilical Cord Tissue of your new born baby

Though still in its nascent stage, the idea of Stem Cell Banking by preserving the Cord Blood and Umbilical Cord Tissue of your new born baby is fast entering the consciousness of Indian couples. Keeping the need and benefits of Stem Cell Banking aside for a while, the path to arrive at the right decision and then choosing the right bank is full of innumerable hurdles, uncertainties, scattered information and unavailability of true sources of knowledge.

I am no expert on Stem Cell Banking, but any experience can be worth sharing if it can provide some information, maybe slight food for thought.  But one experience must be treated as just ‘one experience’; it may not be perfect in every sense but can still turn out to be slightly useful if nothing else. And what I can definitely do is, keep the information simple, direct and put it across using words which we understand and not what ‘haematologists’ and ‘stem cell bankers’ talk about.

I won’t delve into technical mumbo-jumbo, let the experts on Stem Cell Banking in India enjoy that. For a parent, what is more important is what I wish to talk about.

What is stem cell banking?

I’ll stick to what Stem Cell Banking in India means in the context of new born babies, which is to preserve the cord blood (this is the blood left in a newborn baby’s umbilical cord and placenta, which otherwise would have gone waste) and umbilical cord tissue of your baby right at the time of his/her birth, i.e. at the time of delivery.

Why two? What is the relevance of cord blood and umbilical cord tissue?

Stem cells derived from cord blood can be used to treat diseases related to blood like blood cancer, Thalassemia, etc. Stem cells derived from umbilical cord tissue (mesenchymal) can be used to treat diseases related to tissues, muscles and organs like liver, kidney, etc. This kind of somes up Stem Cell Banking in India.

Why Stem Cell Banking?

Well, on growing up if unfortunately a child gets infected with certain diseases, Stem Cell treatment could be able to cure the same. Right now, it is claimed over 70 diseases can be cured using it including certain cancers, diabetes, etc. Since cord blood and umbilical cord tissue are the richest sources of stem cells, preserving the same sounds like a logical decision.

Stem Cell Transplant

While Stem Cell transplant takes place, there is a factor/count called HLA that is matched. A baby’s own stem cells are a perfect match, HLA 6/6. Similarly, it is a very close match for a sibling too. This implies one child’s stem cell would be a very good match for the sibling too.

You can use a donor’s stem cell only if the HLA match is sufficient, which is very difficult. To put it simply, it is like blood group matching, you can only use blood group if it matches, is same blood type.

Are there other sources of stem cells in body?

Yes, stem cells can be derived from bone marrow, and few other options are there too. But these sources are not as rich a source of stem cells as cord blood and umbilical tissue are.

Stem Cell treatment availability in India and World

In general, the stem cell treatment is an evolving method of treatment and has not yet arrived at a point where every hospital has the capability to do so. In India there are hospitals treating patients using stem cells and I have personally met a family who have a child treated and cured of Thalassemia by a hospital in Delhi.

The future looks promising and more diseases will hopefully be cured through stem cells by more and more hospitals.

Stem cell banks in India and what they offer

A quick Google search will show that there are many stem cell banks offering storage facilities in India. They all have more or less similar offerings though they may be packaging it differently.

Difference in what is being offered and promised and what is being delivered

Now, to me this is the critical point. All stem cell banks in India use fancy terms, scientific nomenclature and ‘global free delivery’ services but when checked whether they have actually done so, they would have no example to quote. Can’t blame them either since the whole system in India has just started and focus so far has been more on getting the cord blood and tissue preservation then using the same for treatment.

Treatment is the Key

Stem Cell Banking sounds so good to hear, but the real thing is actual usage and treatment using the stem cells. Some of the Stem Cell Banks do mention list of hospitals and actual treatments which have happened in India and that is what could be most important factor.

Where stem cell banks will confuse you

  • Capabilities:

All stem cell banks say they are the best, which is fine since every marketer says that. But if they realize that you have some knowledge and you may be exploring other banks too, they will use everything in their might to discredit the other.

  • Global Linkage:

They all back up their claims of being good enough based on their tie-ups with some global/international player. Some of the claims stem cell banks on India make are actually about the partner, like ‘N’ number of samples that they have cryo-preserved successfully.

  • Accreditation:

They all flaunt impressive set of “accreditations” but as it stands, there is no accreditation body in India for stem cell banks and there appear to be no rules, regulations and guidelines to govern and monitor stem cell banks in India. Globally, there are some accreditation bodies.

Single and Dual Storage

This is one of biggest bones of contention and point of confusion since there is only one stem cell bank offering dual storage in India. Dual storage should mean they will have two identical samples for you, one stored in each of the two facilities. This looks like a double ‘insurance’, in case one sample is destroyed for some reason the other one is still available for you to use.

Truth behind Dual Storage

  1. If offering dual storage was such a plus point, why only a handful companies are offering it. Even at a global level, I found one such stem cell bank in Australia, one in Europe and one in US and this number didn’t impress me. Moreover, none of them categorically states on their website what exactly they mean by dual storage.
  1. Even an intensive Google search didn’t reveal any good technical papers scientific research document, etc. for someone to check, understand and learn about the exact process and guidelines on stem cell storage, single or dual.
  1. One of the stwm cell banks, which is not offering dual storage, told me that dual storage is a myth. Their sales team said that technically it’s impossible. What can be done and what the companies offering dual storage are doing is: in one facility they will keep the cord blood cell sample and in the other facility they will keep the umbilical tissue same. Since both these samples will give different sets of stem cells, practically there is no dual storage. I did some research and called them back to say that there claim/logic seems to be flawed and unsupported. Then they made me talk to their lab head, the scientist, who after 5 min discussion with me ended up agreeing that cord blood cell quantity and the science behind it is such that it can’t be stored in two samples, however, umbilical cord tissue can have two samples and hence can be stored at two places, quantity-wise and science-wise. Thus agreeing dual storage is in fact possible, albeit in a limited manner. I asked for them to email me links to research documents and scientific studies to back/support their claim, which though promised by them were never sent to me.
  1. The stem cell bank offering dual storage has staked the claim that both cord blood and umbilical tissue can be segregated into two samples and hence storage at two different places thus ensuring two samples for each of them is available. However, after 30min discussion, they also confirmed that for the cord blood, one sample would be of less quantity (5ml) and other will be bigger (20ml, I guess). So if 20ml sample gets destroyed, you still have 5ml sample. Considering 5ml appears to be very small sample and what if more blood was needed, their response was that “clinical expansion” is done at time of extraction (free of cost, by all the stem cell banks) and this will have no bearing on the final quantity of stem cells.

Whether to go for Stem Cell Banking or not?

Talk to your doctor, check with your friends, talk to all the banks, take a call and get the best offer for stem cell banking. There doesn’t seem to be just one right or wrong answer, it will boil down to your decision and just stick to that.

If Not Birds?

If not birds then what at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary? This time focus of my article is not the birds but the pictures of birds I have clicked.

Oops… All Content is GONE… I am struck between hosting platforms

Guys, apologies for the inconvenience. I recently changed the “host” of my website and now I am struck between data transfer.

It’s absolutely frustrating for me but it’s out of my hands now. My new “host – Hostgator” is ready to extend all the help but my old “host – GoDaddy” has disowned me completely.

It is going to torture me for couple of more days. Till then, bear with me. And I’ll be back, fully “reloaded.”