Thursday, November 28, 2013

a cyclothon with team Evernote...

Cell phones are getting swankier by the day and we feel inadequate sometimes. At least I do. Keeping pace with all the new apps that can do so many things by the touch of a screen, I think my fingers are most active part of my body these days. Yes they are.

I find myself adapting to new ways to store useful information, new ways to process pictures, making pictorial notes, logging my calender, verifying caller identities, keeping record of my walks and runs, personalised news tracking, tour/GPS tracking etc etc. I would not have imagined so many things done so efficiently through a pocket device a decade ago.

Imagine, all these kinds of applications are used by someone who believes in going back to older ways of living. Eco friendly living. We prefer walking to do our grocery or other daily chores, keeping the carbon footprint minimal. Being smarter for the phone should be an eco friendly activity.

I wouldn't argue about how eco friendly are cell phones :-/

I got introduced to Evernote last year and tried the basic free version. I am amazed with the way it can store a lot many information, just like my office files. Easily accessible information at the swipe of a screen, using my phone or I-pad, or even the desktop or laptop.

We both trek and bicycle a lot to faraway places, our own way to be with nature, watch birds and other flora and fauna. I have been wondering how much we can use an app like Evernote in recording bird species, flora with pictures in a certain geographical area. Like we did in Dehradun and Uttarkashi recently. Keeping log of the activities and tracking the routes will be so convenient. Evernote it is on our next trek or biking trail.

Recently we got to know more of such features of Evernote when we were invited to bike with  'Evernote Life cyclothon' with Cyclesutra. Mr. Troy Malone, GM, APAC, Evernote was touring India and being an avid biker himself, he decided to promote Evernote in a unique way. It echoed with our way of popularising cycling and walking on the roads more and more.

The idea was to cycle from Akshardham temple to Green park (Approx. 17 Km ) and to capture the public/historical places along the way through Evernote app. Imagine the joy we experienced during this cyclothon.

Here is the screen shot of the trail I recorded through my Runkeeper app. Can we do it using Evernote? I have to look for it, may be the paid version?

Did I tell you that this was our first bike ride in Delhi. The early winter fog of November second week was so pleasant. We witnessed sunrise a few minutes after we started cycling and then we could see flocks of birds in the sky too.

Cycling through the greenest parts of Delhi, past a few flyovers and morning traffic, it was a lovely start to the Sunday. I so wish I had the motivation to get up early every day and be on the roads. I so wish the traffic was better, the air cleaner in the winter mornings. The smog has started playing havoc in the mornings and evenings now after just 2 weeks of that cycle ride.

We had good company of Radhika Nandwani and Karan Bhujbal form team and Yogesh Khanna and Neeraj Jalan from Cyclesutra.

See how Yogesh kept taking pictures through Evernote app.

Few Delhi monuments were left behind. Some of them were clicked through the cellphone.

Here is the Peace pagoda.

National museum..

Cyclists on a winter morning chatting on the way.

Some elderly runners made us think why we don't get up early.

 Empty roads in  few places.

On the way to Hauz Khas Lake and Deer Park...

Near Hauz Khas Lake

The Barah khamba tomb.

It was such a fun ride that day. I will be doing such rides again very soon. May be with a group or may be alone sometime. If not Delhi it will definitely be one of those YHAI biking expeditions.

Here is Troy Melone and 20:20 msl team having fun after the cyclathon. We were all in jolly mood after the ride, the whole Sunday was there to rest and get energised for the beginning of a new week.

Thank you team 20:20 msl and Evernote for this bicycle rice through the heart of my own city. It will always be a good memory.

~ written by Arvind Khanna.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Go...hug a tree...

Go...hug a tree


commune with nature

the chlorophyll force

bringing energies down

the earthy bundles of xylem

transporting the essences of Earth 

to the sky

with open stoma

making them ONE

meditate and commune

with the elements

of the tree

and see how

it hugs you back

wrapping multiple arms around you.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Birds at IIP Dehradun Campus : Blue-bearded Bee-eaters, Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Green Bee-eaters and Lineated Barbet

Bringing you another post on the birds of IIP Dehradun. We spotted a few Bee-eaters on the Eucalyptus trees that line up the long road. We actually get a strong whiff of Eucalyptus oil when we reach this spot, a very pleasant start of a long walk I must add.

The Bee-eaters that made a racket on top of the tall trees, looked excited as Bee-eaters always feel like. We could see the beautifully spread out wings and their characteristic flight, excitedly taking a small flight taking a round and then coming back to the same spot. Often a coupe of them would perch on the same branch, do some talking and start flying in the characteristic manner. It's a pleasure to watch Bee-eaters when you have enough time..

This is the Green Bee-eater with that unmistakable elongated central tail feathers, as if a stick juts out from the tail.

You would see them almost all over India except very high altitude but to see them in wilderness is so much fun.

They keep showing up here and there, often knowing someone is keeping an eye on them.

And there are these Chestnut-headed bee-eaters found in foothills of Himalayas and forests of the southern India. These are marginally larger than the Green Bee-eaters.

Beautifully feathered, lovely eyes.

The most delightful sighting was the Blue-bearded Bee-eater. We saw them in large numbers but always too high up on the trees and it was only their silhouette that gave away their identity. These are larger birds than the other Bee-eaters and the blue beard shines beautifully again light. The beak is a bit longer too.

We were hoping to see a lot of Barbets there in Dehradun and I was particularly expecting the Great Barbet that we spotted once in Simla.

We did get to spot a Lineated Barbet which we don;t find in Delhi so it was quite an achievement. Actually one fellow lived on a smallish Banyan tree right in front of the guest house canteen so we could spot him many times.

And they were found to like these berries very much.

An avid birder friend recognised these berries as Turkey berries. I wish I had known these berries earlier. Would have plucked some and cooked for the record :-)

The Brown -headed Barbet comes to drink water from my rock garden and a Coppersmith-barbet is often seen on a wild fig tree near my house, these two are the only Barbets we see in Delhi. The great Barbet was seen in Simla and Blue-throated Barbet once in Palampur Iwish I could see other Barbets soon in different parts of India.

And yes, I was expecting the Blue-tailed Bee-eater as well in Dehradun but could not spot them. May be next time?

I am hoping I will be there every year for the bird count.