Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Near Death Experience

Travelling has always been one of by greatest interests. Travelling brings new experiences in most amazing ways, but this is a story which changed my life forever.
July 19th this year proved to be one of the best and the worst day of my life together. Worst because on this day I almost died, my whole life flashed in front of me. Best because despite of my experience I gathered courage and saved my life. This is an event that not only shook me to the core and gave me nightmares for days, but also made me realize what life is.

It was a rainy July day, we were a group of 14 people had decided to go to a trek that would prove an experience of a lifetime for me. Early in the morning we took a train from Nerul Station towards Peb. Peb is the adjoining peak of Matheran which is rated medium on hike scale during summers and difficult during monsoons. We were a mix of first-time climbers and experienced ones. Personally I had experience of couple of such trekking events. I am not a big fan of trekking because I am terrified of heights, but I keep pushing myself to overcome my fear. And on this trip that is exactly what I would have to face.

We reached the base of the Peb hill on 4 rented autos, and suddenly the picturesque place took us by surprise. The lush green hilltops covered by cloud sitting on them like cotton balls. As soon as the trek started the clouds started pouring down heavily on us, and it was evident that it is going to be difficult for us to make the climb. It was a 3 hour climb, 2 hours ascend and an hour to descend and a height of 2400ft. The beginning of the trek was easy and we moved quickly through the narrow paths. As the angle started increasing, the vegetation became denser and denser; we had to be very careful about the insects and snakes on the route. Every step was becoming harder and harder, after about an hour of climb we reached the peak of the hill but there was a rock patch which needed to climb, before we could stop. The day was extra windy and while climbing on rocks these winds would sway you around with it. We waited for the wind to die down, but that did not happen. We finally decided to go ahead with the climb in the strong wind.

We held the water drenched, moss-covered, almost green rock with our hands and started climbing. I was the fifth person on the line to climb the rock patch, after the climb everyone started waiting. There was a second rock patch after the first one it was around 10 ft tall. On a normal day this would have been an easy task, but not today. Water was trickling down the rock which was covered with dense moss and grass on the top, every step was could have been one’s last. The second rock patch was on the edge of the hill and had 2 ways around it, one on the left and one on the right. There was no clear demarcation to know which way to go. I was the first one to climb onto the second rock patch and here is where I made the worst mistake of my life. I took the wrong way, and I went left. As I loved along the rock patch finding a grip. Space below my feet became narrower and narrower. I reached a point where I could finally hold the rock and climb on it, but at this point the ground below my feet was only 4 inches, and beyond that it was a fall of 2300ft into dense vegetation below. I climbed a couple of steps more, making sure I was gripping on the rock well before I move ahead. But then I took the step that would prove to be the deadliest step of my life. As soon as I took the next step I realized I was climbing on the wrong side of the rock, and there was no grip beyond the point I was already at, this fact made me anxious and I started breathing heavily looking for the edges to hold onto. I was busy finding grips so that I could climb down when I realized that my hand was slipping. I looked closely and I realized that both my hands were at a point which was covered with moss and drenched in water. Both my hands started losing grip and I could feel my fingers slipping on the moss as I desperately tried to hold on to the slippery edge. I kept trying, and while doing that, I looked down towards the ground estimating the damage I could take if IT happened at all. I couldn’t see the ground anywhere near; it was a stiff edge below my position which could only mean a drop to the bottom. I looked up, still trying to hold on to the rock as time slowed down gradually. My heartbeat seems to have come to normal and my breath became slower, a strange serenity came onto me. A strange peace which I had never felt before in my life, I stopped thinking about what would happen if I fall. There was a voice from the back of my mind, a peaceful gentle voice saying, “It is time, don’t try to hold on any longer. Close your eyes and embrace your death, don’t be afraid of it. Death is beautiful”. I closed my eyes, and went blank for few seconds, that feeling of peace enclosed me like a cocoon.

I was just about to let go of the rock, when suddenly of the darkness the sad faces of my parents flashed in front of me. The scene where they were crying in front of my mutilated body flashed in front of my eyes. Suddenly I realized this was not the time for me to die, and give them the biggest pain of their lives. I told myself, “You have to survive. You have to live.”  I closed my eyes once again and saw a light, and in that light, I saw Lord Shiva. I realized it is not the day I die, he has come to my rescue. I opened my eyes and held onto the grass on the top of the rock. I was not sure if the grass could take my weight, and I was correct. I could feel the grass getting uprooted one by one. I did not care about the grass now I started looking for a place on the rock where I could hold tightly. I was holding the grass with and with another I was feeling the rock for a grip. And finally, I found one. I pulled myself to the other side of the rock and jumped to the ground on the other side. I immediately fell onto the ground and started breathing heavily.

This was the best and the worst day of my life together. I almost died and got a new life on the same day. For following 4 nights I had nightmares of falling from the cliff. The memories of the incident shake me to the core till date. I almost had Goosebumps while I was writing the whole story. When we reached the top the view was worth the pain we all took. It was an awesome journey, and memories of this trek with last a lifetime. (For obvious reasons) 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Colors of "Life"

Everything around us is beautiful, all we need to see it in a perfect angle.

Sometimes its better not to see things clearly, sometimes it makes it more beautiful for us.

Its okay if we keep our homes dark during Diwali, It is important to remove our inner darkness first!

We always think we are the best until we see someone better. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Facebook: Hijacking the Digital world.

Digital India campaign is one of the most marketed campaigns of the Government of India (Mr.PM is a great Marketer). The aim of Digital India campaign is providing connectivity to rural India. India has been slow on adapting to new technology thanks to various factors like geographical size, population, very primitive distribution network and resistance to change. The recent visit of probably the most famous PM of India to the Facebook headquarters made it into the news as the new advent of the Digital age in India.

Facebook has come out with an amazing initiative for the digitization of the population of the world, who have low or no access to the internet. Facebook has promised to give free internet access to all the people who do not have enough means to access the internet. Governments around the world are really psyched about such a benevolent initiative by Mr. Mark Zuckerberg. Mark’s vision of connecting the whole world with the internet should be applauded. Each and every person in 3rd world countries will one day be connected with the internet through A step towards the development of the society across the world. And the best part? Everything is for free!!!
But wait, how come Mark attained such benevolent attitude towards the 3rd world countries where people don’t even know what Facebook is? Maybe he finally spent some time at some Indian Temple and got enlightened? Someone rightly said in business nothing is free, “If anything is free then you are the product sold.” Now let’s do a little market analysis. All the telecom companies (who are already cash crunched) are welcoming the step by Facebook. Question is, “If the companies are in financial crisis, will they really care to give public everything for free?”  Let’s see how these companies became cash crunched at the first place, I hope everyone know about the 2g spectrum scandal? Yes, the companies had to pay huge amount to repurchase the spectrum. But another very big reason for this is, WhatsApp. Yes, the little app you use for texting and sharing your beautiful moments of your life with people whom you love. The Telcos have been crying foul in front of the government for charging for such apps. WhatsApp first ate into the SMS market by allowing the people to text as well as share media, more recently however they are killing voice call market for the companies by introducing voice call over the internet. The companies are finding it difficult to earn their revenue. Hence telecom companies are trying to hike the price of the internet plans, but due to the price sensitivity of Indian population they saw a steep fall in consumption of mobile data. Now we can clearly see that Facebook  has been killing the business of the Telcos in India, then why the same companies are standing with Facebook for which essentially tells them to give the mobile data for free (Their big source of  Income).
Let’s see what’s there for Telcos, Facebook will be paying these telecom companies instead of the Indian population. (The Telcos are happy either way.) The question is why? Why Facebook is paying in place of the rural Indians. Let us first understand how Facebook earns its revenue? Facebook earns the revenue for reaching the ad campaigns of the companies to the masses. So let us stepwise understand how Facebook is planning for world domination:
1.     Facebook is providing internet for free, so everyone in the country has the right to get network access for free. That means a large amount of public will have access to Facebook for free. What does that mean for Facebook? REACH! Doesn’t sound too bad right? They should get at least something out of this, but wait there is more... Keep reading.
2.     Facebook is making a closed internet for itself where it will only put what it wants and what it likes you to see, and why not? You are not paying for it! So better take what you get!
3.     The catch is, when you want to access anything outside you will have to pay extra cash for the accessing the website, just as you have to do for the television card.
4.     Differential pricing will come into play, and then our internet expenses will look fragmented into several pieces. So, instead of paying say Rs.300 for one internet pack, we will end up paying Rs.100 for messenger services, Rs.50 for Social Networking websites and Rs.150 for Entertainment and Rs.100 for file sharing websites...and so on. (Some might argue this is not going to happen, but in fact it is..the Telcos will have an excuse for increasing the price of anything outside stating it as extra load on the companies)

Too complicated right? That is what the companies want it to be. Let me simplify it for you, like listening to stories?

“Raju is a gentleman who spends Rs.300 every month on data. He buys the data pack on 1st of the month and uses the data allotted to him as he sees fit usually watching videos, playing games, chatting, social networking and blogging. One fine day the differential pricing came into play, now Raju (Still a gentleman, but a sad one) has to pay Rs.100 for accessing Social Networks, Rs 150 for entertainment, Rs. 50 for games, Rs.100 for News and so on... The cumulative price of availing all the services goes well above Rs.300 every month. Even after that he has some websites left out and if he wants to visit those he has to pay for it separately.”

Hope the story made it clearer.

5.     We would have to pay more for everything which is outside the forcing the price sensitive Indian population to stay inside The companies signing up for will have large amount of reach, but then you will have to pay a hefty amount for availing the same. (Every company wants to reach the masses, isn’t it?)

6.     Inside; Facebook makes a controlled environment where Facebook controls even the speed at which your browser loads a website. So, if Facebook doesn’t want your browser to load a website, it will slow down the website. Directly affecting the revenue of such websites, forcing these companies to pay whatever Facebook wants.
7.     With huge amount of reach Facebook will make sure that there is NEVER another Facebook again. Because if there is a start-up it will have no other option than to come to Facebook for the marketing. Because till then the people will be used to using internet for free and then they would not want to pay extra for accessing the website they don’t even know.
8.     If the start-up seems to compete with Facebook in near future it would have no other option than to die, because in no way Facebook will allow the company to market itself. Hence they will be forced to either close shop or sell business to Facebook itself. Facebook as a company has huge amount of cash on its balance sheet, care to know why? Because Facebook wants to make sure that it can either kill or acquire any new start-up which looks like a threat, WhatsApp is the biggest example of such a start-up. (Facebook knows where to invest, apparently)
9.     Facebook will then dominate economies around the world after making people used to free internet, controlling the market and how the companies market themselves.
We sure want a Digital India; it is one of the best campaigns of Indian government, though India has other big issues to solve like poverty, hunger and illiteracy. Digital India is not the digital India how Mr. Mark wants it to be. Its okay to pay a minimal amount to avail what is right than availing what is free. It’s better not to get digitized than to have such access to internet in which your knowledge is controlled by some firm. Where a firm can control what you can know and what you cannot. It’s like being under a rule of a dictator.
Some of the people I came across had an argument for why Facebook will not do it. They said, “Because India is a very big market for Facebook and it will not do such a thing to risk its business.”  First things first, “Business IS RISK” . And moreover remember US is the one of the biggest markets for Volkswagen, they still managed to bypass the US environment laws for years.
Expecting Facebook will not cheat because it has a good brand image in your eyes is like expecting your spouse can never cheat on you because you trust him/her. Ever heard of “The 7 year itch”?
P.S- I personally support Digital India and keep my internet router without password.

P.P.S- I have an unlimited internet plan.

The image used in the article has been taken from Google image search.