Monday, May 30, 2011

Santhome Marina Beach Chennai - Summer Fun

Thought we would be the only people at 4 PM on a Sunday afternoon - quite surprised to see so many in the beach side and in water

From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Got a new Sony Ericcson Experia Arc: Nice phone: A short review

I moved from a Nokia e63 to a Sony Ericsson Experia Arc touch phone - Full key board to no keys

The phone runs Android 2.3 and has a fantastic screen (BRAVIA engine) - Not a surprise from Sony. The pictures are good too.

My biggest pain areas
1. Phone access - I was so used to using keys for calling with keys. Until I learned favourites and how to use it, it was a pain

2. Oily hands - The screen is clean and my hands are perma oily. Smudge marks

3. Battery - but if you manage it intelligently, its cool

4. Camera button is a little tight and does not go off when required.

5. Sync with my corporate outlook thick client contacts is through google servers and gmail contacts instead of directly with the laptop

My biggest surprises
1. Book reading is fun

2. Youtube apps works beautifully

3. Phone and music/video clarity is great

4. gmail and picasaweb albums come in gallery very nicely

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dolphins Nose:A viewpoint near Coonoor

The drive to Sims park from Coonoor is pretty long 10+ kms, and the road is pretty narrow. If you can , take a local driver.

I liked the ride as it was very picturesque

From 201104_Conoor

A view from the top - they have telescopes there too
From 201104_Conoor

The point that looks like the nose
From 201104_Conoor

The famous St. Catherine falls
From 201104_Conoor

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sims Park: Coonoor: Photo essay and some details

This was the second time to Sims park. Its  YAP (Yet Another Park) in the hills except that its set up in 1874 and has more than 200+ generas. Its not very big. Only one tip for people with kids - The park slopes down and the kids play area is right at the bottom , so.... its fun to go down but very difficult to come up!!

History and Details of Sims Park
From 201104_Conoor

Pond at the bottom of the park
From 201104_Conoor

From 201104_Conoor

A log of who visited Sims park on bamboo
From 201104_Conoor

General pictures of trees and walkways
From 201104_Conoor

From 201104_Conoor

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A visit to the Tea Factory: How is tea made - Plant to cup process

This factory is about 2 kms from Coonoor Sims park. I found it very interesting and thought I should share the process of making tea
From 201104_Conoor

Tea is made in a 6 step process of
1. Plucking
2. Weathering
3. Tearing
4. Fermenting
5. Drying/roasting
6. Grading

Types of tea: CTC, Orange Pekoe, Green and White
1. Plucking: Tender tea leaf buds picked at a time of the day , twice a year is used for white tea. Tender leaf buds picked any time of the year is used for green tea and orange pekoe. The tea leaves picked through the year are used for CTC. Generally, lower in the stem and mature leaves are avoided as they have higher caffeine.

From 201104_Conoor

2. Weathering: Tea leaves are placed on a flat bed with air (cool/normal temp) blowing from below for about 12 hours. This removes about 30% moisture. This process is required to ensure that during the next CTC step, the leaves dont become pulpy but tear neatly.

From 201104_Conoor

3. CTC/Orthodox tearing: Cutting , Tearing and Curling (CTC) - this is the most preferred tea in India. The CTC process does just as it expands - cut, tear and curl, transforming the leaves into finer bits.

From 201104_Conoor

From 201104_Conoor

In the orthodox process , instead of CTC, the leaves are ground through a sieve. This process is used for orange pekoe and green tea. This process is preferred for exports.

From 201104_Conoor

4. Fermenting: In this process, the leaves are processed through a rotating drum and hydrated with a water spreay. This is where they pick up the brownish color and aroma. The process is usually for 1 hour , with an additional 2 hrs in open tray fermntation. There is no fermentation process for Green, Orange pekoe and white tea.

From 201104_Conoor

5. Roasting/Drying: A 250 degree roast is done for the CTC and 30 degree to 80 degree for green and orange pekoe teas respectively. Generally white teas may not be roasted except mildly.

From 201104_Conoor

6. Grading: Teas are sieve graded into 11 categories - 6 leaves and 5 dusts. The Super fine dust is typically used in the tea bags. It is not superior or inferior grades, but graded for the purpose they will be used. Many commercial teas are blended for best results. For example, granular gives strong, a ablend is used by hotels etc.

From 201104_Conoor

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wellington Gymkhana and Golf course: Pictures

This place has an 18 hole golf course and a couple of cottages. The club was established in 1873 and belongs to the armed forces. The greens are beautiful against the backdrop of the hills and I have taken a few photographs here.

The main club
From 201104_Conoor

From 201104_Conoor

Golf greens - beautiful sight
From 201104_Conoor

From 201104_Conoor

The club also has a website

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Read: Colossal loss of Commonsense

Incidentally, this is the book I think DMK leadership should read too. Kind- of apt.

COLOSSAL LOSS OF COMMONSENSE: The inside story of the failure of Lehman brothers

A miracle that no one questioned the leadership about the family activities at the expense of the party

Places to stay in Vaitheeswaran Koil: Hotel Akshardham: A review

Sadhabhishekam is a very popular staying place (and only decent one) at Vaitheeswaran Koil - Until now. Recently, they have opened another hotel , Akshardham. We ourselves were quite surprised with this place and we stayed here in Apr 2011.

The hotel is new and the rooms are clean. They are also fitted up well and the staff is relatively helpful. They get coffee and tea to the room and you may have to walk across to the Sadhabhishekam hotels restraunt for breakfast, lunch or dinner or other places nearby - see my post

The place is still under construction as they plan new cottages for people intending to stay longer.

From 201104_VaitheeswaranKoil

Phone number: Contact persons Ayyappan or Senthil - 04364 - 279014

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Places to eat in Vaitheeswaran Koil: Thaiyalnayaki , Durga Bhavan and Sadhabhishekam : A review

Anyone starting from Chennai early morning will know that they will land up hungry by the time they arrive at Vaitheeswaran Koil. There are few eateries there that serve a decen vegetarian meal. I am listing 3 that do
1. Durga Mess - a recent find of ours. From the main entrance it is just 2 ~ 3 shops away on the main road opposite the temple entrance. They serve good south indian food on a plantain leaf, albeit a bit spicy. They also get you curd from a shop for curd rice if you want.
2. Thaiyalnayaki mess - Again a good place to eat whih serves south indian food on a plantain leaf. They are less spicy. We have been eating here for the last 10 + years but the standard of food has recently fallen.
3. Sadhabhishekam - A more upmarket place to eat. They serve north and south indian, chinese food!! The place is a little far off from the temple , especially if you try walking in the hot sun.

From Blogger Pictures

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Places to stay in Tiruvarur: Hotel Royal Park: Review

We have been staying at Hotel Royal Park on the outskirts of Tiruvarur (also Thiruvarur) for neaarly 3 times we have been there. Latest being Apr 2011. It is just after the flyover in Tiruvarur and you have to take a rickshaw to reach. It is a good place to stay if you have your own conveyance.

Rooms: They have both AC and Non-AC and cost around Rs.1250 per double room. The toilets and bed are clean and thats about it. Dont expect Luxury or running hot water throughout the day. You need to book in advance as it often gets filled out. The best part of the hotel is its sorroundings - its got place for walking around in the front and sides. It is located outside the city , so relatively calm and in the middle of some fields.

Food: They do serve coffee and tea in the room and have recently got a veg restraunt too. Earlier it was Non-Veg and did not have too much of a crowd, now it is veg and still does not have too much of a crowd - probably because it is a little outside the city and not in the bus stand. The food is at best ok and the restraunt gets its crowd in weekends and festive holidays.

Tip: If you want hot water in the morning, please ensure you tell the reception the night before and also mention the number of buckets. They usually deliver it in the room in the morning.

From 201104_VaitheeswaranKoil

Typically, if you want to visit Vaitheeswaran koil and do not get a room in Hotel Sathabishekam, this is a good alternative place to stay and visit the temple.