Monday, November 30, 2009

Ride to Hedvi...

Destination: Village Hedvi, Taluka Guhagar, Jilha Maharashtra
Distance: approx 350kms from Thane
Route: Thane - Vashi - Panvel - Mahad - Khed - Chiplun - Hedvi - Velneshar

A non-political post after long time. I rode up with BNers on the weekend to Hedvi beach on West Maharashtra coastline.

The trip was being planned for some time but I had not confirmed participation, even though I was on two week annual vacation for the weekend. Weekends are usually most unpredictable for me and any planned commitment on weekend usually ends up getting canceled.

On friday night, I decided to join in the ride and hit bed. Got up at 4 and had bath praying that I am not greeted by a tyre puncture when I get the bike off its stand. Puncture and breakdowns have become quiet frequent now and it was just a day ago I have got block piston oil leakage "fixed" at service station.

Came in the parking lot at 4.45 and all seems well, no puncture or anything else. I was off for another ride! Yay!!

Vashi station was meeting point and I was there in 30 mins. Thankfully I was not the last man to join :) Unfortunately Amit lost his bag on the way and he noticed it when he stopped at an ATM. He had tied it on pillion seat with bungee cords. "How can you not notice your bag hit ground?", "Bahaane de raha hai"...etc were the comments we passed. Amit reached in some time and we got our answers...his bull had a good thump that would make all other noises silent :D

He lost his cloths with the bag but we all decided to roll. We were total 8 and 3 more were going to join us at the destination. Ranaditya and I took the initial lead and we quickly zipped on palm beach road till we came to Uran diversion.

As we waited at signal at 5.45am and watch all container trucks pass by without looking at the signals, we two realized that no other guy had arrived. We were puzzled as it was a mere 5-6kms stretch that we had crossed so far. Few calls and we were told that a new joiner had managed to take wrong route. They joined us few minutes later.

We all started and came onto NH-17 via Vashi-Palm beach road-JNPT road-panvel bypass. NH-17 was great to ride with the mist. We stopped over for tea/breakfast and rolled again.

Rana me and Pratik kept zipping ahead and three bullets kept following. After a while Pratik also was not seen in the mirror. On a good curve, Rana stopped and got ready with his camera. He was expecting other to ride in and shoot. Few minutes, but no one came in so we moved ahead again. Few kilometers before Mahad we stopped again. Got a call and we got the news that Amit had hit ground with his bullet near Mangao. It was 10-15 kms behind so we rode back there. Amit was taken to hospital by now. His hands took the impact while he hit and he had suffered from minor injuries. He was well armored and hence was lucky to avoid many things which could have been dangerous. Tempo was arranged to haul his bike back home and two other bulleteers decided to accompany him. Our count was reduced to 5 and after a big break, we started again.

Rest cruise was amazing. after around 40kms, we reached Kashedi Ghat. This ghat was one of the dream track I always wanted to ride on. It has smooth tar, steep ascend and maddening curves. I am not an expert rider but leaning on the Kashedi curves was a great feeling. I leaned bike on the curves more than anytime before and scraped the rear tyre on entire treads. Khed follwed after this and we passed Bhoste Ghat and Parshuram ghat to reach Chiplun. On the top of this ghat, a patchy turn made me steer away from road. I was quick to keep the bike upright and pass over bumpy gravel without kissing the dust. One cop standing there pointed at us and cursed but luckily didnt stop us. Saved us from a grilling session and chai-paani kharcha ;)

It was noon and we had to take Guhagar diversion Chiplun. We had our lunch at Abhishek hotel and loved the food. Must go if you like Maharashtrian non-veg. The hotel is tiny and inside a lane. And its wall is pinned by celebrity photos who have visited them before.

Now we moved away from NH-17 and went towards Guhagar coast. This road is again very nice and curvy and leaning was fun again. My tyre has lost its threads in center and needs replacement. Treads on border were still intact since we hardly get to curve on day-to-day rides. The MRF held the road quiet well.

We met the other three guys just before Hedvi. The count was 8 again and we reached Hedvi soon. The place we got was clean. We had booked dormitory for all of us. We grabbed kande-pohe and tea and relaxed for a while. There was no mobile network but we were told that on beach you can catch signal.

While sipping tea, Chaitanya spotted that it Sunset was pretty close and we quickly ran to catch some snaps. I took some snaps and preferred to explore the beach. The beach is pretty small and deserted. Its very clean though. A small river enters the sea in one corner. Other end has the temple and rocky shore. There are lots of trees at the beach and most were damaged by the recent cyclone.

Just before Dinner, Vinod gave us good insight about his job and provided enlightenment on few related things. We sat by the fire (perfectly BLOWED and lit by Pratik) and starter snacks - good mixture of salad, papad and wafers, complimented by dry chicken and Bhajiya, garnished by jokes! Dinner was served by 10. Food was ok but the jokes were better :)

Few of us, including me, decided to walk up to beach in moonlight. We laid back on flat rocks and watched the moon play hide-n-seek behind clouds.  I needed sleep so returned to dorm.

By 3am I woke up. A new family had arrived in next room. The ladies and kids were chattering loud enough. And here, Chaitanya was entertaining everyone with nice stereophonic snore. Managed to sleep again quickly.

In the morning, we went by river and tried to catch glimpse of a nice sunrise. Breakfast was not ready so we decided to start return ride. The three musketeers started journey before us and we visited Velneshwar beach which is very close to Hedvi. For the spirituals, you can visit two famous temples on these beaches. Velneshwar is larger beach and more eating/lodging options are available here.

Just before reaching Velneshwar, Chaitnya didn't notice Pratik stopping and hit him from behind. It was at a very low speed. Rana and Pratik had stopped someone for directions and Chaitnya's attention somehow wandered away. Both fell and Chaitnya got a small bruise and bent handle.

From Velneshwar, we started riding for Mumbai. I was very low on oil so got it on the way and topped up. Few kilometers before Chiplun, there is a diversion that can help bypass busy city streets and connect directly to Parshuram Ghat. Chaitanya separated here and he moved towards Pune. Now we were 4 remaining - Rana and Pratik leading. Bhavesh and I decided to trail.

Kashedi ghat was deserted now. Tyre and tar was hot and it was another excellent leaning hour. It was an unforgettable part of ride. Just cant describe it in words.

Remaining ride was incident free, we just kept riding. Ate at Kamath's near Mahad and stopped over for tea before Panvel. Must thank Bhavesh for being perennial source of water along the way. We took few breaks along the way and I kept topping up engine with 710 (oil). We met Sanket and Amit along the way but kept riding as they had some other plans.

Work calls started coming in as we reached Panvel and it signified a good trip coming to and end sooner :) We separated at Kalamboli. Rana and Bhavesh continued via Uran road, Pratik took left for Kharghar and I continued via Shil phata. Mumbra bypass is heavily damaged and provided an off-roading patch before entering Thane.

Bike supported well despite the half bald tyre and oil seepage. Thanks baby. I love you more ride by ride :*

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Moments of surprise...

Following two are one of few moments where life presented a quick and unbelievable surprise. Do you have any such moment to share, then please do. Would like to hear.

Evening in Bombay Bazaar:
It was my first day in USA. We had just reached our hotel rooms and freshened ourselves. Our manager took us out for the very first shopping experience in the USA. We went to walmart and were amazed by the open parking, clean - deserted roads and huge mall.
On the way back, we stopped at Bombay Bazaar to buy calling cards. After visiting walmart, that place looked really tiny. But I was equally amused to see Indian products like instant spices, Parle-G biscuits and tapes of Saans Bahu series. Particularly a set of Woodward's gripe water caught my attention. "Who would be using it here?" I wondered.
A few seconds later, an Indian lady walked in and picked it up!

Sitting in a Merc:
This happened in Sheffield, UK. I was waiting for the cab to office, alongwith my two colleagues. Our office arranged chauffeured cabs and few average car models (not by Indian standards ;)) had picked us up before this.
"Today we should get a Mercedes for us." I casually said to Anand.
He just looked at me and laughed at me.
A long Mercedes stopped before us a minute later and it was THE cab for the day!!
I wouldn't forget Anand's expression ever.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

President Patil's upcoming Sukhoi flight

Congratulations to President Patil for getting opportunity to fly Sukhoi - one of the finest and advanced man made machine available today. However, Its implicit that by virtue of her political position, this opportunity is rather a privilege that you can avail, disregarding everything else.

Apart from setting up record of being the first woman to fly IAF fighter jet, what is significance and purpose of this flight?

Is the flight going to signify something about women empowerment?

What is the purpose of spending money for the flight?

Can you dare to fly in MIGs which are still crashing and killing more valuable citizens of India?

Monday, November 09, 2009

खरंच कुणाची जिरली?

- अबू आझमीची हिंदीतूनच शपथ घेण्याची घोषणा
- मनसेचा मराठीतूनच शपथ घेण्याचा आदेश
- सभागॄहातला गदारोळ
- News channels कडून मनसेला उद्धार आणि अबू आजमीला आधार
- चा सगळ्यांना सोयिस्कर विसर
- मनसेचे ४ आमदार निलंबित
- मराठीद्वेषामुळे निलंबित झालो पण अबूला २ देउन झालो आणि शेवटपर्यंत मराठीसाठी लढलो असे मानणारे मनसे आमदार
- मला मारता काय, आता कसे निलंबित झालात असे मानणारा अबू

खरंच कुणाची जिरली? खरंच कोण जिंकलं?

जाहिरातबाजीचे राजकारण आणि राजकारणाची जाहिरातबाजी

लहानपणीचा एक विनोद...

पहिला: अरे माझा मोती कुत्रा हरवला रे
दुसरा: काळजी करु नको, आपण पेपरात "हरवला आहे" अशी जाहिरात देउया!
पहिला: वेडा आहेस काय, त्याला पेपर कुठे वाचता येतो?

आजकाल गल्लोगल्ली लागलेले शुभेच्छा आणि अभिनंदनाचे फलक पाहिले की मला हा विनोद आठवतो.

हे फलक ज्याच्यासाठी लावतात ती व्यक्ती ते कधी वाचत असेल काय? शक्यच नाही. पण जो ते लावतो त्याची पब्लिसिटी मात्र होते. आपले कसे "जिव्हाळ्याचे संबंध" वरपर्यंत आहेत हे दाखवण्याचा आणखी एक हेतू त्यात असतो. राजकारणात पाय रोवू पाहणारे उगवते तारे आपली "निष्ठा" दर्शवण्यासाठी त्यांचा हमखास उपयोग करू शकतात. तसेच, कोण किती काम करतोय हे "दाखवण्यासाठी" अजून सोपा मार्ग दुसरा कुठला असेल?

एवढं असेल तर शहराची स्वछता, नियम, सुरक्षा, पैशांचा दुरुपयोग ईत्यादी दुय्यम गोष्टी कोण कशाला विचारात घेतो?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Installing Ubuntu over USB flash drive RAID array in Intel Atom 330

Ubuntu makes it pretty simple to install it over USB flash drive RAID array. You can install it using flash drive itself.

Why would you do it? Flash drives are pretty cheap nowdays, even for capacities worth GBs. You can create RAID array out of more than one flash drive and have a system that can tolerate disk failures. Linux distros do not eat up diskspace like Windows so you can fit entire box in minimum two flash drives.

I downloaded Ubuntu server installation from a mirror and transferred the ISO to flash drive using Unetbootin. This has worked effortlessly for desktop live CD and I could boot in minutes. The installation also transferred itself onto other flash drive in system. However, I could not find any advanced options during live image - hdd transfer. So decided to download Server ISO.

It took 5 hours to get the image from net :( Unetbootin transferred it to flash but the installation kept complaining about missing CD-ROM drive. There are few links on web which mention you can mount the filesystem on /cdrom during setup. It worked but then setup kept complaining about something or the other. Finally hacked out CD-ROM drive from sister's desktop at midnight (she stays few miles away).

Once CD-ROM drive was there, setup was breeze. You need to make sure that USB emulation is set to "HDD" or "Fixed Disk" in the BIOS setup and boot using CD.

Setup is RAID aware and it provides easy options to create software RAID volumes. Setup also installs GRUB on all drives. This helps if you loose one RAID member and reboot.

Here are few screenshots during the install

- Choose manual mode to create partitions
- Create partitions on member drives first (keep sizes of partitions same. They can be in any order)
- Once partitions are created, come back to partitioning menu and create MD devices. Here you need to create as many partitions you need and make sure you select partitions of same sizes.
- Provide mount points to each partition and other usual parameters
- Commit changes and proceed, setup will do its job
- Reboot and test.

I tried removing one flash drive online and the system continued. However, if you try to reinsert that drive back online, the drive letter changes and hence the drive wont join RAID group. I would suggest you shutdown system, add drive and then restart. This is not the ideal thing to do but if the system is so critical, you wont be running it like this anyway ;)

If you are going to add a HDD after this, make sure that the HDD is not part of system boot sequence in BIOS. I am also not sure how the system will behave if you add more flash drives to the system. When the system is on, it should not cause harm, however, during boot the system might assign different drive letters. A quick look at mdadm.conf makes me believe that the RAID array is configured to look for disk signatures so you are at no risk if drive letters changes. Dont have a flash drive now to check that.

Let me know if it works for you. Following two links have been quiet helpful to me.