Cycling expedition to Ghodbunder Fort, Thane

This was a totally unplanned expedition. Slept late on Saturday night but put an alarm for 5 am by habit. 5 am on Sunday morning, I was wondering where to cycle to that would be a relatively short ride, for it gets really hot after 9 am in May. I thought of visiting another fort somewhere within an hour’s ride from Andheri… that pretty much limits the distance to somewhere in Thane. So I googled “Thane fort” and the first hit was Ghodbunder Fort.
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Evolution of big data at CERN – a short overview by Dr. Tim Smith

There is a mind-boggling amount of data floating around our society. Physicists at CERN have been pondering how to store and share their ever more massive data for decades – stimulating globalization of the internet along the way, whilst ‘solving’ their big data problem. Tim Smith plots CERN’s involvement with big data from fifty years ago to today.

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Mountain Biking at Yeoor Hills – Off road bonanza!

A short but nice off road track exists in  Yeoor Hills. The Thane cyclists headed by Jose George of Haybren Adventures had announced the ride and about 30 riders turned up. We started at 6:45 am from the base of Yeoor Hills. The entrance to the park at Thane provides access to Yeoor. The road climbs up to Yeoor hills in a steep but smooth tar road. However, one needs to take care not to run into the several vehicles that are driven on this road.
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Crank it Up – first cycling festival in Mumbai

This was a fun weekend for cyclists in Mumbai. A group of cycling enthusiasts led by Zubair Lodi, Meenal Sharma, Dipti Shah and Bilal Moolji conceptualized and put together this event in the Pushpa Narsee Park in Juhu. The best part is, the event was announced online on Facebook, invitations sent to all cycling groups online, registrations happened online, and everyone just turned up! A total of 265 people registered online to attend the event! The awareness and interest in cycling is growing by the day, and that is really great to see. Thanks to all the cyclists like the organizers of this event, and the leaders of all the groups who tirelessly work to keep the communities active!
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Radio Interview at Pittsburgh Technology Council

Jonathan Kersting - Host of talk show at Pittsburgh Technology Council

Jonathan Kersting – Host of talk show at Pittsburgh Technology Council

During my visit to Pittsburgh at the Accion Labs head office, I was interviewed at Pittsburgh Technology Council by host Jonathan Kersting.

Jonathan runs a regular show titled Tech Vibe Radio, and has had a string of interesting episodes. I was honored to be able to talk to him, and am excited to be an extended part of the Pittsburgh Technology Council.

I talked about two of my favorite topics – Science Fiction and Big Data Technology and how they are coming together.

Read my blog post along the same lines here

Click to receive a case study of Predictive Analytics

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Cycling in Aarey and Borivali National Park to Kanheri Caves

Having done an interesting ride to Elephanta Caves, I was planning to ride to the other famous Buddhist caves in Mumbai – Kanheri Caves. With no specific plans this weekend, I made the usual last minute decision of cycling there on Saturday night, and roped in Sameer to join this adventure.

We were hoping to be able to convince the forest officials to allow us to use the route via Vihar Lake, but found out that the road was permanently closed after the leopard attacks in the park. So we had to take the normal route from Borivali National Park. However, as the distance is quite short, we decided to do a bit of a round-about route in Aarey before heading out to Borivali.
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Cycling along the mangroves of Mumbai

After a break of about a month, I was eager to get back on the cycle. I started early at around 5 am, and cycled along the Western Express Highway till Mira Road, then took the detour towards the shore and rode along the mangroves of Uttan, climbed up Uttan hill, then down to Gorai. I visited the Global Vipassana Center to admire the giant Stupa, then rode ahead to Manori, took the ferry across to Marve, rode till Madh, took another ferry to cross over to Versova and then returned home. 70 km of peaceful riding away from the city… a great way to start a Sunday!
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Flying visit to the US east coast

A 2 week hectic schedule that took me from Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, New York, Princeton, Chicago and Washington DC was a whirlwind tour. But it gave me an opportunity to finally meet with the team at Accion Labs in Pittsburgh to share business plans and dreams, meet my long lost childhood friend Atul Pawar to talk late into the night learning about life in the US, spend time with college friend Ananth Koppikar and have a lovely home cooked dinner, meet with Mahesh and his beautiful wife Nikki over lunch, stay in a cute little apartment in downtown Chicago belonging to my nephew Ranjit, attend an amazing jazz concert to listen to some awesome music with Kalyan Pathak, share a tasty Mexican meal with Sandeep and Monica Garg and their kids, meet with Kulwant and Amardeep at their large but warm house and share a game of pool in his basement, and finally meet with Sameer and Monica Bhide in DC where Sameer was kind enough to drive me through downtown DC to get a quick glimpse of all the wonderful monuments, before flying back the next morning to India.
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Big data bringing Asimov’s Psychohistory from fiction to reality

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov, my favorite science fiction writer and thinker introduced a concept called Psychohistory in his famous “Foundation” novel series.

Psychohistory is the science of predicting the behavior of large groups of people using a statistical model of the psychology of groups using historical data. And for events in the future are primarily the outcome of the what people do, by predicting the behavior of people one can effectively predict the future!
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Cycling Expedition to Elephanta Island

Elephanta Caves on Elephanta Island is one of the well known tourist destinations around Mumbai. However, I decided to visit the island to try something different – I decided to take my mountain bike there. My last cycling expedition was to Arnala Island, and I thought it would be a great extension to the island theme to try and explore Elephanta Island too.
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Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead – An inspiring tale of how two men turned around their lives

Joe Cross - healthy and fit!

Joe Cross – healthy and fit!

100 pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe Cross is at the end of his rope and the end of his hope. In the mirror he saw a 310lb man whose gut was bigger than a beach ball and a path laid out before him that wouldn’t end well— with one foot already in the grave, the other wasn’t far behind. FAT, SICK & NEARLY DEAD is an inspiring film that chronicles Joe’s personal mission to regain his health.

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Biking to Bordi = Bullets + Beach + Boys

We started a discussion on FB to plan a biking trip around Dahanu and Bordi, and ended up with 4 bikers with their respective Royal Enfield Bullets.

We all met at Dahisar Check Naka at 7 am, and then rode along the National Highway 8 (NH8) till Charoti junction for the turn-off to Dahanu. Then followed the state highway (actually just village roads) till will we reached Dahanu around 9 am.
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Tabla relates to the nine rasas in our bodies

Shri Shridhar Padhye, my Tabla guruji

Shri Shridhar Padhye, my Tabla guruji

I was fascinated by the Tabla very early in my life… the hypnotic tones caught my attention when I heard it being played at a religious function, and I pestered my parents to get me a tutor to teach me to play the instrument. I was privileged to get an excellent teacher – Shridhar Padhye – a highly respected and skilled artist who also taught music in Mumbai University.
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How we learned to fly in three days – the taster paragliding course

We were longing to have a family holiday where all four of us could go and spend some time together. We quickly rejected the thought of going to some beach along the Konkan coast and chilling out – and chose to do a “taster course” in paragliding.

We had heard of paragliding activities in Kamshet which is just a few hours away from Mumbai, but never really got around to doing it all these years. We were all very excited about it, and were waiting for the weekend to arrive. Unfortunately, we found out that Rohan had football (soccer) selections over the same weekend. So he had to stay back with a friend and the rest of us three went ahead to the course.
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Street magicians entertain kids in orphanage

Last week, my good friend Peter Theobald posted an announcement on Facebook about a group of street magicians who he had invited to Mumbai to perform. I grabbed the opportunity to arrange a show at Vatsalya Trust, an orphanage in Mumbai that I am associated with. Mr. N.S. Saraf, a trustee of Vatsalya was kind enough to arrange for all the kids to attend the show on Saturday, 19th January.
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Cycling to Sewri Fort

As a follow up of my new year resolution to cycle to all the forts in and around Mumbai, the second fort I tackle is Sewri Fort.

The history of Sewri Fort seems intriguing (Wikipedia):

Up to the eighteenth century, Mumbai consisted of several small islands. In 1661, seven of these islands were ceded by the Portuguese to the British as part of the dowry of Charles II of England. The harbour proved eminently apposite, and the British planned to shift base from Surat to Mumbai. The Siddis, who were of African descent and noted for their navies, had allied themselves with the Mughals. The British, under the East India Company and the Mughals were constantly waged war on each other. As allies of the Mughals, the Siddis also declared the British as enemies.
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A cycling visit to Madh Fort

This year I plan to cycle to as many forts in and around Mumbai as possible. My first fort trip is to Madh fort.

Madh Fort (also called Versova Fort) is a small fort in northern Mumbai, India situated at Madh Island. It was built by the Portuguese and lost it in February 1739 during the war against Maratha empire. It is secluded and difficult to reach, about 15 kilometres (9 mi) from Malad and is the last stop on route 271 of BEST bus service or via Versova by ferry boat. It is situated near Aksa Beach. The fort was built by the Portuguese as a watchtower in the 17th century. It offers a strategic view of the coastline and guards the Marve Creek. Its external façade is intact but internally it is dilapidated. It is under control of the Indian Air Force as it is located close to an Indian Naval base and permission is needed for accessing it. Madh Island fort is surrounded by local fishermen’s communities.

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Kadaklakshmi – Street performer in Mumbai

Kadaklakshmi - Street performer in Mumbai by ashubij

Kadaklakshmi – Street performer in Mumbai. Members of the Kadaklakshmi nomadic community earns its living by a violent tradition of flagellating themselves. Hailing from a small village called Veer in Pune district in Maharashtra, this tribe worships a goddess named Kadak Lakshmi and hence, their name

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