Monday, September 8, 2008

Mission "227 Annapurna"

You do not have to work hard to ‘Dream’, to make it come true you better”, for Shekar and I “227 Annapurna” is the culmination of our dreams. “Annapurna” is our tribute to the toughest 8000+ meter peak and optimism that the goddess of harvest would bless us at all times.

It was indeed the toughest and biggest financial commitment we ever made, coming from a humble background we know only one thing, to “Work Hard”. We were less fortunate financially than many of our friends at school and college; our parents were working their heart out to give us the best possible life as they prepared us to succeed in every possible way. The best comes in the toughest of the situations and we lived each day of our life determined to change our destiny.


“This is the most ideal location, let us know if there is a proper dimension site out here, we will buy”, was what I told the real estate agent when he showed us an odd measurement site, he confidently said that there is no possibility at all, exactly 5 month later we registered site # 227 in Oct 2006, 60 feet to left of the site we had rejected earlier. When you get what you ask for it’s an indication that you are on the right track, and there was a sense of relief that our decision was heading in the right direction.

“24-27 lac is the maximum construction cost considering the best of the material” was Venu’s (my brother) estimate and I can kick him a million times for the rest of my life for saying that.

Sometimes we meet people and feel that we met for a reason; I would have never imagined that Jeetu would design our house when I first met him at a rock climbing camp ;). I liked the roughness and the sense of space Jeetu has so for me, there was not much of a deliberation, Jeetu met CR for the 1st time over lunch and we got started.

Venu spent all his time running around to get the work started, right from getting the BDA approval to the final BWSSB approvals every single vendor, worker, service provider was listed out negotiated ready to delivery material or service over a phone call.

My personal focus was on cost control and being as environmental friendly as possible, I started accounting every penny we were spending.
CR and I agreed on the draft designs very quickly but went through Vaastu consultation process just to be on the right side of the ancient science of house construction.


We started at good speed, the soil was wet due to rains, digging for
the foundation and the underground water tank was really fast; the material requirement was very basic the expenses were quite controlled. There was a lot of excitement around, we started enjoying it all. We took turns to monitor the work and the curing activity on a regular basis, checking every bit of the site and ensuring the water is adequately sprinkled. The next level drawings came in; it was time to start raising the walls.


It was my time for the Himalayas, I signed all the required papers related to the property and packed for a month long trip. By the time I came back ideally the 2nd level roofing should have been completed, but sometimes worst things happen. My mom-in-law passed away and I was out in the mountains, worked stopped for a month. If there was one person who wanted to see the house completed more than anyone else, it was she. I walked into the house still imagining that she would be sitting on the sofa as usual, she was not. She did not suffer, and that was a relief for the entire family as we had seen our dad-in-law going through hell.


The list of materials increase so was the cost, CR stared to pull out of his saving, as the loan approved by the bank was released in stages, the final 3rd level roofing was finally complete. Shopping for wood, marble, tiles, bathroom fitting began, Venu and me went around shopping based on the references, when we zeroed on the vendor we did cost analysis and explored options. Kaveri, our labor contractor was driving us crazy by now, he stared changing the workers and since there was no consistency the plastering work was getting delayed, so we had to get in back on track. Even thought Venu had different views, it was easier to make choices on the marble, laminations, design, tiles etc as CR & I both ended up pointing at the same thing, majority won ;).


We were on very thin air, the cost had crossed 25 lacs and there was still lots
to do. The co-ordination between workers was getting tougher and work started to drag, they started to blame each other for mistakes and delays. Our patience was running out, there was more screaming sessions and tempers were running loose. Venu & I had many fights on everything possible, mom played the moderator since my dad would only support me. Painting work started, George and his team were quite at work and understood the requirement. There was some release of funds from the bank, it was a real breather and striking off the items on shopping list was the only thing we wanted to do. With all the pain around, just looking at the house brought a smile and kept us going. The internal layout was looking excellent and bright, that brightened us too.


We were exhausted and completely drained, but we knew there was no looking back and summit was the option. CR was the only one who had not yet lost his cool; guess he was balancing it all for me. Flooring work was complete both Vijay and Ramesh did a great job on it. Few more lac was pumped in, selecting the right color paint, texture, glass, bathroom fittings, light fittings etc etc kept us very busy. Work speeded up as we fixed the day for puja and that could not change at any cost. As each day passed we kept our fingers crossed, the final result was what we were focused on, as we were by then clear that it was not going to be easy anymore.


The last stretched was all left now and what ever energy and money we had was almost down to zero, but what has to be done has to be, we reassured ourselves that there was no looking back. So we managed to pull in more funds, Puja arrangements, Food, Flowers, Labor settlements, pending material bills and cleaning was all in the list. The moment of truth, the D day was finally arrived, all the difficulties we went through looked trivial. We had our day, a great satisfaction that it was the right thing to do and that it was all over now. Our entire family was very happy and proud of us. We are still licking our wounds but there was a sense of comfort that it will heal with time.

We will remember Kaveri, George, Muniyappa, Nagaraj, Vijay, Ramesh, Shiva, Nagina, Sunil, Vijay, Muniraju, David, John, Pattabi, Chandru, Maruti, Reddy, Madhu, Muragesh and all the vendors who were part of our mission for the rest of our lives, even though they give us some tough time, once they saw the final view they were proud too. They knew they will have more references in time to come and more business to do with people known to us.

I realized that some things are just once in a “Lifetime”, we will never be able to experience what we did. Mission accomplished, “227 Annapurna” stands tall and beautiful, smiling as the sun rises.

- Kavitha Reddy

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Welcome to the Club

India gets a nod at the NSG!!!, we are now part of THE CLUB, it’s indeed a proud moment for every single Indian. The need to find an alternate source of energy to fuel our growth is one but being accepted on our own terms is a different high altogether.

Great show by the team lead by the PM. “When you put everything you have on the table THEN winning is the only option”. They must have gone through a million negotiations and phone calls at a diplomatic level, but this time they got their PR right with Indian Media.

Opposition started its blame games 3-days ago, then came the letter follow-out, then blaming the PM for misleading the country, selling out to US, giving up the option of testing a bomb etc etc.

None of them realized that they are talking about the nuclear tests as if its some firecracker we burst during our festivals. It takes decades to come close to a test; India has just done two tests, from the day of its existence as a free country. But who will tell the fools, their intentions are to “oppose” because they are the “opposition”.

Last evening news one of the representative of a political party asked, “if this deal was good, why was it not done during the tenure Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi”? I thought it was the most stupid question. I felt like screaming out “dude we would have never got what we wanted if we had signed the deal then, and it was not difficult for the world to ignore us then”.

We have not signed the NPT, we have conducted nuclear tests, we possess nuclear weapons, we intend to test, we aspire to increase our nuclear arsenal, we are purchasing the combat aircrafts that are capable of dropping a nuclear weapon, we have disclosed the names of the cites our missiles can target in case of a war, we have a huge defence budget, so why did this part of the deal come through?

It’s our track record, and the fact that world cannot ignore us anymore:

- We are a responsible nuclear power
- Our democracy ensures that we debate what we intend to do
- Our armed forces defend the country and not invade others
- We are an intelligent nation; we exercise our soft power first
- We tell the Americans to go to hell when we HAVE to

Hope we implement many more initiatives that are good for the country, that have a sustainable growth without impact on the environment or our social structure.

We have arrived!!!

- Kavitha Reddy

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


This flower is now part of 'Endangered Species' list

I gave the title “Mad ANGLES” as I intended to write about 'photography', but that’s not what I really care about. Photography for me is ‘flirting with nature’ capturing the moments and an honest attempt to bring in as much attention as I can to Environmental issues.

As a trekker my bond with nature is very close, it provides me an opportunity to visit Wild Life Sanctuaries (WLS) and National Parks (NP) across the country. Over the years I would have trekked some of the places more than 2-3 times and there has been a substantial change in the demography.

Currently, India’s geographical forest cover is a mere 19% as against the stipulated 33%, going buy the current rate of growth it’s a mammoth task to retain this 19% and working towards the 33% is not even close to consideration. Government’s initiative of declaring additional WLS on one side and constructing dams, permitting mining and regularizing encroached forest land is certainly not doing any good.

Yes, India, as a country is growing younger, which implies that our working population is increasing rapidly and demanding for more infrastructure. This is continuously adding strain on our natural resources; is it not time we asked the most important question, “Is there a road map to conserve our natural resources and wildlife?

Think about it, today “Conservation” for majority of the population only means a cause for which environmentalists are fighting for, rest of us think there is very little we can contribute. Given this, why would our voted representatives and lawmakers care about natural resources or wildlife? Animals, sadly, do not vote and people fighting for the cause are not a substantial vote bank! Such is the plight of ‘Conservation’.

Positive thinking and belief in the system is critical but “let's do it” is more important than forwarding e-mail or discussion over a cup of coffee/tea. The condition of Environment conservation in India could only change if there is an increased awareness, involvement as stakeholders and more importantly participation of the larger population. The awareness cannot be just at the local level, it has to be at a level where one could be heard loud and clear.

Next 30 years is not about Economics, Employment and Education its clearly about Environment, Energy and Ethnic issues. Many major issues that have been consistently increasing in the last 5 years are related to the later 3 E’s. We are busy with our lives, driven by India’s growth prospects without even pausing for few minutes to think where will we finally reach.

- Kavitha Reddy

Do watch this space for more on the “3E’s” of the next 3 decades.