Gotta catch em all

If you haven’t heard that phrase before, you probably never had Cartoon Network growing up, or have friends who never had Cartoon Network growing up. Or like me you probably are from India, and heard ‘Karne hai haasil’ way too many times. That was a fun one, remember?


Its been released for a week now (July 6th), and Pokemon Go has already over 5 million installs on Play Store (Google). I don’t think you can look up the number of installs on App Store (Apple) but I am guessing the number would be comparable. Now that number on the Android platform alone is 10 times more than the number of installs Pied Piper (Silicon Valley) had. It should explain why the former is such a big deal. Also goes on to show Augmented Reality is more exciting than Data Compression. Bachmanity, are you listening? 😀

As far as origin stories come to be, this app has a really cool one. The idea was conceived as an April Fools joke (Pokemon Challenge) by Nitendo, The Pokemon Company and Google. The company which created this game, Niantic Labs, was an internal startup inside Google, before it spun out to be an independent company when Google became Alphabet. Interesting origin, don’t you think?


As far as the question of user engagement comes, unlike Pied Piper this game doesn’t seem to need fake users from Bangladesh spending time on it. I mean it already had a couple of my friends who hate running, wake up pretty early (in their definition) and run around in a park to catch a Bulbasaur. Not to stop at that, they were making plans for the Sunday to go on a hike to catch some rock type pokemon. While I am not sure how effective First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign is, Pokemon Go definitely has kids, teens and as well as adults moving. Niantic Labs, take a bow!

All the running around, with eyes glued to the phone apparently has already been a cause to some accidents. But not to worry for long, as these genius people have already a wearable in the pipeline which would allow users to continue their journey with a more heads up approach.

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Today has been kind of lazy. Not that I am complaining but the most exciting thing that happened this Sunday until now, is that I got a free XL Thai Iced tea from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf store.

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But now that I caught a Charmander, its time to evolve it into a freaking Charizard. The coolest pokemon ever!

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Putting Dracarys to shame!

 

 

Hodor

Not that we were not all adults, but a call for a game of Laser Tag still had us assembled. Along with small kids, we were given instructions, equipment and led into a maze spanning two floors. Having never played the game before it was chaotic. No team ups, we marked each other, and I was still getting confused on where to aim. There was no method to the madness. Our group still had rockstars. A few of us came in top 10, while I ended up being 17th. For the first game, I went by the name Baymax (the big squishy robot from Big Hero 6).

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I went with my Dota name – Baymax 🙂

We were just getting started though. When some one in the group suggested we go for round two, most of us were in. In this madness if we wanted to do better we had form alliances. Margaret and I teamed up. But we were walking into a big dark room, and getting lost was easy. She suggested a code system to regroup and retarget. I came up with our code ‘Hodor‘.

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But this time I was Sunny, and I beat Batman 😛

A few months ago, I was using Hodor as a code with someone I once thought I knew. Sure it was a code word then too, but back then it meant much more. Funny that I used to go around often in a t-shirt that said Hodor. My favorite t-shirt then. Sure I still like the character, but the word means nothing anymore. Maybe that’s why I suggested it. Recycle it and use it like a replacement for Marco Polo.

Nevertheless it worked really well for us. We kept shouting out Hodor to regroup every time we got lost, and to alert each other. We ended up kicking major ass. Margaret came in 6th, while I ended up 1st :D. Booyah!

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After a kickass game!

That was a fun night. And now it makes a lot more sense as to why Barney Stinson loved it so much.


And oh, here is Hodor holding down the door, from the horrors inside ;).

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Sand dune biking

Last week on Saturday, we were lazying on the beach when one of us realized it was getting late. We rushed towards a few stores and all of them told us that they were about to close and were not signing up any more people. We drove 4 hours to get here, and it would’ve been disappointing to not do the one thing we planned to. As we were discussing our options, one of us spotted another store. We already were expecting the same answer, but still went inside.

As we got in, the receptionist at the desk asked us if we were there for renting ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles). When we said yes, her response was ‘Guys why are you so late. You need to hurry up. We are about to close.’ We quickly sign up and in a short time were on the beach getting on our rides. Couple of us preferred the fully automatic ATVs while another friend and I, we choose the geared ones.

Getting started was the trickiest part. I kept having this feeling that the ATV would fall down, so I tried placing my foot down in order to balance it, then realizing that it has not 2 but 4 wheels. The wheels were firmly rooted in the sand, and handling the direction in which the ATV went was hard. The bike kept going in circles. It was taking forever to head forward.

The whole experience until then was kind of funny. Driving an ATV on the beach felt like how I was leading my life. No plan, not a clue where it was headed, going about in circles again and again, getting stuck and unable to move forward. Frustrating, but the symbolism of it all kind of made me chuckle.

While I was still trying to figure out the ATV, Jaggu drove towards me, tells me that the trails are lot more fun and drives away. Sure it was an automatic, but he figured out the ATV pretty quickly. In order to keep up with him, I change gears, lean to my left and pump up the gas. What I was doing seemed to be working. The ATV was picking up speed and finally moving forward. I change gears again, hit on the accelerator and the ground starts moving much faster and I could control the vehicle better. Irony, here more speed meant more control. When I finally catch up to him on the dunes, the sight was interesting. On one side there was the beach, with caravans and RVs lined on it. On the other side there was sand, till my eyes could see; bikes and ATVs, distant specks on the dessert on the beach, moving in a rhythm like ants. It was inspiring to watch.

At one point when we were jumping across dunes, Jaggu got his ATV stuck in sand. Clicked this picture then. Pretty cool, right?

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Jaggu dirt biking

After some time, I noticed a few of the riders go deeper into the horizon. Curious I took the same path. The terrain was much rougher here and the ride was pretty bumpy. You could ride the ATV standing along this path. I must have rode over a mile, when in the distance I saw a bunch of ATV’s parked at a spot. It was overlooking the sunset on the beach. I drove till that spot, parked, leaned over my ride, and then blankly stared in to the horizon watching the sunset, probably for a few minutes. Then I got back and got along a couple other friends to that spot. It was pretty nice. As we realized our hour was almost up, we raced our way back to the trailer.

Before we got started, an hour seemed like a stretch. Couldn’t believe how quickly the time went by. Apart from beautiful scenic spots, and it being on the beach, sand dune biking was a good dose of adrenaline rush. Looking forward to riding one again soon.

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One of the views when we were on the trails

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Instructor telling us how to use an ATV

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This was after I got a hang of the ATV. Explains the smile 🙂

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Sunset!

 

 

Yoga

When we were kids every Sunday, early in the morning our Dad used to drag my brother and me out of our beds, put us in front of the TV and asked us to do the Baba Ramdev version of Yoga. On a Sunday we woke up not to watch jungle book, but to do yoga!

Fast forward to maybe 10 years, while I was doing my undergrad at IIIT-Hyderabad, there was a mandatory requirement to get 2 credits (I think) in fitness related courses in order to graduate. While going to the ground and running at 6 am in the morning is an option, there was another option too. Go to our mess/yoga studio and do savasana for 45 minutes and then go get breakfast. Many of us did prefer the latter option.

My interactions with Yoga were limited to those above experiences until about 3 weeks ago. I was talking to a friend, when I told her that my shoulder and hip flexor were acting up, when she recommended going to a Yoga class. According to her it relaxes the body, helps with the breathing and calms the head. I was in.

It was awfully quiet as I walked into the class, and yet surprisingly crowded. After a quick glance I could find only one spot, and that was right in front of the instructor. While I had the intention to tippy toe myself outside the room, I found the instructors gaze meet mine. She pointed to the spot in front of her, and so I quietly walked up there and spread my mat. Half way through the class, I was wobbly, falling, sweating, awkwardly stretching, and far from holding a posture, I was unable to even get myself to do most of them. As embarrassing as it was, the tip of the iceberg was when the instructor asked us to do a specific posture where you are balancing your weight on your sacrum, while lifting up your heels, and while trying to do that posture, I rolled over my head. I did make a few people chuckle, along with the instructor, including myself. Making people laugh, well that was me giving back to the society that day :D. At the end of the class, as I was rolling my mat, the instructor came up to me, smiled and whispered come back.

I have been going back after that and while I am still awkward, wobbly and fall often, I do have my moments when my head shuts up, and I have been walking out of the class relaxed. It’s kind of interesting that the International Yoga Day came after a couple of weeks from when I started practicing yoga. Coincidence huh! 🙂

The Rise of the Queens of Westeros

**Spoiler Alert** Its almost been a week now, and if you haven’t already caught up with the show; what the hell are you doing? Go watch the show and then come back and read this.

Sure the story moved miles forward in season 6, plots reaching the predicted courses, narratives converging, more people dying, mysteries unravelling, and yet the entire season kind of felt like a snooze fest up until the last 2 episodes. I liked the battle sequence in the penultimate episode, and the finale, it was marvelous. The tone was like the rest of the season, we already knew what was going to happen; it was easy to predict sure, but the way the story unfolded in absolute silence, with chaos slowly building up to the moment we all see what the The Lion Queen does and the Mad King wanted to do. Brilliant!

This is no review but if I had to summarize, this season was primarily about The Rise of the Queens of Westeros

  • The Dragon Queen (Targaryen)
  • The Lion Queen (Lannister)
  • The Wolf Queen (Stark)
  • The Kraken Queen (Greyjoy)
  • The Snake Queen (Sand Snakes)

and as an added bonus

  • The rise of the White Wolf (Snow)
  • The return of the Assassin (Stark)

If this was an anime, there would be at least 7 movies with those names 😛

The way Dracarys is tamed kind of reminds me of how Ash wins Charizard’s trust and confidence. If you’ve ever seen that story line you’d totally agree with me. Difference being the pokemon story is way more convincing :D. Watch it for yourself

We can’t really not talk about the show, without talking about the music. It was haunting. Probably one of the best soundtracks ever created for a TV show. All hail the man behind the music, Ramin Djawadi. The same maestro who composed the music for Pacific Rim, and in an epic team up with Hans Zimmer, co-composed the music for Pirates of the Caribbean.

And talking about season 7, we know what’s in store for us. An epic versus match between The Dragon Queen and The Lion Queen with dialogues, dragons, more haunting music and lots of graphics. Yippie Ki Yay, now wait for it! And until then here is something that will make you laugh

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