Category Archives: Travel

Meghalaya – 7 to 8 days route – Travel Plan

The 7-8 days Meghalaya travel plan.

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The key places to see in Meghalaya are as follows:

We start our journey at Shillong…

Shillong

and then have an overnight trip to Umiam Lake

Umiam Lake

Return to Shillong and move towards Cherrapunjee for an overnight stay

Cherrapunjee

Travel to Nohkalikai Falls and camp

Nohkalikai Falls

Leave towards Garo Hills. Long journey. Stay 2 nights

Garo Hills

Trek towards Tura

Tura

Bus/Car to Balpakaram Park. Stay over night

Balpakram Park

… And back to Shillong!

Total Distance: 800+ Km

Budget: Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1500 per day

Mode of Transport: Local buses and cab sharing

The doors of #Kutch – Pictures taken 13 years after the earthquake!

I recently went to visit my grandmother in Kutch. It’s a beautiful and place with kind, hospitable, sweet (and talkative) folks! Kutch has a rich history and your can read about it on wikipedia. Here’s a short summary:

The Kutch (Gujarati: કચ્છ, Sindhi: ڪڇ) a 45,652 km² district in Gujarat is almost the same size as the country of Estonia.

Kutch literally means something which intermittently becomes wet and dry. Kutch is virtually an island, as it is surrounded by the Arabian Sea in the west; the Gulf of Kutch in south and southeast and Rann of Kutch in north and northeast. The border with Pakistan lies along the northern edge of the Rann of Kutch, of the disputed Kori Creek.

The language spoken predominantly in Kutch is Kutchi language, a slightly varied dialect of standard Sindhi, to a lesser extent Gujarati, and Hindi. The script of the Kutchi language has become extinct. It is now mainly written in the Gujarati script.

Kutch district is inhabited by various groups and communities. Many of these have reached this region after centuries of migration from neighbouring regions of Marwar (Western Rajasthan), Sindh, Afghanistan and further. Even today, one can find various nomadic, semi nomadic and artisan groups living in Kutch. Ahirs lives a comparatively large group in Kutch.

A large part of the growth of Kutch came after intense development by the state government as part of 2001 earthquake relief. A few momentos that survived the quake and the rapid development still stands today. I took some pictures of the same.

Doors of Kutch (2) Doors of Kutch (4) Doors of Kutch (5) Doors of Kutch (8) Doors of Kutch (9) Doors of Kutch (10) Doors of Kutch (11) Doors of Kutch (12) Doors of Kutch (13)

What is HCI: Final Thoughts on the program at TLU

I can’t believe it’s final semester at Tallinn University as I am about to graduate as an MSC in Human Computer Interaction. I mean, hopefully. I still have huge research thesis to write.

“So, what it Human Computer Interaction?”

People have been asking me this question for over a year now and it gets harder to explain. In most study fields: The More You Learn = The more you know

You see, the way HCI is works is somewhat like this: The More You learn = The More You Understand how you don’t understand anything; that you’re a complete stupid moron and you should quit ICT and find a different carrier path like start a cafe or a bar on a nice sunny beach in Gulf of Thailand.

Over the past 3 semesters I have been asked this questions so many times! Here are some of the ways I answered people as to what is HCI.

what is hci

Anyway, here’s a small recommendation to the new students who have joined into HCI. I absolutely recommend the following courses:

  1. Philosophy of HCI – What is the point of technology? Seriously, have you ever thought about it? What is technology supposed to do for us? We live in a Black Mirrored society where people spend more time on their apps than their loved ones. Its ignorant designers like us that do not see the long term effects of the things we create.
  2. Interaction Design – I guarantee you, if you’re not completely stupid and just attend every class, that this course make you one of the finest app and website maker. Forget that, you will learn how to make ANYTHING you want. Better. It will help you understand ‘people before-during-and-after design’.
  3. Evaluation of UX – Because they give you really cool tech stuff that you can hook up to your brains and monitor activity. Trust me, its so much fun!
  4. Game Design – Everything can be turned into a game. Even your studies! Very imaginative and fun. You don’t feel like you’re studying!
  5. Web Workshop – Don’t miss this! It’s too much fun not to.
  6. Design 4 All – Want know how to be a stupid designer? Lack empathy. The course tells you how society designs in a way that we forget to include people who of weaker sections of society. This course will expand your mind in ways you cannot imagine. Highly recommended.

A quick feedback on some of the compulsory courses and how to deal with them:

  1. Introduction to HCI – By now, if you haven’t learned how to make concept maps and mind maps you should quit studying HCI. Seriously, find another masters – may be International Relations. I loved this course. What’s funny is that I remember feeling super smart and super stupid after every class. I think that’s a good sign.
  2. Research Methods – I know this one is early in the morning but do not sleep through it. I made the mistake of not being attentive in one of the classes and my final semester thesis is a lot more difficult now. I am spending way more time on basic stuff like formatting than I should. RM is perfect to train you how to research and write.
  3. Developing Interactive Systems – Keep yourself absolutely 100% free during this intense course and you might just pass!
  4. Project Management in Software Engineering – If you ever want to be rich or get money for your ideas in life, you CANNOT ignore this course.

I am very grateful to Estonia’s educational systems. I knew it would be good but I never had an idea that it was world class for IT.

My suggestions for future classes? Focus more on HCI4D. HCI4D stands for Human Computer Interaction for Development. There are some wonderful things going on in the world that you need to be aware about as technologists. I am going to give you a simple example on how HCI4D can make you brilliant designer.

 

Language litreracy is another percieved barrier to Internet. According to Kentaro Toyama, in an article called Human-Computer Interaction and Global Development, he presents the case study of mPesa in Kenya which challenges the current percived notion that literacy is needed for technological adoption. mPesa is a mobile based banking system in Kenya with 17+ million number of users that use their regular mobile phones to send money to each other (Safaricom: mPesa Timeline, 2013). A huge chunk of these users are illiterate and cannot read and write however mPesa boasts of billions of transactions every month. This has made researchers and designers fundamentaly question language literacy as a barrier in technology adoption (Toyama, 2010).

This is amazing, isn’t it? Millions of people in the world cannot read and write but they can use computers and technology. Who knew?

Human beings are smart and our brain is unique. This course teaches you that. This course teaches you limited we are as human beings and how unlimited we can be we use our technological resources wisely.

We need to think of a way we can design solutions that connects us no matter what section of society we come from.

One of the quotes I will always remember that I was told by my professor:

“A designer and an illustrator are two different things. A designer is a futurer. One who see multiple futures; multiple users in multiple contexts experiencing multiple artefacts in multiple environments. He then designs…”

So, what am I going to do next with all the awesome things I learned at TLU?

Start my thesis work in India.

I wish all my colleagues, professors and wonderful friends that I encountered in Tallinn all the very best. I am going to miss this wonderful university life in this awesome (and freakishly cold) country!

 

 

 

Gyms in Tallinn

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Now I don't have to feel bad inside a Gym in Tallinn

Even the women here in the gyms in Tallinn pick up twice as much the weights than I do. Most of the men, look like ‘lifting things’ is the only thing they have been doing all their life. Men who look like big pop corned clouds. 

Well, we Indians have a much smaller physical structure in comparison with less or no meat in our diets. I always felt bad that EVERYONE at the gyms in Estonia was stronger than. But after looking at this picture, I think it’s ok to not be working your physique the whole day and invest some time for the mind as well. It took me some time to realise but I eventually did – don’t go to the gym to compete. Go if you find it a way you stay healthy! And there are a hundred different things you can do besides the gym yo have healthy lifestyle.

But it’s important to excercise, both the body and mind, especially when it’s cold. The winters are just terrible here are largely depressing. If you aren’t exercising you will feel cold all the time and eventually fall ill. If you are not exercising your mind with good books or entertainment,  it’s very easy to fall under depression during the winter times with short frozen grey days and long dark nights.

It was too cold run outside and I had trouble finding the right gyms in Tallinn. After numerous try outs at different gyms in Tallinn, the following were the best gyms in Tallinn:

1. Audentes – Gyms in Tallinn – Option 1 – This was my favourite gym. It has a swimming pool as well. Although a bit far from city centre, this is where you can spot a lot Estonian Olympians exercising. 

2. Scala Fitness – Gyms in Tallinn – Option 2 –  A nice cheap option for those who just want the basic gym and sauna. No swimming pool here.

3. Kalev Spa – Gyms in Tallinn – Option 3 – Very fancy and a bit expensive for students. Very cool new equipments and an amazing water park that goes along. However, more touristic (because of all the hotels near by) than being an actual gym.

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