Saturday, September 25, 2010

Urban Backpacking

Last week, as I was returning from work and driving into our building, I noticed a couple of other folks returning from work carrying their backpacks. I suddenly realized that I see a lot of folks carrying backpacks to work. And this is not limited to engineers and programmers. Managers and heads of division seem to prefer the rugged backpack to a sophisticated briefcase or a laptop bag. In fact, judging by the rapidly expanding workforce, India must be the largest market for backpacks in the world.

I began to wonder about the reasons behind the popularity of backpacks in India. Clearly, one of the main reasons is that they are a much more practical alternative when you consider that the primary mode of transportation for most young workers here is a motorbike. It is a lot easier to travel on a 2-wheeler with a backpack than it is with the alternatives. Most of the knowledge workers in India in the BPO, IT and ITeS sectors are young men in their early twenties. At this stage in life, you are not exactly the most organized individual. Once again, a briefcase forced you to be organized and manage clutter. But a backpack ....! Throw a bunch of stuff in there, zip it up and you are on your way. Finally - the typical young worker in India is a workaholic and probably works 12-14 hours a day. Most of these guys are young, single and living with friends and roommates. You need a bag where you can carry not only your laptop and notebook for work but also your gym shorts, old socks, a toothbrush etc.

Analysis complete. Mystery solved. The versatile backpack has made its mark in India.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Paradise on earth

We decided to celebrate Mona's birthday by spending a weekend at the Orange County (not the California one ...) resort in Coorg. Coorg has been a destination on our must-visit list and this seemed like a good opportunity to check this off our list.

Coorg is a five-hour drive from Bangalore and once you get out to the Bangalore/Mysore highway, the drive is beautiful. A mandatory stop on the way is Kamat Lokaruchi - a restaurant that serves authentic Kannada cuisine and the best tiffin (idly, wada, dosa). We stopped ... and we were not disappointed! An hour or so before you arrive in Coorg, the landscape changed to lush greenery sprinkled with paddy fields - very picturesque.

We stayed at the Orange County resort - without question one of the finest resorts that we have lived in. We had booked a villa (see photo) that was constructed in an authentic and traditional architecture of the region. The place is serene, quiet and peaceful. The resort is part of a coffee plantation and has been rated as the top eco-friendly resort in Asia.

Activities during the weekend included a plantation tour (ask me anything you want to know about coffee) and a forest trek (yes, you are really hiking through dense forest). We rented bicycles and explored the resort on our own. A coffee lounge overlooking paddy fields was a perfect late afternoon retreat. There were local cultural shows in the evening followed by games that served as a great ice-breaker among guests.

The best part - food! There are three restaurants in the resort that serve different cuisines. All of them were terrific and the biggest decision we had to make each day was to select one of them for lunch and dinner.