* visit to spiti valley

Posted on July 19th, 2017 by Alex. Filed under India.

A spontaneous trekking invitation to Spiti Valley seemed to be too good to be true. I repacked my backpack from the last trek and headed to Manju Ka Tilla to take the bus to Manali. Here the first surprise: Instead of a luxurious AC bus, I was greeted by the oldest and crappiest bus available. It seems that due to some political problem, private AC buses were not allowed to enter Delhi. So this crappy bus took me to the border of the state Haryana, where the bus was exchanged. It was a hot, humid and sweaty tour till then. After the bus exchanged, travel became very comfortable and I slept through all the way to Manali.

Bus To Haryana Border

The next day we were picked up by a shared cab and we headed off to Rohtang Pass. It was early in the morning and in addition it was pass-maintenance-day during which the pass is closed for tourists. Now only a few vehicles are allowed to proceed to the pass (without crossing it), due to the pollution turning the snow black, and the trash leaving mass of people. Before crossing the pass, we stopped at Mahri and loaded ourselves with tasty aloo parathas.

Our shared Cab from Manali to Spiti

After crossing the pass the nicely tarred roads so far, became riddled with pot holes and stopped being tarred at all. Hoping and shaking over the ground, our driver turned the cab from the Leh-Manali highway to the lonely road towards Spiti Valley. After shaking through the first 7km, we suddenly found cars, cabs, police vehicles, vegetable trucks, etc. parked at the side of the road. Some landslide must have happened and we left the cab to go ahead and to have a look at the blockage. Around a corner we went and we were greeted by a mighty waterfall which swell overnight and while doing so took the road along with it. The current was so strong that no one dared to cross it. A long wait started. Nobody knew what they are waited for, as if miraculously just by waiting, the problem would solve itself. And it did 🙂 Out of nowhere a JCB turned up and started shuffling around the rocks reducing the current and rebuilding the road.
JCB- Backhoe loader-2

After the JCB left to go ahead and to clear another landslide, the race started, who is the first one, able to cross. Impatience by both sides lead to more obstruction and with no coordination, chaos was ensured. Unfortunately not all drivers especially of small cars with tiny wheels such as Swift, had any experience and hence those cars got regularly stuck. It was one disaster after the other with plenty of flat tires, cries, tears and pushing cars out of the ice cold waterfall. New arrivals from the Spiti Valley site started to complain that they are already waiting for an hour. How ironic it sounds to ears, whose owner was there already since the morning. After 12 hours of waiting the JCB returned and tried to improve its earlier work, but to no avail. We decided to go back to Koskar, stay there over night and try again next day.

The next day

Next day started early and when we reached the waterfall again, we saw that not much had changed overnight, although the water level came down a bit. While we waited for your turn to cross the waterfall, a trekking group consisting of 50 participants, showed up. They just crossed the Hampa Pass and trekked back to the Manali-Leh highway. From the corner of my eye I could see a guy who wore a very peculiar cap and I thought to myself, that I know a guy who has exactly the same cap. But it was him. The trek leader of the Hampa Pass group was my trek leader during Rupin Pass 2 years ago and Dzongri Trek last year. What a coincidence that you meet friends in the middle of nowhere.

Jai Singh and I. We did Rupin Pass and Dzongri Trek together and we coincidentally met again, while we waited to cross the waterfall. Notice his cap and the waterfall in the background.

Then it was our turn to cross the waterfall once and for all. The cab was bumping like a bunny, the springs squeaking and protesting, but in the end, we emerged victorious and crossed the obstacle. The waterfall had been defeated.

We crossed Chhatru and had a tea with Chacha and Chachi in Batal before our journey continued on dirt roads towards Kunzum La (Kunzum Pass).

The roads became a bit better and we made progressed towards our destination fast. In the evening we reached Rangrik where we stayed in the teacher quarters of the local school. It was awesome.

The next day

The next day, we headed out to Hikkim, whose only attraction is the highest post office in the world (altitude: 4440m). If not for the post office, no tourist would ever set foot in that village.

The village of Hikkim

From there we continued to the Kee Monastery and further to Kibbar, where we started our trek in the afternoon.

In Kibbar we met two guides who told us that the camp site, which we selected, is way of the map. So we asked them to take us the the base camp and we set off. It was exhausting. Not the trekking, but the lack of oxygen. The weather was windy, drizzling and cold. A few hours and 6km later we reached the base camp and we met another group here which provided us with hot and sweet tea. Before our guides left to return to Kibbar, they gave us instructions on how to proceed on the next day.

We decided to go to bed early, but the whole night, we found hardly any sleep. The altitude took its toll and even at rest the heart rate never dropped below 110bpm (oxygen levels at around 88%, so still in the green). In the night we had some strong showers and some midnight snacks, while the other trekking group was happily snoring in their tents.

The next day

The weather did not clear overnight. The next morning was gray and drizzling. We decided to proceed to Kanamo Peak, which is a easy to trek peak of an altitude of 5974m. After breakfast we packed the backpacks and left them in the tent, since we wanted to travel lightly. Just a sack with water and snacks came along with us. It was relatively easy to make distance, since no vegetation is blocking the view nor way (unlike the trek before that). We met a exhausting looking trekking group who told us, how horrible it is to go to the peak (no sight, snow, etc). A trek member of theirs suffered and vomited a lot due to the altitude. Later we met their guides breaking camp and who gave us directions, on how to continue (“Go that way, keep left at the big rock and then always straight.”)

Regularly I checked the GPS device and once we crossed the altitude of 5000m, we had a little Snickers party on the way. After roaming around, we found the rock, kept it on our right and started climbing. Unfortunately the weather changed drastically against our favor. The peaks were covered in clouds and it started snowing. The wind rattled through the clothes and the fluffy snowflakes became bullets, flying horizontally to hit hands and faces like tiny needles. At an altitude of 5500m we decided to abort our attempt and return to the base camp as the visibility changed to 0m.

It was raining when we reached our base camp. We took a short nap, waiting for the rain to stop. We broke camp and walked back to Kibbar. Strangely while it was raining at the base camp, after walking for approximately 500m, the soil turned almost dry and the rain stopped suddenly. Weather is a very localized phenomenon in the mountains.

GPX File

The last day

Early in the morning a shared cab picked us up to return us to Manali. Again we reached the waterfall, but this time, there was no vehicle waiting on the other side. We could wait till at some point in time, some miracle happened, or we could walk 8km to the Manali-Leh highway and take a bus from there. Based on our experiences while going to the Spiti Valley, we decided to take things into our own hands and left the shared cab behind. While returning to the highway, we had to cross over 5 landslides, which literally ripped the road apart. That was the reason, why no vehicle was at the waterfall. They could not come through. Happiness spread due to the correct decision to walk.

At the intersection of the Manali-Leh highway, a truck who was suppose to deliver cool drinks to the Dhabas (eateries) on the way to Spiti Valley, took us back to Manali. I sat in the back of the truck. The sun was shining and it was okay till we reached Rothang Pass where the weather became foggy and freezing cold. And that’s where I got sick. 🙂

It was an awesome trek/tour. And if you have not been to Spiti Valley, it is worth all inconveniences. You should go and have a look at it. The Manali-Spiti road is open for a few months only (and it can be closed again midway due to landslides as you could see). But the big advantage is that foreigners do not need any permission to take the route. There is a police checkpoint in Losar and they ask for the passport of the foreigners. But that is all.


* shall i tell you?

Posted on July 17th, 2017 by Alex. Filed under Funny Emails.

Subject: Submission in IED
Date: 03/27/2017 04:33 PM

By mistake we submitted last Sunday’s,26th March deadline in someone else’s account.
So can anything be done now .

Thanks for help.

Ok, mistakes happen. After several mails, it became interesting and I replied:

Subject: Re: Submission in IED
Date: 03/27/2017 04:44 PM

In whose account did you submit? And then what happens to their submission? And for which group are you submitting? So without that information I can’t help.

Reply to that from the student:

Subject: Re: Submission in IED
Date: 03/27/2017 04:47 PM

I know whose account we submitted on.
Should I tell you, sir ?

Thanks for help

This was the last mail. How will I answer that question and what shall I do now? 😀


* internship through coolness

Posted on July 10th, 2017 by Alex. Filed under Funny Emails.

Over the summer vacation we offered several internships to students to work in various areas. After the application phase in which interested students could submit their cover letters and CVs, we had to sort out suitable candidates. One application had no text at all. There was only one photo attached:

The candidate wore even the same sunglasses. Would have loved to invite him for an interview…


* your decision, your consequences

Posted on July 3rd, 2017 by Alex. Filed under Funny Emails.

Date: 1 March 2017 08:14 PM

Good evening sir,
I and a few other students of your class are leaving for Indore tomorrow for a sports fest at IIM Indore. We’ll be returning on Monday.
Can we review our answer sheets after Monday, anytime convenient for you?

B. Tech. First Year
IIIT Delhi

You forgot to release the caps lock while shouting the subject line to me. And certainly I will adapt my schedule to your availability and any other of the 261 students who are in the same course. Because you are not that special that I do it only for you. Same right for everybody. Please let me know your most convenient time, so that I can deliver your answer sheet to your room.

Your decision, your consequences. Nobody is forcing you to go somewhere else and miss classes, exam reviews, quizzes, lunch in the mess or the train.


* misinterpretation of location

Posted on June 26th, 2017 by Alex. Filed under Funny Emails.

We had a meeting starting at 9:30am, however one party was missing.

Subject: Re: [Update] Embedded Optimization Meeting
Date: 23 January 2017 09:41 AM

Sorry sir, I misinterpret the the location. I am in Hostel. Can I join via skype?

On Jan 23, 2017 09:37, “Alexander Fell” wrote:

Just in case you missed that location

On Saturday 21 January 2017 04:24 PM, ████████@iiitd.ac.in wrote:

Please accept the invitation for Monday’s meeting at Prof. Fell’s room.
Embedded Optimization Meeting
Mon Jan 23, 2017 9:30am – 10:30am India Standard Time
████████@iiitd.ac.in – organizer

I did not know that “misinterpreting” my location meant that my office is shifted to the hostel. In any case, walk (better run) for 300m to cover the distance to my office, please.


* plagiarism in code?

Posted on June 19th, 2017 by Alex. Filed under Funny Emails.

To different groups submitted the following files containing their project code. The task was to use the interrupt and a timer of the Atmega328P on the Arduino board.

Group 1: (filename: timer.c)

#include <avr/io.h>
#include <avr/interrupt.h>

void add_delay()
    cli(); 						// Disables interrupts
    TCCR1B |= 0b00001100; 		// Sets timer/counter control register B for 256 prescalar and WGMI2 high for begining CTC MODE   
    TIMSK1 |= 0b00000010;		// OCIE1A (switching on compare interrupt enable)
    OCR1A = 31249;				// Sets compare value
int main()
  add_delay();    	// Call the add_delay function to add the 0.5 sec delay
 return 0; 

     PORTB^=0x20;	// Toggling led

Group 2: (filename: timer.c)

int main()
    cli();	// disable interrupts
    OCR1A = 31250;	// ompare value
    TCCR1B |= 0b00001100; 	//setting timer control register B for prescalar=256 and WGMI2 high for begining CTC MODE   
    TIMSK1 |= 0b00000010;	// OCIE1A (switching on compare interrupt enable)
    sei(); //enable global interupt
     PORTB^=0x20;// toggling led

Although both did the same task and hence not much variations are expected in the submission, do you think that the groups “exchanged” their code and obscured it to throw off the plagiarism detector or are the submissions genuine? What would you say? Leave a comment!


* sir, please read my email (part 2)

Posted on June 12th, 2017 by Alex. Filed under Funny Emails.

In continuation of the post last week, here is the complete email:

Date: 07 September 2016 10:10 PM
Subject: ECE-270 LCD Assignment – Retract (Please Read The Mail Content)

I have some issue which i like to discuss with you.
Sir, i did my assignment using the tutorials which are available on YouTube, not the tutorial/guide which you shared in the assignment. So when i was watching the videos ,i was writing my code and therefore some the function name and variables are similar to that which he wrote in the video. Moreover, some of the students wee also facing the issue in interfacing with LCD and hence i suggested them the same video. Therefore, their function name may be similar to my code.
For example consider this : i have made a function named COMMAND in my code and in lab i observed the code of other one the other group they made the same Same function name with same name.
So, in this sense the code may be similar.
So, i want to ask that if i retract my assignment, is there any policy that you first check the code for plagiarism, if found you will award 0 to those who withdrawn their assignment otherwise the group will get the marks which the TAs gave them during the evaluation in lab.

However, i would like to retract my assignment and assure you that it won’t happen ever again.


████████ ████████████
B.Tech ECE 2015 | ████████

It seems that his shift key is rarely working when it comes to the message body and the capitalization of characters, but caps lock does work.
It is always interesting the excuses students use, when it comes to plagiarism and copying of code. The whole explanation that this student gives here, was not the reason, why his work was flagged as plagiarized. There might even be a chance that his code has not been detected as copied in the first place. But we will never know…


* first solo trek (day 3)

Posted on June 11th, 2017 by Alex. Filed under India.

June 6th, 2017

Back to June 5th, 2017

That day the trek started pretty unspectacular. After finishing breakfast, breaking the camp, packing up everything, I decided to return to Rava, Ghera or somewhere between McLeodGanj and Ghera. My hotel room in McLeod Ganj waiting for me to take a proper shower, was booked from tomorrow onwards. In the previous evening I checked the ascends and descends from Deep Goth to Snowline Cafe/Triund, the original plan. Being skeptical and being discouraged by the shepherds, I again altered the route after consulting with my blisters and scratches and decided to camp between Rava and McLeod Ganj near a riverbed. It was the only place where the inclination allowed to sleep comfortably.

From Deep Goth it descended steeply, but trails and later on a proper path (Rava to Bagga) helped in covering a distance that was a tremendous improvement compared to the non-existing trails that I experienced yesterday. The only exciting (and dangerous) situation occurred, when the path slimmed down to a 30cm (1 foot) wide rim being carved into a huge boulder. To the left the boulder reached 10m into the air, to the right a 30m abyss awaited whose ground consists of plain rocks. With my backpack I had more than 30cm width and crossing that obstacle took lots of courage and it kept the adrenaline pumping.

A friend started to give me company at one point in time.

When I came to my chosen place for the night, it was only 3pm in the afternoon. I searched for an appropriate campsite, but due to the boulders, was not able find one. Then I discovered a place of coarse grained sand next to the riverbed. I cleared the larger rocks, and pitched in my tent. Since I did not have sand pegs with me, I reinforced the pegs with heavy stones or used other innovative methods to fix the tent.

I was a few kilometers short of McLeod Ganj and switched on my phone in a doubtful attempt to check, what I missed in the world. Surprisingly I got full coverage and even Internet. I started to send around selfies and told friends and family that I am alright.

Selfie Time!

My brother and a friend mentioned that it might be unwise to camp so close to the riverbed. Although I had the same concerns, I decided that I deserved some luck after the exertion of the last few days and I decided to stay. Another reason was that I was so close to civilization again and therefore finding another campsite might be impossible. I should have listened to them…

After taking rest, cooking some Maggi noodles and soup, having bath in the “bathroom” at the back of the tent, I took rest and occasionally shelter in the tent from the showers. In the far distance, thunder could be heard. During such a shower and while waiting it out in the tent, suddenly the water in the back became very loud. 5 seconds later, my accompanying dog (his name was just dog) jumped out of the tent while water was gushing between the sandy surface and the tent floor turning my tent into a water bed. Immediately I jumped out of the tent and started to remove the content to reduce the tent weight. Fortunately I reinforced the pegs earlier, which gave me the opportunity to remove everything and to take some photos/videos to make sure that those, who warned me not to camp so close to the river, can gloat, which they rightfully earned and I deserved. First I thought that the tent was light enough by now and I just sit it out. However at one point in time, the pegs gave way…

My earlier camping ground was washed away.

The trek became a salvage operation. So I decided to pack up that was left, and to return to McLeod Ganj. The problem was, the flash flood made the place where I was, an island. All crossings were flooded. Finding a place to cross and discovering a connection back to the trail proved to be very challenging. It was around 6:45pm and another 1 hour of daylight was left. Fortunately I had cellphone coverage and could ask my friend to call up the hotel and inquire, if I could check-in tonight or to find me another place to stay. I did not have hopes, because it was holiday season and I expected all hotels to be booked to the brim. But I was lucky as I got a positive response a few minutes later.

At around 9:30pm I reached McLeod Ganj and checked into my hotel. I felt quite embarrassed when one of the hotel boys gave me a piece of soap that he had forgotten to put into the bathroom earlier. My hotel room turned into a place of drying laundry. Due to the flash flood and following rain, the tent, sleeping bag, mattress, etc needed to dry.

That was the end of my adventure. It had its heights and its lows. What I learned: It has its own sweet advantages to take guides as done in commercially organized groups; mountains and lack of trails can be dangerous and annoying; do not overestimate distances, never trust the distance given in the GPS devices; and do not camp next to riverbeds no matter what! 😀

It was a loong day and I cracked the 50000 steps a day threshold.

GPX File

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