Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My First Hiking: Mission Peak of Fremont Through Ohlone College Trail

I never thought earlier in my life that I would consider walking in a hiking trail one day. In fact I thought it eats up so much time that it will take a cut from my book reading or net surfing time significantly with not enough value/compensation in return. Moreover, because I have seldom participated in any kind of physical activities or outdoor games (Chess is an indoor game by the way) in my life, I never thought myself to be physically fit enough even to try out hiking long trails.

And I was so wrong!

You will find a bunch of pictures during our hike through the Mission Peak Trail here -

I just finished hiking Mission Peak last weekend with my friends in Fremont! It was a 5.6 miles updown trail with 2200 feet elevation.

Mission Peak looks to be a moderately tough trail and a well known one among the Norther n Californians. There are 4 different trails to go to the peak of it (i.e. Mission Peak). The earlier weekend (19th July) my friends here used a different trail as first attempt. They tried to take me with them at that time but I skipped it considering not worthy of the time and also that we had to go to the Inter Millan vs Club USA soccer game at Standford Stadium the same afternoon. Amongst others, Shahriar, Ezaz, Nitol, Hasinur, Mostazir Bhai, Nehal Bhai also went that day. Of course one other major reason was my back pain after the recent car accident which compelled me to think that it must be an unwise decision to go on hiking with this body condition. However, when I met the hikers that afternoon, they were very enthusiastic about the trail and how tough it was. I still wasn't convinced. I didn't believe that it might be interesting enough to invest that much time, specially as in the week days I come very late from office and so I don't get enough time to play around with my son and hence I try to keep my wife and son with me if I go somewhere during the weekend. And hiking will be out of question for them at this time? Or will it be? I can no more be so sure now after my experience this weekend.

The first positive trigger for me to decide to go for hiking a trail was when Shahriar declared in an email chain after their first Mission Peak hiking that he wanted to hike the Half Dome Trail of Yosemite next month. If you know me for a while, you know how fond of I am on traveling and how much I like Yosemite. The concept of an attempt (even a failed attempt) to conquer Half Dome shaked me intensely. So I immediately responded to him that although I could't imagine of hiking Half Dome, I was ready to give him all the supports so that he could reach the top of Half Dome. My thought was basically I would go with him in Yosemite in a weekend and while he would hike the trail, I would camp in the bottom of the trail and wait 12/15 hours or whatever time it would take until his Half Dome hiking would finish. This 12/15 hours I can finish a lot of books in my Kindle while enjoying the excellent natural beauties around. I was even day dreaming, I wish I would get rid of my back pain and join him on the trail as much as I could, even if one-third of the hike in Half Dome. Nitol was already advising me that my back pain actually demanded physical activity instead of staying in full rest as per his experience last December from his toe injury at Big Sur. And then finally, Shusmita was saying, why don't you ask Dr. Jones (our family Chiropractic doctor to whom we 3 are going regularly now-a-days) to see if it's okay to join the guys in the mission peak trail. Well, I thought - yes there was no harm asking; may be it's not that bad for my body as I was assuming. So when I talked to Dr. Jones, he was positive about getting involved in activities as long as it's not an epic attempt for me. Well, it was an epic for me but I told okay, may be I can go a little bit in the trail and when I start feeling stress or pain, I will come back.

That's how I decided to go for my first hiking. And it was a good decision!

We met in front of Ezaz's house around 6:45 AM in the Sunday morning and I took my rental car as a backup if I needed to come back early from the trail. There were Nitol, Shahriar, Ezaz, Hasinur and Ahmed Amin from our side of Fremont. Tanjeem, Mostazir Bhai, Nehal Bhai, Bashar Bhai and Karim Bhai came in the Ohlone college directly.We 11 people started started exactly at 7:15 AM from the Ohlone college trail after parking our car and taking some pictures together. Karim Bhai was from Kolkata and all the rest of us were from Bangladesh.

The very first part of the trail was steep. It was steep enough to make Nitol and Amin sit down to take some rest just after a few minutes of hiking. Amin gave up at that stage and went back home probably thinking what's coming ahead on the top. We rest 10 kept walking upwards. As it was early in the morning, we could see sun coming out in the sky from behind the hill sight slowly. We saw plain land, green trees, stoned roads, fogs. Whenever we were tired, we took a break to drink some water or take some pictures. The more time was passing the more I was getting confident that I can finish the trail instead of going back early. During hiking a long trail nature comes to you from various angles with different characteristics and it's amazing to view it and feel it. And if you like photography or filming, you better love hiking to take rare and beautiful picture. It was particularly interesting to see people of different ages hiking together - young guys, old people, girls, boys. A few people actually cover the whole hiking by riding bicycle and watching closely one guy riding the steeps, I could easily imagine how many times difficult it was compared to our walking through the trails.

The last 440 feet to the peak was steeper and laborous. Bashar Bhai reached the peak first followed by Ezaz and then Tanjim. I, Hasinur and Shahriar reached the peak at exactly 9 AM. Mostazir Bhai and Nehal Bhai were just after us. We waited a bit before Nitol and Karim Bhai reached. I was so happy to see ourselves on top of the Mission Peak and everything else was looking small from there. I felt like flying on top of the cloud. I could imagine a fraction of a feeling of what a man would feel after stepping into the top of Mount Everest. Now I know why hiking is a very important part to the travel culture in USA of which I was never a part earlier.

We started back downwards at 9:25 AM and reached the base at exactly 10:30 AM. While going down, it's not easy to slow down or break yourself as often you will find yourself of running along the slope not to fall down. Also the small stones make the whole business more difficult and risky if you are not paying attention to where your foot steps in. Tanjeem was first among us to reach back followed by Ezaz before me, Hasinur, Shahriar and Bashar Bhai. So 1 hour 45 minutes to go up to the peak, 25 minutes of rest and picture session and then 1 hour 5 minutes to come back. Not bad for a first time hiker like me. And through out the hiking I was never too tired or too exhausted and didn't even sweat. This makes me feel that I should be able to give a good try to reach the peak of Half Dome first week of October. Other than some level of physical fitness, I feel that this kind of hiking demands a lot of determination and enjoyment of natural beauty around. Hiking will be lot easier than it sounds if people go on a team like us and keep chatting all thoughout the time. I was relieved that the back pain didn't bother me and I was re-energized every time I took a small break. I took Asimov's The Naked Sun in my small backpack but never needed to open the book as we have been talking and walking together and enjoying the beautiful sights around us. I was planning with Shahriar how we can make the Half Dome Trail project a success. To get used to heavier weight, I took his backpack on the way downwards while returning.

Looking at Bashar Bhai, it didn't seem he has hiked 5.6 miles as he was in same condition before the start of the hiking as when he finished it. Ezaz was trying hihs best to keep up with him and Tanjeem looked quite energetic as well. I, Hasinur and Shahriar had a similar pace through out. It must have been tough on Karim Bhai but he made it although he also brought his car as a backup like me in case he can't gives up the hike early. Nitol is slow but steady and hence could finish the trail eventually. Nehal Bhai and Mostafiz Bhai used hiking stick which looked good but might also be proved as an additional weight on top of their bags if it would be a longer, steeper and tougher trail like Half Dome.

To cover up the hunger after the hiking, Nitol, Shahriar, Shusmita, Sochi went for lunch at Tandoori house and had a sizable amount of eating there. Hasinur and Sigma joined us for a brief while there. As though 2 lamb chops and shrimpt tandoori was not good enough for me, we and Ezaz's family had Dosa for dinner at Peacock after I had the afternoon spent in Berkeley Honda in search of a better price for the Accord that I was looking for to buy. I started looking for cars last Friday and went for test drives of Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. I decided in favor of Honda Accord LX-P for it's sporty feeling and interior shape although Camry is lot more smooth and probably is a better family car. I didn't enjoy much the car buying experience this time compared to my Honda Civic purchase 3 years back probably because that was my first car! I still like my 2006 Civic (dead now?!) better by miles and large for no particular reason (may be the digital dashboard!?).

Bangladesh defeated West Indies in the second test as well winning the 2 test series at 2 - 0 and then also won the first 2 ODIs. Shakib Al Hasan was the man of the match in second test ass well as man of the series and also man of the match in both the ODIs so far. What an incredible tour for him and for Bangladesh!

The earlier weekend, I, Shusmita and Ahyan went to Alameda Country Fair in San Jose. Ahyan enjoyed the rides thoroughly. That same afternoon we all the guys watched the Inter Millan loosing in tie-breaker to Club USA in Stanford stadium.

The second son of Ashfaq and Shumi were born yesterday in Palo Alto Packard Children's hospital. I, Ezaz, Nitol, Shusmita and Shaki went last night to see the new born baby.

The day before the hiking, I went to Shuvjit's get together party in his house where all our friends came. We 18 people played cricket as 94 batch vs the rest of the BD people in a nice ground of Dublin.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bangladesh Defeated West Indies In The First Test Cricket Match In Kingstown

Bangladesh has defeated West Indies by 95 runs in the first test match of the 2 test series in their Caribbean tour. This is Bangladesh's second test match win in almost 10 years of its test cricket history. It's true that most of the regular West Indies players didn't play this game due to their financial issues with the West Indies cricket board. But even then the team that played has played well enough to generate a very interesting and competitive Test cricket match.

I have followed most of the 4th and 5th day plays of the match and I can say definitely that it was a very competitive match with the win swinging over West Indies and Bangladesh side alternately everyday. Tamim Iqbal (128) was declared Man of the Match due to the only century in all the 4 innings in this match. For Bengali readers, see Tamim's match winning knock being compared with his brother Nafees Iqbal and Uncle Akram Khan's innings in a newspaper article at http://www.ittefaq.com/content/2009/07/15/news0831.htm

Bangladesh was pretty close to winning tests against New Zealand and Srilanka in last one year and I was sure that it's a matter of time before we start winning as per our recent competitive shows in Test cricket.

Last Friday I, Ezaz, Nitol and Hasinur watched a major league baseball game between San Francisco Giants and San Jose Padres in San Francisco AT&T Park. Ezaz got 4 VIP tickets in the gallery and hence we 4 could watch it for free. This wass my first time watching a baseball game and it looked interesting to me.

Morning today I finished my first full book in Kindle, Isaac Asimov's Caves of Steel in PDF format.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

NABC 2009 San Jose During Independence Day Weekend

From Blogs

Long weekend of American Independence day was a good time for us recovering from the recent shock and having a great time with Bengali touch all around us. July 2nd, 3rd, 4th NABC 2009 (stands for North American Bengali Conference) was successfully held in San Jose McEnry Convention Center. I, Shusmita, Ahyan, Nitol and Amin attended it all the 3 days. Thousands of Bengali speaking people came from all accross USA and Canada. While most of the crowd seemed to be from West Bengal, there were a decent amount of visitors, artists from Bangladesh as well. Highlights of this conference for me were chat with Humayun Ahmed, the stage performance of Runa Laila and getting to know the Bangladeshi Comedian Naveed Mahbub.

The first night (Thursday) we had a little tough time to find a dinner place before attending Lopa Mudra, Srikanta and Anjan Dutta's music. The second morning I came with Nitol and Amin in the morning to listen to the opening speech of Humayun Ahmed before his film Amar Ache Jol was showed through projector in one of the film show room. We came back again in the afternoon with Shusmita and Ahyan to attend Rezwana Choudhury Bonna and Runa Laila's show. Also we got entertained by Naveed Mahbub's comedy show all the 3 days and the Taal Tantra by Fusion Band. The heart breaking news for us was that Bangladeshi Band Miles couldn't come to this event although they were hired and scheduled to perform. Shaan performed the last day although I believe Runa Laila's performance the earlier night was quite more impressive. The last day's afternoon will be memorable to me mostly for a nice chat with Humayun Ahmed.

When we were having some snacks in front of the Muktodhara's stall, we found that the famous Bangladeshi writer Humayun Ahmed is roaming around with Shaon, Bishwajit Da of Muktodhara and actor Faruk. So we approached him in the balcony and I politely asked permission to have some conversations with him. He gladly accepted. I have read so many of his books and am an avid fan of his writing style and 2 outstanding characters Misir Ali and Himu. I started with demand for a good writing from him on chess citing that he used to play chess early in his life and I myself am passionate about chess. He replied that he already had one named Khela which has been telecasted recently and will be shown in the coming Eid programs in Bangladesh. I was happy to know that and he went forward with some small stories. He was talking about his memories with his elder daughter Nova. I felt he misses her and informed that I met her in a few occassions during my stay in Atlanta as I got introduced to her husband. Humayun Ahmed was quite curious about Ahyan's name and Shusmita explained the meaning and it's origin. Shuvojit and Sudipta da joined us after a while. I took an autograph of him on behalf of Ahyan buying Misir Alir Choshma from Muktodhara stall.

The dinner we bought second day from the conference was so tasty that I was amazed despite I am not a good food seeker type of guy. We also bought some other books, T-shirts, CDs the last day. I had some conversations with Naveed Bhai on how he turned from Engineer to Comedian and what he is doing now-a-days in Bangladesh and in USA. I insisted him on strong online presence and looks like he is already aware of it.

I also met Sushanta Sir of Notre Dame College in the fair as he came to visit here to his son Sudipta Da's home. With initiative from Shuvojit we met him the next day for a buffet lunch in Hayward Pakwan as well as went for an afternoon gathering in Livermore in a nice lake.

Overall, it was a very good experience to attend the NABC conference this time. This also hepled me and Shusmita divert our mind to some interesting directions instead of looking back to the accident of Highway Five. Next year NABC will be hosted in New Jersey and we might end up going there.

Thoughts on Life, Death, and Overcoming Fear

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