Geology Travel

Indonesia and the Ring of Fire

Indonesia - Volcanoes
Indonesia – Volcanoes

This is a spin-off of my earlier blog: Towering Infernos. I did some drilling-down into Indonesia, the archipelago country with the highest number of volcanoes. At present, the nation has 149 volcanoes – some active, some dormant and some extinct. While the number of extinct volcanoes is few and far between, the number of active lava-spewing monsters is alarmingly high. Add to it, the fact that some of these mischief-mongers are still actively spewing lava.

Mount Tambora
Mount Tambora

The primary reason for such alarming volcanic activity in Indonesia is because it sits tightly along what’s called the Pacific Ring of Fire. This is an area in the Pacific Ocean where most earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have been happening since aeons. It is said that the naughty boys in Indonesia (Mt. Merapi, Kelud etc.) are the most active volcanoes known to mankind, at least on our planets. Wait – so you did not know there are extra-terrestrial volcanoes? Well… there are. More about that later – or maybe in another blog.

Here are some stats for you to chew on:

Submarine volcanoes:


Elevation (m.) Elevation (ft.)

Submarine 1922

-5,000 -16,404




Emperor of China






Banua Wuhu -5




Elevation (m.) Elevation (ft.)


2,276 7,467




Sekincau Belirang






Sempu 1,549


Complex Volcanoes:


Elevation (m.) Elevation (ft.)


3,088 10,131


2,919 9,577




Peuet Sague 2,801


Dieng 2,565




Elevation (m.) Elevation (ft.)


3,800 12,467


3,726 12,224
Semeru 3,676


Slamet 3,432


Sumbing 3,371


Mt. Merapi is tagged as the most active volcano, globally speaking. Is it active, it is a stratovolcano, and has been erupting since 1548, not continuously though. This volcano is flanked by the busy Yogyakarta city that houses nearly 2.5 million citizens. Another tag this volcano has is ‘Decade Volcano‘.

Some of the notorious volcanoes in Indonesia are Krakatoa (or Krakatau) (I’ll get back to you with a full blog on this monster of a volcano), Toba and Tambora.

Anak Krakatoa
Anak Krakatoa

Krakatoa erupted with all its fury in 1883 (26th or 27th August). This was a ‘suicidal’ explosion since the explosion wiped 2/3rd of the island off the map of the world. Secondly, it was one of the loudest sounds ever heard. The explosion was heard almost 3000 miles (approx. 5000 km) away. That’s as good as 1/8th of the earth’s circumference. From the volcanic ejecta of Krakatau, rose Anak Krakatau (meaning ‘child of Krakatau). Those who are wondering where the photos of Krakatoa went – just a reminder – the volcano went suicidal in 1883. No photographer dared to paddle a canoe upto such a violent place just to get a photo op. Hence, no photos.

Lake Toba
Lake Toba

Toba (better known as Lake Toba) is famous (or shall I say infamous) for a ‘supervolcanic’ eruption that dates back to 75,000 years ago. It caused six years of Volcanic Winter which simply means a drop in temperature as a result of excessive volcanic ash in the atmosphere. To be precise, the destructive effects of this explosion went up to the stratosphere. For those who heard this for the first time – it is the atmospheric layer/zone in which planes fly. A regular aircraft flies at an altitude of just about 39,000 ft. while the debris from this explosion went all the way up to 1,64,042 ft. (that’s 3 times higher).

Mt. Tambora
Mt. Tambora

Now for the badass – Tambora. In 1815, this bad boy caused crop failures of epidemic proportions. This led to 1816 being labelled as The Year Without A Summer.

Banua Wuhu
Banua Wuhu


Whenever we talk about volcanic eruptions – we also need to talk about how its destructive power is measured/described. That’s why we need to talk VEI or Volcanic Explosivity Index. The rankings range from 0 to 8 where 0 denotes the weakest and 8 denotes the strongest/most violent/destructive explosions. Just so you know, there haven’t been any VEI8 explosions in the last 50,000 years.

The bad boy Tambora scored a 7 (VEI7) and Krakatau managed just a 3 (VEI3). Now you do the math – at VEI3, 1/8th of the earth’s circumference could hear the explosion. What do think will happen if there’s a VEI8 explosion. I’m guessing, Martians will report ‘disturbance’ from Earth.

Volcanic Explosivity Index
Volcanic Explosivity Index

I started by providing a teaser on ‘Ring of Fire’. Now, Indonesia is not the only country in that ring. Other countries include the likes of Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Russia, United States etc. The only reason I’m fixated on Indonesia is because this county alone has 149 volcanoes spread across such a small area (19,04,569 sq. km.). In essence, each volcano occupies about 12,697 sq. km. which is equivalent of 180 states of Tripura each having one volcano.

Mount Bromo, East Java, Indonesia
Mount Bromo, East Java, Indonesia

All this is what (IMHO) makes Indonesia a marvelous country. One that lives at the edge – at almost all times. One that has a never-say-die attitude even in the presence of such geographical monstrosities. One with cost of living that goes easy on an Indian’s pockets. One that offers excellent conversion to the Indian Rupee (1 INR = 204.50 IDR or to have 1 पेटी in IDR, I just need a 500-rupees note). One that offers Visa on Arrival to Indians. Once that shares a lot of cultural similarities with India. So, did someone just ask me if I was planning a move to Indonesia? Well, I won’t say no. I’ve handled a rock-solid marriage for 8 years 5 months 26 days (as of today). You think these volcanoes can scare me? They haven’t met my wife yet.

So, see you soon (if I’m alive – she can read English too, you see?)


Disclaimer: This blog post is just an attempt at unveiling the volcanic activity in the archipelago nation. This post in no way suggests that Indonesia is a dangerous/uninhabitable/inhospitable country or allude to anything remotely related to that thought. The author personally admires seismic activity in the area and is even open to the idea of moving to Indonesia.

Life Life experiences

We will survive…

Hello friends. It’s good to write once again, although this post comes a bit later – but like they always say – better late than never. The heading is aptly titled. We (humans) as a race are quite resilient. We have survived a lot – and we still move on undaunted. A few noteworthy mentions are earthquakes, famines, impact events, limnic eruptions, wildfires/bushfires, avalanches/landslides, blizzards, floods, heatwaves, tornadoes, tropical cyclones, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions etc.

I saved the best for last – epidemics and pandemics. We hear these terms being used interchangeably and thrown around a lot, these days. One that everybody’s talking about these days is coronavirus and COVID19. YES – these two, although related – are different terms. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was discovered only in December 2019 while coronaviruses were discovered way back in the 1930s (almost 90 years ago).

I will not beat around the bush or even bother describing the two terms mentioned above. I’m sure you (readers) know a lot about them already. How correct your information is – is a matter of debate though. Now let’s look at the title once again. The reason this post is titled that way is that we have ‘been there, done that’ several times before.

To begin with I’d like to focus on the part where an epidemic is different from a pandemic. An epidemic is a disease that spreads faster than expected and affects more individuals over a widespread area. A pandemic is more like the big brother of ‘epidemic’ in the sense that the reach of a pandemic spans several countries simultaneously. But, as I said before – COVID19 isn’t the first or the deadliest of epidemics/pandemics. We have seen worse. Here’s a lowdown on some pandemic/epidemic humans have survived.


In the late 19th to early 20th century, there was smallpox. It raged for almost 100 years across several countries and killed as many as 500 million (50 crores). The 15th century gave us another dreaded killer – plague a.k.a. Black Death that raged across most of Europe, Asia and North Africa. It wiped clean as much as 60% of the European population in 22 long years. Its death toll was almost 200 million (20 crores). The 20th century threw another pandemic on us – Spanish flu or H1N1 or what’s technically called Influenza A virus sub-type H1N1. It killed almost 100 million people in just two years. 1855 to 1860 saw the demonic rage of the Bubonic plague that last for five years. In that time, 12 million perished in just India and China alone. The global numbers would definitely have been way more than that. This brings us to the recent scenario of COVID19 – it has claimed 60,000 (as on 3rd April 2020) or even more, globally.

The point I’m trying to make is that COVID19 is just a baby compared to the monstrosities the whole world has seen since we started recording medical history. The pandemic or epidemic should teach us a valuable lesson – we are vulnerable. We’re not the strongest beings on earth – but we are the most resilient. The dinosaurs perished, so did several other species (where human greed was not involved) – but we kept evolving. We won’t go down in history so easily. But to do that we need to understand our limitations as human beings. There are several diseases – we have no cure for. Our immunity and value for life are our strongest weapons in this perennial fight for survival. So, to see another day, in such critical times, let’s follow simple rules of hygiene, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, eat, sleep and wake on time, read a lot, try to learn new skills, list to music, meditate, cleanse our mind and body – in short – let’s stay home – and SAFE.

Live today to fight tomorrow.

Till we meet again, may the better sense prevail!!!

Life experiences Travel

Magnificent Jaipur

Hola mi amigos. Recently I’d been to Jaipur on an official trip. At first, I was not sure if I wanted to go. I’m a family man and I prefer visiting such places with my family. Well – when duty calls, the employed have to go – and so I went. The date: 12th July 2019. The weather was a far cry from Mumbai’s rainy weather. I went prepared – with a raincoat and an umbrella – things I never removed from my bag. It was hot and dry in Jaipur – so I was relieved (an ex-Nagpurkar that I am).

We had 93 hours to spend in Jaipur and I wanted to make the most out of it. Now, let me remind you that we were on an official trip and had ‘work’ to be done. So, these escapades that I’m going to describe later were managed in the ‘in-between’ times. We made two trips whilst in Jaipur.

  • Day 1: Hawa Mahal, Jal Mahal and Rajasthali

How to get there: Take a metro train to Chand Pol and then an e-Rickshaw to your Badi Chaupad (big market)

The metro ride was nothing to write home about – just run-of-the-mill. Once we alighted and got off the station, we were accosted by rick drivers. We had to manage to steer clear of them and walk ahead to an e-rick driver who readily agreed to take us to Hawa Mahal (he added the other two destinations by himself – for a price though).

Hawa Mahal
Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal:

For the uninitiated, Jaipur was founded in 1727 by Jai Singh II (a.k.a. Sawai Jai Singh, who became a ruler at the tender age of 11 (I was learning to ride a bicycle and fly kites then). His grandson, Sawai Pratap Singh built the Hawa Mahal in 1799, at the age of 35 (I just got married at that age was learning the ropes of accepting dominion by a queen). A dominating feature of Hawa Mahal (Palace of Wind/Breeze) is the façade that includes 900+ jharokhas (protruding balcony). These jharokhas are neatly stacked in a 5-storey near-pyramidal structure about 50 ft high. It’s said that the design of Hawa Mahal was inspired from Khetri Mahal in Jhunjhunu).

The unique architecture of Hawa Mahal is what makes it so beautiful. This reddish-pink sandstone monument is located close to City Palace and Jantar Mantar. All these 3 (Hawa Mahal, Jantar and City Palace) are within a stone’s throw from each other – if you could throw a stone 900m away, that is.

Note: the trio is located in what’s called the pink city.

Jal Mahal
Jal Mahal

Jal Mahal:

Made somewhere in the 18th century, this is a quaint palace located right in the middle of Man Sagar Lake off Amer Road. This palace was also the handiwork of Jai Singh II. A striking peculiarity of this place is that this palace is a 5-storeyed structure of which four remain submerged during monsoons when the lake is full. Only one storey is visible in that case.

Rajasthali Textile Development Corporation:

Another attraction (maybe not for everyone) along the same road is this fantastic place where one can shop for genuine Rajasthani garments and handicrafts. Some of the popular shopper’s items sold here are the ultra-lightweight Jaipuri Razai (quilt). It’s so light that if packed nice and tight, it could fit a lady’s handbag. The fillings in these quilts include angora wool, mohair, cashmere/pashmina etc. I bought one filled with Angora wool. Another peculiarity of these quilts is that they keep you warm in winter and cosy in summer. In addition to this, they have usual inclusions like dress material, saris, wood carvings, lac bangles etc. Now that’s something I’m no expert of – hence I had to leave it alone.

Note: I completed my target of 10,000 steps for the first time.

Amber fort
Amber fort
  • Day 2: Amer Fort

How to get there: Take bus 3B (from Badi Chaupad), AC1, AC5 (from Man Sarovar metro station). I’d say getting to Chand Pol is your best bet.

This was the most spectacular of sights that I saw in Jaipur (not that I’ve seen it all). All one needs to do to get here is get to Chand Pol metro station, disembark and take a bus to Amer fort. Now, this fort is a part of another trio: Nahar Garh, Jai Garh and Amer and all three are close (just a cannonball’s throw away). Unfortunately, we had time only to see Amer fort.

Maota lake
Maota lake

While the place is spelt Amber – it’s pronounced with the ‘b’ silent. So, don’t correct when google maps suggest Amber when you typed Amer. Constructed in 967 AD, this fort is a little over a millennium old. It started with the settlement of the Amer town (actually a hamlet) in 967 AD. The palace and the fortifications were built later. The bastions (perimeter wall) enclose an impressive 12sq. km area. Jodha Bai (of Jodha-Akbar fame) a.k.a. Mariam-uz-Zamani a.k.a. Harkha Bai was born in Amber in 1542. Her ancestral home is in ruins today – but who cares. At least the concerned authorities don’t.

Jodhabai's home
Jodhabai’s home

The moment our bus neared Amber bus stop, we were greeted by this magnificent marble and sandstone monument that has stood the test of time and braved the apathy of the governing bodies. In 2013, UNESCO labelled it a World Heritage Site. Every square inch of this place reeks of history and it’s past glory. One just needs to see it from a perspective different from that of tourists. I did – and I could FEEL history unfold itself unto me as I paced slowly and steadily along the winding passages that finally led to the giant castle gates. At a distance, one can see the lofty Jaigarh fort too with a Pachrang flag fluttering atop an imposing tower.

Jaipur Flag (Pachrang)
Jaipur Flag (Pachrang)

Another sight that welcomes you even before you reach Amer palace is the (now dry) मावठा झील (Maota lake). I’m sure this lake doubled as a moat back in the days. Attached to the lake is Kesar Kyari. The garden gets its name from the Kesar plant (saffron) which the king tried to cultivate – but failed. Geography and botany bow to no kings/queens, you see?


Before we entered the castle – we took a small detour along a cobblestone-lined road that leads to the village downstairs. The village was not our goal – an old Haveli was. This haveli is said to be built the same time as the fort itself – meaning it was also a millennium old. Unlike the palace, this haveli was completely derelict. What a pity. One monument deserves all the care and another gets nothing. I guess the authorities do not fully understand their job. With just a home guard on duty, the place reeked of human and animal excrement. One could also see some empty beer bottles lying around – speaking volumes about its upkeep.

Path to the palace
Path to the palace

After we’ve had enough of the haveli, we walked back into the fort, towards the palace. The palace we entered (also the main entrance) is called Suraj Pol or the Sun Gate (called so because it faced east – the rising sun). we could walk freely across a sprawling courtyard after which we had to buy tickets (@ Rs. 50 per adult) to enter the private sections of the palace. Our tickets were checked twice along the way. The first time – at Ganesh Pol (Ganesha gate) where we could see a Ganesh temple – still owned by the royals. The statue of Lord Ganesha is made of coral and hence, is red.

There are a few distinct sections of the Amer palace – the Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khaas, Sheesh Mahal, Zenana (ladies’ section), 27 Kachehri (27 courts), Hot and Cold-water Turkish baths, latticed garden etc.

It is said that Raja Man Singh I had 12 wives (ranis/queens) and he had made 12 (deodhi) apartments for them. He could freely visit any queen of his choice without letting the other 11 know who the king is with. He had individual stairs/passages to each such apartment from his ‘Man Singh Palace’ (now closed to tourists). The deodhis were cleverly designed to get proper ventilation but poor visibility. It is alleged that Raja Man Singh I had 12 wives since he was a strong believer in astronomy and believed in the 12 nakshatras.

27 Kachehri
27 Kachehri

27 Kachehri was a place where Diwans from 27 villages managed their day-to-day administrative duties.


Diwan-i-Aam or the house of the commons is a place where the king held court where he listened to public grievances.

Diwan-i-Khas is akin to the house of the lords where the king held high-level ministerial meetings, entertained royal/political guests.

Sheesh-mahal is an intricately carved section of the palace that houses thousands of convex pieces of Belgian glass mirrors. These pieces formed a beautiful and elaborate mosaic of mirrors which would glitter when as much as a small candle was lit below it.

Amongst other attractions is Sukh Mahal, the entrance to which is managed by Sandalwood doors with carvings that are a copy of the garden on the opposite side. Most of the door carvings were plundered – and now there’s a glass case that seals this door. The water for this garden was fed to overhead tanks and this water flowed down a carved marble ramp – cooling it as it flowed down and back to the garden. The result – an air-conditioned chamber appropriately called Sukh Mahal.

With a heavy heart and tired feet, we crawled our way to the Amer town, down the hillock and boarded the next bus to Jaipur station. No, we were not leaving yet – that’s where our hotel was. I wanted more – to see more, to feel more, to dig deeper into those magical times when kings ruled, to feel in unison with every story I heard about this breathtaking monument… the wanderlust and the archaeology-lover in me were still not satisfied.

I could go on and on and never tire – that’s how much my mind holds in terms of memories from that visit. Alas! My hands hurt from all the typing and backspacing. So, I’ll let you enjoy the imagery I have attempted to create for you. I strongly recommend visiting this castle trio – Amber, Jaigarh and Nahargarh

Till we meet again – hasta luego!!!


The adjectival order…

Hello friends,

This time, I’ll stick to my profession and (teach you a lesson or two in English).

Anyone who has attended elementary school knows what adjectives are. How much elementary school information is retained, is a different matter altogether. Just so you don’t end up scratching your scalp dry – adjectives are words that describe a noun. E.g. in the phrase ‘the tall boy’ – ‘boy’ is the noun and ‘tall’ is the adjective.

Now let’s take another example – I have white 10 roses beautiful in my garden.

This sentence sounds quite odd – doesn’t it? I’d be damned if anyone says NO. indeed the sentence is wrong. The slightly informed ones may call it a ‘sentence construction error’ – and I would agree with them. There are several errors that make up a ‘sentence construction’ or a semantic error. What we are dealing with here, is a specific error. It’s the ‘order of adjective’ that’s amiss.

In any sentence where there are more adjectives than one, the writer needs to follow the order of adjectives. On second thoughts – even if there’s just one adjective – there is something worth remembering – it always precedes the noun (Only poets are excused). If you look at the first example – I wrote ‘a tall boy’ and not ‘a boy tall’. To a grammarian, the sentence looks like Article + Adjective + Noun.

Now let’s get back to the topic – adjectives follow a specific order and this is how it looks:


2 3 4 5 6 7 8


Quantity Quality Size Shape Age Colour Origin Material Purpose

Here are a few examples to elucidate the point:


Example 1

Quality Shiny
Age New
Colour Red
Noun Ball
Final: (I gave him) A shiny new red ball.
Order Example 2
Quality Nice
Size Big
Colour Black
Purpose Sports
Noun Car
Final: (Jack has) A nice big black sports car (in his garage)
Order Example 3
Quantity Two
Age New
Origin Egyptian
Material Cotton
Noun Shirts
Final: (Those are) The two new Egyptian cotton shirts (I gifted him)
Order Example 4
Quantity Three
Quality Experienced
Age Old
Origin British
Noun Sailors
Final: (He was the eldest among the) three experienced old British sailors.

So, the next time you end up making a sentence with multiple adjectives – do remember the above rules and examples.

Hasta la próxima – have a nice day!!!