TITLIS CLIFF WALK,
Mount Titlis, Switzerland It is believed to be the highest suspension bridge in the world, at a
height of 3,000m above sea level. One needs nerves just as strong as the
steel cables, of which this 100-metre long and just 1-metre wide walkway is
made of! Once on the bridge, you probably have the best view of the Swiss
Alps. It is advisable to look around than look below... AURLAND LOOKOUT,
Sogn og Fjordane, Norway How about parking at the end of a hilly road and walking over the
valley like a swimmer atop a diving board? The view is vertigo-inducing
even for the bravest and not many actually walk till the end. Those who do
walk the entire stretch (till the frameless glass structure on the edge)
get to see the best — and the scariest — view of the valley. GRAND CANYON SKYWALK,
Canyon National Park, Arizona, US Suspended at an altitude of more than 4,700 feet, this glass walkway is
definitely amongst the most vertigo-inducing sites across the globe. Stroll
through the museum, lounge, souvenir shop and finally step out in the open
to soak in the unmatched view of the canyon. Since many find a walk on this
horseshoe-shaped bridge too scary, they usually sit back and relax at open
cafes and bars nearby, to catch the same adrenaline pumping view.
MONTEVERDE RAINFOREST SKYWALK, Monteverde, Costa Rica A major ecotourism destination of the country and the South American
continent, walking along tree tops in a misty rainforest is an unmatched
experience. This 2.5-km walk on a network of hanging bridges offers you a
chance to see over 100 animals, 400 birds, thousands of insects and over
2,500 plant varieties! “In the tropics, trees and plants stretch upwards as
high as they can, to get some sun, which barely reaches the forest floor.
So we got a better view of the forest life from aerial hanging bridges in
Costa Rica than from below,” recalls Payal Jain, who recently visited the
place. TIANMEN MOUNTAIN SKYWALK,
Zhangjiajie, Hunan, China Soak in breathtaking views of the Hunan province while treading on this
walkway at the height of over 4,700 feet above sea level. What really takes
the breath away is the walkway itself with rocky mountain slopes for
support on one side, deep valley on the other and a 3 feet wide and 2.5
inches thick passage made of see-through glass. A walk across this passage
is rightly termed ‘Walk of Faith.’ “It is certainly not a path for the
faint-hearted; you have a sheer rock face on one side and a 4,000 ft drop
on the other!” shares housewife Aprajita Anil, who undertook this adventure
with her husband last year. AUGRABIES WATERFALLS
Augrabies National Park, Northern Cape, South
Africa A 5 km wooden track trail takes you around the waterfall where Orange
River falls into a 240 m deep and 18 km long gorge. Locals call it the
place of great noise and various viewing decks offering a first-hand
experience of deafening noise of water falling are the sights and sounds
you wouldn’t easily forget. CHECKLIST No open footwear! Wear non-slippery and covered
clothes for all these walks.
Loose items such as cameras, sunglasses and mobile
phones are not allowed for open skywalks. Usually guides are equipped with
cameras to click you.
People under influence of drugs or alcohol are not
permitted. The heights are enough to cast a dizzy spell.
Do not hide any medical condition at the time of
starting. For people with height or health-related problems, indoor
observation decks are advised.
Book tickets in advance. They are not only cheaper
than on-the-spot ones but also save a lot of time.
CITYSCAPE Some skywalks and observatory decks do not require us to
drive to interiors of a country to catch the breathtaking views. For
travellers sticking to prominent cities, skywalks atop these buildings are
equally exciting. Harness up and start treading in the sky! EdgeWalk, CN Tower, Ontario, Canada: You need guts of steel while
you explore Ontario from a height of 356 m with just a harness for support.
Amongst the highest walks in the world, every step of this ‘hands-free’
walk on the five-feet ledge is heart pounding yet fascinating. OBSERVATION
Canton Tower, Guangzhou, China: Declared as the
highest observation deck in the world, a walk along this deck lets you
watch over the modern dragon kingdom from a height of 488 m. 100th Floor, Shanghai World Financial Center,
Shanghai, China: Fancy walking on air! That’s what it seems like here,
as you walk on a glass floor at a height of 474 m. At The Top, Burj Khalifa, Dubai: Hop on to
the lift at the reception that travels at a speed of 10 m per second and
transports you to a height of 452 m on the 124th floor. “As the door opens,
the glass wall observatory offers a daring view of this desert wonder.
Night-time view with a clear sky is a unique experience,” says Junaid Ali
Khan, a Delhi-based marketing executive. 91st Floor, Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan: Wonder
how a bustling business hub looks from a height of 392 m? Head here to find
out. The outdoor observatory has ample space to walk and explore.
Do you feel sleep deprived often? There are many reasons for this.
According to ayurveda, sleep deprivation is caused when there is an imbalance
of the basic energies. Not eating on time, stress
and irregular sleep patterns lead to a vata imbalance.
Similarly aggression, anger, excessive eating and drinking leads to a pita
Here's how you can treat
chronic sleep deprivation:
Shirodhara:In this ayurvedic treatment, a
gentle but continuous stream of medicated oil is made to drip on your forehead.
This treatment relaxes the mind and improves sleep. Nasyam:This treatment helps to decongest
the nasal sinuses. When you breathe better, you sleep better. Abhyangam: Medicated oil massages are effective in relieving chronic stress. Ayurvedic
herbs Ashwagandha: Not only does it rejuvenate the body, it also rejuvenates
the nerves. Have a teaspoon of ashwagandha powder with milk. Jatamansi: This herb is used in many tonics for its nerve-calming
OTHER HERBS AND PLANTS Chamomile: Drink chamomile flower tea at bedtime. Valerian root: Western naturopathy has been using this herb for its
sleep-inducing and calming effects.
Exercises Tire yourself out: When the mind is more tired than the body, it leads to
disturbed sleep. So make sure you get ample exercise.
lifestyle choices Don't eat a heavy meal at night: The digestive system kicks in to
process the heavy load at night, which leads to restless sleep. Exercising earlier in the day: If you exercise just before sleeping, it
activates your system. If you exercise at night, follow it up with a warm water
Oats: They have natural minerals that are good for your nervous system. Milk: Drink a warm glass of milk at night with crushed dates and nutmeg
for good night sleep. No caffeine: No colas, coffee and tea before your bedtime. Warm soup: Eat vegetable soups to calm your nerves.
Chipotle set out to challenge fast
food trends and be better than the competition--in the end, they launched a new
industry. Here's how they rose to the top of the fast-food chain.
In 1991, Steve
couldn’t afford to eat regularly at the
legendary Stars restaurant where he was working as a $12-an-hour line cook.
Instead, he was more frequently found gorging himself on giant burritos at a
taquería in San Francisco’s Mission District called Zona Rosa. It was there,
over a carnitas burrito, that Ells had the insight that would change his
life--and American fast food--forever.
Ells looked up from his table at the
long line of people waiting to order their food and the small group of workers
behind the counter preparing the rice, beans, pork, and guacamole. “I remember
jotting down on a napkin at that moment how many people were going through the
line, how quickly,” he told the Rocky Mountain News in 2006, “and I thought,
they probably have this much in sales, the food costs might be X--a good little
As a trained chef and graduate of
the Culinary Institute of America, Ells was intrigued by something else about
Zona Rosa. Its food was produced fast and inexpensively, but the quality and
the flavor weren’t compromised in the way that typical fast food fare is. He
returned to his hometown of Boulder, Colorado, and there in 1993 he opened the
first in a chain of Chipotle Mexican Grills.
There are now over 1,400 Chipotle
locations in 43 states, and the chain reportedly made a 25% profit margin on $2
billion in sales in 2011.
Chipotle began a trend in
restaurants that the industry has dubbed “fast casual,” which offers a more
upscale dining environment and food quality, along with higher prices, but in
the familiar, convenient limited service format of fast food. “When I started
Chipotle, I didn’t know the fast-food rules,” Ells explained years later.
“People told us the food was too expensive and the menu was too limited.
Neither turned out to be true.”
By either ignoring or directly
challenging all the dominant trends in its industry, Chipotle quickly became a
great brand. Now Chipotle has become the trend-setter in the category, and trade
publications feature headlines such as, “Who Will Be the Chipotle of Pizza?”
Wendy’s and Taco Bell are just two of the most prominent fast food players
investing in new store designs that look shockingly similar to that of
Chipotle. The Wall Street Journal dubbed Ells the “Fast Food
Revolutionary,” and Esquire crowned him America’s most admired CEO.
The common wisdom in the fast food
industry has always been that you grind out your
profits through reduced prices, expanded menus, and raised operational
efficiencies. At the time of Chipotle’s founding, Taco Bell--the putative head-on
competitor to Chipotle in the Mexican food category--was turning heads in the
industry with its enormously successful penny-pinching “59–79–99” value menu.
But Ells grew Chipotle by going in
the opposite direction. He determined that Chipotle
could introduce a higher quality of Mexican fare to a broader audience by
defining a different value equation for fast food. All the food would be
freshly prepared. The ingredients would be top quality. And the restaurants
themselves would be beautiful, all wood and metal, offering a dining experience
several notches above fast-food Formica counters and fluorescent lighting.
Efficiencies in the fast food industry depend largely upon limiting spoilage
and minimizing labor costs by cooking frozen meat patties and french fries, but
Chipotle restaurants don’t even have freezers. All of Chipotle’s ingredients
are delivered fresh. After the company bought hundreds of labor-saving
onion-slicing machines, Ells ordered that onions go back to being hand-cut
because he felt that made them taste better. Machine-cutting had left the
onions a little dried out.
Another standard fast-food practice
is to pay employees as little as possible, while Chipotle’s practice is to pay
more, but to dismiss employees who lack energy or are otherwise mediocre
performers (One industry observer marveled, “Who ever heard of a fast-food
restaurant firing someone for being mediocre?”).
Despite its higher wages, however,
Chipotle still manages to spend more on ingredients than it does on payroll, the
exact reverse of the fast food formula for success. In the years when other
restaurants of all kinds were cutting prices in a race to bottom, Chipotle
either held fast or raised prices. For instance, when Ells was unhappy with the
taste of his shredded pork burrito, he went out and sourced a higher grade of
pork and raised the burrito’s price by a dollar, and sales of the product
reportedly doubled to a full 8% of company revenue.
In the course of Chipotle’s rise
from one store to over 1,400, there have been countless temptations for the
company to stray from its distinct course and lapse into following trends. Much
of Chipotle’s early growth had been financed by a large investment from
McDonald’s Corporation, and executives there failed in their efforts to get
Chipotle to offer low-risk high-profit menu items such as cookies and coffee.
“They probably did give me grief,” Ells modestly explained to Time magazine in
2012. “We wouldn’t do [cookies and coffee] better than anyone else. And I don’t
want anything to be part of Chipotle that wouldn’t be the very best.”
McDonald's sold its stake in
Chipotle in 2006, and since then, Chipotle has moved farther and farther away
from the typical fast food way of doing business. Ells’s latest obsession is
the issue of sustainability. Chipotle is now the largest buyer of higher-priced
pork, beef, and chicken from animals that have been naturally fed and humanely
raised outside of the factory-farming system, which provides inexpensive
commodity meats to the rest of the food industry. Produce served at Chipotle is
also locally raised if possible (lettuce served in January on the East Coast
still comes from California). What Chipotle has learned is that customers
notice the difference in flavor from natural meats and fresh vegetables grown
“with integrity,” as the chain’s tagline states--and they’re willing to pay
extra for it.
GIZMO REVIEW Fujifilm
X-E2 The latest from Fujifilm’s acclaimed X series of cameras, the X-E2, offers
an APS-C sensor with interchangeable lenses in a compact, well built body with
beautiful retro design. Like others in the X series (including our favourite,
the X100S), the X-E2 exudes quality and workmanship. There’s a lot of magnesium
alloy here, with machined dials and a soft, leather-like material for the grip.
The X-E2 uses the same X-Trans CMOS II sensor from the X100S which
automatically delivers impressive results. The sensor includes phase detection
pixels for autofocus in combination with the regular contrast detection system.
AF is fast but you’ll really notice the difference in speed while shooting
The kit lens is impressive: made in Japan, this 18-55mm unit has a maximum
aperture of f2.8 and very effective optical image stabilisation. Even with a
shutter speed of 1/15, images were sharp across the board. Apart from zoom
& focus rings, the lens has an aperture setting ring. Since the shutter
speed dial is on top, the idea is that you can adjust exposure without looking
The X-E2 also features built in WiFi which can be used for wireless transfer of
images to your iOS or Android device using a free app. You can’t, however, use
the app for remote shooting (remote control), which is a bit of a let down
considering the premium nature of the camera.
While the image and video results are excellent, our biggest grouse with the
X-E2 is that it doesn’t have the amazing hybrid (opti-digital) viewfinder from
the X100S. Another gripe is the lack of a dedicated video recording button.
While we liked the results, our rating is low only because of the price — for a
lot less, you have so many other excellent choices, including pro-level DSLRs
and APS-C compacts. SPECIFICATIONS 16.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor, 3-inch LCD, OLED viewfinder,
ISO 100 – 25,600, 1080p video (60/30p), built in pop-up flash, SD slot, HDMI
out, 350 grams
Super-fast dual AF system, incredible ISO performance, effective image
Expensive, lens casts a shadow when used at 18mm with built in flash, no
touchscreen, no dedicated video recording button