Sunday, October 15, 2006

Dilli Dally - Part 6

Hmm..another largely boring week.. EXCEPT.. except for the weekend party :-) :-). More about that below.

Most of the week has been spent in work... this week i've even been working late nights, but from my room; thankfully not from office. Much of the week has also been spent in trying to decide if I should go home for diwali.. but i've more or less made up my mind that i will not go.

Now for the juicy part :D

Where's the Party Tonight??

On Saturday evening, a team party had been arranged at an open-air "Garden" kind of venue. Had a great time. Dont be fooled when I say "team party'. This is a huge team..with hundreds of members, and the party was for family too. .so many people had come with their families.

The event actually started early like around 4:30. But we reached around 7. I guess before that most of the events were for kids. That gets us to the topic of kids. They were everywhere. And they were having just as good a time as we adults. There was a magic show arranged for them. There were also the various cartoon characters around. It feels so good to so many kids enjoying :)

Well, when we reached the crowds had not yet started coming in. There were some games going on for ladies - like catwalking competition. This was followed by a paper-dance competition and a limbo dance. The limbo was real good and the guy who won it had an awesome technique.

After these competitions, the band took the stage. I think i'l refrain from being cruel to the band and just say that they were not good (although they deserve more negatives than that). We took to the dance floor but were immediately put off by the kind of songs they were playing. I took some rest and had my fill of eye-candy ;-). But my friend kept dancing and soon, the band was replaced by a DJ. Immediately, he started playing dance numbers and Punjabi songs. This time, I did some serious and furious steps.

That famished me and I decided that i'm gnna have dinner and leave. But just as I had finished dinner, they started playing awesome dance numbers and we just couldnt resist. Added to that, my whole team had gathered on the (rather crowded, I must add) dance floor. They just pulled me into the group. And I showed them that I'm not the quite guy I seem to be :D.

Well by 11 pm I was just dead tired. We just flopped into the car. By the time I reached home I realised that my whole body was aching :(. Of course that was excuse enough to sleep till 11 am this morning :)

Sunday - Laze around Day

Thats exactly what I did whole day today. Caught the cricket match in afternoon. What a shame. Indians almost once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory! Anyway, this must be the first Sunday since I came here that I spent indoors. Dint go out anywhere the whole day.

Rounding off the day by writing this blog. Hopefully next week i'l hv more to write home about.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Dilli Dally - Part 5

Hmm.. posting this one after a looong time. This is attributable in major part to my laziness, and in minor part to my home trip last weekend. Actually, there's not been too much to blog about too. So expect this edition to be a short one.

hmm..over past 3 weeks, there hasnt been too much of activity or sight seeing or anything here in Gurgaon. Its only been office during the weekdays and malls during weekends. Movies, ice creams and shopping, especially books. I found this amazing book store called OM Book Store in a mall in Gurgaon. Its not very big but the collection they have is amazing. We spent alomst 2 hours there and were still not satisfied.. planning to return and do more book-hunting.

The only hectic period was when I was home during the month-end. Had a great time. Spent quality time with family. Also spent quality time with friends. Mom pointed out one little trvia: This was the first time I had been away from my brother for such a long period of time. Right since childhood, we have spent most of our time together. Even when we were away from parents (when we were staying in hostel for 2 years), we were still with each other.

Anyway, now that I'm back in Delhi, its back to the same old schedule. The only exception is the extra caution I am forced to excercise because of this dengue menace. Chalo thats it for now. Visit back for more next weekend.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dilli Dally - Part 4

Hmm.. finally I've had a pretty much eventless week. Except for the 2 movies that i watched, i've done almost nothing (outside of work that is), this entire week. So i thought i'l do some other analysis of Gurgaon :D

Getting around

Surprise Surprise!. There are no autorickshaws in Gurgaon. Nor proper city bus service. So how do you get around? Simple. Take the cycle-rickshaw. These are actually more expensive than autos. Remember, autos in Delhi are CNG, so they're really cheap - only 4Rs/Km. But they hardly use the meter. But thats a different story altogether. They are so slow, you feel you could get down and push the auto.

Back to the cycle-rickshaw, they charge some 25-30 rs for a 10 minute ride. I was at first kind-of scared to climb one. But then got used to it and its not so bad. Whats better; everyone uses it in Gurgaon so no problems :)

Pet Pooja

Well, there's not been too much of eating outside this week either. While looking for my favorite food joints, I noticed that out here, the concept of "local chains" is yet to catch up; and i'm not talkng only about food joints. I mean the big names do have their chain outlets - PVR, Barista, Coffe Day etc. But I dint find any equivalent to Namma Bengalooru's Corner House or Sweet Chariot or G.K.Vale or Shanti Sagar. Not that its a big deal.. just an observation.


This guest house is very close to the highway where the expressway construction is taking place. Whats so bad about that? Of course all the dust. I dont even wanna think about it :(

Also, the traffic jams are getting worse. With the deadline for the expressway being extended by 6 months, i dread to think of the consequences. It sometimes takes me more than half an hour for a 3 km drive to one of the offices. Thats because its on the other side of the highway. U have to travel a long way to even get to a U-turn. On the other hand, another office which is 8-10 kms away, but for which I dont have to cross the highway, is only 15 mins drive!

Its Weekend

As I mentioned already, I watched 2 movies this weekend. I watched Lage Raho on Saturday morning and Pyar Ke Side Effects on Sunday evening. You can read the blogs at the above links. And what better way to finish off a weekend than play half an hour of TT and after strugging a bit, hitting he smashes spot-on ;)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Dilli Dally - Part 3

Well well well.. every week seems to be more eventful that the last. Thats good isnt it :).

Well, after last weekend's heavy rain pounding Delhi, the roads have only worsened. Potholes forming everywhere.. and the potholes here are the size of a swimming pool. However, the weather has been a let down. The rains had brought down the temperature but only temporarily. Now its back to the hot days and hot nights.


Well, this week also has thrown up a few interesting eat-outs. One was dinner at a road-side dhaba along the MG Road (uhmm.. Delhi must be the only city in the world where MG road does not mean Mahatma Gandhi road - its Mehrauli-Gurgaon road). The dhaba is called "Sip-n-Byte". The food was ultimate, or maybe we felt that way because we were really hungry. Its reasonably hygienic and reasonably priced too. Nothing like a good dinner after a hard days work.

I had lunch twice at a Haldiram's. Nice place. Self-service. Good food. Today i FINALLY had the legendary "Matka Kulfi". Really loved it.

Then there was this team dinner at a restaurant called "The Fox". This place is extremely expensive. The food was okie-dokie kinda. But what I liked about this place was the atmosphere. There was a band playing for about an hour - a guy and 2 girls. They sang quite a few popular songs - Words, I have a Dream, Hotel California etc. Their performance set me thinking. They seemed really talented, the guy had an amazing voice. But what were they doing singing at a hotel? I personally feel they belong somewhere higher at a stage where they'l be noticed. They also seemed well-to-do. Maybe they just sang for passion, not to make a living. I also heard that most of the bands that play in Delhi hotels are comprised of Philipinos. Anyway the band has left a question mark for me.

Moving on, yesterday at Connaught Place, I wanted to cool out but dint want to go to the usual Coffee Days or Baristas. I found a place called Wimpy's. It was a reasonably good place. Just had finger fries with some dessert.

Weekend Time-Pass:

Yesterday evening, I had my first trip in Delhi Metro. Was quite impressed with it too. Read all about it here.

Today, I shifted to the Gurgaon guest house. I spent last week commuting between Kalkaji and Gurgaon everyday and spending almost 3 hours per day on that. So decided to shift here. The new Guest House is really cool. Its in an apartment complex which has 5-6 buildings of 20 floors each. The complex has a swimming pool and all. In the evening, I saw some kind of mini-program where there was a mike and an Emcee who was organizing games and the children from the colony were having a great time, singing and dancing and playing musical chairs. Only thing is the room is much smaller than the previous guest house.

Soon after shifting into this room, I went to what is called the "Mall Mile" in Gurgaon. There are half-a-dozen malls within 10 minutes walk of each other. I initially thought I'd catch Lage Raho Munnabhai; but as expected its all sold out. So i just thought i'd shop for formal shirts. After 2+ hours of walking in and out of shops and malls, i realised that I just wont get the right size for me. Most shops had a minimum of size 39 and even those who had 38, I wasnt completely convinced its the right size for me. The only way out for me is to have the shirts tailored :(. I was really frustrated, disappointed, disillusioned.... well, thats all that my vocabulary allows me.. but you get the idea. Not even a Choc-a-Vloc at the Coffee Day could cheer me up. I desperately need to put on weight. Else, i'l never be able to wear the John Players and the Park Avenues and the Arrows etc etc.

Looking Forward:

Well, next week promises to be less strenuous since my travel time will be like 30 minutes per day instead of 3 hours. I also hope to catch that movie probably next weekend. Also in the pipeline is a longer Metro ride, more shopping and that ever-elusive Taj trip. Read all about it next weekend. Ciao.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Dilli Dally - Part 2

All right, so this week was more eventful than last week :). So here is the weekly account


The weather is becoming increasingly bearable here. It started drizzling a few days back. And yestreday the drizzles grew into a full-blown thunderstorm, with winds and all. That has succeeded in getting down the temperature quite a bit. Plus now i'm seeing semblance of 'breeze', which was non existent all these days.

Culinary adventures

Well, after coming to Delhi, I have indulged in quite a few of these. Surprisingly, except one Chinese restaurant and one meal in a Pizza Hut, all others have been in South Indian restaurants! There's a chain of Southi restaurants called Sagar Ratna here in Delhi, and the "Thali" served there is quite good, i've already had it thrice. Other than that, the food at a place called Andhra Pradesh Bhavan is too good. This is actually the canteen at the AP Bhavan (all states have their respective houses near the India Gate area - this one was the 'house' of AP). There's no menu and all, u take a token for either veg or non-veg. The food was just too good.

Finally, today I had been to this place called "Saravana Bhavan". Apparently, its quite famous in Tamil Nadu. They even have branches abroad. Its like the Udupi or Kamat hotels of Karnataka. I again had a "Thali" and it was simply amazing. I had never thought i'd get such good South Indian food outside South India :)

Sight Seeing

Went to Akshardham temple today. Did not spend much time since it was very hot. But i was really impressed by the place. Actually, its not only a temple but a whole cultural complex. We thought its just a temple and so left our footwear in the car. Truth is that you only need to remove your footwear when going inside the temple. Rest of the complex you can have ur footwear on. Anyway since we had visited just past noon and walking on the stone walkways without footwear we almost got blisters. So we just did a quick tour thats all. But this quick tour itself has wowed me. The place is H-U-G-E. I'l probably visit the place again and check out the various exhibitions. Thats when i'l post more details. Sad part is photography is NOT allowed inside the complex, so i tried to get a shot from the car park and it dnt come out decent.

Well, thats about it for this week. Shall hopefully post more next week. Things still pending are the Metro ride and the Taj visit. Looking forward to next weekend for these activities :)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Dilli Dally

I thought I’ll start writing a weekly blog for this Delhi trip. In this first installment, I’ll also include snippets from my previous trip in June-end. But I don’t know where to start cuz there’s so much to write. Well, I’ll make an effort to make sense, but don’t blame me if I don’t :D


Last time I had been here, it was extremely hot. When I had alighted from the plane at 6:30 pm, the temperature had been like 36 deg. This time was no different. I have kind of gotten used to the A/C everywhere - in car, office, Guest House and everything in between. But the power cut problem here has made me realize how much power I have been wasting. The backup inverter in the Guest House is only sufficient to run the lights and fans, but not TV and A/C. And I found out that the fan is sufficient most of the time. The A/C is needed only on exceptionally hot days.

It’s also raining in very short spells in Delhi. Not that it brings down the temperature in any miniscule way. No. Also, when it rains here, it rains only in very small pockets.

Finally, since it’s not very humid here, you don’t even sweat. That’s real bad for your skin.


Food here is generally costlier here than in anywhere in South India. For example, in the company canteen, a normal vegetarian lunch costs 40 rupees. And the quality is nowhere close to what it is back home.

It’s the same story in restaurants. A plate meal in a restaurant comparable to, say, Shanti Sagar will cost around 70-80 rupees, plus VAT. Breakfast at my guest house is 50 bucks and lunch/dinner is 80.

Coming to quality, the cook at my guest house is damn good. The food is so tasty here, that I actually try to avoid eating out as much as possible. But the same cannot be said about the canteen food or about the restaurants.

Spending time:

During weekdays I don’t find it hard to spend time. The morning is as usual spent in getting ready and all. In evenings, normally I get back to the room just around dinner time. Even if I come early, I either watch TV for some time, or take a walk around here for time pass.

After dinner, there’s normally some work to do. Like if I couldn’t complete some task at office, I try to do it after dinner. Else, I watch TV.

But the problem is during weekends. My first weekend is not yet over and I’m already dreading to think I’ll spend the remaining weekends. On Saturday, I spent about an hour at Nehru place (Its bang opposite the road from where I stay), half an hour at Palika Bazaar and more than an hour circling around Connaught Place. In spite of that when I returned to the room I was feeling bored to death in the evening. I also missed my home terribly yesterday evening. So I have decided. Henceforth, unless I have some concrete plans on weekend like shopping or sight seeing, I’ll go to office. That’s better as I can at least get some work done.

I’m planning to visit Agra and Akshardham temple among other places. Also plan to take a ride on the Delhi Metro if possible. Had gone to the metro station on Saturday with the hope of getting a train to some station near to my guest house. But it turned out there’s no station near to this Kalkaji. Anyway next time I get a chance, I’ll just board the Metro for the heck of it. Just go from one station to some other station 10 kms away and return J

Traffic and Infrastructure:

When I had visited Delhi last time, I had returned home impressed with the infrastructure. But that impression has not lasted long. This time, I’m being introduced to the other side of the coin. The roads and traffic sense in Gurgaon is very commendable. On the other hand, the roads around Okhla leave a lot to be desired. Also, its Okhla is among the dirtiest and filthiest surroundings I have seen in recent times.

The roads and fly-overs in and around Delhi are pretty impressive. Their design is pretty good too. However, the traffic sense in New Delhi area is HORRIBLE. People only care about themselves and no-one else. Yesterday I witnessed 2 minor accidents within a span of 20 metres and 60 seconds. The auto rickshaw and buses are worse than they are anywhere in the world. People are also hot-headed (probably the sweltering heat gets to their brains). I have already seen 3-4 quarrels and fights as people easily give in to road rage.

That’s it for now. I’ll try to keep updating the blog every week. Shall also try to take more pics and upload them. Hopefully, I’ll buy a digital camera by next week. If not, I’ll take the low resolution snaps using my mobile and upload them.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


The heading says it all. My trip to Goa was 50% nostalgia and 50% enjoyment. Chalo let me begin at the beginning lest you get confused ;).

By the way, if you are not interested in the details and just want to know the gist, then you can go directly to Observations

The Beginning [Friday 28th April 2006.]

I should say that the trip dint exactly get off to a good start. We [Ashish, Shashank, Shweta and myself] took the Kadamba Transport Corp’s bus from Bangalore. The departure was on time [6 pm] and he was going pretty fast too. We stopped for dinner [not exactly a very good place] somewhere between Sira and Yeliyur, barely 50 mts from a Kamat Upachaar! Imagine our frustration. The restaurant was not really clean, plus it was crowded too. So we had to settle for biscuits as our dinner.

Everything was ok till midnight when we had a puncture. More than an hour was wasted here. We had just got some sleep when this happened. As if that was not enough, the bus took a round-about route. Instead of taking the Haveri-Yellapur-Ankola-Karwar route which is both better roads and shorter, he took the Haveri-Sirsi-Karwar route. That meant an additional delay of an hour. We were pissed off when we realized that he had delayed us for the sake of just one passenger.

Ah! GOA at last!!!!!!! [Saturday 29th April 2006]

Well, technically speaking it was Saturday right from the time we’d had the puncture, but anyway….

We stopped for breakfast near Ankola at 7 a.m. and then we were on our way. Entered Goa8:30. I felt like shouting out with joy, but refrained from doing so :D. By 9:45 we were still at Margao. And then we realized that instead of going straight to Panjim, the bus was going through Ponda – 20 kms detour. around So again we were delayed by 45 minutes, this time because of 2 passengers.

Nevertheless, reached Panjim Bus stand by 11:30. Took motorcycle taxis [popularly called “pilots”] and reached Ashish’s house by 11:45. Had a quick breakfast of bread and Shrikhand. Then had a quick bath and I left for Taligao. It had been ages since I had seen out flat there in Taligao. It’s not that far from Ashish’s place. But since public transport is hard to get in Goa, it took me a long time to find a rick. I reached Taligao by 1:15.

The next 45 minutes I spent showing the prospective tenant around the house and in negotiations. I had told Ashish that I would join him for lunch. So I set off in my search of public transport to get back to his house. But u see, 2 p.m. is a horrible time to travel anywhere in the world, let alone the Sussegaad [ Laaazzzyyy] Goa. I managed to get a bus to Market and from there I took an auto to reach Ashish’s house by 2:45, exactly an hour late :D.

Well, we then had lunch and chatted a little. Next was the evening plan. We decided to meet at Miramar [surprise??]. I first went to bus stand to book our return tickets and from there went to Miramar with Sumegh and Deepa. I almost collapsed seeing the H-U-G-E gang there. I dint know most of the guyz as they were GEC gang. Anyway had loads of fun, clicked sunset snaps. and then?? Obviously. No visit to Miramar can be complete without having a CHAT there can it? We had Chats and had a lot of catching up to do anyway so never realized when it was 7:30. Shashank, Rohan and Sarvesh had also joined us here.

This reminded me of the “good old days” when I used to spend evenings at Miramar regularly. In fact, during my 1st PUC October holidays, I was “preparing” for IIT entrance exam. Everyday I used to study from morning to evening and for sunset, I used to cycle down to Miramar. Nothing in the world can be more refreshing than watching the sun disappear into the sea among a breath-taking display of colours on the horizon!!

So much for those days :(.

We had to say good bye to the gang as I had to complete the rent formalities. Ashish and I met the tenant at his office near St.Inez Church and then went back to the flat at Taligao. Our neighbor was also there and we spent around 45 minutes there, signing the agreement and chatting at the same time.

Rohan’s house is hardly 4 buildings away. So we went there and spent 15 minutes there. Final item of the day was Gauri’s house. Since it was already past 9, we dint get to spend much time here too. Just a brief visit. We had also planned to meet Nams but that had to be cancelled.

We reached Ashish’s house by 10:15. Had dinner and slept by 11, because we were both extremely tired [especially I’d had less sleep in the bus].

If you r bored to death already, i strongly recommend u skip to Observations
Expectations!!! [Sunday 30th April 2006].

Well, I had planned something for this day but it turned out to be totally different. But it was enjoyment to the core anyways J.

Woke up around 8 and had breakfast. Left for Ponda immediately. Reached Ameya Nageshkar’s [Amu] house around 10 a.m. This guy has been my friend even before the high school days. And neither of us has changed in all these years. Some of you might have guessed what I’m referring to ;) , yes, its our weight. Neither of us has been able to get anywhere near the 50 kgs barrier. And the moment we saw each other, we said the same thing to each other.. “U haven’t improved a bit!”.

Well, again had a lot of “catching up” to do. I spoke with Amu and his parents for about an hour, then we left. We first went to his friend’s place to return a CD or something. Then, we simply went for a round on the scooter. We went to Kavlem, then to Amu's old college and simply roamed around. When we passed the Ponda by-pass, nostalgia started creeping in again. This is where I had learnt cycling in 8th Standard. Boy do I miss those days!

Next we went to Kalpana Ice Cream Parlor in ShantiNagar. This place has been renovated and its quite posh compared to what it was say 5 yrs back. Over ice-cream we spoke about a lot many things. I told him about my life since I started working .. and about my plans.. while he also told me about the Mechanical engineering and its related industries, the kind of work that goes on there, the career choices in the field and so on. He has done an enormous amount of R&D about careers and all. I was left speechless regarding the amount of info he has gathered about all this.

By the time we left the ice cream parlour it was noon. Due to lack of ideas, we decided to go to Shankar Parvati temple – in the hot sun. This temple is atop one of the highest hills in the area. It offers a view of almost the entire Ponda town. Alas, the climb is too steep, and Amu’s scooter could not make it with me riding pillion. So, I had to get down and walk for a (very) short distance and then I was back on the pillion.

We had just reached the “summit” when Amu remembered that he had left the CD case back at the ice cream parlor. So back we went to ShantiNagar (btw if you r wondering how far it was and all, then chill out.. No 2 places in Ponda is more than 10 minutes away from each other by vehicle.. and in this case, it was less than 5 minutes).

Now, it was almost time for lunch so we returned to Amu’s place. His mom had prepared a delicious lunch of Chapati – bhaji. We took a brief rest after lunch and set out again. We called Ameya Vaidya’s [AV] house and found out that his sis was not there. So we went to a browsing center, mainly to spend half an hour.

After the browsing, we went to AV’s house. Of course, AV himself had not come down to Goa this time. But I met his parents and Didi. We reached his house by 3:30. Again chatted for about an hour or so. They complimented on my Marathi flunecy...well actually they said my fluency has "remained same over the years".. that could mean it WAS and IS bad too.. :(. Anyway, Then we started forcing Didi to get ready and make a plan. I wanted to visit some beach. Even Didi agreed, she wanted to go to Betalbatim beach. By this time more people had gathered – Chinmay, Rishi, Swapnil and Bobby. We spent way too much time deciding on the mode of transport. If we had been snappy, we might have been able to hire a tourist vehicle and reach Betalbatim on time for sunset and then we could have spent few more hours before returning.

But since we spent so much time toggling between “vehicle” and “3 bikes”, finally it was too late to go anywhere. So we decided that we would go somewhere in Ponda itself. Since I had not got the chance to take snaps from the hilltop temple in the afternoon, we went there again. This time I got a couple of very clear snaps. Now, we could see another hilltop “Math” from here. This hill is right behind AV’s house. Since very few people had gone to this place, we decided to go there.

I’m referring to it as “This new place” because the place has no name!. Anyway its an amazing place to be for sunset. Cool breeze, not much crowd, and a view of the greenery around.. what a sight!!. We stayed here till well past sunset, till around 7:30. Then we walked back to AV’s house. It was AV’s mom’s birthday. Didi decided to get a cake and give her a surprise birthday party. So she went to town on some pretext and got the cake. It was really a surprise for her mom! After cutting the cake and eating it, we [once again] started chatting about life in Goa v/s life in Bangalore/Mumbai. No prizes for guessing which place was the clear winner J

By this time, Tanu had also joined us. Some of AV’s relatives and friend from the colony had also gathered. We really enjoyed a lot, cracking jokes and doing nothing in particular, yet having a heaven of a time. We had dinner around 10:30. After dinner, Chinmay sang a few songs. This guy has the talent to make it to Indian Idol! He sang amazingly. After you hear him sing a song, you actually feel like listening to the song again after going home. We also wanted Bobby and Rishi to dance but we ran out of time. We dispersed 15 minutes past midnight.

Back at Amu’s house, we again chatted well into the night. It was 2:30 by the time I finally went to sleep. As I said before, the day was totally different from what I had planned, but maximum enjoyment nevertheless.

If you are still out there, then please dont abandon reading this :D. Jump to Observations

Last Day of the Trip :( [Monday 1st May 2006]

Woke up at 9! We had a quick bath and breakfast. Dint do much whole morning. Visited a couple of friends’ place. Although the friends themselves were not there, we spoke to their parents and siblings. I also called up a couple of friends whom I couldn’t meet. Then I did my “shopping”, which consisted of cashewnuts, kokum, and kokum sharbat. We then returned to Amu’s place. By now it was 1. had our lunch and then did the final “packing” [which was not much to write about]. Amu dropped me at Ponda bus stand. The plan was to take a bus to Panjim, where I had reservation for the 3:30 KSRTC bus to Bangalore.

But before I boarded the bus at Ponda bus stand, I had one last, most important shopping to do – MANGOES!!!!! Arun had called up previous evening and told me to get a dozen of them. I bought a dozen and a half of export quality Mankurad mangoes [slurp!].

That’s it. Boarded the bus at 2. Reached Panjim at 3. Ashish and Shweta joined me at the bus stand. And soon, before I realized it, my trip was over. I had to say goodbye to dear old Goa. A very short trip but packed to the brim with enjoyment [not to forget nostalgia].

Quick Observations

I guess this travelogue will not be complete without a summary of some observations. So here we go:

  • Infrastructure: Goa’s infrastructure has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 3 years. In the 28 km stretch between Panjim and Ponda alone, 4 new by-passes have been contructed [ Mardol, Kundai village, Banastari and Old Goa]. Even Panjim city looks impressive with al new roads and all [I’m told this was done for the IFFI film festival].
  • Same old Goa: Everywhere I went, I saw new buildings, new apartments [especially in Taligao and in Khadpabandh]. Yet, the pace of life has not changed one single bit in Goa. Its still the same old place. Sussegaad.

I sometimes feel that this IT industry should open shop in Goa. But again, on second thought, I feel that Goa is better off without any IT. We don’t want Goa to be another Bangalore, do we? I sometimes also curse myself for choosing the “wrong career”, because with my industry, I have very slim chances of settling down in Goa.

But there is some contradiction here too. Goa is a hotspot for tourists from all over the world. During the height of the foreign tourist season [December], we also have the film festival hosted there. But all this has almost no impact on the everyday life of Goans, who are away from the tourist circuit. The best example I can think of is Ponda. The tourist influx to Goa has doubled in the last 10-12 years. In spite of this, life in Ponda is the same as it was 10-12 years back. There is no adverse affect of the tourism industry on non-tourist areas at all.

Also, its not that the quality of life is compromised. The per capita income of Goa is more than most Indian states.They may not be earning as much as corporates in the big cities do, but the cost of living there is far less compared to Bangalore. Plus Goa offers you one thing that I don’t see being offered by any of the big fish in the near [or far] future – Peace of Mind.

So do I see a glimmer of hope? Is there a chance that my dreams of settling down in Goa be realized? Only time will tell. Till then I can look at my present life as it is in a positive way. Bangalore offers me big bucks and unlimited opportunities in my field. The “hanging out” life in weekends is second to none. I have lotsa friends and relatives here. So till there’s something concrete going on in the dreamy little coastal state, I’l continue enjoying life here in the truly cosmopolitan city of Bangalore.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

New Year Trip to Mangalore

This is a place holder. I shall update the contents later.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Family Trip to Himachal Pradesh


Had to wake up early at 4:30 because flight was at 7:30. Left the house at 5:45. First, we took an Air Sahara flight to New Delhi. It was more or less on time. Our seats were right next to the wing so we had a restricted view of the “scenery”. Anyway since we were cruising at an altitude of 36000 feet it hardly mattered. We reached Delhi airport around 10:30.

On board the Air Sahara flight, there was a bidding competition for various items. Arun bid and won a Swatch wrist watch for Rs. 2000, while the MRP is over five thousand. He flaunts it like anything. Any discussion involving him has to begin and end with “isn’t it a steal???”

The connecting Indian Airlines flight to Chandigarh was delayed by about an hour. We reached Chandigarh around 2:45. The taxi to the bus stand took hardly 20 minutes (but cost us Rs. 250). Here, we caught a bus to Shimla. I have a lot to say about this 4 hour journey from Chandigarh to Shimla.

The first hour was great with totally straight and flat roads. And then, the climb started. Right from the moment we entered Himachal Pradesh at Kalka, the NH 22 climbed all the way to Shimla, about 80 kms from Kalka and 115 from Chandigarh. The climb seemed never-ending. The roads are totally curving and climbing. Its not really that steep, but very very round about. I guess the road distance is more than 3-4 times the the distance “as the crow flies”.

Every time you feel “This is it. This mountain is the last one. Shimla must be atop this hill”. And every time, you are proven wrong. You just continue climbing till you reach Shimla, 2100 mts above sea level.

The “towns” along this NH 22 are almost all the same – Barog, Solan, Dharampur, Kandaghat etcetera. All these towns are set on the hill slopes, all have little lanes which they like to call “roads”, and the center of town is the blind-curves-ridden NH 22. The Kalka-Shimla toy train track goes along this road for quite a long distance.

As we neared Shimla, we saw evidences of landslides and mudslides. A traffic jam somewhere in the hills when we were hardly 10 kms away from Shimla ensured that we were delayed and by the time we located the IOB guest house, it was almost 9 pm.

The idea of a “city” here is totally different from our concept. Again, totally steep and curvy roads, the houses and buildings set into the hillsides. On one side, you have the hill and on the other side is a railing, followed by sheer drops. There are frequent “gaps” in the railings which are pre-cursors to “cross-roads” (which are nothing more than a fork in the road) or steps.

After settling down into our room, we set out in search of dinner. A 20 minute walk took us to the “mall”, which is the center of town. There we found a veg restaurant (Guptajee’s Bhojanalaya) which served very good food at extremely reasonable prices. We returned to our room and hit the sack by 11:00.

DAY 2 – SUNDAY, 24TH JULY 2005

We decided this would be our “rest-day”, mainly since we had had so less sleep during the previous couple of days. We woke up lazily around 10:00. By the time we had breakfast (room service), and got ready it was almost noon. We set out for the only sight-seeing of the day – the Jakhoo Hanuman temple.

This temple is set atop the highest hill in Shimla. We climbed on foot, taking more than an hour. The legend regarding the temple is that Lord Hanuman rested here during his quest for the Sanjeevani herbs.

The peak was not really a place of scenic beauty. The monkeys here outnumbered the tourists. One of the monkeys even searched the pockets of a man looking for something to eat. The monkeys are becoming somewhat of a nuisance here. I could clearly observe some kind of group behaviour among the monkeys. When anyone offered them anything to eat, an old monkey (which appeared to be the “leader”), first ate it. Only when he left did others converge for “the kill”.

We took some snaps here and there, but since we were among the clouds (read “thick mist”), we could not take long distance snaps. I wish we had a digi-cam so that we could experiment.

The other thing I observed was the vegetation – typical of such high altitude, low temperature places (or so I’ve studied). Majority of the vegetation consists of coniferous trees – tall trees shaped like an upturned cone, the leaves being slender and long, pointed at the ends. This design helps them survive the cold and “shed” the snow. There is also an abundance of cacti.

By the time we walked down to the mall and had lunch, it was past 3 and by the time we returned to the room, it was 3:30. By this time we noticed the complete absence of auto rickshaws in Shimla… we had to walk all the time.

Arun and me watched F1 German grand prix the entire afternoon, while mom and dad tried (unsuccessfully because of the TV volume) to get some sleep.

Since it was drizzling slightly in the evening, dad and mom decided to stay indoors, while we 2 set out again to the only logical place to go in Shimla – the mall. We set out around 7:30 but the light outside would suggest its 5:30!

We checked our mail, strode aimlessly around the mall for some time, tried to locate the Airtel office (I was not able to make outgoing calls) and found it closed (obviously – its 8 pm on a Sunday). Finally, we had softy ice cream.

We really liked the weather and the ambience. A taxi driver had told us that this year the tourist influx has been less. But it did not take us long to realize that he was wrong. Shimla is a round-the-year tourist destination. The entire crowd around us consisted of tourists. I saw hardly any locals.

We returned to the room by 9:30. We ordered dinner to our room. A word about our “host” – Kailash. This person, apart from being really helpful and co-operative, is a thousand people rolled into one. He manages the IOB guest house, cooks, serves, arranges the tour schedules…you name it.

Another observation about Shimla is its “parking” facilities. We Bangaloreans should take a leaf out of Shimlaites’ books. They have to park precariously along the road, at very awkward angles. It looks as if a strong wind will blow the vehicle over the gorge. Only the privileged few have "terrace parking" – which is quite difficult to explain!

We slept around 11:00, totally famished. So much for “rest-day”.


Today was Shimla local sight seeing. It’s not much actually. We came to the conclusion that there are not many “places” to “see” around Shimla. But the natural beauty is everywhere.

We left our room at 10:30. We went straight to the mall where dad had some work. In the meantime Arun and myself headed to the Airtel office. We finished our work and left the city around 11:00, headed for Kufri.

Our first stop was a spot along the road, 2400 mts above MSL. This spot offered a spectacular view of the “Green Valley”. We clicked a couple of snaps and were on our way. We stopped a few more times to look at Deodhar and apple trees. We reached Kufri, 17 kms from Shimla, by 12:30.

There are lots of supposed tourist attractions here, but most of them require you to go horse back riding or walk 4-5 kms. We rejected both these prospects and decided to just spend time at the Indira Gandhi Park. We did not do much here except have some snacks and click couple of snaps, including one of what we hope is a potato plantation.

Next stop was the Helipad. This is very close to an exclusive school where children of eminent personalities study. The helipad is nothing but a huge plateau, about 100 mts by 25 mts, perched atop a hill. The view of the surrounding hills was just too great here. We also got our first glimpse of yaks here. From here, we went to Mashobra valley, primarily to kill time before reaching Shimla. Here, we got our first clear view of apple orchards.

We were back in Shimla by 3:15. Needless to say, we went to the mall, lunched at our favourite restaurant and walked back to our room. We rested in the afternoon. Then again in the evening, parents went shopping, while we twins roamed aimlessly before returning to our room at 9:30.

Arun had really come to like the mall, me too. It’s a really great place. There is a main “Chowk” and a few roads around which go up and down. The thing we liked best here is that there are no vehicles allowed here – 24 hrs. The ambience is just too good. Crowds milling freely, kids running around and general festive atmosphere.

Anyway, we had to bid farewell to the mall, because this was our last day at Shimla.


Our plan on this day was to go from Shimla to Manali, with sight seeing on the way.

We vacated our room and left by Maruti Alto taxi. Our driver-cum-guide was Bablu. We left by 9:45. We took NH 88, which is a good road (by HP standards). We stopped at a small Hanuman temple by the roadside, and then continued on our way. This road is mostly descending into the valley. The vegetation, though still consisting mostly of coniferous trees, thins out to some extent. We also saw more of shrubs, bushes and cacti. Some clumps of trees had become golden-brown in colour, the effect of drying out.

Just past noon, we joined NH 21. The road is a delight to travel on (maybe not for the driver because of the curves). For the first time since reaching HP, we saw flats (well, atleast something resembling plains). We even saw auto rickshaws for the first time. The ACC cement factory is at Barmana along the highway. It’s really huge. This setup reminds me of the curving NH 17 and the huge Ballarpur Industries factory near Binaga.

We lunched at a highway-side Dhaba. Then we saw the Sundernagar Lake (which is not exactly Sunder). There are lots of “juice bars” here. They are small scale industries which have their own juice extraction and bottling unit. We purchased some juice bottles from a company called PICK. It was really refreshing and the prices are very reasonable.

Next stop was Pandoh dam. This dam is across the Sutlej river. It’s a good picnic spot, but photography is restricted since there is s hydro electric power generation station here. That didn’t stop us from clicking a couple of snaps.

So far we were traveling along the Sutlej-Beas link. Now onwards, the highway travels along the Beas river, all the way to Manali.

After Pandoh dam, we stopped at a couple of spots where breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls (small ones) emerge from high in the mountains and flow into the river below. We clicked a couple of snaps here.

The road was getting increasingly narrow as it was carved into the side of a rocky hill. Our next stop was Hanogi Mata temple. Actually the main temple is on a hill across the river. The one on the highway side is just a scaled-down small temple. Bablu told us that this main temple is only accessible by boat. This was just a brief stop.

Next was the tunnel incident. The NH 21 goes through a tunnel about 1 km long. About half a kilometer into the tunnel, a truck had been parked across, blocking the road. We assumed there was a traffic jam of some kind. When we were waiting for the “jam” to clear, we heard a deafening blast, the walls of the tunnel shook slightly. We boys quickly realized that it was a dynamite blast probably for expansion of the tunnel or something. But you should have seen our parents’ faces. Dad thought it was a terrorist attack and mom thought god-knows-what. There was an audible sigh of relief from both of them when we emerged from the tunnel.

We reached Kullu by late afternoon. We did some shopping at Namdhari shawl factory’s showroom. Kullu is a district headquarters but there’s not much here except shawl factories and showrooms. We shopped for about 20 minutes and then were on our way again.

There is a Vaishno Devi temple in Kullu. We stopped here for about 15 minutes. Next, we stopped at Kullu fruit bazaar to purchase some fruits. The prices are almost throw away – apples, peaches and plums all at less than Rs. 20 a kilo!

Then was one of my favourite spots of the entire trip (well, the second-favourite spot!). It has been named the Manali Picnic Spot. It’s basically an apple and plum orchard. The owners have also opened a small restaurant in the orchard. The spot is on the other side of the river. We have to cross it by trolley. It’s really amazing. The orchard itself is also calm and quite. We spent around half an hour here and had tea. The owner gave us a couple of apples free.

By now it was around 7. But the light was still good. We reached Manali (2050 mts above MSL) at night and went directly to the hotel (Hotel Prince). Since we were all tired, we just ordered dinner to our room and turned in early.


This was what we had been waiting for – the trip to Rohtang pass. We were very excited at the prospect of seeing snow. We left around 9:45. We were given a cloth bag to use as dust-bin – no plastic bags are allowed anywhere here. A very good measure I should say. We took warm clothing – coat, shoes and gloves – on hire. It’s Rs.100 per head. The distance from Manali to Rohtang is 51 kms. But it takes almost 3 hrs because the road is very twisting. This stretch is also the most beautiful place I have seen in my life. The roads here are built and maintained by the Border Roads Organization.

We start off along the Beas river. The first 10 kms or so, we saw very rocky landscape. Then it started changing. We could see the peaks of the Shivalik range. The mountains around didn’t have too many trees. The vegetation was very short grass, which looked more like algae from the distance. We could see snow (well ice chunks is a better way to describe it) somewhere in the distance – we didn’t even realize it was snow until Bablu told us. The whole way is full of unimaginable natural beauty. There are no words to describe it – you have to see it to believe it and to experience it.

We had tea at a place called Mhadi. By now we were among the clouds. The mist rolled in every now and then. At Mhadi, we saw people para-gliding. The scenery was by now extremely beautiful. You could see the patches of green around, and if you lokked up, you could see the peaks with ice chunks around them, obscured in the mist. What a sight!

By 1, we reached a spot where chunks of ice were along the roadside. This was our first real glimpse of snow. Then we reached Rohtang pass (3950 mts above MSL). This was definitely the peak, the high point of our trip (no pun intended).

The snow here is not freshly fallen, in fact it is snow which had fallen in last winter, but which has not yet melted. Arun was disappointed. It was not what he had pictured in his mind - meaning it was not glistening white snow in the sunlight. In fact it was “dirty” snow.

Nevertheless, we had lots of fun there. Sliding in the snow, falling, throwing snowballs at each other. There was a huge crowd there. People were taking photographs sitting on yaks, zooming around in the snowmobile, just having a hell of a time (or should I say heaven of a time?).

But one thing we missed sorely here was the sunlight. There was a huge mist. So we couldn’t even see the other side of the pass, which supposedly offers spectacular view of the Himalayas and of the Lahaul and Spiti valleys. Imagine what a photograph that would have made.

Our hotel clerk had told me that it normally doesn’t rain at Rohtang – that when it rains in Manali, it snows at Rohtang. He was wrong. By 2:30, it started drizzling at Rohtang. It also started getting so cold that our fingers got numb. So we left Rohtang by 2:30. The journey back was another adventure in itself.

To start with, there was so much mist that we could hardly see 20 feet ahead of us. When we were around 7-8 kms back, the mist cleared, but there was a traffic jam. We were stuck for about an hour. Bablu says this is common since the roads are very narrow and two heavy vehicles cannot pass easily. Not that we minded the traffic jam – we were stuck at a spot where we could see another peak playing hide-and-seek behind the clouds. Simply awesome!

The authority here is the Army. The traffic jams are cleared by the Military Police. They are very efficient. Bablu told us that it’s because “Army waale bolte kam hain aur maarte zyaada hain”. I didn’t believe him, but we got proof of his words 15 minutes after he had uttered them. Because of the rain, streams of water coming down the mountain had blocked the road with rocks. All vehicles fell in line and waited, while one smart-ass decided to break the line and go ahead. He was given a good beating by the Military Police and told to go back and wait in line.

The road block was worse than we thought it was. We all had to get down from the car and cross the damaged “bridge” on foot, while Bablu maneuvered the car across it. We found water logging on the roads at several places since then but none was as severe. All along the way, Bablu fascinated us with his experiences of Kinnaur region. Kinnaur is the most cut-off of the districts in HP state. Bablu says it’s also the most beautiful and that it’s a must-visit. Arun and I have already made up our minds to visit Kinnaur, Leh and Lahaul within a couple of years.

We finally reached Manali by 6:45. We did some shopping again, had dinner and reached our room by 9. The restaurants here are very expensive I must say. Even Internet browsing is Rs. 50 per hour! Manali exists because of tourism – that’s the reason for this madness.


Manali local sight seeing. Started a bit late around 9:45. Had breakfast in town in what turned out to be a pretty expensive restaurant. Our first sight seeing of the day was Hidimba temple. The temple is supposedly of unique architecture with three tiers of wood surmounted by a metal umbrella. There are really huge deodhar trees in this area. We heard that many movies including Roja were shot here. People were taking photographs holding really fluffy rabbits.

We moved on next to Vasishta bath. This is a sulphur hot water spring. The water is too hot to even touch. We were astonished to see people actually bathing in this hot water, especially since the weather itself was very hot by this time. Next, we went to the club house. I can’t even imagine why this place features on the tourist spots list. Its just a normal club house with sporting facilities – TT, tennis, badminton, pool, carom, chess, squash and what not. Other than that, there are a few shops here, that’s all.

Just because we had come here, I and Arun decided to play TT for half an hour (that cost us Rs. 30). I won the first game quite comfortably; probably because Arun was rusty (he had not played TT in 4 years). Then, he unleashed his game beating me in the next 5 games till the half an hour was up.

From club house we went to the Buddhist monastery which is almost in center of town. We dint spend too much time here. But we did spend about an hour in the next place – Ban Vihar. This is somewhat like a “garden” of deodhar trees, which looks more like a forest. Real nice place. Calm, cool and peaceful. Then we had lunch and went to our room.

In the evening, we went to town again to do some last minute shopping and for general time pass. After having dinner, we returned to our hotel room around 9:15. We did some packing because we were to leave early next morning for Chandigarh.


We vacated our Manali room pretty early in the morning. By 6:30 we were on the road. This time Bablu took some other road to Kullu. All along the 1 hour journey we could see only apple orchards on the roadsides. We got kind of bored of all the apple trees! This road is along the other bank of the river. Finally, we joined NH 21 at Kullu. Bablu had breakfast there while we had bread and tea (the place was not really clean). Then we hit the road again. Just after noon, we had reached Ghagas, the point where we had joined NH 21 while coming to Manali from Shimla. Actually this highway goes all the way to Chandigarh, but we wanted to see Pinjore gardens on the way, so we had to take a detour from Ghagas onwards. We bought some fruit here and were on the way again.

About half an hour from here, we had a tire puncture, thanks to a huge nail. Poor Bablu toiled for 10-15 minutes to replace that tire with the spare. When we were about 60 kms from Shimla, we took a diversion. Bablu had warned us that the next couple of hours would not be exactly pleasant because the roads are narrow and full of curves. Somewhere along the way, he had the puncture patched. The roads started getting better from a town called Kunihar. Then we passed through a predominantly military establishment called Subathu. This village was really unique – full of similar military buildings and children in uniform walking around. Bablu told us that this place is full of Nepalis.

By 5:15, we hit NH 22 at Dharampur. From here it took hardly half an hour to reach Pinjore gardens. This town is famous for 2 things – the gardens (built by the Mughals) and the HMT factory there. Unfortunately, we had reached the Pinjore gardens very “early”. As it was July and the days are longer, they hadn’t switched on the fountains and the lights. But we could imagine that in full splendor, the place would look somewhat like the Brindavan gardens at KRS.

We had fruit chats and left around 6:30 or so. Reaching Chandigarh around 7:15, we decided to stay at the Transit Lodge right inside the State Bus Terminus. The prices were not really reasonable but were better than most other places in this center of city. We had tea and had to say good bye to Bablu. After settling the final payments, dad offered him a generous tip, which he refused initially, being the gentleman that he is (what a stark contrast to drivers here). Only after forcing did he accept!

It took us hardly any time to settle down in the room and then we were off again to explore Chandigarh. We were put up quite close to the shopping area –Sector 17. Chandigarh is a perfect example of a planned city. I don’t think any existing city will come anywhere close to having this infrastructure. All straight roads, all right angle intersections, wide medians, everything is so planned. Of course, I have my own doubts about the city’s capability to cope with a surge in population (like the one experienced by Bangalore because of IT).

We did some shopping – Chandigarh is famous for bed sheets and such stuff. The prices are really low. We did some purchasing and then had dinner and went to sleep.


We saw on TV that an Air India flight had overshot the runway at Mumbai airport because of the rains. So Dad and I headed straight to the Indian Airlines office to confirm that our 3 o’ clock flight to Delhi was on time. The reason was that our flight was to come from Mumbai via Delhi. We were assured that the flight was on time but still they took my mobile number to inform us of changes.

Now we were relieved and started our Chandigarh sight seeing by around 11. We had planned to see Rose gardens, Museum, Rock gardens and Sukhna lake before being dropped at the airport by 2 p.m. So, we vacated our room and set off in a taxi.

We spent half an hour at Rose garden and had just spent another half hour at the museum (by the way I liked the museum better), when I got the dreaded call – The Indian Airlines flight to Delhi had been cancelled. We were told to get to the airport by 12:30 and that a bus would be arranged for us to take us to New Delhi.

We got really tensed and rushed to the airport. It was now 12:30. Shortly after, the staff of IA arrived in a bus. We explained our predicament to them – we had a connecting flight (that too Air Sahara – not IA) from New Delhi at 1905. They immediately offered to arrange a taxi. We asked whether it was possible to accommodate us on the 2:00 Jet Airways flight from Chandigarh to Delhi. We were told that it would be a risk since the Jet Airways authorities may or may not agree.

Not wanting to take any chances, we agreed to be “transported” by taxi to Delhi. We were told that it would take 5 and half hours from Chandigarh airport to Delhi airport. So we left by 1:00 in an air-conditioned Tata Indica. We were also told that we would be fully insured and all – that it was exactly like traveling by flight, except that we were traveling by road! We were even given the water and food that we would have been served on board.

The distance from Chandigarh to Delhi is 240 kms. Once you are out of the Union Territory of Chandigarh, till the time you enter the state of Delhi (30kms from the airport), you travel through the state of Haryana. You only see wheat fields all around you – the terrain is 100 % flat! The first 40 kms to Ambala was NH 22. It was a two lane road, but good nevertheless.

From Ambala onwards, you hit NH 1 – the Grand Trunk road. This road is so good, I was actually pleased that the flight got cancelled and we got an opportunity to travel on this road. It’s a 4/6 lane road all the way to Delhi (200 kms). You frequently have stretches of 5-6 kms which are absolutely straight, followed by very gentle (almost un-noticeable) bends. Drivers regularly cruise at speeds in excess of 120 kms/hr here. You can very easily maintain an average speed of 65 -70 kms per hour. In fact, we reached the Delhi border by 4:20 – that means we had covered a distance of 210 kms in 200 minutes. An even better stat is – after hitting NH 1; we had covered 170 kms in 140 minutes! This highway is a must-drive for every driving enthusiast.

From the moment we entered Delhi, the traffic started swelling and we took more than an hour to get to the airport, but we were not complaining. We had been told the journey would take 5 and a half hours, whereas we had completed it in 4 and a half hours.

Thanking the driver profusely, we headed for security check and then, we started watching the cricket match in the TV at the waiting lounge. Our flight was more or less on time. This time, we were cruising at an altitude of 37 thousand feet. Captain Anila Bhatia also informed us of the course of the flight – she said something like we’ll be heading towards Bhopal, where we will take a deviation to fly over Hyderabad and then bank right to reach Bangalore. I read for most of the flight since it was dark outside and we were way too high to see anything at all.

We reached Bangalore airport by 9:45. After claiming our luggage, we hired a pre-paid taxi and reached home by 10:45. The driver actually asked us to pay him 20 rupees more than the stipulated amount! We immediately thought about the contrast between him and the simple, hard working and honest people of Himachal. What a disgusting end to a relaxed and fun filled tour!