Part-7 The Andamans Travelogue

The view over the garden was excellent following the rains. I heard that its best to be here in off season. Its good when it rains, as the place around you has different colours. When it does rain, there are violet/dark blue skies, light bluish-green water, white sand and green rainforests. The disadvantage is that you wont be able to see the corals in elephanta beach(adjacent) as the corals become slushy in the rains

Thats the reception of Barefoot!

Kirti decides to explore the library as we wait for our order of omlettes and Tea( That was Lunch :-)

The tea was refreshing, and all we did with that extra dose of energy was to get out to the beach again and start playing in the water.

Some more posts coming up! keep glued on
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The Andamans Travelogue-Part 6

Wondering where this post came out of the Blue?

I was updating this from Chennai, before I came over to Mumbai. I had done about 5 parts and then got busy with work. Check the earlier posts on my Andamans trip here.

Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1
Link to Pictures Album

Kirti and I had played in the azure waters long enough, and retraced our footsteps back inside the forest to "Barefoot at Havelock", the only decent resort in Radhanagar beach. Time for Lunch- 2 pm

Here we arrived, in a place that was nestled in between a forest, amidst sylvan and greenish surroundings.Add to that rain droplets, the green colour of the place looks all the more appealing.

Obviously if a place is so well lit up, and looks like the ideal place for relaxing, wouldnt it come with a price? We were here only for the lunch, we werent staying here, but some of the prices on the menu suprised our "student budget" of 13000 for the trip as a whole.

We ended up having 3 rounds of omlettes, some warm tea, some french fries and 2 juices to refresh us. It took us 150 minutes for this procedure, as we lazed about our order.

The place looked the part where you just wanted a break to escape out of the mundane competitive world. "Barefoot at Havelock" should be a place to stop over when you visit the Andamans.
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Updates from Maximum City!

The red buses and the cemented roads are so much entrenched into brand Mumbai. Took this while shifting my place last week.
My mother has been with me for a week, so I was lucky about the neat packing and the moving in, didnt have any problems

The IPL frenzy seems to have got to every one. I see a bunch of people gazing into a shop at Hill Road in Bandra West, where I went for some shopping of basic household implements.

When I saw this painting on a wall, the font reminded of me of the colours painted in Taare Zameen Par. Its a nice getsture by the school to allow their students paint on the wall, rather than commercialising the wall for advertising, or sticking- STICK NO BILLS all over.

Thats my mother watching the Aarushi Talwar murder case on NDTV, as if she were watching a soap opera-totally involved and glued to the television. My mother left last sunday night, so this week, its all about practising how one can make the stomach not-so-empty with the combination of bread, milk and sugar. My mother has suggested quite a few do-it-yourself recipes, but I guess lazy me would still prefer to buy at a hotel. Also to add to my woes, I'd have to wash clothes and fill water, things that I havent been exposed to at my home in Chennai. Mumbai's teaching me quite a few things :-)

By the way, I am leaving on an office trip to Goa, Divar Island tommorow. Should be fun in my 5th visit to this wonderful state in the last 27 months.
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The Week in Pictures

Thats quite a useful service for public transport in Mumbai. It combines the Local bus system along with the suburban trains

Look at the Name- Decent Florist- reminded me of the brothel in "Jab We Met"- Hotel Decent :-). Found this in Bandra, on the road Sachin and Aishwarya rai live. By the way, I live pretty close from here. I will be moving in to my flat tommorow in Bandra.

I go for a morning jog sometimes, and the guesthouse where I stay(Bhakti Park,Wadala(e)), has great landscaped gardens and open spaces for a jog, a game of cricket and some places for children to run around.

Orkut being advertised in the local buses here :-). Testimonial for Orkut... :-) Found this on route number 45 from Wadala Imax to Dadar Railway station.
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2 Good ads for the weekend!

The weekend arrives, and I have just stepped on two quite hilarious advertisments of Cleartrip.com on Youtube. The advertisment is perfect in conveying the positioning of this online travel company. Find the ads right below

Dream "Job"? Think Again

Kartik Kannan posing on the sets of Dream Job 2

I see that these days, there are too many reality shows on the numerous channels that keep popping by the hour. Indian Idol certainly had a first mover advantage in terms of spotting talent to recycle in the music industry, but other shows have also done well like "Sa re Ga ma", "Star Voice of India". Bollywood seems to be providing the leading thrust in terms of reality shows for the TRP, but other than that Niche reality shows really bite the dust, if they dont innovate or market themselves properly. MTV Roadies has got cult following now in terms of brand recall given the unconventional advertising that they have done over the last 5 years. If you are a "Roadie", people look up at you as its quite a tough thing to be a roadie. That way as a niche show, they've done pretty well, to connect with India.

Another show that I was immensely interested was in Clinic All Clear Dream Job on ESPN-STAR last year. The show did manage to elicit quite a lot of responses for the auditions in the 4 cities, but somehow the TRP's didnt seem to set the Yamuna on fire. I guess if ESPN had done some marketing for the show, along with T20, and some of the other shows and included some travel/road shows, more so dividing India by the geographical region(as is done with IPL), Dream Job 2, could have been a success.

Today even though the winner of Dream Job 2 was given a contract with ESPN STAR for a year, his compatriots on the show, Medini and Akshob, have done some excellent work, much better than the winner. It hasnt probably changed the winner's life totally, making him a television celebrity. I think ESPN really needs to go back to the drawing board and ask itself what they need to deliver to make people interested in Cricket/Sports a better deal. They sure are proffesionals and know what they are into, but a little more careful interospection would reveal that they could handle the consumer interest towards the show much better.

Medini for one, works for cricinfo and daily had podcasts of a show with the likes of Ravi Shastri, Geoff Boycott and Ian Chappel. Akshob, worked for the official IPL site and has met almost all the bigwigs of the various IPL teams and has some great interviews published on the IPLT20 site. The winner of the contest, Jatin is still not really flashing across Star Cricket, and it is here ESPN needs to understand where are they providing the extra value to the winner over the other contendors. To me, Jatin was an outstanding presenter and I feel he should be given more oppurtunities for the 1 year that he is there, as that would be the stamp on which he would have to decide his career.

Sports broadcasting is tough to break into and even if you get there barring all the competition, given the clutter with so many channels telecasting matches, you need to be better than the best in business and ring a bell when the viewer sees you. You may also realise that its not too remunarative, and it would take a few years to get down to a comparable salary level as your engineering and MBA waale friends. Harsha Bhogle made it big, by taking the risks in an era where Television coverage was rare, but had an IIM MBA degree backing him. Today he is seen as a management consultant, a great Historian on Cricket and a numero uno commentator. Where are the rest? You dont remember any other Indian television broadcaster( Charu sharma, may be! ), who did not play Cricket for India, who's made the cut. Even if these reality shows on sports broadcasting do happen, its going to take doing to get through the clutter, but with the proliferation of more channels, come more oppurtunities. The latest I hear is Zee Cinema has jumped into the fray with the telecast of a India-Pak-Bangladesh series in June.

Secondly in the face of reality shows, the producers hardly seem to want the best and just competition, but are more inclined to add masala. Women in Sports Presentation- They may not be as good as some of the guys on the show, but their feminity and ability to keep viewers glued in works a big way in them making the cut. No this blog post is not against the fairer sex, but just a reflection of the truth.
Every tom dick and harry, can give an opinion on cricket. The roadside tea wala would say that Dravid made a blunder by batting above the order in the t20 match, so when cricket is so common place in India, the women on the show have a distinct advantage with their looks and as long as they can do flawless english delivery, they are almost home. Women, frankly dont need to know much about cricket's intricasies which we guys know. Just have the right structure and assets in place, get the language flowing, you've got people watching already. I have known only Zoe Goss and a commentator from the West Indies as the only sports commentators who really know their stuff. Another woman who seems to have got my vote from India would be Mayanti Langer, who hosts football shows on Zee Cricket, and was asked to co-host the IPL without she being a cricket expert. When the likes of Mandira bedi have made it big, its time for more women to be inducted to make the whole presentation saucy. Frankly I would prefer to watch Mandira bedi in her noodle straps than watching a Dream Jobber guy talk :-) . So looking at all this, as a guy, you are up against big odds and really need to be somebody who can sweep people off their feet.

Why am I writing about it?

I too was a finalist last year, and finished in the Top 8 in the country, before Mandira Bedi decided that she had enough of me, and it was time to vote me out :-). I was reminded of Dream job, when somebody at work pointed out that line in my Linked in Profile and asked me about it.I thought I'd make an alternate career, part time as a television Jockey, but later gave up on the dreams as I had to make a career out of my MBA. Right now, no complaints, I am working for an online travel company, and am enjoying the space, getting decent money and a glimpse into Mumbai. But if Dream Job 3 comes up, I dont think I would want to bet my career on that, I'd be happy making to the final 4, being on television for 2-3 months and make new friends. Post an MBA Its frankly tough to give up on a career growth and a well paying job, for doing something that may be your passion. For me Cricket and Travel are my biggest interests and I am happy choosing the latter for a career. I still would'nt mind doing the odd television show, but would never want to bet my career on television.
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Interview with Albie Morkel

Albie Morkel seems quite a recognisable bowler operating in International cricket as part of team South Africa and the Chennai IPL Team. He was quite unkown when I interviewed him last year on my mobile. I found it through some random search on Youtube.

Check out excerpts of my interview with him


Memories! A Fortnight Later

Here I am in Mumbai, getting busy with work, getting used to travelling in crowded trains, hit and bully people into getting my inchspace while travelling. However, as I found some time during lunch into checking some pictures on my mobile, I was reminded of B school life at Great Lakes a fortnight back. I had made this as the final video on the evening of the convocation day.

Enjoy it!

Some of the other Videos made during the year were


More Images from Mumbai

Sitting on Marine drive near the rocks

The Western side of the Marine drive, left of Churchgate Station, towards Brabourne stadium

Mumbai seems to have a lot of olden day buildings all worth in excess of crores. If a few crores had a speck of dirt in it, would its value diminish? I'd say no :-). The floodlight between the building is the floodlight of the Wankhede Stadium.
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Images from Mumbai

The Beautiful GVK Airport

A lesser crowded station at 9 pm(Wadala Road)

Mentally any travelling in Mumbai should recall this map!

Evening view from Marine Drive.Queen's Necklace- Did a breezy walk from Churchgate on Marine drive till Chowpatty listening to music. Loved it.
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Madipakkam to Maximum City!

Madipakkam(chn) to Maximum city(Mumb) has been quite an ordeal already. I arrived an hour late yesterday afternoon, and to my dismay some passenger mistook his blue bag for my large suitcase and sped off. I was waiting for a long time near the conveyor belt for that seemingly elusive blue bag suitcase, but it never turned up. All my clothes were in that suitcase and it felt painful to think that someone had flicked that within minutes of arricval in Mumbai. My friend Akshob, on the phone made matters worse by laughing at the incident and likening me to “Tenali Raman in Big Bad Mumbai”. Go air immediately assured me that it was a case of swap as one more blue bag was not collected. I just hoped it was a swap, and waited for the go air staff at the airport to get in touch with the other passenger who’s swapped luggage. They did some research on their database and found that the number registered was a wrong cell number! Way to go......!!!

They found that the ticket was booked through Makemytrip and the passengers address was also not mentioned, only the makemytrip office address was mentioned. Then they called up the MMT office and some good Samaritan there, gave the correct contact number. I was smiling after a confused look for the best part of half hour after the plane landed. The smile didn’t last long... the phone was switched off. The Go-Air Team assured me that the luggage would be found in a couple of hours. I decided instead of waiting here, I shall rather make my way to office. I step out of the airport and tens of taxi trivers crowded me as if I was a celebrity and asked me where did I want to go. Parel was the place, and the numbers they started to quote was “Just 400, Just 600”. I just wondered, the taxi fare they were quoting was 6 times my basic fare from Mumbai-Chennai on Go Air. Finally found a Fiat Taxi who swore by the meter. I was advised 150-200 as the range, but you see, when you are a new traveller , statistics makes way to push the range to 300-350. Geez... these guys could give the Chennai Auto walas a run for their money. I generally hate commuting by Taxis in any place for that matter, but since I had luggage and I couldn’t dream of getting into that confusing Mumbai network of trains with my paraphernalia, I went for the taxi.

I arrived at the office, signed a few papers, forms, had a nice lunch, and as I was belching away my suitcase worries, A call comes from Go-Air that my baggage has been found and restored at the office. Now going at peak time to take the bag, meant again planning. Peak time in MUMBAI is between 5 pm and 10 pm when an overwhelming number of people cram their way into highly overcrowded trains as if their life depended on it. The roads are already occupied with bumper-bumper traffic for those who couldn’t make it to the trains. So how else to do you reach the airport? I was feeling weak and defeated in Mumbai J, and decided to retire to the company guest house at Wadala, via another taxi. I reached Wadala and did what I do beat tension, SLEEP in peace, until a call from my classmate Dwaipayan woke me up. It was almost 7 then, and at 7 30 pm, I asked my guesthouse cook for directions, and he saw that I was confused and decided to offer his services for help. He decided to accompany me to the airport. The seriousness of his advise, looked as if he was planning a strategic attack for war commandos to sneak and snake through Mumbai traffic. Frankly, travelling in Mumbai needs some real planning, as it makes the difference between a fume and a cheer. From Wadala East-Near Imax, I took a taxi to the wadala road station, which cost me 40 rs and from there I bought 2 return tickets to Andheri( don’t ask why. I was advised by my cook). The ticket had it written that this ticket is usable till Monday morning, which was so nice considering the mind of a weekend traveller. Wow that’s some customer service! As I stood on the station, a train seemed to come written 7 57 B on it, but my cook advised my against travelling in it as it would stop at Bandra, which meant I would need to get down from the harbour line and cross over to the western line which would be very crowded and unwise to attempt. He asked me to wait for the Andheri local, which would come as that meant that the train would make a natural progression from the harbour line to the western line, without having to board another train till Ville Parle.

Ville Parle arrived... and we took an auto from there to the airport. Just as Bollywood would show an estranged mother meeting her son, I ran into the airport into the wrong terminal and found a guard who seemed from the North East(High Cheek bones). I started in Hindi , pointing my hand at an imaginary counter, that my bag was swapped at a Go air Conveyor belt and I needed to go inside. He only looked in more seriousness at me without opening his mouth. I thought he didn’t understand hindi, and started to speak broken hindi with a gap between each syllable, so that he got an rough import of what I wanted. Basically I went on a SLOW mode, as people from the East of India, have a morbid fascination for talking very fast and finishing the sentence even as they begin speaking(sample Prakritish Buragohain spelt at neck break speed -Pogdees bugwen). He finally opened his mouth saying “pls speak in English”. Sheesh! Was my Hindi bad or he didn’t understand hindi. I was confused and shaken aback. I narrated the whole thing, and he said, that I was bluffing. I was flabbergasted and proceeded to show the tickets and baggage receipt, when he said that he thought I was bluffing as I pointed my hand towards a counter, and that particular building had only Kingfisher and Indian flying. He said Go Air would be the next block and not this. Oh man! Why did he engage me in such a long conversation then? I went to the next counter and thankfully the ordeal was over quickly spotting a cute Go Air girl in a Black and Green T shirt. She helped me with the rest of the formalities.

Having the 15 kg luggage in hand, I was fervently hoping for an auto, but no auto driver budged as being in the airport, he expected a minimum savari of 100 rs or atleast 50 rs, not the 10 rs ride to the ville parle station, which would be an opportunity cost of 90 rs for him, if he plied there. Hard Luck, I had to walk with the luggage across the Sahara Hotel to the higway and crossed it to find an auto, who took me to Ville Parle for 10 rs. The rest of the journey was quite uneventful, with me looking at the complex network of trains that Mumbai had, in the display near the door. The trains are pretty well organised and are dot on time here, and people just seem to keep on running...after they get off from a train. The crowd on the trains and the platforms had me in a dizzy. This weekend I will buy a local time table and chart plans for my travel to office. Looks like operations Management has just got a new case study! Figuring out the most optimal way to travel in the Mumbai Trains and BEST buses.


Andamans Trip- Part 5- Entry to Havelock Islands

Havelock Islands begins here.. This is the place thats meant for the assembling of passengers, and incase you plan to leave the day you arrive here, this is the place to book your return tickets. My advise- never book return tickets- you will regret leaving this paradise :-)

On Havelock Island, this is a point where people drink tea/coffee as soon as they arrive. No, its not a heritage hotel joint, but a normal point where all commoners meet once they set foot.

This is the view that greeted me as soon as I woke up from my sleep on the deck. Havelock arrived- Paradise Regained :-). The water was very clear and the greenish blue colours and the swaying trees reminded you of that island you saw on all windows screen savers.This was real and I was here. Time to get dirty in the waters!

If Cycles were available for rent within Havelock, it would be great. But the best way to get around is to use the local buses, as that way your luggage can be managed easily. Local buses transport you to Radhanagar Beach for as low as rs 12. The taxis burn a large hole of 400 rs for one way transport. This can be avoided, unless you need to return in a couple of hours back to Havelock Base.
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Andamans Travel- Part 4

Thats what they call the DSS. This is where you board ships from Portblair to Chennai,Kolkata,Ranghat,Havelock and Neil Island. On Sundays, the reservation counter is not open, so go early to the place where your ship would be standing and wait outside for the manual selling of tickets. The ship we took was the 6 am ship called INS Ramanujam to Havelock Island

Costs- Auto from Aberdeen Bazaar to DSS- 5 08 AM- 30 rs
- Ship from DSS to Havelock Island- 200 rs on the Upper deck(cushioned seating)
- 150 rs on the lower deck( normal wooden seating)

Thats Kirti posing in front of Ramanujam

Thats the interior of the upper deck. Most of the passengers are first timers, so
they would spend their time gazing at the beautiful ocean outside. So if you want
to sneak in 40 winks, you have ample space to lay your body flat against the sea breeze.

It was raining quite heavily at a certain distance from us.
This was Neil Island, which seems to be blanked out by the
rain bearing clouds. All it did was ensure that we had excellent chill breeze
greeting us and it was divine sleep, if you managed to sit out in the terrace of
the ship.
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Andamans Travel- Part 3

This was at Ross Island, a British army/naval base which was abandoned. Now a tourist attraction and a lovely place for some peaceful jay walking. You have one canteen here, but incase you are here on the weekend, god save your tummy, these andamanese prefer their siesta at home than conducting business selling eatables. If you walk left towards the entrance, you would find one small tea shop, which when persuaded would make some omlettes and pakoras at premium pricing.

The spotted deer at Ross Island right next to the place where I had tea.

Phoenix Jetty.... when the sky starts to cry. We just made it in time to Portblair when the heavens opened up. It gave us enough time to put our bags in a safe place and enjoy the rains.

When we were caught in the rains, we had a nice conversation with the locaks and also had some Jhal Mudi( Bong for Bhelpuri). It was a lovely sight seeing the islands dissapear undler the influence of the rain and the mist that had descended that evening, even as Kolkata Night Riders were razed to the ground by the Chennai Super Kings.
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Andamans Travel- Part 2

Andamans was all idyllic, and this is the road next to the Cellular Jail, quite close to the Phoenix Boat Jetty. There may be some repetitions, in terms of places covered, but I thought a detailed photofeature was the best way to showcase a travellogue instead of moronic text. Go on.. enjoy the travellogue.

Looks Like Kirti Saurabh had a Long night and was all ready to yawn all day long. It was a lovely day with a wet start to it. Check the green colour of the grass in the background.

Those are the boat rates from Phoenix Bay. You could take individual cruises or the combined ones. My take would be see it individually, that way you get started quicker than the combined rides, which leaves you stranded for time at the end of the day.We took North Bay and Ross Island. We didnt see Viper Island due to lack of time. North Bay corals are not visible during bad weather, so be informed when you go there.

On a erstwhile Chariot, with bamboo and hay above, its a perfect setting to sleep with the azure blue Indian Ocean showing up. North Bay is a cool place to visualise some lost world-jungle stories. To add to the lovely nap was some warm tea, spicy channa masala and violet rain bearing clouds
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