N 81 RIP?

My Nokia N-81 is starting to show signs of senility. The phone seems to be acting up wierd. I am scared about giving it to the Nokia Service Centre as they sometimes stock it for 2 months and then decide that nothing can be done about it. The cost of repairing the Nokia phone may be 60% the cost of the phone, and that data is not too appealing to me to repair it.

Maybe I need to look at more phones in this segment, as a back up. I'd like to have my hands on the i-phone, but the cost of the iPhone is what draws me back. All said and done, I have to start researching on models that are similar to the N-81, as I fear its days are numbered. Lasted 20 months(Make that 18, it slept for 2 months in a Nokia Service centre).


All Izz Well!

Just watched 3 idiots at a theatre in Karur. I enjoyed the movie thoroughly. The movie was a little stretched and was dramatic, but it sure was enjoyable. I'd rate it 4/5 and I am sure I will go again to watch it in Chennai. Have watched 3 movies in the last 10 days and liked every one of them. Paa,Avatar and 3 Idiots. All Izz Well!


Need the Backpacker Breath!

Earlier, Whenever I used to feel worn out with work, I planned a trip in a jiffy and was out breathing the air of a backpacker, who absorbed every new experience that came exploring the unknown. That high kind of annulled the impact of stressful work. Now when you have more stress coming in from other quarters(work/home/ambitions/commitments) and backpacking not being possible, due to various reasons, the outlet for letting steam out is blocked. Waiting for an opportunity to do solo travel, where you don't have to worry what dress you wear, how much money is there in the purse, where you stay...and a 101 other mundane things. I just realize that corporate life, married life and a travelers life are like 3 different axes, and the solution to a satisfied life lies at the vortex of the three axes. If you go ahead in one axes, the lack of travel in the other 2 axes, would make you worried, and sometimes worries compound faster than bank loans :-).


2009 Shall Pass, So Shall my Lethargy

2009 marks an important year in my blogging history. I have only penned 46 posts, and most of them have been travelogues or ranting on my busy state of life. This year I truly became 'just-another-average-workaholic-B schooler'. I must have hardly made an effort to go beyond work. Maybe It had to do with a bad team to work with from January to April, and then from May to December, I had to commit to Airtel and Vodafone, an average of 3000 minutes of airtime in the name of my wife :-).

I even stopped putting the effort to follow/watch cricket, and that is quite a change. 2009 made law of diminishing marginal utility of cricket attack me. I have hardly been the guy I wanted to be this year. 2009 signified a year, where I just lived, vegetated and observed life as a spectator. The general enthusiasm I carry has been lost, and I sleep more at home. When I sleep, I just cant respond to an alarm, and a year of sleeping in simulated 18 degrees centigrade has made me fear the night more and take refuge in sleep. Its strange to see the changes that have happened in my life.

I guess whatever happens, happens for the better. I have grown sick of my lethargy, and have started to search for the enthusiasm levels, that I have generally grown up with. I am searching for the old me, with a few changes. Hope 2010 looks up, and I get past the mental block of just being lethargic and being the 'average joe' who worked,slept and ate.

An ODE to the 47th post of the year, and this actually is the lowest number of posts in a calendar year. It was 62 when I started penning my blog in 2002.


Running On!

The last few days have been stifling with enough work at office and home. I am trying to organise the house and keep processes via which bill payments/parts replacements/budgeting is a little easier. I have never been organised, nor have I cared about what it takes to run a house. The next few months would be spent in learning that. Dreams,aspirations and Life would have to run like a train on an orphaned track, while I come to speed with getting organised on setting up the house.



My marriage got over a couple of days back. All excited Now! I am all set to go to Lakshadweep and spend some time with my better half for the next week or so. I plan to catch up on lterature pertaining to Bombay to read on a hammock there. I plan to read a book on Dharavi and complete the rather famous "Maximum City-Bombay-Lost and Found" by Suketu Mehta.

Here are some images from Mumbai that havent made it to my blog in the normal course of picture sharing. I shall soon be uploading my marriage pictures.

View of South Bombay from Elephanta Island

Local Train Approaching VT Station

The view from the sea of Taj Mahal Hotel and Gateway of India
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A little bit of Chinnaswamy!

Went for the auditions that day to Benngaluru, and went through rounds of article writing, article editing, GRE type vocab tests,Quizzes and a personal Interview with Anil Kumble and Ray Jennings. Didnt win! but got myself a bit of chinnaswamy stadium...err...confusing? Read on

Got a KSCA white cricket ball autographed by Anil Kumble, the RCB T shirt and a bit of grass from the stadium as mementos. Felt good, met like minded individuals and made new friends. It was a good day out, being a prospective blogger for RCB! The better guys won!

The only regret was that I didnt get the mischief gals or Mallya's cheerleaders to interview me. But Chalega! Had a good time at Bengaluru for the 23 degrees of temperature,which was a welcome respite from sunny singara Chennai

Couple of Pictures(Courtesy Kunal Kamdar)

Me, Kunal and Dharma- Team 1

The Souvenier from the Royal Challengers Banglore!


Heading to Bengaluru

Today is the D-Day for the final Audition for the Royal Challenger Blogger Contest. I have a 8 50 am flight from Chennai. My team comprises of Kunal and Dharma from Chennai, who play the part of a fan and a photographer. It's been a good 3 weeks since I signed up for the contest, and frankly I seem to be more interested in following a team in the IPL, than randomly watch a match. I was a confused Indian, not being able to decide between whom to Support (between MI and CSK). RCB is the team, who I have the hots for at the moment.

Will update with pictures, soon on my blog.



My office is taking a bunch of us on an outing to Mayajaal. It includes playing a bit of bowling and a movie. When it came to choosing a movie, I realised with the 1 pm/ 4 pm slot on a Thursday afternoon, the choices seemed too limited.

a) Kaminey- Seen it, didnt understand much anyway. Wouldnt mind seeing it again for the visuals of the Mumbai Monsoon, images of the Local Trains and a few chartbusters.

b) Kandhasamy- Heard very bad reviews, and it looks like a movie made for the masses.

c) Final Destination- Some times, I realise that if a movie has a complex plot or requires some understanding of the plot, before one watches the movie, I dont seem to enjoy it very much. So didnt really know whether to pick this or go for option 4

d) Eeeram- A new Tamil flick by Shankar, might as well watch it. Have enjoyed most of his movies except for the disastrous Rajnikanth starrer 'Sivaji'. Might end up choosing between option C or D

I dont quite think there are too many options for a company on OMR/ECR can do too much for a half day outing. I guess Mayajaal has a great corporate oppurtunity to offer a bunch of different experiences within their complex. Mayajaal sorely needs better service and better food.

The only other outing I can think of is a customised program at one of the beach resorts, with blaring music and some sports in the sun.

Any other experiences that you reccomend on OMR/ECR?


Nandi Hills- Awesome Destination for a Quick and Dirty Trip

I had been last week to Nandi Hills with my fiance. The place seems excellent for a short weekend getaway. We were there only for a part of the day, but ideally its a nice place to stay. There are 2 hotels to stay. One being Mayura Pine Guest House and the other being the horticultural bungalow in the hill. I am not too sure about the rates, but I guess it wont exceed Rs 500 a day. Its ideal to go there in the monsoons when the mist makes it lovely to wander around the park.

The only turn off there are monkeys who would scare you to death, by holding you at gun point and ordering you to give any food material you have. You should be careful, in not having a light bag, as the monkeys know to pick your bags. The monkey tried my bag, but thankfully it was very heavy due to my disorganised packing.

The place is lovely for long walks in the woods, and is commutable by public transport from Bangalore. Its 2-3 hours by road and its advisable to take the State Transport buses directly or go to Chikbalapur and then go to Nandi Hills.(Majestic Bus Terminus), as it gets difficult to drive a Car/Bike in the mist on curvy mountainous terrain.

We had our brunch and Linner at Mayura and it was a fairly inexpensive place, with basic food items being cooked. Lunch doesnt have too much of a menu, as they make what people consume the most. Roti Dal/Rice wins hands down. For people looking at Alcohol, Mayura also serves alcohol, which to me appeared strange as all through the journey, i saw signs saying Nandi hills has prohibited consumption of alcohol.

It also forms a good weekend break from Chennai, if you are tired of trips to Ooty, Pondy, Mahabs and Kutralam.


The 7 stages of a Tam Brahm Life!

Somebody at work, asked me to write a piece on 'Transformation', and while I was at it trying to put something sensible, the other thoughts that I had to forcibly put in the bin, are strung together as an article and penned below.


Tam Brahm è Tamil Brahmin

Kartik è Hypothetical Tam Brahm Character

When I think of transformation, my seventh sense works overtime to also throw synonyms called Change, Matram(Tamil) or Parivartan(Hindi). During my childhood days, having relied on too much on Wren and Martin, the difference between synonyms never existed. On getting slightly evolved in my journey from school to B school, I vaguely understood that ‘transformation’ was a wow word used along with Jargons to create an aura or awe, while ‘change’ was what dull commoners used. 5 years into corporate life and 26 years into living on earth, I will pass on my judgments on the way I see ‘transformation’. Given that I have 40 minutes and not 40 years to present my research and findings, I will stick to the sample size that I have abided by the last 26 years. Yes, I will deliberate on what ‘transformation’ does on the life of a 20 something Tam Brahm from Madras

Lets take the hypothetical case of one Mr Kartik Santhana Gopala Iyer Kannan, who is born into this world, being taught that life revolves around sambhar and curd rice, and learning which ‘amman’(Goddess) signifies what.

Now, given that Kartik is your average Tam Brahm, lets apply the theory of transformation to his life .The inflection points in the life of a Tam Brahm pretty similar to Shakespeare’s 7 stages of life are

a) His admission in School –LKG to Class 12

· As soon as Kartik is handed over by his parents, to the premises of a school, he no longer needs to recite slokams and alphabets to every passerby who comes. That’s the first transformation. You don’t need to offer unsolicited slokas and nursery rhyme bravado’s to every Tom Dick and Harry. The key take away or transformation is to SHUT UP, with pleasure!

· The second transformation is when the hormonal invasion happens within his body, he starts observing Gayatri in isolation, than the Gayatri Japam he was taught to chant thrice a day.

· He is taught to wake up at the strike of dawn when the sunrise gleams into his face, and hold his hands to a white thread, like bryan adams did to his guitar while humming ‘summer of 69’. Once he observes this parallel between his sacred thread and the guitar, while watching MTV, he takes a secret oath in his bathroom to reach the forbidden fruit of MTV. Thus begins a ‘transformation’ to access all forbidden fruits.

· The 4th transformation is when he gets inspired to do weird things with the upma his mother has left him to have while she is at work. He is obviously ‘transformed’ by coming of age movies like American pie, which he downloaded via a Torrent for a week, on his princely dial up connection!

b) His admission to an engineering college

· All through school, Kartik was taught to believe that vertical growth happens through systematic consumption of Sambhar,Rasam and Curd Rice. But he now ‘transforms’ himself by expanding ‘horizontally’ by getting a beer belly, after exploring the forbidden pleasures of alcohol.

· Alcohol was never on the Good Boy’s list of items. Back in class 9, if Kartik’s mother quizzed him on what connects Sex, Baywatch,Alcohol, MTV,Raavan,Dushasan, Gabbar Singh and last benchers, the answer would come in a jiffy as EVIL. In engineering you get all and more of that and when the forbidden fruit is no longer forbidden, nothing seems as evil.

· Kartik, for the better part of his life used to hang out at Kapaleeshwarar Temple and drink the degree coffee in Jagadamba Mess. But given that he needs to engage his hormones with the opposite sex, he decides to ‘transform’ himself to hang out at CCD, having cappuccino all by himself, in a morbid attempt to show that he has some style and spunk left in him to get some attention from the opposite sex.

· He learns that a ‘Joint’ doesn’t necessarily have to be the J in the JEE (Joint Entrance Examination). His next ‘tranformation’ J

c) His inclination to write GRE/GMAT/TOEFL

· By his third year in engineering college he has realized that the only way to escape the nagging tyranny of his parents and live a bohemian lifestyle is to write the GRE. He ‘transforms’ himself to a studious guy, who puts in hours of research after curd rice dinners to mug all the words in the newly discovered dictionary from Barrons!

· He ‘transforms’ himself to the status of a ‘Peter’ by writing emails like “ I wish to Procastinate the Conundrum , as I am Peregrinating the apostles of Storydom on Celluloid”, which otherwise loosely translates to “ I am bunking the boring class discussion, as I am hanging out in Sathyam Theatre”

· He realizes that the time spent on Shaadi.com and fropper was not worth effort, as educational coaching centers like the TIME’s and the IMS’es would actually do well in ‘connecting people’. This transformation applies strictly to people who show their nerdly and virtual skills off as mating signs to attract females.

d) His Job Offer in the IT company on OMR

· His life transforms for the better, once he has a campus offer from an IT company and by the time he joins work, he realizes that this is far more fun than college. The company pays you to enjoy 5 months of honeymoon nestled in the quiet woods of Mysore with chicks sampled from all over India. This phase of life ‘transforms’ his national integration skills and helps him connect with his failed class 8 geography lessons.

· He ‘transforms’ himself to be this night bird ogre who develops an intense fascination for foreign chocolates and midnight ISD calls with his officemates who seem to be enjoying a bohemian lifestyle in the name of an onsite trip!

e) His first and many Onsite Trips

· No other event can transform the tam brahm as profound as an Onsite trip. They ‘transform’ to hardcore multitaskers as they balance the support calls along with their las Vegas weekend trips. Even as they spend the time in the clubs in Las Vegas, their eyes are also on the Blackberry that reminds him of the tickets pending with his clients

· The Tam Brahm who was conditioned and made to believe that Pamela Anderson was this lady in red, who appeared in TV, is now ‘tranformed’ enough to believe that she can be his, for 10 minutes and for just 20 friggin dollars!. Now the Tam Brahm, changes his stance and declares vociferously ‘I’m Possible’, from the loser line of ‘Impossible’

f) His admission to B school

· After having spent the better part of a bohemian lifestyle in Phoren lands and wanting the same salary pay scales as his onsite salary, the Tam Brahm decides to ‘transform’ himself to a leader in a B School.

· ‘Transformation’ is shown immediately when the dear Tam Brahm learns that life at a B school is all about Managing relative competition. Competition is all over from Grades, bidding on electives, chicks, coveted million dollar jobs and even competition in standing for lunch.

· The next ‘Transformation’ comes visible in his CV, during placement season when his core motto changes from “ Best Pay Packet” to “ Best Profile” to “ Decent Company” to “Job in Hometown”, across employers at the same instant in time.

g) His Marriage

· Having got a good Job, a great B school on his CV, and a Green card, (apart from the free Red color ICICI card) he hunts for a bride with a few parameters which go pretty similar to the SQL query learnt in engineering

· Choose female from ‘List of Iyer Brides” from “ Vadama Subcaste Only” living in “Triplicane/Mylapore/Matunga/Karol Bagh”, having Gotharam “ Kousika” and Nakshatram as “ Rohini, having dad employed in “State Bank” and Blah Blah Blah…….until he finds his ‘soulmate’ through the databases of Bharatmatrimony.

· The Tam Brahm becomes a father, and starts behaving like how his dad behaved, so that he is accepted as part of the conservative society of Mylapore, and the same cycle repeats when next lineage of Tam Brahms are born!

· And beyond that Life never “Transforms”, it only changes..and then the Tam Brahm realizes that “ Change “ is the only thing that’s constant in life. The problem is that law of dimishing marginal utility caused ‘transformation’ to seem like ‘change’ and after 20 years of marriage and 2 kids studying in the US of A, he gets back to agreeing with the Wren and Martin guide that Change and Transformation don’t seem to be different after all!


What do you want to become in Life?

When this question was asked to me, by my Vice Principal,while I was having dinner in a forest at Kangra Valley in 1997, I was taken aback. Nobody had asked me that question. I didnt know what to answer. How would I know that or even thnk about that when I am on a summer holiday Nature camp trip to the Himalayas, in the chill of 3 degrees? I looked at my dinner and the rock on which I was sitting. I thought being a vagabond exploring new places seemed great, because in my non detail english reader, adventures in far-away lands brought me far pleasure than sucking up to Axioms and Theorems. I also thought being a cricket commentator was fun, as it meant watching cricket all day long, and visiting new places. BUT, was that an answer you could tell the Vice Principal? NO, not when the kids around me in class 9, were rattling off words like NTSE,BITS,IIT M and Blah blah...

I didnt want to think too much, and I said "Engineer". I knew heart of hearts, it wasnt something I wanted to be. Secondly I had not faced too much success in life. So I didnt even know whether my brain could take me to the path of being an engineer. I suddenly felt that I was carrying loads of guilt by giving that answer and that guilt carried all the way till my engineering.

Today I look back, and ask myself what would I want to become, I still no have answer. I still like being a Railway station master and a vagabond traveller, but thats probably a phase of life that I might enjoy.

So is the answer to the question always a profession that would yield money and keep you secure or that would give you happiness? I seem quite lost. One thing I see is its never to late to keep asking this question, as long as you dont carry guilt with the chosen path. Lets see how life progresses!


Twitter is spoiling me

Its ages since I wrote on my blog. Twitter and Facebook have me hooked on. I still havent settled into Chennai. The house still needs a lot of tweaking in terms of books/clothes racks and it badly needs a dose of painting. Since my purse theft, and salary dues from Mumbai, I have already flooded my credit card limit, so suddenly I feel restrained by the slow pace of life. Itching to do lots of things, but dont have the mood nor money to immideately fuel my interest.

I have started hating Google Tasks, as it keeps popping to remind me, how many activities still remain unfinished/unaccomplished. I'd love to set some order in life, but life rarely goes on in the way one plans it, so I guess Life is what you do when all plans flop.

I guess the post is getting too random. Time for some siesta!


Thailand Trip- Part 2

Thailand Trip- Part 2, continued from Part 1

We checked into TP Watergate hotel, in the area called Pratunya. This part of Bangkok near the famous sky scraper of the BMW tower, seemed like one of the bylanes of old Kolkata. After we settled into ablutions, I decided to cut my hair, as I couldn’t do it in Chennai, due to being busy with a lot of other stuff. It came at a princely cost of 100 Bahts (150 rs). I slept off, while the barber started cutting my hair, and got up and saw that my hair was cut to a basic satisfactory level( It is rumoured by my mother over time, that if my hair level goes beyond a cut off, i am more vulnerable to catch cold and fever. Sounds Crappy, but its always worked on me).
Along with the TP Watergate hotel stay (3 star and 4000 bahts a night), we also got a guided tour for a couple of hours in a limousine, with a Thai Chick. She showed us around some of the historical places from the cool confines of the vehicle, and for a few locations, we got down and saw the golden Buddha and the Wat Pho temple. Learnt from her that every king in Thailand over time was called Rama and the current king’s portrait/poster was splashed on every thing commercial in the city.

We even encouraged her to sing some Thai music to her, and she started singing something that had the words ‘phuk’ , coming very often. We later realised that somewhere in the Thai lingo, very inadvertently ‘phuk’ forms a part of their dictionary. It was a little tough understanding her English, and sometimes sign language and presumptions, was our only way to prevent irritation of not understanding. In return I sung "Kabhi Kabhi" in Hindi to give a glimpse of Indian music. Shyam and Jyothi, exchanged glances and thought..some one was flirting excessively.

After our mini excursion, we were lulled into visiting a gem exhibition, which we window shopped and were also directed to a travel agent who was quoting very high fares for planning our trip. She mistook us for tourists, but we travellers decided that the best way to plan, was to head to an internet centre and do our own research.

We had rough visions on what to do. One was visit Maya Bay in Phi Phi, where portions of my cult movie ‘THE BEACH’ was shot. The other vision was to laze around for a couple of days, gazing at blue-green waters, and get east to Samui islands and Koh Tao. Having heard of Nok Air and other budget carriers we worked out a rough schedule which was an all beach schedule. We had to drop off the northern Chiang Mai(Hills) plan because of lack of time. This is what we planned from 3 hours of research from 5 pm-8 pm in the nice net center that charged us only 20 bahts an hour.

Bangkok Hotel- Don Meaung Airport (400 Bahts) Taxi (Day 2)
Don Meang Airport- Phuket Airport- Flight for 3 passengers-5100 bahts(day 2)
Phuket Airport- Phuket Town/ Patong Beach- 400 Bahts (day 2)
Hotel Budget for night stay for 3 nights- Not more than 2500 bahts ( day 2,3,4)
Things to do for the next 3 days at Phuket- Lets go there and plan!

Day 2
We got up late at 10 am, and checked out by 11 am, and decided to reach the airport early enough for our 13 40 flight. This was a different airport (Don Meaung) from the one we reached on day 1(Suvarnabhumi Airport).

At the airport, we were pleasantly surprised to find that we were asked by bag attendants/airport staff on what had we planned in Phuket, and when we said we hadn’t planned, we were politely directed to the travel desk, where a lady was showing us various options to stay, while showing us a huge enlarged map of phuket.
Over the course of the conversations, I discovered that there a few islands west of Phuket, around Similan islands, where a lot of honeymooners go. The tourists invariably end up staying in Patong, enjoy the night life, head to the planned phi-phi tour, go bungee jumping, elephant-back tour, snake park and of course head to the go-go bars all around.

The backpackers would have done this

Wait for public transport or shared Tuk Tuks from the Airport to Phuket Town(south east), where accomadation is backpacker friendly and is quiet laidback from the commercialisation of Patong(west). Get on a boat to Phi-Phi, cut on prices by offering to sit on the top of the boat, and get on islands not in the tourist radar!

What did we do? Having taken the taxi to Patong, we decided to be tourists partly by getting a hotel in patong, and booking a trip to James Bond island, Phi Phi islands and Kata Beach. We tried the local night life, by going to bars red in colour and made the most of an offer that gave 2 Breezers for 100 bahts. You have women/men staring at you, trying to seduct you and the best thing you should do is stare back at them and escape as soon as you are done with your drink. ‘Never out stay your welcome as a guest’ was the lines from ‘THE BEACH’that I remembered then, and went to Patong beach at about midnight to taste the local flavour of 30 Baht Pancakes which are similar to our dosas/light Parattha and come with various flavours of cheese, banana, gnutella and strawberry and chocolate linings.

Earlier in the evening, we had gone to a Mexican restaurant for a late lunch. I quite forgot what we had, but I remember a lot of cheese and nice green vegetables. We sat in a nice beach facing setting in the open air initially, but due to threat of rain, our Thai turned Mexican waitress asked us to have it inside the restaurant.

Day 3-

Shyam and I got up early, and decided to head to the beach at 6 am to have our bath. No challenge in doing that as the beach is as flat as the cricket pitches in India, with no/little waves to topple you over. After our session in the water and a long discussion on marriage relationships and our pre CAT/GMAT life, we decided to head back to the hotel at 7 15, to catch the 7 45 am van that was to take us to Phuket Town. Shyam and I decided against bathing again in order to save time, while Jyothi was getting ready. Shyam had used some time last night to go to the local supermarket (I guess it was called 7/11) and buy some bread and Jam, which we used for breakfast.

Shyam and I sat at the breakfast table laid out at the hotel, when we spotted to Ladyboys ( men who have had a sex change operation to become women for earning money through sexual services) in a gearless bike . They stopped the bike near our hotel and came near us saying “Masschage....” and shyam vehemently drove them away by shouting “No” 3-4 times. One of the ladyboys got scared and went away towards the other fat firang who was sitting to our right. The other ladyboy also went in the same direction and came near me and started to keep her hands on me, to which I resisted and tried to get away by placing my elbow in an effort to drive her, but she was quick and clever, and managed to find the purse in my backpocket and slid her hand, without me realising. I realised it when she went away and I found my pocket empty, and she was struggling to start her bike. By the time, I ran and lunged for her bike, she was gone-speeding on the bike. I ran and shouted for help and people around me didn’t understand English, so I danced to show in sign language pointing to my bum and show the ladyboy who was speeding away.(My actions must have looked like Kamal Hasan in Moondram Pirai/Sadma).

A policeman saw my predicament and offered me a ride, and he was doing well in chasing the ladyboy when he suddenly turned right. I asked him why, and he mumbo jumboed something which I couldn’t understand, and did a U turn to Patong beach and I was furous and shouted at the policeman and he stopped near the end of the beach, and another policeman asked me ‘what u want’. The policeman who took me said ‘ u want police’?. I said I wanted him to chase the robber to which he said “ u first tell police, we then chase robber’. I felt the whole world collapse around me, as I expected the police to catch the ladyboy over a hot chase and recover my purse. 2500 Bahts, 700 rupees, My business contacts and visiting cards, My 2 Credit Cards , My Debit Cards and my driving Licence, all gone... and the police now wanted to know where it happened.

So i directed him to my room at Add Mansion, and there my friend Jyothi asked me to quckly call up home and let them block my cards. I did that at 100 bahts a minute, and I realised I had spent 3000 rs in trying to block my cards, as HSBC and CITIBANK would not allowe me to say what I want and would irritate me with ads running upto 45 seconds and coming twice or thrice in a call.
I was listening to ads of insurance and money services paying 150 rs a minute and cursing HSBC and CITIBANK as I patiently gave all the details. The most irritating detail was the HSBC folks asking me to read out my card number, when I had lost my card, and asking me questions on the exact value of the last transaction down to the last paise for their verification. I could not remember most of the details of my cards, especially when the bus to Phi Phi islands is holding a gun to my head, waiting for the three of us.

Since the Ph Phi tour was booked, we decided to go ahead with the tour. The bus had to pick up some one else also, so Shyam asked me to go to the police station, while the bus would pick up the other passengers and come to town via the police station at Patong.
Enroute to the police station, the other ladyboy and I were on the open convertible police van, and she was saying “ why u complain, now me pay money, u pay money to police. My time waste, ur time waste”. She meant she was losing business and I was missing out on a nice holiday. As soon as we entered the polce station, she was sent to a mini jail, where some drunk prostitutes were there with a couple of policemen, while I was directed to another room, and asked to wait in a corner. 5 minutes became 10 and 10 minutes became 15, there was no response from any of the police officers who were busy examining a bunch of papers and talking Thai. None of them understood English. I was patiently waiting for them, to call me and rewinding the whole incident in an infinite loop.

The Rest of the Story continues in Part 3.


Checking out the book stall at the Don Meuang Airport, Bangkok...while waiting for the Nok-Air Flight to Phuket.

The place every TOURIST visits, the Golden and Sleeping Buddha.

Some tall structure that is helping me hone my photography skills. Bangkok

At the Temple of Wat Pho! Shyam, Jyothi and your's truly (L-R)

Checking out at TP Watergate Hotel, Bangkok


Trip to Thailand!-Part 1

I have quite a few travellogues to share. I will start with my Thailand Trip for the next week or so, and then talk about my trip to Elephanta Island off the coast of Mumbai.

Day 1- Images from Thailand

On the Thai Airways flight- Resembled the days of Air Deccan!

When you get a last minute return flight deal for just 13,000 Rs to Thailand, lots of people lap it up. The flight to Thailand resembled the initial mad days of Air Deccan, when people flocked to the flight and had noisy conversations. Guess the Thai airhostesses were quite stunned to silence by the behaviour. Thai Airways also had free alcohol on board, so the 'guests' on board were making merry as the flight strode across the Bay of Bengal, passing North Andaman into the princely state of Bangkok. There was a screen indicating where our flight was on the map from India to Thailand.

Admiring Art or Plain Posing?

Shyam and I came together, while Jyothi came via another flight at around the same time to Bangkok. Before we met Jyothi, Shyam and I were looking at the art around the Suvarnabhoomi airport. While I was posing with damsels in caricature, Shyam decided to concentrate a lot more on the damsels fantasising the women in the caricatures to life.

Baat Baht Baaaht- In a Toyota Corolla Taxi in Bangkok

Conversing with a Thai Taxi is one of the more difficult things in life, if you are from India, and dont know Thai. The Thai taxi drivers have a bunch of pamphlets in their kitty and act as affiliates to travel agents and hotels known to them. Once you have chosen the hotel and they know where you are heading, they will also try and hook you up with a million sex/massage joints. If you say no to sex or alcohol, they will forcibily stop you at a travel agent or a gem stone shop, which makes up for their minimum commission.

Wherever you go, the fare is always 300 or 400 bahts. Make sure you bargain and start at 100 bahts. Price correction would autmatically start. They need people/tourists to earn money and if you arent paying par fare, they would extract money from other affiliate sources

Sample This- Our Taxi driver made 750 bahts from the gem shop, for taking us around from Prathunya to Sukhomvit(wherever MKB Electronics mall is), but actually took only 20 bahts from us. A taxi is better than a Tuk Tuk, as the pleasure of being ripped is better under an AC Corrola car than a naked engine Tuk Tuk

FAQ by Bangkok Taxi drivers

Where u go?
What you do?
Want to Phuk? (Fuck)
Night what you do?
1 shtop at gem shop
1 shtop travel agent

Modes of Public Transport- The Free Red Bus for Tourists/Locals.

We were exploring Thailand by the local transport and found that Red Buses are free for transport. Its a little tough to look at the guidebook and figure out where the bus is going, as most people dont understand english, and the other tourists/travellers are as clueless as you. Hopefully Wifi would be a free commodity as common as Roti, Kapda, Makaan and more recently telephone signals.

Thailand is best explored by the Tuk Tuk. Jyothi used it to his advantage to see a few places, but had to endure some time at the gem store and acually ended up buying a ruby/emerald.

Read Part 2 here

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Un-Intended Misadventure-2

This continues from here

The guy in khaki took me to the quaint police station, that seemed lost amidst the maze of the railway tracks and workshop buildings. I could see a sarkari babu, who was busy penning some thing on a file with his glass tilted and all concentration on that sheet of paper. As soon as he saw me, he asked me his constable to lead me in. He looked at me, sized me up with a sarcastic look and asked me, how dare I shout at his constable, after doing the mistake of coming inside the railway shed.

I realised that this was by no means an easy situation to get myself out of by talking logic and truth. I felt like telling the policeman, that the board for informing that civilians shouldnt come inside the shed, but it should lie outside the shed, so that the general public doesnt trespass. Sanity prevailed, and I didnt speak my mind to the policeman. I managed to look very sorry for my mistake, and then started to tell him, that I was living in Mumbai only for a month and I didnt know how railways operate et al. He wasn't willing to listen. After glancing at a dirty file, all he managed to do was look up stylishly and say "Bade Saab se ye Sab Bolo"(Go and say this to the big boss).

I was imagining an hairy,elephantine, burly, roguish, foul mouthed 50+ guy to come(when people say Big Boss, this is all I can imagine ). Every moment that I waited, I was sketching various avatars of the Big Boss, while I was standing in the police station.

My thoughts were interrupted by the introduction of 3 kids who were caught 'straying' near the shed. They were asked questions on where they are from and what they do. They were answering in a very unsure manner. In came a bright,young and slim man in his late twenties(The Big Boss) and he thundered with his eyes and asked the 3 kids to move near the door of the jail. I was just then thinking that I was saved of the igominy of facing the jail, that this is what education does to give you a bit more respect when compared with uneducated street kids. My logic was squashed like a lemon under a truck, the next instant, as I was told, to also size up with the kids.

'Tthaana' was the term the policemen were discussing often and cracking jokes, even as we 4 people were forced to wait. Now I didnt know whether the Tthaaana meant the police station or the suburb of Thana, a few kilometres away. I didnt allowe the curiosity to spillover to the policemen.

After fooling around asking questions on what we all do, and why we were here, the Big Boss finally spoke business, when he asked us to pay up a fine of 1000 rs, each according to 'sexsun 6c' of the Railway act. I realised the first guy had 14 rs, 2nd guy had 10 rs and the third guy had four 2 rupee coins. I had 34 rs and was the richest among the 4. I had left my debit card at home, so that my mother and cousin could withdraw cash from the ATM in my complex at Mulund. So had no source for cash, and told the policeman that I have 34 rs in my pocket. He looked at us for a while and showed signs of desperation by telling us, that his daily target was 10 people and the minimum collections had to be 5000 Rs, and who was going to answer his boss? The best politically correct answer was " Mere Paas sirf tees rupay hain. Sorry Saab, Is baar Galti ho gayi, Agli baar nahi hoga". Say it for 5 times, as the police guy is thinking of ways to get money from you, the background effect of the richest guy having 34 rs, worked, in he getting frustrated with us. He stared, in a angry Amitabh Bachan 'Inspector Vijay" pose and told us" Bhaago" (Run).

I didnt exactly run, but was the glad the ordeal was over. The next ordeal was to get into the second class compartment at Kalwa without a ticket, as I just wanted to get to office at the earliest. My railway pass was from Thane to VT and since Kalwa was a station away, I couldnt get into the first class compartment. Once the VT local arrived, and the general pushing and pulling started, I decided to forget what had happened, and jumped with the ferocity of a Mumbaikar at the 2nd class compartment, lunging from the princely 3 inch space on the footboard, till Thane, after which I boarded another local train to Currey Road. So in a matter of few hours I had been to Thana and Tthaaana(Police station in Marathi).

PS: 3 days later, I again boarded a train from Mulund (10 23 T Slow), to Thane. As the train stopped in Thane, I saw everyone get off except 2 people, me and an old guy who was inebriated. I suddenly asked the old guy, whether the train goes to VT in the return direction? He was too drunk to answer, and a kid who heard my question, nonchalantly said, "Arey Suna Nah Kya, Ye Train Car Shed Jaati Hain". Damn, WHY ME AGAIN, and a jump later, I was safely deposited on Thane station, while the old man and the train took of for the carshed. Dont know whether the old man, was financially worth the remunerative targets of the Big Boss, but I saved myself some time, money and went back wiser to never board a Thane local in the greed of getting a seat in the train.


Unintended Mis-Adventure

This morning, as I was preparing to run into the Mulund Railway station, from my auto, I noticed the trains that were coming into Mulund, from the electronic terminal. 10 04 F T caught my attention. This was a fast train to Thane, which would go to Thane and go back in the reverse direction to VT.

I was gleaming that I had strategically chosen the right train, than choosing the direct fast and slow locals to Byculla, which had idiots standing in the trains, hanging on for dear life. Once I got into the train, I called my fiance and was on the phone with her for a while. Thane had arrived, and the buzz and energy of people barging in was missing. I guessed that the energy was less, as the peak hour crowd had already gone in the locals between 8 and 10 am, and which sane corporate guy would take a post 10 am local to South Bombay? Anyway, I stopped thinking about all that, and proceeded to get more involved in the conversation on my mobile, and in a few minutes i noticed new virgin, bucolic landscape, next to a stream. In my 14 months at Mumbai, I had noticed such a landscape en-route work, so when I stared out of the window, I realised something was badly wrong. I kept the phone down and stood at the footboard examining where the train was going.

Thane seemed to be way behind, and the train was gaining speed. Did i misread the fact that it might have been a Kalyan/Ambernath Local? If that was true, I was damned big-time. Thankfully it wasnt. I spotted a couple of kids in the next compartment and found out that these kids were travelling to Kalwa, where the train car-shed was.

Now, the train's door was quite high for me to jump on the adjacent tracks, and jumping on the tracks wasnt an option when you never know, which train is buzzing round the curves on the central railway. Thirdly, I was scared. This daredevilry of jumping even on the grass between the tracks had no adventure written over it, as there was no life to claim, or princess to rescue or even show any bravado, so I decided to wait till the train reaches the card shed. That way I could also see how a car-shed looks. No use worrying about reaching office late. The rains are always there to blame!

As I jumped off the train, when the rickety train stopped in the shed, I met a young policeman, who was noting something down in a sheet. What could he be noting so carefully. There wasnt any consignment load coming in this train, just me and a bunch of kids who were there. Nor was he trying to figure out any complex equation that determined when the train would stop after applying the brakes.

The policeman asked me where I came from, what was I doing here and what I do for a living? I thought the guy was trying to socially network with a very grim face. I answer his questions quickly in 30 seconds, and thought I can find more about him sometime later. Now all that concerns me is the way to the next closest railway station.

Kartik- Station Kahan Hain Bhai, Mujhe wahan Jaldi Jana Hain
Policeman-1 - Station chalo mere saat
Kartik- Haan Haan chalo. Kitna Dur Hain?
Policeman-1 - Stares at me, and points his face towards a small shackish room.

After walking for 15-20 seconds, I realise that this was a police station and I look at him lividly and shout.

Kartik- Arre Bhai, Yahan Thodi Jaana Tha. Mujhe Railway station Jaana Tha...

The next part follows.....................


Need a Break!

Its been 4-5 months since I wrote regularly on my blog. After Twitter came, its made me more lazy and all I care is just to update on Twitter and Facebook. I need to get back to documenting a lot more of my thoughts. When I look back to the years 2002-2009, its a wonderful way of documenting all thoughts/and going back in time to see how life. My time spent on the internet and social applications has been less, and the Mumbaikar life has made me attach the biggest priority to sleep and holidaying.

Have come to Chennai this weekend, for a temple trip to Rameswaram. I suddenly feel , life in the last 1 year, has been fast and I need to catch up on a lot of things, just idle away time like the good old times. Hoping that this trip would go in some direction towards it. My dream would be to go on a laid back hedonistic trip around the world, to recoup from the stress of work, but again right now, nothing seems concrete. I just need a break. Lets hope Rameswaram is the first of those.


Need a Vacation

The last 2-3 months have been mentally and physically stressful. The competitive Mumbaikar life has made me tired. Even a small visit to the market gets me tired, sweaty and bored. I end up sleeping or working, and there hasnt been too much extra activity, apart from meeting known classmates/friends for lunch on weekends. There seems to be some constraint that keeps on putting the brakes on life. House electricity problems, clothes to be washed, kitchen plates to be cleaned, irritable colleagues at work. The list goes on! The constraints are so bad, that I have lost the spirit and energy of exploring and experimentating with things.

I badly need a long 10 day or more vacation. Whatever happened to my plan of chasing the monsoon! Will I ever get to chase it?


Attention Grabbing Tactics for a SIGN-UP on Myspace

Looks like some boss just said " JUST GET ME THE NUMBERS! " and this followed!
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Restlessness is the one thng that has characterised my mood, for the better part of last month. I havent been able to manage time properly and devote to activities that wanted to. My new year resoutions are going nowhere. I need to take the courage to put the pause button in life and examine my goals, my expectations, my environment. I have never thought so seriously in the past 1 year, but am forced to now, because of a few changes in my life, neccisated by the mundanity of corporate life.

Restlessness is a state of mind, that wants to go out and do something, rather than be tied down, by the norms set by someone else. I am learning to be patient, laugh at my misery and silently watch a world that would do anything to get ahead.

So what is the antidote? Stability or some risk to get back adrenalin? Only time will tell. My gut says to go down the risky alley, even though there are cobwebs down the alley, the road it opens to is closer to the road, I had imagined.


Relaxed Weekend!

This was the first long weekend, I was in Mumbai. Have been out on trips every long weekend this year. Since my company also works on alternate saturdays(I know its a yucky feeling! ), even the saturday holiday that I get is a mild long weekend.
Here are a few images from the weekend.

Saw the IPL jersey's at the Reebok store in Mulund. Liked the KKR and RCB shirts. But being a chennai'ite, I decided to go with the yellow Chennai jersey. Somewhere in the back of my mind, KKR and RCB had 'loser' written all over it, but I would buy the jersey, especially the RCB one in a while.

Saw a community newspaper shed in Mulund (East). People can come and read the newspapers like a library. This is for people living in LIC colony. Nice initiative!

A more clearer view of the community newspaper library.

Friday morning, I decided to go visit the health center in my apartment, which I forgot conveniently after paying the cheque a couple of months back.

Thats my apartment health center. There's a cardio and weights section as shown in the image to the left and right. Right above is a billiards and table tennis centre. Flanking on its side is the swimming pool, which is a 4 ft pool, where beginners like me can practise getting drowned with little failure.

Swimming with sun in between the buildings and a view of the Mumbai skyline is a lovely feeling. This was shot very early in the morning, before the sun god spews and spits his rays. With IPL on, I dont have to compete for spaces in the pool in the evening, and in the morning, the kids in the summer break dont want to get up at 6 am. Time to cash in on the lack of crowd!

I was sitting the garden, on the swings reading a book. The fresh smell of wet earth as the gardener was watering the grass was heavenly. I decided to de-addict myself from the IPL to look at other things in life that I have hardly observed in the last few months.


Mad Life of a Madrasi in Mumbai

Every day when the alarm rings, I think its a song playing in the background in my dream. When the same song plays for 3-4 sequences, I realise that its actually my alarm. If its anywhere beween 6 05 am-6 30 am, I decide that its too late to get ready for the gym, as attending the gym, would then make me late to start. So I decide, that having lost out on the gym time, its time to borrow that, and add to the investment called sleep. At 7 am, I know that I cant prolong this further, and head to ablutions and the morning newspaper. I leave at 8 in the morning, and know that I cant delay any further. Here is where the madness starts

If I leave beyond 8 04 am, I may just make it for the 8 16 Thane Fast local, or just miss it by a whisker. The advantage in this train is that I may get a place to sit, if I rush and jump in as the train comes in to Mulund station. The oppurtunity cost of this local is that I miss close to 6-8 locals, and reach only by 9 40 to office as I have to wait for this train to go to Thane and then start towards the opposite direction.Next options are either to take the slow local or the fast local that drectly go towards CST.

Fast locals, come once in 7-8 minutes, and are intensely packed. My probability of getting in is 5%, as I need to compete with people who are overzealous to reduce commute time by a whole 20 minutes. I have to visualise myself jumping in, and incase I do, I do get hurt with some part of the body getting the bruise, but I manage to get the inchspace to stand like a statue for the next 30 minutes, till I reach Dadar. Its not about getting in, but to get in to the space between two seats, so that passerby's entering at other stations dont push you. In this mad rush, I either scratch my phone, wet my shirt with sweat all over, break my lunch box or break my watch, if the crowd after me builds in, and pushes against my back, as I invariably end up in a dead end of big fat arses. Having got in, I have no choice but to be a statue, where the only movement of the body, comes through breathing. My face ends up between the armpits of two sweaty corpulent men, who speak on which stock to invest. First class or 2nd class, doesnt matter. The density of people in the second class compartment is 3-4 times of the first class, which I use.

Sometimes I have no idea, which station is the train stopping in, as I am surrounded by people on all sides, and sunlight never manages to reach me. Sometimes, when I get the courage to reach for my mobile in my pocket, I do check my position via GPS, but otherwise I recognise that Dadar is approaching when the momentum builds in people like a volcano in a mountain. A major tsunami of people get out or get pushed out when Dadar approaches. The train is subjected to intense condensation when Dadar arrives and is similar to 'liberation' for a bunch of tightly bound cattle.

If I took the slow local from Mulund, I would get some space to stand, where movement can be seen in my body parts, and if I can push a few people into submission, I can even open ET or Mint and read the headlines a 100 times over. Not that I dont want to read further, but there is no space for folding or turning pages with your hand. The last time I tried, I knocked out the spectacles of a man, with my elbow. I gave up the quest of erudition, via headlines a while back, after fighting it tooth and nail to turn pages. Now I prefer the mobile version of news, if I manage a slow local.

After getting down at Dadar Central, I have to head to Dadar Western by competing with a million commuters, who are sweating in bucketfuls, after undergoing similar struggles in commuting. I board a local for Lower Parel, and then walk in the sun for about 15 minutes and reach office, exhausted and tired.

I repeat the same process during the evening 'super dense crushed load peak hour' (from 6 pm to 9 pm) and incase I have a bad day at work, the pressure and discomfort adds up and you still think I have a Life?

I dont intend to complain, but the everyday Mumbai Train adventure is taking a toll on my life and energy levels. Need to get some smiles back in life!


Weekend Trip-Part 5- Keri Beach

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Weekend Trip-Part 4- Vengurla to Arambol-Keri

At the Sweet Water Lake on the Goan Coast.

GOA??? Wasnt I in Maharashtra during sunset? After we discovered at around 5 30 pm, that food might be a problem at Vengurla, We decided to explore the next beach, so a state transport bus from Vengurla market, took us to a town called Shiroda, and from Shiroda we reached Terekhol(border of Maharashtra). We took an evening(make that twilight) ferry and reached the other side, and had no other option but to take a taxi to civilisation-Arambol

Damage- 400 Rs

Next, we settled into German Bakery(Damage- 300 Rs), a room good enough just to park your electronic luggage. We then headed out for a dinner at "21 Coconuts Inn' for a candle lit dinner, which was briefly interrupted by the romantic tele-prescence of Vinay's boss. By the time we finished, both of us were tired, and we hit the sack by about 12 am, after a brief walk through the arambol market, hunting for medicenes(for my headache).

Next morning, we were up by 5 30 am, and I had a bath in the arabian sea, while I waited for Vinay to get ready. We started to cross arambol and came to the Sweet Water Lake beach. The sweet water lake was dry and it wasnt worth taking a dip there.

We saw a couple of nice portable boats cum tents. Looks like the Russians are all over(Little Zizou ishtyle). Only the Russians can be that adventurous, and after day dreaming about what a beautiful life those people must be having, and bitching about Indian corporate life, we set on to climb a huge hill, to reach Keri

While we were trekking, Vinay decided to take rest at a huge rock, and dozed of for a while, while gazing at the blue sky. It was a lovely feeling, dozing off and then waking up to the blue sky above as vision comes after a period of darkness. Try it some day!

The mountain had a bunch of bushes and thorns that we had to make way through to reach the other part of the mountain. Vinay, then decided that we follow the footsteps of the dogs that were rambling, as they knew the terrain much better than us. Better to rely on dogs than our mutiliated intelligence(thanks to the Corporate world).

Paradise Regained! Thats the view of Kerim beach- More coming in Part 5!
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