Back in a Studio Setting!

My hotel room in San Jose, California largely resembles the 180 sq feet room that I had rented out in Pali hill,during my stay in Bombay. It sometimes, is very comfortable having just your little space, where everything that you 'just' need can be accomadated. The only boring factor is that its a little lonely. There are people around from work, but having to forcefully get into an activity for not feeling lonely, is not a recipe for feeling good. I am better of being alone at home, doing my own stuff. Have a few books to read and am slowly using that as my comfort factor here. The internet and the telephone are obviously there to keep me connected to wife and family, but reading a book, somehow keeps me entertained.

Its so far been a dull couple of weeks. I have just been going to work, and back to the hotel. Havent explored the town around. Ideally I would have loved to explore the places around, but I thought it should be better once the workload stabilises. My to-do lists do run on for ever, but still there is a stable phase that should come soon, and that would mean, I can do my trips without the nagging feeling of work surreptiously interfering with my observation skills while exploring the country side.

The US is a pretty costly place, and here a lot of things look cheaper by the unit, when you buy in bulk. I am yet to cut costs by the cent! as I find it too laborious managing a bunch of things on my own. Its interesting for many reasons. I shall include a series on how the transport system is, how I manage my daily life here. Right now, its time to head back to work. Its 5 am in the morning, and I am just fresh out of a nice hot water bath. 44 Hours of my weekend remain to be claimed!


Random Trip- Nellore

I headed to the central railway station at 2 30 pm, and met my friend Madhan, who consented to my idea of travelling to some random place, without any expectation from the trip. We approached a guy in the line, and asked him to buy us a ticket, to some place, at a value of 150 rs. It was not the greatest of sales pitches, and needless to say, the guy stared at us as if he saw Hizbul Mujahideen in me. This happened with 4 more people.

Finally Madhan was able to speak to one passenger who was in the line, who didnt suspect us, but was still confused as to what we wanted. We lowered our pitch to this " Hi, Can You buy us a ticket to where you are going? Dont tell us where you are going? Just buy us the ticket, tell us the cash involved and the platform number in which we need to board the train. It helps if you could ask the time, as you could potentially board the wrong train on the right platform and could get caught for ticketless travel.

The person buying the ticket, can buy tickets for us only 1 physical ticket, so we were tagged to go along, wherever he went. We couldnt get down, randomly in between. As soon as we boarded the train(and I tried my best not to look at the train name/number), My eyes fell on the words Yercaud, in the name board next to our compartment. Once I was in, I heard people speaking, and to avoid their rattle, I switched on my ear plugs and gazed at people around me in the compartment, observing every sinew of their anger, joy and dissapointment. Some preferred to bask their sorrows along the window of the compartment, while seemed to dream "Mera Number Kab Ayega", as the train slowly chugged off Chennai Central.

In between, we had some samosas, which had a generous overdose of oil on it, and was waiting to get converted into cholestrol :-). I also spotted a man with a glaring green colour dress, which confirmed my suspicion that were travelling in the direction of Andhra Pradesh. One of the advantages of travelling from Chennnai is that 3-5 hours in any direction, you would be in a different state(Kerala/Karnataka/Andhra Pradesh) having a totally different linguistic culture. So it didnt take us long to see that we were heading towards Gummudipoondi, and Andhra Pradesh it was.

Madhan and I had a blissful hourlong nap, which was amidst the crowded train, which had 23 people occupying a potential 8 seats(if you came in the reserved compartment). The train journey was beautiful in the un reserved compartment, with the conversations with fellow strangers. One guy had a xerox shop in Adayar, one was a student looking for a job, one was a husband deprived of sex(he , one was a young man going home for his holiday from Pondicherry and many more such stories, that one gets to hear aimlessly, when travelling with strangers. Not that one cant get this in a reserved compartment, but with a little comfort comes aloofness, and I have often observed that in the AC Compartments, people are very snobbish and all they care is about sleeping and charging their mobiles.

This compartment was crowded to the brim, and people had to talk with each other or stare out of the window, with the lovely evening breeze to pass time. This is the beauty of either un reserved or second class travel, where you can easily socialise with people, than in a comfort driven train. No bloated ego's to protect or no image to hide. You can just be yourself, without the fear of having to transform yourself into a snob!

When the train halted at Nayudupeta, I wanted to get down at the quaint station, and explore the village for a couple of hours, but since our ticket was tagged to the guy who bought it, and he showed no signs of getting down, we couldnt get down. If we did, it would be a case of ticketless travel, and its easier getting caught at smaller railway stations. Naydupeta holds special memories for my family as my mother and I were stranded at this railway station in 1985/86 for three days, due to a bridge collapsing amidst heavy rains. So for memories sake, I took a picture to show my mother the station.

When the train neared Nellore, we saw a huge mass of people getting up, and fighting their way to the door. Our man, Srinivas, was also in the crowd, so we too prepared to get down and chase the guy for our ticket, which he gave us once we got down on the platform.

Madhan and I decided to explore town, and have some thing very central to the Andhra Pradesh palate. We went to a hotel called Simhapuri and ordered some hot-spicy starters. I wanted to have the typical Andhra meals, but since Simhapuri didnt serve Andhra meals, we had to get local information and move on to Komala Vilas, which we heard serves the best Andhra meals at a reasonable rate.

I generally never have powdered rice, but i guess, I was very hungry that night, so I gobbled the powdered rice, along with Ghee and had a sumptous meal. We walked back to the railway station, and bought a ticket to Chennai. We were told, our next options were the Dhanbad Allepey express at 11 20 pm, and the Howrah Mail, which would go to Chennai. If we missed either of these trains, we had to wait for the trains from the national capital, which reached Nellore well past 3 am. The Dhanbad-Allepey express was very crowded, and I didnt have the mood to get in and reach Chennai at an untimely 3 am. Nevertherless, we were enjoying our conversations on the bench seat, under the moonlight, watching the numerous goods trains that slowly chugged past us.

The Howrah mail came, and the unreserved compartment was again crowded, so in the limited 2 minutes we had, we ran to the other end of the train and found that most of the compartment doors were locked, except for 1 sleeper compartment. We waited near the toilet, until the TTR came, and we requested him for any berths that may be free. He gave us a couple of berths after the train reached Gudur. The next 3 hours, I had no idea, how it went. I slept like a log and woke up to people and porters noisily bargaining.

The trip wasnt over just yet. My friend Madhan suggested we go to the Eliots beach and sit there near the sea, to watch the sunrise. We reached the beach at about 4 20 am, and were there till 5 30 am, after which Madhan discovered that he lost his bike key on the beach(through a hole in his kurta). We couldnt do much about it, and at 5 45 am, there was no bike mechanic, one could go to. Madhan decided to head home and sleep a while, before waking up and finding a mechanic. I took a share-auto from the beach to the Indira Nagar railway station, and just as I imagined, Sunday meant lesser frequency of trains. It was 6 0 3 am, and the next train was scheduled to arrive at 6 32 am, so I waited by walking across the tracks uptil perungudi, and then walked back to Thiruvanmiyur railway station, where the train arrived.

Short but nice trip! but the real spirit of random travel happens when you decide to get in some random train and get out at some random station. To do that, you need a pre-paid ticket card/pass thats valid for a certain number of days. Foreigners have this provision of an Indrail pass, which allowes them travel across the country for a certain class for a period of 90 days. I need to check if such a provision is available for Indians, in our own land :-)

Images from the Trip

Bags queing up, before the passengers come in!

Mera Number Kab Ayega?

Zindagi Kaisi Hain Paheli Haaye?

Bought a Chinese Pencil as a gift for my wife

My Ticket to Nellore!

Food Rates at Komala Vilas- Authentic Andhra Meals

We were here!

Train Gazing in the moonlight, past Midnight- Lovely!

Nayudupeta- Photo taken for memories!


Random Trip-Modus Operandi

Inspired by KCK, I'd like to go on my random trip to somewhere. Why a random trip? I am tired of expecting things a certain way, and then forcing myself to like it. Instead, once in a while, I'd like to go with an empty mind and be the water that forms in a cup, be the boat that drifts according to the waves in an ocean. Such trips makes me aware to a lot of things that I otherwise miss while travelling. When you have nothing to lose, you only start gaining. Random trips are pretty similar to fasting, which cleans the entire process of thinking and judgements gained over time.

I have no agenda to do, no worries that I need a proper hotel to stay, no worries on whether I will get reservation, no worries on purse being looted, no worries on quality of food. Just out to enjoy travel, the way I can actually enjoy it, in its purest form. I've done 3-4 such trips by accident, and I've enjoyed it despite Murphy's law going against me.

Trip Zero- Bangalore-Gokarna-via Bus in Oct 2007(Lovely Monsoon Trip)

Was feeling dull, during my internship,so
Trip One-Chennai to Goa Unreserved-Nov 2007-Alone
Trip One.1- Chennai to Mahabalipuram-Some forest near Pondy-Dec 2007-Bus Trip(With Ankur and Arun)
Trip Two-Chennai to Goa Unreserved- Feb 2008- With Friends from B school
Trip Three- Chennai-Portblair-via Air and ship April 2008
Trip Four- Bombay-Goa Unreserved-Train with Kishore, Aug 2008
Trip Five- Bombay-Daman- Unreserved-Train to Patna-with Logendra-Dec 2008
Trip Six- Bombay to Cancona(Goa) Unreserved-with Nischal, Jan 2009
Trip Seven- Bombay -Daman- Unreserved Train-with Vinay- Feb 2009
Trip Eight- Bombay (VT-Karjat, 12 38 Last Local), with Vinay-Feb 2009
Trip Seven- Bombay-Sawantwadi-Vengurla(Maharashtra)-Arambol(Goa)-Kerim(Goa)- March 2009
Trip Eight- Bombay-Kerim(Goa), Unreserved Train(Alone)-April 2009

All the previous three trips(oops I have done 8 now, Updated: 10) have happened over a trip to the western coast. This one shall not be that long, but it should be something that I relax, forget about work, family,home for a while.

Rough Plan

  • Head over to Chennai Central
  • Speak to some lady to buy a ticket in any direction, wherever 150 rupees would take me. If I give it to a guy, he would think I am a mad man, and call the police in his culmination of machismo bravado!
  • Not look at the ticket, Not look at the digital signage about train departures,and walk along to the platform(which I would need to think how am I manage this one)

I cant plan beyond this. May have 200-300 rupees as my cash back up. No Purse/credit cards or watches. Will have the mobile for company though. It may be a great/dumb experience, but the key is to soak into the experience. Time for 'Fasting'.


It Happens Only in Chennai!

Its Dal Tadka, and not Dal Dadka
Spotted this at Centerpoint, a restaurant near my office. Some of these hotels on OMR need to pay attention to their spellings, else they are going to drive customers away :-)

Centrepoint is a decent business hotel, with comestible food, that sometimes also borders on being tasty. After cooking the food right, the last thing they would want is a spelling to put them in bad light.

The worst I have seen till date is Dhantoori cuisine(Tandoori) in a hotel near Rajapalayam Railway station( small town in south Tamil Nadu).
Posted by Picasa


Time to Scale Up

Over time, I have never realised that I have grown up. The last 3 years, I have seen too many processes, loved quite a few, and was dissapointed with not being able to lap up as much as I wanted. Some due to laziness and some due to lack of discipline. If things were lapped up, only by periodical revisiting does it stay in the mind, so I lost out slowly on that front also.

Major Lesson- Learn to keep what you have, maintain a process and learn to scout for new additions. I havent done either of the three activities well, and thats why I sometimes get disillusioned with life. People sometimes, think me to be either a superman or a dumb ass, and getting to the extremes just means that all the buzz inside my brain needs some organising. I need to find which buzz inside my brain is worth listening to. I guess I got all excited that from no buzz, I suddenly have so many things working and buzzing, but now, I need to deal with the problem of plenty.

Just started making a mental map, of what all I do, and whether I can categorise it into buckets. A little bit of organised life and disciplined life, I feel, would help me in the long run. Whats the point of being the big lorry which transports water, but has a gaping hole which leaks the water as it travels? I am just getting to that stage, where adhoc planning needs to take a back seat, and I start to recognise that this is the next stage of life. One needs to scale up planning, so that every activity can go seamlessly and its easy to change things.

Statcounter Tracker