March 05, 2017

Same Difference

For reasons (yet) unknown, the seat numbers for the Nok Airlines began from 31.
This was the only puzzling thing faced in this maiden venture of ours beyond borders of India. For four people who had never gotten their passports stamped, I believe we (planned) and navigated quite well through the international departure/arrival nuances (other than one of us being sent off from the Visa on Arrival desk to get a better picture of himself).
All in all, much to the relief of my anxious self, rest was a smooth sailing - from Bangalore airport to Don Muang - Bangkok and then the consequent transition into the domestic terminal for our flight to Phuket. Well, one of us did get 'jetleaded' - sleeping all the way to Phuket - later blaming it on the excitement which didn't let her sleep in the 48 hours that had gone by.

Now - one month later, I am looking back at those 7 days again. For the weary of words, below is a visual summary (of carefully picked pictures in which I m not looking/acting weird).



For the rest, I will just summarize the keywords that still stick on the my memory canvas.

Patong
More or less everything around resonated to the same frequency as that of any beach destination.
After walking the entire length of the beach, finally settled down in one cozy table of one of the many shore-side restaurants. Thats where the introduction to Singha happened. Not that there hasnt been a better beer that I have tasted, but dear Singha was a part of every meal I had in Thailand.

Bangla Road
Once the scales of soberness had been tipped over and the time of the night was well late, we took off to get back to the acquired accommodations. The way we came back had just transformed itself into the most un-recognizable form possible.
We were on the Bangla road - I guess the nomenclature is totally unrelated to the bengali language. We did have a bengali babu amongst us but his inference was the same as mine. All that, yet the atmosphere and mostly the crowd was no less than that you see during Durga Puja. Gods/goddesses might just smite me for taking their holi name along side the sin street.
Every step into the street and I had recollection of the many tips and to-dos which had been imparted to me before the beginning of this vacation.
I guess it was too many colors, too many lights and too many 'observations' to handle in one walk through the street - so we turned back for another. And then another.

Ping Pong
The number of people who screamed this name in my ear during the walks mentioned above is uncountable. I wish I could tell you what or what not it is but then some things should be just left for self discovery. If you are not careful enough, one of those girls (guys?) might just land a cracking styrofoam whip upon you and you will be left wondering what just happened. Just in case you are planning to do a google search for the same - please go incognito.

Phi Phi
The speed boat takes about 45 minutes to take you to Phi Phi and few other b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l islands around. The activity took the entire day. There are multiple spots you could let yourself down in the clear water and snorkel around. That day made me come back with a strong resolution to learn to swim. Rest of Phi Phi is sights (when have words ever sufficed, so I wont even attempt to).

Krabi
Krabi is the 'far from the madding crowd' version of Phuket. Even our accommodation was in the middle of nowhere. The closest beach, Klong Muang was about 30 mins hike, but what is a sight. The sun was down by the time we emerged out of the heavily forested path leading to the beach. And then we saw it - the dark shapes of mountain chain drowning in the sea on the blood red and dark orange background. Eyes remained transfixed on it until it all faded into the dark with just the (almost) full moon shimmering above it.
The water around Krabi are dotted with hillocks strewn around its stretch. We got on to another day of island hopping and water frollicking.

Bangkok
There was about 2 days in hand until the flight back most of which was spent getting lost aound the city - so much so that in Chatuchak weekend market, all four of us got separated from each other. Whatever time we had on the ultimate day was spent around Wat Arun and Wat Pho. That giant statue of Buddha (in reclining posture) was something of a sight.

With the thought of the daily usualness catching us again within 12 hours, we concluded the souvenir shopping. With some indelible ink on my wrist and a pair of thai boxing gloves in my bag - I got back to being the busy and the tired and the pursuer and the pursued.






****************************************************************************


Do not read between the lines.
Rights to exaggeration and bragging reserved.
Its not how it happened; its how you remember it.
No characterisation intended
Data and information may have been skewed to suit the storyline
Everything is relative to your perspective


November 06, 2016

Ticket to the Show

The people follow the sign
And synchronize in time
Its a joke - nobody knows
They have got a ticket to the show

~The Show, Lenka

***

Shillong, Meghalaya
20 Oct, 2016

Last time I saw the Barapani lake (Umiam Lake) was about 19 years back. I was expecting it on the 3 hour ride between Guwahati and Shillong. I remembered it. Cannot say the same for the Ward's Lake. I wandered into it after walking off from the bustling Police Bazaar area to bide my time. My companions for the 'trip' and the 'show' were coming back to base. While they were another couple of hours away, I walked along the park surrounding the Ward's lake. Came upto the wooden white bridge spanning the lake and stepped onto it and into a flood of memories I didnt know I had. I had been here before.

*

The night sets in by 5 in this part of the country. So does the chill in the air. For the rest of the waiting, I cozied myself up in a warm comfy bar and let the anticipations of a good break of routine sink in - while I reveled in the sweet reminiscences and bitter intoxications.

Guwahati to Shillong

The White Wooded Bridge of Reminiscence

Ward's Lake

When you take a selfie but dont want it to look like one

4:53 PM

Police Bazaar


*

"Badi Zor! - UUMMMHHHHH"
You will not know what it sounded like. Took me a while to get 'Sorted' into the usual-ness of it.
Kaka and company were back. And these phrases dotted their narration of all that went about in Cherrapunji, Mawlynlong, Haflong, David Scott trail, Dawki and Back. 

More tales ensued. One after another. I had not known most of them outside of the Whatsapp group for this trip. Plus there was another guy I had shared ride with enroute Shillong. The group diversity affected the conversation diversity in direct proportions. I kept losing the thread of conversations as I fluctuated in and out of the other dimension. Most of what I know of the night is what I was told the next morning. And I will leave it to that.
"Continuous..."

***

Bhoirymbong, Meghalaya
21 Oct, 2016 

The venue for the NH7 Weekender was about 30Kms away from the city. Fighting the morning laziness, hangovers and the will-to-forever-sleep-on, the bags were packed and movement was made. 
Took a while and a little lot of trekking to get to our campsite - SHADY Tents. While we settled, the festivities had begun. Lights and Music from the surroundings beckoned. But you dont rock before you roll - some more than others.

The Venue - NH7 Weekender

The Entrance

The Arena

And another arena

And Us with the Mug

Music and Lights

Camp Site - Shady Tents

One with the guy named Shady

Tent no 10

The 'Bucket'

Steven Wilson

More Steven Wilson

And More Steven Wilson


Maybe we needed one more day of it - but we do accept the finiteness more easily than we think we do. Shillong chapter was done. We didnt even wait another night to leave. One proper night's sleep was going to do a world of good to the jumped-upon and trampled toes, headbang-strained necks and chorus-hoarse voices.
More so to the next part of the trip, none of which had been planned yet.

***

Kohima, Nagaland
24 Oct, 2016

Sometimes, you dont quite have your heart and interests committed in a given plan. But you also do not want to be the reason to bring the plan down ('cause you dont have one of your own). So you just go with the flow - hoping someone defaults.

As we lay sprawled in a Guwahati hotel, having planned to take the local train to Kohima in the night, our frames of mind mirrored the conundrum mentioned above.
Nobody defaulted - apart from casually leaving the hotel at the time when the train we were supposed to be in was supposed to have departed. As it happened, the train just stood there while we got tickets and chose a coach to encroach as if it just wouldn't leave without us.
The train dropped us in Dimapur at the break of the morning and another 3 hours on road had us looking at the slopes of Kohima.

If Kaka were to write the rest of this passage, it will end right here. 
For him, his mind is his Instagram (which I appreciate) and the hotel room is the city (which I do not). So, he can tell you about the journey to Kohima, which in itself is fulfilling, but so is the destination. 
We walked across the length of the city - one end to the other - and brought back mental images of the new that we saw - in plenty and in everything. What we saw, what you can see, and other information is floating in the air around you and merely a few swipes away on a given app. To be here is one different thing. Its the show. And you have the ticket.


Kohima - Morning

Kohima - Night


*

Kohima was the end of the party. I split to join my family in Gangtok while others turned homewards. 

***

Gangtok, Sikkim
27 Oct, 2016

Had it not been for the Teesta (river) serpentining all along the road, the road journey upto Gangtok (from New Jalpaiguri) might have seemed a lot longer. But it did take time and by the time I reached Gangtok, my mother had already completed the local sight seeing and scheduled the next day plans for the Nathula Pass (Indo-China Border) and the Tsongo Lake. 

The time out of the itinerary I had, I put into meeting up with a good old friend from engineering days who chanced to be in his hometown. This trip had been a lot about reminiscences. And it continued.

All Along the river Teesta

Enroute Nathula

Borders and Flags

NOT Tsongo Lake

Tsongo Lake

M. G. Road, Gangtok


***

Home (Patna, Bihar)
30 Oct, 2016

Hadn't had a Diwali at home in a while. Since its been a while I grew up from crackers, food and passive entertainment lit up my diwali and the remaining few days of my two week long break. Its always good to be home. And its always Diwali when you are home.

Say No to Crackers - Say Yes to Music

Diya Wali Deepawali

And food


***

Apart from the loss of obvious comfort, the only bother about going back to Bangalore was the flight schedule I had managed to book for myself. Patna - Ranchi - Mumbai - Bangalore. 
While I found myself agitated at the first break of journey at Ranchi itself - the sight of Mahendra Singh Dhoni boarding the same filght and swiftly settling into his seat did act a a pleasant distraction - for me and for the rest of the flanneled fools like me aboard that plane. 

Maybe I too, like the others, should have gone up and taken a picture with him. Wonder why, but for once, I just settled for a mental picture (like Kaka's mental Instagram) and patiently completed the remainder of the journey - one song at a time - thinking about life, universe and everything - and the tomorrow - settling back in the work routine - and
getting back to being the busy and the tired and the pursuer and the pursued.

 ****************************************************************************
Do not read between the lines.
Rights to exaggeration and bragging reserved.
Its not how it happened; its how you remember it.
No characterisation intended
Data and information may have been skewed to suit the storyline
Everything is relative to your perspective
This is where stupidness begins - 'Cottonmouth' Kaka

August 17, 2016

'...Matter illaa'

...another Puducherry trip. Kyunki first time me jitna kata tha - that wasn't enough.
I often relive the heat of that first trip here: <Le Puducherry Trip>  ..and hence was never particularly keen on revisting.

***

After a Friday-night that was done right - waking up early on Saturday morning was like messing up all the omens. Not for the lack of efforts though - the planning was elaborate - it started off with Pondicherry ...and the train of wishful thinking took us to Srilanka - Thailand - Australia - Pluto - Varkala - and then we hitched on Kunnur (Kerala). This was uptil the moment I passed out after having out-smoked and out-drunk myself and nearly falling off the edge of creepiness that Friday night - only to wake up and find that it (the plan) was Pondicherry again.

We wanted to have a good time. In all honesty - we did. But the fact that I m writing about it should tell you that it was more than just a touristy-weekend.
Being #DataGuys, we know that things dont always have a smooth sailing. Churn is inevitable - suffering is optional. And we believed in what Linking Park once said -
I tried so hard and got so far..but in the end - 'matter illaa'...

Part 1 - #YoDeepushSoCool
We got the car. And then googled how to put it in the reverse gear. Once that was sorted - we were at the edge of Bangalore in no time. As law abiding citizens, who cringe at the very thought of not being able to publish the WBR incase we got apprehended for not having paid the road tax, we spent an hour crawling up the line leading into the RTO checkpost - only to find that our form 49 was missing. We found it and went back - only to find that the form 47 was missing. Luckily we found a photocopy of form 47 and went back in again - only to find that it expired at the end of 2015.

Calls back and forth to the car-vendor ensued.
'...Matter illa' - we calmed ourselves as we waited for the replacement vehicle. Deepush explained how he had to literally stand on that rock of a clutch and that it was for the best that we were getting another vehicle. To kil the wait time, we trudged into the eatery nearby for a hearty meal. My hangover masking my hunger - I settled for a light bite. How was I to know that it was going to be the last meal of the day...
Damn!

Part 2 - Patli Gali
George Harrison once said - if you dont know where you are going, any road will take you there. But obviously, he never lived to see Google Maps.
We were shown three routes to our destination. Two of them were proper highways -a the third one bisecting the two paths - seemingly shorter than the other two. We chose the third one after careful analysis of path patterns, basic application of pythagoras theorem, increase in gravitational forces due to change of latitude, rotation of earth and a little influence of Robert Frost to take the 'road less travelled'.
We reached Pondicherry at 9.30 PM - 7 hours 25 mins 31 seconds after we thought ki 'patli gali se nikal lete hain - jaldi pahunchenge'. The road was divider-less and Deepush did all the driving (I had the hangover excuse - remember?). Shariq did all the navigating, and DJing, and snacks passing, and the mandatory glaring at every vehicle that overtook us and every goat/cow/buffalo/human that crossed us. All this while i lay sprawled at the back (hangover, remember?)



The time taken was 2.21 times greater than what it would have taken us if we had stuck to the 'road much travelled'. But it was ok. We were there and for the rest - 'matter illa..' 

Part 3 - Hotel Rajan - Cuddalore
Cuddalore is a shore town about 28 kms south of Pondicherry. How did we get there? No, not because Deepush drove stupid-ly (Deepush is cool #YoDeepushSoCool). It was fate and Murphys' law combined with Chu FuckingShitovsky's Law of the damned.
A really heavy downpour awaited us in Pondicherry. We utilised this rain time by clearing permissions in the RTO office (just to avoid any chances of being in the wrong and not being able to publish the WBR in the coming week).
The rain subsided and our hunt for the accommodation began. We dialled each and every hotel. None of them had any vacany (apart from one of the places which offered us beds in their parking lot which we graciously declined). The other suggestion from those kind people was to look for a place in Villipuram or Cuddalore.
It was already bordering midnight, so we set off for Villipuram. One wrong turn later, we found ourselves on the way to Cuddalore.
It was the same story even in Cuddalore. NO Rooms. We walked into kind of lodges and coops i had only seen in  movies and documentaries. Long dim alleys - shady caretakers - dingy rooms - but still no vacancy.
Just when we were almost settled in a parking space and calling it a night in the car itself - we sniffed possibility in a not so far - Hotel Rajan. The room was decent (our definition of decent had dipped like India's Olympic Gold medal hopes in the last few hours). We took it and slept. Dinner illaa ..matter illa.
In the morning when i woke up, i was displaced from my original place on the bed by a good 30 cms. It was either a ghost or those damned mosquitoes.

Part 4 - Puducherry
We headed back to Pondi as soon as we possibly could - the only stop being the eatery. This time we actually ate thinking it might as well turn out to be the last meal of the day again.
The rest of the day was pretty normal - it felt good to be doing the normal - Paradise beach - A good lunch (second meal - Yay!) - Auroville - Some Church i dont remember the name of (a Deepush force fit in the itinerary).

Udta Deepush #YoDeepushSoCool

Shariq trapped in a beer glass
And then the accommodation search again. It again took 3 hours, but we found something in Pondicherry itself. All this hassle left us with just enough time to get dinner (third meal - Yay!) and then stroll off along the trademark Rock beach. The day and the trip closed in on us. Early next morning we started back for Bangalore.

tl-dr;




Epilogue
The return drive took us the acceptable 6 hours. Thankfully so.
The blue skies turned to grey. Bangalore was here. Despite all that happened - in summary the trip in itself was still better than the five minutes for which i drove and Deepush's strangling of my ukulele at every opportunity.
It was time to shed the sun-burnt skin and then get back to being the busy and the tired and pursuer and the pursued.

 ****************************************************************************
Do not read between the lines.
Rights to exaggeration and bragging reserved.
Its not how it happened; its how you remember it.
No characterisation intended
Data and information may have been skewed to suit the storyline
Everything is relative to your perspective

June 02, 2016

30 Days Of Summer

The burn this summer
Of tender love
Like skillet on stove


Left on my finger
The fading ink
We nomore 'Blink'


And some memoirs
Captured and clicked
In things we flicked


'You. Are. Awesome.'
Said, drunken recorded calls
The reply, always, "Balls!"


Early escapes from work
Thurs and Fri
Fleeting kiss, hug you bye


0/10: my answers failed
But found victory step
In every 'yep - yep'


Damn! ..its over too soon
Left a lot to express
The Jungle Book, the Panda, the Lioness.


**************************************************
Similar to this: To Draw A Song

Disclaimer:
Do not read between the lines.
Rights to exaggeration and bragging reserved.
Its not how it happened; its how you remember it.
No characterisation intended
Data and information may have been skewed to suit the storyline
Everything is relative to your perspective
#Chatak

September 28, 2015

Any Road

If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. : George Harrison (Any Road)

And a road with a divider will get you there faster. : Kaushal Kaushik

Although inspired by the line above (the line above) that we first heard from our Geography teacher back at school (in totally different context), yet our roadtrip was somewhat planned (on one long whatapp post) - force fitting 1200 kms in the space of 4 days.

Bangalore - Shravanbelagola - Belur - Halebidu - Chikmanglur - Sringeri - Agumbe - Maravanthe - Murudeswar - Jog Falls - Shimoga - Bangalore.

Nusrat further force-fitted Gokarna into the itinerary - but like the rest of it - it all turned out to be better than anticipated. Well it wasn't like we went to Europe or Mars. Actually, we didnt even leave the state of Karnataka (roaming expenses saved) - yet it was no less fun - for it wasn't just a journey down the highway lane, but the memory lane as well. The trip got over but we weren't done digging the Oak Grove stories.
Only Dubs (who had to abstain due to his forever withstanding permission issues) could have spiced up equations. But present or not, he played more important role in making this materialise then he can ever know. Thank you Dubs!
Also, thanks to Haddaway for literally keeping the tempo up and the energy flowing until thoughts of the working days came haunting back and dampened the amplitude of those headbangs.

tldr;
(The better part of the) four days summed up in four minutes.



If it were upto me, I would have bunked the first three stops (Shravanbelagola, Belur and Halebidu) and landed directly in Chickmanglur. But then the other two's enthusiasm surpassed my estimation of the same.


Shravanbelagola
You think the name is difficult. Try typing it as many times as I already have in this post.

Through my second visit to this Monolithic giant statue of Gomateswara, I did come across a couple of interesting nooks and corners that had escaped me the last time.
The approach upto the hillock having the statue is a pretty scenic drive. Then comes the climb. Must be over 500 steps. You might claim it to be more by what you feel (your legs feel) once your jack and jill are back down the hill.


Belur
(Not to be confused with Vellore)

You know what South Indian temples look like. Intricate carvings in every nook where light in its particle form can fall upon. How the hands reached those nooks is perhaps whole other level of science (and art). We discussed that it must be like each guy just picked up a pillar and spent his life masterfully chiseling away every square inch of it.


Halebidu
(To be confused with Belur - Its almost like a Deja Vu)

As if Belur wasn't enough - its like these two temples (Belur and Halebidu) in the vicinity of each other were in mortal competition - whose rocks are more designer?!
We got there late so had to dash for one circle through the lush green outreaches of the structure. It was difficult for our gaze to not linger on - but then there were those shouts in Kannada 'Banni <something angry> <something even angrier>'. We hurried through ignoring it hoping may be they were hurled towards others. Unfortunately, we were the only ones there.


Chickmanglur
What do mean spelling error? Its actually 'maglur' and not 'manglur'; but I have gone ahead with the general pronunciation.

Initially we were looking for hills which returned a 404 error. We stayed the night and in course discovered that more distance had to be covered to gain elevation. And boy did it get elevated! The winds on Mulayanagiri made us question ours (and others) choice of shorts.
Misty, rainy, windy - the change is almost so sharp that you can draw a boundary. Sprawling coffee estates all around made us want for a hot cup or two. Nusrat on his inability to locate a Coffee Day in sight - lamented in his rhyming plight - "Coffee coffee everywhere - not a drop to drink!"


Sringeri
And the sharks of river Tunga!

Actually they were just fish. But huge. So huge that they had run out of scales to cover their bodies - perks of being in the riverside of a temple. Harmless as they might have been - but just their sheer numbers and the way they splashed around for every bit of food thrown in - made me wary of putting my feet in water.
The Tunga flows lazily across with the Jyotirmatha established by Adi Shankarachaya on one bank and a 650 years old temple on the other. If Halebidu and Belur were art marvels - this one brought hardcore science into the already z-level competition. The 12 pillars outside the sanctum sanctorum (intricately carved majestic lions with spheres inside there mouth!) represent the 12 zodiac signs. The first rays of light fall upon the zodaic the sun is currently in. In the middle lies a big circular plaque with random straight lines intersecting each other - elaborating some shadow geometry you dont want me to explain. And the secret is being guarded (no photography allowed).

And we saw elephants.


Agumbe
Cherrapunji of south : Wikipedia

Enroute Maravanthe (from Sringeri), the degree of slope as well as the curve increased. It was ever more scenic and ever more green. And then it started to pour (skipping the drizzling and raining part altogther). The sobriquet provided by wikipedia stands justified.
(Note: Cherrapunji is a place in Meghalaya which records the highest rainfall in India. Sometimes its a neighbouring place called Mawsynram, but then Cherrapunji is more famous.)


Maravanthe
Sea on one side, river on the other.

Sometime around last year I had come across an article describing this place. Its about a kilometer long stretch of road - with Arabian sea on one side and river Kolluru on the other. Intriguing as it might appear - the truth isnt  too far from the imagery. Other than perhaps the 4 lane-ing of the existing road which might just make the distance between the sea and the river a bit wider.




Murudeswar
Another temple. "When did we get so religious?"
Ever since we have had things to fear.

A high gopuram and an imposing Shiva statue and seashore around. I only wanted to be here because of the pictures I had seen. But was glad to hear yet another story where Ravana got duped by Gods who feared his increasing strength. The story stated in the beginning that Ravana was going to Gokarna. And we wondered why? Wasnt Sri Lanka a good enough weekend destination. As this discussion went on - it somehow remoulded our trip plans. Gokarna was inserted as a night stop before we set forth for Jog.




Gokarna
read Gau-karna in off-season

'Cause cows and buffaloes adorned the beautiful Kudle that we had seen strewn with eye candies on our earlier visits. They even tear down the shacks. "I had stayed there last time", I said pointing at a heap of burnt bamboo and infinite jungle behind it.
Luckily a couple stay and food options were still available and barely enough sunlight for us to complete one hearty splash in the water and sand.
Beach and beer go well together. I dont remember the rest of the night.


Jog Falls
India's highest. (Until they found a higher one in Meghalaya recently.)

The final day, the way back home was taken. Different from the one we had taken during the inward journey, this one cornered the Jog Falls a 100 kms in.
You have to view it from afar. The multilple falls - white-lining the mountain afront.


***

The last 400 kms were covered. Toll gates, signals welcomed us back. And the khooni Monday lay in the offing.
If you dont know where you are going, then any road will take you there. And then you are there. And then you get back to being the busy, and the tired, and the pursuing and the pursued.
(Until next time.)


 ****************************************************************************
Do not read between the lines.
Rights to exaggeration and bragging reserved.
Its not how it happened; its how you remember it.
No characterisation intended
Data and information may have been skewed to suit the storyline
Everything is relative to your perspective