Jaipur Trip On the Rocks!!

20 09 2010

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you.

Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you.

Encourage me, and I may not forget you.” ~~ William Arthur

I know you will be wondering why a pic of Taj on a post named “Jaipur Trip on the Rocks” started with a quote on encouragement. Weird!!! That what this trip was.

So let me explain Y of the quote first.  Last post I wrote was around 6months back. Always wanted to write more, but lazy Saurabh stopped me everytime.  Arunima encouraged me to write more often after reading “Journey” and I am here again writing a new post. I now know the power of encouragement, it overpowered lazy Saurabh. Thanks Arunima!!

I recently went thru Project management training so will try to divide this project (trip) into five phases Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitor and Control, Closing to help me prepare for my exam and test how important are these five steps and unfold the mystery of other Ys.

Initiation

Well, the need of Planning a weekend trip started around 5 months back.  I had practically discussed every nearby hill station and tourist destination with Pravin and Vikram with a promise to “DO IT”  “THIS Saturday” 🙂

Planning

We (Arunima, Pravin, Vikram and me) started planning a weekend trip on Monday, September 7, 2010  and worked with our dear friend Google to decided on Gurmukteshwar which is around 100 kms from Delhi. Phrases like “Mini Banaras”, “The particular stretch is very famous for Dolphins.” etc on various sites where reasons enough plan this 100 kms drive.

Email chain of 64 with Subject “Sariska and Gurmukhteshwar” decided by Friday that we should visit Jaipur instead, based on feedback from fellow colleagues. Vikram was so excited to visit Jaipur that he was quick to change the subject of mail chain to “Jaipur Trip on the Rocks” (That answer’s another Y).

We PLANNED to start from Pravin’s place @ 3AM on Sunday morning for Jaipur.  After meeting my team @ flying club and enjoying my ride in last metro to Gurgaon (kudos Mr Shreedharan) I met Pravin and Arunima at Sarandeep’s place @ 12:30 AM. Vikram’s phone call to Pravin with a question “Mujhe neend nahin aa rahi, kya karun?” is evident that none of us slept on saturday night.

Saran advised, we should visit Fatehpur Sikri instead of Jaipur @ 1:30 and we  instantly agreed to change our destination.  Considering number of emails we shared (64- which is the longest email chain for Vikram ever) over 5days to decide on Jaipur, this was a quick.   We decided not to let Vikram know about the new destination till the end.

Execution

We started @ 3AM  from Pravin’ s place as planned. Nokia GPS was switched on to guide us thru.  First stop was for fuel where we clicked our first pic of the trip,

First pic of the Trip

First pic of the Trip

and than our office complex, for a cup of coffee and ATM. Lovely weather and lovely songs ensured none of us was sleepy.  We all were amazed by GPS mapping by Nokia. It would indicate even the small clinics, temples and petrol pumps on screen.

On our way to Fathpur Sikri, we saw milestone which read “Vrindavan – 6 kms” and decide to visit the holy place. We only went to ISKON temple to find out it was closed that time. Pravin and Vikram clicked some pics and we were back on our way to the destination decided; only to find out we can take a detour and visit Bharatpur Bird Santuary as well.

We all were feeling hungry by now and DECIDED to have some puri aloo.  Only problem, we wanted to get the feeling of roadside dhaba with a better ambiance and no danger of dengue :-). So you guessed it right, we didn’t find a nice place till we reached Bharatpur.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is a World Heritage Site and a home to 230 species of birds. We agreed to have breakfast at a RTDC hotel which looked like a heritage site in itself.

CUT-LATE

Checkout the spelling of Cutlet on the menu. We were now enjoying every single moment of this trip.  Waiter @ RTDC was amazing, he would check with you quantity of everything while taking order. Like, “makhan kitna” –  “bhaiya, 50gms” :-). Questions like “Puri ke saath Aloo kitne”, “Omlette ke saath bread kitni” were interesting.
You must be thinking that we would be feeling sleepy after the heavy breakfast. But that’s not the case. We were not sleepy et al. I don’t know why.
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary or Keoladeo National Park is a beautiful place.  We were not allowed to drive beyond a certain point. I and Pravin hired cycles, Arunima and Vikram chose Rickshaw.  I still can’t believe I cycled (that’s a dictionary word. i checked Google) for 8 kms. It was a beautiful experience. We promised to visit this place in December again for Bird Watching. Pravin got some good shots whereas Vikram chose to sleep.
clicked by Pravin
After spending 2hours here, still not tired, still not sleepy (Sorry Red Bull) we started towards Fatehpur Sikri (our desination).

Pravin and Vikram indulged in their photographic expedition @ FPS, I and Arunima discussed sorry state of affairs at these heritage sites. Vikram was now our official guide and we all were tourist from Germany (that’s what we told local guides to keep them off). Nobody believed us but who expected them to. It was time to take another detour. Taj Mahal was only 50 kms from here. (answers another Y).

A lot has been written about Taj, its a wonderful creation and I am not gonna write anything about this mesmerizing experience. But the experience of getting inside Taj was not nice for sure. Misguiding Guides made me think about changing name of my domain “proudindians”. I will still try to do my bit for the country. Just remember, if you find long queues @ Taj, try South Gate. Its easy to get in from there as very few people know about it.

We enjoyed a good meal @ Ashok, Agra. Fish, Cold Coffee with Ice Cream, Hyderabadi Biryani and Sizzlers before heading back to Gurgaon.

Pravin and Vikram were snoring to glory while I and Arunima planned another DETOUR of 8kms to Mathur to taste famous pede.  

Monitoring and Controlling

This phase of project management was not used as evident from our detours and I believe that’s the major reason for success of this trip. So, whoever said, everything we do in life is a project and we need to plan monitor and control it,  is wrong.  You can also enjoy lot of things unplanned. Enjoy life as it comes.

Closing

It was time to go back home. We were tired and sleepy. Vikram was now being addressed as VIKRANT and Pravin as PARVEEN 🙂 . Kudos to Mr. Kora who drove thru massive traffic jam @ faridabad.  We reached Gurgaon exactly @ 3AM monday morning. This was a 24 hour trip captured in our Facebook albums named “24hr bonanza”, “24hr hangover”, “24hr Road Trip Vrindavan, mathura, Bharatpur, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra”.

Looking forward for more road trips with this lovely group of people.  Palampur and Desert Camping next on Agenda with possibly loads of Detours.

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=77144&id=1034712577&l=f0c664bb35

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Journey

12 03 2010

Gaurav, Satbir & Saurabh The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. ~St. Augustine

I have always enjoyed riding. Till the time I was in Noida, longest rides used to be to Gurgaon for a cup of Coffee or Maggi, visiting India Gate for Chuski with my friend was another favorite route on weekends. But that was it, I had never thought I will get to ride across cities. I always wanted to buy a Bullet but was discouraged by its price and comments from my college friends who used to say “You will look like a fluttering Dupatta tied to bike’s handle” because of my skinny body. That was past, I have put on enough weight and am happy about it because I don’t look weird riding a bullet now.

Turning point was probably my stay in Pune for a year and 3 months. Made best of the friends and probably learnt that I need to live my life to fullest, chase my dreams and there is life beyond office as well. Made friends who had passion for bikes and who were ready to ride. My first ride was from Pune to Murud, Kashid, Ali Bagh with Kaizad, Satbir and Gaurav, I named my photo album “Bikers Trip on West coast”  (http://picasaweb.google.com/niceseth/BikersTripOnWestCoast?feat=directlink). Honestly we had just touched the west coast and was quite happy calling myself a biker after clocking few hundred kilometers. This was a memorable trip, 4 different personalities, Gaurav, Kaizad, Satbir and me enjoying ride on curvy roads of western Ghats. We started after our shift on Friday and covered what we call “West Coast” over the weekend.

This was followed by our trip to Goa. We were little better than the previous trip this time. Got to know what bungee cords are and knew how to carry bags on back seat rather than carrying them on our shoulders. Reached Goa from Pune with just one break considering we were riding after working our shifts was an achievement. Again, bikes clubbed with prawns, fish and beer on top of it atmosphere of Goa made this a memorable trip. We missed Kaizad this time, he had to go to Phillipines for work. I was still riding my 150cc Pulsar and was super happy with its economical performance, Satbir loved his yellow Karizma whom he had named Ayesha and Gaurav looked great on his ROYAL Enfield.

Two trips in 6 months provided us enough confidence to Plan a trip to Leh – Khardungla Pass to be specific, the highest motor-able road in the world. We were getting better, having bought Eicher Road Atlas made us felt like Columbus, all of us pretending to be a gyani of how to read maps and plan routes. We decided May 29, 2009 as our date of travel and started to plan the trip. Reading several blogs, checking weather.com, registering on xbhp.com and other rider community website were the only things on agenda.

Satbir and Gaurav managed to get their leaves approved and I managed to decide on quitting the job. I anyways was planning to do that for long and this was probably the best time. Again, pretending to have learnt all about bikes after visitng local mechanic (as if we will be able to fix any damn thing) and having bought all the spares, saddle bags, riding gloves we were ready for this trip. Satbir’s cousin Karan from Shillong decided to join us in Pune for the ride as well. More the merrier. Scrapping the idea of putting our bikes in a train, we decided to ride all the way from Pune, after all we were “BIKERS” :-). We started our journey on the night on 29th May, 2009, my last day in the organization that I had worked with for 5 years. It was a nostalgic moment for me, and this ride was symbolic in many ways. I was starting a new journey to roads I had never travelled before and was leaving my comfort zone. Trip to Leh was memorable, I will never forget those 16 days on road. Memories of our photographic endeavour only for Facebook, Riders who carried Sunscreen, Clean and Clear, Deodorants & Moisturizer. Satbir’s yellow colored t-shirt and bag to match his yellow colored bike and Karan’s confused state will never fade. We proved in this trip that we can practically sleep anywhere, even while riding. We realized no matter how much we carry puncture kit and tools, we can’t change punctured tubes. We infact punctured new tubes while trying to replacing the old ones. We realized there is nothing like itinerary or travel plan chalked out in the format “Day 1”, “Day 2”. We realized Maggi is the ultimate food and is available everywhere irrespective of the altitude. We realized you gain respect from people when you do something different or achive something big in life. We realized CC and bhp of the bike are irrelevant and have no role to play while enjoying the beauty of nature. Pics @ ( http://picasaweb.google.com/niceseth/TripToLeh?feat=directlink )

I always thought Pune – Leh was my last trip on bike and nothing like this will follow, I had even considered buying a car and selling off my bike. Than I met Nishant Jha who took my interview in my new company. Discussing bikes and Leh trip in my interview was the last thing I expected. Having learnt about his group after joining the company and after reading the well written blogs, I was now sure that I was buying a bullet. Considering I have put on enough weight I knew I will not look weird riding one. I am now a proud owner of a Royal Enfield Classic 500 cc.

Reading various blogs and emails of BOP (Bulls on Parade) was enough spark for me to plan another Ride, this time to Rann of Kutch. We had thought of doing Pune to Kanyakumari but getting 2 week leave was impossible. We knew Rann of Kutch can be done in 5 days. Luckily Satbir, Gaurav and I managed to get leaves and the planning started again. This time we planned it differently, there was no fixed itinerary, we knew the places we need to visit and had saved them on GPS on my phone. We had checked out routes and Map My India at least thousand time and now knew which city is located in which part of Gujarat to decide on our destinations on the spot. Ride to Rann of Kutch was a learning experience; Visiting Harappa Excavation site, Mandavi where woodden cargo ships were being built, learning how salt is made, our interaction with BSF Jawans, visit to Gurudwara at Lakhpat where Guru Nanak Dev Ji stayed before visiting Mecca, knowledge about our border with Pakistan, windmills, getting to know how Earthquake can be a blessing in disguise for a region, how human behaviour can change from one village to another. This was a different trip altogether. More than the destination – Rann of Kutch, we enjoyed the journey. It was an enriching experience. Deciding to visit Pune instead of going to Ahmedabad from Bhuj was a surprise for my family and friends but thats how we are, we no longer plan our destination, we focus on our journey. Pics – ( http://picasaweb.google.com/niceseth/RannOfKutch?feat=directlink )

Arunachal Pradesh and Kanyakumari are still on my mind but as I can see all of us getting ready to move on to next phase of our lives, I am not sure if we will be able to ride together in near future. We will cherrish every single moment we have spent together on these rides. Pics of our rides have always been a stressbuster for us and I believe will act as a spark in future as well.

Thanks to our Parents who have been understanding and have never discouraged us for these trips. Thanks to EICHER for superb Road ATLAS, to DIAMOX for saving our life in PANG 🙂 , to Friends who liked our pics and encouraged us with their comments, to Facebook for giving us a forum to express us on the move.

I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. ~Caskie Stinnett





Thank you 26/11???

28 12 2008

With all the due respect to all those who lost their life in the terrorist attack on Mumbai, I tried to analyse if there was any positive impact on society.  We are shattered, wounded, living in fear but was there any postive change because of this attack?

I salute brave NSG commandos, hotel staff and every citizen/ foreign national who helped the nation during this time.

I was wondering at the patriotic fervour that is evident after every terror attack on the country but vanishes in few weeks.  “Vande Mataram” —-“Jai Bharat Mata” —-“India is one” —- all these phrases looks meaningful to the entire country for only few weeks after every terror strike.

BUT it seems like this time around, there has been a bigger imapct. I could see anger on every Indian’s face which should have been there before.  I could feel the “need to do something” attitude in more people than usual. Peace marches, candle light vigils and human chains post 26/11 are more meaningful and particpation is tremendous.  This time around, politicians have been blamed as usual but formation of parallel groups, forums and discussions around better participation from citizens has been visible. 

Looks like FINALLY we are looking more towards our duties than our right, we are exploring ways by which each citizen can help build a better india.  Finally there has been active participation from the youth.  Finally we have people talking more about nationalism than religion or regionalism.

I hope this observation is not just an illusion this time. I hope the “Vande Mataram” —-“Jai Bharat Mata”  are no longer seasonal for all of us. I hope we will get out of our dinning room discussions and do something for the country. I hope… We can help bring about a change this time.

I am sure we will not let the anger and emotions die this time.





Visa Required for Maharashtra

19 10 2008

Read the News line below:

Hindutan Times – Sun, 19th Oct, 2008

MNS activists attack railway examination centres

Activists of Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) on Sunday attacked centres conducting railway recruitment examination in suburban Mumbai to protest against the “inadequate representation” to locals and chased away candidates from north India.

**** Well “chased away” is not the right word here.  They were beaten up badly.***

——————————————————————————–

DO WE INDIANS NOW NEED A VISA TO ENTER MAHARASHTRA?? SHOULD WE DIVIDE INDIA AGAIN?? SHOULD WE LET THE HOOLIGANS LIKE RAJ THACKERAY RULE OUR COUNTRY??

I know that answer to all the above questions from any SENSIBLE Indian will come as a “NO”.  I am deeply hurt and pained when I dream of  India as a superpower and still witness an attitude wherein we let ideology like this survive in the country. We still elect politicians who believe in divide and rule.

We have forgotten that it took the efforts of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to integrate the erstwhile 600 princely states into one dominion, India – which we all should be proud of.

How can we allow these politicians to be successful in their politics of hate? Probably its time, we all switch off our TV sets and rise above the drawing room discussion and do something about this.  Can we atleast think before we vote next time? or I should say – CAN WE VOTE NEXT TIME?

It is difficult to be a revolutionary and try to change the system, but can you atleast, as a sensible Indian, resolve that you will exercise your democratic duties? Can you at least resolve and write “INDIAN” on every forms that requires your religion. Can your anger and protest be atleast more visible next time? Can you atleast support somebody who tries to change the system next time?

Let’s make this country a better place to live.





‘Mother India’ writes this letter to her NRI son

17 08 2008

***I am not sure who wrote this, but wanted to share it exactly as it landed in my mail box.

By Kul Bhushan
On August 15, a 61-year old ‘Mother India‘ writes this letter to her NRI son:

My Dear NRI son,

They say, ‘Life begins at 60!’ Yes, a whole new game starts at 60 when you enjoy the fruits of all that you have sacrificed and worked for. It seems that I have ‘arrived’ after all those years of toiling, denying and watching others enjoying ‘the good life’.

Celebrating my 60th birthday today, I have a thousand big and small things to be thankful for. First, the big ones…

I am living in an independent country where every vote counts. More importantly, it still remains united through all crises. I can seek justice from independent courts even though they move slowly. I can make my voice heard without fear in the public. A powerful media keeps everyone on his/her toes. Perhaps, it can be said that the Supreme Court and the media run my country.

Last but not the least, despite the one billion plus people, Indian economy is the fastest growing free economy in the world, at a galloping rate of over nine percent. Now I am a member of the exclusive Trillion Dollar Club – the value my GDP – that has only 13 members.

Remember the times when I craved for ‘phoren’ goods? We could not buy any foreign consumer goods because there was no foreign exchange to pay for them. For 50 years, the shops just had local goods.

Now things are totally different. The local goods are also as good as them because they are successfully competing with them. Foreign exchange? At the latest count I have $230 billion. When I go shopping at the shining malls even in smaller towns, I get the feeling of being in a foreign country with the dazzling displays.

Instead of just two or three makes of cars, I have a great line-up to choose from as over one million cars were made here last year and, believe me, we also export them!

I enjoy perhaps the cheapest rates of mobile calls in the world. Mobiles have the fastest growth in the world here as 10,000 are added every hour and 166 every minute! Now there are almost 200 million of them because the basic price for a mobile is just around $45! The servant, maid, driver, plumber, carpenter, electrician, washerwoman. .. everyone has a mobile.

And most of them have a colour TV at home. What a hassle you had when you imported a colour TV set for me back in the 1980s? The 300 percent custom duty and the 150 percent penalty and the form filling! Now you can buy any colour TV set including the flat screen and the huge plasma ones at any big shop. Over 12 million sets are made in India. Colour TV sets are quite cheap too as I switched over to a decent flat screen for less than $250. Instead of just one or two government controlled channels, now I can surf over 400 channels beaming by cable to my TV.

Instead of long train journeys, I have been travelling in India by air. Recently many private airlines have taken off to compete with the single domestic carrier as in the past. If I book early, I can get an air ticket from Mumbai to Delhi or any airport for just a few hundred rupees! Millions who had never travelled by air have become regular air passengers. Gone are those days when getting foreign exchange to travel abroad was a nightmare. Now every year, I can get up to $5,000 for my vacation, up to $25,000 for a business trip and can send abroad up to $100,000!

No need of the trip to Post Office to send you this letter as I am using email and can talk to you over the Internet and also see you with my web cam on my PC. Yes, I have learnt to use the Net along with millions of other Indians. All of them may not own a PC but they just spend 50 cents an hour to use a cyber cafe for their emailing and surfing.

You do not see all these goodies just when you land in India but slowly they sink in and you also find out about the hefty pay cheques for IT professionals. Then you may start thinking: ‘Why shouldn’t I return?’

A few thousand young professionals, perhaps 40,000 say some, have returned to work in India in IT companies or multi-national companies flocking here. Of course, many millions of unemployed, underpaid and under-qualified are trying to go abroad by hook or crook. That’s another story of ‘the other’ India – not for today.

When you see the tricolour unfurling atop the Red Fort in Delhi today, it is a moment to celebrate. It seems that my turn has come to be counted on the top table of the world. You know that I am always praying for your welfare and waiting for your next trip into my extended arms.

Yours ever loving, Mother India.

(A media consultant to a UN Agency, Kul Bhushan previously worked abroad as a newspaper editor and has travelled to over 55 countries.)





Are three Service chiefs a security threat???

22 11 2007

Well, Here’s the headline :- “Vadra is not frisked but top generals are”

Now read this : The ministry of civil aviation of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security have stated that “according exemption to Service chiefs will lead to similar demands from some other authorities”

The three service chiefs, who command the men in uniform, who are prepared to lay down their lives to protect the country’s integrity will be firsked at Indian airports. Are they a security threat??? Is that a joke?

The service chiefs rise to their positings after serving the country for almost 40 years. On their commissioning, they take an oath (which usually our ministers are not serious about) to protect the country’s integrity, ensure the welfare of their troops, and only then consider their own welfare. And this is what we give them in return – disrespect, suspicion.

But why the hell should Robert Vadra be on the non-frisk list ? Only because he is married into the Gandhi family? For being Sonia Gandhi’s Son in Law? What a shame !!! This country is not a private property of one family. Our politicians are trying to make us believe that they have a better sense of integrity than our service chiefs.

Let’s not allow fools to rule over this wondeful country. Let’s do something about it. Its time we patriots should raise our voice and get together for a cause.

Thanks

saurabh@proudindians.org

P.S. : Get e-mail id @proudindians.org and flaunt your feeling of patriotism every time you send a mail to anybody.  Email id’s are available on request.  Please contact support@proudindians.org for the same.

 

 





If you love india… Say it Aloud

17 08 2007

If you Love India… Say it aloud

Click here to login to your mail

Namaskar

India is 60yrs young and poised for growth. We can notice a remarkable change, from music to fashion, from cinema to art – the vibrant energy is there for all to feel. But today, I feel sorry to see lack of patriotism among Indians. 

I would like to throw open this forum and request all patriots to come together and flaunt their patriotism and discuss issues relating to development of our country.  A lot still needs to be done.  An active involvement is required from all responsible citizens to ensure a positive change in the society. 

We have been blaming our politicians alone for everything that has gone bad to this country. Lets get to the root cause of it, how many of the educated people go out and vote? How many of the so-called eduacated citizens think of getting into the system and try to clean it? It may take another 20 yrs, but who is willing to give it a try? It is time we join hands and work for the betterment of the country.  I am proud to be Indian because of our rich heritage and culture. Lets not allow these politicians to ruin everything.  I repeat ….. “An active involvement is required from all responsible citizens to ensure a positive change in the society. ”

Why do we we feel ashamed while calling ourselves Indians? Why do we feel that India is good for nothing? What stops us from saying  “I am a proud Indian”. Proudindians.org is an attempt to bring together Indians who are proud of their mother land and want to bring a positive change to Indian Society.  We hereby announce our first project “If you love India… Say it aloud.” wherein we want everyone who is proud to be an Indian flaunt his/her patriotism. Lets discuss/debate on the issues affecting our motherland and do something about them.

 Thanks

saurabh@proudindians.org

P.S. : Get e-mail id @proudindians.org and flaunt your feeling of patriotism every time you send a mail to anybody.  Email id’s are available on request.  Please contact support@proudindians.org for the same.