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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‘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.)