Friday, December 18, 2015

Kolkata2Kanyakumari Route Map

It been over 2 years since we indulged in a Road Trip and that’s something we did at the drop of a hat with our Maruti Suzuki Swift ZXi,  that served us well for over 5 years.  In fact we traded her in for the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga ZXi just for this reason. But alas for the past two years Road Trips have eluded us for reasons even we can’t fathom.

While our dream Road trip would be to cover the Golden Quadrilateral, we’re not being too ambitious and just going on a Jaunt of as much of South India that we can possibly cover in 20 days. Of course to make it definitive, we’ve chosen Kanyakumari as the destination.  

#Kolkata2Kanyakumari does sound very cool in this day of hashtags and Social media. But the virtual world aside (and how much we can actually post on the go) this is going to be a gruelling journey. Though it’s a holiday, it is going to be a true test of stamina, endurance and some nifty driving I'm guessing.

The first job at hand was to actually map out the journey and I’m glad we live in the age of GoogleMaps. Our original plan was to drive down the East Coast down to the southernmost tip of the subcontinent, but after the recent situation in Chennai, we thought of going the other way around and maybe that’ll give us enough time before we reach Chennai and have our fingers crossed that things would be closer to normal.

We’ve mapped out the Driving Distances and this is how it’s going to be:

KOLKATA - VIZAG : 890 Kms
VIZAG - HYDERABAD : 609 Kms
HYDERABAD - HAMPI : 373 Kms
HAMPI - MYSORE : 409 Kms
MYSORE - COORG : 118 Kms
COORG - MADURAI : 496 Kms
MADURAI - KANYAKUMARI : 244 Kms   
KANYAKUMARI - TIRUNELVELI : 85 Kms
TIRUNELVELI - RAMESWARAM : 227 Kms
RAMESWARAM -THANJAVUR : 240 Kms
THANJAVUR -PONDICHERRY : 166 Kms  
PONDICHERRY - MAHABALIPURAM : 99 Kms
MAHABALIPURAM - CHENNAI : 56 Kms
CHENNAI - VIZAG : 790 Kms
VIZAG - KOLKATA : 890 Kms

SIGHTSEEING (and in case we have to take some detours): 300-400 kms


Once we got this part sorted, my wife spent an entire day online making the hotel reservations. We did get some amazing deals on Makemytrip.com & Yatra.com. Deals apart, most of the places only required a decent bed and pillow for the night (and yes the bathrooms clean ones. That’s something we always check before booking). We actually got a fright when we tried booking the first place at Coorg, being Christmas and all, there were no rooms! But finally we got one. After that we just went on a war footing with the bookings. It had to be done, being the holiday season.

Another thing I realised was that though I love clicking pictures, my Canon EOS 1000D (yes dated as it might be) is and has been my companion on many trips. But there was a need for a good point and shoot camera to click on the go too, something I've learnt now after many a travel. Yes my iPhone5 is great for selfies and for some quick clicks, but I needed another camera, and another person shooting, yes my wife. Two points of view are better than one. So we settled for a Canon Powershot SX60 HS point-and-shoot and it’s got amazing zoom and Full-HD capability too. So we've got that covered too. We are hoping that we can share some beautiful pictures of Incredible India. I'll be posting pics on my Instagram on the go.

Another thing we've learnt from experience is that a spare, spare tire is always a good idea. We once lost two tires on a highway in the middle of a lonely highway in Bihar in the peak of summer at 12 noon; that too in a span of just 50 kms. We were stranded and the ordeal thereafter was something else. So that’s another thing off of check-list.

Though we've always carried an ice-box cooler with water and cold drinks in the back with us on all our road trips, we’re giving that one a miss this time. The way I see it, we just won’t have the time to search for Ice factories to replenish the ice while we’re trying to cover distances of 800-900 kms per day.
But all in all, we’re quite stoked that we are finally doing this. And we just have a day to go before we set out.

May the Force Be With Us.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Red Moon


It's not everyday that one gets to see a wonder of nature in all it's splendour. Thanks to my Mother-in-Law who while looking out of her window this evening saw this and called me and told me to go out and click some pictures of the "Red Moon"


And so I did. :-)


This pic is just to give an idea that the moon rose from behind the High Rises that cover the Horizon to the east, so i can never really see the first hour or two of either the sun or moon when they rise.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Being A Bollywood Queen, Is It A Superficial Reality?


I was listening to the radio in the car the other day and I happened to be listening to an interview of a Bollywood Heroine on air. As the RJ meandered through a bevy of questions about her life and movies and eating habits, the final question was if she had any advice on fashion for the listeners!

Well let me go back a bit to the part about her eating habits, before I get to Fashion! The RJ pointed out that our Bolly belle was so slim and wanted to know what exactly she did to maintain such a petite frame. Well, the actress claimed that she was a complete foodie and ate everything from burgers to ice-cream and chocolates and all things sinful, but she was blessed with great ‘metabolism’ and genes.

No mention of any kind of exercise whatsoever. Hmmm! (Bipasha Basu, you’re my favourite exception to this, and it shows. Those hours you've put in at the gym just “Rock your Body”)

Anyway I’ll now fast forward to the answer to the question of Fashion and our Bolly belle gave the classic, “just wear whatever you are comfortable in. I am not into brands and just wear whatever I feel looks good. So my advice to the listeners is wear whatever makes you comfortable”


That brings me to the IIFA Awards which was on the tele just a few nights ago. I couldn't help laughing my guts out, recalling the interview I had just heard on the radio, when the cursory Green Carpet (desi version of Hollywood Red Carpet) event was being telecast. Our host, a young toy boy newbie was talking to these gorgeous Bollywood Queens who were strutting the most stunning Ensembles down the Green Carpet.

The poor chap had to ask the customary question at the end of each interview “And what are you wearing tonight?” Ofcourse let’s not forget, that he always prefixed it with “you’re looking amazing” or “stunning” or “beautiful” before asking that all important question.

So each time he got a reply in less than a blink of an eye “Gauri and Nainika” or “Shantanu & Nikhil” or “Geoges Chakra” etc etc etc. Our poor host, just fresh into Bollywood had a tough time even pronouncing some of the name, admitting so himself (He’s actually lucky that way, as home grown designers have become a rage now. Back in the day it was mostly the likes of Chanel, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton and some even tougher name that would twist your tongue and your mind).


So let’s analyze this; no one said I'm wearing an evening gown or a dress, but went boom into just saying the name of a brand. Saying a name straight away makes it all the more spectacular I guess, especially even more if you've never heard of these designers. Makes it way beyond your league, fashion sense and means I guess. So the common viewer just gets floored.

Anyway if any of you think that looking like that on any carpet for a Bollywood femme fatale is easy work, think again. It’s a constant effort to stay slim, have beautiful skin and just be fashionably fashionable, else the Rag Mags/Page 3 are going to tear you apart. I'm sure they’d all love to just drag themselves out of bed, throw on some comfortable loose clothes and take a stroll down to the ice-cream cart around the corner and indulge themselves, but alas, being a Bollywood Queen comes at a huge price and I'm sure they’ll all agree.

So the next time you hear an interview and such frivolous statements, be warned, they’re just superficial, being a “Star” is hard work.


Please note, that what I've written is just an observation, not an accusation. Such behaviour comes with the territory I guess.

Who’s to blame?

Society, in all probability; We expect no less from them, and they know we expect no less from them! 

Pics courtesy: IIFA Website

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Heavy Lifter & Big Digger!

I've always been fascinated with machines, and the bigger they are the more fascinating. So you can well imagine how excited I am to see all this Construction Work going on in various parts of the City. Cranes, Excavators and all sorts of equipment working away to take us into the future.


I just couldn't resist looking out of the window at my Dad's place and seeing this huge Crane which had just lifted this entire Steel Pillar into place. Had I been got there a bit earlier, I could have witnessed it being hoisted into position.


The Excavators, having done their bit earlier in the build, some time last year digging earth out for the pilings, are now relegated to moving earth back around the big holes, filling them up and flattening the surface.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Today's Pain, Tomorrow's Gain! The Unsung Heroes Behind this Sign.


“Today’s Pain, Tomorrow’s Gain”I'm sure a lot of us have been, are and will be way into the future, witnesses of this common sign in various parts of the city. As a Metropolis, change and development are constant. While we only look at the inconveniences caused by this constant development, we pay little attention to the real people who sweat through soaring temperatures, get drenched in pouring rain and shiver through winter nights striving to make our cities better to live in; “The Labourer”

I could make this a discourse about how corrupt officials make money and squatters delay projects and the government is a silent bystander while citizens pay the price, but today I'm going to address these great people, the unsung heroes of “DEVELOPMENT”


This Flyover that has been in the making for the past few years and has been plagued with scandal of corruption, land acquisition problems and a debt riddled Government trying to keep this vital project on course.  In recent months though, having missed several completion deadlines, the work on this Flyover Project has picked up a pace that could put some of our super-fast trains to shame.

As I visit my family home every week in Park Circus and remember the boulevard lined with trees back in the days, I'm overwhelmed by this ghastly sight of mud, concrete and steel. It’s growing like a fungus and yet somewhere deep inside it also gives me joy. Looking out of the balcony on the 4th floor, I can see the girders of the carriageway now having reached our building. The pace seems to be a Section a week. It’s a great pastime to watch the behemoth sections of steel being hoisted and the construction workers like little worker ants going about their business at heights of 40 feet off the ground, tightening bolts, welding steel et all.


Frightening as it may be, these workers move with such nonchalance from one beam to another. I'm glad though that protection and safety have come a long way since my childhood and it’s a relief to see them with their helmets and safety harnesses at all times while making some death defying movements on those Steel Girders.


I noticed that most of the labour on the project seemed to be from Punjab and other parts of the country and believe, that is one of the reasons for such great performance in the completion of this project; no “cha” and “adda” happening on this Flyover Project.


Wanting a better look at things, I went up to the terrace and got a much wider and holistic perspective of how this was coming together and thought I’d document some of the progress.

So while potholes and apathy and money laundering scams plague our city, all is not lost, “The Unsung Heroes” are doing their bit for us, even though it’s not their city.



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Eyewash on Development by the Government


I’m not really sure whether this Road comes under the jurisdiction of the KMC (Kolkata Municipal Corporation) or the PWD (Public Works Department), but I'm sure it is the responsibility and a reflection of the shoddy work being commissioned by the incumbent State Government.

This rant is not to blame anyone, but to do my duty as a citizen and bring to the notice of the concerned departments that taxpayers money is just being washed away by such negligent work.

I'm sure all the residents of Calcutta Greens, Udita, Udayan and the surrounding areas including shop owners and visitors alike must have been pleased to see that this 350 metre stretch of road from Ajoy Nagar upto Calcutta Greens had been repaired a little over two weeks ago. In fact the relaying had been all the way up to Hiland Park. 

My point being that prior to this repair work, for nearly 5 years the stretch had become a dirt track and developed potholes large enough to swallow a small car. So we were definitely pleased to see such prompt repair work being swung into action immediately after the Local Municipal Elections. Our Councillor must have put in some strong words.

Well not strong enough it seems, because the road lasted all of one week. That must be a record of sorts. I'm no engineer or road architect, but I'm sure that roads are meant to last significantly longer than the glorious one week of smooth sailing that we experienced.




I'm not evening going to bring up the issue of the illegal shops that have sprung up in even larger numbers after last years attempt to clear them. They had been removed for about a week or so, and they came back in larger numbers, bigger and better.





So this is my little contribution to bring this to the notice of all concerned and hope that this one little voice can make a difference.


This is how our cars are looking at this dreadful road and telling the tyres and suspension to brace themselves for a nice bumpy ride.

Didi, I hope you’re listening, if not for our sake, atleast for our poor cars.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

An Evening at Eco Tourism Park, Rajarhat, Kolkata

The Eco Tourism Park, Rajarhat, Kolkata opened in 2012 and my wife and I had plans to visit, but it kept getting put off for some reason or the other. Well we finally got around to visiting this Centrepiece of Rajarhat, New Town which is the future city of Kolkata. Those familiar with the suburbs of modern Indian cities like Delhi which has Gurgaon and Mumbai that has Navi Mumbai, will quite relate to Kolkata's expansion eastwards. A well planned city with high-rises and swanky office spaces et al.

Anyway as I mentioned, this 480 acre modern  urban park boasts of a 104 acre water body with an island in the middle which has cottages that one can book to stay in. Well these are yet to be inaugurated, but I'm sure will be booked the day they open. Meanwhile, lovely walking lanes and gardens with flowers encompass the vast expanse of this Park.

One can indulge in a host of activities on land an water. Cycles, boats, kayaks among other things are available for hire. There are fun water activities for children and families.

The evening has a special feature with the Musical Fountain shows at 5:45pm and every half hour thereafter.

All I can say is that, it's a lovely place to spend an evening or morning if you want to lap up clean air and nature in all its splendour, with a little help with some modern amenities.