Wednesday, 28 December 2011

GPS By MapmyIndia

GPS Device
As we travel a lot by road, the two biggest problems I mostly face are the constant nagging of my wife and finding the way to our destination. To help me with this, I carry a bundle of maps of India, divided into each state.

You can imagine this scene, where the map is spread out in front of my navigator (my wife), her head buried in it, trying to figure out where we are and what route should we be taking.  Once in a while, we are forced to roll down the window and get someone direction, from people standing by the side of the road. Occasionally, while rolling down the window, the air blows the map of her hand, landing on my face. Sometimes we end up exactly opposite to where we are supposed to be. 
It’s not easy to ask people for direction when you’re in the middle of traffic or when it’s late in the night and you can’t find anyone. Maps in India are not easy to read.  The point I am trying to make with all this is people who love travelling by road should get a GPS for their car.  

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Pets & Aqua Show

Pets & Aqua Show
I love animals, the kind that swims in water or flies in the air or even the kind that walks on land. Oh yeah, no matter how vicious they are or how sluggish they can get. Big or small they are amazing. So when I heard there is a Pet & Aqua show coming to Kerala (Kochi, Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, Kaloor). I was excited. 

On the day it was supposed to open, I woke up my wife from her sleep, asked her to get dressed, as I wanted to be among the first to see it. It was suppose to start on 15th December at 2pm (It goes on till 25th dec, timing been 2pm–9pm). Even though I reached on time, could not catch the act because they said it would open at 7 pm only. So we decided to see it the next day. 

My excitement peeked as I imagined puppies playing around and also being able to see some rare fishes and so on, I imagined a fun filled day. I arrived the next day just about when it was supposed to open, paid Rs 40 for the tickets and walked in. 

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Gwalior Fort

Gwalior Fort

Gwalior Fort, which is about 4kms from the centre of town, was our second destination. After we visited Jai Vilas Palace, it was a change of scenery. Driving up the mountain, we got a glimpse of the Fort standing on an isolated rock. A narrow road takes us up the mountain to one of the gates of the Fort. On the way up, you can see figures carved into the rock face. Later, we discovered that it was "Tirthankaras".  

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Jai Vilas Palace

We were driving from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh to Delhi, on our way; we stayed in Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh) for a few days. Getting here from Jabalpur was like the climactic scene from a movie (where we have to fight the villains off, under gun fire and explosion); the villain here was the roads. As I have stated before, roads in Madhya Pradesh are the worst once I have driven on. It's like driving on a battle field. 

A fair warning to all travelling by road, if its monsoon season, be afraid, be very afraid. The pot holes grow into deep wells and also failing of trees can block roads. Either carry a GPS device or a map which is utterly useless in India or a guide or someone to show you alternative routes. If you are travelling on a time constrain, then plan ahead, a lot ahead.

Distance from Jabalpur to Delhi is about 790kms about 20hrs. But it took us about 15hrs just to get to Gwalior (455kms) and 11hrs from there to Delhi. 

It was our first visit ever to Gwalior. I grew up listening to the phrase "Gwalior Ka Pagalkhane Jana Hai Kya" (Do you want to go to the mental hospital in Gwalior?) For me it was more famous for its "Pagalkhana" than the fort or even Tansen. We reached Gwalior late at night, so had to book a place through internet. This hotel looked fine, but had no hot water available in the bathrooms and the food wasn't so good. The truth is we couldn't really find any good place to eat except for McDonald's. I'm glad the city had McDonald's. We even tried a 3 Star restaurant thinking it would be good, the food did taste good but by evening every-ones stomach was upset. So be careful where you choose to eat.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal
We were traveling from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh to Delhi (Capital of India) by road. On the way I thought I might get down at Taj Mahal and visit it, I was eager to find out what the whole fuss was about Taj Mahal.
I had been to Taj Mahal before during a college trip and I had experienced its magnificence, so I knew what the fuss was all about. Ranjit, being all into architecture and always watching and reading documentaries about monuments, probably knew a lot more than I did but he hadn't experienced its beauty.

Roads in Madhya Pradesh are like hills and valleys; I mean you can find holes in the middle of the road where you can plant trees or even bury people because I think you can probably find some which is 6 feet deep. Agra is about ¼ way from Delhi, which was kind of a rest stop for us, it’s about 125kms from Gwalior (4hrs if you drive like me) and about 215kms from Delhi (7hrs if you drive like me, I drive slow, I think probably an old man on wheelchair can race me) once in Uttar Pradesh, your back can finally rest in peace for the roads are much better. It’s a straight road all the way to Delhi and no chances of getting lost unless you’re blind.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Learning To Drive

"I was quiet, a loner. I was one of those children where, if you put me in a room and gave me some crayons and a pencils, you wouldn't hear from me for nine straight hours. And I was always drawing racing cars and rockets and spaceships and planes, things that were very fast that would take me away."
Quote by Gary Oldman (British Actor)

My love for cars started at a very young age; where driving a car was impossible to me because I would not even reach the pedals. It fascinated me, to see this monster, which carried people in it, driving at speeds, where people just seem to disappear from your eyes in moments. I was amazed at the sounds this monster made and the smell of gas burning in it. I was in love with this monster.

Now comes the hard part, how do I tame this monster? Learning to drive was a challenge, as there were so many things I needed to know. How do I drive in a straight line? What are these gauges for? When to shift gears? And how in the hell do I reach those pedals? I started out when I was 11 years of age, of course since I was not able to reach the pedals; my uncle let me sit on his lap and drive. Driving to me was like my freedom, a power and a sense of accomplishment. At my age, driving in a straight line was no fun, so the car always moved in a zig zag motion, my uncle had to step in from time to time to make it go straight, but then, driving my way brought me happiness while it terrified everyone sitting in the car, as well as, the people driving around me or coming towards me.

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