Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A bike trip after long time..

Whats the best way to get rid of stress after a long busy week? Yes a trip. But who needs a reason, I was hardly stressed out but bike trip did sound like a good idea. I just opened mapmyindia.com and tried searching for a place in 100km perimeter and came across Hastinapur wildlife sanctuary. Some googling showed that it might not be a bad idea to go there. But who needed a destination, we just wanted to hit the road.

Kapil, me, Jagan and Abhinav took off on saturday evening around 6:00 (planning started at 4:00) and hit the roads. At 7:30 we were close to Meerut sitting in a dhaba having Tea when everyone was convincing me to go to Hardwar instead which we finally didnt and got stuck with the original plan.

The road was in good condition, and biking was fun. Best part was switching off the headlights when no vehicle was around in pitch darkness. It was breathtaking and fun too. We reached hastinapur and much to our surprise didnt find a single open shop in the market, leave alone a hotel at 7:30 in the evening. Driving up and down the road we ended up going to the Forest department office and ended up chatting with a old Forest incharge who could not stop talking.

After hearing more about him than i would have ever heard about anyone, he finally agreed to arrange for our stay and arrange for a stroll across the jungle in the night with two staff people. It was fun to roam around in the jungle in total darkness with only 3 dogs and a Torch to guide us at 11:00 PM in the night. We were back by 1:00 and after cherishing the bonfire for sometime we went to sleep.

The best part was our beds which were laid out in open in the middle of the jungle with only a pair of blankets and a quilt to save us from animals and shivering cold. Fortunately we survived to see the light of the day and took leave. We came across a nice collection of big and beautiful Jain temples which to our amazement were quiet empty. After spending some time there we left off to see the Ganga river closeby.

After a 12 km long drive on a broken and soiled road we reached Ganga. There was a small village at the corner and everyone there was busy in their usual activities. We took few snaps and left to come back to Delhi.

Fortunately there were no back or body aches even though we drove around 220kms in less than a day with only a few hours sleep. Overall it was a very different and funfilled experience.

Looking forward to more bike trips :))

Friday, November 9, 2007

Busy Diwali time

I distinctly remember cherishing the few weeks before diwali every year. Though I stopped adding to pollution (read bursting crackers) or eating lots of sweets a long time ago but still that festive mood starts long before diwali. This time it was no different but I was too busy all the time to actually think about it. That’s the reason why I was waiting for this longer than usual weekend since a long time.

Lots of things happened in the last two weeks. I was busy in office with work and so got very less time for chatting too. Ranta, Malik and Bhargava came on Friday night and we chatted till 4:00 AM or so and still Ranta didn’t want to sleep (as usual). Jagan left on Saturday to Chennai realizing just in time that his flight was at 1:00 and not 3:00. Darbari, Raheja and I went to see Star Dust (3.75/5) and went to Amoeba to play a game of basketball scoring 55, 60 sth and 75 respectively(sorry, raheja's score was 75, i was 65 :( .. ). In the evening we went to The Great India place mall (I went first time) and I really liked it. It was so big that one needs pretty good stamina to see the whole mall in one go. We had good pizzas and not so good (very bad) Pasta and Spaghetti at Sbarro, an Italian restaurant.

After coming back home on Monday at around 9:00 from office we had to go to Delhi to see Priya. At 10:30 Priya and Kapil were blessed with a baby boy and I became Mama (uncle ). I had never seen a new born baby in real life before. We were there till 1:00 or so and came back home after that. In the next two days I had to drive down to Delhi thrice and we got stuck in very bad traffic (worst I have seen) in which we were stuck for more than 3 hours. Even TOI covered it today on front page. I also bought two books – losing my virginity, Richard Branson’s autobiography and Rich Dad, Poor dad which I heard is pretty good too. All this time I had lotsa work at office too but still we went to Desi Vibes on Teusday for lunch where I liked their pickle collection so much that I ate pickles after more than 2 years.

Finally the long awaited holiday came and I got up at 10:00 and took a long time to get ready after which I went to see Priya again and went to office from there. Though I wanted to work but didn’t really feel like. Amal and I chatted (voice) on gtalk for more than 90 minutes and tried a crazy idea of transferring a full 700 MB movie over gtalk. In one hour it transferred a cool 200 MB appx.

As all the noida friends are out of town so I will be at home most of the time during diwali. Planning to read those books and see Jab we met, bhool bhulaiya and Dil dosti etc which I got on my laptop (thanks to Raheja and Amit) and offcourse who can forget F.R.I.E.N.D.S .

Have a enjoyable and eventful diwali. And keep environment clean by avoiding crackers .

PS: Wrote this yesterday (choti diwali day) but posting it right now.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Trip to Chicago..

I went to Chicago (Illionois) to attend Adobe MAX 2007 conference last week. I knew that it was tough to see the city during the conference so I extended my stay for a few days with a colleague of
mine. It was good to stay away from my cell phone and newspapers for 10 days continuously.

Here is a not so small Album:

The conference was grand in true sense. It was attended by 5000 people of which more than 95% were non-adobe people. It was a lot of fun as there were parties thrown each day. There was a grand party on second day with dancers from outside, and there was a skater board/cyclists track on which professionals were showing their cool stunts. They had put the "Back to the future"'s time machine also for display just for fun.

After the conference we went to Purdue university to visit my colleague's brother in West Lafayette. It was a small town with beautiful and small houses with lots of greenery all over the place. I bought a Panasonic TZ3 (10x optical zoom/7MP) there from Circuit City. Still exploring the features and functions. We came back to Chicago on Saturday and went to Navy Pier and took a ride on 150 feet high Ferris wheel. The view of skyline was awesome from here with whole city lit up in orange and white.

We started early on sunday and visited the famous museums of Chicago. We were fortunate to see the Marathon that was planned for that day which had participation of 34000 people. I cant imagine running 26 miles continuously huh! We came back tired and slept late after packing up. On Monday we took our flight back to India with good memories.

General Trip Rating:
Must See:
John Hancock observatory on 94th floor offers breathtaking views of the whole city and lake michigan around. Go to the museums only if you are very interested in seeing and you have lotsa time to spend.
Must do:
Take a morning walk on Lake shore, a jog if u will. I spent like 2 hours on that shore and it was amazing, I had never walked so much (around 5-6 kms nonstop). The skyline looks awesome too from here.
Take a CTA visitor pass for 5$ a day and you get unlimited access to all trains. CTA train goes directly from Airport to downtown and a regular bus service connects most of the city.

General Updates::
Saw Johny Gaddar (3.5/5) and Laaga Chunri main daag (2.5/5) yesterday. Followed by a not so long drive with Abhinav, sourabh and Jagan in my car with stereo blowing high decibels. After coming back home today saw few more movies - Disturbia (3/5), Captivity (2/5) , Accepted (3.75/5). Slept for 7 hours in the afternoon, I guess jet lag is still on. Got up at 10:30 and still awake so thought of using my time 'constructively' by writing a blog.

Already seeing a touch of winters with temperatures going as low as 22 in the night. Good relief from summers.

Manjeet came to noida for 5 minutes (ok, 30 minutes for 6 of us :P). And yes his marriage is fixed. The big day is 16th Feb.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

early bird.. gets to attend the meeting ..

Luck is against me or sun is rising from a wrong direction, something or other is affecting my life in a adverse way. I have been getting up early in the morning for some reason or other. Most of the times its the meeting on Thursdays at 8:00 AM that unfortunately was scheduled by myself. Getting up in the morning for all the wrong reasons is not a great thing to do. But huh! what can you do when duty calls.

Like most of the people I am also not a big fond of meetings, and the dislike gets elevated if the meeting is at the wrong times. Anyways, it doesnt matter much as I end up leaving the room and enter the wonderland of my thoughts in most of these meetings. Same thing happened in one of the meetings last week and suddenly I heard my name - "Sandeep why dont you add something here?" .

I took few seconds to recollect what was happening :P and then thought about what was the meeting about. And then came a big 'yeaaahhhhh' that gave me enough time to think up something to say. Then I started off. As they say - "When you dont know what to say, use some big words and phrases" . I had heard of some of the words that people were saying when I was busy in my thoughts so I just started linking everything together with conjunctions between them. And woaah! It didnt go that bad. I was acknowledged with 'yeaah', 'right' and 'true's. I guess I was not the only one wandering in my thoughts ;). I guess I graduated in the 'art of speaking' course :).

Come to think of it, it was an easy situation as compared to what happened today. I came at 7:50 and was waiting for other people to join in on the conference call. All but my manager turned up. Now he is the one who leads the meeting, what am I supposed to do? I called him up on his phone and as I had expected was busy sleeping :) . Well thats what most normal people do at 8:00 AM in the morning. But now what? I had no idea what to speak about, so I just summarized the last meeting and thoughts flew from there, people participated, things were discussed, solutions achieved and it was already 45 minutes since we had started. It went quiet well now when I think of it :). So I guess I have also got my first lesson of 'art of managing' :P ..

I am glad that this early morning meeting will be over soon.

General updates:
- one month whizzed past so fast since my last post on my bday
- attended cousin's marriage in Chandigarh - full masti, photos here.
- explored lotsa things on Flex/Actionscript/CSS
- A big get together on Darbari's birthday last to last weekend - Nainital plan got cancelled :((
- Attended a Preliminary Guitar class starting in Office, not decided whether I will join.
- Bothra got engaged, heard the news while I was in Chandigarh, couldnt stop smiling all day ..
- Achieved new speed limit on my Alto - 128KMPH on the way back to Delhi from Chandigarh
- Got a Sony XPlod GT-250S Car stereo with JBL speakers fitted in my Car, have started loving driving all the more since then. The "Thump" is here.
- Delhi weather shifting from Hot to Cool, its awesome outside right now with a bit of drizzle. Winters on their way.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Another year gone..i turned 23

I turned 23 today. I have never felt like getting older till now on any of my birthdays as life has always become more beautiful with every year. But there is something about turning '23' that I am getting a feeling of growing older.

Is it the '3' which is reminding me that after few years I will be in my thirties? Funny thought. I have always believed in '18 till I die', 23 is just another number. Its probably because of the next phase of my life (read 'marriage', and no, no plans as of now) that I am getting closer to by an year thats making me feel older. Anyways, who can defeat aging. Ponds? or Garnier? :P

In any case life is running quiet fast. Every day just whizzes through without even a slight notice. So it occurred to me to write about what all I did in last one year and probably take some resolutions for next one year (another form of new year resolutions).

So here is a glimpse of my last year..
- Aug 14: Joined Adobe and flew kites
- November: Got a Spot award for my contribution
- Jan : Got promoted
- May: First major deadline :) Project ship close
- July end: Went to Park Resorts in Simla with office group
- June onwards: Learning Flex

- Oct-Nov: Started playing Lawn Tennis with Sourabh (first time :))
- Oct 28: Went to Rishikesh and did water rafting, camping for first time
- Dec 10th: Sister's marriage.
- Dec 25th-1st Jan: Went to Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur
- March 3: Bought a new Wine Red colored Alto LXi
- March : Learnt car driving
- May : Went to Chail on Kapil's car
- June : Tried swimming, but went only for 4 days
- June : Went to Dehradun/Dhanaulti driving my Alto for 600kms in two days.
- June end: Went to Hyderabad to meet friends and to Lonavala from there.
- June : Collaborated with Amit in starting Toastmasters Club in Adobe and became a part of Executive committee for same.
- all through: Read few books, ones i remember - The Blue Ocean strategy, Good to Great, Fountainhead, Winning, Success Principles, God's Debris
- all through: Gained some 5-6 KGs and few inches :(
- all through: Did lots of orkutting and chatting

Next year goals:

- :D .. none

- Buy and read more books : Atleast 12
- Learn Swimming
- Play more Lawn Tennis
- Trip to Leh/Ladakh (or Manali) on bike
- Gotta do Rafting again
- Complete CC Manual in Toastmasters
- Gotta lose some around 6-7 kgs and atleast 2 inches
- Learn to play Guitar
- reduce orkutting and chatting

Thanks a lot to Darbari, Jagan and Sourabh for arranging the birthday party and special thanks to Jagan and Sourabh for bumps. I hope the 2 hour long discussion that we had after cake-cutting/bumps session will be fruitful to most of us :D. May be I should throw more light on our efforts/results on my next birthday...

Cya on next 25th August..

Friday, August 17, 2007

Un-Image-inable experience..

Today I felt yet again how Google excels in "not" pissing off its users. And my respect for Google grew more. I had created a flickr account when it had just started and my first experience was not even close to great. I had just uploaded some 20 images and my monthly limit of 20MB had reached. Now what is 20 MB, even a stupid e-mail service provides more than that. But well, I found a work around this problem through a friend.

If you upload photos through mail, there is no limit check. Awesome!! I uploaded few more pics in coming months but never used the service to host 'all' my photos as emailing was not very friendly. I understand that pro users is the only Biz model that Flickr had so there was no way they would provide lots of free services. But come on, just 20 MBs..

Then I switched to Kodakgallery with a great photo uploading tool - OFotoNow that is freely available. I think it was kept free because nobody would pay for a Photo uploading application that crashes after uploading every photo that too with a very "User Friendly" Null-Pointer exception message. The developers must have worked really hard to add bugs in a simple Photo uploading app.

And then I switched to Picasa. Picasaweb provides cool 1GB limit which is awesome. The Picasa desktop client provides a great photo handling experience with seam-less integration with PicasaWeb. All you got to do is drag-drop and thats it. And guess what, It never crashes.

I already have few albums on it now.

Anyways, Today I somehow went to Flickr website again and it was "really amazing" to see that they had changed the 20MB limit to 100MB now. Wow! great. I tried their AJAX based multiple photo uploading which was quiet cool and uploaded full 80+ photos in no time.

And this is what they give me in the end.

I still dont understand whats wrong in giving a OK experience to free users. The service should provide something mindblowingly great for premium users that makes them upgrade and not by limiting them at every step to use the service if they are free.

I guess thats ok, Google is always there with 1 GB limit. When I reach that limit I am sure they would have increased it to 2 GBs ;).

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Office group trip to Shoghi near Simla

Dont know what I was busy with that I did not blog this one. Went for a weekend trip to Simla after shipping CS3 (Creative Suite).

After a tiring 11 hours in bus we reached the Park Wood resort. It was more hot than I expected and wanted. But anyways it was fun. The resort was made on a hill without disturbing the ecosystem of the place. There were Camps and Huts at different heights. Jagan and I shared a Camp. I was a bit surprised to see camps with attached toilets.

Went for a short trek post lunch.

I played cricket after years. And actually scored some 10+ runs ;)

Burma bridge. Is nt as simple as it looks.

Had a bonfire + bar-be-que + DJ + dance in the evening

Went for a longer trek in the morning. Around 2 hours to-n-fro

Relaxed after coming back

And left after breakfast :)

Short and sweet. Had a good amount of fun and eventful ride back home. Played dumb-charads, 20 questions, antakshari and what not. And back to work on monday :)

Wow! Writing short travelogues is so damn easy and fast :)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Mahia song - Awarapan . lyrics.

I heard the song Mahia by Annie long back and loved the Jazzy tunes and mix of Hindi and English. Later the song was a bit changed in movie Awarapan which was good too. Here are the lyrics..

Awarapan - by Suzzane - Mahia Version 2.

Somewhere Out There, I Know There Is Someone
Who Is Waiting Just For Me Maahiya
He Is Gonaa Set Me Free Maahiya

Jiski Aankhon Mein Meri Hi Nami Ho
Koyi Toh Hai Woh Yaar Maahiya
Karoon Main Intzaar Maahiya
Jisake Jine Mein Meri Hi Kami Ho
Rahe Jo Bekaraar Maahiya
Woh Mujhpe Nisaar Maahiya
Jisaki Har Baat Mujhse Judi Ho
Chaahe Jo Beshumaar Maahiya
Wafa Se Wafaadaar Maahiya

How Long My
Why Can You Be A Part Of My Reality

Usako Li Zindagi Ke Khwaab Main Bunoo
Chamkile Rang Saare Unamein Bunoo
Usako Aksar Khayaalo Mein Socha
Kahin Toh Hai Woh Yaar Maahiya
Woh Mera Dildaar Maahiya
Somewhere Out There, I Know There Is Someone
Who Is Waiting Just For Me Maahiya
He Is Gonaa Set Me Free Maahiya

I Know That He Is Gonaa Be My Destiny
Its All Part Of
Kabse Usake Aane Ki Main Raah Takoon
Kabse Chhupa Ke Ise Dil Mein Rakhoon
Mere Dil Ne Taraasha Use Jaisa
Milega Wahi Yaar Maahiya
Hai Mujhe Aitbaar Maahiya
Somewhere Out There, I Know There Is Someone
Who Is Waiting Just For Me Maahiya
He Is Gonaa Set Me Free Maahiya
Jiski Aankhon Mein Meri Hi Nami Ho
Koyi Toh Hai Woh Yaar Maahiya
Karoon Main Intzaar Maahiya
Jisake Jine Mein Meri Hi Kami Ho
Rahe Jo Bekaraar Maahiya
Woh Mujhpe Nisaar Maahiya
Jisaki Har Baat Mujhse Judi Ho
Chaahe Jo Beshumaar Maahiya
Wafa Se Wafaadaar Maahiya

Annie - Mahia - Version 1

i wish u could see urself the way i see ya
u shine juss like a star mahia
cuz ur my only pyar mahia

maine tujh ko he dil may basaya
tu hi mera pyar mahia X2

tu nay aisee adda say mujhay dekha
dil ho gya nisaar mahia
tu hi ha mera pyar mahia x2

tu nay aisee adda say mujhay dekha
dil ho gya nisaar mahia
tu hi ha mera pyar mahia x2

y dont u tell me mahi
ma mid at ease
how do u wish to see the loyalty in me
appnee wafa iqrar kya karoon
mar jaoon hudh ko jo tujh say juda karoon

tu nay aisee adda say mujhay dekha
dil ho gya nisaar mahia
tu hi ha mera pyar mahia x2

mahai u r i set ma soul on fire
i felt juss like a rose mahia
when i was in ur arms mahia

i cant imagine that like without u where i'd be
im ur lady i'll go where ever u take me
terey beghair jeenay ki khaish nahin
main terey saath hoon lay chal mujh ko kahin

tu nay aisee adda say mujhay dekha
dil ho gya nisaar mahia
tu hi ha mera pyar mahia x2

mahia ur i set ma soul on fire
i felt juss like a rose mahia
when i was in ur arms mahia

i don't care where we go or stay or wut we do
ill take u r bain consider becuz i love u
jaisay bhi haal main rakhoo gay main rahoon
dukh bhi milay to pyar main haans kay sahoon

tu nay aisee adda say mujhay dekha
dil ho gya nisaar mahia
tu hi ha mera pyar mahia x2

i wish u could see urself the way i see ya
u shine juss like a tar mahia
ur my only pyar mahia

maine tujhh ko he dil may bhasaya
tu hi mera pyar mahia X2

mahai ur i set ma soul on fire
i felt juss like a rose mahia
when i was in ur arms mahia

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Journey from 29 to 35..

Yes, Unfortunately I am talking about my waist size and offcourse not age :( . Six years back when I joined college it was 29 and I used to look very thin and lean. While leaving college it had already reached 31 and I had to wear 32 size jeans/trousers. Huh! Just 2 years of work and its 35 now. Damn it!! I am still fit and can run and climb stairs but 35!! its way too much.

I went shopping yesterday and tried 2 different brand jeans of size 34 and both would just not fit me. My sister was with me and suggested to try 36. And I was like what the hell , me 36, big NO!!. I said to myself - 'i wont buy jeans until 34 fits me'. Thanks to Numero-Uno which probably marks 36 jeans as 34 but its 34 labeled jeans fitted me fine. And I did not think twice before buying it. Damn! I need to lose few inches.

All those who are still coping well with their waist sizes, please suggest something for a guy who sits 10-8 everyday in office chair and over-eats most of the time :)). And all those who have gained inches just like me and joined the Fatty club, guys I am going to leave you and join the thin club soon.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dhanaulti/Dehradun trip

My Jiju (Kapil) and I were making plans of going to Haridwar (or Hardwar) and I asked Jagan and Abhinav too. All this happened on Friday evening and the plan was final. This trip was going to be one of those best experience because I was taking my Car along and I had to drive all the way :)). Haridwar, just 150kms didnt sound like a big deal though.

After usual delays we started at 5:00 o'clock, Saturday morning and within 2 hours we were sitting in a Dhaba having breakfast some 100Kms from Delhi. I drove these 100kms at a stretch. First record reached :). After eating good Aloo, Gobi paranthas and having Tea we moved further.

It was getting hot as the day was getting brighter and colder as we were approaching hills. Basically wee had to run. We stopped at few green and scenic spots and went further along. I dont remember when I asked Kapil if we were on the right road to Haridwar when he said we were going to Dehradun.

Well! The plan changed. There is a waterfall called as SahastraDhara that we had to visit in Dehradun and then come back to Haridwar. Looks good, we reached Dehradun and as I was driving I noticed that all the milestones were just showing Mussourie. Now Kapil and Abhinav wanted to go to Dhanaulti. Come on, its just 50 more kilo metres.

These guys I tell you are so good at convincing. But I was on the wheel so it was me who had to decide. I took the car to SahastraDhara and the drive was good. Roads were going up and down but this was only a beginning. We had a one hour bath in waterfall in which we kept jumping from one stone to another. After the bath we had good 25Rs Chowmein at a restaurant near parking and we got ready to leave.

While going back we saw a steep road. Now because that road was going nowhere, we had to take it. We drove for some 200metres after which there was all broken way and no road at all. The waterfall had forgotten its path and it came on the road too and off course we drove over that too. When the road looked totally un-driveable we started back towards Dehradun.

After discussing where to go over Pizzas in Dehradun's Pizza hut we decided to go to Dhanaulti. This was my first proper hill drive which felt good. I thought of giving the wheel to Kapil (who is a experienced driver and drives very well) but thought of giving it a try. Initially the road was steep but smooth. After few kms it became steeper and road was broken too but I drove on and on.

There were hills covered with lush green forests all around. Clouds were visible everywhere. It looked like heaven all around. I had to try hard to keep my eyes on road and not get immersed in the beauty. We finally reached Dhanaulti and checked into a hotel and went to the Sunset point to see the hardly visible sun.

It was already getting dark and the path was through the woods so visibility was also low. Clouds were visible all around. We reached the top of hill and it was getting cold already. We took the longer way back as it was already dark. We were coming down the road towards Dhanaulti as we discussed about new Serials like Heroes, and Friends, and Dragonballz.

We stopped at the Dhaba to eat Maggi and Tea. The owner looked like the "Just Imagine" dude in Krishh. We sat at that dhaba as we discussed about Kapil's trip to Singapore and London and Darbari's Newzealand experiences, the bungee jumping and what not. We brainstormed and found how IPOs work, how stock options are given in companies, how VC funding works etc. As they say minds start working when you get away from daily hustle ;).

After going back to the hotel we watched "Dil Maange more" and slept off. I hardly slept, thanks to the 100 Decibels Snoring of Darbari. Dont they ban people like that on quiet places :P. We got up full of energy the next day as it was raining in Dhanaulti. We wanted to eat at the Hill-top restaurant to enjoy the food but because of rains we ordered food in hotel. Sun god was happy for some reason that he showed himself soon and we took our second part of breakfast at the restaurant.

After eating more and more paranthas we started on our way back to Delhi. Just after starting from Dhanaulti , some snow-covered peaks were visible.

We took few photos as we thought of going to Badrinath which offcourse we didnt have time for. The journey was great as I made my Car touch 105-110 for sometime. Finally after one stop where we ate packed Bun-butter that we had got in Dhanaulti we reached Ghaziabad around 4:45 (7 hour drive). In all the trip was great and experience was wonderful.

More info:
- Distance from Delhi to Dehradun/Haridwar/Dhanaulti is appx 220, 190, 250 respectively.
- You go from Delhi->Ghaziabad->Moradabad->by pass Muzzafarnagar->Roorkee->Dehradun->Dhanaulti . Or Roorkee->Haridwar
- The above route is not considered very safe so prefer driving in day time.
- Finding accomodation is pretty easy in Dhanaulti though its a very small place with very less hotels.
- There is not much (almost nothing) to do in Dhanaulti other than sitting and relaxing with Maggi and Tea. There are 3-4 restaurants where you get decently good food.
- Road from Mussourie towards Dhanaulti is broken in Rains so take care of that.
- Rating
: Trip 4.5/5
: Dhanaulti 4.75/5
- Best time to go. Anytime when its not raining. I am not sure but I think it should get snowfall in winters, summers are very pleasant. Nice getaway from City's Hustle and heat.
- more pics here
- picasa rocks

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Lonavala Trip

After lot of planning problems and last minute changes we finally made it. Eleven of us went to Lonavala/Khandala. The trip was exactly how I wanted it to be. We did everything from eating to trekking, from getting drenched in rains to driving bike on hills, saw waterfalls and forts, caves and temples.

The trip was planned long back. We had decided on Lonavala/Khandala as we wanted to repeat our last year's experience of Mahabaleswar/Panchgani. The trip was postponed from May to June as we found that Lonavala is dry in May and rains start only in june. We even thought of changing the place sometime in mid June when we found that it had not started raining. Our options were Shimoga (Jog Falls) near bangalore or Dandeli which was much farther away. But after lot of heated (and funny) mails we decided to stick to Lonavala.

Jagan, Piyush and I started from Delhi on 21st June and reached Hyderabad around 7:00 o'clock. We had a warm welcome by the rain gods. We directly went to IIIT from airport where Amal, Vidit were waiting for us. It took us more than an hour to reach IIIT as Hyderabad traffic has become a real mess. After meeting Pati, Visesh, Vidit, Paresh (Amal was busy on phone) we went for dinner in hot rotis mess. The food reminded me of old times. Manjeet, Nitin and Abhishek had already reached their apartment to pack up. After having our dinner we decided to go to kesav reddy as our taxi (Qualis) was taking longer than usual to arrive (Thanks to Amit hereafter called as AC). We had an eventful ride in a service jeep which has an open back for keeping stuff. We tried hard not to fall over and Jagan was particularly thrilled by this adventure. On the way we found Rakesh and he also joined us for dinner (second dinner). We had a good kashmiri pulao and mushroom pulao as Jagan was busy eating his Curd Rice (:P he kinda over-liked it).

We went to my old apartment where Nitin and Dixit are still staying. Manjeet also came over and we had a good time as we celebrated Vidit's birthday by cutting an ice-cream. Thanks to his broken back (or his acting skills) that he was saved from bumps. Finally around 12:30 AC came with the taxi. We were pleased to see a video player in the taxi which we were not expecting. So we wasted another half an hour to write some movies and some songs in a DVD. Amal wrote a good mix of movies - DCH, Cars, Bheja fry (arggh!!), Mask etc. Finally we left the institute at 2:00 AM Firday, 22nd June 2007.

We had a pleasant ride with lots of discussions about various topics. Our first stop was a hilly area where we climbed on top of a hill. The view was good with lots of small hills visible all around accompanied by cool and fresh wind. We stopped at a small restaurant at sholapur (250kms from Hyderabad and Pune) where we got only spicy Missal Pav and Tea. We ate some 32 Pavs in total :D and around 22 Teas ;) for less than a 200 bucks. We had played Bheja fry in the night which made everyone sleepy but everyone was wide awake when DCH was played. Around 1:00 o'clock we touched Pune but we didnt stop and continued to Lonavala. We took the western express highway which is famous for fast driving but our driver was driving at mere 70-80kmph. As we entered lonavala we went to the first restaurant that we could see as we were very hungry. After having a heavy lunch and tasting some chicky (famous sweet in lonavala) of Maganlal we checked into a Maharaja inn.

We had left the driver back at the hotel to sleep but after finding public transport for half an hour we gave up and called him back. In the mean time we tried some more Maganlal chickys which were not as good as we had expected. On enquiring we also found out that we could get cycles on 7Rs/hour rent so we thought of giving it a try. But it was quiet late already so we killed the thought. Our first tourist spot was Rajamachi point in Khandala where we also got good bhuttas (corn). It was a small park which overlooked the western express highway and had more monkeys than humans. It was very cloudy so we could not see the Rajamachi fort which is supposedly visible from this point. It was not raining till now but there were lots of clouds which caused high humidity. The worst part was that the winds were still. We all were quiet dissapointed by the weather. The road outside the garden took us to a view point from where only a electricity center was visible. We stood there as we discussed about what to do next.

The next spot that we visited was Lonavala lake which was quiet disappointing. Not that it had very less water but it was quiet dark by now (it was 7:00 already) and nothing was visible as there were no lights. Well! We decided to go back to the hotel. It had started raining a little bit by the time we reached the hotel. Vidit, Nitin, Amit and I came out to roam around in the market where we ate batata vada which was nothing but aloo pakora. Though we fought with the waiter about it but finally ate the pakoras. Vidit and Nitin bought some “essentials” (miscellaneous item) and we headed back to hotel.

After having dinner again in the hotel we started playing dumb-charades. Some people (like Dixit, Jagan) had already slept for few hours. Piyush had also gone for a nap but he came later to join us. Amal, Amit and Manjeet formed a team against myself, Nitin and Vidit. Though our team sucked a bit but they were no better ;) (nothing personal guys). Finally after dumb charades we had a round of questions for each one of us, more like truth part of truth-and-dare game. Though we already knew most of the things about each other but it was still fun to ask intriguing questions. Finally we slept around 2:00 o’clock.

The weather was fantastic in the morning when I woke up at 7:30. I was the first one to wake up amongst us (atleast in my room) and I started waking up everyone. Much to my amazement everyone got up quiet quickly. We got ready for a great day ahead with lots of plans. After a heavy breakfast of idlis and bread/omlette six of us got ready to ride bicycles for 2 kms+ to reach blabla dam. So we got 6 cycles on rent and moved on. It was great fun but we were quiet exhausted pretty soon. Amal, Manjeet and Dixit had decided to come by taxi and so we had left before them. What we did not know was that they will take much more time than we expected. We waited for around half an hour in front of the Dam where cameras and mobile phones were not allowed so Nitin, Piyush and Jagan went first as Vidit, AC and I waited for them to come back.

Finally the other guys also came with Gaurav and Paritosh. Gaurav (from Bangalore) and Paritosh (from Pune) joined us on Saturday morning. They came on Paritosh’s bike from Pune to Lonavala. We all went to see the Dam which was not quiet what we expected. The whole place was bought by Tata and was highly restricted. We could not make noise, take pictures, have a boat ride, whatever. Privatization has its cons. Paritosh had ad already been to Lonavala so he took us for a sight seeing tour. After returning the bicycles we went to Bhushi Dam first and stopped on the way over the Lonavala lake to take some pictures of hills and greenery. It was a very scenic view. Some small waterfalls were already visible from here. I was driving Paritosh’s Pulsar and Gaurav was on the pillion seat. Many thanks to Paritosh for giving me his bike, I really enjoyed the drive on the hills. We stopped at the Lion’s point or whatever that point was and took lots of pictures there. This point overlooked lots of green hills which were hardly visible through the clouds. The view was breathtaking. Everyone wanted to play cricket at this point but we did not have the equipment. After we were done here we proceeded non-stop to Sahara Amby Valley. Though we knew that entry is not allowed inside but we still got a glimpse of it. After a long drive of about 17 Kms from Lonavala on the tree covered roads in the hills we reached Amby valley. It had a huge entrance and not much was visible from outside. We went on a small trek on a hill alongside the Amby valley to get a closer look. We enjoyed the trek so much that we forgot to take a look at Amby valley at all. All this long Amal, Dixit and few others were sitting in the Qualis wasting life. At the end of the trek we found a small forbidden passage in which there was a small waterfall. More people left from this spot to go back. Finally Vidit, me, Manjeet, Nitin, Gaurav and Paritosh were left out, later joined by Piyush. We trekked through the waterfall as our shoes got wet. After slipping few times and trekking for some 100metres we reached a dead-end. To continue from here the only possibility was to hang on a tree trunk at the top, move around 2 metres hanging on the trunk itself and then finally jump on a rock. Well! It looked quiet tempting but we resisted our temptations and returned as none of our ancestors were any where close to the Tarzan.

After coming back to the more civilized part of hill we played gully-danda for a while as AC was busy meditating and “feeling” the place. I scored 2 runs after which Bothra cheated and got me out. I won any way ;). We returned as others were waiting. We were quiet hungry so all non-veggies ate the left over bread/omlette that we had packed in the morning . We stopped at another point from where a hill size shivling was visible. The view from here was also great with hills on all the sides covered with greenery. We got hot pakoras to eat as it started pouring quiet heavily. It was great to feel the rains while eating pakoras. While coming back from here we stopped at a waterfall. Bothra, Vidit, Piyush and I got into the waterfall as others were busy “watching around”. The pressure of water falling on us was very high. We could not keep our heads under the waterfall for more than few seconds. Vidit tried curing his “supposedly” broken back by keeping it under the waterfall. After bathing in waterfall for few minutes we came out and ate the best bhuttas (corn) ever and some not so good ice-creams.

We came back to main Lonavala to have our lunch. As we were wet all this time we had to change at the hotel so we went back to the hotel to change. Vidit, Gaurav and Paritosh did not come for lunch as they were busy doing “something else” just outside the restaurant. It was only after reaching the hotel that they felt hungry and ordered some food. They created quiet a scene when we told them to join us later as were leaving for Karla caves (I have a video to prove that but cant upload it here). Well! It wasn’t entirely there fault . We left for Karla caves around 5:00 o’clock which is on the highway back to pune itself. This time Nitin and I were on the bike. We had to drive for some 500 metres up the hill and climb some 150 stairs to reach the caves. The caves were closed when we reached so we just visited the temple. The place was godly. There were hills and plains visible from here covered with different shades of green. It was very cloudy and rains were expected anytime. We sat and clicked some photographs and left around 6:30. It started raining very heavily as soon as we came down to the parking. It felt good to get wet again. Nitin and AC took the bike and others came in the car as Bothra, Jagan and I decided to walk down the hill in the rain. We almost jogged all our way down and it was great fun.

These rains were the first outburst of monsoons in Lonavala. The rains were so fierce that it took AC and Nitin almost an hour to cover 10kms on the highway on bike as we were waiting for them in hotel. As soon as they came back me and Bothra went on a small drive on the bike to enjoy the rains more. The drive against the rains was almost impossible without a helmet (and we didn’t have one). We covered hardly 2 kms in 15 minutes on an empty road and returned. There was quiet a traffic jam when we came back. It did not stop raining for hours as we were watching Golmaal on TV and most of us started feeling hungry. Amal, Bothra, Dixit, Piysuh, Jagan and I left for eating and bringing food for others around 10:00 PM. We went and smelt good pizzas in Smokin Joes but went to a restaurant to eat as Smokin Joes was full of people. Dixit ordered Indian version of Pizza – cheese parantha which was cut into 8 pieces just like a pizza. We all took a piece and ate it just like a Pizza but alas, Dixit still ate that Indian pizza with Curd. Kaju curry also sucked on comparing it to Raj Bakers’ kaju curry. The food was so not good that we felt like eating pizzas after that. We got 2 small pizzas packed and they were finished within 2 minutes when we opened them in the hotel.

Around 11:30 we got together again as Amal started asking few “daily life” questions related to the most controversial subjects. His list of “next” last question never ended as we discussed endlessly on all of those. AC was quiet only when Amal told him to get quiet and was at his usual best otherwise. Finally we slept around 2:00 o’clock.

The next day morning was as rainy as the previous night. It was good that we did not agree to Paritosh/Gaurav and Vidit’s proposal of going back to Pune the previous night itself. We got ready and checked out of our hotel to go to Lohagad fort. Raj (our batchmate Manoj’s brother) had visited a nearby Visapur fort just a day before and had told that it will be a 2 hour trek one way. Neaither did we have a lot of time nor did we have enough energy for a 2 hour trek so we just reached the base of that fort and just started walking. Gaurav and Paritosh went directly to Pune as it was tough to figure out the way in heavy rains on a bike.

The fort was visible some 200 metres away both horizontally and vertically. It was raining very heavily now and when we stopped to appreciate the beauty of the place we started shivering. We made quiet a few stops to enjoy the moments and grasp the beauty of the rains and green hills. After climbing few stairs we came across the ticket booth and we thanked god that we kept some money for tea before coming. The ticket guy also told us that those stairs would take us to the caves and the same path continues to the fort. But we had a different story ahead.

We played football with a tennis ball inside the caves. There were hardly 10 more people in that area. After listening to piyush’s song inside the cave we continued further to trek our way to the fort and enjoyed another waterfall in the middle. There was a huge waterfall after we took few more steps and we could not find any path that could take us beyond this point. Before we could term it as a dead-end a guy told us that there is a path to the fort if we cross the waterfall. Now that became a bit tricky.

There was a fence at the end of caves which was broken at one place which lead us to the waterfall. Only Bothra, Piyush and I dared to cross the waterfall as others were watching. It was definitely more adventurous than anything I did ever in my life. Well it was just a beginning. We had to cross the last part of the waterfall which was trickier than the rest. As Bothra and I crossed this part too Piyush returned. We had finally crossed the waterfall.

We told other people that we (bothra and i) will be back in an hour as we found a small path through the jungle which we “assumed” would take us to the fort. We were definitely scared but more thrilled and so we moved on. Initially the path was quiet well defined and we could see some foot prints too as we came across another waterfall. This one was a cake walk as compared to the previous one so we crossed this one too with great ease. Now the path was more broken and we were more scared. We had already walked for some 400 metres and decided not to go back so we moved further. After few more steps we hit a dead-end. On one side we had a path going to nowhere and at other side we had a 4 metre steep fall through the mud. We had no other way but to jump or slide. As we were already wet and dirty we decided to take the second option. The ground was already very slippery and we were trying hard to stay at one place and not slip. Bothra took the lead and slided first. He was not visible to me now so I shouted and asked if I should follow. As if we had a choice. It was almost impossible for him to climb 4 metres in that slippery slope. I held one shrub in my hand and tried to dig my shoes in the mud to stop sliding but nothing could stop me. I slipped through those 4 metres following bothra’s trail. We walked for few steps more and came across another waterfall. This was the biggest of all.

We felt more scared than anything when we thought about the situation we were in. Retracing our path back was almost impossible and stupid thing to do. So we decided to take the waterfall route as we concluded that the waterfall must be reaching the road somewhere. We made up our minds and started our way through the rocks inside the waterfall. It was slippery all the way and we were afraid of coming across some water animals or snakes but we didn’t have a choice so we just kept going. At one place the waterfall was totally covered by the shrubs around and we felt that we had hit another dead-end but fortunately we found an alternate path. Bothra asked me that if given an option to revert all this than what would I do to which I answered that I would tell him only after seeing our situation after half an hour. As we moved further we found another dead-end. This time the water was flowing right through the shrubs and we had to keep ourselves stable without slipping and at the same time avoid the horny shrubs too. I got two small cuts in my hand which I realized only after reaching the ground.

We had already walked through the waterfall for some 50 metres and we were seeing the ground more clearly now. We came out of the waterfall and after walking for a while we could see the road too. We shouted and laughed and felt like we had seen heaven. The walk through waterfall had already cleaned the mud that we had gathered during our slide. So we just walked our way back and found others enjoying Tea , Poha and Missal Pav in the small restaurant at the bottom of the waterfall. We joined them and told them about our adventure which was very close to turning into a misadventure (but fortunately it didn’t). The tea surprisingly tasted very good and the Poha was better than ever. After enjoying the Tea and singing songs for the people sitting at the neighborhood table we went back to our Car and changed.

After AC was through with his signing autographs and making plans for playing football with the bunch of kids that he had gathered we started our way back to Hyderabad. The way back was somehow more fun. We played parody antakshari in which we made up (or screwed) existing songs with our own content. While on our way back AC proposed to have Pizzas at Sholapur which obviously was quiet funny. It started with AC teasing Bothra to call Pizza Hut in Hyderabad but we actually did it. We called Paresh to search for Pizza hut in Sholapur on Google and thanks to him that he actually tried. AC went as far as calling Hyderabad’s Pizza hut and on hearing “sorry, we don’t have any information on that” replied “can you please find out about that and SMS me on this number if you find any info”. Huh! AC simply rocks. When AC was talking to Pizza hut guys we were shouting in the background to get Domino’s Number too :D.

Well, we didn’t really get Pizzas in Sholapur but we got Reliance’s A1 Dhaba. My personal experience of Reliance Dhabas was not very good in my Jaipur trip but this one was still good. We had a nice Thali which more than filled our stomachs. We had a nice walk also in the empty space that A1 Dhabas have I don’t know for what. We reached Hyderabad around 4’o clock when everyone was tired beyond words. Jagan and I got down at IIIT with Amal and Vidit as we bid adieu to other people. In all it was one of the best trips of my life.

My return ticket was on teusday night and I had a great time on Monday and teusday. I went to CA on Monday morning and met lots of people. Went first time to the Canopus restaurant (that had opened in VIT Park 6 months before I left CA ) and had a nice lunch buffet and coffee in Barista. We had planned to go for Fantastic Four at 4:45 but time flew and we could catch only 7:30 show. Dixit and I joined Paresh, Amal and Vidit in Ohri’s (Food court) in Hyderabad central and chatted for a long time. Nitin also joined us. The movie was umm enjoyable. More like Karan johar style love movie with Hollywood action. After the movie we went to Chutneys where I only ate the raw coconut chutney. Rating for food – 8/10, chutney 10/10. It was totally mindblowing. After eating lots of Idlis, Dosas, Uttapams and err! Chutney we came back to IIIT. We had to get up at 6:00 to play Tennis in Microsoft but have you ever woken up at 6:00 when you slept at 2:00 ? Well we went to play Tennis at 9:00 and Nitin also joined us. After 2 long sets of 5 games (me/amal lost to Nitin/Vidit  ) we went for lunch in Microsoft. Damn! We are big fatties. We ate almost a 4 course meal and had ordered so much that most of it was left out. After a game of pool we left to go to IIIT. We walked towards the new CA building in Gachibowli to see how the work was going and then went back. After a game of Age (Amal defeated me and Vidit ) we went to City Center mall to meet Priyanka. We had a nice full non-veg dinner with lots of great (oops) sweets after which I left for airport. I was so tired that I slept in the plane for the first time. The plane reached Delhi in no time. I had such a great time in this trip that I could not work at all for 2 days in office after coming back as I was always thinking about all the good times. Thanks to each and everyone who came to the trip and also to all who took time off to meet me in Hyderabad. I am looking forward to coming again to Hyderabad. Cheers!!

More details:
- Maganlal though seems to have high penetration but its Chickies are not delicious, try local vendors which make chickies themselves like A1 Chicky shop.
- There is not much to do after 6:00 as it gets dark and all caves, forts close down. Local market is pretty good for roaming and shopping (mostly chickies)
- The cycles available for lease are not in a very good state but its still worth a try. Don’t be very optimistic about your riding, its difficult to ride beyond 2kms one way on hills.
- Pune-Mumbai expressway is surely clean and good for a fast ride, but Pune-Mumbai highway has better view points and hills to stop for a trek or photography.
- Bikes are surely a better way to roam around once inside Lonavala. Driving on hills in mild rain gives an awesome feeling.
- We were lucky to see rains in June 3rd week but its better to visit Lonavala and places around like Mahabaleswar, Matheran, Panchgani in the middle or at the end of monsoon as they are more greener and clean. We even saw one waterfall full of mud as it was the first rain of Monsoon.
- Khandala and Lonavala are just 5 kms, there is hardly a demarcation between the two. You can stay at Lonavala (more hotels and a good market) and go to Khandala for a ride.

Friday, June 8, 2007

18 and still counting

I look back in my life sometimes, to see what I have achieved in last few years the top most thing that comes is Travel. I simply love traveling and it gives me tremendous satisfaction when I realize that I have seen close to 18 cities in these 11 trips in last 4 years. And the numbers are increasing fast :)

Here is a list of trips I made since Dec, 2003. These are the ones I remember as of now. I didnt blog all of them so some trip might have slipped from my mind, but thats unlikely :).

- Kullu/Manali from Delhi
Dec 2003 (with my 2 sisters by road in a Volvo)
- Goa from Hyderabad
Jan 2004 (with 12 friends by road in a Traveller)
- Mysore/OOTY from Bangalore
June 2004 (with Shekhar,Abhinav,Piysuh - during GE internship)

## Then i started blogging :D

- Simla or Shimla from Hyderabad via Delhi/Kanpur
Jan 2005 (with 12 friends, by road in two Qualises - after ACM programming contest)
- Goa from Hyderabad
Jan 2006 (with Amit, Manjeet, Amal, Ketan, Manoj, Vinod, Nitin, by road in Qualis)
- Sri Sailem from Hyderabad
June 2006 (with Amit, Nitin, Manjeet by road in a Indica)
- Bhuvangiri fort in Bhongir
July 2006 (with Gaurav, Nitin, Manoj, by road on Bikes - my Avenger and Nitin's Karizma)
- Pune/Mahabaleshwar/Panchgani from Hyderabad
July-Aug 2006 (with Vidit, Nitin, Rakesh, Nirnimesh, Ketan, Gaurav, by road in Qualis)

#after that I came to Noida

- Rishikesh (Rafting)/Mussourie/Dhanaulti from Noida
Oct-Nov 2006 (with Vikas, Pavan, Abhinav, Jagan, Sreejith by Road in a Qualis)

- Agra/Jaipur/Udaipur from Noida
Dec-Jan 2006-07 (with Sreejith, Ankit by road in Indica)

- Chail from Noida
May 2007 (with Kapil, Priya and Ridhima)

More to come: Plans are up for lonavala/khandala this month (few complications though as always :D) and Badrinath/Valley of flowers in August (planning stage)

Well, Thanks to everyone for accompanying me on these trips and making them more memorable. I already have few more places in Mind - Ladakh/Leh, Munnar, Pondicherry, Shillong, Nainital. Long way to go :))

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Global Warming - what is world doing for it

Came across this article on Techcrunch about Google/Yahoo's initiatives on Global warming and found it pretty interesting how big brands want to create a better world but we as individuals do not. We keep cribbing about how Government is not providing electricity round the clock rather than saving it. We keep cribbing that the government provided public transport system is bad and the traffic situation is chaotic rather than keeping the public system clean and doing more car-pools. We waste water happily thinking that its unlimited whereas ground water levels are depleting all over the world.

We, the educated class of professionals who are aware of the disastrous condition of our planet should actually take initiatives ourselves. We should save electricity whenever possible (shutdown PCs, switch off fans etc) , burn less fuel (car-pool, use two wheeler rather than Cars, trains rather than planes) , say no to plastic bags (use jute bags) , save paper (take lesser printouts, use paper more judiciously) .

And not just that, we should educate everyone about the dangerous situation earth is in and how we can avoid it.

A photo is worth 1000 words:

Alaska, 1973

Alaska, 2006



*photo sources: http://globalwarming-online.com/, www.npr.org

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

You me - one on one

Wanna play boxing with me..here goes..

Link: PlayMyGame

courtesy, http://playmygame.com/ .. cool website..make your game and do funny stuff .. enjoy

Friday, June 1, 2007

32nd Milestone - Go Karting, Bowling and DJ

After months of hardwork and beating deadlines we finally reached a very important milestone. 32nd milestone in Gurgaon was exactly the place for the celebration.

On Thursday, 31st May 2007 twenty five of the whole team finally made it to 32nd milestone. It took us more than an hour to reach there (noida->gurgaon) but the wait was worth it. After entering Gurgaon it was totally a new world with skyscrapers and flyovers all over the place. It did look like shanghai to me (not that I have been there :P).

We reached at 4:30 and directly went for Karting rounds. The laps were quiet small in length but 10 laps in one go neutralized the effect. Most of us had multiple rounds after which we went to the cafe for snax and drinks. The best thing in snax was the malai tikka (non-veg offcourse) with green chutney. After filling our stomachs to extremes we went for bowling game. My first strike gave me a big Zero but I still reached close to 100 (97) which offcourse was nothing compared to Manish's 114 and Jagan's 138 (Saran reached 100). Thanks to Preeti that I wasnt last :) .

Saran , Jagan , Sandeep and Manish tried their hand at Cricket too in dimming light. In the mean time other people were going through their karting rounds. We had another snax round and we went for bowling again. Saran and I had a game of ice-hockey too which I won very narrowly. Harsh, Anchal, Ayusman, Sunny, Ankit, Amit had gone crazy while bowling, giving bumps to everyone. Anuj made a whopping 165 in the last bowling game.

We assembled at 8:30 for dinner when the DJ Rocked us. Everyone danced to his tunes till the music stopped at around 9:30. We had a quick dinner round after that with delicious Kashmiri pulao and awesome moong dal halwa after which we left 32nd milestone.

General info:

Karts are old, they stopped working after few rounds :))
They have an awkward rule of not hitting each other while karting or they will disqualify you
DJ was great with a decent size dance floor for around 15-20 people
Shooting was not working, and there were slight problems with a video game one of us tried
The place has good ambience and enough activities for enjoying a weekend

Monday, May 28, 2007

Weekend trip - Chail hill station

After lots of plans varying from going to Jim Corbett National park to Nainital to Ladakh we were still undecided. One thing we were sure of was that we were going somewhere in the weekend. So myself, my jijaji (Kapil) and sister (Priya) and my cousin (Ridhima) finally decided on thursday to go "somewhere". We gathered at my place on Friday night and were supposed to start early saturday morning. Till 10:00 o'clock we had Mussoorie in mind.

We were chatting after dinner and I was trying my best to drop the Mussoorie plan as the place sucked when I went there last time. Moreover, we were not permitted to travel in the night to Mussoorie area as the roads are not supposedly safe. So I was trying to sell them the idea of going towards Simla (or Chail, had heard this place for the first time on Friday from office friend). After long conversations, drawing KM maps and even using chits to decide (idea courtesy my cousin) the place we decided to go was towards Simla.

It was not too late (1:45 AM, Sat morning) when we left after some quick packing. My jijaji was driving the car (his Esteem LXi) as we were chatting and chatting and chatting some more. Discussing topics ranging from some "statistics" in "BPOs" to "relations" to some real short stories we had to share. I was even made to answer some awkward questions thanks to my cousin :@. We stopped at Gulshan Dhaba at Murthal (a place really famous for its dhabas on highway towards Chandigarh) and grabbed some paranthas. The weather was pretty good for May end and the journey was interesting. My cousin and sister slept in the backseat in the later half of journey and we reached Chandigarh around 7:30 AM.

After a quick breakfast my sister and jijaji slept as me and Ridhima went to a park nearby to enjoy the weather. It was the same park that we used to visit frequently in our summer holidays at Nanaji's place when we were young (long time eh!!)- Topari park. It drizzled a bit and stopped as we were discussing "lotsss" of different things sitting on a see-saw :P.

Nanaji tricked us into having lunch at his place though we had plans of leaving early. After a good meal we left around 2:00 o'clock towards Simla. Our first stop was at MacDonlads where we had burgers and fries and we were definitely 'loving it' :). Kapil was mixing icecream and burger to irritate Priya. I was still pestering everyone to know which place we were finally going. Everyone of us had seen Simla multiple times and it was quiet boring to go there again. Kufri also didnt have much to offer. None of us had been to Chail. So after a 5 minute discussion (on the diversion between simla/chail) about these options we took the turn towards Chail. We asked the first 2 people on our way to Chail to inquire about the place and the response was "its a beautiful place, worth visiting. No, I havent been there just heard that its beautiful". Umm well! we thought of taking a chance.

It was already 5:00PM or so when we were 29 kms away from Chail and the road was totally desolated of human presence with very few cars (no trucks for the narrow road please) appearing out of nowhere once in a while. We came across a fort like structure which was too small to be a Fort or a resort and too big for a restaurant and there was nobody around to ask about it. After a nice 2 hrs drive on a road surrounded by dense forests with greenery washed with recent rains we finally reached Chail around 6:30 PM.

We were told by Nanaji that the hotels will be overpriced as it was the peak season and so was our experience. After a bit of searching we finally found a decent hotel (Hotel Kailash) with a very welcoming owner at very acceptable tariff (450+taxes for a room with Geyser, color TV with Cable and offcourse a bed :P). We got ready after checking into the hotel to leave for Maharaja palace which was under renovation but had the restaurant open. It was raining and the temperature was close to 15 degrees as we had put on our jackets/shawls. Drive to Maharaja palace reminded us of those movie scenes that are shot in jungles with rains and people driving in the dark on steep roads. The place looked too shady to me as it was very dark and rainy so we went back to the main market.

We were quiet hungry as we went inside a nice looking restaurant/dhaba where the food was more than horrible. If we had not been hungry , we would have left all of it. We wanted to go for a walk as it was just 8:30-9:00 but rains did not allow us and we were forced to go back to the hotel. After watching laughter challenge for sometime we all slept. I was pushed down from my bed by my cousin in the middle of the night and I have to take revenge :P . Everyone had a nice sleep otherwise ;) and we got up pretty charged on Sunday morning for a great day ahead.

We left the hotel at 8:30 to visit the highest cricket ground in the world (at 7500 feet) . We came across a set of temples also on our way. The road was very steep at around 40 degrees and was mostly broken. Thankfully my Jijaji drives pretty well that we didnt get any trouble in climbing up/down. Gods really give a hard time to followers by sitting at such secluded places. The place was really awesome with no sound to be heard from anywhere. There were 4 temples - Ram Temple, Durga Temple, Shiv Temple and one more and there was absolutely nobody around except 4 of us and the only panditJi. . This was one of those places where one can hear silence. We stayed there for sometime, clicked some snaps and left for the cricket ground. We would have definitely spent more time there if we had some.

The cricket ground was closed. We could have trespassed but it didnt really looked worth it so we just took a snap of the board that said 'highest cricket ground in the world' to prove that we were there :P and left. After this we went to Tarika Jungle Retreat

Tarika Jungle Retreat is simply a fantastic place. Staying at a place like that for few days can make somebody a better person. Tarika is a resort that is made on one complete hill (or may be more) with 65 rooms in total that vary from Premium to luxury to cottages to presidential suites. A gym that overlooks the lush green hills and is fitted with Jacuzzi, massage chairs and treadmills etc. Though I didnt see but they say there is a tennis court/golf course etc also. They also organize Treks and more events for residents. I seriously gave a thought of coming there for my honeymoon :P (whenever it happens that is) for few days. The place was very clean and serene with a joggers track that surrounded the whole Resort. As this is the peak season , all the 65 rooms were occupied.

We came back to main Chail and checked out of our hotel after eating good veg sandwiches and paranthas. On our way back we came across few kids selling some fruit. We stopped and checked it out. Nobody among us was really
interested in eating so we thought of leaving and one of those kids shouted 'kadke hain saale'. That was mind-blowing. We ROFLed for like 1/2 hour after that :D . Kapil got into details and proved that the comment was actually pointed at me as I was the only 'saala' in the car :P. We came across a hand-pump on the way and threw water at each other, washed feet etc. We also filled one bottle with that water which turned light brown in sometime so we had to throw it huh!.

Our next stop was SadhuPul which is basically a pull over a river. The flow was very light in this weather (May end) and we could stand in the middle of the river. Kapil parked the car very close to river and we all got into the water. We played for sometime throwing water at each other and were fully drenched in water. It was quiet cold here with cool breeze but it was still sunny. A restaurant nearby had kept few tables and benches in the middle of the river (innovation eh!!) to give a different kind of experience to visitors. We sat there for sometime and left after having few sodas. Another thing that we cant forget about
this place was the Sardar family which had around 30+ people and 3+ cans full of food and water. What a treat!! We were thinking of exchanging our Hide-n-seek and some chips for some home food :P but didnt really implemented this great idea.

While coming back we visited Cafe Coffee day and MacDonalds again. Thanks to these brands that we get good hygienic food at hills too :) (to MacDonals and CCDs - guys we need more food joints in places like Chail, Dhanaulti, Rishikesh, Sri-sailem etc). We stopped for some more time in Solan to feel the last few moments of cool air as we were nearing Chandigarh.

After spending some 20-25 minutes at Nanaji's place in Chandigarh we started on our way back to Delhi. Our next stop was Haveli (a nice complex in Karnal with lots of food joints and fun things to do , recently added Karting and boating) . We were speculating for around an hour that we had missed Haveli on our way but we were thankfully wrong :) as we finally arrived at Haveli.
After eating a little we started again and reached home after dropping my cousin at around 1:00 o'clock. I dumped all photos/videos on my laptop and showed it to everyone. While watching those we were actually taken back in time to all those places / events and experiences.

Thanks to Kapil, Priya and Ridhima for such a great trip. I just hope to re-create such an experience sometime again :) . The sooner the better :D.

More info:
- No petrol pumps in Chail after taking the diversion from solan. You would get petrol at 70rs/litre if required so better fill up your tanks.
- Finding a decent hotel in peak season is difficult so some pre-planning is always better. Though there are enough hotels / lodges of varying tariffs its likely that in peak season most of these will be full.
- Dont go to Chail as a tourist, its definitely not a tourist spot. Visit Chail for the experience of a serene, quiet and peaceful place. It doesnt have the hodge-podge and mall road of Simla/Mussourie but one can definitely take long walks on the roads around the market and treks on hills.
- Overall Rating 4.25/5