From Home of Paneer Tikka to Biryaniland

Saying good byes this time made me realize that I will indeed not meet some of those people again, people who end up becoming an integral part of everyday life. Made me realize that some farewells are final ones, even in the current times of instant connectivity. Thankfully, majority of the good byes are only till we meet again.

Excited about the move more than I can describe, and not willing to admit that I might miss Chandigarh, I realize and acknowledge it was an interesting stopover in my journey called life.

A place where I bought my first car and learnt driving. A huge credit to the grid layout, good roads and traffic rules. I feel like I will have to relearn driving in Hyderabad! Any tips anyone?

A phase where I lived by myself and enjoyed that! And responded to pesky salesmen, election campaigners etc. that parents aren’t home!

A phase where I made a special connection with Indian railways! To the level that a particular month, my account was blocked for having reached the maximum number of tickets that a user can book. (Ok, not all those tickets were for myself!) So long, and thanks for all the rides- Kalka NDLS Shatabdi.

A place where the airport security guard started to recognize me and at one point, asked- When did you get back that you are flying again today?

Btw, do you know what am going to miss the most? The amazing view of mountains from my work desk! Am serious. 

Planting tales*

A weekday morning, 7:25 am, rushing to get ready in time for 7:30 cab.

Phone buzzes. Screen says- Van calling.  I answer the phone and do a quick argument with self whether to take earphones out of the bag or not. I decide not to for untangling them will take me another 1 min.

Phone stuck between my ear and shoulder, I put on socks, tie my shoes, pick bag and lock, turn lights off, unbolt the door, get out, lock the door etc. Alongside, I listen to Van talking about her intern hunting process and something about a marketing class and the number of cases she has to study this semester. She mentions about a particularly boring case and how the prof chose to share the case on a Monday morning whereas  Friday would have given them more time to read etc. (I didn’t point out that free weekends aren’t that bad!)

With home locked and keys in pocket, I start walking down the corridor towards stairs.
Van- I bought a small plant. 
Me- Sahi. What plant? (In my head- Which developing country did she go for that 2 week on-site client tour  for that project of hers?)
Van- It is just a small plant.
Me- OK. But what plant? (In my head- What course was it? Who was the case study client? Did she mention it involved actual seed money?)
Van- Umm… A small plant… don’t know what it’s called. (Meanwhile, I had climbed down one and a half floors and there- in middle of staircase- was a flower pot)… One of those small shrubs!
Me (at the same time as her last 5 words)- You mean a plant in a pot, like a flower pot!!! 

We laughed for next couple of minutes. And then cribbed about the world around for doing this to our conversations!

*Pun intended


Scene: Chandigarh railway station, 10 pm on 24th Jan, a confirmed ticket to home.

Enters the train and stops such that coach B3 is just in front of me. B3, seat 27! I still decide to check the chart. 27- Kavita, it reads! Err… I check the coach number again. It is B3. I step back to move out of the way of people boarding the train and search for the message on phone. B3, 27… that’s right. But wait, date of journey: 25th Jan.

What! Well… it was obvious, I had booked ticket for a day late than I needed. Looked around for TT. Explained how important it was for me to reach home and how I had a ticket and how I am ready to pay the penalty etc. He coldly directed me to the sleeper coach. I found a seat there. Tried again after 5 min. No favorable response.

Dejected, I started in the sleeper coach. Dad’s voice rang in my ears- “Carry a blanket with you. It will be cold when you board the bus in morning.” I had responded in affirmative and still ignored the advice. After all, railways provides blankets in AC coach and I can manage in the bus for 3 hours without a blanket. Well… it was going to be a long night.

The adventure had just begun. TT told me to get down at Ambala and buy a plain ticket. Despite my offering to pay entire penalty, he insisted that I get a ticket. Train stops for 30 mins at Ambala. With suitcase in hand, I climbed up and down to the main platform for ticket. Murphy’s law, reservation windows were closed for those 10 minutes! They close thrice a day for 10 min each time. Waited for 15 min (Oh yes, I was expecting them to open it on time) and suddenly panic struck. Ran back to the platform, ran like crazy… Train was still there.. phew! It had only become longer now, as two trains had been combined. On afterthought, getting down to buy ticket was one of the most stupid things I have done in life.

Told TT bluntly that tickets were not available and he better give me a seat and challan receipt. Finally a berth I could spread my legs on. But wait, it is cold…

The night got over somehow. Thankfully, it wasn’t as cold as I had dreaded it to be. I managed 4 hours of sleep. I thanked the moment when I had decided not to carry my laptop along on this trip. I patted myself for ensuring that I carry luggage only as much as I can lift. But I couldn’t have chosen a worse time for such a goof-up. Entire family gathering at paternal home for a weekend together.

The story doesn’t end here. Rather, it was beginning of a story which is going to haunt me forever… Every time, I will book a ticket, am sure someone back home will ask me if I have booked for the correct date.

Travel musings- Bhopal

Visited Sanchi Stupa a week ago and was pretty impressed with it. The way it has been restored and is being maintained etc.

But this isn’t the main reason behind this post.

On Friday evening, met a couple of friends in Bhopal who chose one of the classiest restaurants of their city (calling Bhopal a city to avoid offending some people! ;) ) for dinner. As soon as we were seated, I noticed that the place had live music. And well… it was live Hindi music. I exclaimed: This is so cool. I already love the place.
I hadn’t seen such a thing before. Friends gave me a wait and watch reaction.

I was told that live Hindi music (a guy singing into a microphone and music playing from a laptop) is extremely common in restaurants in Bhopal. We guessed locals consider it classy.

I didn’t have to wait for too long to understand the wait and watch reaction. Two songs down, I realized that it was extremely irritating. The voice wasn’t great, the volume was too high and worst of all, the choice of songs… decades old songs that weren’t the best ones of their times. We kept waiting for the singer to take a break. Those 15 minutes were such a relief.

Never judge a book by its cover. Had I not been taught so!

Dhoom 3

Ok, I know most of you did not like Dhoom 3 anyways. Hence, I need not repeat the general points. Frankly, over all, I didn’t mind the movie much. Perhaps because I went on a day when I really wanted to watch something senseless thanks to a stressful week.

**Spoiler alert** <Not that you will watch it if you haven’t already.>

Two instances in the movie stuck me very strongly. It might sound like over-reaction but I would argue that it matters.

Why does Jackie Shroff kill himself? I could not think of any justification.
How is killing a solution to losses in business and going bankrupt? How come he did not care about his two small sons who didn’t have a mother anyways? (Mother part is an assumption as she was never mentioned in the movie.) How can this entire concept be glorified?
Director could have simply killed him due to heart attack or something! Killing self in that particular situation and leaving kids behind killing their innocence was totally coward.

And, why did Aamir and Aamir kill themselves? Just because their goal was over?
Is revenge a reason enough to live? Is it ok to simply kill self when a particular reason has been fulfilled? It sets a wrong example to the society, especially in ours where hero-worshiping is a serious business.
If dying was the eventual thing, they should have killed themselves in the starting itself. (Ok, I agree, then there could not have been a movie.) Bank had not done anything wrong to their father or to them in terms of law!
Had Sahir gone to jail and Samar been let free, I would have been ok.

Just a couple of days before watching the movie, I read in local newspaper: A guy (apparently love-struck) entered a beauty parlor where a girl was getting ready for her wedding, threw a jug full of acid on her face (leaving her with 70% severity burns) and left a paper saying he was going to kill himself. The base story felt so similar: Take revenge (destroy the other person’s life) and then kill yourself.

Before the year ends- Part 5

Check out the preceding posts for the entire series.


9. Turning 25
25 felt like a milestone. Just that it turned out to be yet another normal day. One of the quieter birthdays of the lot. I was surprised with myself in a nice way that I did not throw a tantrum :)

10. Movie Gravity
That’s the one movie experience which stands out in my head. Not that I watched a lot of them last year.

I had a long and highly ambitious list of goals for 2013. Less than a quarter got chased and executed. That said, I am going to prepare an equally ambitious list for 2014. May be a little more focused one this time so that it is more actionable. The major point is going to be working to improve stamina. Feel free to ask me about my progress on that front. That would serve as some motivation if am doing good and as a reminder if am being lazy like this year. Suggestions on how to overcome inertia are also welcome.

Happy holidays!


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Before the year ends- Part 4

Scroll down for Part 1, 2 and 3


5. Chandratal Lake
The route was highly deceptive. What looked like 5 curved roads around mountains ended up being 25 curves. I was exhausted and a little demoralized by the end of it. Especially when we realized that we needed to start for the base within 30 minutes of having reached there if we wanted to make it back before midnight. 
The total number of people that we met in the entire day were less than what I can count on my fingers. Nevertheless, at 4300 m height, it is a pristine beauty. Thanks to the herders on the way who kept telling us that it was only 2 km, 3 km more when we were at least 7 km away from our destination on the other side of the mountains. 

6. 170 miles in a day drive
Well, probably it doesn’t sound much but it was indeed an achievement for me. 170 miles on a work day. Alone. Driving isn’t that bad after all!

7. Acrobatics show
Watched this particular acrobatics show in Beijing. The only place which had very few Indian tourists. Cost was the factor, I would guess. Or probably the fact that you anyways cannot take pictures there! By the end of the 90 minutes show, I was indeed at the edge of my seat- with excitement, with apprehension, with awe. Just when I thought 3 bikes inside a less than 3 m radius (that’s basis my guess and discussion with the accompanying friend) sphere were a lot, 2 more entered. And then 3 more entered… My brain, already feeling dizzy because of the preceding acts of 20 people on one cycle and other stuff, was about to stop at that point. No video can make up for the real show!

8. Pentagon from the flight
Just before landing at Washington DC airport, the building below looked strange, yet familiar. Can that be Pentagon? I wondered. Seemed highly improbable that flights would be allowed so close and low about Pentagon. Checked maps soon after landing and it was indeed Pentagon. I still can’t believe that it is so easy to obtain an aeriel view of the building.


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