Goa. Again!

Life’s happening at a pace that taking a break to jot something down takes ample effort. A few awesome things still need a mention.

Goa never fails to surprise me. In addition to the well-maintained (by Indian standards) roads that I simply love, the trip recently offered me some more reasons to love the place.

Bike Rental @ Safe Special Services tops my list of great internet finds I pat myself for. It was the first time we received a vehicle with a commercial number plate, and in extremely good condition. This was over and above the friendly and helpful nature of the company owner.
Another was a breakfast place- Little World Restaurant. The search required effort no less than a treasure hunt but turned out to be more than worth the efforts.

Of course, the beaches and the company don’t need a mention.

I should have tried to catch up with Vatsa, nowadays recognized better as a candid wedding photographer. I didn’t, my bad. Hopefully, my insistence and recommendation to a friend to contact Shaadigrapher for his upcoming wedding will be a chance to meet- for the good old Shaastra days sake, as Vatsa puts it.

Note to self: Write more often.


Day’s high and low

I was staring earnestly at the laptop screen on Monday morning (OK, am lying. I was gossiping with my teammates) when office admin opened our team room door and entered with a security guard.
“Surbhi, there is a courier for you”- handling me a Ebay packed of the size of two Dominos garlic bread boxes stacked vertically.  “Umm… OK. What is it?” and I signed without waiting for an answer.

From: KS, New Delhi. The parcel read. The only person I know named KS is an insti junior with whom I worked for a writing project 3 years ago. Not really close or in regular touch, but someone who is capable of throwing a surprise out of the blue.

By now, my teammates were more intrigued than me. There started the guessing game, and I made the mistake of mentioning about the junior. “OMG! You have such stud juniors.” “But wait, he cannot be having this address. This being a new office, very few people have this address. I have given it only to my brother I think.”

The description read: “7 LED display…” This looks like some controls item.

LG: “Show me the address. H (another colleague) has asked for the address and I wrote it exactly like this.”
Me: “Oh, may be it’s for her, delivered in my name. Oh, the vendor xyz in Delhi is called KS.”

I had to look around for a cutter and then keys to be able to open the strong packing by Ebay. Finally, I managed to open it. All this while, I was trying to recollect who all have my address. A total of 3 people have it.

After removing the layers of packing, out came a nice table clock. Yay. Something that I indeed needed.
I was told a few days ago not to check my phone in middle of the night and my excuse was that I need to check time and I do not have a table clock. Also, a month ago, I had locked my phone inside a room (this should go in Hyderabad diaries series) and had to rely on laptop to wake up next morning.

Well… this made my day… although I might complain when that alarm goes off tomorrow morning. My teammates weren’t exactly happy though. Guess I should act as a secret Santa for them sometime.

Just in case you are still thinking about KS, that was just the name of the Ebay seller.

An email popped up in my inbox in 2nd half of the day: 30th April will be holiday due to elections in Andhra Pradesh. Interesting! 1st May is off. Taking 2nd off, I can have a 5 days break. Let’s see what I can do in these 5 days.

First thought: Visit home. Check train options.
I jumped onto Indian Railways website and checked train options from Hyderabad. There is a train from Hyd on Tuesday and a return train on Sunday. Perfect. Leave around 11 pm on Tuesday, reach home on Wednesday around 8 pm (18 hours train, 2.5 hours by road). Spend Thursday, Friday, Saturday at home. Start around midday on Sunday and reach Hyd at 9 am on Monday morning.

Sounded perfect.

30 waitlist for both sides. Not bad. High chances of it getting cleared. Else, I will try for a tatkal ticket a day before.

Called up Mom. Told her the plan real quick. All she understood was that I will take the train, I will take 1 day off and I will spend 3 days at home. And that she should not tell anyone right now, especially not Gran Ma. Surprise after all. I was grinning wide after the call.

Jumped to IRCTC website immediately. Entered all details and reached the booking page. Departure time. Arrival time. Travel duration.


Travel duration: 41.5 hours.

Err… what?

This looks like 18+24.

Oh! Oh!

The train takes a day extra vs what I had thought.

Of course that makes sense. After all, it is 1600 kms distance on a not-the-fastest-Indian train that we are talking about here. Suddenly, a lot of things made sense. A colleague was wondering aloud how come train option for him is taking more than 30 hours and for me so less when our homes are in similar range of distance. I was crestfallen. The 5 minutes were super exciting. I was just short of preparing a to-eat-at-home mental list.

Simply wrote an email to Mom telling how I had goofed up and that I’ll visit a month later. But I want to go home in 1.5 weeks and not a month later.

Am yet to work on an alternate plan for the long weekend.

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.


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