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Mandu – the mood of the monsoons

28 June 2006 2 comments

The plain Dewas trip left us a little disappointed to be frank. But as compensation we had the pulsating Arg match that extended late in the night which ended with Arg as the winners. It had rained heavily in the evening and in the night, never mind that it had been raining the previous day as well. I managed to get up by 8am. A peek outside revealed the moody day it had turned to be. Clouds covered the sky and the cool breeze was so typical of the place, called Shab-e-Malwa. (Side mention: This excellent article (no contribution from us) in wikipedia about Malwa has some pictures taken by my friends on our trips.) It was perfect weather for a ride and I woke a guy up at 9am. Thus started our waking up spree and by 10.30am, 6 of us were ready and eager to go.

Mandu is called the City of Joy and we will see the reasons shortly. You can find excellent descriptions of Mandu here on MP Tourism and here on Outlook Traveller (Thank you Google). It is a 100km away from our rooms. We had aloo parathas packed from our mess and were on our ways. The sun at times peeked out of its honeymoon with the clouds, that too for very short times. The rainy season is definitely the best time to be in Indore. All the seasonal streams and waterfalls come alive filled with water. The plateau is bedecked with green sensations and provides a rich feast for the eyes. The monsoons have only started and I am so happy at the change in weather and the so many trips that seem promising to us this term.

We drove nonstop past Indore’s SEZ, Pithampur and reach NH59, the Indore-Ahmedabad highway. I always feel the highways here need big improvement and a stretch near Ghatabillod was pathetic. We cross the infamous Chambal river, which is very much seasonal and has no water. We stopped 60km away at Dhar for our teabreak. We took a shortcut at the outskirts of Dhar to reach the Mandu road. This road has lots of bumps in one particular stretch of 10k. It has been a year since I last came on this road and this stretch has not changed an inch. We had been riding at an average of 60kmph and sped past the Y junction (about 21km from Dhar), leading to Mandu or NH3. The road beyond this junction is very good and Mandu is about 15km away from that point.

Our first halt in Mandu was at the place I call valley-viewpoint1.jpgValley ViewPoint. My helmet holder broke at this point, having served me faithfully for a little over 3 years. An old local fed us info about the tales of the area. We took our first snaps of Mandu. I had been here a year back, before we willingly lost our way in the depths of the valley, never getting a chance to see Mandu properly. I have uploaded some of our snaps here. We spent a little over 15 minutes. There is a Fossil Museum just next to this point, which is almost always empty. I have never found a reason for that. One thing I could observe was that there was absolutely no vendors this year and the crowd was a little less. We had come right at the start of the tourist season (Jul – Sep 1st week) which is synchronous with the monsoons and so we would enjoy our trip more.

Our next halt is a small artifice called Jali Mahal. Here we take our staircase photos jali-mahal-22.jpgand also try our monkey tricks 4-monkeys-hanging-onto-life-and-the-branches1.jpg. This picture does not fully capture the dangerous nature of our climbing. More pictures at this Mahal here. We then proceeded to Saat Kothadi, a small diversion from the main road. A temple inside a small cave is located here and a mini cascade flows here when the rains are IN. We did not have the patience to walk down the cave. In any case, the aunty who gave us all this info also told us that nothing was good that time. This was close to the point where I had got lost the previous year. This time, we went past the Darwazas of the Mandu fort.

We went to a ruined Chishti Khan Palace, jumping past the closed gates (pics here). The view was great and the breeze just excellent. Here is a classic lover-perfect pose the-lovers-view1.jpg. By this time, we had exhausted our lone water bottle and we were hungry and thirsty. We halted at the Relax Hotel near Jami Masjid. We opened our food packets and finished the Aloo Parathas. Having satisfied our mouths, we enquired with the owner about the places to see in Mandu. We had not done our research and left our travel to the will of the hour. The friendly owner elaborated on the 3 groups of monuments in Mandu as described in the MP Tourism place. The Jahaz (ship) Mahal group (external pics here) was the pick of the lot according to him.

But we were closer to the Central group, consisting of the Madrassa, Jami Masjid jami-masjid1-from-asharfi-mahal-madrasa.jpgand the tomb of Hoshang Shah hoshang-shahs-tomb-white-marble-delight1.jpg(inspiration for the Taj?). More pictures of all these places here, here and here. We had a good look at the bat-infected tomb. It seemed eerily similar to the Taj and more like a mini-version. The story goes that Shah Jahan sent his architects to be inspired by this tomb. We were a little sad that we could not go to any of the top floors. The tomb charges an entrance fee of Rs.5 for Indians and 2$ for foreigners. But it is majestic. It is under renovation and definitely deserves better for its impressive looks. Our next step was the Asharfi Mahal, where we relaxed a little. It had got hotter after lunch and we were sweating. The change in weather prompted gentle teasing from my friends.

We decided to see the Echo Point and the Rewa Kund group before we would wind up with the most famous Jahaz Mahal. One local helped us with the echoes at the obscure Echo Point and forced two of us to part with some cash. We reached the Rewa Kund, which too charges an entrance fee. We parked just before the Roopmati Pavilion, having chosen to ignore the Baz Bahadur palace near the entrance. We were not very inclined to climb the pavilionrupmati-pavilion-rewa-kund1.jpg which boasted of superior views of the whole valley. Finally we did and were glad to get some scenic delights (snaps here). Here is the best of our ones there heads-up1.jpg. This time we had some lime water. The sun really saved its best for the afternoon, we felt.

It was 4pm. We had another break at the Relax Point. Though I insisted that we should see the Jahaz Mahal, the majority opine the other way and we started our return journey. It was certainly one of our memorable trips. We rode leisurely on our way back. We were all tired and could feel the bad stretches more obviously. This time, we came through the main roads of Dhar, covering a few extra km. One of our pillion riders got stuck by a stone and his eye went red just before a tollgate. We were close to our campus by then and did not stop further. We reached our parking lot by 7pm before enjoying our daily quota of football. I resolve to see it once again when it is in its full splendour. There are so many things I have not seen in this rightly named City of Joy.

Bonus:
Mandu is a romantic retreat, the tale of a Hindu(Roopmati)-Muslim(Baz Bahadur) love. Jahangir loved this so much that he even composed a poem on this.
“What words of mine can describe the beauty of the grass and the wildflowers? They clothe each hill and dale, each slope and plain. I know of no place so pleasant in climate and so pretty in scenery as Mandu in the rainy season… What I have noticed is but a small part of the many beauties of Mandu.”

Categories: Indore getaway, Travel

Dewas trip

27 June 2006 4 comments

A long weekend, ie, we had our Saturday and Sunday for ourselves. It’s just beginning to rain here and the weather is looking good. Some of my fellow travellers had spotted this hilltop in Dewas, which had a temple and recommended that we go there. None of us are really keen about religion, but still we went. Most of us had stayed awake in the night to watch the Arg-Mex match last of the league matches. This would be my first trip in the second year. We had planned to start early in the morning and get over with the trip by 10am. The worldcup has screwed our sleep habits. It was 11am by the time the six of us got out of our campus.

It is a little over 50km away. We took the ByePass road (NH3 Agra-Bombay) and we saw the parts of Indore we had never seen before. We saw Sahara’s residential project, an ISKCON temple, a college boasting of assured admissions to prestigious American universities and the branch of Delhi Public School, one of India’s prestigious schools. We had travelled the periphery of Indore on a 30km stretch at a carefree pace when we reached the end of the byepass. We spotted an A1 Plaza and I was tempted to dine there some time. But we continued nonstop. About 10km down, we crossed the holy Kshipra (with a silent k) river. Very soon, we passed the Bhopal byepass to enter into the town. We could spot quite a few industries in this small town.

The temple was at the far end of the town. It was being renovated. We parked our bikes right at the foothills. Quenching our thirsts with lassis and chach (buttermilk) at the Sanchi Point (Aavin equivalent) just opposite the entrance, we walked the stairs to reach the 300ft high Chamuda cave. It was so hot and we were quite happy to rest in the relatively cooler temple when we reached there. For an instant, I prayed after a long time. The Jain temple located there did not open at that time and so we had to skip it. Two of us went the other way and promptly climbed up, huffing and puffing to join the others.

On our way back, we had another round of drinks at the Sanchi Point. Having heard of amazing leather goods from the Tata International surplus shop at Dewas, we hunted for it. As we asked our way around to a guy, he replied fluently in Tamil to me, having identified me as one rightly. I was delighted, but the shop was closed on Saturdays. I rejected any plans for a movie (Krish). We halted at the A1 Plaza and had a long lunch. It did not have any South Indian dishes that day. The food was good, though the service was pathetic and the quantity was less. We trooped back to our rooms by 4pm. One more direction is conquered 🙂

PS:
This post is intentionally dull.

Categories: Indore getaway, Travel

House hunting in Bangalore

23 June 2006 5 comments

The first time I was in Bangalore (2001), Alex and the others did the job for me. All I had to was occupy the single bedroom(BR) I got allocated to me in the 1BR house we rented in Nanja Reddy Colony off Airport Road. They went through the broker Baasha (a Kannada Jain) whose house we occupied. We paid a whopping 7k for that small house. Inspite of it being furnished, we were cheated the first time. When rents dropped very soon after its peaks in 2001, the place went for 5.5k when we vacated. The company had laid off one of our mates and so we stayed there for about 7 months. For the second house, I only identified Wilson Garden as midway between Bannerghatta Road and Residency Road. Prakash and the rest did the job that time through two brokers — for which we faced problems later. We were six of us in the pretty expansive house (owned by a Gult family) – a 3BR home we picked at a decent 7.5k. I stayed comfortably for more than a year and a half.

The first time I went hunting for one was when I intended to stay alone in 2003. I picked up the latest copy of Free Ads and looked for the cheapest possible option. There was a 1BR flat in Austin Town for 2.5k – a bargain in my opinion – given the rude start we had to rents in Bangalore. It was an old redox (red oxide) BDA flat built 25 years back. It had a equally-sized BR, hall and kitchen (I never used this), quite big for a bachelor with no material possessions except a few dresses and books. The owner was a Gujju businessman, pretty loudspoken. Satisified with the bargain, I happily paid the advance the same day and occupied it the next day. I stayed there for a little over a year and a half. I decided that it is time I got myself closer to where I work and so I intended to shift to Domlur. Gopi and I looked at a few places around the Airport Road junction and had almost finalized one when I made it here.

This time though, it was a little different. It is 2006 and I am looking for proper homes where Abi, my mom and Madhu can stay. Needless to state, I pick up the latest FreeAds and make a shortlist of the houses I can call/visit that day. Townhall is where she works and my choice of areas would be Basavanagudi, VV Puram, Jaya Nagar, Shanti Nagar and Wilson Garden. Abi says she doesn't mind commuting a little more if the home is perfect for Madhu. I start with one in Ulsoor – the Tamil heartland in Bangalore. I know it is quite far, but the landlord had advertised for a decent Tamil family — such ads are real funny — which I am sure we are one. I talk to his wife, check out the 2BR redox place on the 1st floor and am pleased to an extent. There is no separate entrance for the house, but it is spacious. Sometimes, the landlord is as important as the place and he looks gentle. He asks for 4.5k. I even take Amma to have a look. All along, she has been used to forcing herself to others' opinons and this time too, she didn't think too much and was okay with the place. The landlord and his wife are very elderly people and try to sell us the advantages of the place. He runs a temple nearby and I am sure Madhu would have grown to be a very religious girl if she lived there. I tell them I shall bring Abi later in the evening and promptly pay a token advance if she is satisfied. But doubts still linger in my mind.

Armed with a house at hand, I go ahead. I call the second guy who has a 2BR house for 5k at Sakkamma Garden, quite close to South End Circle. I manage to converse in the little Kannada I know with his wife. His name ends in some iah and is so tough to pronounce. I figure out that he is away and I need to come back later. The weather is a tad pleasant and threatens to rain just like it has over the last several days. I call the third guy, a Muslim banker at Jaya Nagar 4th T Block. The house is right on the T Block Main road, a lot closer to Abi's office and again I am satisfied with the 1BR home on the 1st floor and the banker. He quotes 6k as he has bachelors ready to pay the amount and is willing to reduce it to 5k for families as is the case with me. This house is definitely better than the last one, though the kitchen is smaller. The biggest advantage is its proximity to Abi's office. This guy also speaks about the many advantages of the house. I promise to bring Abi to have a look in the evening and go back to Sakkamma Garden.

This house is on the 2nd floor and is bigger than the other two. I seem to be progresing 🙂 It is also much more nearer to Abi's place. The Kannada professor is a softspoken scrupulous guy and asks an astonishing (I mean, cheap, no no, rather value for money in mbaspeak) 5k for the 2BR house he is ready to rent. He does not speak too much on the greatness of the place unlike the others. I guess he must have got enough requests given the offer. I seem to be spoilt for choice today. Abi's Tata Indicom mobile, which I was carrying, calls it quits as I have exceeded the arbitrary limits it was set to. I call the last guy in Jaya Nagar 1st Block Siddapura, house to many nurseries. I am unable to locate a yellow water tank he had told as the landmark on the way to his house. I call him back and he says, "Just ask for XYZH aunty's home". I do that and easily locate his house. His wife — the aunty — is the ward member of that area.

The guy happens to be an Erode guy though he retains little of the characteristic "enungaa", which Abi also seemed to have picked up during her study in Coimbatore. He runs a PG here and I am impressed by his interactions with the guys around. Most of the inmates of the PG are Tamil boys. He shows me two houses, both being BR ones – one on the 1st floor for 6.5k and the other on the ground floor for 6k. These houses are easily the biggest of all the ones I have seen today. 6k is a little out of the budget in my opinion. I think it is fair that Abi decides after seeing the houses. I go to her bank. She sits on the 5th floor amidst some of the most senior people. I talk to a few of them before she is done with her work. Her work timings are till 5pm but she almost always stays till 6 as she cannot go before any of the senior guys who go out much after 6.

It has not rained at all today and I take her to the Siddapura house, just 0.5km away from the back gate of Lal Bagh (as I know it) or the Lal Bagh Siddapura gate (as the owner calls it). Abi also likes the place pretty much. She does not mind about the excess over the budget. Her only criterion seems to be that the house is in the ground floor which suits Madhu the most. Of course, she trusts my opinion that this house is the best of the rest, which come at lower rents though. She does not even see the other places. After a quick call to her hubby, we decide on this place. I go to the ICICI Bank ATM at Elephant Rock, one of my favourite ATMs 😉 to pay the token advance. We go back to have a round of Amma's food. I am very happy that my Bangalore knowledge has been put to use and 3 cheers to Free Ads.

Categories: Family, Society

One year up

16 June 2006 2 comments

It's almost a year since we joined here. The initial excitement of an MBA disappeared long back. I live a student's life without feeling like one. When I was asked by Abi's managers on what I do, I hesitated before I replied to being a student. It has to do with that detached way I've been leading my life ever since school.

Unlike some people who have a definite idea of what they should do with their MBAs and their lives, I live by accident. No wonder, I really didn't know what I wanted with the degree. Of course, anything distant and unknown appears so wonderful. "What do they teach at Bschool?" was the attitude I had when I joined here and I still wonder about that query. Some come here to switch their careers. Yes, if you work hard or are not stereotyped to be from a background. Some are here to put their careers on a fast track. I am not sure about what will happen to me. My experiment was more fun and less work.

Everyone's favourite question this year is "What is your specialization?". I try to escape saying the truth — the IIMs give a general degree. But when they insist, I just blabber. Hardcore finance requires analysis, woe to me. Also, I seem to have developed a resistance for numbers lately. Marketing even after two terms conjures strange visions in my mind. IT is a case of "been there, done that". As for HR, how can one possibly study it? It's all in my detached mind. I will end up doing a mix of most things.

Yes, I lack seriousness. I lack (hard) work. I lack passion. If there is one thing I keep learning, it's my sarcasm. I'm a natural. Between football on the ground and on the TV, our 2nd year has started and the destination is still as hazy as ever. Well, who cares about the roadmap, as long as the journey is delightful?

Categories: Bschool

Time to study

12 June 2006 7 comments

Oh well, it's been a long break in the blog world. I was not away all the time. I followed Archu's and Rani's posts regularly, though I resisted from any comments [Damn control!]. As for my blog, I logged twice to check if it's still there. I was thinking of having an identity for the blog, but I could not come up with any. I shall let it remain as it is now, just a collection of write-ups on whatever strikes my mind.

What did I do in these 70 days away from campus? 56 continuous days at the company meant just about a week at home. I shall tell you how I didn't even get that. The first 4 weeks were bliss. 1.5 hours to ride about 40km, 8 hours at the company and Abi's food. More than 8 hours of undisturbed sleep. At Madhu's first function, I shaved my head and looked even worse when the hair grew back. Chronicles of Narnia at Mayajaal and Azhagai Irukkirai Bayamai Irukkiradhu at Sathyam [first day] made up a few weekends, coupled with visits to the umpteen relatives we got in Madras. One weekend for the customary home trip.

Meanwhile, Abi got a job with Bangalore's bank and had to shift there, spoiling my May a little or at least that's what I thought. But her in-laws made sure I don't miss her food minimum. Two weekends to Bangalore supposedly to help her. The next 2 weekends for a money-wasting "Gulliver's Travels" at MayaJaal and an okay Pudhupettai at Chrompet[First day – nostalgia of time spent with the MIT guys] finished the internship.

I spent the last week at Bangalore, enjoying the early monsoons and watching Madhu learning to walk and speak. Two successive days to Nehru Bal Bhavan, Cubbon Park with the second day topped by a Amma special mutton-curry lunch ate leisurely at the park! One day to fix a home for Abi [separate post]. A road trip to Coimbatore for a classmate's wedding just completes the break. From then, it is travel every night to home, to Madras and to college. Here I am, having registered for the most fun-filled year of our MBA and just back from a great speech at the re-orientation! Wish me fun, folks…

Categories: Me