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Archive for August, 2006

The long ride past the equator

30 August 2006 7 comments

It all started last Thursday when we started from campus. After a fantastic circuitous trip on roads made worse by the monsoon (and yes, that was my brainwave), I managed to catch the Avantika Express 5 minutes before departure. No big farewells, just a  simple byebye! I start conversing with the 2 Indore residents bound for Bombay. Bombay has always that charming feeling I associate with really big cities. I wonder how much I will experience it. As the train whizzes past Nagda, Ratlam and the last of the MP towns, all my memories of the lush greens of the great monsoons around Indore, the delightful dosas at the Mallu mess in Mhow and the bare foot football games flow in my thoughts. But I feel damn sleepy and I don’t stir when Godhra, Baroda and the Gujarat towns come. I wake up pretty early and await Borivali, the first of the Bombay suburbs where I am supposed to get down. It is 6.15 by the time I get down. My friendly neighbour advises me on what I can do. I would like to feel the Bombay local train. I cannot believe that a local would be so crowded at 6.30. But I manage to keep myself safe and get down at Ville Parle, the station to the airport. It is pouring heavily as I leave the station and I take an auto to the airport, which is very near luckily. I pay him 20, knowing it is indeed high for such a short distance. But I am so happy at reaching the airport without a hitch. I can not keep my luggage anywhere and so I find that I would not be able to see any place in Bombay. I stay at the airport when I see one of my Indore mates and have a nice long chat with him. My Air Deccan flight leaves on the dot. I talk to a couple of Madras businessmen before and in the flight. Abi and Thatha pick me up at the airport and I am back home.

Good food, a quick round of shopping at Tambaram and TNagar make for the 2 days. We all leave home on Sunday at 8.30 and we are at the airport in 10 minutes. There is a big queue for departures and it is 9.30 when I say good bye to Amma, Appa, Abi, Madhu, Thatha and my friend. All procedures work just fine, though the immigration guy checks with another on my visa and I enter the lounge at 11. I help some Oriyan tourists with the form filling too. I call Abi on the free local PCOs at the airport. The Air India Express flight to Singapore starts late by an hour. We get down in Changi at 7.50pm local time. I hardly get any time to do anything in Changi. One vehicle was waiting for us and the 3 of us for NZ from Madras get our boarding passes and get straight into the flight just before departure. The Air NZ experience is wow with me for the first time feeling in-flight entertainment, tasty NZ food and some great juices. My neighbours are an old couple from Chromepet. We reach Auckland before time and the exit is pretty smooth. We feel no hassles with the checks. Our baggage comes in the next flight, making us wait for a few more minutes. I shop at the last Duty Free in the airport. I wait for my friend for quite some time. I get a calling card at the airport and reach the voice mail of my friend. When my friend reaches at 11am, I know I am safe and I have enjoyed my longest ride of my life so far…

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Categories: Travel

New post new country…

24 August 2006 3 comments

…next time. Sorry, I thought I would be able to write one before I left. But it looks like I have not managed my time properly! See you guys from down under.

Categories: Travel

All it takes…

18 August 2006 6 comments

…is a visa. The wait is over! Having seen queues at the Gemini Flyover and heard of horror stories with interview dates at work, I have this uneasy feeling about getting a visa. Thank God, it’s the US visa which is so stringent. The NZ visa is such a breeze to get. The best part is you don’t have to move out of your place. It all started on this TT services site, which handles the outsourced(!) work for the NZ Immigration Office at New Delhi.

I duly fill in the forms. After getting all the required documents, I rush to the Indore GPO on a Monday evening (24 Jul) to ensure that it reaches them faster by Speedpost. The anxiety begins. Neither the Speedpost delivery site nor the movement site ever work. There is no receipt from TT services too in spite of my email request, adding to my anxiety. I call up the Speedpost guys for three days from 27 to 29, when they tell me it had been delivered on the 26th (at least, they were prompt with the delivery) though the site updates had never happened. Armed with this info, I mail the NZ Immigrations officers, who kindly acknowledge my visa application. I am relieved that at least my application is under processing.

A week passes and I enquire if it has been allocated to a visa officer. On the next Tue (8 Aug), I get many calls from the officer who has been allotted my application. We are not allowed to carry our mobiles to class and when I call her, I am not able to reach her too. After an exchange of missed calls, she speaks to me for about 4 minutes about my work and my MBA. Thus ends the interview. She advises that my application looks complete on her first scrutiny and makes me happy. Two days later, she clarifies my employee number. The same day, I again enquire if I can use this link to track the status of my application. Early next morning, she sends me an approval mail and says my passport will be despatched the same day. Yes, I get my student visa! I am joyous and profusely thank her. Most of the other exchange students have to go to Delhi for their French visas or US visas.

11 Aug (Fri). Visa approved. We have a two-day break in the following week, Independence Day and Janmashtami. I anxiously await my visa. I cannot tolerate the wait on Thu, when the passport has still not come. I enquire with my visa officer on the despatch details. Ah, it is Speedpost again. Blame my luck! Of course, the story repeats. The delivery tracker insists that there is no document by that description. If only Indiapost works on this… Luckily, I get my passport today. It has taken a week to reach our campus from Delhi by Speedpost (4 working days), when it took just 2 days to reach Delhi from the Indore GPO. That makes one visa less to apply. Thank God, I can apply for an Aussie visa at Auckland. Two Mondays later, all I will need is this visa to feel the Kiwi experience 🙂

Categories: Travel

Tincha Falls – a photo log

11 August 2006 10 comments

Tincha Falls is a waterfall about 10km off from Simrol, a village on the Indore-Khandwa road. Tincha village now has tar roads and so the ride is pleasant. From the village, the falls is just a km away and the genial villagers help you find the way easily. It helps that there is a signboard where we need to turn right from Tincha village.As we enter the falls area, we are enraptured by the huge flowltincha-falls-the-full-view.jpg and the valley the-stream-the-valley-and-the-green.jpg. We decide to get down to the bottomgetting-down-to-the-stream-it-looks-ominous.jpg. Two villagers show us the way before they disappear in a jiffy. That is the most difficult stretch of the whole trek down. Two of us first venture down the-first-movers.jpgand the third descends past the difficult stretch the-difficult-stretch.jpg. After spending some time seeing the rushing waters tincha-falls-the-broad-view.jpg and the white vapours tincha-noise-the-white-clouds.jpg which do not allow us to get anywhere closer, we begin our upward climb. We are glad to be on top! On our way back, we see a farm family at work. There is a cute treehouse tincha-village-the-tree-house.jpg, which captures our attention.

Having enjoyed Tincha Falls, we proceed further towards Khandwa till the first dhaba after the first ghat stretch. Here my friend provokes one of the numerous monkeys, that responds with this snarlthe-provoked-monkey-at-the-roadside-dhaba.jpg. Undeterred, we ride till the second ghat where the view is amazingindore-khandwa-road-the-second-ghat-view.jpg. After a quick halt, we reach our original destination Choral village. It is Rakhi day and it is very colourful there. The joyous villagers do a Dandiya right in the middle of the road,choral-village-rakhi-umbrella.jpg stopping all traffic in the busy road. These sisters seem to be carrying some Rakhi plant rakhi-plant-in-choral-village.jpg, for all I know. We stop by the Choral river, just in time to see a train crossing the bridgea-train-on-the-choral-bridge.jpg . What amazing sights we have seen in a span of 4 hours! We are truly blessed to be here during the monsoons 🙂

Categories: Indore getaway, Travel

Will I go beyond “Auto” mode?

11 August 2006 2 comments

A few weeks back, I was researching on a digicam. Gopi insisted that I be a prosumer (professional consumer). I discovered this Madras shop, JK Camera Zone with the lowest prices and fairly trustworthy too. My bil went and checked out the shop. The salesman was from a town near to that of my bil. I finally paid about 17k INR for a Canon A620, a 1GB SD card, a Sanyo quick charger and 4 2500 mAh batteries, delivery to Indore included. The digicam arrived yesterday. We took the camera’s first pix and a few videos.

After the initial excitement, I realised that I knew zilch when it comes to operating a digicam. This A620 is loaded with features and has been first on several top-selling lists. I have this dilemma of more features I will not use vs less features I will use fully. The “Creating Passionate Users” blog also talks about it coincidentally in this post titled, “Are your users stuck in P mode?” The major issues in the post (go read it) are the focus should be on the art of photography rather than the tool per se, the ease of use along with making the features obvious to use and the need to develop a passionate user community. I only wish I get beyond the Auto mode.

Categories: Me

Patal Pani – a pleasing waterfall

6 August 2006 8 comments

1 Aug 2006: The monsoons have enriched our environs. After an early morning class, 3 of us decide to go to Patal Pani on a whim. The clouds are out and it rains often. That only adds to the delight. Well, a bike trip in the rains is the most pleasing to the senses. We go to Mhow. In spite of going there so many times, we get lost. The newness of a familiar place! We ask a dozen people and end up on the other side of the rail track – an alternative road to Patal Pani. Last year, we had gone via Kothariya. My natural instincts prick up and we prefer to explore the new route. What a tragedy it proved to be!

We struggle past the slushy routes. We are immensely relieved when we reach the silver falls without any mishaps. The green meadows, the grazing cows, the missing crowds and the gushing waters make up a great sight. Here are our pictures. You have to see them. Maybe, I shall experiment with a photopost. Determined to go all the way down, we discover the route. We are the only souls at the bottom. The pond is muddy and we could not enjoy a refreshing dip sadly. The climb back up is tiring. One of us has hurt his feet and we decide to turn back, though I wish we could walk through the railway track past the tunnel and find some more spots of rare beauty. Thus ends another sweet little trip. Here’s what I have written last year.

Read more…

Categories: Indore getaway, Travel

Going south…

2 August 2006 4 comments

This must be my worst kept secret. After 7 years of inactivity, the pages of my passport are being filled for a destination that boasts of the southernmost capital in the world. I am doing my Term 5 in Tamaki Makau Rau, Aotearoa – a period of 14 weeks to be precise, with a trip to its sister city Bris Vegas thrown in the October break. Tamaki Makau Rau and Aotearoa are Maori names for Auckland and New Zealand respectively, whereas Bris Vegas is the pet name for Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. I am excited, no doubt. Going international is the fad(!) with Bschools here and ours is no exception. The hitch is all the expenses are mine and that is the prime reason why I got selected. In any case, the tuition fees are waived and that is a huge portion of education costs abroad.

Student discounts shall sustain me, I hope with my ISIC. The site says “You are a student only once, enjoy!” The selection happened in March and put an end to my family’s plans of visiting me in Indore and touring Rajasthan. After customary hassles associated with planning a trip, I am reasonably sure about the details. My flight tickets are done, thanks to the father of a classmate, who runs a travel agency in Jalandhar, Punjab (where he tells me international travel is huge). I have a rather tight schedule, with just 10 hours to say tata to Amma, Abi and the rest in Madras where I will take the Singapore flight. I hardly have any time there and I would keep flying to my destination. On my way back, I will have a 6 hour halt in Hong Kong, where everything seems expensive. I wonder how I will study. It seems to be the last priority for me there. I have taken my first loan in life for this exchange and I have to use it to the fullest.

I got lucky with my stay as one MBA student there and her hubby offered me (in an extremely nice gesture) accommodation at a nominal fee, saving me quite some money. Also, the couple are fond of travel just like me. I hope to make the maximum out of their NZ knowledge. NZ became enticing to me, thanks to Madhan‘s bushwalking photos and hearty recommendation some time back. We had to choose between France, NZ and China. France is where every one else is headed. France opens avenues to the whole of Europe. But I had two reasons. I have a strong feeling I shall go to Europe some time in my life and Europe would be cold during this period. It will be spring to start with in NZ and a pleasant summer to finish. Of course, Madhan is at his usual generous best with an invitation for me to spend a week with him, all expenses paid of course. I would have to just arrange the flights.

Also, the NZ sites are a wealth of info. In fact, there is so much of it that I am finding it difficult to remember it all. I have made most of my enquiries online and what a pleasure it is to do business with folks who respond over email so promptly. When I was at this, I came upon this great Indian flights metasearch site, which looks so deceptively simple. I booked on it and found it to be easy to use and having the best fares. The delivery was quicker, with AFL. Now, all I have to do is sit back and wait for a few weeks when I will find myself in the original God’s Own Country.

Categories: Bschool, Travel