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Travelling is often fun.... But it is the little discomforts and funny incidents that make the experience memorable. The travel guides and pamphlets give the picture, but our experience is only ours. This blog by Shefali Menezes, Sullivan Noronha, Martin Joseph and Babli Yadav goes out to all the people who believe in this experience..

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Great Phone of China

"Great is the owner of the China phone," says our very own pseudo-intellectual. Get over Blackberries and Androids because the ones that rule the roost in the sleeper class of a North-bound train are the Chinese phones.

The history of Chinese phones in the North-bound trains:

Few years back: Chinese phones rang loudly with ringtones like: Bahiye Me Kasi Ke Saiyan Maar La Khacha Khach.
Battery depleted by the time Igatpuri station.
The owner of the China phone, "Bhaiyya, hum tumko istesan pahinch ke call karegenge.. Gaadi lekar aa jana"
And then there was peace. (The loud conversations are excluded from the peace situation)

Less than few years back: Chinese phones rang loudly with ringtones like: Bahiye Me Kasi Ke Saiyan Maar La Khacha Khach.
Battery depleted by the time Igatpuri station.
The owner of the China phone, "Bhaiyya, AC Coach se phone charg kar ke batate hain. Gaadi jara 4 ghanta late hai. Raat ko dobara milayenge."

And peace(conditions applied) had short intervals of 5 minutes. Thanks to the charging happening in the AC Coach.

Lesser than the less than few years back:Chinese phones rang loudly with ringtones like: Bahiye Me Kasi Ke Saiyan Maar La Khacha Khach.

Battery depleted by the time Igatpuri station.
The owner of the China phone, "Bhaiyya, ek ghante mein batayenge kaunsa station hai. Pilug-pwaint do dibba chhod ke hai."

After half an hour:
 The owner of the China phone, "Bhabhi, pai laagu. Bachhche theek hain na."

And the peace intervals reduced.

Last year: Chinese phones rang loudly with ringtones like: Bahiye Me Kasi Ke Saiyan Maar La Khacha Khach.

Battery depleted by the time Igatpuri station. China phone got charged immediately as the 'pilug pwoint' is just next to the window. Two China phones can be charged at the same time.

The owner of the China phone, "Bhaiyya, firee talktime hai roaming par. Baat karo.. Aur batao kya haal chaal.. Amma kaisi hain.. pranaam bolna.. achcha yahi hai.. de do jaraa... arrre Amma.. pai laagu... bade din ho gaye shakal dekhe.. aa raha hoon na.. istesan par bhaiyya ko bhej dena... yaad se davai le lena... bittu ko phone do.. arre Bittu bachcha.. kaisa hai.. Hum Bambai se chijji la rahe hain.. arre Happy Meal bhi laa rahe hain.. uske saath wo khilone bhi miley hain.. achcha munni kaisi hai....."

Momentary lull.. Then 

Bahiye Me Kasi Ke Saiyan Maar La Khacha Khach...

The owner of the China phone to wife, "Achcha suno, munne ko naya yunifarum dila dena.. Main kal pahunchunga.. Maa se ab jhagada toh nahi hai na.. kuch kiya naa. taang tod doonga.. Samajh gayi ki nahi... Do saadiyan leke aaya hoon.. Shaadi ke liye... Bhabhi ho dulhan ki.. kayade se tayyar hona..."

Pee Pee Po Po Po Pee Po Po Pee Pee (Dialling numbers)
The owner of the China phone to girlfriend in Bambai, "I love you darling. Saadiyan leke aaunga tumhare liye.. Khet ke taaje ganne bhi... "

And the peace was extinct.

Haven't travelled in a train this year.. Will update the timeline soon. 
Meanwhile amuse yourself with this video

Shefali Angelina Menezes

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

127 hours= One and half hour of intense adventure

 I wish I could say I finally watched 127 hours after 127 hours of its release here in Mumbai. But what the heck ...I got late there too. But the point is that I did manage to catch it after
144 hours of its release and Goshhh...What an experience. One hour 33 minutes, one guy and lonely peaks is all that the film might have to offer but I am sure the point cannot be
missed. Especially by people like me who love to pack their bags and get out there on a roll, indecisively & impatiently :P
Well...127 hours is the story of a real life super hero (I agree with you Aron :D) and his adventurous escape from the Blue John Canyon of Utah. In the 127 hours that he spends at the canyon with one of his arm stuck, his entire life comes in front of his eyes. The good times, the bad times, how he realizes his mistakes and how badly he wants to undo them. If only life could give him another chance. And it does...yippee. It’s the story of a survivor and what better way to remember him than learning from his mistakes.
So, in no particular hierarchy or order, these are the things that idiots like you and me got to do or atleast try to :P
·         While its good to be enthusiastic...its foolish to be over enthu.
·         Life is an adventure (agreed)...so is dying :P. You don’t wanna be on the other side of the road. Make sure you know what you are doing. There’s nothing called the first & d last chance to do something in life. So chill!
·         Always inform your parents or your close friends about your escapades (my fav J)
·         Be well prepared. Foresee. Think of the pros & cons - all that you want and don’t want. It helps. Give your travel plan a good thought.
·         Keep your spirits high and when time ticks trouble – don’t lose it. There’s nothing called giving upJ

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gaseous planet

I found this post on gadling.com sometime back and I thought I should share it here:

David Sedaris with Rick Steves: Funny travel incidents and observations like when flight attendants pass gas

Two of the things I remember from an interview I heard withDavid Sedaris on Travel with Rick Steves is that Business Class is known as ICU because passengers are in need of attention and flight attendants pass gas as they walk up the aisles because the sound covers the noise.
A flight attendant told Sedaris that. Not, Heather, our Gallery Gossip gal, someone else.
Here are two travel tips during the conversation that Sedaris passed on in his sardonic m wry wit sort of way.
  • When staying in a hotel, you don't put your clothes in drawers because that's how you lose things.
  • As a matter of fact, don't let your belongings wander more than two feet from your suitcase.
And here's a bit of irony that Sedaris has noticed when staying in high end hotels. He pointed out that these hotels have half-hearted attempts at going green. He points out that they may tout going green with missives like:
Save the earth. Don't make us wash these towels, save the earth.
Then with the turn down service, they turn on the radio and the lights.
He also says that, "Sometimes, I turn on the radio and I think, "Who the hell was in this room?" . . .like if the music is heavy metal.
Both Sedaris and Steves talked up travel in Japan which our own Matthew Firestone who lives in Japan could verify.
About Japan, Rick Steves says, "People were so unbelievably kind. In Japan, ordering was terribly fun. Japanese are so gracious. Only country I've been in where people regularly stop me and ask, 'You look lost, can I help you?'"
Living in Japan helped Sedaris quit smoking. He wanted to quit smoking because so many hotels don't allow smoking anymore.
To listen to the Podcast between Steves and Sedaris, click here. What I've passed on are only tidbits of the wealth.

Oops!!! Lion ate the camera

Yeh Laga 'Chhakka'

Disclaimer: The post means no malice against eunuchs. It just relates to a random incident. The image used is for representational purpose only.

I was travelling in Lucknow-Mumbai Holiday Express in the summer of 99. The train was chugging away to glory and as usual, I could not sleep because of  "Chai chai! Cold Drink le lo! Ae khana aaya!" But my parents had already gone to sleep.

The train halted at some godforsaken station that had no lights on the platform. After two minutes, I heard a loud clapping noise followed by the regular dialogue "Ae bhai de na!" Yes, it was the entry of the hijra a.k.a chhakka.

The image is used for representational purposes only.
Usually my father lunges to the bathroom to escape, no matter how dirty they are. But this time he was asleep. And sleep is no shield against the hijras. 

The hijra reached our places. I pretended to sleep like a dolphin with one eye open.

The hijra grabbed my father and shook him up. He/She (limitations of language) was drunk and my father was scared. He/She declared, "Paisa nikalo nahi toh utha doonga."

But my father refused to pay. The other men in the compartment to retaliated, so the hijra grabbed the Cool Keg kept near by and tried to escape.

Since he/she didn't lift(?), my father got some courage and he screamed, "Arre, yeh naqli hai, naqli! Pakdo Pakdo!"

Somehow the call of 'Pakdo Pakdo' (alternative 'Chor Chor') stirs up some spirit in Indian men and they start running towards the direction where everyone is running.

Coming back, all the men ran after he/she to catch him. But he/she was lucky. The train had started moving. But surprisingly he/she kept the Cool Keg at the door of the next bogie which was found some 15 minutes later.

Even after this incident, my father still runs to the bathroom to escape from the hijras, no matter how dirty the bathroom is!
-Shefali Menezes

Thursday, January 27, 2011

No Beach! then let’s go find one

 “You know what Pune does not have, Beaches. If there were beaches around then it would be the perfect city” announced my friend Sanju when a few of us were talking while the world was asleep. We decided to satisfy our beach cravings by going to a beach called Diveagar around 160 kms away from Pune. Eight of us on four bikes two CBZs, one Pulsar and a Splendor plus set out searching for the beach at two in the morning. I was the unlucky one who rode the Splendor for the whole trip and was trailing behind for most part of the journey. We were riding in the biting cold and as we got out of Pune at around 3:30 am only the headlights of the bike was flashing ahead of us in total darkness as we rode ahead. 

We made occasional stops at unknown places in the mountains in order to take in the scenery. The magnificent waterfalls and the misty mountains was a beautiful sight. After more riding we stopped at the only shop in sight which served hot poha and black tea. We rode through the twists and turns of the ghats and climbed down from the mountains. 

No one can beat nature’s call as a deterrent to travel. We wanted to pee very badly, so we followed the ways of our ancestors and attended the call in the woods. Now we were back and we screamed, “Gimme some more biking!!”
The next halt was when the Splendor had a front tyre puncture. Holes anywhere in non-living things are bad (except a sieve). Lucky for us, we were in a town where we could get the tyre fixed without much difficulty.
The bikes were refueled and we set off for the last part of the journey. We reached the beach at around 11 in the morning and after riding for hours together we parked our bikes on the beach and just ran into the waves of the beautiful Diveagar beach. 
-Martin Joseph

The Chappal Tales

“Chappals are not only meant to wear,” says an anonymous pseudo intellectual. I realized it when I went to Nainital for the first time in the year 2007.

I was in Class XII that time. Our school had taken us to Nainital for an excursion. The scenic bus ride from Kanpur to Nainital gave us stiff backs and an extremely unbearable stench of molasses from the sugar mills that we passed.

That was not enough. The hotel we stayed in, believed in the principle of ‘atithi devo bhava’ as well as ‘atithi khilavam mandaagni dene wali vastu’. They served us with such an amazing buffet three times a day that we felt that we were the eternal baraatis.
Unable to eat so much of oily food, I decided to do some tapasya or what we call now-a-days, ‘detoxification’. I stuck to Maaza in the name of fruit juice. As a result I became weaker and weaker in two days.

On the third day, my friend decided to buy some chappals from the famed Tibetan market. I could barely walk, but none of us were allowed to stay back in the hotel because kleptomania seems to be the most rampant illness in such school trips.

The Tibetan Market was a treat to all sights. You could get the delicious smell of momos, the sight of colourful bangles and chappals and the sound of, well, noise and cacophony.
But my senses were weak to enjoy all this. So I sat down on a khatiya to catch some breath. Out of the blue, one old came and started hitting me with her chappal for no rhyme or reason. After being beaten I realized that it was her khatiya and I wasn’t supposed to sit on it.

Bhare Baazaar mein chappalon ne izzat utaar di. After this incident I can only say with my head hung in shame, “The pseudo-intellectual was right.”

Note: mandaagni means acidity. Please google if you want to know the meaning of the meaning of chappal.

- Shefali Menezes

The “Aches’pressway

Standing in the middle of an expressway at 6am in the morning watching vehicles fly by you is not a very pleasant feeling. The mercury had dipped to almost five degrees centigrade and we were barely trying to make conversation through chattering teeth and wisps of ‘smoke’ escaping our lips. The aim was to get on to a bus heading toward Mumbai.

To get to this point, let me rewind by a few hours. I was busy in conversation with friends and having a midnight cup of tea at a local ‘chaiwalla’ in Pune when my alarm went off and I realised that it was 4am. I rushed home and got my friend to drop me to Pune station. After all I had to get back to Mumbai before 10.30 in order to make it to class in time. I reached just in time to make the bus. My classmates, Nupur and Martin were waiting there for me. The bus set off just as soon as I found my seat and made myself comfortable. Considering it was an odd hour of the morning, the only bus we could get was a 2x2 asiad.

The bus was cruising away on the expressway and I was sound asleep when I suddenly heard a loud bang. Following this, the bus tottered to a halt in the middle of the Pune-Mumbai expressway. The worst part – we had just entered Lonavla, the coldest part of the journey. What was more worrying than the cold was that we would not make it back to college for the lecture.

With each passing vehicle, our tension levels kept rising much like the goose bumps on our arms. It was amusing to see the bus conductor and driver waving their arms and shouting at the top of their voices at each state transport bus that passed. Unfortunately though, none of them stopped to help us. The waiting game went on till almost 7.30am when finally another Asiad passing by noticed us and stopped to help (probably because the sun had risen and he could see us).

On entering the bus we realised that there were no free seats which meant that we had to stand all the way back to Bombay (approx 130 km). Having no choice, we hopped on. We hit Navi Mumbai by 9am or so when an idea struck me. Instead of crawling through the city in the bus, I suggested that we alight at Vashi n take a train all the way to CST. The train of course was crowded. We squeezed our way into the compartment and somehow fought our way to some seats. Thankfully the train did not get delayed and we were able to make it in time for class albeit being about 5 minutes late. But, credited had to be given to us for making it back to class in spite of the crazy rollercoaster ride we had just come out of.
-Sullivan Noronha