Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

And then another year

Another year passes. Just like a breeze. The chill in the weather has reduced in the last one and half decade. But not the warmth . Going worse every passing year. And I don't really think its going to get any better.....
People don't like you to be happy. They dont even mind the killing of the innocent children. Why will the people even care of the others. Money, religion, fundamentalists and on top of them all, the sadists. There is never a dearth of all of them.

In such cases the only positive one has in life is hope. Just hope that hope doesn't take away the hope from us.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Safety In Driving

I never thought that I would be writing this article on Safety. Though I always that there was a need to educate, but not everyone is ready to listen, especially when it comes to driving. The phrase 'I am always Right' is more likely to be applicable for most drivers. Including me... and only a few moments later I realize that I was wrong a few moments back.

My only contribution in this stream of blogging was towards the attitude which we have towards ambulances. With time, I gave up on that, but all that I do is do my bit and follow the logic which I feel works well to give way to ambulances in Bangalore.

After driving for the last 10 years in Bangalore, and also travelling long distance, I can say I have covered a little more than 130,000kms(driven by me). This includes city driving on my Tata Indica and Swift Dzire and most of my long drives have been on the DZire, as can be seen on most of the posts on this blog of mine.

Things to consider During City Driving -
In Bangalore, there is nothing called Lane Driving. I call driving in Bangalore an a form of art. You trace the shortest route possible, without hindering anyone in between and slowly move towards your goal. But not everyone is so gentle, when maneuvering the lanes. My request, try to follow the car in front and stick to the pseudo lane created.

No or less Honking - I really don't see much use of honking unless someone is coming dangerously close to you, or someone is busy messaging on the phone at a traffic signal. I mean everyone on the road, (mostly) are on the way to a given place, and they will move. How will it benefit, More importantly, its very irritating to other drivers.

Give Way to Pedestrians - India is one of the countries , where the pedestrian is given least importance. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to stop for every single person crossing the road, due to the huge number of pedestrians, but when the signal is meant for pedestrians to cross the road, respect that.

Avoid Full Beam - This is a worst torture one can get from other drivers. Unless, its really dark and cannot see the road , I really don't see the need of the beam to be used in city driving. It not only irritates the person in opposite direction but also the one infront of you. The reflected from the rear view mirror is worse and this can give chances for an accident. I do tend to flash the high beam when the one coming in the opposite direction is on full beam, but then once he has passed by, switch over. Don't let the chain reaction to set in.

Dont Speak on the Phone : I know these rules are mainly followed by the law abiding drivers and most of the times I see the cab drivers,using them and in the bargain lose track of the lane in which they are travelling. Highly prone to accidents.
One point which I don't understand is, why is using the headphones or bluetooth for speak against the law. I do feel that using them to speak is much much safer and doesn't really disturb driving.Its as good as  talking to a fellow passenger in the car. Well, on the other hand, when the F1 drivers cruising at 300kmph per hour can talk and listen on their radio attached to their helmets, why is simple headphones and blue tooth against the law, though we travel at much much lower speeds.
I do feel this is a topic for debate.

Ambulances - This has been my pain point and I am sure for many others and everyone feels helpless when an ambulance is right behind you and you dont have a inch to move. First of all, the sirens on the ambulances are not as loud as I have heard them in US or such countries. This should be loud enough so that the traffic policeman can hear and clear the traffic.
Secondly, In the case of tight traffic and no place to move ahead, one option which is normally available is to move behind(Not if the ambulance is Behind you.. if its away). This will give room to other vehicles to move and let the Ambulance move ahead.
On the other hand, there is no definite rule which says, which side of the road a vehicle should move, if a ambulance or Fire Brigade is behind you. In US, we need to move to the slowest land and that way the fastest lane is available for the ambulance to move. Here, no one knows which side to move and nor does the ambulance know, which lane will be available for the vehicle to cross across.
These rules should first be tabled and then passed on to everyone. These questions are mandatory in the US when applying for the licence and serves the purpose, as in everyone reads them , for the sake for exam at least and in the bargain, knows what to do.

For the long Drives - 
With time we have seen nicer roads in India and better cars which has induced the culture of road trips. I have done many of them when I go home to Goa from Bangalore.

Some of the Safety Tips which I use during my Trips -

If its a long drive, around 600-700kms that I need to cover in a day, I start slow. I feel its more like marathon, where we need to plan for the whole journey and I prefer by going slow in the beginning. Once the tempo is set and you get good highways, you can rave up the speed in good light and straight roads.

Keep your self, hydrated and also keep munching sometime, time and again. Though we feel that we are only sitting in one place, the mind if busy working and lot of food and water is required. I like to carry energy drinks like Gatorade.

Don't over take every single vehicle you encounter on the road. If the vehicle in front of you actually reduces your driving speed, then surely you should, if not , just follow. Its less of mental drain, when you just follow a vehicle which is driving in the same speed range as you are. I call them the Guide vehicles.

When Stopping on the road, show the lights and indicate to the vehicles behind that you are slowing down. Don't stop suddenly and when you actually stop, make sure you leave enough room for the other vehicles to pass.

On the expressways, the seat belts are a must, and so are the air bags in the car. In India, its only the high end cars which are fitted with the airbags and its considered as a luxury item. I strictly feel that every single vehicle should be equipped with a Air bag and ABS. These are a must. The other luxurious can be made as optional, but not really these.

Coming to the requirements in the car - I prefer one with a nice music system, its a must. Without music the journeys are not really journeys. The seats should be very comfortable so that your legs don't get all the cramps, which means more leg room. Adjustable steering wheel.

The list can go on - But to summarize at the end, for a good drive you need a nice car which keeps your mind at peace and when your mind is calm and peaceful, nothing is better in terms of Safety Precaution.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

The South Indian Coastline Drive - Kerala and TN - Day 3 and 4

As the day faded into the night on 25th , we slowly and surely rolled into the capital city of Kerala , Thiruvanathapuram. Even in the middle of the night, I could see the changes in this city. The new glass covered buildings, the nice wide roads and full of new age apartments. Nothing seemed like the good old place, which I had seen 15 years ago. My phone buzzed with a newly arrived SMS. It was much awaited SMS of the month ie the Salary credit SMS.  And that drove me to the fact that, I had reached the place, where I had earned my first salary, after 15 years and 10 days.
Things cant get more nostalgic than this. As we tried to reach MG Road, I was craving to find a particular hotel to stay. Hotel Pankaj. The same hotel, where the faculty would stay when we were in training in TCS. Its changed a lot, but thankfully I hadnt forgotten the location. Just beside the GPO. But alas, there was no availability there on that day, rather the night.

My eyes started to look for the secretariat, and was wondering if there would be people on hartal that night also. I wasn't disappointed. The next stop took to us to another hotel on the MG Road. The South Park. The quick flash back took me to the day, we had dinner in that hotel years back, as I strolled into the dimly lit reception area. If I am not mistaken, we had treated ourselves in that hotel, after our first salary. Things cant get more nostalgic. As I checked for the tariff, I felt it was high for 5000/- per night, and it was already crossed 11 pm. Just to spend the night didnt make sense. A part me wanted to settle there, just for sentiments. We bargained and came down to 3500/- (Thats something I learnt on this trip, that at the end , even the finest hotels give discounts as a room empty only means zero returns). I did find it a bit stiff, though mentally calculating my first salary and the one I received a few minutes, defied my earlier logic.
Nevertheless we went scouting for a few more and finally settled in the Hotel Residency Tower. Nice and beautiful hotel. But only to realise a horror which we face only at the end of the next day.

Hotel Pankaj - The hotel we would yearn to stay during the training period in TCS. It now wears a different look.
Infact, it looked as if, it was renovated a few days back.

Arul Jyothi - The place were we would have our daily breakfast and that place has a strong memory for those who stayed in that area. We would see the daily hartal just opposite, in front of the secretariat.

Next to Arul Jyothi is the BSNL office,the place which we used to frequent for internet on the dial-up. 21 Rs for 15 min and 65 Rs for an hour those days :)


GPO Circle 

The road, which had our hotel Ganesh - Doesnt seem to exist anymore. The phone booth painting is still visible though,

Okay - That was all the nostalgia and especially for my friends who were with me during my stay here.

Coming back to the travel - Early morning, we had a nice breakfast in Hotel Residency and then left for Nagercoil/Kanyakumari. We didnt have much time to see the trivandrum and were more excited for the natural beauty around this place.

One thing that was so conspicuous about the Trivandrum was - its just spic and span. Which is very noticeable.

As we moved towards Kanyakumari - We found ourselves moving slightly away from the shore and then ignoring the directions given by gmaps, we decided to use the maps to get closest to the shore and drive along the shore. And the results due to this , were out of the world. The photos will give the message nice and clear...

On way to Nagercoil from Trivandrum

The Bylanes in Nagercoil - Just along the shores

The churches along the beach road in Nagercoil. This place has one of the most beautiful beaches.

Play on the beach..

One of the most beautiful beaches I have seen- Nagercoil- Nice blue water.

The beach road , which stretches from Nagercoil and finally ends up in Kanyakumari is very beautiful for drive. No Traffic at all. All these areas were completely washed away during the tsunami. 

On a watch tower in Nagercoil Beach Road.

Nagercoil Coast line

Vivekananda Memorial

The gushing waves...

And as the day came to a end, with the sunset on the shores of Kanyakumari, where the three majestic waters meet, the sunset can never be a dampner. Its just as beautiful as most other natural views in this part of India. The southern most tip of India.

As we left the shores of Kanyakumari and Nagercoil, the only thing that was in our mind was to come back and enjoy these pristine beaches again.

But the interesting part of the journey was not limited to the visual appeal. The taste buds were treated equally well. We went for dinner an Lynn's and had some of the best foods and probably I can never forget this mouth water fried ice-cream. Its as yummy as it appears...

Fried Ice-cream at Lynns

We loved the LCD screen that this auto carried. Quit big for an auto and we were quite impressed - In nagercoil on way from hotel to Lynn's restaurant.

As I end this post - many parts of the journey were not detailed, as it was too much for reading and the visual appeal would replace the words amicably.

We travelled, on the road less travelled  and would yearn to thread the same path again.

What we missed ? We really didnt get good shots of the Wind Mills which were planned for the return journey due to turn of events at the last moments. ( We had forgotten our DL's in the hotel in TVM and had to rush back and pick them ). But that does leave enough room for a next trip which we will cover.

The return journey was on the national highway, which is an expressway and no real sights , but still beautiful.

A journey to be remembered for a very long time. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The South Indian Coastline Drive - Kerala and TN - Day 1 and 2

And finally the long and much awaited drive along the coast line of Kerala was materialised  during the long weekend of Diwali - And unlike my other road trips, not a single element was planned for this trip. Nor the route or the stay nor the places which we wanted to see. Ultimately after speaking to one of our colleagues in office, we decided to have the first destination as the 'Drive-In Beach' near Kannur, which officially goes by the name 'Muzhappilangad Beach'.

The plan was then made , not really with destinations for the day, but more so, as touch points. The first touch point being the Drive in Beach at Thalassery, in Kannur District. After that, the plan was to drive along the coast line of Kerala , mainly on NH17 , with Cochin and Trivandrum as touch points and then final destination being Kanyakumari. The day breaks were not really planned and we thought we will stop over as convenient.

Day 1 - 23rd October
Started early in the morning, considering its a Diwali long weekend and we will have heavy rush on the Mysore Road. Hence decided to take the Kanakpura road to hit Nagerhole. Somewhere in the middle, we managed to forget our GPS tracking and relied on the signposts and managed to hit the Mysore highway. Hmmm, but we didnt mind. We continued through on that and took a deviation at Sriranpatna towards the Rangantitu Bird Sanctuary and headed towards the roads which basically leads towards Coorg. Thats what google maps instructed us, and we blindly followed that...

On the way while passing the villages, after Mysore, saw some diwali rituals followed, which I had last seen only in my grandparents home, during my childhood. Though the version seen here was a little more colorful , than what we see in our villages. 

In our village, on this day of Diwali, the Cows and Buffaloes will be smeared with a particular mud,which is yellowish in color, and also the ropes which are used to tie these animals to their posts are replaced , annually. Here , I saw that different colors are used to decorate them and didnt see new ropes around their necks. But nevertheless, it was a refreshing memory of my childhood days.

Next we reached the Nagarhole National forest

Around lunch time we were in South Kodagu,(Dont ask me how we reached there...) and we were looking for a place to eat.This place - Cafe Robusta' on the way, served us very nice Dal and Paneer and fresh chappatis. We stuffed ourselves and knew that, we can carry on driving till evening for sure..

After lunch, just around this Cafe, we saw these blood red leaves . We spent considerable time to capture these different leaves.  I first thought that, these were flowers, and only on close inspection , saw green leaves turn into Red.

At a particular time of the evening, we realised that the KMS travelled and the time on the clock had the same digits, and as long as we would have travelled one km per minute, we would have the same pattern for the next few minutes... Well, just goes to say, apart from enjoying the beautiful landscapes outside, we didnt forget to pay attention to the little details inside the car :)

On the way to Thalasery, we saw some of the best houses and very beautiful churches. Unlike the houses we see in Bangalore, the houses in this part of the country are made with very good planning and time. 

We actually felt like stopping at each of the houses , when we saw the initial ones, only to realise later that, every single house in this area is very well crafted and beautiful. They are indeed homes made for themselves.

Finally around 6 pm or so, just when the sun had just set in, we reached our first destination, ie the Drive-In Beach, after asking a few locals who were very helpful and went out of the way to give us the directlons.

Couple of night shots 

We also tried some experiments with the long exposures and didn't fare too bad.
At night we retired to a hotel close to this beach - Surya Residency, which was very clean and well priced at 1700 INR for the night.

Day 2 - 24th October 2014
The day started with the Drive on beach again and I can for sure say that, it was one of the high points in my life. Driving on a beach with the water around or through it, was something which I had never experienced in life and should never be missed.
Hope these pictures excite you to try this drive, if you haven't already.

We started from Thalassery around 8:30 in the morning, and proceeded towards Cochin, which was our next destination. We stopped at a small joint near Calicut for breakfast around 10:00 and got one of the tastiest breakfast for 100 Rs, which included, Puttus, Parathas and tea.

Just after Cochin, came across this beautful church and stopped for a couple of pictures.

At night we stopped over in Trivandrum. After 15 years and ten days, I reached the place, where I had started my journey. More on this , in the next blog.