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Posts Tagged ‘Mumbai

Matheran in the Monsoons

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Here’s a thirteen step process to having a super awesome one-day trip to Matheran in the rains.

zero. Check what the MET department guys forecast the night before your trip. If they expect it to be bright and sunny, go ahead with your plan.

1. Sleep late the previous night. Sleeping early is quite irrelevant as your adrenaline rush will carry you through the entire day anyway. Let your last prayer before you sleep/nap be that it rain moderately the next day.

2. Rise early, really early (like 4 am). This is important, because you’ll end up spending around an hour trying to wake up other people and getting hold of stuff like umbrellas (redundant), jackets (pointless) and plastic bags (somewhat helpful).

3. Catch an early train to Neral, get down there. Don’t get too excited by the view from the train, you’ll end up wasting valuable battery life. Take a pee break at Neral station, it might very well be the only one you get for the next three/four hours.

@Neral station

4. Ensure that you aren’t too attached to your camera (emotionally, that is – straps are recommended). There’s a good chance it’ll get screwed. Same goes for mobile phones and watches. Take a camera along anyway.

en route to matheran

5. Walk the walk, talk the talk, feast on the fabulous scenery.

walk the lineroad

6. Follow the road, get off the road, follow the toy-train tracks, climb a few rocks, roll off the grass, get onto the road. Repeat. You’ll have around 10 km to perfect this loop.

green top - bouncy pitch

on track

7. Stop at every broken pipe, every waterfall and every curve overlooking a gorge. The waterfalls get better the higher you go, so you can rest assured that the level of awesomeness will keep going up.

blow

fallwater

water curtainwaterfall

8. Carry plenty of miscellaneous stuff to eat/drink. If you order beverages at roadside stalls, ask them to tone down the sweetness a bit, else you’ll end up drinking sugar syrup with a hint of tea.

break time

9. You’ll get tired, wet, slightly bored and fairly demotivated as you climb the steep slopes. Don’t give up – these are signs that the end (of the climb) is near. If all fails, play random games. Those help, sometimes.

games people play

10. There’s a 3 km walk from the main entrance of Matheran to the ‘untouched’ civilization which resides inside Matheran. Walk it once – the horse poo and red dirt which cling to your shoes will be sufficient encouragement to take a horse ride when you decide to return.

inside matheran

11. Do not see any of the Wilson/Monkey/Pinky/Ponky/Sunset/Sunrise Points; refuel, ‘refresh’, buy chikkis and catch the first equine taxi out of the place (ridiculous-looking hats are optional). A trip to Matheran is a bit like the pursuit of happiness, as some wise fellow has put quite eloquently – the fun is in the journey, not in the destination.

horsing around

12. Catch a Maruti Van taxi down the slope – it’s always better if the brakes work or the ride can be a bit bumpy (albeit quite fast).

13. Go home and take a hot shower. Go to bed – you’ll need it, especially if you followed step #1.

Disclaimer: This has not been tested on babies or animals or their babies. Results may vary from the pictures shown. Side effects include nausea, vertigo, leg-strains and urges to blog about such experiences.

Written by sujaybedekar

July 14, 2009 at 11:53 pm

it was 3.30 in the morning …

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… and I was on my way back from a midnight buffet somewhere.  My autorickshaw was cruising along at a breakneck speed of sixty kmph. I say ‘breakneck’ because if the rick was to topple over due to a tiny, innocent bump on the fairly bumpy road, I would actually end up breaking my neck. There was an extremely arbit Kumar Sanu – Anuradha Paudwal duet (I think it was this one) blaring through the speakers with the singers competing with the insanely loud Jhankar Beats to get their point across – all I could hear was meeeooowww-dhish-tick-thak-thakka-dhish-tick-thak-thakka-weeoooooow. In short, life was good  in the fast lane.

Our ‘mosam‘, so as to speak, was rudely interrupted by this bright red Skoda Octavia which whizzed past us with a whoosh sound. It passed by so close that my rick encountered turbulence in its wake and started wobbling dangerously. Given that it was a 6-lane highway and that there wasn’t a single car in sight, neither the driver nor I (me?) appreciated this unwelcome attempt at closeness. The car then gave a Left-turn indicator and turned right.

Yeh chhokri log ko kayko gaadi chalaaneko dete hain, pata nahi saab (why they give cars to ladeez to drive, god only knows sir),” said the driver with a snarl on his face. I couldn’t really see his face because he was facing ahead, but I could definitely hear the snarl in his voice. I know – it was so sexist of him to generalize this, and it was so distinctly unfair to all those brilliant lady-drivers out there who ply our roads with deft skill on a daily basis without threatening other life forms. I would had protested vociferously, but it seemed pointless given the complete lack of a female audience/ rational audience.

We then saw the same Skoda parked a few metres ahead at the side of the road. I decided to do my bit towards registering my protest by peeking inside to glare as hard as I could at the driver. That was when I observed that the driver was, in fact, a girl. And that there was another girl sitting right next to her as well. What were the chances, eh?

For some reason, this reminded me of that scene from Crash, that spectacular Oscar-winning movie from 2004. The scene had Ludacris and another black guy moaning about how prejudiced white people are towards black people and how badly they stereotype them (black guys, that is). And then the two of them … well, see the video. (Embedding unfortunately not allowed for this video).

What can one say or do in such scenarios?

Written by sujaybedekar

February 16, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Posted in arbit, india, Movies, travel

Tagged with , , , , ,

Why this whole thing is just so wrong

with one comment

These terrorists put in so much of effort, time and money into planning something so elaborate – all so that they could go and kill people. Not people of a particular group or ideology or country, but just so that they could go and kill people. It was like they weren’t satisfied with your typical FPS games and needed something more exciting to calm their whacked-out systems.

They killed innocent people. With glee. At CST, they killed a female who was shreiking as she ran towards the door. Then they killed a small child which was presumably disturbing them with its crying. They shot at people who were running because they were running, and then at people who weren’t running because they weren’t. They killed 57 people in this manner.

They then got into cars and went on a killing spree, specifically targeting policemen. They said (those who got captured later, that is) that they were ‘trying to avoid’ people who seemed Muslim. Clearly, they succeeded spectacularly at the former, and failed miserably at the latter.

There was one T actually hiding with a group of hostages until they were calm, and then opened fire and killed them all. And felt pretty proud doing this, I’m sure.

There were these 2 people who were holed up in the storage section of the Taj, and one of them was unfortunate enough to have his phone ring just as he was peeking out to check whether it was ok to run. He never answered that call as  a bullet shattered his skull. His friend stayed hidden with his corpse for hours after that.

I had to subject myself to torture of the highest degree thanks to the craziness going in South Mumbai and the constant stream of ridiculousness and absurdity being beamed into my living room by the ‘exclusive’ reports. The only sane channel was DD News, and that was only because all they were doing was counting off the number of countries who had sent in their condolences. I’ve had a long standing disrespect for the media, especially the Indian guys, and this catastrophe has strengthened my disdain for them.

I was moved when Mr. R. R. Patil, the Dy. CM of Maharashtra, showed emotion and a genuine resolve while talking to reporters. This was of course on a lesser watched Marathi channel because he was not a savvy or sweet-talking ass like most of the people who were hogging MY TIME on the top news channels. On being asked about the nationalities of the terrorists, he just couldn’t continue with the facade of diplomacy and political correctness, and yelled out – “They were Pakistanis. This is a conspiracy of the worst kind, and I will personally do something about this. I promise. They will pay.” This was followed by a vehement “Mera Bharat Mahan” addressed to a particularly loud section of the crowd there. It was at that moment I realized how much we underestimate the power of politics- no matter how horrible these folks might be, they have the responsibility (and quite often the ability) to rally a huge mass of people …

… and then came on our Home Minister Shivraj Patil followed by our Prime Minister Dr. Singh, who assured us that they were very ‘distressed’ and ‘appalled’. They conveyed defeat, confusion and helplessness so effectively, that in one stroke they managed to crush all my hope and optimism. I was led me back to the well-trodden path of cynicism and disgust. Gah.

– I was astonished to find people complaining about the long time it was taking for the rescue operations to complete. As if they couldn’t had been greater asses, these people then went on to crib about how they still couldn’t see security elsewhere in Mumbai. OMFG. I would had lost it then and there itself, but my sis told me about the story of some hostages who were rescued by an NSG soldier. His assurance made me forget the braying going on on TV – “Don’t panic. Don’t fear. I’m here to protect you. The first bullet will have to pass through me before you are harmed. I WILL get you out.” And it was all ok.

– I have always had a fondness for those trivial, insignificant things which make everyday an interesting day worth living and which distract you at least for some time from the humungous problems currently besieging us. These attacks made me guilty about being interested in trivial things. It made me feel immensely dissatisfied with all that I have done so far, am doing currently and I will be doing in the short-term future. I felt like the the stray dog below (from the Big Picture, #28), who suddenly realizes that he’s in unfamiliar territory – it looks and smells like the same place he’s frequented all his life, but something has changed irrevocably. And that pisses him off as well.

Because nobody except us has the right to change anything in our country. Nobody.

Written by sujaybedekar

November 29, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Posted in india, Mumbai, news, politics

Tagged with , , , , ,

Buskya

with 2 comments

1. This post was supposed to have been published when the BEST buses (the local bus transport system of Mumbai) radicalized its fare structure, but I ended up procrastinating.

2. Then, this post was supposed to have been published on the day of the ‘3-day’ autorickshaw strike in Mumbai (which unfairly got over in 1/8th time), but by the time I got around to posting this post, the strike was long over and forgotten.

3. All characters mentioned in this post are fictional unless they’re obviously non-fictional. The opposite is true for all facts – true unless obviously untrue.

Called BEST because it was Bombay’s Electric Supply and Travel Undertaking, the f//www.flickr.com/photos/15654600@N06/2307011558ull form has been juggled around quite liberally to persist with the acronym – Bombay thus became Brihanmumbai (Greater Bombay). The Electric Supply part is still maintained (for nostalgia I guess) although Reliance Energy now has the responsibility of keeping Mumbai from darkness. Travel, though, is still spot on.

It is generally observed that there are two categories of people in Mumbai –

1. People who hate the buses and who find them painful, time-consuming, extremely frustrating and sweat inducing beasts whose sole aim in life is to prey on unsuspecting pedestrians or smaller vehicles (especially autorickshaws).

2. People who don’t hate the buses although they find them painful, time-consuming, extremely frustrating … etc. 

Most people in Category 1 are ‘outsiders’- rather, most ‘outsiders’ end up in Category 1. Note that I do not say this in a derogatory/ accusatory/ inflammatory/ Raj-Thacky manner – it is understandably hard for people to suddenly reconcile with the ‘horrors’ of bus travel. I, though, belong to the second category of people, I’m an Insider, a man on the inside, the son of the soil, boy of Konkan, a true native and all that which fills me with a lot of irrational pride – I still sometimes suggest bus travel as an alternate mode for getting from point A to point B and raise quite a few eyebrows in the process.

Given my obvious affinity for this oh-so-obvious sign of non-affluence (“Colon ‘O’! You rode in *gasp* a bus to office! *roll eyes* how cheap are you?”), it is quite natural that I should personally know a few bus conductors/ drivers. Unnaturally enough, I personally know only one bus driver. This fellow used to work in my dad’s office more than a decade ago, and I happened to chat up with him some time back.

Excerpts from a conversation with this fellow, hereby referred to as Fellow –

Me: Why this general derision for buses?

Fellow: Bilaadi snooty Mumbai people

(F is prone to using a lot of foul words which have been changed on request. Must say that his style of uttering vernacular word-barbs is quite spectacular. Some of his words can be found here, although I urge you to not spew these at random people on the street, especially those wearing orange bandanas and chanting “Marathi manoos jaaga ho” i.e. awaken, O Native of Maharashtra!)

M: Why the general disdain for all people outside the bus- people on the road, in the car, on pavements, everywhere?

F: Bilaadi snobs these Mumbai people. Not having any chendu to stand their ground and face only.

M: Huh?

F: (With a glazed look in his eyes) Yeah.

M: Glad we got that out of the way. Now, how about telling me how great BEST actually is?

F: Not yet. First, I should mention how thankless our job is. Everyone gives us infinite traas! People – for running them over; Passengers – for not waiting for them to get on/get down, or when we pain them into giving us exact change. This is a bit unfair, given that our motto always has been ‘Krupya Soote Paise dyaa’ (Please to be giving exact change). This and ‘Thou shalt aspire to drive a Ferrari’ being the two founding ideas on which our Bus-chalak Mazdoor Union was built. On top of this, our Bosses –  paining us into completing a requisite quota of passengers serviced …

M: … (interrupting) Oh ok, so that’s why you’re all grumpy and yet willing to wait for people running behind buses with arms flailing like wild chicken?

F: (With a stare that can preempt the imminent Polar Cap meltdown) … Please, do not interrupt my mousum (flow). The last time someone interrupted my mousum, I almost ran him over.

M: Thousand apologies. Please continue.

F: I am not one to crib though. All I will say is we have enough trouble. More than enough, actually. But still, I do not envy my conductor one bit. Just imagine – he has to dispense the correct fare for all possible stop combinations, ask people to give him ‘chhutta paisa‘ (correct change), yell at people to move forward – “Aage badho, idhar khadha mat raho” … Move your sorry a$$es ya’all – and at the same time not forgetting to ring the bell at every bus stop.

M: (Seizing the moment) And how ironic that when he is polite and good, he is susceptible to getting electrocuted! Ha! (Seeing the blank stare, proceeds somewhat disappointed) …  Surely getting to ring the bell so often must make it worth the trouble endured? It sure made my day quite a few times!

F: . . . *fingers drumming*

M: Anyhoo … I’ve heard that the bus routes are routinely updated?

F: Yes actually. That is something that makes me hold my head high with ‘fakr’ – we have an elaborate tracking system developed by some fairly bright people constantly monitor earnings for routes, conduct surveys and chart new routes. All this is done with the most basic of technology. Don’t be surprised if you see abacuses lying all over the planning department. Ha ha ha. (Pauses to wipe eyes)You must have noticed several routes which seem pointless in terms of traffic, or some which go through areas of apparent wilderness, eh?

M: Actually, now that you mention this …

F: Well, these routes are often expected to be future earners. Sometimes they end up being like a self-fulfilling prophecy: Projected increase in people density -> New routes -> Better connectivity -> Increase in viability of place -> Increase in density -> Voila!

M: That sounds too good to be true.

F: Well most of the times it is too good to be true. But even if it works sometimes, it’s worth the effort 🙂

M: And what about the fares?

F: Well, 15p of every fare goes to the PM’s Education Fund, which is a lot. Fares are monitored such that they are as fair as possible. Ha ha ha. (Pauses again to wipe eyes). You know, however gas guzzling the buses might seem to be (they don’t go more than 4 kmpl), it still translates into a lot of savings if you factor in the number of commuters.

M: Yo! Stop press! Important question I almost forgot! Why are you guys phasing out the double decker buses! Think of the exclusivity factor – no city in the world other than London has these monsters still running on her roads! (Nostalgically) Riding in the front seat of the upper deck, imagining that you were driving the bus all by yourself, watching tiny rickshaws getting swallowed by your bulk … sigh, those were the days. Plus, having the wind peel your face off when you vainly tried to keep your eyes open was probably the best Titanicesque moment one could had ever had! And here you are, depriving future generations of the chance to dangerously peep out of the front windows as they hope to wave to the driver downstairs? Shame on you.

F: Dude, the economics and logistics just don’t work out. A double decker bus is just not viable. Plus it is physically very unstable. And it’s too much of red in my opinion.

M: (Shocked at the jargon F just uttered, but recovering with amazing finesse) Hmm … I noticed that we now we have the daily pass/ monthly pass thingy, right?

F: Yeah. It is quite surprising that it took us so long to implement this. We now have incentives for daily users, frequent travelers, tourists and senior citizens. I am sure that the number of passengers will increase drastically now. Think about it – in just 25 bucks, you can now travel all over Mumbai as many times as you want. And soon we’ll have an integrated pass-system for Buses AND trains. Plus you have the Reliance Metros coming up. I just hope that people respond positively and use public transport more than they do.

M: Amen to that. And I sincerely hope your kind drives with less vengeance.

F: Well … (hitherto unknown red lights suddenly light up eerily in the background) … that is something we can only wait and watch! Mwwuuhhuhhaahaahhaah

M: Goodbye, and have a nice day. And don’t forget the disclaimer mentioned at the outset.

Written by sujaybedekar

April 28, 2008 at 8:26 pm

Posted in Mumbai

Tagged with ,