Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Weekending in Goa - III

The story so far...part one...part two...

We left Goa at around 2330 hrs or was it 0000? I frankly don't know...because the girls were shaken up by the "autograph hunters" and we were busy commenting on the level until which people stoop... It was only when the driver stopped for fuel that we realised that we were actually headed home. We made ourselves comfortable in the Sumo, and Goks and Shan went to the front seat, giving the driver some "awakening" while Rupa and Santu settled themselves in the middle row with LT1. We put in all the tote bags between the spilt seats in the rear and made it into a flat platform. Ayhay alone sat on one end (there was no place for anyone else) and I and V sat opposite him, with our legs outstretched towards each other. The arrangement was quite fine, and we rested in the fact that Pune is only a night away.

10 minutes after the refuel, the problem started. The driver said he was not able to control the vehicle, as the power steering had failed. He was spinning the wheel, but the car wasnt turning. Few metres ahead, the brakes gave way. Now the car was stranded 10 kms from the fuel station, in the middle of nowhere. It was pitch darkness everywhere and the only sound was the distant hum of the lorry in the distance, which presented itself ahead on the curve a few moments later. Initially we thanked God that there was no rain. Me and Goks started to assess the damages. There was nothing on the road 5 kms on either side, even the nearest streetlight was 200 meters away. Ayhay was running a temperature. LT1 and LT2 were asleep. V was throwing a tantrum that she would not sleep. (She will kill me for writing this). There was a garage down the road, but no one there but a dilapidated old lorry in front of it. All Airtel phones were down. Idea was working on the road, but not on the footpath. The driver called up the owner, who asked him to check the battery, because the power to the power steering and power brakes had failed. After a lot of blah blah, he said he would go back to the fuel station where we had filled gas, and get some brake oil. So we flagged down a mini-truck and sent him along. And until he came, me and Goks were on the road, with a torch in hand, holding up the light everytime a vehicle came, to show them that there was a breakdown here, and they may pass with a considerable distance to spare. We were impressed with the way highway drivers responded by flashing their headlights dim as soon as they saw our flashlight.

Presently a policeman came along with his deputy in a bike. Thankfully he did not ask for vehicle documents or anything like that. He offered to take me in search of a mechanic, but he was not sure I would get one. The time by this time was almost 2. Anyway, I went along with him, and searched in a few garages, but there was no one. The cop suggested that we leave the vehicle and sleep in the station that night, and he would send across a jeep for us. But then, after hearing that there are ladies, the guy said you take the jeep and go along and find a lodge ahead.

The driver returned with the brake oil, and tried to do some magic, but the spirits were not on his side. By this time we had Santu up, and Ayhay too, and a few damage control tips from sleepy Rupa, and had collected V's phone (Idea). The driver led the Sumo a few yards ahead where there was a bus-shelter. He parked the car on the side of the road, well apart from the road, and went off to sleep in the bus shelter. We were standing there gaping at his action, and all he did was roll over and sleep. We took the hint, and Goks said, its almost 3, catch some sleep before it dawns. So Santu and Goks went to the bus-shelter to see some snaps on Santu's cell, while I climbed back into the rear seat with V. Ayhay reclined himself on the front seat, and the three remaining girls were in the middle row.

Then the rains started, and Santu came into the car, while Goks was in the bus shelter. But he started feeling suffocated, and he took the bedsheet and went back to the bus shelter, where he slept till 8 in the morning. The sight was awesome. Wearing an adidas T-shirt and Nike slippers, he was sleeping there, soundly, in a government bus shelter.

Goks, however kept circling the car, watching the Volvo buses rip by at breathtaking speeds. Whenever LT1/LT2 would let their heads slip out of the window, he would appear, pushing them back and rolling up the window glass. V was awake for a long time, but eventually, she also caught some sleep. At around 6, Goks came to me and said, "There's a shop there which will open soon". For a few minutes we searched out the surroundings. There were two-three shops interior of the road, on the other side, and one of them seemed to have some sort of chai-pani bandobust. A guy nodded when I asked him about some chai-pani, but when he opened shop, I could only see Haywards and Kingfisher. Back in the vehicle some of the girls had risen, Rupa being the first, and soon everyone was more or less up. Now, the girls started hankering for a proper place to "download", and we were like scouting around the whole place for signs of habitation. The whole place was almost up now, some people were waiting for the bus, and some others could be seen going somewhere with pails of water in their hands. The STD booth also opened up, and we started asking them about the availability of a mechanic, and of course bathrooms.

This place is around 30 kms from Panjim, and when I mentioned bathroom, people laughed. Literally. They said the "go into the fields". I promptly returned and gave the girls the reply. I also showed them the "fields". But you know girls, and like girls, they stepped up their hankering. So finally I had to flag down a lorry in the rain, and ask him to drop the girls, and me, at the next hotel on the way, which looked decent enough to have some "download center".

For what happened next, wait till the next blog.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Weekending in Goa - II

The story so far...

Early morning the cellphone sounded an alarm, I must have shut it off, but I frankly don't remember, thanks to (V and Shan)'s heavy treat on the previous night. I still maintain, if they had told me beforehand that it was their treat, I would have had more of the exotic stuff. Great Ambience...Indian Spice indeed...

V called me from her room early morning, may be ten-fifteen minutes after the alarm went off. Groggily, I picked up the phone and told her I was awake. Looked at Santu, he too was sleeping blissfully, as I was a few moments earlier. Freshened up and by the time I left the room, Ayhay barged in wearing a bright red shirt. The rest of my drowsiness vanished instantaneously.

The beach was only a few metres away from the hotel. As my gramma put it "Goa nalli enide suDgaDu, bari beachu..hotelsu...ondu tsunami bandre kochchkondu hogatte" Anyway, there were two reclining chairs on the beach, on which me and Goks made ourselves comfortable, while the girls stood guard for us. LT1 was already in the water. Santu and Rupa too went to explore the beach. After some time of lazing around on the chair, we thought we would join them as well. But what bliss it is to just sit around on the beach, smelling the salty air, and watching the waves crash into the beach, while the sun plays hide and seek with the clouds... Ohohoho... poetic stuff.

Anyway, played around in the beach for a while, the beach is quite inclined in places, and Ayhay was almost gone. In fact, in hindsight we shouldn't have tried it in the first place. We saw that even though the waves kept low, they exerted a lot of pull while they receded, and just to try this, Ayhay sat crosslegged on the beach with me holding his hand. A wave was all that we wanted, and they next thing we knew, Ayhay was lying prostrate, and I was struggling to pull him. God!!! For a moment, all meters were off.

Then the rain started, and how!!! We trudged the path back to the hotel, and let me tell you, the open shower near the hotel pool, used to wash away the beach sand and dirt, was more fun than the actual sea. After a warm bath, and in dry clothes, we checked out of the hotel, but threw the luggage in the hotel safe room. We then sneaked into a crowded Udipi hotel. I have this question in the back of my mind - Why are Udipi hotels always crowded? I have seldom been to a UH, where my next table was empty. Anyway, after a heavy breakfast of a variety of dosas, and strong filter coffee, we set about towards "Fort Aguada".

Fort Aguada reminds me of Tipu Sultan's famous dungeons in Srirangapatna. Only, the ruins are much more greener here. There is a moat around the fort, which they say was full of water and crocodiles, so that no one could attempt to scale the fort. The fort offers scintillating views of the sea from its vantage points, and you can see some steamers and trawlers out in the distance. I am also told the cruise boats do cover these places, so if you book a cruise in Panaji, you can get a view of this fort (and other forts)from the sea.

From Aguada, we went to cover Dona Paula. Dona Paula is a creek, with land jutting out into the sea. In season, they say, sea scooters are available from the jetty, so that you can have a ride in the sea. It was already midday, and we had some tender coconuts while Ayhay and Goks purchased some "Its better in Goa" kurtas. It remains to be seen how long they remain as kurtas. Met a guy who was keen to fish, so Goks went along with him to get some "Knowledge Transfer". If we get kicked out, then we can hire a boat and pursue it as an alternative career...

From Dona Paula, we booked tickets for the evening cruise and went to have lunch at "Goa Residency". I kinda liked this place. It was calm and serene, with no boisterous crowds, and the silence actually improves your appetite. It is near to the church and cathedral as well. Around this time, Ayhay became Dada...I mean to say he began to lose his form. He had lost form much earlier, but he could not hide it any more. Some time before, I failed to mention, we had covered the market, and purchased some salted cashew, and with much persuasion, stopped the girls from shopping. YES!!!

Post lunch we went to St Francis Xavier's church, and looked around at the magnificent carvings, while Shan prayed for all of us. We also went to the cathedral across the road, though Ayhay, Rupa and Santu did not join us there. From the cathedral, we went back to Calangute, to collect our luggage, and putting all of it in, we covered the whole distance back to Panjim, and stopped for a cuppa coffee. This restaurant at which we stopped, Ruchi, was too good. Why, he even gave us decoction in a cup, in case we wanted to make our coffee stronger. It must be one of the most-frequented hotel, because Niral was screaming Ruchi--Ruchi as soon as she saw the snap.

The cruise was a disaster. So speaking, this was when our run started. After a couple of songs in the cruise boat, we went up to the top deck, only to meet unruly crowds, drunk, and in their own world. I loved the feeling, alone with water all around, but I would've enjoyed better without the drinks and the crowd. I almost started feeling seasick, but thankfully an hour had drifted past, and it was time for us to get down and go back.

We had had a taste of Miramar beach before the cruise, but it was a mistake going back for a second round. The water had receded, there was nothing much to enjoy, and Shan had some fans, to whom she refused her signature. She came to us for help, and me, Goks and Ayhay, like good shepherds, herded the 'kuris' to our vehicle. What happened next will take another blog.

Contd here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Weekending in Goa - I

"Humen har saal kam se kam ek hafte ke liye Goa aana chahiye..." This line from DCH struck me as I looked out of my room window, and saw the surf crash into the rocks and burst into a thousand diamond droplets. This line later went on to flash in my mind, as and when I began prodding into Goa, and exploring what it had to offer.

This trip was by far the longest the BHF arranged, and the irony was it was decided in four hours flat. Late Friday evening, we were having tea, while planning on venues for the trip. V was not interested in the usual Khandala-Lonavala-Lohgad route, and we did not know the exact timeplan to go to Matheran by train. It was then that I said we will go to Goa. The feeling took some time to sink in, but I have to admit, it was fast decision making by the guys. The gals got only the updates. Told them "We are going to Goa, pack up". And that they did, remarkably fast.

Back in office, cancelled the Friday party, and told Ayhay to do some homework. Apparently, Ayhay did a splendid job, and landed home with 50 pages of GOA tourism, maps, routes, hotels, conveyance -- practically everything. Harsha offered some pearls of wisdom from UK, and told us the locations of Udipi hotels in Goa. Five hours after the idea was mooted, we were aboard the Sumo, and at 0130 hrs on Saturday (13), we left home.

The first "stop" we had was at Kolhapur at 0730/13 (After a brief stop at a roadside hotel three-four hours earlier for a cup of tea). Ate some breakfast, and were told that Goa was still 5 hours away. Even as we were getting back to the Sumo after breakfast, it was hard to believe that we actually left for Goa.

The road from Kolhapur to Goa is not all that mentionable, and it would do good, if they were that two vehicles may pass each other, without the window-seat guys getting a heart-attack. But the ghats are just awesome, that too in this monsoon, it is a marvellous sight. The elevated height gave us the chance to see the clouds moving around, and you could actually see the fog cover moving, hiding one part of the dense forest, while revealing an equally striking part.

Anyway, our driver maintained some semblance of speed, and after two-three times of going here and there in the wrong direction, he eventually got us to our resort: Chalston Beach Resorts, overlooking the sea.

The smell of the salt in the air, and the constant rumbling brought out another rumbling-in the stomach. Went in search of some Udipi hotel after freshening up, and found one pretty close: PLANTAIN LEAF hotel, or something like it. I have mentioned it in BOLD, because I want you to remember the name. Dont ever go there, even if he is the penultimate hotel on the face of the earth. The food is okay, but the waiters are horrible. This particular guy was throwing the salads on to the table from at least three feet, and was bossing around, as if he is doing a favour to us. Imbecile that he was, he didnt even bother to lay the plates, nor serve some water until we asked for it. Come on, even the tea shop across the road sets a glass of water in front of you before bringing your chai-samosa.

Lunch done, we left for Sapora fort. Now, this is called Chapora, Chappra and a lot of other things, but I stick to Sapora, because that was what was mentioned on the signboard. Here, again, the driver lost his way, and had to turn back. The fort in itself, is nothing but ruins, but one has to come here for the view of the sea it offers. Also, Niral said there was a cave inside. Sad girl, she mentions it now, if only she had told earlier, we would have covered that as well. Anyway, the fort is more appealing for the scene in DCH.

V met one of her college friends here, who had come from Bangalore, riding his bike all the way. Again, the opening lines of this blog started reverberating in my ears. Walked along the high ruined walls of the fort, thinking of its glorious past. The fort overlooks a beach, and you can see "firangs" playing beach volleyball there in their standard two-piece bikini suits. The sun was shining hot on our backs, and coming around the fort, we saw a small hole in the wall, from where a trodden path leads you into a valley. The valley ends in a rocky beach, from where you reach the cave. (Niral told me this, and I have cursed her amply for telling it late) I had been till the last rock which overlooks the beach, and it was only a small distance, which separated me from the cave.

Anyway, we spent almost the whole of the afternoon there, trekking into the valley and back. And almost the time we were leaving, it started to rain. Ran or no rain, we wnated to see the Baga beach on this day, so we told the driver to get us to Baga beach. This time around, again, he led us onto the wrong track, and after a lot of "Bhaisaab, Baga beach kitthe???" we eventually got there in the rain. Fortunately, there was a tea-seller there, who gave the much necessary refreshment. Goks went a step further and brought 'bhutta', and Shan was passing around the 'nippat' and 'chekli' ... Ok ok...I know it..."Chekli" alla kaNo..."Chakli"...

The sea at Baga was very furious, and given the rain, and the time, we thought it best to return, and went back to the hotel, and gave our legs some much needed rest. For dinner, strong protests arose from me and V not to go to PLANTAIN LEAF, and to search for other hotels. We found some hotels, which gave offered a 15 minutes wait in the rain before they could 'place' us somewhere. I was desperate not to go to PLANTAIN LEAF, and even though Ayhay was trying to convince me that "it is the food you eat, and not the waiter", I called Niral to ask her about other hotels...she suggested Titos and Boscos or something like that, which I dont remember now, but both were full. Now it was like we go from hotel to hotel, and Santu and Ayhay get down to ask the waiting time, and we go to the next hotel in the road. Finally we got around to this place called the Indian Spice, and frankly, the food seemed quite good. The waiter was even asking Goks whether he wanted some fresh mackerel which were caught "just now" in the sea. V told me that it was her treat, way too late in the night, otherwise I would have had some more exotic stuff. Anyway, I liked the place more for the songs he played than for the food. Great place...

Dinner over, we came back to our rooms, deciding that we would go early to the beach next morning. So saying, we hit the sack. What happened the next day will come tomorrow's blog.

Contd here.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Lonely lonely lonely Sunday morning

Weekends can become so boring without the "family". Add to the loneliness, this drizzling rain, the cloudy weather, and the intermittent clearing up of the skies. This weather takes me back to the college days, when we would just bunk class and sit on the 'katte', and the innumerable trips to the canteen, to drink the lousy tea.

That was one phase of life...this is another, can't help but wonder. Goks will return tonight, and Shan tomorrow morning.

Had been to Shankar Mutt today morning, didnt know one existed here, until V told me about it. Meanwhile, it seems V got a proposal from a doctor. How true it is remains to be questioned. LT1 has almost lapped up the HP series, and has asked Shan to burn some CDs and get it for her. Meanwhile, posting a snap from Santu's phone.


Saturday, August 06, 2005

K750i-The Reprise

So, I finally got around to tweak the new phone a bit here and there. Checked out the connectivity and other stuff.

The details: Well, the data cable is included in the sales kit itself, so that saves the problem of going to the sales person once again, tell him the model number of your phone and get a data cable by splurging some more on it. The CD provided is informative enough, and the drivers install themselves without much fussing around.

It was then that I found the "bug". Well, Santu wanted to transfer some songs on to the phone, and he was searching for the card memory option, with the phone being connected on to the PC. However, he was not able to access the Memory Card in the Explorer window. Lots of juggling here and there, pushing and pulling the card into the slot did not help...and then we found out that the camera prompts you that the Memory card is not available, when the phone is in charging.

I dont know whether this is a one-piece problem, or the case with all phones, but somehow when the phone is connected to the computer, the card memory is mysteriously disconnected. You should have seen Santu's face when the speculation began that he may have to put in the files into the card thru the phone memory. Anyway, thought of trying another way, and slotted in my bluetooth dongle. Bluetooth works fine, and detection was no problem. We selected the file transfer option, and VOILA... we could see the Memory card option. The relief on Santu's face was worth capturing in his camera.

More time was spent on a new problem-Files were being transferred, but we didnt know where exactly it sat in the phone. After a lot of phone-PC, and PC-phone, Santu finally found a folder where he found all those songs which we used to test the connectivity. However, today he went to see the dealer regarding why the memory stick was not available when the phone was connected to the PC via a datacable. The dealer gave him some Sony Ericsson service center number, and I guess a meeting is on cards.

Finally the last words on the K750i:
The AYEs: 2 Mpxl Camera , Music Player, Overall compact design.
The NOs: Display, Battery compartment, Charger(the biggest let-down).

PS/1: The datacable also has a USB charger, so once the phone is connected to the PC, it starts charging.
PS/2: The normal charger given along with the sales pack is PATHETIC. The pins which go into the phone are so small, you double-take to see whether they are intact or broken.

This review will get a sequel when Santu activates GPRS.

Harsha had called. The bugger got a BnB in an Indian Family on Grafton Road, MK. Seems he cooked rice for dinner yesterday. The guy has a penchant for cooking. Not even 24 hours into the UK, and he starts clanging pots and pans. Office is not as good as here, he said, though the roads and general atmosphere were impressive. Asked him to transfer a few pounds, to tide me over the month. :))

Speaking of Niral, the gal is crazy about her CAT. Went downstairs today to check the office snail mail, and there she was, taking reams and reams of "PROBABILITY AND PERMUTATION COMBINATION" papers. The rate at which I see her prepare, she seems all set to go right into the second year of PGP, IIMA.

Spoke to Goks earlier in the day, and the guy seems to be having a lot of fun. Shopped a lot it seems, and was a bit down, since his vacation is coming to an end. Seems he finally met Elmi, and took her to Malleshwaram CCD. Got to get a lot of details when he comes here.

Spoke to Shan, and her mom as well. Shan tried her "yes-no-stop" Kannada and Marathi on her mom almost ended up eating a few more dosas in the process. She said she would have crabs for lunch tomorrow.

I'm hungry, so I will end this post here...will be back to post how many crabs Shan finally ate.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Rains have let up in Pune, and for the first time in two - three weeks, the sun shone in the manner which befits him. That he hid behind the clouds a bit later, is another matter altogether. Roads however have not drained, and waterlogging is still a problem, and Santu's bike looks like it has been through the Kadur rally.

Speaking of Santu, he bought a brand new black Sony Ericsson K750i yesterday. I must put it on record here, in the gamut of impressive fatures it boasts of, the music player takes up all the accolades. It even scores over the 2 megapixel camera, which incorporates a flash as well, and held horizontally, can guile people into believing it might be a digicam after all.

More on the music player later, let me go on to other features. In spite of all the heavyweights loaded on to it, I should say that the display could have been bigger. It is bigger than the Samsung x100 (Santu's previous phone), but way smaller than my Nokia 6260. Actually I was surprised when Santu told me he bought this, because he seemed unshakably impressed by flip-open phones.

Moving on, internal memory is a spacious 32 MB, and Sony displays its quintessential "I-am-different" attitude by making the external memory card as a Memory Stick Duo (64 MB). Which means that Santu can't use the stick in a Digicam, or if he intends to do so, he will have to buy one which supports it. I loved the slot though, the card toggles inside like the Card Slot in O2 XDA II.

(For the record, Sony is the only one company which has retained Memory Sticks in all its products. This is one thing I have against Sony, it hampers portability. I have a 1GB RS MMC for my N6260, and I could not find one Sony digicam which would support RS MMC/SD MMC as ext memory. I settled for a better bargain eventually- Samsung Digimax A402)

Coming back to K750i, the camera is a breathtaking 2 Megapixel with still and video shooting, with amazing resolution. Havent shot much using it though, but it comes across as a superb feature. The camera also has a slide cover, which protects the lens when the phone is laid on its back.

The music player is by far the best feature I saw on the phone. The speaker churns out sound at amazing clarity and acoustics, and I was most impressed by the software. While you are listening to music, it stops when you get a ringtone, allows you to play the ringtone, and once you exit the screen, the music comes up automatically. As in every other phone, you can put the music into background and run other tasks.

I am however, unimpressed by the placing of the speaker. It is on the backside of the phone, and its volume, naturally drops instantly when you block it with your finger. So I am skeptical of how loud its tone may sound, if the phone is placed on its back, on the desk/bed. The volume would naturally reduce, unless you want to put the phone with its display-down, in which case you would want to turn the phone upright to know who's calling.

Menu functions seem fast enough, allowing for the confusion from a Nokia - Ericsson migration, and gallery functions and pictures and videos seem to work well when sent from my N6260. A wav ringtone did not work, and I dont know why, because others ran really well, in some cases even better than in my phone.

Overall, the phone is compactly designed. It has some ot the other feature etched into every side on the cuboidal structure, and the camera keys are so designed that the user feels that he is using a mini-digicam. The compactness has given rise to nooks and corners though, because I felt that the battery compartment was not airy enough to insulate it while charging. It is totally packed, and you cannot clean the phone's power contacts even with a slender brush. The SIM compartment is packed tightly too. The commendable thing on this front seems the placing of the ext memory card. It allows for hot-swapping, meaning you dont need to switch the phone off to change between cards.

More on this later, after relentless testing.

Meanwhile Harsha has left for UK, and I guess his flight left Delhi around 0900 today. Havent heard from him yet, and dont know whether his international roaming is on.

More later, adios amigos

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Just checking out something new

Hi ppl,
Just checking out something that caught my attention.

Update: This was when I was trying out the email publishing thing, which publishes the text of your email as a blog-post. Great stuff, huh?

Well, finally

Hi there, ppl...
This being my first blog, will not have anything much for you to munch on...but anyway, I finally got around to having my own blog.

I was kind of averse to the idea of a blog, not that I had anything against it, but somehow it had not appealed to when my friends have memberships on a community site called, I wanted to "scrap" in their scrapbook, but I found it tedious to go along and "scrap" in every scrap's scrapbook. Instead of scrapping the same message into everyone's scrapbook, I found it easier to scrap the idea altogether.

Thus I am here, using Google's blogger, chiefly because I am unable to access any other blogsite through my office, and trying to scrap my thoughts here and reach out.

Let me put it in my very first blog, that the views expressed here are my own, and well within my constitutional right of "freedom of speech". And all my views are fully debatable with me here on my blog.

So, until I put in my next comment here, it is adios amigos ...