Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Santro, at last..

Well, over the weekend I had decided to buy Santro.. Today my dad has booked the car too.. We'll be getting the car sometime in the 2nd week of August (Well, now don't get me started on why I have to wait for a fortnight if its already decided).

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Monday, July 25, 2005

Santro or WagonR?

Well, the weekend was spent going to showrooms & trying to decide which car to buy...
I still feel Alto is the best car (for me, ofcourse).. But considering that space also a criterion, I decided to look at Santro & WagonR. Remote Locking & Music system are being offered free for Santro, whose price comes up to exactly 4 lakhs... As for WagonR, the price seems to be 4.2 lakhs. But the dealer offered to waive off the insurance fees & another 9k extra. So, the price of WagonR comes to around 3.98 lakhs, which is essentially the same as Santro. (But accessories-wise, you get a music system extra in Santro). If you look at the engine capacity, the inner capacity, boot space, the dimensions, etc, everything seems to be the same for both Santro & WagonR. There are a few differences though.. Santro is marketed as a 5-seater, whereas, WagonR is a 4 seater (but 5 ppl can sit comfortably). Also, the back seats of WagonR are fully reclinable, which is not possible in case of Santro. Also, if the back seats are fully folded, you get a lot of space in WagonR, as compared to Santro. Both has its positives & negatives. Mileage - Both of them claim the same mileage. So, it's totally a deadlock.. I can't decide which one to go for...

I have heard that the cost of spare parts & the cost of servicing are both high for Santro as compared to WagonR. The dealer dismissed these as just rumours & not just actual facts. But I have been told about this by many people.

Anyway, I have not yet made up my mind. The offers for both Santro & WagonR are valid only till the end of this month. So, I have to atleast book the vehicle (if not buy it) by the end of this month. If I were buying the vehicle entirely on my own, I would have bought it ASAP. But it's my dad who's buying it. And he's very religious & doesn't want to buy until after the end of first week of August, as he believes in not doing any good thing or starting a new work in the month of Aashada. So, I guess, I'll have to wait till the second week of Aug.

A visit to Tirupati

Well, I had been to Tirupati on Friday. We (my parents, my brother & me) started from Bangalore on Thursday night, 10PM. We had booked through ITDC. It was supposedly a 22-hour trip. We reached Tirupati Friday morning at 3:45 AM. We had to take bath & be ready by 5AM. They had provided a decent room for us. There was hot water too, at such wee hours in the morning. So, we took bath & were ready by 5 AM. We went to the nearby Padmavati temple first. We had to wait there for about more than half an hour for Darshana. After that, we came back to the hotel for breakfast at 7:30. We were to start for Tirumala (which is on the top of the hill) by 8AM. The breakfast was OK.. We started to Tirumala by around 8:15 or so. We reached there in about an hour. Then our guide led a few people who wanted to get their heads shaved, to some place, while we waited. Then we went to the templeat around 10 AM. By 10:30, the guide purchased the tickets & we were let in. The queue took a while & we had our "Darshana" by 12PM. Not too much hassle.. Then, we came back to the same hotel in Tirupati for lunch. The bus started back to Bangalore by 3PM. We were back in our house by 9PM. For all you religious people who are planning a trip to Tirupati, ITDC or KSTDC is the best.. It's hassle free & you can be back by the next day.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A four wheeler?

For some time now, we (me & my parents) have been considering buying a car. We did look at Maruti Alto, WagonR & Santro Xing. Alto seems to be within our budget. The other 2 cars are costlier, but more spacious. Alto has the best mileage & operating costs compared to the other two. I'm not able to decide which one to buy. We would be buying the car sometime in the second week of next month (August).

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Kodai Trip

Background

This trip was planned for months!!! Originally this trip was scheduled in March. But due to tickets unavailability, we had to cancel it then. Then again in June, when we wanted to go for a 3 day trip, we thought about lots of places. Ultimately, we agreed on Kodai. Me, Srini, Giri, Chandru & Naren were ready to go. (If Sachin was here, he would have definitely come to the trip.) But just before booking the tickets, Naren came up with some lame excuse for not being able to make it to the trip. So, only 4 of us went on the trip.

Thursday - 16/06/2005

The bus was scheduled to leave the station at 8:30 PM. We assembled at Srini's place & started from there by 7:30. Srini's dad dropped us to the bus station by 8 PM. Our first task was to find the platform 14A. And finding this platform was more like finding the Platform 9 3/4 (Harry Potter). We had to walk a long way, away from all the platforms to a remote corner of the station, where we could find an exit & a few buses, but no platform or at least a board informing us of Platform 14A. By the time we located Platform 14A, it was 8:30. We had the 9:30 AC coach (Mayura) already at the platform. But our bus (Rajahamsa) was no where to be found. We were not even sure whether we were standing on the right platform. Finally, our bus arrived at 8:45 PM. Unfortunately, our seats we at the back, the only comfort being that it was not the last row.

The bus started at around 9:15 from the station. The journey was pretty much uneventful till morning. Srini dozed off early. Chandru & Giri were chatting till long time in the night. I was awake for a long time too. But we all did get ample sleep.

Friday - 17/06/2005

I woke up at around 6 AM. The sunrise in the backdrop of the hills was beautiful. At around 7 AM, the bus stopped at a Hotel (near the base of the Kodai hills) for coffee. We didn't have any coffee, but we enjoyed the scenery around & clicked some snaps, fed the rabbits, etc till the other bus arrived. That was the 9:30 AC bus (Mayura). Me & Srini were busy clicking photos of nature, when Giri & Chandru noticed the chick in the 9:30 bus (She will be henceforth referred to as 930c). Me being a dumb head, did not notice the 930c for some time. It was at this point when both Giri & Chan started cursing me & Srini for booking tickets in the 8:30 bus (instead of the 9:30 bus). I conveniently put the blame on Srini as he was the one who booked the tickets when I was out to get cash from ATM.

The bus continued its journey towards Kodai. It was a long climb uphill. We could admire nature's beauty on the way to the top. (Giri & Chan were still complaining about the bus). Finally, when we reached the Bus stand in Kodai, it was 9:30 AM. It took us 12 hours to get there. I had already booked 2 rooms in a hotel called "Guru Krupa" (or some hotel. I'm not sure about the name). But that hotel was about 2 kms from the bus stand. And the funny thing in Kodai is that there is absolutely no Public transport system. No Auto, no taxi, no local bus or any such thing. If you want to roam around, you have to book a private vehicle (or get your own).

So, by the time we got down, we were hungry & wanted to have breakfast before going to hotel. A nearby good looking veg. hotel was full. So, we went to another "cafe" (Bala Cafe) close by. Initially, it looked a bit shady place as we had to go a bit interior & climb stairs to reach the first floor. Till you reach the first floor, you don't get to see the hotel at all. But once we went in, our impression totally changed. It was a very nice place. Neat & clean. And most of all, it was not crowded. Very few people were there. The breakfast was good. After the breakfast, we planned to take a look at the rooms in the same hotel (Hotel Bala) as the one we booked was too far off. The family room was good & could easily accommodate 4 people. We immediately checked in.

By the time we all had bath & got freshened up, it was almost 11:30 - 12. We just went for a "walk". We just walked down a road where the beautiful backdrop beckoned us. The road was actually very steep. Once we walked down, we got a very beautiful view of the hills & the distant cities. The view was not just beautiful, it was awesome. We clicked a few snaps & admired the beauty for a few minutes. The Kodai city was also visible from there. Then we started to climb back. It was then when we realised how steep the road was. We were all exhausted by the time we climbed back to the top near the hotel. We directly went to the restaurant. We all had Hotel Bala special meals for lunch. It was the "special" South Indian meals. It was one of those meals we wouldn't forget in a long time. It was as though they had used Garlic as a vegetable. Everything was full of garlic. We somehow managed to eat something.

After the lunch, we set out for a few places nearby. In Kodaikanal, unlike Ooty, the places to visit are very nearby. You can walk up to many of the places. Others which are far off are no more than 4-5 kms. If we had known this earlier, we could have saved lots of money. Anyway, we set out to visit a few places around by walk. First we went to the Coaker's walk which is just a 5 min walk from our hotel. It is about half a km walk around the edge of the hill, where the view is just amazing. Many of our scenery pictures were taken from this spot. I visited this place on all 3 days. We could see the clouds moving around. We could even feel the clouds as we walked through them. There were also fresh carrots being sold. The view from the Coaker’s walk is just amazing. The landscape looks so beautiful that I can gaze at it for hours.

Once we came out of the Coaker’s walk, we were supposed to go to the Bryant’s park, which was just opposite to the entrance to the Coaker’s walk. It was a small park. But we missed it & did not go to the park. (In fact, me & Srini saw the park on the final day). Instead, we went further to the Kodai Lake. This is supposedly an artificial lake. But it is quite big. We went boating for about one & a half hours there. A good way to spend time & laze around. Once we came out, we saw a small roadside shop where a guy was selling shells. Not just ordinary sea shells, he would also, write something (like a message) on the shell. The writing (on the shell) looked like a carving. That guy was also very good at art & could paint some art (like landscape, birds, animals, etc) along with the message. All of us got at least one shell. Then we walked back to the hotel in the evening.

We spent the whole of the evening in the hotel room. We had tea & some snacks (French fries) ordered to our room. (Giri & Chan ordered pizza too). We played cards & watched TV. Srini (or maybe I should call him John), slept away very early. We had a light dinner in a nearby different hotel. We all slept at around 11 PM. (John was asleep by 7PM itself!). We had a good night’s sleep.

Saturday - 18/06/2005

John got up early in the morning (6AM) & started playing a ringtone on his mobile, so that we would all get up. I did get up early too. But Giri & Chan woke up a bit late. We all took bath one by one & got ready for the trip we had arranged for today. We had arranged for a vehicle for the whole day to visit the places in and around Kodai. The vehicle was supposed to come to our hotel at 10 AM. We had to get ready before that & have our breakfast. After we got ready, we even went for a walk in Coaker’s walk. After that, we had our breakfast in the restaurant in our hotel.

Breakfast is a memorable story. It so happened that by the time we went for breakfast, there were no other customers. So, the hotel guy started playing Hindi songs for a change. The first song was a popular track from Baazigar. The music for the second song started. The soundtrack was that of the song “Ishq hua, kaise hua...” from the movie Ishq. After listening to the soundtrack, I said that this was the song from the movie Ishq. Giri was of the other opinion. He said that this was a song from Baazigar & not Ishq. But I was pretty sure of the soundtrack. (Even Chandru was sure about it). I bet with Giri about this song. It was decided that the one who loses would have to treat others the lunch that day. And it so happened that it was a song from Baazigar. The soundtrack from a part of this song in Baazigar has been “re-used” in the movie Ishq for a whole song. So, I got that wrong & had to pay for the lunch.

And by the way, you might be wondering why I’m referring to Srini as John. Well, as some of you might already know, Srini is a big fan of John Abraham. He was inspired by John after seeing the movie Kaal. (esp., the scene where John, bare-chested wraps a python around him). He was so much inspired by John, that he started doing push-ups daily. Also, he wanted to grow his hair long & grow a little bit beard (for the rugged look). In Kodai, we found out that he spends a lot of time in front of the mirror, grooming his hair & admiring his looks. Also, he is very photo conscious. I mean, he like posing for snaps. (Maybe he’s considering a career in modeling & films too). That’s why we decided to call him John Abraham, John for short.

Anyway, back to our trip. The vehicle we booked for roaming around, came to the hotel at around 10:45 AM. It was a Tata Sumo. When getting into the vehicle, Giri remembered that he had a few cassettes. Chandru had a few too. We thought we could get the cassettes. Chandru volunteered to get the cassettes. But just then, the driver informed us that the vehicle had a CD player, not a cassette player. We were all stumped by that. We didn’t expect CD player in the vehicle. Anyway, we had to listen to Tamil songs all along. It was raining (heavy drizzling to be precise) when we started.

As I mentioned earlier, tourist places in Kodai are very close by. We didn’t know this. Last time we went to Ooty, the places were far off. So we presumed that it would be the same here. The fare for the trip in the vehicle was Rs. 800.00 a day. But a few minutes of ride in the vehicle, we quickly realized that there were not many places to visit. Also, our driver was not only reckless in driving, but I guess he was also trying to catch a plane in the afternoon. He was in such a hurry. He rushed us through all the places. We tried to visit all the places at leisure. But even then, he took us to all the places before lunch. We visited lots of places (I can’t remember the names of most places now) a few scenic locations, a temple (to the right of which was city view & to the left of it was another scenic view, the Kodai Park (it’s not as big or good as the one in Ooty, but nevertheless a good place to visit), the pine forest, the cave, the silver cascade falls, the museum, etc. Silver Cascade waterfalls, looked really very good from a distance. But when we went close by, we realized that the water in the falls was stinking. I guess it was drainage water. This was the place where we saw the 930C again. From the falls, we went to the museum, where we were followed by the 930C. We were dropped back to the hotel by lunch time (2:30PM). We had to pay 800 bucks for just half a day’s trip. We all felt it was a very costly affair. But then, unless you have a private vehicle, you have to book one of these to travel around.

For lunch, we came back to our hotel. Based on our previous experience, we did not have South Indian meals. Instead, we chose to have North Indian stuff (with ice-cream at the end). And since I was going to pay for the food, everybody ate to their stomach full. After lunch, we planned to go boating & Giri & Chan planned to have pizza at a pizza joint. But we decided to have some rest first. But then, none of these happened & we just lazed around in the hotel room, surfing channels, & playing cards. Evening, we had coffee/tea & some snacks. It was in the evening that the John’s SS episode happened. We didn’t let John sleep off at 7 PM. For dinner, we wanted to go to a new place (as the restaurant in our hotel only had South Indian meals). Another restaurant nearby was full. So, we decided to walk around to see if there were any other good restaurants. We went to one restaurant. Just as we went in, we realized that this was a shady place. We ordered tomato soup & it was so bad that none of us had more than a spoonful. Only me & Chandru had something to eat. John & Giri had a soda lime drink & nothing else. John actually wanted to sleep in “bari hotte”. Finally, after we came back, we watched a move (it was a Saturday night special movie on Star movies/HBO) & then went to sleep at around 11:30PM.

Sunday - 19/06/2005

Sunday, we planned to go trekking in the morning. Also, me & John planned to get up early & go to the Coaker’s walk to enjoy the sunrise. John & me started towards Coaker’s walk at 6:30 in the morning. Although the sun had already risen, the view was very beautiful. All the hills & clouds in the morning sunlight were fabulous. It was almost a different scenery in the morning as compared to the rest of the say. One thing to notice was that there were almost no people around. We were the only 2 people out for a walk. Not just the Coaker’s walk, even the streets were deserted, with only a very few local roadside shopkeepers setting up their shops. After a pleasant walk in Coaker’s walk & having taken many snaps, we started back to the hotel.

We were back in the hotel by 7:30. Chandru & Giri were still sleeping blissfully. By the time they woke up & we all got ready, it was around 9. We even packed all our bags & luggage as the plan was to check out the room in the morning itself. (This way we would have to pay the rent only for 2 days). We had breakfast in the adjoining restaurant. After the breakfast, we checked out of the room. We kept our luggage with the hotel receptionist & started towards a few places designated for trekking. There were almost 6 places for trekking – Bear shola falls (& two other water falls too), Dolphin’s nose & others. Our hotel receptionist told us that Dolphin’s nose was at a walkable distance. He didn’t even tell us the way to get there.

When we started, the streets were full of mist. Or rather, it was not mist but cloud passing through. When we walked through these clouds, we could feel the water drops settling on our face. The visibility was also not more than 100 to 150 feet. We enquired a few people about the way & started walking towards the trekking places. We were totally not sure about the way & we just walked on & on. After about half the way, John started cribbing & wanted to go back. We just wanted to move on. After coming so far, we did not want to go back just like that. After walking about 5-6 kms, we finally found the bear shola falls. One of the people there informed us that the same water, flows down to 2 more falls (3 in total). We did not go further to visit the other 2 falls. We spent some time at this falls & then started back. If we wanted to visit Dolphin’s nose & other places, we had to walk further ahead. But since it was around 11:45 – 12 PM already, we wanted to get back to hotel for lunch. We walked back to the hotel. Well, it was not trekking but it was a good walk in a really good weather. The falls was also good. So, overall it was worth the time.

Once we came back to the hotel, we headed to the restaurant in the hotel. Chandru ordered for some “software” drink. We all had some soft drinks. Actually, we wanted to have lunch. But till 2 PM, it was just South Indian meals that were available. So we decided to come back after 2PM. We decided to roam around a bit. Chandru did some shopping then & got a think fur-like blanket for himself. Giri had a pizza (in fact a small slice, I guess). We came back to the hotel after that & had our lunch. After that, we had to spend time till 5:30 in the evening. We had booked our tickets back to Bangalore for the 5:30 PM bus. We decided to go boating for about one & half hours. After boating, we came back to the hotel, picked up our bags & boarded the bus (which was already at the bus stand). The Mayura bus, in which the 930C came to Kodai, stood right next to our bus. And as co-incidence would have it, the 930C was in that bus, sitting at a window seat. Giri & Chan cursed me & John again for not getting the tickets in that bus. John & Giri tried to click some snaps of the 930C, but since we were sitting in the last seat & she was seated a few rows ahead, they could not get a clear shot. I was out of space in the SD card in my camera & hence did not participate in the photography. However I had only one last shot left. I was confident I could click a clear photo of the 930C, as our bus started moving. Well, if you have seen the snaps, the only photo I clicked was far better than the 5-6 snaps taken by John.

Well, as I mentioned, our seats were in the last row of the bus. All the way down the hill, we were jumping around. The road also seemed to be rugged. We could experience each & every curve as we swayed to left & right at each curve. Since we were seated in the last row & we were thrown up & down, our stomachs were not in the best of the condition. By the time we climbed down the hill to the hotel for dinner, we were all exhausted. Giri even vomited & cleared his stomach. The break from the journey was a welcome one. We started feeling better, after having some rest. We did not have anything for dinner. Chan & Giri had some ice-cream. John & me chose to skip dinner. Incidentally, the bus had stopped at the same hotel, at which we had stopped for morning coffee, while going to Kodai. The bus started the journey back to Bangalore at around 9PM. The road ahead seemed pretty much smooth. We all did get some sleep too.

We reached the bus stand in Bangalore at 5 – 5:30 AM in the morning. We all headed back to our homes. The trip came to an end. It was a memorable trip. We enjoyed a lot. And since there were not many places to be covered & we were at leisure, we spent a lot of time together. The trip served its purpose. We enjoyed the vacation & the break from work.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I've been busy

I have been very busy for the past 2-3 weeks.. Yesterday, I was in office till 10:30 PM at night.. Too much of work & too little time for any other activity.. So, no blogs for some time now..

There has been a lot of hue & cry about the details of Kodai trip.. I have a lot of things to write about that.. I'll definitely write about it this weekend..