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Travel Diaries – Ahmedabad

The day before the big trip:
Just another day at the office. Happy because tomorrow was the start of a week long, much needed vacation to Ahmadabad, Diu, Gir and Junagadh. Wanted to visit Ahmadabad ever since it was declared a heritage city. Diu is Diu. Ilha de Calma! I had visited Gir sometime in 2009, and the memory of a lion walking past our jeep
was still fresh in my mind. I wanted a round 2. Hadn’t done much homework on Junagadh. All I knew about this place was it was once a princely state – so there was bound to be plenty of heritage sites.
All my hopes of leaving work early were dashed – work :/ There was still 80% of my packing pending. As always – last minute.

Day1: Mumbai – Ahmadabad
Almost missed the alarm. Blame the jumbo cup of coffee I had before going to bed the previous night. Couldn’t sleep for a long time, and then dozed off just when it was time to wake up.
Had a quick bath and breakfast and booked the cab. Thankfully the cab was on time, and the driver didn’t need a lot of directions to reach my gate. It was an early morning flight, and thankfully we took off on time. Oh, and there were no screaming/wailing kids on the flight.
Landed at Ahmadabad airport, and my bag was in the first batch on the belt. Great going so far!
Drove from the airport to the old part of the city. For the next 2 days we were gonna stay at a charming place called French Haveli. This is a restored haveli located in one of the many pols in Ahmadabad.

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French Haveli

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French Haveli

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View from one of the rooms

A pol (pronounced: pole) is basically a cluster of houses accessible via a main gate. The houses are all within the walls of the pol. So it’s a kind of a housing complex?
Usually a pol has people from the same community (or profession) living there. The main feature of a pol is the main gate, and narrow lanes. Community living.
So, about French Haveli. Charming place. Cozy rooms, and paintings/antiques all over the place. The approach road to this place is via a very narrow lane. This is probably a feature in all the pols. Narrow lanes.
From the main road to the haveli is just a 2-3 minute walk. Since we had our bags with us we dumped all the bags in an auto and walked to the haveli. After a short break to freshen up and breakfast we set out to explore the city.
First stop was Sarkhej Roza.
Sarkhej Roza is a mosque/tomb complex. On reaching this place we were told we have to keep our footwear outside, AND cover our heads. Clicked a lot of pictures inside (what else 😀 ). Spent about an hour there, taking pics (and selfies!) No, I didn’t click any selfies. Still can’t take a proper selfie.
After Sarkhej, it was time for lunch. We went to a place called Gordhan Thaal for lunch. As the name suggests, this is a thaali place. Nice place. Good food. Not a big fan of thaalis though. And OMG!! What a HUGE thaali that was. The setup was the usual. A massive thaali, and many small katoris in it.
After lunch I was feeling too sleepy. Blame the rich food. So post lunch we continued our exploration. Next stop was Vaishnodevi temple. It is a replica of the original temple, complete with caves (artificial of course).
Didn’t spend much time there, walked up the ‘mountain’ through the caves, and tunnels and had darshan. The next place was an interesting one, and the one I wanted to see (mainly to photograph).
After Vaishnodevi, we set off for Adalaj Stepwell. This stepwell is 5 stories deep, and has some amazing carvings on its walls and pillars. Such stepwells are common all over Gujarat. They were build centuries ago, mainly to collect and store water for dry months. Since this region doesn’t receive a lot of rain, the stepwells were a good idea to ensure the people had water all year round.

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Adalaj Stepwell

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Carvings on the walls at Adalaj Stepwell

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Adalaj Stepwell – information poster

Looking at the depth (5 stories) and the number of steps, it must have been a big task to collect water every day. Good exercise!
I was looking forward to visiting the Adalaj Stepwell – had seen pictures by friends who had visited there earlier. Sadly I had to struggle to take good pics (good = less people in the photos). The place was super crowded. Maybe because it was a Saturday, and the entire population of Ahmadabad had decided to visit Adalaj.
Our final destination for the day was Akshardham temple, and the light/sound show there. So off to Gandhinagar and to Akshardham. One thing about Akshardham. There is too much of security there. You are supposed to deposit all bags, cameras – everything at the counters near the enterance. Only thing you could carry inside was your purse. That too was checked at the gates.
There was plenty of time for the show and we didn’t want to keep our bags, phones (I was concerned about my camera as well) for that long so we decided to check what’s there to explore in Gandhinagar.
But first chai break. We stopped at this place called Jai Bhavani Vada Pav for a chai break and some snacks. The biggest (so far) shock of my life was discovering that they don’t serve tea (or coffee). What!! Come on. A vada pav place that doesn’t sell chai. A Believe or Not moment for me. For someone from Mumbai this is a very hilarious situation.
A vada pav gaadi (or stall) will ALWAYS have a chai tapri next to it. So no chai. No vada pav either.
We had plenty of time to kill – but not enough to go back to Ahmadabad and keep our phones/bags there and come back for the light/sound show at Akshardham. We decided to visit Indroda Nature Park.
It’s an okay-ish place. But seems to be popular among the locals. Good enough to spend some time – take a nature trail. And like most popular places on weekends it was crowded. The main attraction I guess was the dinosaur park. Nothing great – a park with dinosaurs all over the place (not real ones, mind you).
Akshardham time. Deposited our phones and camera at the counter, went through the security check (sounds like an airport, no?) and bought tickets for the show. Then first things first – TEA. Tea was a big disappointment – bigger than the vada pav thing. After being redirected from one counter to another and then standing in queue for the coupon we finally made it to the tea stall only to find out it was machine tea.
Talk of rotten luck. Desperately wanted my chai fix, and all I got was the sugary machine tea. Meh!
The light/sound show was at an open amphitheater. It was already full when we reached there, but luckily we found seats in the middle rows. The light/sound show tells us about the story of Nachiketa. The light effects are too good. You got to experience it at least once.
After the show it was time for dinner. Luckily we had bought the dinner coupons before the show – to avoid the long queue, and the rush at the stalls. Dinner was pav bhaaji (didn’t taste like it though).
Post dinner we were supposed to head back to Ahmadabad, and then visit the local night market – this one is famous for it’s street food. But since it was a long tiring day for most of us, we decided to skip it.
Tomorrow was an early start. Heritage walk in the walled city. This seemed interesting.
So lights off – and zzzzzz. Tomorrow is another big day.

 

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Travel Diaries

Finally got time to post about my trip to Ahmedabad, Diu, Gir and Junagadh (Nov 18-24). Been working crazy schedule since November.

I’ll be posting my trip report day wise. Links to be updated on this page.

Day1 : Ahmedabad

Day2 (and the rest of the days): Coming soon!

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Sikkim Diaries – day 8

What a way to welcome your last day in Sikkim. Woke up to rain, and thunder and lightning!! Such awesome weather. The weather gods were unhappy that we’re leaving Sikkim, and that showed 😉

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Rain, thunder and lightning – waking up to this view

My flight back home is tomorrow, but the plan was to leave from Gangtok today and reach Siliguri by evening. The distance between Gangtok and Bagdogra is ~130 km, but sometimes mountain roads get blocked. Didn’t want to be in the mad race from Gangtok to airport on a Sunday morning.

Yeah, obviously we didn’t set off from Gangtok directly towards Siliguri. There were a few pit stops along the way.

Bags loaded into the cars, and we were off. Bye bye Sikkim 😦

First stop along the way – Do drul Chorten in Gangtok. There are 108 prayer wheels around the stupa. The rain hadn’t stopped yet – it was drizzling. Didn’t stay here for a long time.. just walked around clicking pics. There was a glass enclosure full of oil lamps. Don’t know what it’s called, or why the lamps were lit. But it looked so beautiful.

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do drul Chorten – this is quite a climb!

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oil lamps

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Prayer wheels

The next pit stop was the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, also in Gangtok. It was not a part of the itinerary, but whoa .. what a place. Glad we visited it. This museum is very close to the do drul Chorten. It’s a nice place to visit if you are interested in Tibetan Buddhism. Small, but an impressive collection of artifacts. Neatly labelled too. We spent a lot of time here looking at the artifacts. One thing that bugged me here was the noise, and the crowds – since it is listed as one of the “must visit” locations the place was full of tourists. Not that it is a bad thing but at least keep the chatter down to a minimum – it’s a museum. :/

Anyway – nice place. And yeah, a “must visit” too. There’s a small souvenir shop too. I bought some postcards from this place as well (had bought postcards from other places too)

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Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Gangtok

With that we started our journey towards Siliguri. It was a pleasant drive – the rain had brought down the temperature.

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Pleasant climate along the way – Gangtok to Siliguri

Oh, there was one more stop before we reached Siliguri – RAFTING!! We stopped at a rafting site – along the Teesta river.

 

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Rafting – Start point

So Rafting, and then a quick chai break and we were on our way. No certificates for rafting .. Paragliding was good 😉

So after a long, long drive – we finally reached Siliguri. This was our last stop before we all left for our respective destinations the next day.

The drive to Siliguri was pretty long – but the awesome company and the great music in the car didn’t make it boring.

So Siliguri at last – checked in (yeah, check in – this was not a homestay like everywhere in Sikkim), refreshed and a chai/snack break done. The group decided to head out and explore a place called Hong Kong market in Siliguri. I decided to give it a miss – hopefully didn’t miss much.

I did join the rest of the group for dinner – after they returned from the hong kong market. Last evening together – a bit sad, but happy, and glad that I made this trip – met 7 amazing people, and was going back home with great memories.

 

 

 

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Long time ….

No see 😉

Back after almost one year.. guess my blog posts have become a yearly event now. Starting a series of posts about my trip to Sikkim – will be titled (very creatively) as Sikkim Diaries.

I always carry a notepad whenever I travel… never blogged about my travels. But this trip *WAS* special.

So watch this space – coming up next – Sikkim Diaries Day1.

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Monday blues?

It’s Sunday evening, and most people are dreading the “Monday Morning Blues”. Me included.

The more I think about it, I realise it’s not Mondays… but Fridays that should be blue. Why? Okay, Monday mornings are a bit blue – I’m going back to work after a lovely two days off. Thinking of all the fun times I’ve had over the weekend. Monday mornings are a bit hectic. But once I’m in the office, and have had my daily dose of caffeine, I’m all ready to tackle whatever the day throws at me. But Fridays? The day just drags on and on and on and on and ….

I often find myself working late on Fridays. I’ve got to finsh everything before I leave for the day. Can’t leave anything pending, and then come back on Monday to find you have forgotten what you were doing. Okay, not that bad memory loss. But I don’t like to start a new work week with the previous week’s backlog. It’s not that on other days – you can always be at work a bit early the next day. I simply must finish everything. At least bring things to a logical conclusion.

So whenever I hear a colleague say TGIF!! on a Friday morning, I cringe. No. Don’t thank anyone. It’s going to be a long day (for me at least).

I’m thinking of changing it to TGIM, and Friday Blues. Anyone with me?

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Justice For Jisha

Books And Strips

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I know this has nothing to do with books but I had to talk about it.

A week ago a woman was raped brutally in Kerala. Her intestines were pulled out and she was assaulted with sharp foreign objects. She was alone in her house when she was attacked by an unknown number of men (one of whom is said to be absconding and the other is suspected to be her neighbour) and raped repeatedly, sharp objected inserted into her private parts and her intestines pulled out; in a shockingly similar manner to the infamous Nirbhaya case from Delhi.

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Hello, Mr. Pochettino. Few minutes to spare?

“We’re coming for you!!”

I had originally planned to write this blogpost at the end of the season. But then I thought, we’ll all be busy celebrating after watching Hugo lift the trophy. So decided to post this right now.

This isn’t a season review post. I never do that, no. Not before the season ends. Last time I posted about how great our season was progressing, and how we were going to play Champions League the following season .. well, we blew a 10 point lead and a guranteed (almost) 3rd place finish. I’m kinda superstitious about all things Spurs. I believe that post jinxed it. That’s not what really happened. But hey, superstition.

So, this is not a review post. Not going to utter (um type, actually) a single word about what’s been happening this season.

Okay, first things first.

This post is an apology post. Long overdue apology. Mauricio Pochettino! I owe you an apology. So sorry man. So sorry I ever doubted you. And I’m glad I was proved wrong.

Remember the days when there was a lot of speculation about the next Spurs manager .. Remember? Plenty of names were being linked to us. LVG among them. And back then my first preference was LVG. Mainly because he had the ‘experience’ managing big clubs. And Pochettino? He was with Southampton. He had them playing great football, no doubt. But it’s Southampton! Come on. They aren’t as big as us, no? Also I had no clue about his previous clubs. HOW WRONG I WAS!!! And how ignorant. How stupid. How judgemental. How … …

Looking back .. at Man Utd, and their season. It seems like we dodged a bullet. Not a bullet. We dodged a flukking A bomb.

A couple paragraphs above I said I won’t be talking about our season .. Ha! It’s Spurs. You just can’t shut me up.

My love affair with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club started in Feb 2001. How (and why) I fell in love is a different and a long-ish story – and a separate blog post. More about that later.

All the years I’ve been supporting Spurs, only a handful of seasons stand out as ‘Whoa’ seasons. My favourite being the lassagna gate season. Proper Spursy! Dream a lovely dream only to end in a Heartbreak, and I cried. I actually cried after a football match. That is not me.

Well, lassagna season – you’ve been demoted to second place. Say hello to my new favourite season of all time (until the start of 2016/17 season, anyway). And the person responsible for that is Mr. Poch. (Sorry, again). He’s not the only one instrumental in bringing about this change – but this post is about MP. So…

Watching Spurs play has ALWAYS brought a smile to my face. Win, lose or draw. Can’t smile without you. And I’m smiling right now (watched the highlights of Stoke vs Spurs – AGAIN). But this season it has been different. Very different. The way the lads are playing is Unbelievable!!  We’re playing as a team. A well drilled unit. There’s no “one man team”. No toys out of the pram superstar tantrums. We’re TOGETHER. Together THFC! (Kinda sounds like “We is Us”, yikes!). The transformation from a wannabe challenger to actually challenging for the PL title is phenomenal. Loving every minute of it. And with 4 games to go (and 5 points behind the Foxes) I haven’t given up. Still dreaming. A sharp contrast to previous seasons when the dream started fading away after March.

Every season it is a Head vs Heart argument – Head says we’ll do okay. Heart says TOP 4 or nothing. And in the end Head always won. Not this season, no way. I believe we will fight till the end. Till the final whistle.

So once again – Sorry for doubting you Mr. Pochettino. You’re COYS AF.We’re gonna do it.

Oh, and Mr. Levy. Give this man a raise, and a new contract.

COYS, forever and always!