Sunday, November 21, 2010

how I parked my cycle - a Trade Fair Tale

After the Half marathon, me and my friends planned to visit the Trade Fair. Since i couldn't find a parking at "Race course" metro station (nearest from Nehru Park - Half marathon venue), i thought of riding till Pragati Maidan while my friends safely took the Metro !
surprisingly, I reached a good 15 min before them but the regular parking at gate 10 was full and the cycle stand was only meant for the cycles on rent. I was directed towards gate no. 2.

At gate no. 2 i asked for parking from a 'mahila' police constable. She smirked at me and then showed me the way. she said, "100 rupaye ki parking hai". i cudnt get it initially due to the noise n kept going but when i realised what she said i applied the front brakes in a reflex; the handle rammed into my crotch!

I went on towards the parking anyhow. However, the parking guys declined to give me a parking slip (first, they even declined to let me park) and the parking charges (without any guarantee )......Rs 20. (10 times of what the display board was showing, yes... 2 rupees only !)

I approached the Police sitting a couple of meters away. the officer (see the shift..instead of 'thulla' i m referring him as officer !!) surprisingly was helpful. he rebuked the parking guy in his typical haryanvi ishtyle, " हां भई, पार्किंग चलाणी है के ना चलाणी" (u guys wanna run ur parking or not). "कौन सा मांग रा है इस्से बीस रुपे? " (who is asking 20 rupees from him?"). The parking guy was totally taken aback and got into an immediate diffensive mode. 
another officer joined in later and he added ," भाई साईकिल खू गी तो बिना पर्ची के कौन जिम्मेदारी लेगा और ऊपर से फोरेनर !!!!! " ( without the slip, who will take the responsibility if the cycle got lost and that too of a foreigner !). Foreigner ????? are you kidding me ? well, he is not to be blamed entirely. With shaved head, an alien looking helmet in hand and a bike with all those gear jing-bang....i was probably confusing many. i had to explain him in hindi that i am not a foreigner!

yeh, at the end of this drama, i did parked my bike , got the parking ticket of a motorcycle with "CYCLE" written over it at 5 (n not 10) times the govt rate i.e 10 rupees !

PS: Gul Panag can find solace in the fact that she was not the only one "molested" that day; i was molested too, only i enjoyed it !! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dogs and Debit cards not allowed!

Well the website didn’t say that categorically but it pretty much meant the same.

This week I planned to book 2 tickets for "Robot"(movie) on 'Book My Show' but I was denied because my Debit Card doesn’t have a CVV no. ! (click on the link if u want to know more about this no.). I don’t care if it’s the fault of the website not to accept a card without Cvv or it's the fault of the bank which issued me such a card in the first place but the bottom line is I couldn’t see the movie and now I have to face the fury of Rajinikant, I hope he doesn’t take a bite off of my head just like he has done with the Apple Logo (who else do you suspect should have done such a thing !!)

Friday, October 8, 2010

7 things I would never forget about my Tajmahal trip on Trek

1.     Felt like a Star – many would think that I was all alone on the highway and it would have been very boring to cycle for some 13 hours (one way!). But the fact is I was never alone! I had hundreds of my ‘fans’ following me throughout the stretch. Some were staring at me with amazement, some with reverence and some with utter clumsiness! Kids were waving at me and I didn’t disappoint them either. Some even slowed down to ask what I was up to and they invariably wished me ‘all the best’ with a thumbs-up gesture. Being a star is sometimes hectic!

2.     Lost my Nationality – till 2nd October I had no doubt in my mind that I was an Indian but this trip changed it all. On the highway (NH 2) I was mistaken by many as a ‘firang’, courtesy, my trek and the helmet.
The same thing happened again at Tajmahal and Agra Fort, this time because of my company and so to please the ‘curious crows’, I had to come up with a fake nationality – Nigerian – which they readily believed! Salesmen, beggars and guides were chasing me believing that I was a foreigner. Even when I asked for directions from people in Hindi, they guided me in English! Incredible!

3.      Met with some amazing people – travelling almost always gives you fantastic opportunities to meet people from different cultures and countries. The only condition is that you shouldn’t remain in your shell.
      a.      Seeing the Taj would have been a boring experience had I not got the company of Patrycja and Magda, (from Poland). For the rest of the day, they were my bodyguards (at 1.80 m, patrycja definitely was!) and I was their manager because all the eager Indian guys were approaching me to get a photo clicked with Pat & Mag. Well at times, I had to become the photographer as well! after a coffee at CCD, they left for varanasi and i ...well, u will come to know soon!
      b.      If I was able to get a hotel that day, it was all because of Fabio, guy from Italy. My first meeting with him was quite kick-ass. It brought back the quirkiness in me; much needed in those desperate circumstances. And guess what, I got the room in the same hotel in which he was staying. At around 11:00 PM we had a roof-top chat on topics ranging from Berlosconi (Italian PM) to Sonia Gandhi and Italian men’s Casanova image to Indian girls’ intense eyes!
      c.      I wouldn’t have visited Agra fort if it wasn’t for Aymeric and his girlfriend LN (from Paris). We had a roof-top breakfast while admiring the beauty of Taj which was in front of us. Being with foreigners worked against me once again– guides persuading me and people asking me, “which country”? Me – “India….sorry …Nigeria!!” I came to know later that Aymeric proposed to LN to marry him in front of Taj and she agreed! Can it get any more romantic?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Delhi Metro is "BROKEN"

Yesterday I saw a video by Seth Godin (an illustrious blogger, marketer and speaker) on speaking about his venture “This is Broken” - A project to make businesses more aware of their customer experience, and how to fix the snags in it. (to see the video, click

I realized that even Delhi metro is “broken”. We all must have heard that announcement – “please mind the gap (while getting off)” and we also must have seen those stickers warning us not to put our hands on the glass of the sliding doors.

What I don’t understand is that If they know that the gap can potentially handicap or even kill a small kid (who can’t make sense of the announcement) or the sliding doors can break somebody’s fingers if he accidentally put his hand on the glass (considering how crowded metro can get, its quite likely), why don’t they do something about it? Just making a repeated and annoying announcement (which most people totally ignore) or putting up a sticker is not gonna fix it.

Why can’t the metro trains have a projection at the base of the door which comes out when the train stops at the station and cover up the gap! (Hey Mr. Cynic, don’t you say it’s too hypothetical)

Or, why don’t they increase the thickness of the glass so that no gap remains between the surface of the door and the surface of the the glass in which a person can get his hand trapped when the doors slide open!

It’s very much possible but they simply don’t care. They just want to fulfill their responsibility by a sticker or an announcement. Mr. E Sreedharan, our metro is broken, would u mind fixing it please?

Monday, September 20, 2010

One Step Closer

Yeh, I'm one step closer ……………… one step closer to the Taj (Agra). And this momentous occasion was marked by the successful completion of the ride to Murthal (Google it to know where it is!) at a phenomenal speed (for an Amateur).

I know you wont google it so, to give you a fair idea, Murthal is on NH1 (better known As GT Road), north of Delhi. I am sure you must have heard of Sonipat; Murthal is few KMs ahead of it.

'missa parantha' with freshly whipped cream ! yummy !!
The day started unbelievably early. In fact, most of you must be having a really awesome sleep/time when I woke up, thanks to Vinay, one of our 3 member “strong” gang – me, him and Anand!

Well, I won’t bog you down with the details of what we did and what we saw on the way except that on reaching Murthal, we had a sumptuous breakfast at “Ahuja’s No.1 Dhaba”. I guess you certainly want to know the details of the breakfast at least, don’t you? Well, so be it. It was Paranthas (of various kinds viz. Paneer, aaloo, missa, mix etc) loaded with freshly whipped cream, Dal makhni, Dahi and Lassi(specially for me. Others chose tea)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Clean Delhi Drive - an Art of living initiative

 This day was certainly one of the most eventful days of my life. I never expected rag picking would be so exciting; I really envy the sweeper of my street now!!!

The day started quite contrary to what I had planned. We had a weekend cycle ride to gurgaon and I was supposed to meet my friends at McD, South Ex at 6AM but I found myself still in bed at that time when my alarm finally managed to wake me up. I have something to learn from my Alarm….”Never Quit”!

Hoping to catch them at Radisson hotel on NH-8, I set off on my TREK (cycle) from Dwarka and reached before they could (I’ve got speed, bro!). Incidentally they were having a tea break at IFFCO chowk so covering up a few KMs more to their resting place didn’t sound a bad idea, apparently. But, it was a bad idea because I got a flat tire just 200 mts before I could reach there. It was 7:45 AM and if that wasn’t a reason good enough not to find a cycle repair shop; it was a triple holiday- Ganesh’s b’day, Eid and ..and….9/11 anniversary!!

I thought of going back to Dwarka in a DTC bus but I had little idea of how strict but surprisingly polite the conductors were while rejecting my request to carry my bike along with me.
Till now that puncture had cost me 1 hour n still I was absolutely clueless of what to do until a rikshaw walla guided me to sec 17 market where I could get lucky. Well, I got double lucky, there was a repair kiosk and just next to it, a Girls’ PG !!

While I was whiling away my time, I called Neeraj, someone who was associated with Clean Delhi Drive (CDD) and I came to know that it was going on right under my nose; at IFFCO Chowk. There was no time to lose.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Well, I couldn’t find a better title for this lil post cuz it's nothing but a love story (of a different kind, of course!).

Since the met department had forecasted that it would be a bright and sunny day, I was kinda sure that it would rain but It didn’t……I mean it didn’t rain….. it poured. In fact, it flashed to me for a while that Delhi may also suffer “flash Floods” much like Leh a few days back but then god was kind enough on Delhi Govt and Suresh Kalmadi in particular by not adding to his miseries. Ironically, the Firang inspector who came to assess the preparedness of Delhi for the common wealth games expressed ‘satisfaction’!!

Chalo, lets forget these “Common -- Games” (sorry for the blanks, someone took away the “wealth”!) for a while and lemme get back to the sexy rainy weather. But to be able to see the weather in this perspective u gotta be a Cyclist (Trekist to be precise); for a car or byke ‘wala’, this day can easily be one of the worst nightmares he could possibly have, courtesy, the pathetic drainage system of delhi roads which simply refuse to take in even a bucketful of water. In fact, it would rather return it back along with two bucketsful of mud, silt and feces which were stuck up in its ‘digestive system’. And then there are those artistically designed potholes; Delhi’s own way of rain water harvesting and just when you hope that bad news would end, the Traffic lights stop working and it’s a lost cause (just like expecting Common – Games to be a success) to expect a traffic police official when the lights take their last breath.

But, if u are a Trekist, nothing bothers u. The rain drops aren’t a source of worry; they seem like a source of perennial joy. The traffic doesn’t seem like a barrier but a maze through which you have to trace your path. The potholes become mini swimming pools in which u find inexplicable pleasure every time you splash that muddy water on a passing Honda Accord or Bajaj Pulsar! While everybody else is waiting under a tree or a flyover to get the rain gods a bit relaxed, you are pedaling your way with grandeur and élan on your TREK (well, it’s basically a cycle, but then it’s not a cycle, it’s a TREK). While everyone is looking at you perplexed, you are looking at them with Pity. Off n on, you also get a look which says that if only I wasn’t with my husband/boyfriend/bhaiya/driver, I would have loved to enjoy this amazing rain with you on your bike. These are the moments which reassure me that trek khareed kar maine koi galati nahin ki.

You reach your office, totally drenched with trail of ‘keechad’ stretching from your bums to the tip of your head, courtesy, a good-for-nothing mudguard while everyone else is jumping out of their car or rikshaw and tiptoeing till they safely get under a roof and then look at their shoes to ensure that not even a speck of mud has ruined the sanctity of their formal attire. While my Trek now needs a nap after a 23 KM roller-coaster ride, its time for me to change, get into semi formals and slog at the office for 8 long hours hoping that they pass like 8 min so that I hop on to my Trek once again for another hilarious ride on the special roads of Delhi and gurgaon in the Rain, of course!

Coming Up (in few days): the 120 KM century ride that we did on Independence day eve

(p.s. - the pic is not of this day but inserted to give a feel of how cool it is to pedal in the rains!!)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pedaling my way to office

It’s said that to accomplish something, there should be perfect alignment between your mind and your body but for the past few weeks, this coordination was eluding me despite my repeated attempts. But things went beyond my tolerance limit (which apparently is quite wide!) yesterday and I decided that today is the day when ‘it’ has to be done or it won’t be done ever.
The decision was to go to my office on cycle. To give you the idea, I live in Dwarka and my office is in gurgon, some 25KM from my place. Well, that’s only a very vague guess because till this date I never cared to note the meter reading from my home to the office!
According to the plan, the alarm was set at 6 in the morning and as all alarms infamously do, it went off sharp at 6. But I only managed to pay heed to its continual calls at 7:15.  The plan was almost screwed because I was left with only 15 minutes before the scheduled departure at 7:30 so that I may reach the office at around 9 (if I could, that is). Without even changing my clothes, I just packed my backpack with a t-shirt, pants, formal shoes and most importantly, my deodorant! At 7:45, when my mom and dad weren’t there, I slipped away to my office on my cycle. Unfortunately by that time, the sun was already there to take ‘good care’ of me for the rest of the journey.
When you are on a cycle you become fearless of jams, infact you love them because this gives you a dose of ego-boost when you effortlessly move through the gaps between the cars while they haplessly remain stranded. some 'wise' men say that girls love it when someone looks at them with 'appreciative' eyes, while guys love it when someone looks at their girl with those appreciative eyes but with me things are bit wacky. I love the 'bewildered' eyes of the person sitting in the car moving next to me while I am pedaling at full throttle with my torso bent forward. And if by gods grace, that bewildered eyed person happens to be a girl, even better. This supercharges me like nothing else; even Gatorade can't beat it.

When I was just a couple of kilometers away from my office, I almost came on the verge of throwing up but thankfully I didn’t but it was reason enough for me to stop under a shady tree and sip nariyal paani. here, I was conned by either the vendor or the god because the rugby ball shaped nariyal which i chose so meticulously had lesser water in it than what i can hold in my hands!  When I reached my office, I was totally drenched in sweat. I hit the washroom of the Galeria Complex (where my office is) to change because I felt too awkward to go to office in a t-shirt and extremely short shorts! I reached office at 9:10, a good 20 min earlier than other days and the rest as they say is historical!

(PS: After signing off for the day at 7pm, I grabbed my cycle, which I had parked at a shady and secluded place, only to find that its rear tyre was punctured. But this flat tyre gave me the opportunity to see a colony of Rikshaw pullers for the first time in my life where I got the puncture work done. The name of the place was ‘Alasiya mod’ in literal sense – lethargic turn! Well it needs a separate post to describe the scenic beauty of that colony but one scene stood out of the rest. At a tea shop, a movie was tuned on a small colour TV and there were like 25 – 30 people watching it with rapt attention; the scene, featuring Shakti Kapoor and a girl at his mercy deserved that attention after all. That was their very own PVR plaza.)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A high-spirited night out on two roads: one with Red-light & another, without

It was the final day of our MBA (supposedly!) and as the occasion demands, it had to be grand and memorable; something at which we could look back and smile. Our college also tried to make the day memorable for us in their own special way by churning out wacky and innovative awards out of thin air like foreign language scholar award, best PR award, human value award etc. A girl got the Maximum attendance award but ironically she wasn’t present to collect that!!
Once this ‘Sitcom’ was over and after a few sessions of group-photos, hugging (with guys) and handshakes (with girls) {although, ideally, it should have been the other way round!!}, we bid adieu to each other one last time.
However, Lokesh, his friends and I had plans to carry on the party as long as we could as If the world is gonna come to an end after this.  The plan was to end the night (which eventually extend well into the next day) on a high and the fact that I was no longer a teetotaler was only going to help me to execute the plan better. But before that, it was the regular Mall surfing stuff with the women folks of our group. The random but unanimous pick of the group was Pind Baluchi on the 3rd floor of GIP Mall. The internal designing of ‘The village restaurant’ was great if not awesome with an almost real tree growing in the middle with something hanging on the branches, looking more like naked men hiding themselves in the tree than monkeys. A sumptuous & delicious dinner paved the way for the much awaited night when the new breed of farzi-managers would celebrate their pricy label in ‘high-spirits’.
Friends were already at loki’s PG at sec-39 and after discussing a few brands of beer and breezers, we hit the theka at sec-37 only to find that he was out of stock. But the river of alcohol never goes dry in India even if river of water does. Finally, we could hear the clinking of the beer bottles at the theka of sec-29. Even the excruciatingly high price of the beer (Rs 90/bottle when one can get the same in Delhi at Rs 50-60) couldn’t deter us from buying a carton of beer with a few bottles less. The carton was in the car but a few friends were absconding. With every passing minute the beers were getting warmer and our temper, shorter. After cursing and cussing the ‘perpetrators’, we opened the bottles in the car itself without making much ado.  The party only got grander and noisier back at the PG with profanity overflowing like beer off the rim of the glass. It was too hot in the rooms so we chose a damp filthy corner on the top of the roof beside the overhead tank where cool breeze was caressing us like a girl fondles with her boyfriend by brushing her towel-dry moist hair over his face. Don’t know about others but ‘she’ was getting me turned on! We sat there for hours discussing past experiences; accusing, abusing and occasionally, praising each other.
But this wasn’t destined to be the end of the day; after all, we had a car with us, a Wagon R. “Let’s go to CP”, was the consensus and around 1 in that fabulous night, we fastened our seatbelts ( only figuratively!). We knew it beforehand that our night-out is gonna be awesome. How? Well, the moment we set our foot out of the house we came across two hot chicks with good fashion sense (u know what I mean) and the dark of the night made them even hotter; enough to trigger our fantasies.
 We were four; Lokesh, Amit awasthi, me and xyz (he requested not to include his name; you will come to know why). We reached CP but we really didn’t expect it to be dead as a graveyard with not a single decent shop open. But it’s Delhi and hence options are limitless. After refueling the car, we caught hold of the Ashok Road which would lead us to India Gate. But a bigger disappointment was awaiting us there. The splendid India Gate, pride of Delhi, was left at the mercy of moon; not a single flood-light was on to allow this massive structure let its presence felt and announce, “Look, here I am, standing tall amidst this massive wilderness. Come and see me”. And to add insult to injury, there wasn’t any parking. We were going round and round the circle, stopping at the same ice-cream vendor to ask him the same question and observing couples relishing the ice-creams. But something was cooking in loki’s mind, courtesy some previous instance at CP that night and the baba finally came up with this – “guys, lets go to GB road”. We all almost instantly broke into laughter with Mr. xyz saying, “have you gone mad”. But lemme tell you, loki has got good convincing skills and it didn’t took him long to convince us with vivid recounts of his experiences of an altogether different ambience (what he aptly call as “mahaul”) at Kotha no. 64. He was quick to add that he went to the ‘stadium’ as only a ‘spectator’ and not to ‘play’ the ‘game’. And to make it clear to the readers, we had no intentions of playing the ‘game’ either. We were going there as an ‘audience’ to get a live experience of that mahaul.
So this time we asked a different question to the ice-cream walla – “which is the way to get to GB Road”? He was amusingly shocked. I could see a smirk on his otherwise dull and sleepy face. He was only beginning to tell us when a younger, overenthusiastic vendor, standing at a distance cut him short and started explaining his own version of the route saying, “are saab, main gaya hoon chaar-paanch baar” (sir, I have been there 4-5 times). But loki didn’t find his words quite convincing. Thanking them for confusing us and with our own vague idea about the place, we put the car into gear. En route, we asked help from many people – Autowalle, rkshawwalle, pedestrians etc. they helped us with the directions following a series of pattern – their eyes grew brighter, a crooked grin made a magical appearance on their faces and they all repeated this, “achcha, vahan jana hai”. This whole process was downright hilarious. We were having a gala time in the car with our guffaws vibrating the windowpanes more than the woofer!
Finally, after enough meandering, we were on that legendary road. It was filthy and archaic. All the kothas were on the right side of the road and we were avidly gawking towards that side expecting to see something either on the road or in the balconies of the buildings appearing more like booden blocks stacked one over the other by a kid. Alongside the road we saw some women standing and making some racy gestures to us which only they could make! We were looking at them and then to each other with astonished eyes and chuckling. To our surprise, a constable was also there and this very fact made us skeptical. It was almost ruled out that we could go into any of those ‘dens’ leaving the car on the road at the mercy of one. We kept on driving at a slow pace and soon the road ended but not our excursion.
We were feeling hungry by then and we knew a nice little shop near CP which takes care of nocturnal animals like us serving different kinds of paranthas, snacks etc. The atmosphere was buzzing with people with surprisingly a lot of girls in those late hours, thanks to the 24/7 corporate culture.
After crisscrossing most of the central Delhi we decided to hit the road back home and end the ‘Night Safari’ but in our heart of hearts, we never actually wanted to. So when made to choose between taking a left turn towards home or going straight on the Greater Noida Expressway, we chose the latter one. It was time to test the mean machine. Window panes were rolled up and the volume of the music was raised with some cool hip-hop beats blasting into our heads and vibrating our chests, giving us even a greater adrenaline rush. Foot once set on the accelerator was never raised and our eyeballs were shuttling between the road and the speedometer which was only rising in sync with our heart beats. 120…..130…..135….140…. We were on the edge of seats when suddenly we realized that a huge truck was crawling in the middle of the highway with loose ends of steel jutting out of it. I involuntarily grabbed the headrest of the front two seats and sunk my neck into the collar-bone. Meanwhile, Amit managed to decelerate and maneuver his way around that deadly truck. But the itch to touch 150 wasn’t pacified and we accelerated once again. Amit, on the wheel, took out his camera-phone to actually capture that moment when the pointer would touch 150 and finally it did. Our plan was to do a photo session at Pari chowk, the terminal of the Expressway, standing beside statues of angels (hence christened pari Chowk). But in an attempt to save electricity and prevent global warming, UP govt. had switched off all the lights of this roundabout when they are ‘least’ needed – in the night. We took a u-turn to finally get back from where we all started. While the rest of our friends slept and hence couldn’t keep a track of time, we were wide awake, having a time of our life.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lady with the Ring; the return of the King

.<< I wanna read from the beginning (my one night stand)

<<Previous                                           -6-
The Bus to Delhi was about to depart when I reached the Bus-Stand. I asked the conductor (who later turned out to be a helper) that can my cycle also travel along with me and how? He said “it can be loaded on the top, give me Rs 20 and I will help you with that”. Finally, I was on my return trip to Delhi in a bus. I was drinking Bristle mineral water (which the shopkeeper sold me as Bisleri) and searching a seat in the bus. A hit film of Govinda and Karishma Kapoor – Gairkanooni (famous for its song; sexy,sexy,sexy mujhe log bolen!)– was being showcased in the TV of the bus and I wanted to catch it from the close but soon an old lady took the bus and she certainly deserved the seat (and the movie) more than I. but standing was even more fun as I could interact with the helper on how Delhiites are better than Haryanvi guys and every other crap possible. After an hour long standing, I got a seat and a girl happened to sit beside me (actually she was sitting there already!!) She was good with all those baseball cap and sunglasses but her nose ring was, LEGEN….(wait for it)…..DARY. Soon we struck off a conversation during which I came to know that she was a Doctor (allegedly!) and was doing an internship at PGIMS Rohtak. She couldn’t believe that I had come all the way from Delhi on a cycle to a place as 'breathtaking' as Tilyar; all she could manage was an incredulous smile. Before we could know, the bus had entered Delhi and her destination, Mundka had come where she wished to take a Metro. After all, no one wants to miss a comfortable ride of Metro if one is braving a stay in Rohtak and a bus journey on the horrible NH 10.
They say that ‘idle mind is a devils workshop’; well, only if you have slept the previous day; if not, even the devil doesn’t feel like working, sleep creeps in eventually. I woke up only when the bus rammed into Kashmere Gate I.S.B.T. at around 1PM.
I filled my belly with some juice and some more water. I ordered for omelet but it was hotter than the sun over my head so I gave it a miss. I asked the way to Noida from few people looking ‘experienced’ but didn’t really comprehend what they said. I went on my own way which I presumed to be right. The route offered me the opportunity to cross probably one of the oldest bridges in Delhi which I thought would crumble the moment I would ride over it; fortunately, it didn’t. The sun was harsh and ruthless and the hot winds were amplifying that harshness - sun and wind, partners in crime! I didn’t feet as miserable and exhausted in the entire trip to Rohtak from Delhi as I had already started to feel now, only midway from ISBT to Noida. I poured half a bottle over my head but got only few minutes of respite. I was dead sure that I can’t reach home; not alive, at least. Fortunately my ex-society, East end Apartments, was some distance ahead. I called my friend and ex-roomy, Vaibhav but he wasn’t at the flat. So I called my friend Paarth instead and thankfully, he was home.
At his door, I was welcomed by thundering barks of his pet ‘Canis’ and my sleep vanished within an instant. A refreshing treat of Glucon D was all I needed and that was precisely what I got, without a mention; Awesome!!!. A few minutes of chatting and sharing my experience was even more exciting. I don’t know when I slept however, when I woke up my body was fresh and light but my head was heavy; after all, my body had lost some weight but my mind had gained some experience.

thanks for giving it a read, hope u had fun!

<<to the beginning-one night stand

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Welcome to Tilyar; have a Hydro-Therapy

<<Previous                                             -5-                                                             Next >>>

Soon the day broke and the gentle and cool breeze picked some speed. On both sides of the highway, there were farms mostly of wheat with the crop ready to be harvested. ( After all, the festival of harvest in northern India, Baisakhi is around the corner).
It was around 6 and I had almost entered the outskirts of Rohtak when I encountered another bifurcation. On asking a local which way to go for Tilyar, he told me either way I will reach the same place. I rephrased the Question and asked which way is better in his opinion. Pointing towards one road with his finger he said, “This one”. I thanked him and took the other road! That road passed through a village where people were busy with their chores (which includes defecating in the open!).
Finally I could see Haryana tourism welcoming me to Tilyar. The tourism minister couldn’t come up with a garland so instead he put up a Welcome-board to compensate for it. The Tilyar resort was getting prepared to welcome its guests. The Garden around the lake was lush green but the lake was still an enigma. I asked a guy, busy with his exercise, “where is the lake”? “Right here”, he said with a hand gesture. And there it was - a huge lake with a mini ecosystem with dense growth of trees in the middle of it and lots of ducks, fishes and polybags and filth everywhere else in the Lake of my fantasies . A perfect tourist spot, whatsay..??I walked around the perimeter of the pond; even lay on it with my bag as my pillow but couldn’t sleep because I became too cautious of the clumsy looks of the passing joggers. Dropping the idea of boating, I headed towards the mini zoo they have with some native and exotic birds, leopard and their prime attraction – tiger. Something coerced me to think like Menka Gandhi when I was in front of the cage of the Indian parakeets (tota). There were parakeets inside the cage and there were parakeets mocking them or probably giving them moral support outside the cage as well. I thought how bad the ‘inmates’ must be feeling to be inside when their fellow members are having a rocking time outside. Braving the monkeys, I got a glimpse of the leopard but missed the Tiger which I hardly bothered about in that state of mind. I was done here; time to move on but had to fill my bottle and so I went into the resort’s restaurant. I took permission from the manager but before giving the permission he gave me a preaching. “You guys set off from home with a bag for school or college but end up visiting Tilyar. You don’t have studies to take care of; all you do is loitering around.” I couldn’t say anything to him, I was amusingly surprised. I only said since we have exams, our college is closed today. I asked for his permission again to which he replied, “You rather have milk than water but keep in mind what I said”. That was amazing.
I knew what I have to do next – swimming. And I knew the places as well; either the pool of sector 14 or kendriya vidyalaya (central school). I chose the K.V. but I was severely misguided by people whom I asked and ended up at the sector 14’s pool. It was 8 AM, time slot for women. Although, girls were screaming and shrieking to convince me to join them in the pool but I am a man of ethics and principles and couldn’t trade them for a paltry sum of Rs 50 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so,….. I went back to the K.V. pool; fortunately, finding it this time. It wasn’t just an hour long swimming session worth Rs 50; it was an exotic session of Hydro-therapy worth thousand dollars– what a steal! My legs were in pure bliss and so was I. all my pain and exhaustion was a history when I came out at 9 and that too because I couldn’t stand the cold water any longer. I asked the pool owner if there are any places worth visiting in Rohtak. He said, “go to Tilyar”!! But he was really amazed to know that I have come there on cycle from Delhi. He offered me some tea (I wish he had offered some Marie biscuits as well !!). he told me that I can check out Kila road if I wish where the market was. I thought, “why not”. So, I headed to kila road with a glass of litchi juice and few bananas inside………….my stomach (of course!). To my disappointment it was a road full of garment shops with hardly any restaurant or dhaba. The sun was going stronger and there was no point delaying my return any further and to cycle all the way back to Delhi was a lengthy and more painful way to commit suicide. So I headed to the New Bus stand, Rohtak.

Next >>> Lady with the Ring; the return of the King

The noble Highwaymen

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I crossed Bahadurgadh and soon I came across two factories famous for their products; Surya industries and Parle. I tried to make an entry into the Parle factory to see how Parle G or Hide-n-Seek is made but was declined by the guard. Of course he had to; it was 3 something in the night. Those guards of Surya factory said so crappy and scary stuff that it kept banging in my head for at least 5-10 minutes until I deliberately rejected those thoughts. one guard informed me,” sahab galat time choose kar liyacycle chalane ka aapne, vo bhi is ilake main, jahan 30 rupye ke pauye ke liye logon ko maar dete hain” (you chose the wrong time to cycle, and that to in such an area where people are murdered for a 30 Rs quarter).
It was time for another break and the Cadbury’s made the moment even more sweet and special. I was sitting on sewer pipes lying by the side of the road, relishing the chocolate. Here comes the twist in the tale. When I was almost set to move on, I was confronted with two fat guys on a byke, one of them wearing a blanket and their interrogation started in a very hostile way.
“kya kar raha tha yahan?” (What were you doing here?)
“Acha, fatafat bol kya kar raha tha?” (oh, really, now come up with the truth)
“Nothing man, I was just taking some rest after a lot of cycling.”
“yeh tu pehle bhi bol sake tha. Kahan se aa raha hai?” (You could have said that earlier also. Where are you coming from?)
Now this was a very dicey question because if I said Delhi, they are no way gonna believe me and even if they did, I would become an easy target to them. So I preferred to say Bahadurgarh to convey that I am no sitting duck, after all, i am from bahadurgarh, which literally means 'the abode of the brave'!!
“kahan ja Raha hai?” (Where are you going)
“How does it make difference to you?”
“farak to ham batavenge ke pade hai” (Let us tell you what difference does it make).
…(after much deliberation)…….“rohtak”
To this, they talked among themselves, “bhai, ghani gadbad laagey hai mane toh” (there’s something really fishy man). “Bag main ke le raah hai?(what's in the bag)
“There are my books. And why are you so much bothered about what’s in the bag?”
“ham security ke in charge hain (although they didn’t look like). “Pure ilake ki security ka zimma hai mhara”. (We are the security in charge. It’s our duty to look after the entire area)
“checking karva apni” (let me frisk you) and he didn’t wait for my permission to go ahead; he frisked my pockets before he even finished his sentence. Fortunately my mobile was in the side pocket of my bag and it didn’t ring at that time. I got hardly any money which again was in my bag so they didn’t find any in the pockets and finally I got their go ahead (as if they were customs officer and I needed their clearance before I can sell my product in their land.
A ‘Thank you’ came out of my mouth involuntarily; blame it to the courtesy heavy doses we have been subjected to everyday.
They replied in their typical Haryanvi style, “tere thank you ne to ham dekh lenge aage, tu abhi nikal le”. (We will see to your thank you later, you better f*** off).
So I was on the road again, making sure that I am not caught again, especially in a secluded and dark section of the road. A dhaba came by the roadside and I was too hungry to overlook it. I ordered an aalu parantha and tea. I paid the bill, washed my hands and hit the road with loads of energy but was I missing something?? Oh man, not again...... My bag was lying on the chair. I cycled back with a frantic speed to get back ASAP. Fortunately the bag was still there. I made it a point not to lose hold of the bag even for a second from then on.

next >>>Welcome to Tilyar; have a Hydro-Therapy

The dark knight

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I was feeling hungry now; one reason may be because I hadn’t taken my dinner yet. But I had Parle G, a perfect recipe to curb hunger and get some energy. My munching didn’t let me realize that I had finally reached Peera Gadhi Chowk where I could see the Direction board – Rohtak 56 KM. this gave me some hope that I was finally on the road which would lead me to Rohtak but the distance that separated me from Mallika Sherawat’s hometown was Humungous and to make a bad situation worse, my thighs were paining and my right knee was stinging. Meanwhile I spotted an ATM and though I had planned it to be a trip with as little resources as possible but my almost broke situation (I had approx. Rs 120 at that time) forced me to hedge myself by withdrawing some money lest anything should go wrong. To save my thighs from cramps, I took some rest in which I gave them a good massage (I could have earned some real money if it wasn’t my own body!) and made a glucose drink with whatever I had in the packet (yeh, I carried one from home). It was a much needed break as I was able to pedal comparatively faster than earlier but there was something else also that was adding to my woes.
Riding a cycle with jeans on is a very unwelcome proposition. It doesn’t let you breath; even a ‘jockey’ doesn’t help you here! ‘It’ was smothered to death and at that point the thought came to my mind that girls should make a good cyclist!! The ride was bumpy but it was quite reassuring to see the KMs decreasing with every subsequent board – 55..54..53. I loved it. Although I was still in Delhi, It didn’t feel like with all those Farm-Houses appearing off and on, on both the sides of the road. Soon I crossed the borders and ventures into Bhupender Singh Hooda’s territory.
I have always thought that National highways are likeBollywood actors; pampered the most. But, I guess NH-10 is the 'Shayan Munshi' of national highways, whom no one really cared about (see, even you don’t know about him!). Few kilometers after crossing the Delhi border, it became quite apparent that policies of highway modernization are only made on papers when the lights suddenly seized to make even a guest appearance. I was making use of the headlights of the passing vehicles which were blinding me out than showing me the way. At one point, the vehicles stopped coming from both the sides and there I was, in the middle of utter darkness with elephant grasses growing on one side and barren land on the other. Above me was a quarter moon in a star-studded sky with unparalleled clarity. I could see a 100 times more stars than I could have seen while in Delhi. The cool, gentle breeze was making the moment even more enjoyable and worth cherishing. It was still not comfortable in the jeans but I guess I became accustomed to it.

Next>>>the noble highwaymen

Hitchhiking on a truck

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Cycling in the night has many advantages; you don’t have to face a chaotic traffic and merciless sun. According to my calculations I should be reaching to Tilyar somewhere around 7:30AM (if I can cycle 40 KM in 3 hrs, I should travel 100 KM in 7.5 Hrs plus an hour of grace time. Good haan..) But this wasn’t the day when I was feeling the strongest. By the time I reached Akshardham, my thigh and knee of the right leg started aching. A thought of making a U-turn flashed my mind but fortunately I didn’t give it much consideration. It is one thing to study a route on Google Maps and quite another to actually drive on it – a bifurcation came and I was stuck. Thankfully, a truck was standing few meters ahead. I asked the driver if he knows the way to Rohtak road or NH 10; he declined. It was only when I said ‘Peera Gadhi Chowk’ did he say “yes” and continued “main bhi vahin jaa raha hoon, aap apni cycle truck main daal do, peera gadhi chowk vahan se do kilometer door hai” (I am going that way too, u put your cycle at the back, peera gadhi chowk is 2 KM from where I’ll drop you). I was too skeptical to accept this gesture of help of a truck driver at midnight but then I thought, “It can’t be that bad as I am thinking it to be, after all, what I have to lose anyways”. So I hitchhiked. I was sitting like a king in the cockpit of that mean machine which, till that day, I used to think can’t go beyond a speed of 40.! He was zooming at speed of 70 and the entire truck was creaking as if children were jumping on a broken charpoy or cot (u can think of a better analogy yourself, can’t u? just let your Imagination go wild). A truck is very much a home for these guys. There were clotheslines crisscrossing the back part of the cabin and few clothes stuffed forcibly into a bucket. I am sure they haven’t worn ironed clothes since ages. Both the driver and his helper were in Delhi to work while their families were in a Village of UP in Mainpuri. The Driver was in the job for the past 20 years! “Cant think of doing anything else now” he said. 12:30, it was time to part our ways. I thanked him for all the help and offloaded my cycle with the help of the helper guy. I had only moved an inch when I realized that my back was feeling quite light. Where was my bag? Oh crap, I didn’t’ take my bag. I immediately turned my cycle, baffling the trucks coming behind and stopped in front of my truck (though not exactly mine), took the bag and thanked them again.

Next>>>the dark Knight

My One Night Stand - Expedition to Tilyar Lake, Rohtak.

If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, the possibility of life is destroyed." ------ Chris McCandless aka Alexander supertramp, (Into the wild)

Movies inspire life, very true indeed; at least I can vouch for that. After I watched the movie “Into the wild”, I just couldn’t remain sitting on my bums. I had to go somewhere I had never been before and experience how it feels like. I wanted to try my limits. I knew that I can cycle a distance of 40 KM without facing much difficulty but I didn’t know how far I can go beyond it. This time, I set my upper limit to 100 KM and I googled precisely that – “places worth visiting within 100KM from Noida”. It threw up many results but I couldn’t make my mind. Soon I left to college but the bug didn’t die. After having a session of “I-know-nothing-teach-me-Finance” with my friend Azhar and Garry, it was time to go home, only if I could.

I searched again and decided to see Tilyar Lake at……………….Rohtak. It Qualified on all the parameters- within 100 KM (91.3 KM to be precise), Swimming Option, and easy on budget. I packed some Chocolates, a ParleG, orbit white and a water bottle before setting off to this Lake where Exotic birds would be waiting eagerly for me (no pun intended). It was 11PM then...more......

Next>>hitchhiking on a truck 

Friday, April 2, 2010

A mis-adventurous Cycle trip to India Gate

It all started with an 'impulse'. The room of my friends was pretty calm when I broke the silence with my uncalled-for baritone. "What are you guys going to do today? If not too busy, let’s go to India Gate". I was quite ecstatic about it but couldn’t find the same enthusiasm in anyone of them (RC, RN, DM, I refrain from taking their names lest they should mind it). I even got into an argument ‘to go or not to go’ which, needless to say, I lost, as I always do. This incident was one more confirmatory evidence in my 'why I won't make a good manager' list. I mean, if I can't persuade 3 people for a thing which they are most likely to enjoy, how am I supposed to persuade or motivate 300 people as a manager for a job which most of them would hate to do; Tough life ahead.
But it was really hard to sit on my bums once the idea made inroads in my mind. After all, sitting with your lappy cant be more fun than roaming around. And so here I was, all set to set off for India gate. Google maps come handy for you get exact route and the distance you are supposed to cover. With a large shot of glucose to support my muscles, I started my night safari at around 8:30.
The initial few kilometers were most trying as the muscles were not used to that kinda exertion, the rest of it was relatively easy. Its something like your semester exams, the first two papers play havoc with your mind, body and sleep, for the remaining ones, well....., you get used to it.
It was fairly a straight route with not much loops and hoops to bewilder me. I was there at around 9:30 but the place was bustling with activity, even at such odd hours. I guess, all were enjoying a nice, no-frills weekend in the heart of Delhi. India gate has become one of the favorite picnic spots for the middle class of Delhi, offering ample space, greenery and a relaxed atmosphere and the fact that so many other people have come there to spend time with their families give a feeling, transient though, that entire Delhi is vacationing and that Nuclear family is still a western concept!
Ice-creams, cold drinks, bhel puri, you name it and its there. And then there is something (if you can call it a toy) which glows with red and blue light, catapulted to sky like a rocket and comes down much like a helicopter. In fact, they are so many in the sky; it appears as if a swarm of giant glow-worms has infested the India Gate.
You can find virtually anything at India Gate except ….. (U guessed it)…. A washroom. It’s kinda strange that so many people come to the place, including foreign tourists for whom The Indian tourism ministry has roped in no less than Aamir Khan under the movement “Atithi Devo Bhavah”, and yet they have failed to spot the dire necessity of a permanent Washroom facility and not an Ad hoc one which closes down by the time the clock hits 7, ironically, the time when people actually start coming. Thankfully, there are sprawling and dimly lit parks all around India gate with dense shrubs and nitrogen deficient plants; you know what I mean.
A mini Ice-cream sundae and a plate of bhel-puri was sufficient to recharge myself and now I was ready to cycle back to Noida, with only one hitch, I didn’t know on which road I parked my cycle out of the 6 almost identical roads. I finally found it on Dr. Zakir Hussain Marg, this time, with a flat rear tire. I was totally screwed up, it was 11 PM and my cycle had a flat tire!! Where am I gonna find a mechanic now? I asked an autowala how much would he take to Noida Sec 82 and he said, “300!”(the max I had was Rs 104). I wasn’t willing to shell out such a ridiculous amount of money (despite my vulnerable circumstances!) for a trip which otherwise would cost half the price or even lesser.
I called my friend Lokesh for some cool advice. He suggested that there are few routes on which buses ply round the clock. I didn’t know and neither did he, but why not try my luck to find a bus which may drop me somewhere near noida. I had to reach ITO (Income Tax Office) for that, which was quite easy but would have been a daunting task if it wasn’t a cool breezy night. I reached ITO and a good and a bad news awaited me. The bad news – there wasn’t any bus at that time to anywhere near Noida and the good news was – an Autowala told me that there was a sardarji near Pragati Maidan metro station who fixes punctures all through the night. That was a ray of hope. In fact all my heaviness and despair vanished in a snap and I even started singing some peppy numbers of bollywood like, “piya tu ab to aaja”, “jeene ke hain chaar din” and likewise. However, on reaching there, I came to know that sardarji had left an hour before due to some reasons and would only come back at 6 in the morning; I couldn’t wait that long. Dejected, I made a return tourney to ITO when, at one of the traffic lights, I met a guy (whose name, unfortunately, I can’t recall) from Amity doing MBA (general) with me. He helped me negotiating the price with the Auto walas and finally we struck a deal with one of them – 100 bucks (which was 4 Rs lesser than I had) while sharing the auto till Noida Sec 37. It was a real pain to mount the cycle in the auto but once inside, the rest of the ride was easy (of course, comparatively). In the meanwhile I tried to convince the driver to drop me till my home (i.e. Vivvek Vihar, sec 82) and not till Sec 37, to which he, thankfully, agreed. And this is how my out-and-out mis-adventurous trip to India Gate ended. I paid the driver Rs 100 plus a tip of Rs 4.!!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

letter to Jairam Ramesh

Dear Sir,
With utmost respect in my heart of hearts, I would like to present you with an Indian rock python (I have already parceled it to your address) as a token of appreciation for holding the baton of India in the recently concluded (and miserably failed) Copenhagen summit.
I have no grudges against you sir, for you did your job to perfection, safeguarding the interest of India till the very end but you don't realize one thing. while you were giving a spirited presentation at Copenhagen and promising that India is doing everything it should, someone was backstabbing you, yes sir you heard me right, backstabbing you and do you know who those scoundrels were? you would be shocked, I promise. even i was, but this is what the truth is.
Inspired by your rhetoric (which, sadly, wasn't enough to rope in the world's support towards India's point of view) I decided to contribute my bit towards the cause and do whatever was in my capability. I vowed never to own a bike (though i have a history of abjuring my vows, just like most of the politicians have) and decided to use cycle and use my immense popularity (I have just few lacs of followers lesser than Shashi Tharoor) to promote the use of this endangered 'species'. Since India is so seriously worried about the issue of Global warming, which is made all so very apparent by your taking personal interest in the matter and championing the cause, I thought that a small initiative by a person, who is equally concerned about the issue if not more, would be appreciated. I though that I would be welcomed wherever i would go and embraced 'with Arms wide open' and in the process, would also inspire one or two fellow citizens to help our country what it has promised at the world stage.
My Cycle was living a quarantined life till now, getting rusty and senile in the past two years. I brought her out of that shell and invested a fortune (500) over her to bring her back to life. The hit song "tu gandi achchi lagti hai" of the movie 'Love Sex aur Dhokha' has only come recently but i have been singing and she has been living the song for the past two years because i never gave her a wash but that day i washed n caressed her sweltering and curvaceous body with a very special body lotion prepared from mixing Rin (because its better than tide!!)with water. She was all set to hit the road and I had big plans to make her comeback a memorable one.I planned to go all the way from my home(Palam, the western terminal of delhi) to my present address (Vivek Vihar, Noida) on it; Audacious or rather crazy, isn't it? yeah, that is what my parents also said. My mom in fact didn't let me go as if there were snipers deployed all along the way to Noida waiting for me to appear on the scene and draw first blood!My father lashed me with such humble and endearing words which are more that 'qualified' to appear in this official piece of letter. nevertheless, I still held on to my stand, after all I had given a word to you and to the country. Eventually, they gave in and permitted me to go the next morning.
In the beginning of the letter, I mentioned that you are being back-stabbed. this is how this conspiracy is being carried out. slowly and slowly, Delhi has been turned into a hell for cyclists (if not heaven for motorists), discouraging them to an extent that even if someone wants to, he should not be able to Go Green. I have apprehensions that petroleum giants have a hand in it!
Fly-overs are mushrooming all around the city with the noble mission of making the city traffic free but in the process mocking a humble cyclist. However, at the same time, they give the excitement of mountain biking because going up a flyover is no less than scaling a low altitude hill somewhere in arawalli range.
At few crossings (i encountered the Mathura road- Ring road crossing), the Red light doesn't permit you to go straight. This I realized after waiting for a good 4-5 minutes for the light to turn green. On asking a traffic controller if the light would ever turn green, he replied a bland "NO" because there is a 'better' way to cross the road - through the Flyover! Somehow I maneuvered my way across the road (yes sir, unfortunately, I had to break the traffic rules) and moved ahead to enter Noida, Only Yamuna separated me from doing that but I didn't need to worry because DND Flyway has converted the arduous task of crossing yamuna into a pleasurable experience.
But, I guess I was wrong. My enthusiasm was aborted prematurely when a man wearing orange colored jacket stopped me only after a few meters into the flyway. He informed me that I cannot go through the flyway on a cycle. On inquiring, "why Not?", he told me that it doesn't have an engine!!!! I retorted that how does that make any difference to them. All they should be interested in is the toll, which i was willing to pay, but he wont listen. an elaborate talk with his supervisor also didn't bring us to the negotiating table. I could have moved on despite his refusal but that wretched 'orange jacket' fellow had a walkie-talkie and I have heard that DND is often patrolled!
Dejected, i retreated. I had to go all the way to 'sarai kale khan' to take the Nzamuddin bridge for Noida, under a sun, as furious as I was at that time.( I am not complaining, by the way, I am just letting you know the state of affairs)
Can u now contemplate the sorry state of cyclist in Delhi, the capital of this great nation, where all the major policy decisions are taken. Can u see the gap between what we aspire to do and what we actually do.
Instead of giving cyclists a share of the forex earned from the sale of Carbon Credits they are punished for using one. Go Green ?? that's one more feather in the hat of "the Great Indian Hypocrisy".
Thank you

yours truly
Gaurav Jain
New Delhi

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A defence colony experience

On the roads, ordinary men walk
rich men either jog or
in their Mercs, they talk
not to a human but to a dog.
how come they get so rich,
I wonder;
work their a**es off or
a god's blunder.
they live in swank palaces; I marvel
with security as high as Z level
like a destitute..., I glare
"10 years hence, will I be there"?
with enough money to buy a 'Land Rover'
But, is that what I really aspire?
get rich, marry, sire n expire?
naah.., that would be a nightmare.
I would rather prefer
to be a mediocre,
if I could bring a difference,
in the lives
of the children at the gate of the temple,
with innocent expectant eyes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The day when I enjoyed being alone: a trip to SurajKund

Monday, 15 Feb
Hi friends,
I wouldn’t have been able to come up with this post in the first place if I hadn’t read this article about ‘how to enjoy being single’. I had almost scrapped my plan to visit “Surajkund Mela” but when I read this article I really saw great opportunities lying ahead of me (most of which eventually came to be true!) and my hopes got a fresh life almost like a phoenix.
I called my friend Lokesh to get an idea of the place and how to reach there. (For the information, he is the one who first visited the mela and shamelessly praised it to such an extent that it kindled an insatiable desire in me, so strong that I went there braving all odds; rainy weather, injured toe, classes at college and only my backpack to accompany me).
The Surajkund Crafts Mela is organized annually by the Haryana Tourism Department from 1st till 15th Feb.  This delightful handloom and handicrafts fair is planned every year to promote the traditional Indian Handicrafts in rural ambience at Surajkund in the vicinity of New Delhi. The fair was first time organized in 1981 and since then the fair continues to be a strong platform for Indian artists and craftsmen to display their skilled crafts and art work. The whole preparation of the fair is done, keeping a particular state in mind. Every year a new state is chosen as the theme and the entire decoration is changed accordingly and The colorful state of Rajasthan was chosen as the theme for the Surajkund Crafts Mela 2010, which was also the theme for the fair in the year 1989. Surajkund is surprisingly close to Delhi; a ten minutes ride in an auto from Badarpur Border (I hope u know where it is, if not, google it!). However a frickin jam at badarpur border ate up very precious time of mine but for the first time in my life I had spare time for such eventualities. I finally was at the grand and archaic but an Ad hoc entry gate of the 24th Surajkund Craft Mela. The moment I brought out a 50 Rs. note from my back pocket to buy the entry ticket, it started drizzling faintly. I almost thought of snatching it back from the cashier and wait for the drizzle to stop but then dropped the idea!
Surajkund mela has a very unique rustic charm in itself, far too superior than any of these plush malls can give you, and something which can only be experienced when you are in the environment. I entered and almost instantly could smell the aroma of ‘gaon ki mitti’ . To be very honest, I couldn’t fathom the grandness of the fair in the first look. At 4’O clock, it seemed like I had an eternity to see the mela which soon was going to be proved wrong. On my right there were stalls featuring emboss painting and jute bags, brass metal work and jewellery crafted from sea-shells. The sea-shell necklaces were simply amazing and a fellow buyer’s confirmation dispelled all the doubts I had about their authenticity (after all she seemed quite knowledgeable!). On moving ahead, I was really thrilled after spotting a huge and strategically placed stall of Hindustan Latex Limited. I could only guess how busy that stall would have been on the Valentine’s Day and all the other ‘fabricated’ days before it!! The Massiveness of the mela was now becoming clearer to me but still it was in infancy. It offered a platform to some really cool and talented but anonymous painters of the country however, their anonymity didn’t stop them from asking prices, as high as $12,000 haa, I am kidding, its only Rs. 12,000 for few of their paintings which I struggled hard to comprehend in the first place!!!
Let me tell you an insider’s information. Whatever other people might say that the mela primarily caters to women and almost everything on display is meant for girls (n their moms), I have a strong view that it’s a men oriented mela; it only depends on what ‘stuff’ you are looking at – the one on display at stalls or the one moving around in search of that stuff from one stall to another.
There was so much verity and so much yet to explore that I was kind of making a mental note of all the interesting things I was spotting at various stalls so that if I didn’t find anything superior to it, I can get back and buy it. After all, if I buy the stuff right away thinking it to be the best, I run the risk of “Opportunity loss”, in case I find something better later (I am doing an MBA, you see).
There were stalls selling shawls crafted manually and then there were few others selling carpets, creative wooden furniture, bangles and stuff made from glass, marble etc. You name it and you have it there. Handicrafts of some of the states showcased at the Surajkund Crafts Mela are:
Banjara and Bunni embroidery of Gujarat
Phulkari embroidery of Punjab
Lace and crochet from Goa
Sandalwood and rosewood carving of South India
Kantha work of West Bengal and North Eastern states
Chikan work of Lucknow
Chikri woodcraft of Kashmir.
However, it was not all about stalls and shopping. It was and out and out fun atmosphere. What you call – A total package. A rajasthani folk dance group was performing at one place right in front of a massive stone sculpture towering easily up to 20-25 feet. I was enjoying the performance from a height and from there I realized the grandness of the event for the 1st time and felt the crunch of speeding up my excessive ogling at each stall.
On my left I could see the pavilion for International representations; Egypt, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan etc to name a few. I really liked the stall of Tajikistan not because they had some exceptionally beautiful artifacts for display on the counter but for the beauty behind that! I was pleasantly surprised when she started talking with a lady in her highly accented hindi which sounded music to my ears!! For 5 or 6 minutes I was just standing there faking to be a connoisseur of precious stones and talking silly stuff but then I realized that there is a whole world yet to be explored.
Soon I found myself in the Food Court – the heaven of real delicacies primarily from North India. I could have missed everything but the Rajasthani Specialties. I guess, taste developed in early years somehow stick with you. I find Rajasthani taste my very own, closer to me than Dilli ka Zayka; courtesy my Grandma who hails from the state. I realized that you don’t need to be super rich to enjoy life; all you need is a 20 Rupee note! Because that will fetch you a plate of kadhi Kachauri – pure bliss, Period. I was wondering why the hell people were thronging on the chow mein and fast food stalls which they can get anywhere. I savored the taste and moved on to explore the uncharted territory which was still abound.
Few things really impressed me in the mela – the tight security, the neat and organized layout, Clear and regular public announcements, great artwork by painters and sculptors, cheap and very creative jewellery and but of course, the crowd.
If you thought that the mela was all about cheap stuff, think again. There was a dedicated Designers Gallery for the minority with fat pockets and refined taste. One store featured designer showpieces made from Silver and one such artwork, almost my size, containing floral patterns was worth Rs 6, 40,000. Believe it! Surajkund owes its name and perhaps its very existence to an ancient amphitheatre sun pool ('Kund') dating back to the 10th century but alas, the ‘kund’ was dry! At 6PM, I was at the other end of the mela and now it was time for me to trace back and enjoy things which I accidentally missed out in the first go or liked so much that I planned to revisit, if time permitted. But by this time, I had seen so much that I was getting confused where to go first and what to buy. Variety does spoil you.
Can you guess where I made my first return visit?? Oh, damn. You are always right; to the stall from Tajikistan!!!! But I saw something even more fascinating there. There were two little kids (maybe 2-3 yrs old), probably siblings (I suppose). They were playing while their family members were busy shopping. But then out of nowhere, the slightly taller kid kissed the other one so affably and openly that it brought a smile on my face ear to ear which remained for the rest of the day. Thanks kids.
I was feeling hungry yet again and what I saw just accentuated my hunger pangs by the order of two. Have you ever heard of a Rs. 40 Jalebi (I am talking of a single jalebi here)? No. I tasted it at the stall of Lala Maturam, (promoting diabetes since 1956!). When they say “size does matters”, they are right. The size of the jalebis was immense; bigger that a DVD and as thick as the middle finger and the ‘chashni’ was oozing out of it when I took a bite like blood from the head of slain dog on the road. My soul was craving for more but the stomach has got a limit (unfortunately).
I now wanted to just lay back and relax and incidentally there were some cultural performances to enjoy while I recline. A troop from Tajikistan gave a scintillating performance of their regional dance which was being covered live and broadcasted on a big screen at the other end of the mela. I also enjoyed the dance of a group from Gujarat which actually descended from an African tribe. But the festivities were interrupted by the boring formalities like govrnor’s speech and other felicitations. I used this time to do some shopping. I bought a fancy bead belt and a fancy kada (obviously it wasn’t for me if you are thinking so. For myself, I bought a fake Gucci leather wallet for 100 bucks, incredible na!). The penultimate performance was Radha-Krishna Leela. they enthralled everyone with the shower of flower-petals over the spectators. I was craving for more of such VIP treatment. With the last performance of Mahishasur-vadh (massacre of Mahishasur), the mela was formally declared to be over by the governor of Haryana although the crowd seemed unwilling to leave the place so soon. People were busy in the last moment shopping spree, taking advantage of great discounts. I did the same as well and bought a white stone necklace for my mom.
Before I moved out, I spared 5 more minutes to take a quick dekko of the entertainment section of the mela (although the entire mela was an entertainment extravaganza), decked with all the adventure rides like giant wheel, Columbus and other fun games.
The rain gods were kind to us because it only started to drizzle again when the mela was over. With the bead-belt around my waist, the white stone necklace around my neck and spirit of surajkund all around me like a halo, I got in the auto to return to my place where my friends just couldn't hold their hysterical laugh when they saw me wearing that necklace and the belt. you see, the sun sets but the fun never ends when you are upbeat. I will eagerly wait for the next edition of SurajKund mela; what else can I say. till then Good By.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chandni Chowk to 'Jannat'

30 jan, Saturday
Let me begin with the words of  Mr. G. Bose, whom I respect more for his sense of humor than his quizzing acumen (not to mean in any way that he isn’t a good quizmaster). He says, “Don’t sit with long faces in a Quiz because at the end of the day, Quizzing is meant to be a fun event.” His words never felt to be truer than today when one of our quizzing endeavors turned into a delectable extravaganza.

On Saturday, we were supposed to participate in a Quiz at DIAS, Rohini (Delhi institute of advanced studies). Well, cutting a long story short, we were out of the quiz before we could even begin it because the prelims round was no less than the GATE examination with all the crappy textbook questions related to ‘hard-core’ IT. Although, we were told that it was a ‘Business and IT quit’, the question paper had no business with ‘Business’. We didn’t even care about the participation certificate which they had promised to give to all and sundry as if it wasn’t a quiz but an earthquake relief camp and the certificates were packets of bread!!
We were a pack of 5 hungry ‘Grey’ Hounds (Nitin, Raunak, Sonali, Vijay and I), who, after reaching the Rithala Metro station were contemplating intensely which place to attack. Subhash Place, a nearby market- ruled out. CP – ruled out. Aaaaanh… Chandani Chowk. Bingo. That’s the place to go. Although the idea was initially resisted by Sonali, citing the reasons like how crowded it gets on weekends in Chandni Chowk, it was taken care of by Nitin with his animated description of the yummy ‘Natraj ke Bhalle’. He made those bhalles so irresistible that I could almost visualize how great it would feel when I’ll taste them. I was tempted and so was everyone else. Now even if we had to swim across the sea of people anticipated to be at Chandni Chowk, we would. If I put it this way, Nitin really sold us ‘Chandni Chowk’; only he didn’t get any commissions for that!

After an hour, we were at Chandni Chowk and as we had expected, we could see innumerable people of different shapes and sizes all around us. There were so may people in those narrow lanes that it was tough to imagine that it takes 9 months to make each one of them!!! To add to the misery, all kinda stalls, thelas, and patris have mushroomed throughout the length of almost all the roads in Chandni chowk, selling myriad stuffs. One hawker was selling a unique product, a ‘non-fusable’ bulb, enticing passers-by to take a dekko at his bulb with a non-stop audio advertisement and to save the expense on a sound system he was using his crass voice to do the job. There were shoes on sale for as low as 100 bucks; in fact each and every thing which u may need in your daily life was available at throw away prices. A girl at my back was saying to her friend with extreme astonishment, “yar itni bhid maine aaja tak nahin dekhi”. In my mind I replied to her, “Welcome to Chandni Chowk”.
Our mission was Natraj ke Bhalle but we didn’t know the way. With the generous help of people around us we finally arrived at our destination. There was a swarm of people at the shop. “Holy shit, this shop is horribly popular”. I couldn’t see any hope of getting those bhalles until evening. Only when we got closer I realized that the people were not thronging for the bhalle but they were coming out of a 3 feet wide alley just next to the shop!! That alley seemed to me like a conveyor belt in a pharma company and those people were dropping down that belt like Paracetmol tablets; millions and millions of tablets. Raunak and I braved the crowd to order 5 plates of bhalle. well,  the bhalle were simply amazing and truly delicious. I decided to convert to Hedonism there and then, i.e the pursuit of pleasure in life. Our taste buds were not satiated but we couldn’t just had only bhalle all the way so we tried the ‘tikki’ as well and I must say, even if for the sake of repetition that they were mouth watering as well. The famous “paranthe wali gali” was in front of us and only a moron wouldn’t like to enter this gali; a brand in its own. And there we were, on the steps of the shop single-handedly responsible for the christening of the street as it is known today. The owner had proudly displayed the archival photos of Jawar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, and Lal Bahadur Shastri having a gala time at the historic shop. The shop was packed to capacity and few more were in queue; our turn was nowhere near and to kill time, we were looking at the 2 meter long menu displayed at the entrance, enlisting some wacky paranthas, easily assignable to the category of “highly endangered species”!! Some of them which I could recall were karela parantha, kishmish parantha, kaju parantha, rabri parantha & papad parantha to name a few. These, mind you, weren’t ordinary paranthas. They were being prepared in desi ghee. The word to watch out here is ‘in’. Yes, the ghee wasn’t merely dabbed on the surface of the parantha, the way our mom cooks for us; rather, they were literally drenched in the ghee. By the time our turn came, enough excitement and craving had developed in us to wipe out 7 paranthas and Rabri (a sweet made from milk) only complimented the awesome paranthas.
Our stomach was almost touching its full capacity but our tongue was still ‘flickering’ like the tongue of a snake, craving for more flavors of Chandni Chowk. They say that ‘man is a slave to his stomach’. Well I would like to differ. We are actually slave to our ‘tongue’ and more precisely – Taste buds. So the five ‘Slaves’ now moved on for some more gratification towards the mecca of non-vegetarians – Karim’s Hotel, famous in the entire galaxy!! To reach Karim’s we had to first get to Jama Masjid, the biggest mosque in India. It was a long way to go with plenty of flavors, waiting for us to be tasted. We couldn’t resist the Jalebis from which ‘chaashni’ was dripping so profusely like saliva drips from the mouth of a rabid dog! Although many branches of Karim Hotel have come up throughout NCR, the original Karim Hotel, near Jama Masjid is still termed as the best. Their tagline, “the secret of good mood, the taste of karim’s food” says it all. If you think that you would be able to spot Karim Hotel in the Gali Kababian (ya, that’s what they call that street!!), you are mistaken. You can only spot a 2’by 3’ board and that too if you are careful enough, directing you into a narrow alley which opens into Karim’s hotel. Karim Hotel is, unexpectedly, quite spacious from inside and the interiors are suave as well as classic. However, if you happen to be a vegetarian, its strictly advised not to even think of visiting Karim’s because either you won’t remain a vegetarian afterwards or you would kill yourself for being a vegetarian soon after. Only a few brave-hearts like me survive that 3rd degree mental torture. While my non-veg friends ordered ‘Mutton Barra’, Vijay and I ordered ‘Paneer tikka’ and ‘sheermaal’(a kinda bread with half the thickness of pizza base). Even the veg stuff was tastier than most places where I had it before ( At least this +ve attitude saved me from going into depression for not being a non-vegetarian because I must tell you, the aroma of the Mutton Barra was fabulous). We couldn’t stuff ourselves with anything more now without running the risk of a ‘backfire’ (but we still took the ‘saunf’, because it was free!!!). It was 5 in the evening, time to give our body some rest. So we called it a day and head back to the overcrowded metro station.
All in all, it was a trip that redefined ‘taste’ for me (and many of us, I believe). There have been instances when I have tasted some really fabulous preparations but so many exquisite flavors in one single day; never. Don’t just read man, shut down now and catch the next metro to this “Jannat of zayka” and become a slave………a slave to your taste buds.