Sunday, July 22, 2007

Autorickshaw "Travails"

I have lasted a whole year at my new (and first) job! And what an eventful year it has been, in more ways than one. I have met loads and loads of interesting people, some who have become good friends. But this post is not about these interesting people; it is about some other “interesting” people that my friends and I have come across – the ubiquitous Auto Rickshaw-wallahs!
Most of us have to travel by auto to office, and in doing so, we have come across some of the most colorful Rick-wallahs, and I am not referring to just their clothing!
My office was earlier located at Hiranandani, Powai. So a bunch of us used to meet up at Kanjurmarg station, and try and get a Rick-wallah to take us to Hiranandani. And that was no mean task! Sometimes we have had to wait for 15 minutes, trying to persuade a Rick-wallah to agree to take us to our destination. And in the process we have received some of the dirtiest looks from many a Rick-wallah! It’s like they are thinking, “How dare you even ask me that question?!”
Or some put on a really pensive expression on their face, trying to decide, I guess, upon the pros and cons of taking us to our destination! And in the end, most of these “Mr. Pensives” shake their head regretfully and zoom away, leaving us gagging on the fumes! One of my friends, RT says that it’s like we are asking them to marry us, and that’s why they have such ponderous expressions on their faces!
Some also give us explanations for why they would rather not take us, “Nahi mai-dum, wahan bahut traffic rehta hai. (No ma’m, there is too much traffic in that area).”
But the craziest incidents have occurred when the big bosses of our company decided to change the office location to SV road. It has to be one of the worst areas in Mumbai! It is tiring just getting to this place because of the massive traffic jams, which we have to endure every single day.

Anyway, two of my friends, JJ, RT and I decided to meet up at GTK station every morning to “rick” it to office. As usual most of the Rick-wallahs would either give us dirty or apologetic looks, or just ignore everyone trying to hail them down and speed away. Most of the times the Rick-wallahs who agree to take us to SV road, have never heard of it!
And getting back to GTK station is just as bad! One Rick-wallah had actually said, “Woh manhoos jagah kaun jayega?! (Who will go to that god-forsaken place?)”

An “incident” occurred on the very first day that we took this route. All three of us were talking non-stop. When we had stopped at a signal, the Rick-wallah, a rather thin, stern-looking man, suddenly turned around and to our utter shock said, “Aap log kitni baat kar raheein hai! Thodi der ke liye chup ho jaeeye, sab dekh rahein hai!! (You people are talking so much! Please be quiet for sometime, people are looking!!)” We were left speechless by this outburst! I actually looked around to see if anyone was actually looking in!
JJ was the first to recover and said that we can’t help if people look, and we continued our conversation, but in lowered tones.

Another incident occurred after we had discovered a less congested route to SV road. It is simply referred to as Pipeline road, as a huge pipe runs down its entire length. It is quite narrow and passes through a market place. So we would direct all the Rick-wallahs to take us through this road.
One time, as usual, we told the Rick-wallah to take the Pipeline road. He turned to go towards the place, but overshot the tiny opening of the lane. We all shouted, “Bhaiyya (Brother)! Pipeline road! Left turn!” only to have him brake hard. He looked resolutely ahead, shook his burly head and stated, “Market se to main kabhi nahi jaaoonga (I will never go through the market!” We tried to convince him saying that we take this route everyday and that it is always traffic free. To which he demanded for us to get out! He was behaving like a petulant child and I was convinced that at any moment he would jump out of the auto, stamp his foot and throw a tantrum!
So we just sat there for a few seconds, after which I said, “Ok, at least turn around and take the other route.” He sullenly turned around his vehicle and we trundled down the regular route. But he seemed to be quite angry and began driving quite rashly, as if to punish us for our impertinence! But we did reach office in one piece!

Another time a really funny incident occurred. This time we were going back to GTK station from office. The Rick-wallah this time looked barely 18 years old. My friend RT, who is (or rather was!) a big Abhishek Bachchan fan, was a bit upset that he had gotten married, and stated that he should not have "done the deed". The Rick-wallah piped in just then and said, “Par Abhisek ki saadi nahi huyee hai (Abhishek has not gotten married).” All of us were quiet for a while, and I wondered if I had heard right. As RT and JJ weren’t sure of what he said either, JJ asked him what he had said. He once again said, “Par Abhisek ki saadi nahi huyee hai”. So JJ said, “Yeh log Abhishek Bachchan ki baat kar rahein hai (They are talking about Abhishek Bachchan)”. To which he reacted as if he had had an epiphany, “Ohh! Aap Abhisek Bachchan ki baat kar rahi hai! Mera naam bhi Abhisek hai, aur meri saadi nahi huyee hai! (You are talking about Abhishek Bachchan! My name is also Abhishek, and I am not married yet!)”
At this I dissolved into giggles, especially on seeing the look on RT’s face! She looked like she had been slapped! Abhisek Rick-wallah had left her speechless, which is an achievement in itself!
Sadly, since the past few months our little auto misadventures have all but stopped. The office has started a bus service. JJ has moved to another city, while RT is going to leave for another country soon. I’m going to miss these two girls and our auto rides...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Countdown 2006 - Part IV

Here are my top 5 songs of 2006. I love all of these songs, and it has been a bit hard to rank them! I could listen to each of these songs over and over and over again...

5. Neele Neele Aasman Talay
Movie: Holiday
Music: Ranjit Barot
Lyrics: Neelesh Misra
Artists: Shreya Ghoshal & Vijay Prakash

This song is like a light, fluffy lemon suffle! I have not watched this movie so I don't really know how this song was picturized. It conjures up images of a clean, white beach with the lead pair in turns running around on the beach and in turns just lazily lying around. This has to be one of the most melodious songs that I have ever heard!

4. Ajnabi Shehar
Movie: Jaan-e-mann
Music: Anu Mallik
Lyrics: Gulzar
Artist: Sonu Nigam

I HATED "Jaan-e-mann"!! I thought that it was the worst movie of 2006! But most of the songs in this movie are quite good, and "Ajnabi Shehar" is the most divine composition in this album. Anu Mallik really surpasses himself with this song. And Sonu Nigam is absolutely, totally, completely, utterly FABULOUS! Gulzar's lyrics are very imaginative. I especially like the second antara:

"Baat hai yeh ek raat ki
Aap badalo pe letey the
Woh yaad hai aapne bulaya tha
Sardi lag rahi thi aapko
Patli chandi lapetey the
Aur shawl mein khwaab ke sulaya tha
Ajnabi thi sahi saans mein silgayi
Ajeeb hai yeh zindagi yeh zindagi ajeeb hai
Mere nahi ye zindagi rakeeb ka naseeb hai..."

3. Mitwa

Movie: Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna
Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Artist: Shafqat Ali, Shankar Mahadevan, Caralisa

I would put this song in the same category as "Tujhe dekha to yeh jaana sanam" from DDLJ and "Dholna" from "Dil Toh Pagal Hai". For me it has that slightly breathless feel that one would get when one realizes that the person you love loves you back. And this knowledge fills you with a sense of freedom like you have never experienced before.
I also like "Tumhi Dekho Naa" from this movie.
My favorite antara is:

"Jeevan dagar mein prem nagar mein
Aaya nazar mein jab se koi hain
Tu sochta hain tu puchata hain
Jiski kami thi kya yeh wohi hain
Haan yeh wohi hain
Tu ek pyasa aur yeh nadi hain
Kaahe nahi isko tu khulke bataye
Jo hai ankahee jo hai ansuni
Woh baat kya hai bata
Mitwa kahe dhadkan hai tujhse pyar
Mitwa yeh khudse toh na tu chhupa"

2. O Saathi Re
Movie: Omkara
Music: Vishal Bhardwaj
Lyrics: Gulzar
Artists: Shreya Ghoshal and Vishal Bhardwaj

I think that this is one of the most romantic songs ever!

Vishal Bhardwaj is a really talented man. Not only is he a good music director but a good film director too. Some directors go on and on about how the songs in their movie "take the story forward" or "give more insight into the characters", and after watching the movie I feel that the director had just been talking through his hat! This song forms a wonderful setting that showcases Omkara and Dolly's relationship. My favorite line comes in the beginning of the second antara:

"Kabhi, kabhi yun karna, main daantu aur tum darna..."

1. Tu Bin Bataaye
Movie: Rang De Basanti
Music: A. R. Rahman
Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi
Artists: Madhushree & Naresh Iyer

This song, composed by the incomparable A. R. Rahman, is also one of the most romantic songs that I have ever heard. Madhushree and Naresh Iyer take this song to another level altogether. I regard it as the best song from "Rang De Basanti", and this movie does have some brilliant songs, right from the rambunctious title track to "Luka Chhipi".

"Meethi lagi, chakh ke dekhi abhi
Mishri ki dali, zindagi ho chali
Jahan hain teri baahein mera sahil wahin
Tu bin bataye mujhe le chal kaheen
Jahan tu muskuraye meri manzil wahin..."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Countdown 2006 Part III

Countdown resumed. :)

10. Aaj Ki Raat
Movie: Don
Javed Akhtar
Artists: Alisha Chinai, Mahalaxmi Iyer, Sonu Nigam

"Shaam hai, jaam hai, aur hai nasha..." Thus begins the silken voiced Alisha Chinai. This song has a mysterious, seductive quality to it. It also helps that it is really catchy! I think that it is the best song from "Don". Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy did not handle the remixes too well. Even Sunidhi Chauhan, who is usually really good, did not do a good job in the remixed version of "Yeh Mera Dil".

9. Dekho Naa
Movie: Fanaa
Music: Jatin-Lalit
Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi
Artists: Sonu Nigam & Sunidhi Chauhan

Sunidhi Chauhan more than makes up for the uninspired singing of "Yeh Mera Dil", with this song. And of course Sonu Nigam spins his magic again. It is my favourite song from "Fanaa". I like the way it is shot too - raindrops falling in slow motion. :) Too bad Jatin-Lalit have decided to go their separate ways; they had come up with some amazing music! I just love each and every composition of theirs from "Khamoshi - The Musical". It is one of the best Hindi movie albums!

8. Bheegi Bheegi Si Hai Raatein
Movie: Gangster
Music: Preetam
Lyrics: Mayur Puri
Artist: James

The angst in James' voice completely matches Shiny Ahuja's shock and anguish at realizing that Kangana Ranaut had turned him over to the cops. It is a very dark song. It starts out slow with
"Bheegi bheegi si hai raatein
Bheegi bheegi yaadein..."

and then delivers a punch when the music swells to
"Najaane koi, kaisi hai yeh zindagani...
Humari adhuri kahaani."
James' powerful voice adds a forceful vitality to the song.

7. Tumse Yun Milenge
Movie: Ankahee
Music: Pritam
Lyrics: Subrat Sinha
Artist: Kunal Ganjawala

I had stayed awake till about 1.30 AM on a weeknight watching "Ankahee", waiting for "Tumse Yun Milenge" to come, to no avail! :( Later I was told that the song plays when the titles roll at the beginning of the movie, which I had missed! :/

I could listen to this song over and over again, which I do quite often! The music is calm and soothing and Kunal Ganjawala does full justice to this song. Don't know why, but each time I hear this song I visualize a hazy picture of green meadows on a bright and sunny day.

6. Kya Mujhe Pyar Hai
Movie: Woh Lamhe
Music: Pritam
Lyrics: Neelesh Misra
Artist: K K

I didn't think much of the song the first time I heard it, but by the fourth or fifth listen, I was completely hooked! The line that grabbed me the most was the refrain "Kya mujhe pyar hai..." Later I began to enjoy the anataras more. This song also has some good lyrics:

"Pathar ke in raston par
Phoolon ki ek chaadar hai
Jab se mile ho humko
Badla har ek manzar hai
Dekho jahaan mein neele neele aasmaan tale
Rang naye naye hain jaise ghulte hue
Soye the khwaab mere jaage tere waaste
Tere khayaalon se hai bheege mere raaste..."

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sky High VI

I'm in Hyderabad right now, enjoying my one week vacation! So I didn't feel like continuing with the Countdown, instead I thought I would upload some pics I had taken recently of, what else? but the evening sky! I loooooooooooove sunsets! :D

I somehow am still unable to believe that Mumbai has some of the most beautiful sunsets! What with the pollution and all! But I just love looking at the oranges, pinks, peaches and blues that paint the sky during that time of the day...
There are more pics that I had taken of the sky, but those are in my Mumbai PC. I'll add them to this post when I get to Mumbai then.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Countdown 2006 Part II

14. Teri Deewani
Album: Kailasa
Artist: Kailasa
This song is the perfect mix of Sufi and Rock music. Kailash Kher's raw voice adds so much to 'Teri Deewani'. When I first heard the following lines my arms broke into goosebumps!

"Ishq junoon jab hadh se badh jaaye,
Hanste hanste aashiq suli chadh jaaye..."

It wasn't because of the lyrics, but because of how the music swells, and Kher's voice just envelopes you with raw, earthy appeal. It's a powerful song! :)

13. Koi Tumsa Nahi
Movie: Krrish
Music: Rajesh Roshan
Lyrics: Nasir Faraaz
Artists: Sonu Nigam & Shreya Ghoshal

I think that most of the songs from 'Krrish' are very, very average, save "Koi Tumsa Nahi" and "Main Hoon Woh Aasman". I actually did not think much of "Koi Tumsa Nahi" when I had first heard it. But then one day I was listening to the radio and the song came on the opening bars struck me hard, and I have been hooked on to this song ever since! Sonu Nigam, as usual, is wonderful, though I think that Shreya Ghoshal sounds too sickly sweet. But the song's great thanks too Rajesh Roshan's music.

12. Hai Ishq Yeh Kya
Movie: Bas Ek Pal
Music: Pritam
Artists: K. K. & Sunidhi Chauhan

This is a very high energy song! Both K. K. and Sunidhi Chauhan totally rock the song! I have not watched 'Bas Ek Pal', but have heard reviews from people who have, and the consensus is that the movie is quite bizarre! But the songs are quite good! I like "Tere Bin" and the title song too. But this one appeals to me the best!

11. Sohniye
Movie: Aksar
Music: Himesh Reshammiya
Lyrics: Sameer
Artists: K. K. & Sunidhi Chauhan

This song has very average lyrics, what sets it apart is the music and the talented K. K. with Sunidhi Chauhan for company. I have always maintained that Himesh Reshammiya is a better composer than a singer.This is a very passionate song and I like the slow and langourous manner in which it unfolds. The remixed version totally kills the song!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Countdown 2006

I have been terribly irregular with blogging this year. And I could make a 1000 excuses, but the truth is, I've been bitten by the laziness bug! :(

So without any further ado, let me just start on this long overdue post! I'm gonna now list down my top 20 songs of 2006. Tan tana!! :D :D

20. Dil Lagaa Naa
Movie: Dhoom 2
Music: Pritam
Lyricist: Sameer
Artists: Sukhbir, Soham Chakrabarthy, Jolly Mukherjee, Mahalaxmi Iyer and Suzanne

I like this song for Sukhbir's powerful vocals. And the beat is really foot-tapping!

19. Mehfuz
Album: Mehfuz
Artist: Euphoria

Euphoria is one of my all time favorite bands! Mehfuz took a while to grow on me though, but grow it did! :) It has been sung with a lot of heart by Palash Sen. I like the picturization of the video too. It has the Euphoria trademark on it. :)

18. Kabul Fiza
Movie: Kabul Express
Music: Raghav Sachar
Lyricist: Aditya Dhar
Artist: Raghav Sachar

Last year Raghav Sachar was on my countdown with his song, "Baahon Mein Tu Aaja" from his dubut album. I liked "Kabul Fiza" the first time I heard it. I love the way Sachar has sung this song with a lot of energy.

17. Golmaal, Golmaal
Movie: Golmaal
Music: Vishal-Shekhar
Artist: Anushka Manchandani

This song is highly addictive! Each time I hear it I wanna break into a jig! :D Vishal-Shekhar has really got the best out of ex-Viva girl, Anushka. Another fun song from this movie is "Kyun Aage Peechhe Dolte Ho".

16. It's a Beautiful Day
Movie: Aryan
Music: Anand Raj Anand
Lyricist: Kumarr
Artists: Shreya Ghoshal & Hamza

I find this song very soothing. It sets the mood for a lazy afternoon. :)

15. Pal, Pal Har Pal
Movie: Lage Raho Munnabhai
Music: Shantanu Moitra
Lyricist: Swanand Kirkire
Artists: Sonu Nigam & Shreya Ghoshal

This song is reminiscent of Cliff Richard's "Theme for a Dream". Maybe Mr. Moitra wanted to pay homage to Sir Cliff! Hehe! Anyway, I do like this song a lot. I'd kept on hearing it on the radio and fell in love with this song. But I was really disappointed by the way it was picturized in the movie! I wish it had been shot more creatively. Oh well! At least it sounds good! And the lyrics are very apt for the situation.

I'm going to end the countdown here, as I'm feeling very, very sleepy. Hopefully I will pick it up next saturday! :D

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Mahabaleshwar New Year III

This is the last installment of my Mahabaleshwar Odyssey, which had taken place about 3 months ago! Talk about promptness!! I have not been blogging regularly this year, unfortunately. It’s all got to do with working, not having Internet connection at home, and of course, plain laziness on my part!! After this blog, my next few blogs are going to be about my favourite Hindi phillumi songs of 2006. And I’m gonna try to keep those blogs coming in regularly! :D

Ok, in my last post, I’d spoken about Day 2 in Mahabaleshwar. Now I’m going to talk about Day 3, i.e. 31st December, New Year’s Eve. On this day we went to a lot of ‘points’ around Mahabaleshwar. The first one that we went to was Echo Point.

We saw some really beautiful views of the lake and the green, rolling hills.

P and J had a rollicking time screaming out our names and various other names making all of us collapse with laughter. We were acting like a bunch of teenagers! Heehee!

A five-minute walk away from Echo Point was Elephant Head, a bolder in the shape of, what else, an elephant’s head! :D It was quite an interesting sight!
Next we visited a Strawberry farm, where an enthusiastic kid explained the finer points of strawberry farming to us.
We had some delicious strawberry and cream there. We had had strawberry and cream every single day there. It was quite addictive!
We then made our way to
Lodwick’s Point. An avenue of over hanging trees covered the road leading to it. I thought that it looked beautiful, something out of a Gothic romance novel! :) I’m just sad that I did not take a picture of this tree-lined avenue. I’m sure it is one of the scariest looking places at night!
Anyway, we arrived at what we thought was Lodwick’s point, but our surly driver informed us that we had to walk a small distance to actually get to this point. So we started walking, and were in good spirits, and I was quite happy to see that a tree-lined avenue also covered this path.
But soon, our happiness turned into misery, when even after walking for about 20 minutes, uphill, Lodwick’s point was nowhere in sight. Says a lot about our level of physical fitness! But anyway, we huffed and puffed our way up, and by the time we reached there, I had some very colorful terms for it!
We decided that making us walk so much was some sort of revenge on the part of our driver, who didn’t seem to like us much, and was always in a hurry to get rid of us! Talk about conspiracy theories! Heehee!
At Lodwick’s point we found this ledge sticking out into the valley below, and took turns climbing up and posing for the camera.
With Lodwick’s point, our Mahabaleshwar darshan came to an end. We then had our lunch and retired to our rooms, anticipating a fun night ahead!
Oh yeah! We got hold of this taxi driver in the market who promised to pick us up at our guesthouse, and to drop us back too. So we were quite pleased with ourselves!
At around 5.00 PM, the lights went out. So N and I just lay on the bed and chatted about this and that. When the lights didn’t come on till 7.00 PM, I began to worry a bit, as the driver said that he would pick us up by 8.30, and it does take me a while to get dressed! Turns out that it takes N quite a while to get dressed too! :D Well, the lights came on at 7.30 or so and N and I tried to get dressed as fast as we could manage!
Our taxi came to pick us up by 9.00 I think. We were all quite excited and raring to go and party! When we reached Hotel Fredrick we confirmed with the driver that he would come to pick us up when we called him (we had his cell phone number with us). To our horror he stated that he would come only if he woke up, as he planned on going to bed by 11.00 PM or so. We were a bit mad at him, but decided to go and enjoy anyway.
So we made our way down to the lawn where the party was being held. We sat around for a while, listening to the music.
We then left our handbags with a family sitting around a fire and went off to the dance floor to boogie! We sure did have a blast dancing to songs ranging from “Dil Mein Baji Guitar” to “Hips Don’t Lie”. At about 11.00-11.30 we began to feel hungry, and went in search of the snacks, which we had been promised would be inclusive of the tickets that we had bought. Well, guess what? All the snacks were over! All that was available was ice-cold cashew nuts and cold drinks. So we bought a plate of cashew nuts and bottles of Mirinda and sat down to eat our ‘dinner’. At quarter to 12 we once again made our way to the dance floor and swayed somewhat to the music, our spirits slightly dampened. At mid night we saw a wonderful display of rockets and hugged each other and screamed “Happy New Year!!” at each other! We danced a bit more energetically now, getting into the whole “New Year” mode again.
But after a while we decided to call the taxi driver, but he did not pick up his cell phone. We wondered what to do, and made our way to the gates of the hotel. Ms. Matron had told us earlier that there would be taxis waiting outside the gate, but we saw none. We did see a middle-aged couple leaving the party at that moment. We ran behind them, P shouting, “Uncle! Aunty!” When they turned around we asked them if we could walk back with them to their hotel. They agreed and we heaved a sign of relief! On our way we came across a lot of guys zooming around in cars and on bikes. One guy drove his bike quite close to where P and I were walking, and his buddy who was riding pillion made a grab at P, but as I was walking right behind her, I pulled her away. Some men can be just so disgusting at times! But that’s a rant for another blog…
Anyway, we reached Hotel Rajesh where the middle-aged couple was staying (J hobbling the whole way because her shoe strap had broken!), which was about 15 minutes away from our guesthouse. We were wondering how to get back and decided to stay back at Hotel Rajesh, when the man, Shaukat, offered to give us a lift to the guesthouse. We will be eternally grateful to him and his wife for driving us to the guesthouse! They were quite a delightful couple, pulling each other’s leg all the while! :)
So when we got back to the guesthouse, we decided to go to bed at once, because we were to leave the next afternoon. But we were all still quite hungry. So we got out some snacks that we had, and drank the last of the vodka and Sprite. Later on when we recalled our adventures to our friends back in Mumbai, N insisted on telling everybody what exactly we ate for dinner in painstaking detail! LOL!!
We stayed up till about 4.00 AM, just talking and laughing the whole time! I don’t even remember what we had chatted about that had made us laugh so uproariously!
The next day we got up a bit late, had our lunch and caught the bus back to Mumbai. The bus driver was some kind of an idiot! There was a traffic jam on the way, so he drove on the wrong side of the road to cut ahead. And he kept on driving on the wrong side for a few kilometers! P and I saw some openings, where the bus driver could have cut back on to the right side, but he kept on driving on the wrong side! He had to stop at last when he came across a tunnel! He then reversed all the way back till he found an opening to get on to the other side! P and I wanted to get off our seats and give him a piece of our minds!
Because of all his shenanigans (plus all the traffic jams that we encountered) we reached Mumbai late. We were all a bit sad that our adventure had come to an end. This has been the best New Year’s ever! For the first time in my life I wasn’t sitting at home with my parents, watching insipid shows on TV. And for making this the best New Year’s ever, I would like to thank my buddies, J, N and P! We sure did have a fantabulous time! :D

Monday, February 26, 2007

Mahabaleshwar New Year II

I’m updating my blog after eons! I still do not have Internet connection at home. I’m typing this out at home, then will copy it to a pen drive, and upload from an Internet cafĂ©. What all one has to do to keep on blogging!!! LOL!!

Anyway, I will continue with my Mahabaleshwar Odyssey now. :))

I’d stopped the
last time at the end of our first day in Mahabaleshwar. The next day we went to Panchgani.
Before I go on, I have to mention that all of the conversations that we would have, would always inevitably, come around to the point that we had nothing to do on New Year’s Eve, as the guesthouse where we were staying had nothing planned at all. We thought that we should check out any of the other hotels in Mahabaleshwar, which had some event planned. Everybody liked the idea, but then we wondered how exactly we would come back, as the guesthouse was a 15 minutes walk from the market place and a great deal more from the other hotels that we had seen.
On our way around Mahabaleshwar we had come across Hotel Frederick, which had a banner displayed up front announcing that it was hosting ‘The Wildest New Year’s Eve Party’. So on our way to Panchgani we stopped there and decided to enquire about the ‘Wildest New Year’s Eve Party’. We were met at the reception by a very matronly looking woman, who made us all feel as though we were back in school and had broken some sacred rule, and were to now receive our punishment! Ms. Matron told us that the party was only for couples, then looking at our despondent faces, asked us if we were only a group of girls, when we said ‘yes’, she decided to grant us the tickets to the party. We were quite excited and decided to purchase the tickets there and then.
We went back to our car and after the initial jubilation died down, began to wonder once again about how we would go back to the guesthouse after the party. We thought that we could ask the driver who was ferrying us around Mahabaleshwar, or maybe ask the guesthouse caretaker to suggest some alternative. So having to a conclusion we then had a delicious breakfast of corn cutlets and corn pakodas. They were terribly yummy and just melted in our mouths!
En route to Panchgani we stopped at ‘Parsi Point’, which offered a view of the green hills and lake.

We then reached the Panchgani ‘Tableland’ and were at once beset by a tangawalla and a ghodawalla. After working out which would be the cheaper option, we decided to go with the tangawalla. P sat upfront with the tangawalla, while N, J and I sat behind in the buggy. As soon as the horse took a few steps forward he reared up! All of us screamed, or maybe it was only I who had screamed! Hehe! But that was one scary experience! And throughout the ride the horse kept on acting funny, he would run just a bit too fast and I was really scared that he would keep on running over the edge and take us along with him! All of us were holding on to the buggy rails as tightly as possible!
We saw some 6-7 ‘points’ on the Tableland.

One of them being the footprints of the Paanch Pandavas. Apparently they had visited Tableland while they were on their Vanvaas.
The roller coaster buggy ride came to end at last and the tangawalla told us that if we wanted we could go down and check out a cave close by where we had stopped. I was quite gung ho about visiting a cave, and dragged the others along too. It was quite a steep climb down to the cave. There was a little restaurant being run in the cave, which offered modest fair like tea, coffee, samosas etc

. The cave was quite cool, literally and figuratively!

There were quite a lot of monkeys running around too.

After we finished our Tableland tour, we visited two Mapro factories. Mapro manufactures jams, squashes and some other stuff. I bought a bottle of mixed fruit jam for my grandma and a bottle of green apple squash for my brother and myself.
We then went back to Mahabaleshwar, had our lunch in the market place and went back to the guesthouse.
We lazed around in our rooms and this time decided to start out earlier for the market place than we had done the last time, when we had had to walk in the dark and pretty much freaked out!
N decided that she wanted to buy a skirt to wear to the party as all the rest of us were wearing skirts. She bought this gorgeous white skirt with sequins. We then fell upon this tiny shop that sold some very interesting jewelry. A lot of brightly colored stones were used. I bought myself two pairs of stone earrings, which I simply LOVE! :D I also bought two interesting looking necklaces. Then we went to this shoe store, and N bought a couple of pairs of shoes for herself. We even bought nail polish for the ‘Big night’! You can say that we really went all out! Hehe!
After we had shopped to our heart’s content, we stopped at a bakery for dinner. It was terribly crowded, and as there were only two tables to sit at, we decided to pack some burgers and pizzas and eat them at the guesthouse itself. So while I was standing in line for the food coupons, guess who walked in? Shaimak Davar and a bunch of his friends! So we gawked a bit, but as discreetly as possible! Most of them looked as though they danced in his troupe. One of the guys from the group was standing at the food counter and he just could not stand still, he kept on moving to the music that was blaring in the bakery. And the music that was being played was stuff by the Backstreet Boys, and Enrique Iglesias, and Ricky Martin – all the hits from my school days! :)
Anyway, our order took ages to come, and as soon as it did, we made our way to the taxi stand and rode back to the guesthouse . After dinner we decided to turn in a bit earlier than we had the previous night. So after playing one or two rounds of UNO, N and I went back to our room and fell asleep at once. And that’s where Day 2 in Mahabaleshwar comes to an end!

Monday, January 22, 2007


A few people were wondering if I had abandoned my Mahabaleshwar travelogue midway. Well the thing is I have a problem! My Internet hours at home are over! My brother had taken up this silly scheme, which was supposed to last for the entire month, but got over even before the middle of the month!! :((
And I cannot blog from office, so I will have to just wait till next month! This pushes out my plans to start on my Songs Countdown too, unfortunately.
I have hence decided that I will use the Internet hours more judiciously next month, or just maybe get a better scheme!
Tell then, KANK, as one of my wacky friends loves to say! LOL! :D

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Mahabaleshwar New Year

First of all, let me wish all of you in Blogosphere a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
I've been unable to post a blog or even visit all of my favourite blogs in quite a while now. And that's because I was completely swamped by work. But now a project has just gotten over, and I feel free! I won't be for long is my guess, but I'm gonna try and make the most of it! :D

This New Year's weekend I went to Mahabaleshwar with three of my friends, J, N, and P. This has got to be the best New Year's I've ever had! Till now all I'd ever done was sit in front of the TV with my parents and get bored out of my brains! And I felt that I just have to celebrate my first year of financial independance in style! :)
All of us at office were sitting and wondering what we could do on New Year's eve, when J stated that she wanted to get away from the Mumbai crowds. I jumped at the idea at once. Then we had to decide where exactly to go. A lot of places were thrown up like Matheran, Lonavla, but we finally decided to go to Mahabaleshwar. I had been to Mahabaleshwar when I was in school, and had fond memories of the place, memories that invovled eating fresh strawberry icecream and corn patties! :D So I was quite excited to go back there.
P booked rooms in a guest house for free (I was extremly pleased about that!!) and I booked the bus tickets to Mahabaleshwar.
28th December, D Day arrived and I was terribly excited! What I did not know was how adventurous this trip was going to be!
Anyway, our bus was supposed to leave at 10:30 at night, so we had all decided to meet at J's home, as she stayed closest to the pick up point, which was in Chembur (an area in Mumbai). So all of us reached Chembur by about 10:00 PM. We waited for our bus, and waited, and waited, and waited some more. It was about 10:45 and there was still no sign of our bus. We went to the bus counter repeatedly and asked them when the bus would show up. The guy there kept on saying that it was late.
It was about 12:00 AM now, and the bus had still not come. Most of the shops had closed down, and everybody else around us had boarded their respective buses and gone. And there we were, four girls, sitting on our bags on the pavement in the middle of the night! J and P then went up to the guy and demanded to know what was going on. Even he was left scratching his head, and stated that the bus was never so late. He then called up the Dadar office, from where this bus was supposed to have started, and also called up the bus driver. The bus driver said that they had completely bypassed Chembur and were on their way to Vashi, a distant suburb in Mumbai. And he told us to go to Vashi to catch the bus! We were like, "What the @#%$?! is going on??!" We would now have to catch a taxi to get to Vashi. The man at the counter assured us that we would be refunded the taxi money.
Just a while ago J had mentioned that she had never been to Vashi, and wanted to visit it sometime, well she got her wish alright! LOL!!
We then caught a taxi, whose driver first said that he had no idea where exactly the place was in Vashi where the bus would be stopping. We looked at each other and just hoped that we would be able to find the place. We were in a hurry, but the cabbie decided that he just had to fill up his tank at that very moment. Don't know what he was doing before, when he was parked on the road side!
Anyway he filled up while we fumed and told him to hurry up. And after the tank was filled, suddenly a light dawned in his mind, and he said that he knew exactly where the bus would stop!
We reached Vashi at about 12:45, and got down near some bus stops. There were hardly any people around, and we could see a lot of creepy men standing around. So after P fought with the the guys at the bus counter to get re-embursed for the taxi fare, all of us stood near the bus stops. We must have waited for about 10-15 minutes and boarded our bus at about 1:10-1:15 AM! All I wanted was to sleep. But I knew from previous experience that I could never really sleep in a bus, and would be semi-conscious at the best.
"Apna Sapna Money Money" was being played in the bus, and save a few scenes that were chuckle worthy, most of the movie was quite yucky! But I must say that Ritesh Deshmukh does make a pretty girl! LOL!
Anyway, I tried to go to sleep, but these two women sitting behind would not shut up! They kept on chatting with some man behind them till 3:00-4:00 AM, and I was really ticked off!
We reached Mahabaleshwar at 6 in the morning. It was pitch dark outside and really, really cold! A taxi guy saw us and hurriedly put our bags in his car and took us to the guest house. He dropped us off at the gates of the guest house, which was on this desolate stretch of road. The entire place looked like a scene out of a spooky movie. On one side of the road there was this forest, and on the other we could barely make out the outline of a big forbiding looking bunglow beyond the gates. I just wanted to get inside and escape from the
darkness and freezing cold.
P tried calling the caretaker of the guest house and after a few mistrials caught him at last. J then tried pushing the gates, and we realized that it hadn't been locked at all!
We were then met by an old woman who was bathed in the yellow glow of light emanating from the room behind her. How Hitchcockian could it get? :))
We were then taken to a room, where N and I collapsed on the beds. So J and P decided to take the other room that was booked for us. We slept till about 8 o'clock and got up to freshen up.
The tourist guide attached to the guest house then came calling, and we fixed up the schedule for the next 3 days.
We decided to visit Pratapgad Fort first.
We hired a guide there, Umesh, who claimed to be a descendent of a soldier from Shivaji's army. He sure was passionate about the fort and its history. He explained every aspect of it in detail. He was much better than any boring history book that I had read. The fort was quite fascinating, and we climbed up and down some 400 odd steps. Our friend, N, is rather short, so she had some trouble climbing up really high steps, but she sure did conquer them all! :))

Pratapgad fort is made up of rock, lime (chuna), milk and jaggery, and most of the structure is still standing tall!

The views from the the fort were quite amazing, rolling green hills everywhere!

There was this really interesting tunnel there. According to Umesh, if enemies ever entered Pratapgad, the army would escape through this tunnel, and sneak up and attack the enemy from behind.There was a short staircase that lead down to the tunnel after which there was a steep drop down the hill.

These people sure did lead an exciting life!

The last point that we visited there was the Punishment Point, from where criminals were thrown off into the valley below, wrapped in gunny sacks. I contemplated throwing some people off of there too! Hehe!
Opposite Punishment Point is a staue of Shivaji that was installed by the government..

After climbing up Pratapgad, we returned to Mahabaleshwar and had our lunch in the market. The guest house that we were staying in did not serve any food, so we had to have all of our meals in the Mahabaleshwar market. We ate at this place called Tinkler's (God knows why!) at least 3 times, and each time they insisted on playing songs from "Vivaah" and "Jaan-e-man"! So we heard "Mujhe Haq Hai" while eating breakfast and also during dinner! :D
When we got back to the guest house all of us were so sleepy that we decided to have a quick nap and then walk out to the market again for dinner. The quick nap stretched into 3-4 hours and I awoke at about 7:00 in the evening. We then decided to go to the market, which was a 15 minutes walk from our guest house. It was awfully dark outside with not a single street light in sight. As I'd mentioned earlier, the stretch of road on which the guest house lay is quite desolate, and in the darkness it just appeared more foreboding. Somehow we did make it to the market place.
After dinner on our way back (we decided to go back in a taxi) N suggested that we should get ourselves a small bottle of vodka to help us (ahem!) keep warm! ;)
So that night we played a few rounds of UNO and had vodka heavily diluted with Sprite and Limca. And contrary to popular belief, I did not get drunk!!! :p
We had a lot of fun gossiping about people we knew, and also people whom we didn't know that well! I've not laughed so much in a really long while! :)
Thus our first day in Mahabaleshwar came to a delightful end! And I will continue our further exploits in my next blog.