Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A trip to Nepal ; A nation of 'Bandhs'

I have been born and brought up in a city called Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh which happens to be one of the closest to India-Nepal border. Still I never went beyond Bhairahawa (a town on the Nepal border) and Butwal (22 kms from Bhairahawa) that too with the school picnic.

So, this time when my sisters and I along with our husbands planned to visit Gorakhpur for a wedding my father chalked out a 3 day trip to Nepal. The itinerary included Pokhara and Kathmandu. A winger was booked, bags packed and we set out on our journey. After a 2 hour drive we reached Sunauli (Indian town on the border). We crossed into Nepal and headed to a restaurant for lunch as our driver went to finish some paper work. At the restaurant, we were received by a weedy eyed waiter who sleepily took our order. Time passed as we patiently waited for the food. After 30 mins or so my father himself went into the kitchen to inquire. We were then informed that no restaurant keeps food ready in Nepal. So, that was our first lesson; order well in advance.

After lunch we proceeded to Pokhara which is a 6-7 hours drive from Bhairahawa. On this drive we found out that our driver was quiet a Gorakhpuriya (my friends from that part of the country will know that term). A typical Gorakhpuriya is a person who will never give a straight answer to your questions, will always remain angry, will have complete disregard to what you want and will think that he's doing you a favor even when you're paying him for his services. And. to our amusement, his name was we chose to call him 'angry young man'.

However, the drive was pleasant and filled with scenic beauty and we enjoyed it to the most. We reached Pokhara around 9.00 pm and as per the first lesson the first thing we did was order food. So while we checked in our hotel and got fresh our dinner was getting ready. As we were planning our next day the driver broke the news; 'Kal Pokhra band hai...chakka jam. gadi nai niklegi' (Pokhara is closed tomorrow, no vehicle on the road). Since democracy has taken over in Nepal, a city or the other is closed every now and then.There went our plan. The next day we set out on foot, had our breakfast by the famous Fewa lake and went on a boat ride. The lake surrounded with tall mountains was absolutely enchanting.

There wasn't much to do after that since the shops too were shut. We were told that the 'bandh' will be over by 4 and then we can go sight seeing. So the youngsters decided to pick up few bicycles and go for a ride while the elders rested. We rented the bikes (cleaned them and pumped air in the tyres too :P ). We din't go very far when the first one got punctured....and after a while the second one hour was spend trying to mend them but in vain. We went back and immortalized the saying 'khaya piya kuch nai, gilas toda barah ana' (don't ask me the meaning now).

After lunch at Laxman's restaurant and Bar (I must admit, the yummiest momos I've ever had and some great fish curry with rice) it was time to get the wheels out. As we moved towards the Devi's Fall we found out that the band wasn't yet over and sensing danger went in a casino (and blew off some money too :D ). We came out after 20 mins and finally went on to see the Devi's fall, Gupteshwar cave and Bhadra Kali temple.

As we were heading back to our hotel from Bhadra Kali temple it started raining and there was a sudden urge for 'garam chai'. We went in a small tea shop. Since it was raining and we are Indians, we also wanted some 'pakoras' but the shop owner didn't sell any food. So, we offered to make them ourselves in her personal kitchen if she gave us raw stuff, which she did. And there were hot pakoras and 'adrak wali chai'. Amongst this merry making we forgot to talk money and the shop owner charged us a hefty 500 Nepali Rupees for that. But our 'angry young man' intervened and we paid only 300 NC.

We went back to the hotel, planned our next day which was to see the sunrise point and head to Kathmandu. The day was pretty much over for the senior people but the 'young gang' was not done yet. It was my husband's birthday the next day so we planned to head out for a couple of drinks. We found an amazing restaurant at the lake side where the bartender mixed up some amazing cocktails for us.

Next morning we went to the sunrise point. The Himalayan ranges (annapurna, dhaulagiri) turned beautiful golden as sun cast its rays on them.

The sight was breathtakingly beautiful. After a cup of tea and some light breakfast we started towards Kathmandu, again an 8 hours drive from Pokhara.

We reached Kathmandu at around 3 in the afternoon, checked into the hotel and as we were going out for lunch another bomb blasted. Kathmandu was also closed the next day (21st May). Since we had a flight to catch from Lucknow on the 23rd we only had an evening in Kathmandu. We planned to make the most of it and decided to visit the Pashupatinath and Swayambhu temple right after lunch. Thankfully the restaurant in Kathmandu had the food ready and our order arrived in 10 minutes.

As we were going towards Swayambhu from Pashupatinath, our winger broke down and we waited for another one which took us to the temple. Swayambhunath or The monkey temple as its famously called (because of the resident monkeys) is set atop a hill and is visited by Budhists all over the world. The Stupa is beautifully lit and you can see the whole town from the top.

After the temple visit we came back to the hotel and planned to leave early in the morning as Kathmandu was 'bandh' and yeah...our car had broken down so we had to adjust ourselves in the smaller one. 9 of us in a Tavera. We started towards India. On our way we stopped at Manakamna temple. The temple is accessible through a cable car from Kurintar, 2 hours drive from Kathmandu. To our relief there wasn't much crowd and we got into the longest cable car in Asia. It crossed through 3 hills with a river flowing at the bottom. The car ride was amazing but to our bad luck the temple was closed for a special pooja. We chose to have breakfast instead and then took a cable car back to Kurintar. Well, the 'bandh' didn't just leave us there. As we were on our way back the cable car also stopped for a couple of minutes. But it wasn't scary and we had a nice view of the hills.

Praying no more 'bandhs' on our way we headed straight to India.

Nepal is a beautiful country but is heavily affected by the current political scenario. So, if you are planning a trip to Nepal make sure that you don't bump into a 'bandh'.

Monday, 18 July 2011

The 10 things tag

Its been almost an year since I was tagged for this post by Tanvi. But since I wasn't blogging regularly back then, I could never take out enough time to sit and think of 10 things about me. Now that I am free for a while I thought let me just give it a try. I mean, how hard can it be? writing 10 things...just 10 things about myself that people might or might know and are true....not that hard...huh??

So, before I start with the post I'll quickly run through the rules of the game;

  • Tell your readers 10 things about yourself that they may or may not know, but are true.
  • Tag 10 people with the award, and be sure to let them know they’ve been tagged (a quick comment on their blog will do).
  • Link back to the blogger who tagged you.
 Here I go...

  1. I love reading; Books, magazines, comics, newspaper anything. I feel incomplete if I don't have a book on my side table even if I don't pick it up to read for a week.
  2. I love sleeping as much as I love reading. My idea of a perfect relaxed vacation is to have a pile of books by my side while I keep dozing off reading them.
  3. Shopping is a pain for me if I don't know what to shop for. I only enjoy shopping when I know what I want. I hate accompanying compulsive shoppers who just wander around and take hours to decide on one thing (Dids...Neha...pls don't kill me for that :P )
  4. I feel jealous and insecure when my best friend gets more friendly with someone else. I have never told her that but I guess she knows it. Now, you all know it... :P
  5. I love my independence.....a lot. Having stayed alone for a while I don't like any intrusion in my life. I might start hating the very person who tries hard to intrude. I love others' need of independence and privacy too.
  6. Not many people know that I am good with sketches and I like sketching portraits. 
  7. I don't like people talking to kids in baby language cos what they hear is what they learn. And if they can't understand what you are saying in normal language they won't understand it in baby language either.
  8. How-much ever cool or chilled out wife I am, I love being showered with gifts, chocolates, flowers etc. (dear husband...take a hint ;)  ) and yeah...I love chocolates...more chocolates....more n more n more chocolates.
  9. Its not easy (almost impossible) to change my decisions once I am stuck on them. I am a sort of rebel and would fight for what I need or want.
  10. I am addicted to blogging.....its kind of in my blood now. I can't spend a day without checking out my blog once. its done...10 they are. Not bad I must say. I think I faired pretty well and deserve this award :D

and now time to tag my friends.


I hope it makes for an interesting read.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Wanna make franship??

I could never really decipher the meaning of this message whenever I saw it on my Orkut scrapbook or FB inbox. Was it an indecent proposal hidden under the wraps of 'franship' or just a simple request by someone who lost his way through English?

No offense to anyone but I seriously wonder whether these messages get any response. Like this one "Preety smile, wanna be friends?". I mean c'mon dude, you wannna be friends because of smile? or just cos I have 'preety' smile I am obligated to be your friend?

I also don't understand the meaning of those love/friendship messages that look like a flower or a heart or worse...a guitar...yuck! And trust me I've got it from people I hardly know or haven't spoken to in years. Is writing a simple 'hey, how r u doin' that hard?

I have also observed few traits of people who are habitual of sending such messages. Here they are;

1. These guys never have their real picture on their profile. They have mostly pictures of bikes, flowers, Salman Khan, John Abraham or that weird tattooed guy from that serial 'Dil Mil Gaye'. Girls mostly opt for teddy bears, chocolates and Katrina Kaif.

2. Their 'about me' section has lots of words but still you can't make out who or what they really are like 'I am a very emotional guy who's looking for nice frenship...blah..blah...blah' or like this one...:D

3. Some also like to throw a bit of attitude once you visit their profile eg.
'About Me - and why exactly should I tell you?'.....(bitch)

4. And some are just plain dumb eg.
'About Me - You tell me no' :-|

5. Some are just too busy or lazy to write anything so they choose to showcase all possible emoticons there are... :) :P :D ;) :( 8) :-| :-/

To all such people; Guys, its not that hard to be yourself and real...just try.

If I have hurt any feelings through this blog...well, I am not sorry for that. :P

And for the last time, NO...I don't wanna make franship.

Friday, 15 July 2011 all ends...

Spoiler alert if you haven't read the book.

A certain kind of excitement surges through your veins when a relationship reaches its peak. A similar emotion crept in me since the promos of the latest edition (which also happens to be the last) of Harry Potter series came out. This was going to be the end of my relationship with the series that started 10 years ago when the first movie released. But it was only 5 years back that I grew fond of the books as well.

So, after a sleepless night (like the ones you have a day before the school picnic) I was finally face to face with some of my favorite characters of the literary world.

Harry Potter and the deathly hallows Part 2 starts from where the part 1 ended. Voldemort (its not you-know-who anymore as Professor McGonagall says "call him Voldemort, he will try to kill you anyway") finds the Elder Wand and its Harry whom he wants now. Harry on the other hand is busy looking for the rest of the horcruxes with Ron and Hermoine. The trio goes on a roller coaster ride at the Gringotts, escapes on a fire breathing dragon and reaches Hogwarts for the final showdown. To be honest, my eyes got a bit moist watching Harry reunite with his fellow Gryffindors.

The beloved school of magic is attacked by Voldemort and his followers who have to fight Harry, his team and 'The Order of the Phoenix'. Amongst many expelliarmus, crucios and avada kedavra Hogwarts witnesses the biggest duel of its time between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort.

The war ends with Dark Lord's death. While we cheer to that, there's pain of losing the best ones too (Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin). Severus Snape, to everyone's surprise, turns out to be a nice guy but is sadly killed by Voldemort. Molly Weasley's attack on the notorious Bellatrix Lestrange is worth a clap. Neville Longbottom comes out to be a hero this time as he kills the Nagini with Gryffindor's sword. I missed Hagrid in the first half but makes for his absence when he carries the dead Harry in his arms.

The last film is a great end to a brilliant journey. Kudos to David Yates for the great work. I just love the way he turned the kiddy movie into a dark fantasy since he made the 4th part (Harry Potter and the goblet of fire). Although the end where we see the 36 years old Daniel Radcliffe and others is a little disappointing and you rather leave the theater before '19 years later' flashes on the screen.

Although there wont be any potion classes to mess with and no quiddich matches to look forward to yet the end couldn't be any better.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The missing link

27 Jun 2011 – A rave party in the Raigad district near Mumbai was busted by the police late on Sunday night where about 300 people were rounded up. 

5 July 2011 - 31 fined for 'indecent' dancing in Mumbai nightclub after police raid 

13 July 2011 - 3 serial blasts rocked Mumbai in the busy hours. 

Do these news when put together make any sense to you? If not them let me elaborate.

A semi-harmless rave party is raided by cops and some very harmless Dirty Dancers are fined, by cops of-course. But a very harmfull bomb blast is neither stopped nor the people behind it fined, caught or as much as traced.

I would like to know that while our police force is busy busting and fining the defenseless youth who's going to take charge of the constant bombings the city is going through? Why is everyone (read cops and politicians) trying to stop something that could happen over something that is actually happening.

The drinking age in Maharashtra is 25 because if you drink before that you might drive irresponsibly and die. What the hell? You'll anyway die, in a bomb blast or a terrorist attack. Why doesn't the police of this country forget about the culture and morals and do some real policing for once.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Rain ki dhun

A comment on my last post prompted me to write this one. One of my regular readers asked me if music is not a part of my to do list on a rainy day. Well, of-course it is and how much ever cliched it sounds I love listening to rain songs from Hindi movies. So I am sharing a list of my favorite rain songs and whats so special about them. Feel free to add your favorites in comments.

Rimjhim gire sawan (Manzil) - This beautiful track tops my list for only one reason and that is Kishore Kumar. I could never understand how comfortably he adapted to any situation. Of course the on screen romance between Amitabh and Moushmi Chatterjee was beautiful. Its great to see Big B shed his angry image. But for me this song is all about the great Kishore.

Rimjhim rimjhim (1942 A Love Story) - One of R D Burman's last works. This song visually has everything one could ask for on a rainy day; a secluded place, hills, nature and romance and 'oh so charming' Manisha Koirala. I love the magic Kavita Krishnamurty's voice creates.

Aj rapat jayen (Namakhalal) - I am not so fond of the visuals but the song has tremendous sensuality to it. Once again Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle at their best.

Sawan barse tarse dil (Dahek) - The romance in this one makes me a little mushy too (ok, I accept that :D ) and Akshay Khanna and Sonali Bendre look so innocent.

Sun sun sun barsat ki dhun (Sir) - This song is connected to one of my strongest childhood crushes. On screen while Atul Agnihotri was busy fancying Pooja Bhatt I kept my eyes glued on the much adorable Naseeruddin Shah. Even the hot dream sequence between the protagonists couldn't quiet match up to Mr. Shah's heat quotient.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

My 5 dos on a rainy day

People who know me well, know this small detail about me that I don't like getting drenched in rain (o yeah, I am used to that raised eyebrow expression by now). So, while most of you like getting soaked under those showers I prefer staying indoors or under umbrella. But that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy the weather, it still is my favorite. So here I share my 5 dos on a rainy day:

Read a book: Being the bookworm that I am, picking up a good book is the natural choice. Nothing feels better than the sound of raindrops falling on the window while I try to engross myself in the book. It doesn't matter whether it is a romantic novel or a fantasy as long as I enjoy it.

What am I reading right now? Its 'Sea of Poppies' by Amitav Ghosh.

Grab a DVD: Its fun to stack up DVDs of some Hollywood classics and romcoms for the rainy day. Nothing can beat lying sprawled on the bed, watching movies and snacking on hot kebabs. Some Old Monk for company works wonders.

Head to a coffee shop: My new found love for cappuccino does take me to the coffee shop quiet often and if its raining outside, even better. My current favorite cafe is Gloria Jeans in Oberoi mall. Although they have hiked the prices a bit and the quality is going down, I still like the place for its perfect location.

A drive on the sea-link:
Since its inauguration the Bandra-Worli Sea link has become the hot spot for those who love long drives. So, when its not raining heavily, I too, fancy a drive with my husband. A walk on the Worli seaface afterwards just adds up to the experience.

I believe that there is a certain connection between the rains and my brain (o, it rhymes..:)...). Ideas flow and i am tempted to pen them or in this case blog them down. All I need is a hot cup of tea and a bowl of soupy maggi by my side....slurrppp....

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Mumbai Diaries - Part II (Of rains and blocked drains)

It's raining in Mumbai....and being an active blogger I can't resist posting something about this favorite weather of the city. Undoubtedly almost all the mumbaikars hate this weather as much as they love it. I too have witnessed the best and worst of rains here in the past six and a half years.

Monsoons were almost over when I first arrived in Mumbai so it took me a whole journey around the sun to experience it first hand. The first few showers after the scorching heat felt like heaven. We planned trips to Juhu Beach, took a walk at Worli seaface. But there was more to it than just greenery and clouds. There were potholes, traffic and sick rotting garbage on streets. Reaching my office in Lower Parel became a task worthy of a bravery award. The city was chaotic and I was baffled. And then suddenly as if the leakage in the clouds got bigger, it poured and poured till the roads were submerged under water. We had 26/7/2005. The city stopped and the only thing that was moving was water, that too vertically not horizontally.

After few unsuccessful attempts of reaching home me and my few colleagues planned to spend the night in the office. A treat of pizza and coke cheered us up a little. The next day we walked from Lower Parel till Khar. The memories of walking in the green, slimy water still creeps me out.

However, I do have some pleasant memories too like walking on the Marine Drive while munching on a hot corn or bunking office.

Mumbai monsoons, with all its pros and cons are special to each and everyone of us. And how much ever we hate them we still wait for them every year cos thats the time of love and romance; hope and happiness; dahi handi and Ganesh Chaturthi.


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