Tag Archives: Recreation

Journey To The Alphonso Land

By Sudhir Verma, Avanturas

Vada pav with hot tea at a road side joint. Perfect start to the Pune trip!

Monty looked slimmer, younger, and happier. I was glad to see him. Over the last 2 years, since he moved from Bangalore, our lives had come a long way trudging through somehow. But that’s a long personal story we’d rather keep buried.

After a few days in Pune, Ratnagiri was next, which is an 8 hour, 350 kms journey from Pune. Monty suggested I take his car, or whatever remained of it.  The blue Maruti Esteem had withered almost 13 years of interstate travel. Now the AC hardly functioned, the driver side window was stuck, and the left headlamp wouldn’t glow. Yet, in the Avanturas spirit and raised eyebrows, I agreed to take a chance. The engine was still powerful. It easily touched 140 km/h and the brakes were equally responsive.

Road to Lanja

An early start from Pune to avoid the rush hour office traffic and I had hit the highway by 8 am, en route an Alphonso orchard 50 kms south of Ratnagiri. I had intended to take a break for lunch around 1, but the road and the superb drive through the ghats didn’t make me want to stop. It turned out to be a good call when the orchard owner, Mr. Ranade, warmly welcomed me with yummy home-made Konkani lunch and an unlimited Alphonso supply.

After a quick 30 minute snooze I took out my Nikon D5100 and stepped out to explore the vast orchard. Mr. Ranade had given me a free hand. I could eat as many mangoes as I could handle, from those that had just fallen from the trees, or plucked fresh if I were athletic enough to climb the trees. I was certainly not going to let go of this opportunity. The last time I climbed trees, explored farms, or plucked fruits must have been a decade ago.

Alphonsos

Let me not even begin to count how many mangoes I had. I was acting like a shameless child who had never seen mangoes before. What fun! Over the next two days, Mr Ranade hosted me graciously and took me around his village to see the ice factory and paddy fields, taught me to milk the cows and treated me to some delicious Konkani dishes. The eating area is on the open terrace overlooking the entire orchard, with a mild sea breeze through the day making it a perfect place for a relaxed meal.

Beach

What made this whole experience even more exciting was this beautiful secluded beach just half a km from the orchard. One has to walk down for about 5 minutes from the hill to access the beach and it seemed like an easy child friendly walk. Over the few hours that Mr Ranade and I spent at the beach, we didn’t see a single soul venture out. If only I had my gang out there!

On the return journey to Pune, while I was reflecting back on the two refreshing days I had spent at the Orchard, I had no idea that the most exciting part of this trip was yet to unfurl. Let’s scroll up a little. Remember the Esteem’s left headlamp wasn’t working? Since the latter part of the drive was going to be at night, at 5:30 pm I stopped at a garage near Lanja, some 50 kms from the orchard. It was already 6:30 pm by the time the mechanic finished the job. I had tea at the small local joint and hit the road again. Just after Lanja, the ghats get denser. It must be 8 pm and deep inside the ghats when suddenly both the headlamps went off. Damn, what the hell just happened? It took me 4-5 seconds to come to a screeching halt. I got out of the car in pitch darkness and found myself just a few inches from the edge of the road. Slightly delayed reflexes and who knows!

After 15 minutes of futile effort to get the lamps up again, I decided to seek help. But who would stop to help a stranger in the middle of darkness? I assumed at least the truck drivers might, but I was wrong. By 8:45, with no help, there were only two options I could think off. Either park the car on the side and sleep the night off OR follow a bus or a truck slowly till I reach the next town. The second was going to be very tricky and perhaps dangerous, but I wasn’t going to sleep the night off in the ghats for obvious reasons. So after almost 30 trucks and buses had zipped past me, finally a truck came to my rescue, heavily loaded and slow enough to follow. The idea was to drive within 2 meters range behind the truck and follow its front headlight to navigate the turns, but it turned out to be a bad call. The truck was so wide that I could barely see its front lights and only one of its back red lights was working, so it was even harder to judge its edges. Within 2-3 minutes I was back to a halt. With nothing else seeming like a wise option, I took out my phone to dial for help. And as you rightly guessed….no signal!

Epic! I was so totally stuck.

While the first attempt at following the truck was useless, I decided to give it another shot, but this time perhaps a car. Finding a slow car was going to be much tougher, but luckily I found one, slowly working the ghats’ turns. For the first time ever I was happy to see what I saw next, an L (Learner’s) mark at the back of the car. No wonder the car was so slow. While it was slightly easier following a car than a truck, it was still a risk. If you are ever driving on a dark road, try it maybe. Switch off the headlamps for a few seconds. Just for the kicks! You’ll know the feeling. For the next 30-35 minutes, I followed the car and reached Malkapur. It must be about 10 pm, but the town still had some life. Yet, what were the chances that I’ll find a garage open? Nil. They were all closed. Disappointed, I walked up to a tea shop to ask if there was any lodge I could spend the night at.  The tea shop guy was a young boy, Ashok, who was in a mood for a chat. And I needed someone to crib to. He started to brag about this world famous mechanic in their town who could repair anything. You bet! I told him I once had a dog that could wash clothes.

But he insisted and offered to take me to the mechanic’s house. Thinking that this could help me get back to Pune tonight, I accepted the offer. We waited for his father, who had gone to get some dinner, to get back so he didn’t have to shut the shop. While we were getting into the car, two more boys jumped out of nowhere and got into the rear seat. For the first time that night, I felt the “oh shit’ feeling. They were Ashok’s friends and joined in since for them it seemed like an adventure to take me to the mechanic’s house. But I wasn’t feeling that adventure, especially on a night that had already been too strange. I took my time starting the engine, giving myself time to think if I wanted to bail out of this. I decided to go ahead with it. If these boys meant harm, they were already in the car. I had to deal with it now. They guided me towards some dark by lanes and I was scheming on how I’ll jump out and grab the tool kit if the need arose. Eventually, they lead me to the mechanic’s house as they had promised. We had to wake up the mechanic but he very amicably helped me out. Turns out that previous mechanic at Lanja had used an inferior fuse which gave up.

The Saviours

Within 5 minutes the lights were on and I was back on road, but not before I had captured them all together with my Nikon. I dropped the boys back to the tea shop and offered them some money and a box of Alphonsos for having been so kind. They politely declined the offer saying it was their duty to help someone in need. With a promise to stop by for tea whenever I visited their world again, I put some Floyd on and accelerated towards Pune.

One of the most memorable trips in Avanturas’ journey.

PS: The Orchard is 190 KMs from Baga Beach, Goa. If you are travelling to Goa, it’ll be a good idea to add this experience to the itinerary. 

Best season: Jan-April.

For details, connect with Avanturas.

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The ‘Fish’ Girl

For Fish Girl

By Ankit Chandra

No I am not talking about mermaids. Although that is a great topic of another blog, but maybe some other time. For now I am talking about a special breed of girls who have been given prior education, most probably in convents to use a special word ‘fish’.

You see, they are kinda special. You can pretty much single out the ‘fish’ girls out of a group very easily. They usually have very pretty face, more often than not their legs are chiseled by Michelangelo, they are interested in the same sports which you are crazy about… In short they are every thing you want. The trouble is that some times their resume has a few ‘skills’ far too much for your palate.

So what is this fish thing? Any been-there-done-that guy will know what this stands for. In the male bastion, where there are pretty much no rules about using a particular ‘f’ word in a friend circle, I guess women folk kind of observe a self constraint. Add to this the general perception that girls are ‘usually’ the more ‘appropriate’ folks around and will definitely purge the group from its oral misadventures. So when a girl wants to use the ‘f’ word, she replaces it with a ‘fish’! And they think they have kinda swept it under the carpet. What they don’t kinda realize is that for most guys using an ‘f’ word among guys is way more exhilarating than actually trying to avoid saying it, coz now not only you are pretty, awesome and lovely, but you are bindaas, approachable and cool to be with! What a combination…

So here is the deal. Here is this awesome femme fatale, she has a very pretty face, she seems to have a good head, and boy, she loves the same activities like I do, and she uses the ‘fish’ word too! And that’s when all guys in the group begin their ‘moves’ to bag this prized possession. What adds fuel to the fire is that the actions are not exactly rebuked.

And there I am in the crowd, but kinda better off than other guys, and seem to have made the moves better than them. She and I have been talking for a while now, and we exactly share our likes and sense of humor. In fact, it is going sooo well that her ‘fish’ utterances are coming out now more so often and I am reveling in the fact that she is so much one among us, that I could really think about the next step with her. And maybe a little down the road, decide upon a longer road with her too!

She is wearing a beautiful dress. (Oh! what the hell I think anything will look good on her) Although I never ever notice this stuff on girls, but even her jewelry stands out on her. Her cute little ear rings, her thin and elegant necklace just make their presence felt and simply increase the beauty I have in sight. Down in her arms, her red bangles covering just a little area, enough for them to sparkle just like her eyes, make the road I was thinking about even more impelling.

And there is a ring in her fourth right finger on the right hand.

It is then that the final ‘skill’ on her resume shows up. She is taken. As have all other such fish girls been in the past. As they say, that no matter how quickly you approach a ‘fish’ girl, there is always a faster son of a gun, smirking somewhere at you.

How to Make Your Boss Love You? – Part 2

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So, how did you fare with the Bully, the Manipulator and the Liar? Did you try some of the tips suggested in the first part of the series? This part contains a few more types of bosses and tips on how to handle them with care.

The Goody-goody

shutterstock-a-good-bossSupportive, encouraging, competent, soft-spoken – did you have the good luck to come across a boss like this? Such miraculous personalities are rare and when you chance upon them, you should make sure that you are in their good books. Most often than not, the goody-goody will always think well of others, since they like to have a positive outlook. However, a problem with them might be their tendency to give second chances to the slackers. If you are a slacker, you will have a gala time. However, if you are hardworking, you might feel frustrated by the number of chances your boss gives to the non-performers.

How to deal – ‘Slog’ is the word you have to take very seriously with the Goody-goody. Work very hard and learn as much as possible. If you do manage to befriend her, you can quietly advise her about not giving too many chances to slackers. However, if your relationship is that of a boss and reportee, it’s best to work hard, be good to her and at the end of your tenure, request her for a strong reference.

bossThe Unpredictable

Does your boss sing praises of you one day and then not give you an appraisal the next day? Does he have frequent mood swings? Then you can easily categorize such a person as unpredictable.

How to deal – The best way to tackle such moody souls is to steer clear of their ways on their bad days and speak to them only when they approach you. Also, you can try limiting your communication with them to urgent office matters. Keep in mind that they treat everyone in the same way because that is how they are and try not getting negatively impacted by their attitude.

The Incompetent

Incompetetnt-BossIf your boss taunts you about your qualifications and tells you blatantly that you are not performing to your optimum, you can assume that he is under-confident about his own skills. A self-assured boss will never try to show you down. Contrarily, he will tell you that he has higher hopes from you.

How to deal – People with complexes are slightly difficult to deal with…all the more so when such a person is your boss. There are two ways of tackling such a boss – either develop a thick skin or leave the job.

Garhwal Diaries 13 – Moments Captured on a Day Trip Through Rishikesh

Some more moments at Rishikesh depicted through these random clicks:

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IMG_0400This is the Chotiwala restaurant, a famous food joint that is over 50 years old. Sumptuous vegetarian delicacies are offered here.

IMG_0415The Chotiwala himself!

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The Stupid Girl!

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By Ganesh Subramanian

She thinks she is beautiful

But in reality she is pitiful

She thinks she is everyman’s dream

But seeing her face in midnight makes a child scream

She thinks she is intelligent

But her brain can’t be activated even by a chemical reagent

She thinks she is worldly-wise

But her superficial knowledge is like melting ice

She thinks she is a super star

But she is nothing more than a black stone of tar

She thinks her boyfriend is a Rambo

But who will tell her that she herself is a Dumbo

She thinks she is the cynosure of all eyes

But she is nothing more than a walking dead body hunted by flies

She thinks she wears the best dress in the town

But seeing her colour choice makes even the apathetic frown

She thinks she is a heavenly wonder

But her friends know that she is only a God’s blunder

When trying to think, her lips curl

But thoughts don’t come to her, after all she is a stupid girl !

Garhwal Diaries 9 – Descent From Kedarnath

It started drizzling by the time I started from Kedarnath. As the sun had already set I evaded the idea of clicking. By the time I reached Sitapur, it was already dark. Tired and hungry, the dal makhni with roti and salad made for a sumptuous dinner. Next morning I started from Sitapur for Rishikesh.

Postcards from Sitapur Skyline. Could not resist myself from clicking.

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Exploring Goa: The Rail Trek to Dudhsagar – VI

This is the sixth part of the Dudhsagar series by Kartik Kannan!

28We reached a quaint railway place, where there was only one building for a guard. We asked him, if we could board the goods train, since we were stuck in the forest. We actually had paid for our un reserved train tickets from Londa to Kulem, so it was not that we were hitching a free ride. It usually is not allowed, but if you attempt this in the evening, some of the guards help you out by agreeing to take you on the goods train.

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We had to walk for half a kilometer to get on to the last bogie of the goods train that was to come. That was where we would share space with the guard. We started to hurry, once we saw the train coming on the adjacent track.

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We spoke to the guard, and explained to him that we were stuck in the forest, and after what seemed like a verbal school apology letter, he let us on the last coach, and I took a corner and started resting a bit. Euphoric feeling it was watching the stars in a pitch dark forest, as you chugged along on the mountain railway.

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The little moon light that was there, illuminated the tracks, and the trail that we kept seeing reminded us of the beautiful Kishore da number” Aaane Wala Pal, Jaane Waala Hain”. We soaked in the current moment, realizing that in about 45 minutes, we’d be part of civilization! Beautiful little day trip it was! I am coming back here for the monsoons!