5 Ways To Say "Wah Taj!"

7 min read | About India, Travel

People like to flaunt. And no different am I! I, fortunately, possess many things worth boasting about. Like my wife’s PhD, her research work. Like my blog. The latest addition to this list is this cheeky question: “Have you visited the Taj?” Shockingly, a lot Indians who otherwise have an easy access to this spectacular Wonder of the World are oblivious to its exquisiteness. If you have also been humiliated by this pinching question, here is your calling! It is never too late to say “वाह, ताज!

Assuming you have taken the first clue to visit the Taj, you may start your planning with this article. Like any other vacation, this too requires planning. (Vacations, when planned, often yield more fun. Learnt by experience. Unplanned vacations can be more fun for that matter. Let’s just ignore this whole point.) When it comes to travelling in India, some amount of research and a significant amount of advanced planning can make your life exponentially easier. Point being, before you scoot off, do some homework! Based on my wife’s and my first-hand experiences, here is Chapter 1: “Where Do You Start From?”

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Propeller Confessions

4 min read | About Technology, Airport, Travel

Ever tried locating your house from an aeroplane approaching your ‘home’ airport? I’ve tried that. I do that. EVERY TIME. While taking off. Landing. Hovering. And fail to find anything. EVERY TIME. I can't even locate/recognize a specific area, let alone a building or a 'house'.

Talking in Facebook terms, 'this is on my mind right now' while on my way to Bangalore in a Propeller (as the airline people usually address those smaller 'Commercial Carriers' from the French Company ATR - Avions de Transport Régional. For any other person, it would be that fan-like part of an aircraft that helps the plane to move forward – cutting the air.) Apparently, I didn't know much about a Propeller all this while – that being 'the only other thing on my mind'.

With my recently improved Time Management, I was at the airport at 4:20 AM for a 6:15 AM flight (that's considered well-in-advance in Pune). All my 'advanced planning' and 'preparation' went in vain when one of my closest friends working at the airport arranged direct entry, pre-checkin, quick security check, lounge access – all of this in less than 15 mins. I had an hour and a half to observe and enjoy the recently 'upgraded' Pune Lohegaon Airport. That's not the subject here though, but certainly a good one for a separate article. Pipelined.

So, the Lounge coffees, sandwich and call for boarding! We actually walked down to the aircraft - an aircraft that looked more like an aerospace-project for a prodigy science student. There were reasons -

  • We decided to take a walk (instead of a shuttle). I didn't know that was allowed for pax.
  • 'The Sun' (didn't that sound like Jet Lee's 'The One'?) was yet to rise.
  • I realized I hadn't taken a walk at that time of the day (outside my house, of course) in a long time.
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Unprecedented Vacation of 2010

2 min read | About Lifestyle, Travel

It must have been due for a while. Especially for the things I’ve done (rather, things that happened to me) in last two weeks,

  • Completely unplanned holidays
  • Unexplored exotic beach(es)
  • Coloured my hair red
  • Football – FIFA World Cup Live in Goa!
  • Busted bladder with Breezers
  • Explored amazing Music (Instrument) Stores, on foot
  • ...followed by some Asian-style Foot Massage
  • Day-long train journey (in a real Indian way) - Konkan route!
  • And then the fastest bus ride (like the ‘Fastest Indian’. MSRTC rocks)!
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To The Himalayas - The Great Indian Quest For Peace (Part I of Many)

4 min read | About India, Adventure, Travel

To Himalayas, via McDonald’s at Lonavala: Just like all my previous whacky trips, this too had to start on an odd note. For the flight at 6 AM from Bombay, I was still at work in Pune at 1 AM. With the grace of God (and pressure/torture from Nirav and Kaushal), we hit the highway by 1:40 AM, reaching Khapoli Highway Foodmall by 2:50 AM. Deadly ‘Tum Tum’ tea with some fries, pizza-puff and a few egg-do’s, we suddenly realized we only had an hour and a half and crouching Bombay-traffic before reaching the airport. Kaushal and Nirav were already sleeping on the rear seats; I didn’t have anyone I could confess to – that my situation was no better. We still made it to the airport by 4:30 AM. I’m good! So far, no pictures – we actually didn’t have any time for that. 

Torture: As direct customer-facing representatives, what could possibly be the toughest ‘handling’ situation for the onboard staff? An irate customer crying for a seat-change (for a completely unreasonable reason); or a group of terrorists politely disclosing their ‘goodwill’ to hijack the plane? The onboard crew is trained to handle such situations. But how about a kid bursting into a ‘loud’ cry every time the airplane is in motion? Can you beat that – that kid had a problem with the airplane moving? (“It” probably belonged to the airport and NOT the airplane.)

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Journey To Bhopal

2 min read | About City, Bhopal, Pune, Travel

Titles can really be deceiving. The ideal article-title here could have been “Traveling by Raj National Express”. I basically wanted to write about my recent journey from Pune to Bhopal by bus. A great new experience altogether! Like okay, I used to have 24 hrs bus-journeys from Bangalore to Mumbai and Pune to Indore and so. But gone are the days. Lately my super-delicate body has left me with no option than train/air route or on occasions, NO route! More than 4-5 hrs, by road, that too in a bus (let it be Volvo whatever), it’s just not my cup of tea any more.

However, beliefs are made to be broken I must say (or was it theories?). I was left with no option, had to take a bus to Bhopal and guess what? I know at least three airlines which offer cheaper air-fares than this bus fare. Against less than two hours journey to Bhopal (for Rs 950Air Decaan, Rs 550 Go Air, Re 1 Air Deccan FF-Bonanza Bid), I opted Raj National Express (formerly Raj Travels) with a 15 hours alternative for Rs 990.18 (inclusive of all taxes). However, it wasn’t NOT worth it.

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