Showing posts with label drive. Show all posts
Showing posts with label drive. Show all posts


Day - 2 Dehradun & Haridwar

We work up fresh after a good sleep. But soon we realized we are in a place which we are very not fond off. May be the Mussoorie did not blink with us. After taking shower and getting ready for the day we went up to the restaurant for breakfast. But looked like we were an early riser as there were no one else and the place was not cleaned up for the day. So we out for a stroll.

The breakfast was quick and we cleared our dues and packed our bags. Now getting the car out was another struggle but with daylight, it was little it was little easy but still lots of maneuvering.

We decided to give Mussorie a complete pass and started for Dehradun. The downhill journey was quite quick. We thought to cover Indian Forest Research Institute first. Somehow we could not follow Google Map’s initial direction so had to go through the city. We saw Ram Krishna Ashram along the main road itself.

Forest Research Institute is almost 100+ years old Institute set up by the British to study and preserve diverse forests of India. It is a must visit for anyone. From Wikipedia

FRI Dehradun is one of the oldest institutions of its kind and acclaimed the world over. The institute’s history is virtually synonymous with the evolution and development of scientific forestry, not only in India but over the entire sub-continent. Built on a lush green estate spread over 450 hectares, with the outer Himalaya forming its back drop, the institute’s main building is an impressive edifice, marrying Greco-Roman and Colonial styles of architecture, with a plinth area of 2.5 hectares. The building was listed for a time, in the Guinness Book of Records, as the largest purely brick structure in the world.

We spent a good amount of time to explore the museum and its different section. It is really vast if you are not a museum person you might get bored too quickly with so many exhibits and history.

After exploring FRI to our heart's content we left for Robber’s cave or Guchhupani. The road from FRI to Robber’s cave goes via military area. As we took a wrong turn out of FRI we crossed the main gate of Rashtriya Indian Military College another imperial legacy. It was on our list but we could not stop due to high security to take any decent picture of the building from outside.

Once parked at Robber’s cave we changed our shoes for Crocs ;). This is a river cave which has a waterfall (a small one) at the end; almost half a kilometer long with a narrow passage. The water was low so it was a pleasant walk in summer but at times crowded.

After covering these two attractions we decided to leave Dehradun for Haridwar post lunch.
We had lunch at a kebab place on the Haridwar road.

Rest of the drive to Haridwar was OK. Most roadways was an undivided road which means we have to be extra careful. We crossed the lone airport of Uttarakhand which is halfway between Haridwar and Dehradun. As we approached Haridwar the traffic increased and one or two places it was snail pace. The last few KM was to our hotel was tricky as we cross the Ganges and drive through narrow lanes.

At one point we made a left turn before and we could see Sadhus wearing saffron on Royal Enfield bullets coming. We immediately stopped on the side and could see a big procession coming towards to us and an elephant leading the gathering. Immediately with a fraction of seconds had turned the car and headed back from we came. It was one of those escapes you remember after month while trying to pen down the diary. Soon we were next to the bus stand and railway station. And our stay was next door. The hotel was again from GMVN with a huge parking.

This time the hotel was much more cleaner compared to last night.  Our room was big and OK. We freshened up and headed towards famous Ganga Aarti on a Rickshaw. The journey was like crawling at the end with any rooms with so many people and narrow lane.

Even though it was just 5 in the evening we were already late for Ganga Aarti. All the available place to view the same were taken and we had to squeeze ourselves. We had to stand separately as I was with camera and Pamela with Aarush. Lucky for Aarush he found some place to stand to peep through the crowd.  The crowd and the atmosphere are altogether a different experience and I do not possess the writing skill or the photography skill to narrate the same. It is a must watch if you are traveling to this part of India. The Aarti (evening prayer) is about 40 mins or so long with many small activities in between.

Post Aarti we stopped for dinner into a restaurant in the very corner. The food was OK the service was crazy as it was very crowded. We decided to walk back to our hotel. It was around 2 KM of walking and we opted to walk using bylanes full of shops rather than the main road which is always full of honking from bikes.


Day 1 - Drive to Mussoorie

It was a crazy week, as usual, it always happens that the week is very bad for work, commute and others just before we go on vacation and come back. So somehow we finished our packing on Thursday night and set our alarms for early Friday.

T3 Delhi Airport
We woke up on time and got ready and then call for Uber, the app shows the taxi is just next to our apartment where normally few Uber/Ola always are found. on tracking it was found no movement, I call the number and no one picks. After trying few times I gave up and cancel my trip. Again book another Uber and this time the guys picks up the phone and promised to be there in 5 minutes. The cab was an old one the headlight was barely working asked him to switch on the headlight and his response it is already on. Well, finger crossed we reached airport and journey to Delhi was in peace.  
All excited for vacation to start
We landed on time and called our car rental company they told us to come to a designated spot but the wait was quite long. The representative does the handover outside Airport area near Aero City Metro (Mahipalpur junction). Signed few documents took pictures of the car. There were lots of dents around ( nothing surprising a rented car in Delhi). The car had around 53K KM on ODO. What was bad is that the car came with very low fuel where the pre-sale promise was it will come with full tank fuel. Now it was already 11 and the traffic was horrible and we started our journey in crawling speed. The names were familiar but I could not recollect anything about Delhi, like Bhikaji Kama, AIMS, SouthEx... .
RTO TAX collection points
We crossed Jamuna and stopped for UP road tax. Now the real UP wala feeling came alive. The tool was only 120/- but the guy wanted 170/- When asked 50/- is his fees for which there was no receipt. After raising my voice little and asking what is wrong it was agreed at 150/-. We crossed Noida and then entered Ghaziabad.  Traffic was getting little better but the day was getting hotter and hotter. Now I was desperate to find a petrol station. Thanks, Google Maps we had to take few U-turns very confidently as for no reason it asks you to take a road when your common road sense also tells you it is very wrong. We saw a massive amount of newly constructed apartments and people are waving their hands to the car so take a look. Indian realty market did not look that promising.  We fill our car and then stopped for a quick bite. The food was OK but the moment we come back the car felt like a furnace.

The road google map took us bypassed Ghaziabad, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Roorkee, Dehradun for Mussoorie.  

We stopped before Roorkee to pay road tax for Uttarakhand but now this time has to give 300/- to that guy for which there was no receipt. It was a tent where these private operators are working. Only good thing I understood what needs to be done for next time as he did the process in front of me on the computer.

Road to Mussoorie
As soon as we entered Roorkee the roads just disappeared for some good distance. It was back to crawling speed and minute maneuvering. And it seems there is no real bypass as the whole town was on the road.  At last, the road got better as we escaped out of Roorkee. We passed Dehradun around 5/5:30 PM. And from there uphill of 20KM started to reach Mussoorie. We were told the road will be tricky but found it OK. We reached Mussoorie when the sun just went down completely behind the mountains.

As usual like any other British hill station this also has Mall road, and we anticipated that it will be closed to vehicular traffic in the evening. And it was so we had to find a public parking and park our car there. It was a transition from the driving on plains as roads here get really narrow.

Our Dinner at Kalsana
We checked in our hotel GMVN and oh! No, it was a not a room we were expecting. The staffs were courteous but very slow in response.   I really feel bad as most of our hotels are GMVN/KMVN for next 10 days. We walked to another end of the Mall road and had a good dinner. The place was very crowded, but we all have tested better Chinese food. Maybe our choice was not great as the dishes we ordered were extremely spicy or oily.

Now with a little sore mood, we headed back to the hotel and left Aarush for sleeping as we walked back to get our car back to the hotel.

Oh boy! what a parking. You go steeply down from the Coffee day and then drive along two hotels and their parking kissing those cars side mirrors. And then there 90° turn to be made. I really do not know how I managed the same. The hotel guy was there to help me but Pamela was screaming I was maneuvering left, right, front back and what not. Anyway once crossed that hurdle the parking area was just behind our room.

Disappointed so far we just crashed on our bed even without changing our dress. A long day from morning 4 a.m came to an end finally.


Calamity of Mid life & middle class

It is impossible not to eavesdrop when people are having a loud conversation on phone in Mumbai's life line - local train.

Unlike other days today morning, was special one which is worth describing.

A guy gets in; stands next to me and elbows me to make his room and starts chatting over mobile (so how it goes....).

“Sorry yaar (friend) had to switch off the mobile as train was coming in; you know how much rush is there nowadays.”

As if there was less rush in last 20 years in Mumbai local. Well, from his conversation I figured out on other side will be another mid-life middle class male on the call. After few lines of small chit-chat the big one comes (which inspired me to write this blog).

“Oh he (some friend)! he is still in hospital on dialysis and doctor says it will take another two weeks to recover.”

Oh God! that is alarming that friend can be just like me another middle aged middle class. And now you read and hear everyday about people as young in twenties are getting heart attack. Well, no doubt life is stressful but we Indians make it even harder with our own karma, as we poke our nose in every matter, as well in others matter; worrying about them, giving constant stream of unsolicited advice is part of our nature.

“Not sure what went wrong, Doctor says due to his high blood pressure his kidney is not functioning properly. He is having heavy loss of protein in the urine”

Indeed too sad conversation, but then he admits "what more to say, even we do n't know 2% of our body and how it works; we only go to hospital when sick”.

Not sure how to say how true it is, in India there is no conception of prevention of diseases, people get really sick spends money (according to their capacity) as most don’t even have medical insurance and then one final day all is over. And worst of all, relatives, friends and bystanders never try to take precaution on the same for themselves as all think that it will not happen to them it only happens to others.

Now the sunny side of the conversation.

“I forgot to tell you, I got a Toyota Corolla recently; a good bargain for a perfect second hand, you must come one weekend we will go for a long drive to Pune.”

It is mandatory to announce, you got a good deal to show your acumen as buyer. I love to hear this stuff as I am sure both guys will never make it in their life, as their wives will never allow that bachelor party to happen. Unlike west or even far-east where it is common to have guys having evening-out after work; it virtually doesn't exist in India yet. As Indian guys has too many balls to juggle with. If you think I am making it sound too boring, the reason is very simple as myself I haven't yet met a person like that.

Well then the conversation continued with natural stuff like kid’s education, stock market, weather and boss at work. By that time his stop was coming so he cuts the call quite abruptly. For 90% Indians, phone attic does not require a formal hello or bye, conversation starts and ends – cradles down – thats simple.

May be just like writing no concluding paragraph. Well, this is a good link on our kidney; I will encourage to read the same, may be it increase that 2% knowledge on human body; high time to take care of ourselves with less medication and having more of stressfree life.


Cabbies of Mumbai

Mumbai Taxi

Black and yellow metered taxi’s made famous by Bollywood movies play a major role of public transport in Mumbai other then auto rickshaws, trains and buses. In New York they are yellow, in London they are Black and in Mumbai they’re both yellow and black. They are part of Mumbai heritage. Normally, they move in snail space at peak hours which may depend on the area traversed and the state of the roads. Truly, at times cannot help to mention their weird way of driving.

Few facts:

  • These metered taxis ply throughout Mumbai otherwise only mode of hired transport in proper Mumbai as auto-rickshaws are not allowed. Bandra on western and Sion on central line marks the demarcation point. This is a big bliss as there is not much noise pollution, no mad driving and not much squeezing on road for space.
  • They are quaint vehicles which are quite reasonable in price to hire, even if short on leg room, seat comfort, ceiling height, and window space.
  • They also run in share mode, maximum of four person can share the ride but routes are fixed for this kind. Mostly Mumbai-ans uses them to reach office from station or vice versa.
  • All most 99% black and yellow cabs are Premier Padmini by FIAT
  • FIAT does not produce these car any more so all cars on the road are 20/30 years old.
  • They run on CNG (that is the only reason taxi fair did not got a hike in last few years).
  • Fixing the car is easy, not much electronic like new car. Each driver knows his car’s technical fine points like his palm.
  • Taxi drivers in Mumbai are still OK; not as honest like old times but better off from their counterparts in any other major cities in India.
New TAXI - Mumbai

Though there are new air conditioned taxi on the road which are yet to become mainstream. These will be air conditioned and fitted with GPS, cordless phones, electronic meters with printers. These new taxis will charge a little extra than the traditional black and yellow taxis because of the luxury frills.

Even recently one Cab Company has decided to employ ladies driver catering mainly to ladies passenger and this service will be started by this November.




A four letter word of our modern consumerism; like all other 4 letters words this is very commonly used.

The first time I was introduced to this was back in USA on Labor Day weekend (1st week of September-’98). In US, every long weekend brings a SALE. Size of weekend supplement of news-paper increases with advertisement from cars to toys. Not only that even you get constant reminder from Macy’s to Wal-mart on your radio while you drive your car.

In France or continental Europe, it is different; the retail store only has two sales in a year normally for cloths. In July, it is to clear spring and summer collections and get ready for autumn and winter while in February to make room for summer. But never happen to notice for car or computer; may be I was not looking for car.

Now, when I reached Singapore, two weeks before big summer sale was going on. One such place is Orchard Road which is known for its retail and entertainment centre. This Orchard Road is flanked by malls (houses brand boutiques), restaurants, cafe, nightclubs and hotels This picture was taken inside of Takashimaya -the famous Japanese super store.

Footpath mark

Reading the article in Wikipedia it became clear why there are so many sign on the side-walk with fruits it seems it used to be fruit orchards in 1800s. Well, people say the same about bay area where there was Orchard once -around 1960ies before it became Silicon Valley.


Sweet teeth

From this Monday I moved to a corner desk as I put a new pair of shoes at work. The desk is nice but I lost my view from the window. Well, this post is not about my office and work.

Glasses - all set for party

Our boss is sailing Far-East and we had a dinner at Marine Plaza Hotel honoring him. The location of the hotel is great and as we were a big group we got a hall to ourself facing Black Bay and Marine-Drive of Mumbai. This windswept promenade is the crown of Mumai’s attraction. If you are in Mumbai try this location for an evening dinner - lots of high end hotel to choose from.

The food was good but not an excellent one; it was a buffet - with many verities of salads, soups and Indian snacks. I hardly had any place for main course after all those but I saved enough for dessert. There were around 10 types of them; and you can see I have taken almost all of them in my plate. I do not recollect any of those fancy names. Chef’s delight was the ultimate one. I was bit skeptical when taking the big white dessert, it had a layer of chocolate in the middle to make it yummier.


Keeping my palm starched and flat on the key-board I confess I have sweet teeth. No big secret, I love [desire will be a better one to express my feeling for them] desserts particularly chocolates. I love dark chocolate but I just can not have enough of them at one go. Unfortunately, I am not getting my daily dose of chocolate as I used to have after dinner in Paris. In Paris, you even get 100% chocolate which comes with warning on the wrapper that you might find taste too strong. Chocolates of main-land Europe particularly from France, Switzerland, and Belgium are the best. Only chocolate I know and like from Italy is Ferro Rocher – well enough of chocolates for this post …but never enough for my tongue.


“Amby” in city of joy

Calcutta (Kolkata) – mega city of Eastern India. In this vibrant city with a distinct socio-political culture, cabs are grand old Ambassadors from Hindustan Motors and most of cars are manufactured from the nearby plant of Uttarpara. This picture was taken next to major long distance Sealdah Railway Station which shows that city of joy still struggles with traffic congestion. Unlike of other major cities where Tata indica or fiat or Maruti are common hired forms of mechanised transport this city has almost all taxis as amby painted in yellow.

Yellow Cab of Calcutta

Before Maruti it was the only car on Indian road. This reminds me of my childhood times when me and my brother used to identify a Mark-II, Mark-III or Mark-IV by its sound (all these models looked very similar). It was a stupid game in era of Nintendo –Wii. The game was a simple one - we used to hide behind a wall as we saw an Ambassador approaching, try to identify the same by sound and confirm as soon as it passed by from behind.

While writing this post I just found the web page of this car and found 10 reasons to buy this car ……

  1. First Indian car – [born in 1950 (inception in 1948. Originally based on Morris Oxford ,United Kingdom ]
  2. Power Steering – [Trying to match up the new market with Maruti, TATA, Honda and Toyota.]
  3. Multi Fuel Injection – [Well, all new car has that - what a big deal?]
  4. Company fitted CNG – [Well, you can convert almost every petrol car in India to keep your running cost as low as 1 Rupees for 1 KM.]
  5. Tough
  6. Tough - [tested on Indian roads for long time but why they have to list the toughness twice?]
  7. Roominess - [Yes, more then 10 people can travel in a single car at a given time!!]
  8. 5 Speed Gear box - [Another lame reason, all car now a days has the same. ]
  9. Easy repairable – [They claim across the country all mechanic knows the car inside out.]
  10. Serves the country – [Used by Indian Army and de-facto car of Indian bureaucrats and politicians. ]

If I have enough money one day I will like to have a chauffeur driven amby for myself just to hang out in nostalgia or in the roomy car or to be different from every one else ;) .My eleventh reason or may be only reason for having this car.


Mahabaleshwar Day-II

On day 2 we woke up late from bed took a stroll in the backyard then decided to walk towards main market to book our return trip and to have breakfast. On the way we had strawberry from street corner as its very common people selling it through out same product. We booked our return bus trip and were asked for shared taxi at 175 Rs for Mahabaleshwar darshan which we accepted. Walked on main bazaar street of Mahabaleshwar which is full of quaint shops that are certain to catch your fancy.

Relaxing Its bit hot at noon in this time of year. We had Kate’s point, Echo point, Needle hole, Venna lake, Lodwick point, Elephant head and sunset point.

Sunset point called Bombay Point being close to our MTDC resort, is the expansive view of the sunset considered to be one of the most beautiful, popular and oldest sights in Mahabaleshwar. But too crowded with tourists and people come here to ride on horse and get themselves photographed with horse stunts and backdrop of sunset. It got its name since it was on the old road to Bombay.

Next day started return trip in the morning; we got to enjoy the whole journey in those semi-comfy chairs of bus. Otherwise we had to face hair raising stunts from some of the crazy drivers in those winding and hair-pin bending roads.

Sunset Point


A day break - Harihareshwar

After moving from Paris, we had been planning to take a trip somewhere out of Mumbai. We even bought a Travel book on India to explore more our own motherland. But with time and circumstances our plan didn’t got executed. At last, after longtime we took a day break on last weekend when Santanu came to know at last moment about his holiday on Maha Shivratri. Since it was last moment plan we could only make for one night stay.

Harihareshwar is a small town with palm-lined beach known for pilgrimage centre-Kalbhairav (Shiva) temple and its ideal beach resort of MTDC. This beach is black due to the rock particles from rocky shores being mixed into the sand. The beauty of the place is its serenity (far off from city’s buzz) and lack of commercialization unlike other tourist spots Goa or Kovalam. Beach actually splits in two parts north and south.

The southern beach is where resort is located facing the sea which offers not only rooms but also tents and cottages in a bamboo grove with AC. But it needs booking well in advance. We repented for not making it before hand so we had to stay in “Geetanjali rest house” as paying guest in just 400 Rs a night. We had our lunch and dinner at MTDC canteen as the view of the sea through the green is refreshing sight for mind and soul. There are chairs placed under thatched roof where one can have meal under a starlit sky with a sweeping view of the bay and some lit-up boats bobbing out on the sea. This side of beach is mostly deserted compared to that of northern beach. Though our host asked us to have food with them called as “gharguthis” with costal flavor ( Konkani meals) – simple but hygienic at same time ; we denied politely as they were having fast for Shivratri so we didn’t wanted to stress them.

The northern side is where temple is. It’s that side where one can see stunning sunset we lounge there to watch red ball taking a plunge in the blue roaring Arabian ocean. This roaring sound of restless waves dashing against the rocky shore is something to watch for hours. Its something cannot be explained in words.

Next day we started early for Shrivardhan 15kms away which is famous for its beach, temple and historic monuments. Its home town and birth place of Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath (founder of peshwas) but beach is not that attractive or well maintained compared to that of Harihareshwar.

A lovely drive on NH-17 except bumpy roads starting from Mangaon to Mhasla ahead past till junction where it splits into Srivardhan and Harihareshwar. Though it was a short stay but will last in memory for long time. Moreover this was first time after coming to India Santanu drove all the way 170 kms from Kharghar for 4 1/2 hrs at stretch. While coming back we took halt en route near Mangaon to get some fresh veggies and brunch (Resort Open Umbrella).

At end Santanu regretted for not learning stick-shift before then we could have explored France more.


Another weekend

Well another day! Some techie note ; upgraded the web site to the latest beta release of Wordpress. And I found some strange behaviour. This is what I put forward to the mailing list. But with few minute of research found the root cause.


Linen anniversary

It is four years that we got married :D and according to the naming convention it is Linen Anniversary we have still have a long way to go before it will be any precious or strong material.
This day is special in another way as it is birthday of Prateek (maternal cousin of mine). Now we stay above floor from Prateek. After our wedding this is the first time that we three are together. But this week Prateek is the man of his house as my Uncle and Aunt are out of town. Now planning for going out for dinner became a complicated task as we do not own a car yet. And I can not drive my Uncle’s car; without car moving around Navi Mumbai is not convenient and particularly in late evening or early night. We three settled for a scale down version agreed to meet up at Vashi which is most crowed Hip-hop Township in Navi Mumbai.
The day started in the usual way. After work at evening I took the train back and got down at Vashi. Now I was bit early for the meeting with Pamela and Prateek. They told me as soon they start in car they will call me and asked me to hang out in the only big mall of Navi Mumbai called "CENTER ONE".

I was lucky to get a bench to sit in the mall and watch people to kill time. Those 30 minutes was very long and boring in simple words. And I never fancied waiting. But then watching people is all I could do ?. Well this mall is a circular one with escalators in the middle and my bench is at 2nd floor looking at the escalators.
Soon I watched something usual to myself; there is one dedicated person next to the escalator to assist people. Yes there are people who need assistance in getting to a moving staircase and thanks to mall management and abandon man power of India for providing the same. It was funny looking at those nervous faces as they put their steps on escalator.
That reminded me of my mother who insisted in taken steps in place of escalators in Paris last year. That time I fount it was very silly and what is the big deal that she was mentioning about escalators. Now looking at so many people needing assistance I found myself on the wrong side for making fun of mom.
Well after waiting around half an hour the plan got changed as the driver who was supposed to drive Pamela and Prateek did not showed up; I have to catch train back to Kharghar. We had to settle for a vegetarian restaurant within walking distance from our home well a VERY BIG disappointed evening.

P.S. Now as I try to complete this post after almost a month – the evening is yet to come for going out for a good restaurant.


Few books

Being in vacation and doing nothing much whole day I am left with lots of free time to read. It is great way to pass quality time with rain and heat where nothing interests me outdoor. I already finished few books in last 3 weeks.

Starting with, Dan Brown’s trash ‘Angel & Demon’ and ‘Digital Fortress’. Well these are same old horrible as writing and story line is similar to “Da Vinci Code”. Well if you have read and liked it then I am sorry to hurt your feelings ?. Reading those 3 books it seems Mr. Brown wanted to cash quickly the old “James Bond” style. In each of his book there is a very glamorous sexy female character in his book. The less I write about this female character I do justice to them.

A hollow story set in Europe which is a very far away country for his native readers. Yes! To most Americans, Europe is so different - people speak different languages as you cross few hundred miles and every things change from food to culture and above all human features also changes. It is not same as that of America where you cross 3 different time zones and still have the same treatments. This way, when he puts his characters and plots in twisted alleys of old cities of Europe every one takes them for real.

He really does not know nor do research for his subject matter and end up using “VLSI” and “PGP” in same breath in Digital Fortress. Can someone please explain him what is super computer or parallel computing is ;) or rather how computer works has he been to any Data-centers I have so many basic questions for him. I am sure the similar can be said about others related topic like when he drives car through Tuileries Garden from Louvre in a smart car in Da Vinci Code which is set in Paris,

Well enough of Dan Brown I am sure his book will loose their places in book stores as readers figure out about them. It is possible in today’s literary world to make some thing best seller in the same way Hollywood makes “Charlie’s Angels” a hit with 17 screen writers and it is called – “Marketing”.

Then I read two wonderful books one is ‘The Glass Palace’ by Amitav Ghosh about Indian subcontinent in early last century. This is a superb book and all the characters and the settings are excellent. The time spans three generations in the vast continent from Ratnagiri in western coast of India to Malay. I found it very touchy; may be as my ancestors were from a part of land which missed by mere 6 kilometers to be included by in India by map-drawers.

Now, since I know few occidental people who do not understand why an Indian Maharaja ordered ‘Cartier’ for a diamond necklace. The person asking the question was surely thinking these Indian feudal lords were just sucking breads and butters of poor. For them this book might be an eye opener as it portray Indian sub-continent as a land of opportunities and wealth. Though I am not a supporter of any Maharaja but I strongly believe the westerners did more worst things to whole world for their own profits. And even today they think and believe single mindedly Western World is best but they miss the fine point that there was nothing before industrial revolutions in Europe.

The next book is “Wings of Fire” by “Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam”. This book should not need any introductions but for those it sounds unknown- it is an Autobiography of India’s current President, father of Indian rockets and missiles. I loved this book and felt dry throats and wet eye as he along with others hundreds of Indian worked hard to give us the technologies and result which makes common Indians to be proud of their success. And best of all it is indigenous :D

There are so many parts of this book which I wish gets carried each day by common Indian like me and others to make INDIA proud. If religious and social harmony as we find in this book would have existed in today’s India we might have prospered more. As an engineer I do understand the book is written by another person of same trade as it lacks wit and sharpness of successful memoir. There is mention of lots of abbreviations like PERT charts but for common people it does not make any sense. Similarly, there are some abbreviations which does not even bring any bell to me.

If this memoir is rewritten by a professional with all those beautiful poems and wonderful events from APJA.Kalam’s own diary it can be Geeta for modern India.

Well other than these four books I read 2 more books by Chetan Bhagat; one about campus life in India’s most prestigious Engineering Institute IIT and other one on the life of young Indians as they work in nights for the booming BPO or most commonly known as Call-Centers. Well both the books are OK. I can not say them they are bad as they kept me glued till last but failed to mark their place in my mind in long run when I was finished with them. It is written in a modern way like Mira Nair unfolds the story of Monsoon Wedding with hope that people other than Indian origin will also find it interesting.


Sikkim - Gangtok

My current home in India is Siliguri, north of West Bengal may not be the most alluring for tourist destinations. But it is the most important city in the entire Eastern Himalayas due to its geographical location. As city is unabashedly an industrial centre and gateway to seven sisters of North-East along with Sikkim & eastern part of Nepal. My parents moved here ten years back and by that time I had just started my career; never had ample holidays to explore any thing around. Always I used to be too tired to get out of home and end up with novels and old music. But this was for the first time I did take days out to visit Gangtok.

Though journey was not very memorable or different than that of those I had while growing up in North-East region except that Pamela was with me this time. Traveling by Jeep through those narrow winding roads is an experience in itself where our co-passengers thought that we are going for honeymoon trip. The drive was very scenic with Teesta River flowing all the way. The forested hills are still green but truly there is continuous deforestation going on for either cultivation or smuggling woods.

We reached Gangtok after midday and the Taxi Stand was the most active part of the city like any other small or hill town in North-East. There are too many touts to rob you. If you travel light and are able to carry your luggage yourself you can avoid them. We stayed in a ITDC hotel near to M.G.Marg where we had our lunch at its expensive restaurant. Then we went out for booking our trips for sightseeing & daytrip for next 2 days. Being a tourist place it seems everyone wants to rob so you need to have good negotiating skill & make sure what you need you get the same. After bargaining we were able to book our trips for next 2 days. Then from there we went to the Government Institute of Cottage Industries (also called the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom) which promotes and teaches the ancient crafts of Sikkim (like painting, mask making, weaving, wood carving) to keep them alive. It is located at zero point, few km uphill from the main Gangtok town.

Day II, we had Allu paratha as breakfast early morning near to Bus stop at Agarwal restaurant & got the same packed for the route also. Then we headed towards our agency. Indians are famous for their IST so our co-passengers. After waiting a while for them to join we started our trip to Tsomgo Lake.
Tsomgo Lake is situated at an altitude of 12,310 ft on Gangtok-Nathula highway. Just few kilometers away from Indo-China border. This road also continues to Lasa, Tibet. Drive to that region is again very different with snow capped mountains & this whole belt is undertaken by Indian military. Salute to our Indian army who are taking pain to guard those borders to make our life easy & peaceful. Really I wonder sometimes how they are struggling there to earn their meal in those extreme cold regions far from there near one.
On reaching Tsomgo lake (pronounced as Changu Lake which means source of lake) we hired snow boots as all the travel agents take their customers to respective brothers stall for hiring jackets, snow boots and water-proof boots. Because of the high altitude heavy woolens are required which we already had.
From there we went immediately to Baba Harbhajan Singh Memorial which lies between Nathula-Jelepla pass which is at still more higher altitude of around 13,450ft. Actually, it is built in memory of a sepoy of 23rd Punjab regiment. It seems after few days of his missing he appeared in the dreams of his fellow comrades & expressed a desire that monument be built in his memory. Now it has acquired a statue of a pilgrimage, being Sunday there was langar (free meals served after Sikh services) offered by Indian Army. After one hour stay we came down to Changu Lake.

Weather was getting worse. Tea, snacks & film rolls are available at the dozen of temporary stalls near the lake. But there is no facility of accommodation or proper toilet for the tourist. Rides on yaks and mules are also offered which was worthless to enjoy for Pamela at that temperature.
In the evening, we walked on the main street of M.G.Marg which is normally closed for all vehicles from 5 to 9 PM. Looked for budget restaurant for our dinner; we found one and also found a long queue waiting for their turn. The wait was delightful.

Day III started for us early morning as we wanted to return to Siliguri ASAP. We started our sightseeing activity from Rumtek monastery (largest monastery of Sikkim) and ended with exotic orchid show along with Enchey monastery, Do-drul stupa.
Gangtok is a blend of the traditional and modern, where modern concrete multi-storied structures clings to the hillside along with stupas and monasteries; buddhist prayer flags flutter with the mountain breeze; young college girls in trendy dresses while elderly matrons clad in traditional 'bakus' and lamas in colorful maroon.

Now, looking forward to travel to North Sikkim some day which we heard is more beautiful with valley of flowers and lakes to explore.


Deja Vu

I am not sure if you happened to experience a very low probability situation or event in life which you can compare with winnnig a lottery or getting struck by thunder. Statistically the second one has more chance. To explain the same I take to you to recent past...

I had that bizarre experience in the month on December while returning from work took a bus. There was one gentleman very well groomed of dark complexion And I met the same person next day (Saturday) in a different bus while going out. I could not believe myself as that person did get down well ahead of me. And I do not recollect that person from my earlier experience of three years when I used the same bus. I do not deny finding the same faces in my bus. But that is while going towards the same direction at almost same time.

Now coming back today; I found yesterday around 10:30 PM (Paris Time) some one posted in a web groups of having some mock test for the exam I was taking today with Prometric. So I sent a desperate email to him asking for eleventh hour help if he can share the same. And to my utter surprise he sent it and I passed the exam while taking it at home.

When I started my test at the computer to my utter surprise all the questions and their respective options were excatly the true copy of what I received in the morning. It was deja vu & I passed with 100% score.

Well it was a big luck or mercy of God. Its a mere chance of finding that web forum in 11th hour and that person really replies with help. He could have been on vacation or could have crashed his hard drive or my question set could be a real hard one :( but it just happened :D

This is just another reason I do not like too much stress on certification on resume as it sometimes might give you a wrong picture about the person strength and skill sets when you evaluate his/her resume. Now a days all big companies are making big bucks on certifications and all the head-hunters are asking for the same.


add new administrator and management post for smartdashboard firewall-1

  1. 1.Add the user in the system password file for *nix it will be in /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow

  2. 2. Add his host(PC) to /etc/hosts

  3. 3. Use cpconfig ( /opt/CPshrd-53/bin/) in case of Solaris

Rest is menu driven


Lisbon - Portugal

Pictures from Lisbon

Well the over night bus journey between Seville and Lisbon was not very long one. We had an hour long stop as soon as we entered Portugal. The road condition was good and we reached the Oriental Stop of Lisbon at very early hours and the sky was still dark. From there it took another 20 minutes or so to reach the final destination near Zoological Garden. We took a taxi and the ride was a short one to our hotel for only 6 Euros. The driver was nice and he was mentioning about the drought Portugal is facing.

The Hotel (Novotel) was under renovation but the staff was kind enough to get us a room at 4:30 in the morning although we had by mistake booked for only one adult which we came to knew then and there.

After having rest for few hours we headed out from our hotel to Lisbon downtown by metro. It was a very cloudy day. I was feeling heavy headed and wanted to get some coffee.

 Pictures from LisbonAfter walking in Rossio Square for a while we bought day pass for Lisbon Trasport. The Metro system is run by the Government while the Bus, Tram and trolleys are run by a company. Lisbon have lots of trams and it seems like one of the attractions. Lisbon downtown is divided in three major part Bairro Alto, Alfama and Baixa. The first two one are on hills and the last one in the middle of the two.

It took us a while to figure out the starting point of Gloria funicular. We took it to reach the top of Bairro Alto Neighborhood. The ride is very small and full of tourists only. At the end of the 2/3 minute ride the people who bought a single trip ticket was wondering is it really worth or not.

Just getting out of the funicular on the right towards hill there is park, from there we get very nice view of the other part of the city and the river from there. There is also the ‘Porto’ wine collection place just across the street. Start walking downhill towards Chiado. Chaido is very happening place with lots of designer shops and places to east and drink. We visited Sao Roque Church which is very beautiful with lots of excellent tile and marble works inside; it was built in the glory days of Portugal.

We had lunch in one of the restaurant of big mall in Baixa Chaido. After that we took tram 28 for going to Alfama. This one is also a old tram most likely built in 1930s and it passes Baixa district. We visited the Caste of São Jorge. After spending a good time and taking the view of Lisbon & River Tejo we took the same tram back to Chiado. In Chaido we took Bica funicular which is like Gloria a old one but it is very stiff and goes down to the river front. The buildings along side are very old and in poor condition.

Once reaching the river front we took tram 15 towards Belem. There are both new and old tram on this track. Belem is 5 KM outside of Lisbon. On the way we saw 25th April Bridge, which just looks like Golden Gate bridge of San Francisco. The reason may be both are built by the same company. Belem tower and Monastery are the main attractions along with the ‘Monument to the Discoveries’.Well it was a quite a long day and we headed back to Chiado for dinner and then to Hotel.


Vienna - Austria

We just finished uploading pictures from our Vienna trip to our site. It was a great trip. Only complain was the hotel which was really outside of city without any proper public transport. The hotel was “Novotel” and we preferred it as we got good treatment from this hotel chain for our trips to Amsterdam and Berlin. When we booked the same it was mentioned it has Metro next to it. But in real world the metro station is 5 or 6 KM away and there is a bus which runs every one or two hours between the metro station and the hotel.

The evening we reached was bit late around 11PM so I decided to take a cab from the airport to the hotel. The hotel people told me it cost around 35 euros from the Airport to the hotel. But it cost us 54 Euros so I was very angry with the Taxi driver at first for taking longer routes. But when I asked again with the hotel guy he said it is normally around 60 Euros. Well that made me feel good but not better.

Next day, Saturday, we went to Melk by train from Vienna the weather was great with blue sky and warm temperature. The train ride was nice as it gives a good view of Austria’s country side. Melk has a very beautiful abbey which is known as Stift to the local. From there we took a boat ride on Danube River to Kermes. While walking from the boat stop to the train station we met a lady from Graz. She suggested us to take the train ride to her beautiful town in the Alps on any sunny morning.

That evening we came back to Vienna and walked around StephansPlatz and dined in a vegetarian place, the food was good.

Sunday we had our coffee and some tasty pastries to start the day. We walked along the ring starting from Opera, Hufburg Palace, City hall, Museum Quarter Parliament, University and the stock Market. After that we went to St. Augustine’s Church to listen the Sunday Chores. It was a very different experience the music and singing was really very soothing to ears. After lunch we went to Belvedere Palace. It was very special day as Austria was celebrating its 50 years of Freedom. There was live music, dance in different form. We really enjoyed those great outdoor performances.

On our last day we went to Schonbrunn (beautiful fountain) palace. It was summer residence of the royal. Its beautiful park really demands a good amount of time from you to explore those lavish green surroundings.

Well that brought to an end and we were back to the airport for our afternoon flight to Paris.


Moved to Paris

After basking last 4 years in Bay Area we moved to Paris. The weather was bleak cold which almost blew me off as we were getting in to the TAXI at the airport. Reached hotel without problem, had a Chinese female driver speaking English. Exhausted and tired to reach work which looked like a 5 minutes walk from hotel on map. But, got lost in concrete jungle of La Defense which is one of the unique place with concentrated modern high-rise buildings in Europe. With out realizing found La Grande Arche which was right in front of my nose. After asking several people and at last police which was no good for me to reach work that evening.

Day 3 - Rishikesh

The weather looked gloomy with an overcast sky as we woke up. We had breakfast at the hotel and decided to visit Rishikesh today. Again we...