Bombay to Bangalore by Car(NH4)


View Larger MapA journey of 1000 KM from Mumbai to Bangalore
I was asked to reallocate to Bangalore in early May from my work; as usual had no plan till the last minute. Sitting in Durg (center of India) was thinking what will be best way to reach Bangalore on Monday via Mumbai. I have to reach Mumbai to pick my bare essential before heading south. And my flight from Durg was on Saturday noon.
On Friday night suddenly realized it would be great if I can travel in my own car. This way I do not have to find a cheap air ticket and will have no problem in commuting of my own @ Bangalore.
This will allow me to escape THE FAMOUS AUTO RICKSHAWS of Bangalore. There are plenty of horror stories about them and you can always have a good laugh about the way they refuse their passengers. They are very mystic in their behaviour, there are few honest hardworking but that only proves Darwin's rule– There are always an exception. Certainly, this post is not about them .
After lots of fanatic calls to friends and family members I was very fortunate to have Ramesh as my driver. He is a very experienced driver but he does not drive any more. The plan was simple- To start early morning for Bangalore on Sunday. We will stop as night falls and will reach Bangalore on Monday.
I reached Navi-Mumbai around 9PM after spending afternoon and evening at south and central Mumbai. As soon as I reached home I had to complete a long list of house-hold chores starting with laundry. As soon as the drum started spinning I started collecting items those I will require during my stay there. I picked items quite randomly but only thing I had in my mind was about a survival kit. After doing all that I tried to sleep at 2 in the morning but after a restless hour I got up and stared to wrap as many loose ends I could before leaving.
Here is a chronicle of events that I had on that Sunday.
06:00 Picked up Ramesh from Nerul Railway Station – Returned to Kharghar ; packed all items in the car.
000 KM
06:45 Started from Home; the express was well paved and it has concrete construction with numerous tunnels. This is the pioneer road corridor which was constructed with divider and proper lane in India.
041 KM 08:15 Started from Food Mall /Diesel stop around 40 minutes. There were lots of car, SUVs and buses packed with families who were going out of Mumbai as schools were closed for summer vacations. Hardly any room left for seating. Food was not great but every thing tastes good on road-trip when you have a hungry stomach and miles to go. The service was very prompt that really deserve appreciation.
09:00 Pune We by-pass capital of Maratha culture; there were plenty of new big IT, BPO offices with glass outer wall but as they were spread on NH4 without any symmetry in between they were more of eye-sore rather than architectural beauty.
09:40 We picked up a FM station from Pune and it continued a long road. Very soon we reached another toll plaza and started our ascent for Satara Range. There are two separate roads for opposite direction. After lot of twist and turn you reach the point from where you get a great view. It was pity we could not stop to enjoy the beauty from there.
10:30 Road towards Mahabaleshwar
11:10 Crossing Satara which means a place surrounded by seven (sat) hills (tara). One thing we had to pay extra attention was there are plenty of crossroads in the highway which allows people to take turn and cross the highway from other side. Ideally there should be flyover but as we pass rural area the extra cost may not be justified yet due to thin traffic. But thankfully NHAI has put up fence to avoid crossing road everywhere. It is very common in India for cattle and human to cross road whenever and wherever they want which causes lots of accidents.
12:00 Crossing Karad, a small town but quite good infrastructure with over bridges. At this point of time we have crossed Krishna river few times. The road divider were properly maintained with lot of Bougainvillea planted. It gave a very good feeling on Indian road which is sometime synonyms with pot-holes.
397KM 13:25 – 14:05 Stop for lunch near Kolapur, Kolpar is the last major town in the Maharashtra side of NH4 and soon we will start crossing border of Karnataka. Lunch was a simple vegetarian a quick one as we were not very certain how much road we will be able to cover today - Bangalore lies in the southern part of Karnataka.
14:43 We entered Karnataka it started to rain a little bit of drizzling around Belgaum. The soil color changed to red. Suddenly we found that we have to drive for almost 5 KM on the NH-4 north with opposing traffic as South bound was closed due to a big trailer made a major accident.
493 KM 15:17 almost halfway. There are some hamlets of houses which are painted by Airtel, TATA, Reliance for their mobile phone advertisement or sometime it was cement and steel companies.
15:49 We cross a sign for Karwar (next to Goa going west) neat Dharwar but road was single lane. Saw a horrible accident involving a TATA –indica and a truck and there was ambulance. Hope the best for those in that car as it looked very terrible.
560 KM 16:17 Back to divided road. We crossed a huge Jain temple which from distance was looking like some space station where rockets were ready for launching. After searching in internet realized there are too many Jain pilgrimage palce in Karnataka which I did not knew.

599 KM We were looking for fuel station for last 15 minutes but there was none on our side of the road; finally we found one and filled diesel ; we had fuel economy of 19.05 KM/L with AC on the highway. We crossed one flight of stairs in the highway but could not figure between ourselvs which will be nearest airport for this. Wanted to have tea-break but "miles to go before I sleep"
636 KM Again single lane, road condition very bad, found almost finished yet un-finished flyover while we maneuver the bad traffic- big trucks, SUVs just trying to cross everyone by hook or honk. This continued for a while we crossed a town called Ranibennur, it looked like Sunday was market-day as it was crowded with village merchandise. There was police in the middle of the road to manage traffic. The road condition did improve as we crossed Harihar at the sunset. It was very magnificent as Sun sets on the lush green paddy field on the banks of Tungabhadra river.
It became dark and Ramesh kept on driving. We decided to continue till we felt like. Driving till Chitradurga our estimated destination was around 70 Kms away.
765KM 20:30 We reached Chitradurga, according to our destination; called relative in Bangalore and was told the road should be better now and it might be a sensible to reach Bangalore same night. We had a big dinner and stopped for one hour before we stared again. This really helped to stretch our strained body. It seems there are road side hotels around 40 KM out of Bangalore A1( from Reliance group) and Kamat to choose from. The initial part of the road was very bad and there were so many trucks. It was dusty and we had to be very careful with all these big vehicles; lots of them even do not have rear light or brake light.
After Dinner - I was feeling too sleepy and after all my best effort I dozed off for few minutes. I asked Ramesh few times if he is OK to drive or is it better to park on side and take a small nap. As an excellent driver he kept on driving without any problem. Around Tumkur, we found hotel but as we were there they closed as its mid-night and they closes at 23:30. So there was not much choice for us other than to continue driving. Blackberry came very handy as I looked up phone number of my service apartment which was booked from Monday onwards. They gave their best direction but for us it really did not mean much. There was one part of highway which was newly paved with proper marking and division so a toll plaza followed.
We could not figure out much in the dark and kept on asking for MG road as direction whenever we found someone on the road. We met some stray dogs and one drunken group who were ready to start a fight as we opened our mouth in Hindi. Somehow we reached MG road and found English speaking Auto-driver who gave us proper direction for the last mile
It was great to reach such a wonderful place. We found ourselves in two bedroom apartment; I took a quick shower before calling it a night.
In the morning we woke up quickly, dropped Ramesh to bus stop where I got him ticket in Volvo for Mumbai. And I went to office – and thus life in Bangalore started.


Lesson learnt from this 1000KM trip ---Keep your wallet ready to pay the toll. In India, government is the biggest “Bhaia” or “Don” they know all the tricks to tax their law-abiding citizen. When the road condition is good be prepared for toll after every 40/60 KM. Keep change ready or you will get toffees as change in return. Not sure why NHAI kept those odd numbers like 18, 23 or 22 instead rounding it to 20 or 25. Definitely there are lots to improve for NHAI if they want to put Indian road to world standard.
With highest rate of street accident and mortality Indian roads are not ready for family travel yet. Initially, I was thinking to drive back to Mumbai one day but after seeing that accident and the bad stretch of 200KM before Chittradurg I do not think I will do that soon. If you do want to drive; Drive during day and drive safely I mean very safe - HAPPY DRIVING

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We are @ Bangalore

This post is going to be a quick one, need to write and publish in next 8 minutes time I have from my grueling schedule. Just to let you know we (this time Aarush & Pamela accompanied me) reached safely after traveling from west to central-part to east and then to south of India . The details of long travel will require several small posts but with Aarush, new apartment and work do not think we will be left with ample time to write those. Looking forward to meet all the Bangalore acquaintances soon.

Passion of reading

This question really sounds absurd to start a decent discussion on reading. I am not a writer nor pose to have any writing skill but I like to read. It is said the type of books you read generally depends on your attitude and personality. I believe reading as a habit has always allowed to nurture a wholesome sense of well being. But most of us read books to lull ourselves to sleep.

I read any thing that I can grab and not picky about subject or writer. Once I like a new writer; try to read his other work as well. In last 5-6 years can only think of two books that I started but couldn’t finish – ‘Satanic Verses’ and ’The Argumentative Indian’. This makes me wonder am I a good reader or not? Normally, I do not try to review books as I read for pleasure and have a good time. Though these books are well known, well read and sold million of copies I wonder is it wrong with me or with these books?

The journey of reading book takes back to memory lane - we (me and my brother) were hooked to reading from very early age as we grew reading books. Special thanks goes to my Mom for inculcating this habit in us. Switching from a totally pictured short comic to a immensely boring book of at least a hundred pages, with no images or diagrams was not easy though so I don’t blame any kid who would frown at the idea.

But there were others too who really appreciated this habit of ours and gifted us wonderful books as we grew. We were considered as book worms; we even saved money that we got from our elders to buy firecrackers at the time of Diwali. As for us the philosophy was simple – book lasts longer than a firecracker and you can always re-read books. We still have those well preserved collections to re-read. Now a days, with too much stress in work place many of us miss out on reading in this very manner and sadly it is only in times of grief, loneliness or insomnia that we seek refuge in reading some stuff.

I read many writings of Mr. Rushdie and really liked them a lot. ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’ is my favorite; just found out it got published after his most controversial work. I was in adolescent when ‘Satanic Verses’ got banned and always wanted to find out what was out there - a forbidden passion. So while in US I tried to borrow it twice from public library - got bored and could not follow the story after few chapters. I still wonder who are those who might have read, realized the content before banning the book? Did they just ban the book based on its name, who knows its a long history now.

Now coming back to ‘The Argumentative Indian’, a collection of published works by Mr. Sen during his long career and research. Though there are excellent foot note and reference in page I could not agree with writer about his view on recent India. Besides this, there were so many words which require frequent referring to a good English dictionary.

May be being a young Indian I see India from a different lens. Being in India I find his view on recent history of India to be unaccurate and one sided. To me his references are very academic in nature and away from ground reality; also his views are squinted for recent political history. Without doubt he poses to have vast knowledge about Indian history, culture and I am no one to make any comment on it.

To sum-up, this two books failed to keep me glued to finish it. May be one day I will try to finish them and will re-read… till then happy reading.

Our sleeping beauty


Aarush never likes to sleep when ever we tried to tuck his hands....I mean with buritto wrap. If wrapped he keeps on moving his hands in discomfort until he is unwrapped. He always loves to have his hands free, outstretched in upward direction. This series of pictures which were taken during half an hour cat's nap. So many positions for two little hands :D

Letter to my son


Hello Aarush,
Today you are four months old...though nothing remarkable but for me it has been days now since we met last. Hope you to be fit as fiddle.
I came to know from your mom that now your vision is focused more or less, you are trying to grasp objects; can bat and swipe at dangling toys. It seems now you are ready to rock and roll as you have started taking side turns with squirms, giggles and wails... You respond to your nani (granny) and aunt with big toothless smiles as well with coos and making happy noises. Do you still continue to often soothe and calm yourself by sucking your fingers; and do you bicycle your legs and wave your arms when placed on your back with jerky movements.
Hope your head and neck muscles are getting stronger and able to lift your head to look around. I know that these muscles will still need support, so we have to be careful to guard your head and neck while lifting and holding.
Well, enjoy your time with your aunt and two elder cousin sisters. But do n't get spoiled with too much love, care and attention.
Darling, it seems besides all care and love you are not keeping a good progress as recommended by your doctor. I just want to let you know that 'am are not worried as long as you are happy and at ease.
Sorry my child, I miss you a lot and hope to see you soon. You are always in my heart and on my mind.
Loving you... Your's DADA
P.S. - For others please check Aarush new pictures

Goodbye – Mumbai – a quick update


I did not want to use a title like “Welcome to Bangalore” or “Here I come to Bangaloru” on purpose as need some time before I can call this my new home. From long time we were knowing that we have to move to Banglore but on personal grounds I had to postpone it which was readily accepted by my company. In recent months, I was waiting for that green signal from my company that I have to move in any case.
At last, on Sunday (27th April) I partially moved; travelling from Mumbai to Bangalore in my car covering 955KM in 20 hours. The experience of that journey deserves a post of its own. I hope to write on that as soon as I find a suitable place to rent and settle myself a bit.

Perfect Parking


Encountered this perfect parking on a small by-lane in Bangalore. For sure I will not be able to park like this; normally have enough difficulties in parallel parking on the street between cars. I was failed (fatal) as rear tire touched the ramp in my first attempt to secure Californian driving License. Looks like the owner will not be change car as this is customized parking only which can accommodate small car.

Nagaon - a sleepy sunday


Currently I am spending my life as forced bachelor with Pamela ‘n’ Aarush at Durg. I was looking for an outing from a long time as completely burn-out with new and old responsibilities at personal and professional level. Spending weekends, doing absolutely nothing other than sleeping and delaying all household work for next weekend. Made few phone calls here and there to old friends to know about their latest updates.
Sameer told that they recently bought a small house in Nagaon near ‘Alibag’ and he would be visiting soon and asked if I am interested to come along or not. Without thinking twice I said OK that sounds like a plan. Alibag is in south of Mumbai; just across Mumbai harbor. Some super rich businessman takes their speed boat from Alibag to commute to Mumbai. Spending weekend by beach front is very common gateway for Mumbaikars and there lots of places like these to choose from. Have not visited many ourselves in last one year as of expected parent we had to put a complete stop on traveling.
There was no such formal plan for Sunday but on Saturday evening came to know that other two who were supposed to join can not make it. So it left to two of us only. Sameer called me at 6AM informing he started from Thane and will be reaching Kharghar in next 50 minutes or so. It was quite early for me but I was ready on time. We hit the road quite early with the thought of going to Karnala first; do a quick hike before it is too hot.
Crossing Panvel we stopped at Petrol Station to buy some water bottles and Sameer decided to fill car as well. But then there was glitch as those guys in the Pump were unable to connect to Credit-card bank to swipe our cards and after trying for almost 20 minutes or so we decided to pay by cash. Together we were only able to put 1167 Rs still short of few rupees but they let us go. Now there was no ATM nearby and we had to cross a toll booth soon. To be safe we turned our car for Panvel. By the time we found one ATM and reached the same petrol pump again; we lost more than hour and had to cancel Karnala.
The drive was pretty good and we reached Nagaon around 9:30. I was reading Sunday newspaper while Sameer watered all the new plants. We headed for Kashid (30 KM south) beach. Drive is more scenic as we cross few jetties and drive along coconut trees and sea. Kashid beach is clean and not that crowded but there were enough people. Only thing bothered us was horse cart. Those horse carts are real nuisance for a beach as you have horse shit every where. After strolling and spending some time we headed for lunch. Lunch was simple but it was more than enough. We went back to Nagaon for a nap. With clean cool air breezing we slept long enough on Sunday afternoon before returning to Mumbai. End of the day nothing special but looking forward for more trips likes this to spend a quite, relaxing and refreshing Sunday.

Shiv Jayanti


“Shiv jayanti” should not be confused with Shivratri (Night of lord Shiva)- marked with devotion to one of most powerful lord in Hindu mythology. While Shiv jayanti (Birthday) is celebration of birth anniversary of Shivaji Maharaj who ruled Maratha region in 17th century fighting against powerful Mughal Empire of North-India. He was named Shiva, after the local Goddess Shivai, to whom his mother Jijabai had prayed for a son.

According to English calendar, birthday of Shivaji is on February 19th. But ShivSena, the main political party of regional party in Maharashtra celebrates the same according to Indian astronomical dates. In Mumbai, you can’t miss this day which is celebrated with its colors and festivity. A colorful procession with lezims (a traditional musical instrument) is taken around the city. The main gathering happens at Shivaji Park of Dadar in the evening. You will find saffron triangular flags fluttering everywhere from train station to cabs on this day.
But there are some down side of this celebration to common people. If you have to travel around Dadar or need to cross the central part of this maximum city be prepared for a evening crawl. On the main roads as soon as you see on your rear-view mirror a big speeding SUV with flags you need to give right of way. The priority to this kind of vehicle is more than any emergency vehicle; it also signals ‘do not dare to touch me or stop me’ to law enforcement officials. With recent split of ShivSena this time there were cars from both parties to show their power and dedication to Shivaji Maharaj. Not sure if Shivaji would have appreciating the same. This is one of these celebrations which have been hijacked by political parties to show who rules the city - ‘Asli Bhai Kaun Hai’.

Bhat Suar


Every time I visit my in-laws and see one of these “Bhat Suar” (three-wheeler cart) on the road it brings back memories of my college days. Durg(in-law’s place) and Bhopal(college day) were part of same state 6 years back; although politically divided they are very similar to an outsider like me on social and geographical terms.
First part of the name comes from the sound they make “Bhat-Bhat” and second part “suar which means pig”. The design varies from state to state and its mechanism is very simple and rigid for extreme conditions. Maintenance is simple - all you need to open the hood and fix it- no complicated electronics; only big mechanical parts.
Before coming to Bhopal I have never seen these big yellow tempos (tutuk). Sometime they are the de-facto public transport in central India. Since in these areas, public bus service is inadequate or nil and a small auto for single person is expensive; They are very popular as they are engineered to accommodate around 12-15 people. Memories of these bones rattlers on uncomfortable pothole filled roads will remain for long time. The conductor will always try to squeeze another passenger chanting- "Khasko bhai khasko" (convince to make more room). "Ab kahaan khaskein" ("Now, where do I shift?")would be the apt reply.

Geography - mismatch


For any fifth grader Mumbai is located in Western part of India if asked north or south answer will be south. So how can there be a church of North India which is located in posh south Mumbai in a stone throw distance from famous Flora Fountain? You may wonder - in the world of bharat-todo (Break India by new politicians) how all bhaia's(people from North India Bihar and Uttarpradesh - speaking Hindi) suddenly built a church for themselves. Well, few centuries back when western missionaries just started coming to India they came first to Kerala the very south-west tip of Indian map. And from that part of Mumbai was very much north. This just demonstrate how relative human direction was at that time. Let's make our heart big enough to welcome every one as they are without any prejudice :)

My Best Picture


Aarush has crossed 6 weeks mark now and till recent time there was no picture of him with me. Well, there was no specific reason for the same. Normally, when I leave for work he is sleeping and in the evening it is dark and we are against using flash while taking pictures of Aarush. That leave only weekend but recent weekends were very hectic and I was away to Bangalore and the stories goes on...
So one fine morning just before leaving for work we had photo session; and according to me it came out best - special thanks goes to Pamela for capturing this magical moment. Now I have to click some picture of Mama and son ;)