Thursday, June 29, 2006

Tag ka Kho

Just when I was thinking of dedicating yet another post to my dear Animal Kingdom… there came a bully called Kusum Rohra. Yeah, I hate to admit this but I was forcefully requested into writing this post. I was harassed and tormented. Human Rights Council… Where are you??? Even being a part of Non-tagging gang did not help me. Ok… enough of my sad tales… I present to you my taggie post.

My Accent: Right from Bihari (Laloo), Maharashtrian (Baburao) to American(HHH), I can do it all. I can also manage a little bit of Arab (Sheikh) accent too. Quite a talented guy. Ain’t I? If you don’t believe me ask Bhaiyya or Tarun who are my favorite phone victims. Arre Oh Sasur ka naati.. Accent toh ek Gaddi ka naam hai na bituwa??

Booze: What’s that? Actually I quit boozing when I was in 8th standard (Believe it or not). Even in Goa, I lived on Frooti and Frooti alone. To be frank, I once got tunn nned after drinking 3 bottles of Amul Kool.

Chore I Hate: Hmm... After a lot of consideration I guess its polishing my shoes. I love the rugged looks.

Dog or Cat: Both equally. In fact I love playing with both. (Soccer comes close second) Being a part of the Animal Kingdom, I love all animals. And yeah... There are always exceptions (Does anyone like snakes and rats). I also love when it rains cats and dogs like the way its raining now.

Essential Electronics: My cell phone and my PC. This and this digital camera is also high on my essential electronics wish list. (For your information and action)

Perfume: Though I am not too much into perfumes, but yep… I love the smell of good Old Spice.

Gold or Silver: I am not Bappida nor a part of the Underworld Gang to find myself attracted to these metals.

Home: Mumbai (Meri Jaan) and maybe Goa (Meri Jaaneman) in the near future.

Insomnia: Only lazy bumps suffer from insomnia. This word does not exist for hard working people like me. *wink*

Job Title: Telecomm. Engineer. (Finally… My "hard work" of 4 years has paid off... :-D)

Living Arrangements: I come home only to sleep and sometimes maybe to eat my meals. Else I am always on the prowl in the jungle with the Animal Kingdom.

Most Admirable Traits: I don’t like blowing my own trumpet. *blushing*

Number of Sexual Partners: Why this question in the taggie? *raised eyebrow*

Number of times in hospital: Been there many times as a visitor. But only once as a patient.

Phobias: Denzil D'mello ain't scared of anything. He is a brave boy. (Sirf Heights se thoda ghabrata hoon??? Who isn't afraid of vertigo?)

Quote: If it doesn’t kill you…. It will only make you stronger. (Golden words)

Religion: I believe that there is only one God and yep I also talk to Jesus who answers all my prayers. I am divine lucky.

Siblings: One younger brother who looks older to me thanks to his height (6’2”).

Time I Wake Up: Used to wake up at 7 or 7.30. But with this new job which offers me 3 shifts, my sleep timings have gone haywire.

Unusual Talent or Skill: Everyone says that each one of us posseses some or the other talent. But I seem to be the sole exception on this earth. Hey wait... does my bathroom singing and good acting skills qualify?

Vegetable I Love: Its one form of pulses. But its ironice that I don't know its name.

Worst Habit: I am perfect. I am MR. RIGHT. So, no worst habits. (This is one of them).

X-Rays, Last time: Each and every bone in my body is as new as original. *Touch wood*

Yummy Food I Make: Main pakata achha hoon. *Human Bheja Fry*

Zodiac Sign: Cusp between Aries and Taurus. And I don't believe in all this signs vigns. How can a star located light years away affect me?

People tagged to do it: Jisme hai Dum...take it... All are welcome.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Who is Anna?

Anna - What do you symbolize when you hear this name? Most of you must have already started dreaming about the beautiful Russian Ana Kournikova. Or if you are from South, you must be dreaming Suniel Shetty mouthing those loud dialogues and breaking some bones.

Well, there are no prizes for guessing. Anna is our dear specie of the Animal Kingdom. Though his parents named him Shirish Shetty, we call him Anna because he hails from the famous Mangalore region which is home to many Shetty’s (Suniel, Shilpa, Shamita Shetty included).

(Anna posing for his Orkut Album)

What is surprising to me is why do Shettys have their names starting with ‘S’? Ekta Kapoor may be obsessed with the letter ‘K’, but Shetty’s are in love with letter ‘S’. If you know any Shetty, just try and recollect the name of their family members or their parents. I am sure most of them end up with initials S.S.

Back to Anna. Do you guys know what does name Anna signify? It means Big Brother in Kannada. I and Anna share a thing in common. Changing jobs at will. Though, it’s been a long time (2 months) since we have changed jobs, you cant be sure. From our group, Anna holds the distinction of changing 6 jobs in 2 years. I still remember the day, when I called up Anna to ask his shift timings and he replied, “Maybe, today was my last day.” That’s Anna for you. Spontaneous decisions is what he believes in.

Being a Shetty, Anna does not believe in working under a boss. A true Shetty at heart, he plans to open up a bar soon. We have even come up with a name “Anna’s – the BAR”. Being a teetotaller himself and most species from our group abstain from alcohol I can promise that his bar won’t run into losses.

Though, Anna celebrated his Birthday, 2 days ago on 22nd June, the Animal Kingdom wishes “Janma Dinok Hardika Subhechche” today.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Animals Capture Fort Lohagad

Note: Help!!! I can't upload the pics on Blogger. Kya problem hai yaar??? Anyways you can enjoy them here. Must add this: Naveen you missed a golden chance of clicking your solo snaps in all possible royal poses.

After a successful trek of Matheran, another week was reserved for yet another trek somewhere. A late night conference call on Friday and plan was all set. As usual, some guys dropped out giving out the same plain boring and gheese peete reasons.

Ali – "Baahar Jaana Hai…" (Trekking is also going out... my friend)

Kandu – Want to rest at home (Karle Karle Rest karle... Tarzan zhad se latak latak ke thak gaya hoga)

Naveen – Want to go out to meet a friend (Kya hum tere dost nahi hain???)

There was no way, we were gonna convince them. So, it was the same group of four (Only exception being Prashant substituting Naveen) who decided to trek all the way to Lonavala to capture Fort Lohagad. The venue and time of meeting remain unchanged. Also, our official carrier was supposed to be an Express train.

We reached Lonavala at around 10:30. After a quick breakfast, it was time to head to Malavali which is just a station away from Lonavala. The trek to Lohagad starts right from the Malavali station. The striking Malavali Bridge transports you across the breathtaking Mumbai Pune Expressway.

The journey to the way Lohagad cannot be put down in words. You have to see it to believe it. The overcast skies, lush greenery, cool breeze and a little bit fog at the top of the Fort made a picturesque view. We were so overjoyed and elated to witness this eye pleasing view. Away from all the noise and pollution of the city, this place is a must visit for all those who haven’t been here and monsoon is the time to be here.

At the foot of the hills, there exits a staircase which takes one to the Bhaja caves. Though we wanted to stopover here too, but time was a big constraint. The road to the right takes you to the two forts. The largest of them is the Lohagad, the Iron Fort, which was twice captured by Shivaji. The neighbouring and smaller Fort Visapur is of much later origin and was built by the first Peshwa.

The only other fort which I have ever seen is the Fort Aguada in Goa. But, with due respect to the Portuguese, Fort Lohagad stands gigantic as a Mammoth compared to the miniscule Aguada.

The way to the top is quite effortless than it seemed. A climb of around 200 long stairs and you stand at the base of the fort. It took us just about 150 minutes to make it here. Right from the Fort Entrance gates to Maha Darwaza steps we were awed by the structure of the fort. If climbing is not enough, just imagine those workers or soldiers who must have built these strong forts with such huge stones and impeccable engineering on the top of these hills. And there were even more brave kings along with his Mawlas who captured these forts. Unbelievable!!!

Imagine these forts standing erect even celebrating its 1000th Birthday. Which other such structure can a civil engineer boast of? So, who were more advanced? Our ancestors or we?

We visited each and every part of the fort. This fort is so huge that it took us close to 4 hours just to complete one trip around it. Right from the water reservoirs to the old canon you can see it all here. And yeah, we also found the place where the main guard must have stood inside the fort. This is because from this particular place, one could get the complete top view of the fort with its walls. Just behind this Main Guard’s platform, there was this small room in the corner which I think was the place where kings must have once planned their strategies. It was a royal feeling.

Just when you feel that you have conquered the fort, you see another part of the fort which stretches far into the horizon. This part is called “Vinchukata” because it resembles “Fangs of the Scorpion”. This place was the highlight of the trek. The way to Vinchukata passes through a narrow ledge. On one side are the rocks and other side is the valley. One wrong foot and you would be gone forever. Then there is a steep slope which further adds to your difficulties. Thankfully, all 4 of us managed to make it without any damage.

It was almost 5 in the evening when we decided to leave. There was no one in sight and we were no Mawlas to protect this fort. There is a sense of achievement you feel when you sit on the fort wall and look at the far villages below. I salute those brave kings like Shivaji who managed to conquer this fort not once but twice without any modern ammunition.

Determination, grit and above all interest is all you need to scale this fort. Maybe we will conquer Fort Sindhudurg next. Animals, what say???

Night stay at a Neral Farmhouse was sponsored by Prashant's would be father-in-law. He had forbidden me from revealing this. Idharich Mistake Kar Diya. He was in the best of his behaviour that day. After all it was the question of impressing one's father-in-law. So, all you father-in-laws there, want to know the truth about your would be son-in-laws, you know where to write in at.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Trek Matheran

NOTE: I tried uploading the snaps of the trek. But due to some technical issues with Blogger, I could not. If you want to view the album, you can click here.

Commencement of the monsoon, Mumbai heat and a small gang of friends - the perfect recipe for a trek in the hills. And what can be better than starting off with the first trek of the season with Matheran.

It might sound strange but whenever we plan out something it doesn’t always work. I have enough examples to support this claim. But don’t have enough space to mention it all.

Last week… Friday night… I took a conference call courtesy my office. Everyone was included except Rehan and Kandu. They were in the midst of their final semester engineering exams. To help them concentrate, this trip was to be kept a top secret. But Anna spilled the beans too soon.

As usual, the conference call didn’t serve much purpose. Everyone was speaking and no one was listening. In the midst of this hullabaloo, Atul suggested that we go to Matheran. For the first time, we all agreed to Atul’s decision. We have all learnt our lesson well. Every time Atul says something, it never happens. But he is like Mahesh Bhatt. He has an opinion on anything and everything.

Finally the only question on the conference was, “We are going to Matheran. Who is joining us? If anyone is coming, meet us at the Thane station at 7:00 a.m.” With this the conference ended and 4 guys were supposed to assemble early in the morning. I was in the worst possible position. My shift was supposed to end at 11:00 in the night and I would be reaching home only by 1:30. That meant that I would be getting only 4 hours of dear sleep. And a hard trek was scheduled later in the day. Quite a tough day ahead.

My alarm went off at 5:30 and within 30 minutes; I was all ready and standing at the bus stop. Tarun joined me soon. I also called up Naveen so confirm whether he is out of bed and there he was answering my call in a miffed voice. He had just woken up. But since his house is much closer to Thane, there was no reason to worry.

Just as we were waiting for the bus, it started to shower. Wow!!! We thought. This is the best weather for trekking. We were delighted. The journey to the Thane station took us around 45 minutes. And comedy of errors – Naveen came in the same train which we were supposed to catch (has performed this stunt earlier too), I and Tarun were on the over bridge when the train left and Atul the great was still standing in the queue booking tickets for us all.

I was the least amazed as all this happened. All such events occur very frequently in our group. Upon enquiring we found that the nest train to Neral was scheduled at 8:17 a.m. A huge gap of 45 minutes. I could have slept 45 minutes more. But, according to Mr. Atul, a train is supposed to leave in the direction of Neral every 20 minutes.

But, now we have learnt our lessons well. Ignore his suggestions and confirm with others. A journey of around 80 minutes and we were standing on the Neral station. Matheran stands at an altitude of around 800 meters above sea level. It was time to climb. Our journey started off on the tar road. And soon, we got adventurous and deviated from the main road to take on the tracks and the rocks. On the way, a aunty also offered a ride in her Scorpio. Caught in two minds, we politely refused.

The weather was it its best. Cloudy skies and cool breeze blowing made the nature a treat to watch. Huffing and panting, we somehow made it to the top. It took us around 3 hours to make it to the top. The best part about the climb to the top was the fun involved in climbing the rocks like the way they show in action movies. Though not that dangerous, it still is risky. A lose footing and you can find yourself on the ground with some fractured bones.

Apart from Naveen, everyone had it easy. Naveen was literally struggling in spite of his well muscled body. It seemed to us that Naveen had undertaken this trek for the sole purpose of having his portfolio done. At each and every bend, climb and curve, Naveen wanted to have his solo photo clicked. Even in a group photo, Naveen was only interested in how he looked in the snap. It seems he is slowing becoming a narcissist.

Totally exhausted after climbing the summit, we quickly refuelled our body by having a Malwani lunch at a local restaurant. This restaurant was also located 2 kilometres inside Matheran. There are lots of facts about Matheran which one does not know.

  • Matheran is the smallest hill station in the world.
  • Matheran is the cleanest hill station of India.
  • Vehicles are barred from entering inside the town.

The only medium of transport is the horse, hand pulled carts or your legs. And the name Matheran means "Forest on Top" or "Mother Forest" in Marathi.

Even though worn out, a trek to Matheran would be incomplete without visiting some of the famous points in Matheran. So, we went for the Charlotte Lake and the Lord Point. Charlotte Lake is the main source of drinking water for Matheran. And you can view the beautiful Sinhagad Fort from the Lord Point. Tarun and Atul also tried out Rappling near the Charlotte lake.

With the sun setting on the far horizon, it was getting dark in the forest. We also planned to walk all the way down without the use of any vehicle. But hardly, had we passed 2 curves, when we were offered a lift in the open MUV – Mahindra MaXX Pik-Up. It was very difficult to resist the temptation. So, we all hopped in. It was a joy ride. Open on all the sides, the view downhill was breathtaking. It took us hardly 10 minutes to get back where we started.

On the way back home, we were greeted by the first showers of the season with its comrades thunder and lightning. A local dog also got in the train much to the surprise of all the passengers. We managed to capture the event with the digital camera as well as the video recorder. But, the dog seemed least interested. He coolly sat under the seat and got down at the next station. Maybe he was a regular.

The train journey and the bus journey back home had taken a toll on my body. I can still remember those few steps from the bus stop to my home. I was walking with snails pace that even the old were staring at me. My white shirt turned brown and black shoes turned red must have been a sight to watch.

But, that’s the fun of trekking. So, all you guys and gals out there… bring out your haversacks, a good pair of shoes and some determination. Go for a trek. All the pain in our body is worth it.