Yercaud – More than a weekend getaway

You will be surprised to what length Google Maps can go to ensure you spend as little on fuel as possible! For the most part of our drive to Yercaud (a small hill station near Salem, Tamil Nadu, India) we paid exorbitant money as Toll fees. The last part of the drive was climbing up the hill and it is here Google took the matter into its own hands. To call the road narrow would be an understatement. We encountered only two oncoming cars and multiple two-wheelers on the route to the top of the hill. One hairpin turn almost gave me a heart attack! It felt like adventure sport the kind you get to see on AXN. My car a conventional sedan from Maruti (Dzire) was up for all the challenges the terrain was throwing at it. Well, what options did it have! Apparently, there were but Google wanted to make the road trip memorable. We drove through obsolete roads which were home to tainted and burnt houses like the one below.

IMG_20180217_155627

By we I mean my better half (definitely better) and yours truly.

There was no sign of life. It was both scary and exciting. We ventured further and found ourselves driving through patchy roads and areas which you wouldn’t call roads by any stretch of the imagination. At this point, we questioned the intention of Google Maps but having no other navigators around we put our faith in the artificial voice and pressed on the accelerator. To our surprise, we reached our destination, the sparsely populated hotel, without any hassles. The taxing 360 Kilometres drive and the warmth of a clean welcoming room put an end to the adventurous day.

IMG_20180217_181138

A typical hill station in India has quirky names for the high rise viewpoints, the main market selling obscure stuff and a lake that has boating as its main attraction. Yercaud is no different. The only place it lacks is a good market where you can traverse as a tourist and bargain like a local. If you are like me you will enjoy going to a tourist place when it is “off-season”. There is no crowd hobbling with you for space and the street vendors don’t charge an obscene amount for basic artefacts. At viewpoints, restaurants and the market, we were the only people posing as tourists.

PANO_20180219_174656

IMG_20180219_173753

Both the photos above were taken at a point called “Pagoda Point”. A quirky name which doesn’t necessarily mean anything but is definitely catchy. We were among seven people at the point including a vendor who was trying to sell “American Corn” and fruits. Another aspect I have been trying to get my head around is why do they set up stalls where we have to shoot balloons with the air rifle? These stalls are mostly deserted barring a few stubborn children who are able to convince their parents to shoot the balloons. This definitely is more exciting for them than experiencing the nature.

Google, a rather sticky companion, suggested 13 different things to do at Yercaud. One of the places to go to was a “must-visit” waterfalls. Blindly following the suggestion we headed to the place and were warned by the locals of the 250 steep steps it would take to experience the waterfalls and come back! My better half had a hunch that the place wouldn’t be worth it but I thought otherwise.

IMG_20180218_153524

The daunting steps!

We took the plunge and decided to test our luck. Struggling with our not-so-fit bodies we finally reached the place of the waterfalls. It turned out to be a massive disappointment. The water was scarce and the place was not worth all the effort.

IMG_20180218_155442

The “must-visit” waterfalls.

The journey back to the ground zero from the waterfalls point went as you would expect. I was repeatedly told that I was wrong and I should have listened to my better half’s hunch. To make the situation better I suggested every person who was coming from the opposite direction that the effort to get to the waterfalls is not worth it. I saved few men from the inevitable. I took one for the team!

A hill station that can help you escape Chennai’s heat, make you experience cold weather in summer and has a sense of humour is totally worth your time and money.

IMG_20180220_170350

Yercaud’s sense of humour.

If you are planning a trip such as the one above Google is here to help! Trust it blindly. Conditions apply.

Advertisements

Coco breathed his last today

A year back one of my friends lost her dear dog. She was devastated. I couldn’t fathom her loss. Though I understood how much people loved their pets I just wasn’t able to relate to the sense of loss. Since I couldn’t empathize sincerely I wasn’t in a position to support my friend. I did not have enough experience.

Today, I understand or at least am able to relate to that loss. Life has given me that dreadful experience.

Meet Coco.

On Preeti’s (my wife and definitely the better half in this marriage) request we brought home two love birds. We named them Coco and Bluee. Conventional bird names we chose. It has been only a month since we have the company of these wonderful birds.

Unfortunately, Coco breathed his last few hours back today. In an accident he was hit by a moving fan and died instantly because of the shock. We tried our best to bring him back to life but unfortunately we weren’t good enough.

Preeti was sobbing continuously. I was also shocked and sad but was trying to not breakdown emotionally.

If you had told me few months back that “I would be crying because a bird I own has died”, I would have laughed at you.

I was reluctant in getting close to the birds as I do not like the touch of the animals. Don’t ask me why. I wouldn’t know.

Yet, I was getting used to them around me. Preeti on other hand had trained them nicely and made them sit on her shoulders and eat her earring. They have this unusual taste.

I thought I will take some time and eventually get comfortable with the birds. So I was giving it time.

Time unfortunately doesn’t stop for anyone. It is surprising to see how less we realize the impermanence of life. Waiting to get comfortable! Coco is no longer with us and I am still waiting for time to elapse.

We did not know much about birds. We learnt through videos and articles on the web. Bird owners have put up some extremely resourceful notes that help newbies like us.

Preeti soaked in all the information and became in the in-house bird expert. It was amazing to see her train these stranger birds to eat, drink and play.

Of the two birds Bluee is the quiet one and Coco was naughty and playful. He would sing along the peppy numbers we played on YouTube and fly around the house making Preeti run behind him. He also fought incessantly with Bluee and always stopped her from eating food. However, he did love Bluee and they looked lovely together.

Coco would be the one who would respond to our cries and shouts from distance. He would be waiting at the entrance of the cage for Preeti to open the gate. He would usually be the first one to fly out and sit on top of the shelf. He would have no idea on how to come down but that wouldn’t deter him from going to the top.

It was just yesterday when we were asking each other whom did we love more Coco or Bluee. We both immediately took Coco’s name. He was extremely lovable.

We had discussed how these birds will grow up and become an extension of ourselves in the family. We had figured out our collective future. We were also planning to take them along on a weekend trip soon.

All that will still happen but without Coco. It was tough to see the immovable body of Coco. We tried earnestly to make him get up from the slumber. Our minds had declared him dead but hearts were still crying out loud hoping that he would wake up and make us run behind him. Preeti would be up in a second to catch hold of him. But none of that happened. We had to bury him in the garden. It was difficult but had to be done.

Again, if you had said this to me few months back that you will find it difficult to bury a dead body of a bird I would have laughed at you.

Coco spent only one month with us but he was increasing the capacity to love in us. His playful nature made us fall in love with him and just when I was getting comfortable with him he left us. This reminds me of Calvin when he lost his raccoon.

I don’t know why this accident occurred today. Why did Coco come into our life and then decided to leave us. I don’t have answers to the questions that Preeti is asking me. The only thing that I know is that Coco is no more with us. All that remains is the love and the memories.

Meeting Arjun Reddy’s Grandmother

Photo credit: Greatandhra. Com

I had always considered myself unlucky when it comes to meeting stars or celebrities at the airports or inside the flights. My friend who invariably meets someone every time she travels makes it look so easy. This for me wasn’t a goal but I wouldn’t complain if it happens to me.

I was traveling to Lucknow from Chennai on November 4, 2017. I was flying Indigo 6E 847, apparently the best airlines India has to offer.

Just like anyone else I sat near the gate waiting for the boarding to start. I was consciously making an attempt to not use my mobile phone. Why you ask? Let’s just say I don’t like that we have become slaves to our phones. More on that later. Of the hundreds of people sitting in the waiting area only handful were actually mindful of their surroundings. Most of them had a screen to stare into or were listening to music. Nothing wrong in doing either.

The moment they announced the boarding people flocked together and tried their best to beat everybody else to the line. After much effort I got onto the plane. The charismatic and inhumane air hostess welcomed me with a authentic fake smile which obviously dint work for me. I know better. While I was making my way through the aisle, expecting people to behave civilized and make way for others, I saw a familiar face.

An old lady trying to get comfortable in her seat. I couldn’t remember where had I seen her before. By the time I got to my seat at the backend of the plane i realized she might be the actor who played the role of the charming grandmother in the movie Arjun Reddy. Since I wasn’t sure if it was her and also did not know anything about the actor I dint do anything. The only thing I had read about her was a two line reference to her acting career in one of the movie reviews. Hence without giving it too much thought, I got comfortable in my seat and forgot about her.

Four hours later the plane landed in Lucknow. The moment the seat belt sign was turned off people got up in a jiffy, unloaded their bags from overhead cabin space and then waited in a line smelling each other’s odor. I can’t understand why people do that. By saving those 2 minutes how are they making their lives better? More on that later.

I waited for the aisle to get vacant. There were handful of people struggling with their luggage. I walked to the front end of the plane and to my surprise found the old lady standing near her seat. I couldn’t resist and asked her “Aren’t you the actor who played the role of the grandmother in Arjun Reddy”?

She said yes and I could sense a little pride in her voice. Not knowing what exactly to do in such a situation I continued to talk with her as I would talk to any stranger. I accompanied her on her way to the baggage carousels. She was in a wheelchair and an attendant was helping her drive the chair. The next 15 to 20 minutes of my life were enriching to say the least.

We quickly began to converse in Kannada and she told me about her experience of working in movies in different languages. I still did not know her name or anything else about her. She had apparently won an award in Karnataka and was telling me gleefully about the message she delivered while accepting the award. She took pride in saying that she is still earning at 78. She expected people to do their duties and told me repeatedly to allow people to do their duties. I was being helpful and trying to find a trolley for her but she insisted on the attendant to do it. We are paying him and he should earn his money was the reply I got form her. She did not budge in saying that people like me should not try to be extra nice and do other people’s jobs.

She was charming and energetic. Her zeal to talk about her life was exciting to see and it was clear to me that she must have been a strong woman in her hey days. I accompanied her till the exit gate where her family was waiting to receive her. Throughout the conversation I had umpteen number of opportunities to ask for a photo but I refrained. I was fighting the urge to take tbe selfie. The purity of the moment gets muddled when you bring in the moment capture device.

She asked me where I worked and stayed in Chennai. When I told her about the area I stay in, she was surprised and said we stay close by. I don’t remember if she said come over for a visit but even if she didn’t it doesn’t matter.

She introduced me to her family and was checking with them if they could drop me to a nearby place. I said my goodbyes to her and truly felt good for meeting her.

I still did not know her name. I called up a friend from office and narrated the incident to him and he told me that she is Kanchana.

Eating alone sucks, well almost 

Google has helped me in finding people who share the same feelings like I do.

My attempt to express this emotion is not unique. Here’s a post that you can read as a pre-read:

http://thewanderlustdays.com/some-days-eating-alone-sucks/

Today is one of those days when you question your social life and your ability to make friends. I am one of those people who allegedly can make new friends easily.  Alas! That’s as far from truth as humans are from Mars. Yeah, that far.

In school and college you always had company. You like it or not. The human presence matters. At least you had someone to dislike.

It doesn’t help that in my first job at Deloitte I was part of the lunch group. We were quite inseparable. Mostly. There were days when it was difficult to follow different threads of conversations. On other days, it was just Modi or Football. We also did bash our service line. We had the right to. You feel possessive of something that you truly care about. In this case our job. Our scale of liking for the company varied but we had a common denominator.

If I try and think why is that I am unable to make more friends, I invariably conclude that I haven’t really got used to the new place, people or the culture. That is only part of the problem, the remainder I am yet to discover.

Smartphone helps. Twitter keeps me entertained. Facebook gets me cranky. WhatsApp keeps me alive. All emotions one needs to experience in a day.

Yet there are days, like today, when nothing really helps. Smartphone becomes redundant. You can’t figure out one positive of eating alone. You just want to sulk and cry with your head in your hands. It probably is not just because of eating alone, various other events factor in but “eating alone” is the noticeable enemy.

You need to appreciate your eating company. No matter how naive, stupid and frivolous their comments are. You got someone/something to lament upon. When you don’t have anyone, you live in your head. And, that’s a dangerous place to be in.

The gatekeepers to your health

photo-1465961482777-c1070dfd906b

Photo by Alvin Engler

The hospital that I grew with for 20 years, stood tall amidst the numerous changes in the neighborhood. It never invited me, not even for a cup of tea, until recently. Not surprisingly, I wasn’t sure where the entrance was! After few minutes of hassle and the not-so-easy basement parking, I saw the inside of the building.

Disguised as a private hospital it looked like an ‘efficiently’ run government institution. It had that trademark smell that makes you go ‘eeeew’, yes the extra e’s for the emphasis.

We paid the exorbitant consultation fees for a 5 minute one-o-one with the doctor. We then waited for our turn, and the sequence was decided by the gatekeeper who was dressed in her dark blue uniform.

People waiting for their chances did not know what to do, because they were not used to the idle time. They couldn’t curb their anxiousness of knowing what had happened to their dear ones. They needed clarity and the person standing between them and clarity was the gatekeeper!

The popular belief says that the sequence is decided based on the universal law of “first-come first-served”. There are many factors that come into play and it is here the gatekeeper steps-up and does the unthinkable, delivers on the promise of the fair world.

Though she earns only 1/12th ( a guesstimate) of what the doctor earns in one month, she has more power than the doctor himself in deciding who gets checked and more importantly before whom. Note, I realized the gatekeepers are usually women and the doctors are men hence the stereotyping. I would love to be proved wrong.

I tried not to jump the line but have seen my folks do it using innovative reasons ranging from medical emergency to catching the last bus to village!  Usually, the gatekeepers are tough to convince and with experience they can differentiate genuine from frivolous.

If you are not creative enough, you can use the age old technique of persistence, just stand there with the reports in your hand and make a puppy face. It works always. Tried and tested!

There were many who tried to convince her to let them in but she wouldn’t budge. She stood her ground and with authority said no. Yet, when people persisted continuously, she had to give in, only a little though. She in a raised voice said, I would allow you but only when I tell you to, and you don’t utter a word before that. This calmed the storm.

She listened attentively to the group of women whispering about the family troubles, a man worried for his wife, and a young boy  continuously playing on his smart phone. She in a day witnesses all kinds of people trying to convince her and yet she smiles when you go to her with your astuteness.

When you meet a gatekeeper next time and try to beat her with your smartness, know that she might have heard the reason before and still lets you in.

Ground Zero

This is my final attempt to write regularly.

I say final because of the numerous failed attempts earlier. Below are some of the blogging platforms I have used in the past:

  1. Blogger
  2. WordPress
  3. Posterous
  4. Roon
  5. Posthaven
  6. Medium

and a few more. None of the blogs saw consistency in postings. Medium was the only exception to this.

My writing has been all over the place. Facebook bore the brunt of my ramblings.It helped but never satisfied my insatiable urge to express.

This wholesome blog has always been on the “To-Do” list yet it never saw the light of the day.

I give up on giving up.

As with most of my decisions, I gave in to the temptation and bought this domain today and here it is, my new blog “Raindrop is blue”

The name of the blog is essentially an answer to the the album title “What Color is your raindrop” by one of my favorite musicians Tajdar Junaid. No, it is not just a literal interpretation of the title, it is equally metaphoric. No more on that.

If you are one of those curious types, yes the domain name is unique. Thank you for noticing. I was paranoid at the commonality of my name hence I coined this word “rove2mushin” at the brink of an uneventful midnight.

rove2mushin: journey to a state of no mind.

If you google rove2mushin you will only find my digital footprint. Like a boss!

I will be writing regularly on this blog ( read: sparingly ) on varied topics ( read: socially acceptable ) with unabashed passion ( read: unabashed passion!). Expect everything.

For the benefit of those who like to have takeaways:

Takeaway #1 : This is yet another blog from me with slightly lesser chance of failing.

Takeaway #2: Let’s not get greedy. one is enough for now.

P.S: Aditya Patil likes to be called “Adi”, he thinks that makes him cool. Poor him.