17 August 2009
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A last look - Jaipur
Posted By joseph
In all the hype between Jodhpur and Agra, we missed out telling you guys about Jaipur entirely. Not because we forgot, but it was nothing really memorable - sadly.
Jaipur’s forts that lie in the city are heavily commercialized and the searing afternoon heat does not help matters either. Situated smack in the centre of the city’s shopping markets, the Hawa Mahal is a great monument to look at but once inside the place you do not get a feeling of the age of the place or the stories of the rulers who lived there. It is all a bit soul-less and too new-age. Of course, there is a lot to learn and hear about if you are interested - here’s the Wiki on Hawa Mahal. For us, the hustle bustle of the place and the overall rush did not meet up to expectations.
Our short trip around Jaipur took us to the Mitsubishi Showroom (where we had a yummy breakfast, thanks Abhinav!), the Hawa Mahal and the Jal Mahal (albeit just a drive-by), before we headed off to Agra - for a truly unforgettable experience.
The photos shall tell the story, as always.
First thing we saw in the morning, parked in front of our hotel!
At the Mitsu showroom
The car got a great shower and was gleaming!
The markets around the forts
The forts around the markets! This city truly lives up to its name of Pink City.
Namrata IN the pink city!
Parked at the Hawa Mahal
First looks at the Hawa Mahal
Two dehydrated travellers and one colorful hall.
Namrata ran away from the heat while I kept the door open to help her out.
The fort wall up the hill near the Jal Mahal
Cedia@The Jal Mahal
Of course, Rajasthan never ceased to please us with color.
But it was finally time to bid goodbye to Rajasthan. Perhaps it would have been more memorable had we had the time to discover the place in and out - that’s a hint for a much longer TGDC Season 2!
17 August 2009
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Clippity-clop! Tickkity-tock! - Ajmer!
Posted By namrata
After meeting Maharaj Brijraj Singh at the Ratan Vilas in Jodhpur, we headed to Jaipur, our next night-stop. Of course, we stopped at Ajmer that falls on the way (200 km from Jodhpur).
It was 5.50pm by the time we pulled into Ajmer and made our way to the well-known and revered Dargah Sharif of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. This place houses the tomb of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, a mosque built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and an imposing gate donated by the Nizam of Hyderabad. This place is thronged by believers who come here to pray and petition the saint for miracles, cures, babies, etc.
However, we despaired once we saw the crowds milling around the entrance of the dargah, and with no parking in site we were about to turn back and continue our journey to Jaipur.
But that’s when we found a place to park the Blackhawk safely - an enterprising gentleman had taken the compound of one of the old buildings along the dargah road and converted it to an expensive pay & park facility. Of course you had no choice but to park your car there if you wanted to visit the dargah quickly.
Once we stepped onto the main dargah road, we spotted a string of tongas lined up to take people to the entrance. By this time, Joseph was quite tired and didn’t want to walk all the way to the dargah, while I, on the other hand, had nothing specific to wish for and instead of being vague, I decided that I would petition the holy man once I had something real and concrete to ask for. Why use up a miracle on something frivolous? Hence we headed back in the direction of our car, when Joseph spotted a tonga and had the amazing brainwave of going on a tonga ride through the Old City.
Our support crew wanted to accompany us too, so we hunted for a sturdy horse and carriage that could carry well-built Raghu and the chinna Sunil Kumar. This took some time but soon we were clip-clopping along the streets of Ajmer. In 50 rupees, the tonga took us to the Golden Mahal, the Akbar Fort and Museum, and deposited us back on the old dargah lane.
The Akbar Fort and Museum
It was a fun riding a tonga after such a long time that brought back memories of going to Juhu beach, in Bombay and enjoying a tonga ride along the sandy beaches. An hour after arriving in Ajmer, we were on our way to Jaipur. Hope to visit the dargah someday, till then I rely on falling stars, four-leaf clovers and a fallen eye-lash every month or two.
16 August 2009
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Bumper stickers - the Indian way!
Posted By joseph
Lorry Art. The color and the vibrance really started in Rajasthan, but all along the way every lorry had a word of wisdom or two or even a whole para to tell us. The ones that stood out were those who said something other than “Horn Ok Please”, “Maa ki aashirvad”, “Buri nazar waale tera muh kaala”.
Most of the time this led to Namrata whipping out the camera and shooting. So for a change, here are the photos by Namrata in the shotgun seat and words by me in the driver’s seat.
Soch kar socho, saath kya jaayega. We saw this on a lot of trucks, any idea what this means?
Kis kis ki nazar ko pehchane, Kis kis ki nazar mein rehte hain! Kismat kuch aisi paaji hai, Din raat safar mein rehte hain!
Unthees ka phool, sadsat ka maala! Chandni raat hogi, nadi ka kinara hoga!
Maalik ka chamcha, driver ka shaala! Steering haath mein hogi, maa ka sahara hoga!
Dekho, magar pyaar se!
Some got bored of the “Horn Ok Please” and got creative:
Din hain toh raat bhi hogi, baadal hai toh barsaat hogi! Chinta mat kar, zindagi rahi toh mulakaat bhi hogi!
Samay se pehle, bhagya se zyada kabhi nahin milta! Very profound indeed.
Chalti hain gaadi, Udti hain dhool! Jalte hain dushman, Kilte hain phool! Wah wah!
What my car back home keeps asking - Ghar kab aaoge?
Finally, we must all love our gaddis. Especially if we have our livers in a box!
But the fun does not need to stop at lorries only, if you are in Surat or Jodhpur the autos will keep you entertained too. We were in both cities after nightfall so we could not really get all of the sights we saw on camera. Check out a few here.
Shahid Kapur on a Chevrolet U-VA auto to the left. To the right we have, Sunny Deol showing a fist to those overtaking the auto and Mithunda protecting the wheels!
Jodhpur autos, they are art by themselves!
Even Gods do not have entry into this auto! While Akshay chills out in his shades!
Not just lorries and autos though. Even cars will make you smile, like this zoo-zoo fan here!
If all else fails, you can always Rant a bike!
More from the Indian roads, coming right here on this space!
16 August 2009
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Crime-master GoGo & Sattu drive us crazy!
Posted By namrata
India is a very hospitable country. The people are helpful and polite to strangers and travellers, most of the time. All through our travel we have relied on the locals for guiding us to hotels, forts, shopping haunts and on to the highways. It’s only when we are on the highways though, without a soul in sight, that we are completely at the mercy of our two navigation systems - GoGo India and SatNav.
Our initial interaction with both of them was courteous and delightful. After exchanging a few pleasantries, establishing a few ground rules (I’m in charge of feeding in our destination, they should let us know of any turns and bends in the roads well in advance, should use those husky, soft voices while talking to Joe if they want his attention, etc.) and familiarising ourselves with their various menus & options - we were on our way.
The first trip was an eye-opener. Both these ladies knew the roads of Bombay better than I did! They led us quickly from the flag off ceremony at Worli to Andheri, where we spent some time with family & friends before we left for Ghodbunder, our first halt for this trip. Their directions were precise, accurate and delivered in that sexy voice that had Joe super-excited about the prospect of spending the better part of these ten days in the Cedia!
Looks can be deceptive
Like moths to a flame, we were captivated by these beauties. We advanced towards Daman and then onto Surat without any hindrance. Once in Surat though, all hell broke lose!
Surat, like all financial centres, is a bustling town. Everyone marches on the roads with a purpose, traffic is heavy, fast and a little scary (those chakadas can take some sharp turns without any warning!)
The fact that we hadn’t sorted our hotel bookings yet added to our woes. After consulting a few friends and colleagues who had worked in the city, we zeroed in on Hotel Yuvraj, located near the railway station. Of course by that time we were quite lost somewhere near Vithal wadi, the traffic was so busy that we couldn’t stop and ask for directions.
Joe: Which way do I go now?
Me: Let me key in Surat Station.
Crime-master GoGo lets me feed ‘Surat’ very quickly, Sattu is a lot more shy and takes time to digest each letter of our proposed destination.
Crime-master GoGo: Drive carefully.
Sattu, meanwhile, calculates the route silently, mulling over it like a tricky algebra problem.
Crime-master GoGo: Take the second exit at the round-about
Sattu: (in a much softer tone) Keep left
Me: Why does she say second exit at the round-about, why can’t she say ‘go straight from the circle’??
Joe: That’s the propah way of giving directions. Her accent is soooo Brit! (all smiles)
We approach a fly-over.
Joe: Do I go over this?
Me: GoGo’s blue colored route says keep going straight, should take the fly-over
Sattu: Keep left
Joe & Me: That’s confusing! (We climb the bridge slowly, eyes peeled for some road signs)
Crime-master GoGo: Take a U-turn (bright red, U-shaped arrow, flickering brightly on her screen)
Sattu: (no directions, indicates that we should continue straight ahead by flashing a few lights, and rotating the map to give some sort of 3D view of this maze)
Joe: U-turn, a U-turn on the flyover!! Arrrrgh! B&*&^@*^!!!
We descend the fly-over.
Crime-master GoGo: (in a shrill tone) Turn Left! Turn Left!
Crime-master GoGo: Route re-calculation
Sattu: (in a cool, calm voice) Turn left in 500m
Me: (Panicking) This doesn’t look good Joe, we are on some sort of expressway! Only flyovers ahead, some signs showing this is the route to Dandi?!?!
Joe: (afraid that the crazy bikers will nick the car) Key in Surat station again, let her re-calculate all over again!
Sattu: Approaching left turn in 100m
We take the left turn. Crime-master GoGo again goes into ‘route re-calculation’ mode.
Me: Let’s stop and ask for directions
Joseph stops the car next to a shopping complex. Helpful folks, after spitting out some betel juice, guide us in the rough direction towards the station. The two of us concur that maybe its time to switch off both of these bimbos and look for the place the old-fashioned way. After negotiating some one-ways and a few very, very narrow lanes, we reach the elusive Hotel Yuvraj.
Joe: (Trying to see the lighter side of things) May be they are new to Surat, just like us!
Me: Yeah right! T^@&@!!! &*!^%!! May be you should have relied on your flesh-and-blood navigator a lot more and we would have reached earlier!
Security guard outside the hotel: Welcome Madam, kya aapke paas booking hai?
Find where Joseph and Namrata are heading
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Namrata and Joseph, Bombay-ite and Hyderabadi, implore all you interesting, smart, cute and sexy people reading this to please, pleeez follow us !
Fresh out of college, we were thrown into the dust bowls of U.P and the jungles of M.P. Sneaky trainees that we were, we took full advantage of the available resources to explore. Whether the pine trees of Almora or the ruins of Khajuraho, a Bhojpuri film shoot or some gun-laden, mustachioed dudes in the Chambal areas of Bhind - our travels always had added flavor!