02 August 2009
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Posted By joseph
So we started off from Andheri (after picking up Nam from the airport, haggling over how we were going to get to the Royal Palms, and adjusting my hair a million times to ensure it looked spiky enough to go with “spiky-haired boy” look I’d written about earlier in some post you won’t be able to find in this huge blog with a lot of pictures and this ridiculously long sentence which refuses to end but goes on and on because my fingers are addicted to it. Ahhhh! Nam just whacked me on my spiky-haired head to stop rambling! Dammit.).
Yes, where were we?
We started off from Lokhandwala (not Andheri! And no this bracketed sentence is shorter!)! 3 bags, a tripod and 2 backpacks (1 Victorinox and the other a Kata!)
GDC poster in the Palms Hotel lobby!
We got on a buggy to get to our Villas!
Nam was really scared of sitting in the buggy going backwards, she kept thinkin she’ll fall off!
The swimming pool outside is quite awesome!
But then, it faces straight onto the Imperial Palace - this is voyeur heaven!
Nam really liked the chottu lamps near the pool
But she hated these really weird mural
Anyway, we headed off to dinner. Met all the Top 12 teams, except one team, the 3 judges, the HML Marketing Head (Pritam), the blog-god Sandip, Rajesh n Rajeev from GDC, the Encompass Team and had an absolutely great time!
This is the only photo from the dinner/drinks that we have. Most of the teams are easily recognizable in this shot though, we swear!
Dinner was great to boot, though Nam kept reminding me of the darn obstacle course day after and kept pullin me away from the great desserts. :(
And now we’re back in the room blogging this, preparing for the “route discussion” and feeling ultra-sleepy.
On that note, goodnight, Godbless and we’ll see you tomorrow with all the updates!
02 August 2009
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Posted By joseph
The journey so far has taken us through uncharted paths
...and twisty, rocky roads!
We’ve had almost no time to stop and take in the view…
...sometimes of the great water bodies that the monsoons bring
...and other times of the way we destroy our own planet.
Nam and I been working for TGDC all this while in our own little spaces far away from each other…
Not very different from these guys here - perched in their own spaces with 1000s of miles between them
Anyway, Namrata is on the flight from Chennai to Mumbai right now…
So I’m really looking forward to meeting up with her and having some fun at the auditions!
Not really like this, but you get the idea!
...and off I go to pack my bags!
PS: The photos are from very very different places.
02 August 2009
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Posted By joseph
So how will it be?
Will it be like Roadies with all the Vote-outs?
Naaa, they did not say anything like that in the schedule!
Will it be like Survivor with all the grainy shots of people sitting around a bonfire?
Nope, the Palms Hotel Villa seems to have more swimming pool than jungle area!
Will they make us eat cockroaches and bugs?
Don’t think so, surely hope not! (Namrata says: Yeeeeeeee!)
Will it be like Big Brother with hidden cameras all around and people sitting in their beds all day long?
Again. Definitely NO.
Will it be like “Kathron ka khiladi”?
Impossible, there are too many men around!
Will it be AWESOME?
Yes! Judging by everything that TGDC has come up with so far, and the build up to the auditions, we expect nothing less than the very best of experiences!
Will it be unforgettable?
Yes! It has been 38 days since we signed up for the GDC and every new step towards today has been a memory to cherish. We’re happy to have blogged, got our old photographs out, got people talking about “Save Our Souls” and ecstatic to be in the select bunch of talented 24 today.
But most importantly, we’ve been humbled, delighted and made to grin continuously at work with the constant support and backing of our Followers and Fans. You guys ROCK! From Facebook to Gmail to GDC blog to Twitter to Our Blog to Orkut, your undying dedication has made these past 38 days truly unforgettable!
What’s the worst part?
That this will last for only 4 days for some of us. If wishes were horses, we’d be hoping that all twelve teams can gallop off on their routes come August 6th. But sadly, that is not the case. It is strange how I’m not really expecting anything right now about being in the Top 3 but only looking forward to the great 3 days ahead.
What’s the best part?
This moment right here. The fact that everyday in this past month has given us something unexpected to look forward to. The excitement, the tension, the adrenaline rush all while simply sitting in front of our computers has been unbeatable!
Will we continue to post on this blog?
Hell yea! This blog will remain alive throughout the 3 days. If we can juggle updating the blog with travelling, working, attending umpteen meetings, holding centre-stage in presentations, coaxing for more followers, beefing up our route plan, eating, and sleeping…we should be able to do this for all of you!
Stay tuned for some juicy updates on the auditions as they happen!
PS 1: Thanks Unny & Bindhu for the great poem. Really sweet of you guys!
PS 2: All of the above are subject to change since the organizers can make “last minute changes”!
01 August 2009
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Posted By joseph
We drove upto Binsar from Ramnagar, Uttaranchal crossing Ranikhet on our way. Ranikhet is known as “mini Kashmir”. Oddly enough, I forgot my camera in the car because I had to rush for a loo-break during our pit-stop. So no photos for you! What I can tell you is that we had great tandoori chicken, a relieving loo break and bought some gloves and hats for the bone-chilling cold!
The drive up the hills takes us through twisting turns which leave you with a serious jaw-ache after the first 2 hours - you’ll be saying “wowwww” at each and every turn up.
The Himalayas play peek-a-boo with you going in and out of sight behind the trees bursting with vivid red rhodendrons - spring time is perfect for the flowers. But more than the Himalayas, it is the awe-inspiring vistas that greet you with every kilometre you go up the hills. Every new turn gives you a view of stunning layers and layers of hill-land.
Layers of alpine beauty!
The way to Binsar takes you past the outer limits of the town of Almora, which is also a popular hill-station where broadband is more freely available than fresh water. We reached the hills overlooking Almora at around 6PM and the moon was just rising out of its slumber. The deep blue dusk sky, the unusually large moon, the pine trees and the colorful town of Almora were enough to make us stop in our tracks and click off some shots.
Oh little town of Almora, how still we see thee lie
The big moon of Almora
We were now on our final stretch upto the Binsar peak but along the way we had to stop for two other irresistible photo-stops. The forests along the Kumaon region are sometimes burnt down to keep the ecology in balance, we were lucky enough to sight a forest-fire from our unbeatable vantage point high above the forest.
A little further along the way, we got our first sighting of wildlife. Really wild. And very dead. The carcass looked atleast a day old and we guessed it was a leopard kill by the sheer size of the prey.
Dinner is served!
We finally reached the govt-owned KMVN rest-house high above the Binsar Retreat and other private resorts. Here, you get the best panoramic view of the 300km long Himalayan peaks from ‘Zero Point’; a place which is only a short trek up from the rest-house (2kms). Electricity lasts for only 6 hrs per day (generated from solar panels), and there is absolutely zero cell-phone coverage. Hot water is available only on request and that too only in the mornings. But you’ll forget all these amenities once you start discovering Binsar.
KMVN Rest house
The next morning we caught sunrise over the Himalayas and started off for a 6km trek down the hill.
Another wild-life sighting! The leopard in the KMVN rest-house.
Sun rays kiss the peaks of the Himalayas
Our trek took us through the actual forest part of Binsar leading down the hill we’d driven up the previous day. The story is best told in a few photographs:
Droopy Owl - our only bird sighting apart from the usual eagles was this. Binsar is home to more than 200 species of birds!
Yet another wildlife sighting! - the pink creature to the right is my dear friend Tanvi. She had to endure putting up a fake smile for the 1000s of photos I clicked!
Langurs - these buggers were everywhere and they are quite a scary lot too!
At our chai break, I took some time off from the lens to take in the sights while Tanvi took a shot at some shots.
That’s our guide Sunder Singh to the right and to the left is me gingerly finding my way across the slope and makin an arse of myself
We also found a drinking water source dating back to 1907 and a temple by the way. Sunder Singh got us a bottle of full of fresh drinking water from the well, and guess what? It was actually better tasting than your regular Evian! This was pure bliss.
The 1907 water source and the lonely temple
Lunchtime went by at the KMVN resthouse and we lazed around the resort till sunset. We trekked the short walk up to ‘Zero point’ to catch the sunset and returned to the rest house with only 2 hours of electricity left. As the camera charged and we finished dinner, we realized how being completely isolated is never really a bad thing. In the one week I spent in Uttaranchal, my phone was switched off for the entire time and I lived without electricity and broadband all through. We ensured that our short vacation was not made shorter by the mundane routine of our urban lives. We did not capture leopards, birds, bears but we did find peace.Pure and undisturbed peace.
In the end, those two days spent in Binsar will always be permanently stuck in my mind. More than just seeing these photographs, I can smell the fresh air, feel the soul-awakening breeze run against my face, hear the crackle of leaves under my foot in the forest, see the sky change a million hues from dawn to dusk and transport myself back to Binsar with my memories.
Just two days spent on the hill-top but enough memories to last a lifetime; where have you bin’sar?
At the end of the day…
PS: All the best to all the teams for the auditions, can’t wait to see you guys!
PS 2: High res versions of these photos are available for download here.
PS 3: More such photographs available on my regular flickr page here.
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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!