Days 98 and 99 – Deolali

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Day 98 – Sat, 1st Feb 2014
Day 99 – Sun, 2nd Feb 2014

It’s Saturday morning 10:00 am, Khyati and I are all packed up and ready to leave for the last destination of our India trip – Deolali. It’s a small town just south of Nashik. There are few tourist spots here but the main pull for Deolali was that two of my closest friends were driving down from Mumbai to see us and we intended to spend the weekend together.

train route to Deolali

train route to Deolali

The last train journey was a smooth AC chair car ride. We reach Deolali by 6 pm in the evening and our friends – Parag and Mittal are there to receive us. It’s 6:30 pm and Alisha joins us as well from Mumbai.

Deolali rly stn

Deolali rly stn

We are a full house now, we head to Parag’s home in Deolali and just relax for the evening. The air is a bit chilly in the night as we step out for dinner around 9:30 pm. We didn’t expect to hit waiting times at the restaurant but to our surprise, we were waiting for over half an hour before we were seated at the table. Well, the wait was worth as the food was so good.

Post dinner, we bring in Saturday night by playing cards and board games throughout the night. Don’t know where time flew but it was 5 am by the time we hit the sack.

It’s Sunday morning 11 am, there is an air gliding club in Nashik and it’s open to visitors during the afternoon / early evening. Our friend has made reservations and we were quite excited about this.

We take a stroll around the neighborhood in the morning and visit the Jain temples here. It’s noon, all of us are playing a murder mystery board game – “Cluedo”. The game is quite interesting and gripping. The challenge is to find answers to three questions – who is the murderer, where did the murder happen and what weapon was used to commit the murder? Mittal emerged to be the winner of the game and rightfully so, she had the most experience playing this game.

It’s 2 pm, we head out for some lunch in Nashik town and then plan to go to the Air gliding place. It’s 3:30 pm by the time we get to the main entrance of Air gliding centre, the guard stops our car at the gate and declines us from going further inside. He says that the air gliding centre allows entry to fliers on a first come first serve basis and so far, 3 cars have gone inside. That’s 15 people and there won’t be space for any more people to do air gliding today. We were disappointed on hearing this and kept persuading the guard to let us in. He just won’t budge. Eventually, we gave up on our wish to do air gliding.

It’s 4:30 pm, we head to Sula wines. There is a Vero Moda festival going on there. On our way there, we see a lot of grape vineyards and if possible, we wished to do grape stomping. Unfortunately, due to it being a Sunday and the festival time, there were huge crowds of people and the grape stomping option was ruled out for today.

at Sula wines fest

at Sula wines fest

We gate crash one such vineyard and walk through the farm. We tasted a few grapes but the grapes were sour.

at the grape vineyard

at the grape vineyard

It’s 6 pm and we are on our way to Mumbai. We reach Thane by 8:30 pm and meet few other friends over dinner.

USC friends

USC friends

It’s 11 pm and we bid goodbye to Thane and take a taxi home.

Hope you enjoyed Day 98 and 99 of our India travel. Tomorrow is Day 100 and the culmination of our fantastic India trip.

Best wishes,
Paras

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Days 95 to 97 – Pune

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Day 95 – Wednesday, 29th Jan 2014
Day 96 – Thursday, 30th Jan 2014
Day 97 – Friday, 31st Jan 2014

It’s Tuesday night 10 pm, our AC sleeper bus to Pune has picked up all its passengers from Goa and is on the main highway heading to Pune. The driver has dimmed the aisle light and Khyati and I call it a night soon. The sleeper beds are 5’5” in length and for me, that is no good. The roads are in quite a good condition and we slept sound. Our bus experience was good but if I were to choose, trains are more comfortable in comparison to buses, hands down!

Bus journey from Goa to Pune

Bus journey from Goa to Pune

It’s Wednesday morning 6:30 am, we are woken up by the bus conductor who walks along the aisle announcing the next stop – Katraj. Katraj is about 10 kms outside of Pune. Some people alight here and rest of the passengers are packing their stuff and starting to crowd the aisle area. We alight at Pune Swargate and take a prepaid auto rickshaw to our friend’s place in Koregaon Park. It’s 10:30 am and post breakfast, we walk from our friend’s place to Osho Park. This park is in the quaint part of the town and the park is nestled in acres of lush greenery. We enjoy our walk in the park and then next, we head to Aga Khan palace. Aga Khan palace is where Gandhiji, his wife – Kasturba and his personal secretary – Mahadev Desai were held captive when he launched the Quit India movement against the British in 1942.

Gandhi and Kasturba

Gandhi and Kasturba

Legend has it that Kasturba ji and Mahadev Desai breathed their last at Aga Khan palace and they are buried here. Gandhiji himself carried out the last rites of these two dear people in his life.

Samadhi

Samadhi

On our way back from Aga Khan palace to the railway station, we notice a road sign for KFC. Anybody notice the irony in this picture? Kentucky Fried Chicken and pure veg?? haha

KFC and pure veg...

KFC and pure veg…

In the evening, we dine at our relative’s place in the old part of the city. It was good to meet with all of them and enjoy a lovely meal. In the photo below – Harish Masa, Jyoti Masi, Sanket and us.

relatives in Pune

relatives in Pune

It’s Thursday morning, 7:30 am, Khyati and I are at the dining table with Chaitali and Dhanish enjoying some hot breakfast. Both of us are not movie buffs but we have wanted to catch up on a film for a long time. We have booked ourselves tickets to the “American Hustle” for the 9:30 am matinee show at Inox Leisure cinemas, Pune. The movie is worth a one time watch. It’s noon, we head out from there and plan to explore Katraj. Katraj has a beautiful Jain temple on top of a hill and a zoo and snake park. We take the local city bus to Katraj bus stand and hike up the hill to the temple.

Katraj Jain temple

Katraj Jain temple

It’s 3:30 pm, we walk down the hill and take a shared auto rickshaw to the zoo. The zoo is huge and very well maintained.

at the Pune zoo

at the Pune zoo

It’s 6 pm and we are meeting one of our other close friends from California over dinner. I have known Prashant and Dimple for over 7 years now. They were very hospitable and were inquisitive about our entire trip. It was the first place where we gave an interview of sorts. Prashant has been kind enough to jot down our interview and post it as a blog item on KutchValley – http://www.kavita.kutchvalley.com/?p=4362

It was really good catching up with him and his family.

with Prashant, Dimple and the kids

with Prashant, Dimple and the kids

It’s 11 am Friday, Khyati and I are visiting the Tribal museum in Pune. It’s not a known tourist attraction which is why there were hardly any tourists here. The museum is small but great. It gives us insight into how the tribal folks of Maharashtra lived and worked back in the days.

at the Tribal museum

at the Tribal museum

In the afternoon, Khyati and I visit the War Memorial site in Pune. The War memorial site is well protected and within the complex, it’s walls are adorned with great stories of the various battles Indian soldiers have had to fight over the years. We enjoy reading these real life experiences and are in awe of the immense contribution Indian soldiers give for us to lead such a smooth life.

In the evening, Khyati and I are meeting my work friends over dinner at a local restaurant. It was nice of my friends to come out and meet us on a Friday evening. We enjoy a good meal and catch up on old times.

with old Yardi friends

with old Yardi friends

Three days in Pune went by in a jiffy. We had such a good time, thanks to all our friends, relatives and our host – Chaitali and Dhanish.

with Dhanish

with Dhanish

Hope you enjoyed this piece, please let us know by leaving a comment.

Best wishes,
Paras

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Days 93 and 94 – Goa

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Day 93 – Monday, 27th Jan 2014
Day 94 – Tuesday, 28th Jan 2014

Traveling from Bangalore to Goa, we had a lot of options in terms of the route we could take but Khyati and I preferred to take the coastal train route going via the Konkan region. This is a very scenic route and the train would cover this journey in the morning part. This was our last overnight train journey of our India trip.

It’s 8 am Monday morning, our train pulls into Mangalore station. The train stops here for 40 minutes and the train splits into two. One heading North towards Karwar and another heading South towards Kannanor.

coastal train route to Goa

coastal train route to Goa

The coach is fairly empty all the way to Karwar. We are bestowed with breath taking scenery on this route.

IMG_0109

MVI0116 from Paras Mamania on Vimeo.

Karwar is the last town on Karnataka side before we enter the state of Goa. Our final destination is Alto Porvorim, a small town in the interiors of Goa. We had to break our journey in four parts – a) Bangalore to Karwar AC 3 tier sleeper tickets

Train to Karwar

Train to Karwar

b) Karwar to Madgaon passenger train

Karwar to Madgaon

Karwar to Madgaon

c) Madgaon to Thivim Second Class seating

Madgaon to Thivim

Madgaon to Thivim

d) Auto rickshaw from Thivim to Alto Porvorim.

Khyati and I are just in awe of the super rail and road connectivity that India has on offer. We could get to just about any place we wish to. We reach our host’s house in Alto Porvorim by 8 pm. Post dinner, we just relax for the evening and catch up with Minal ji and share our experiences. It’s midnight by the time we call it a night.

Goa can be broadly categorized into North Goa and South Goa. The last time Khyati and I were in Goa, we had explored South Goa. Today, we planned to explore parts of North Goa with Minal ji.

It’s Tuesday, there has been a slight scuffle in Goa. The taxi union in Goa had roughed up a bus driver carrying 12 Russian tourists and there was a police complaint due to which 300-400 taxi drivers were on strike and had held up the Calangute area of Goa. Minal’s husband – Mr. Vikarm Verma is a lawyer representing the Russian consulate and he was directly involved in the dealings of this matter.

Does that deter us from our plans to visit North Goa today, I ask? “No way” was the apt answer from Minal. We liked it.

Over lunch, we had Vikram ji and their son Ameya’s company and it was good catching up with them.

with our host family

with our host family

Post lunch, we head out to see Minal ji’s boutique. She has an amazing collection of fashion clothes made from all over the place. Some exquisite Kutchi embroidery work adorned her boutique. Khyati immediately connected and was browsing through the collection while I just nodded at some of the jargonistic textile terms, hehe…

We head in Minal ji’s car to Fort Aguada area. Minal ji let me drive. It’s a really fun experience to drive in Goa unlike other parts of India. People are a lot relaxed here. The ride is 10 kms going up the hill. Fort Aguada is famous for the old and new light house, the fort where innumerable Hindi movies have been shot and the Aguada Jail where Charles Shobhraj was held up.

We climb around 70-80 stairs all the way to the top of the Light House. We have scenic views of the beach, Arabian sea and inland Goa town. A nice breeze is flowing and we enjoy our time here.

atop the light house

atop the light house

We walk around the fort area reliving Dil Chahta Hai moments. We drive down towards the beach now. I believe, Goa is the only place where there are many shacks on the beach and people can just relax and have food, drinks and just sun bathe. We got to witness the most amazing sunset we have ever seen. It was a clear bright red sky as the sun set.

IMG_0177

It’s 7 pm, we head back home and have some light dinner before our onward journey to Pune. It’s 8:30 pm, we bid good bye to our host family and head towards the Kakori Circle bus stand. Does the name ring a bell? Kakori Circle is famed after the infamous criminal Charles Shobhraj was captured here in broad daylight while sipping coffee at a restaurant. Post that incident, they have placed a replica of Charles Shobhraj here. We chose to take a picture of that man.

Charles Shobhraj handcuffed

Charles Shobhraj handcuffed

It’s 8:45 pm, our AC sleeper bus to Pune is there on time. We stow our luggage in the compartment below and settle on our seats. It’s an overnight bus journey and tomorrow morning, we will be back in good’ol Maharashtra and so close to Mumbai.

Hope you enjoyed Goa with us. Please let us know by leaving a comment.

Stay tuned for the last few posts of our India trip.

Best wishes,
Paras

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Days 91 and 92 – Bangalore

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Day 91 – Saturday, 25th Jan 2014
Day 92 – Sunday, 26th Jan 2014

It’s Friday night 9:30 pm, our train from Mysore has pulled into Bangalore Cant railway station.

route to Bangalore

route to Bangalore

Karan and Jeenal – our friends have come to the station to receive us. We go to a nice restaurant on Cunnigham Road and after a heavy dinner, we head to their home by 11 pm.

We have quite a few friends and family in Bangalore and we specifically adjusted our trip in a way that we get to spend the weekend here.

For Saturday, we planned to visit all our friends and family. In the morning, we visit Lax Uncle and Sh. Liladhar Gada (Adha). It was really good to meet them and we consider ourselves lucky to know such eminent personalities of our Kutchi community. From there, we head to Khyati’s cousin’ house in Koramangala area.

with cousin'

with cousin’

We have lunch here and in the afternoon, we leave to visit Tipu Sultan’s palace and Bangalore Fort. Unlike what the name suggests, both these attractions are quite small in size. The palace is just a small building adjacent to a Vishnu temple (look at the irony – a Muslim ruler’s palace next to a temple built for a Hindu God).

Bangalore Fort

Bangalore Fort

On our way back to Karan’s place, we walk by a huge construction site. As I manage a sneak peek, it turns out to be the Bangalore Metro… Look at the two underground tunnels being laid out in this part of the town. Work seems to be going in full swing.

Bangalore Metro sneak peek

Bangalore Metro sneak peek

In the evening, we meet one of our other close friend’ Bhavini and her family over dinner. We have been spoiled by the amount of good home cooked food we were served here. Bhavini had specially cooked a traditional Jain Malayali meal for us. The food was really yum!

We head back home around 11 pm and we are not in the mood to call it a night soon. Saturday night should be card night. All of us settle on the sofa bed and dish out card games. Karan taught us an interesting new game which we play for the next 3-4 hours. We almost lost track of time as the card game was so much fun. We finally call it a night around 2 am only to wake up in a few hours.

It’s 26th Jan – India’s Republic Day today and Karan has made elaborate plans for the morning. There is a beautiful flower show and flag hoisting ceremony at Lalbaug Gardens. We reach the gardens by 6 am Sunday morning and there is quite a lot of people given the early time. The garden is huge, set in many acres of land and we spend a good part of our morning here.

tree with innumerable branches

tree with innumerable branches

Flower show

Flower show

It’s 8:30 am and we take part in the flag hoisting ceremony at Lalbaug.

MVI0068 from Paras Mamania on Vimeo.

It’s 11 am and we drive in Karan’s car to few other pockets of Bangalore. It was good to drive around the city and get a touristy view. Karan suggested that we try the traditional Kannadiga food at a local restaurant – MTR 1924 (Mavalli Tiffin Rooms). Legend has it that this restaurant was opened by 3 brothers in 1924 and the legacy has been continued by their family. The food was really good and from there we head home by 3 pm.

It’s 5:30 pm, Khyati and I are ready to bid good bye to Bangalore and we are on our way to Bangalore Yeshwantpur Junction for our overnight train journey to Karwar.

We really enjoyed our stay in Bangalore and cannot thank our hosts enough for the wonderful time we had.

with Karan and Jeenal

with Karan and Jeenal

Hope you enjoyed our write-up for Bangalore. Please let us know by leaving a comment.

Our next destination – Goa.

Best wishes,
Paras

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