Vapi to Pondicherry…

Chennai (surprisingly but also due to recession) has a lot of people from IIM Lucknow this year. Some of my very good friends are working there… Suddenly they made plans of having a Get Together and asked me to come over… I had never been to Chennai before and thought it would be a good occasion to see the city. Also, we were supposed to go to Pondicherry from Chennai… which looked like a decent plan to me.

The least did I know that on the very same day when I had to fly to Chennai, I had a visit scheduled to one of the Contract Manufacturing facilities of our company. That facility is located in Vapi, Gujarat, some 150+ KMs away from Mumbai… Take traffic bottle necks and bad roads, travel time would definitely be more than four hours…Although my flight was at 8:30 in the evening, I was a little concerned.

I managed to be back in Mumbai on time, thanks to my friends and our HR specially who ensured that we did not waste much time in the facility… It was a good experience being there… Making medicines is not a simple thing… With all the safety protocols and standards that need to be followed, a facility has to be very careful about what is being produced… One small mistake can kill thousands, if not lacs.

My flight landed on time and I halted in Chennai for a night (on Friday) at Sattu’s place before moving to Pondicherry next morning. We had two cars (including Sugam’s new FIAT Linea)… It was a good ride all the way from Chennai to Pondi. The best thing about it was that the sea was pretty close to the road… The view was awesome.

fotu 012In Pondicherry, we stayed in a resort which had its ‘private beach’… The beach was good there but the water was very rough. Bay of Bengal is known to have high tides… Therefore, we did not venture much into the sea… also we could not spend much time on the beach because it was deserted and the resort people warned us that the local fishermen could come and steal stuffs from us if we stay late there… All this happened after the sunset though… Before that we had our share of drinks and food and afternoon siesta because most of us did not have proper sleep the previous night. In the evening after visiting (literally) the beach, we went to the city and spent some time a trance bar… It was loud & boring and the music was incomprehensible to me so could not enjoy much. However, had nice time walking along the rocky beach.

On Hammock

Back in the resort, view from my room was amazing. It faced the sea and had bigg windows… Since Pondi is on the eastern coast, people say the sunrise is very beautiful. All of us slept inebriated on Saturday night… 😛 So waking up in the morning to watch the sunrise was out of question but even then I could see it from my bed and it indeed was very beautiful. Was too lazy to take a picture though.

We came back to Chennai on Sunday in afternoon. I had a flight to catch in the night… Overall it was a good trip.

It was my first trip to anywhere south of Bangalore… I surprisingly found Chennai to be very clean. Friends say that is not the truth… Chennai is very well a part of India! 😀

However, to my surprise, I was left to guess the reason behind not serving lunch after 3:00 P.M. in the afternoon in any of the restaurants in Chennai… Can some one throw some light on the logic behind?

One more thing, it is not a very good idea to go out on a trip with couples when you are single… it is actually worse with new couples… You are left to do nothing all the while the couples are coupling… 😛

Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is not new to me. I did my engineering from NIT Surat and every year Hostel-4 in my college used to organize Ganesh pujas during this period of time. Although the scale was much lower than what happens here in Mumbai, I could see that Ganesh Chaturthi is similar to Durga Pujas in Bengal or Dussehras in Delhi.

I have some adventurous memories from my NIT days when this incident happened… In hindsight, those days look funny but being in the thick of things was a chilling experience.

Oh BTW today is the last day of Ganesh Chaturthi and the organizers bid adieu to Lord Ganesha on this day by immersing the idols into water bodies. In Mumbai, they mostly do the visarjan (immersion) in the sea… Now, the issue here is that on a single day, when thousands of such idols are taken through the Mumbai roads to the sea faces, the traffic situation goes for a toss. Trains are stopped, public transport system is shut and other modes are ineffective. So, there was a notification mail in our office today for all of us to leave early, if our homes are away. I got back home early today but I wanted to see some crowd in the streets but unfortunately they were not crowded at all… in fact there were less people on the streets today than a normal day. Maybe everyone is staying put at home fearing huge crowd…

Time is 7:06 P.M. as I am writing this blog…  and I am hoping for the crowd to catch up on the SV Road so that I can get a glimpse of the Ganpatis.

Back home in Assam, we have similar pandals, idols & immersions during Durga Puja. I am going to Assam in September on the occasion of puja… It will be awesome fun being there during the festival season…

Those days, when we used to play with toy pistols, which mom bought from the Puja fair are gone days… I miss them though…  😛

Mumbai Local

For those of you who don’t know how it is like traveling in a Mumbai local, let me tell you it is an experience of a lifetime. 😛

Before coming to Mumbai, I was very worried about traveling in local trains. I had heard a lot about the accidents, huge angry crowd and bomb blasts. So much so that I felt sick even by the thought of being a passenger in one of those ugly, crowded trains.

But, as they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. I am in Mumbai and I have to do as the Mumbaikaars do. Traveling in local trains is a part & parcel of Mumbai life… You cannnot survive without it. I was made to travel in the local trains…

These trains are the lifelines of this city. They are the fastest means of travel in a city which is mired by traffic problems. Spread over 450 route kilometers and operation in excess of 2000 daily trains, it is probably one of the toughest to manage kinda systems. It carries more than 6.94 million passengers everyday… Can you guess the scale of its operations?

The importance of every single train is such that if one train gets cancelled on one route some day, then the passengers in the next train in that route are doomed… They would not even have proper breathing space.

Now, there is this concept of traveling with/against the flow of traffic. In the morning time, people travel towards South Mumbai, where most of the businesses take place… which of course is the most commercialized place in Mumbai… People come from the western suburbs, Navi Mumbai and Central Mumbai… So what happens is that all trains going to south are very crowded… And they are so crowded that a person who is not used to traveling here would find it very hard to even get into the compartment. My friend also told me that it is actually worse in first class compartments sometimes…

I thankfully travel against the flow… If I catch a train from Bandra to Jogeshwari, where my office is (before 8:15 A.M.), then the I can sit easily and travel. If I am late by 15 minutes, then I have to stand but it is manageable and I don’t have to smell the deo sweat of others. Similarly, in the evening when I come back to Bandra, I am traveling against the flow because then the crowd is moving upwards in the opposite direction… That makes me like the Mumbai locals. 😀 And why not, they act in my favor.

It is actually fun to travel in Mumbai locals… Put your earphones on and listen to nice songs, all the while, feeling the touch of cool air coming from outside…

Overall, it is not exactly a bad experience… In fact, it is a fun experience… I don’t hate to say this that I like traveling by Mumbai locals.

Aamchi Mumbai!

BTW, I have noticed one thing that people here in Mumbai are always in a rush. They want to get into the trains before anyone else… they take seats before anyone else… Even if the trains are empty and the station is at least 3-4 minutes away, they rush to the door and stand in queue to get down… I sometimes find it strange until I realized today in the morning that I was also doing the same thing. Does that mean that I am actually changing and becoming more like a Mumbaikaar? Only time will tell…