Monday, March 19, 2007

The Rickshaw

11.10 am Just getting out of the Ratnagiri station with thoughts of ' now how to proceed further' From far, saw the rick stand, just as viewed on Google earth . A line of ricks and a group of drivers near the first one , all eyes towards the passengers--- their potential customers-- coming out. On nearing them, one well fed rotund person with a look of a pack leader asked ' Where to ? '. I replied ' to the bus stand '. He asked again guessing rightly ' No no where exactly do you want to go' I said ' to Ganapatipule ' . 'It is better you take this Rick directly ' he suggested ' it will be Rs. 350/= '

As I knew the distance to be about 50 kms , I thought it reasonable as they usually expect a half return fare, the unwritten rule being that they cannot pick a passenger from the other village , and vice versa for those ricks when they arrive in Ratnagiri. As we were getting in the rick , Shyamala noticed that our rick driver handing Rs.50/= to the pack leader .

We started the journey , the rick was quite new and so did the driver . I am more used to the rough driving , the zooming in and out of lanes and bursts of speed interrupted by sudden braking of rick drivers in general . Our driver , Nishad , as we came to know him ,was very steady and alert . My apprehension of traveling by rick on the Mumbai Goa Highway was put to rest on seeing his driving. On the road nearing Ganapatipule he suddenly took a wrong turn , when I realized that either he is new to the area or conning us.

12.20 noon We reached ,exactly in an hour as told by the pack leader. Paid him the amount and complimented his driving a 3- wheeler. He said it was his first visit as a driver and we , his first clients to Ganapatipule. It was his first time to get in the Ratnagiri rick stand and had to endure the bossing that goes on there. He did not know that he had to part with a ' Fee ' out of his earnings . That was the Rs.50/= he handed over .He then chatted for some time . It was his new experience as well as one for me, after a long time ,to travel by public transport .

We went in the reception area and came across a typical Government approach by the staff . The person behind the counter ........ that's another post ............

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Vacation experiences

3.45 am
Alarm on the mobile rings. Time to get up and get ready, though sleep was light and short.

5.15 am Shami , Supriya and me left home and were prepared to walk it up to the station about 1.5 kms--20 minutes walk-- as we were not sure of availability of rickshaw so early.For this we had planned to take a bag each and wear sport shoes. Fortunately got a rick about 200 meters down the road.

5.55 am The Superfast Janashatabdi thunders into the station ,the mighty diesel engine displaying a look of dominance over the other trains.We boarded and found the seats easily as they were more towards the door from where we entered. Before we could put the bags on the rack, it started to move--stops for just over a minute.

7.00am Just had left Panvel , we had opened the newspapers ,had a look around the other passengers and waiting for the bearer to come to take breakfast orders. He comes shortly , taking orders of the various yummy items . In the meantime we sip coffee bought from one of the many bearers moving up and down the train from the pantry car.

8.30 am At last our breakfast arrives to stop the rumblings in the stomach . Were wondering how one could feel so hungry so early than the usual breakfast time . I think it must be due to getting up early and the relaxed mind . We finished , very fast , the upama , sheera , omellete bread , medu wada ordered separately and shared amongst us three to give a variety. After another round of coffee we looked around to comment and entertain ourselves at the expense of fellow travellers.
Got one immediately. A person sitting in the next row in front. He had his bag on the laps and with the upper zip opened slightly. Left hand holding the flap and looked as though hiding something in the bag . We noticed food particles , white in color smeared all over his right hand and all around the lips and chin .We presumed that correctly to be idlis . He had a look on his face as though he had opened someone else's bag and was stuffing his mouth before getting caught. As he chewed he looked around showing off the grinding process going on in the oral cavity.

10.00 am After a small snooze ,I happened to spot some activity going on near the end of the coach just near the bridge joining two bogies . Two bearers were cleaning something that looked like an immersion heater. I decided to observe keenly . They took water from a small tank in the kettle and topped it up by using empty tetrapacks of Amul milk. They then added a measured pack sugar , emptied a few Amul milk tetrapacks and immersed the heater in the kettle.As the water was heated the bearers had their fill of tobacco , chatted and joked with each other.They seemed to enjoy these moments in their dull and drab routine. After the water had heated they took a pack of thermocol glasses , tea bags ,coffee pwder container in their pockets and started their walk from boggie to boggie chanting in their nasal voice '' Chai garam chai coffee ' saab chahiye kya chai coffee ''

10.30 am Noticed people excitedly geting up and retreiving their bags from the racks above .Presumed that Ratnagiri was nearing and took down our bags . Told Shami ' don't get up now , there is the longest tunnel just before Ratnagiri to come after which get up .' A tunnel came ,thought this is the one, as it seemed never ending , but after coming out of it immediately went in another one and this took a really long time . At a fairly good speed it took almost more than 5 to 7 mins to traverse. After that the train slowed down and I realized that we were about 20 mins late .Got out of the station and to the rickshaw stand The Rick ................that is another post ...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Ganapatipule Beach Resort

The Ganesh Temple at Ganapatipule

It is a great feeling to come back home from a refreshing holiday and that too when it was much awaited.We had been to Ganapatipule Beach Resort,about 370 kms from Mumbai on the coast of Maharashtra. [ View of the temple from the beach ] [ View of the beach from the room Balcony.]
We had to do a lot of planning as this was the only weekend convenient for all.In late January we booked the sea side cottage and also train tickets to and fro. The few times I had been here was by road and so I had to do a lot of home work to get oriented to the approach by train.
[ The tents area of the resort complex ]
I visited the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation [ MTDC ] site on the internet.I got a lot of information about the resort and the ways to approach it.It is mentioned that by train the nearest station is Ratnagiri and that it is 50 kms to the resort .That's all no further details. I then went to various Google links about this resort but nowhere did I get the exact way to arrive. [ View of the resort from the beach ]

Ultimately I took the help of Google Earth.Oh !! what wonders !! you cant imagine what fine details I got from this lovely site.I got the exact layout of the railway track as it approaches Ratnagiri from Mumbai. The east west direction of the station,the position of the Airport which I had heard of but did not know its position.The city to the west and the direction of the seaside. The exact layout of the station and that I had to get out to the south to come out of the station.The rickshaw stand and the driveway out to the main road connecting Ratnagiri city to the Mumbai Goa Highway at Hatkhamba.Then the direction northwards on the highway to Nivali,the place to take a turn left that is westwards to the Resort.

With all this knowledge and my past visit by road more than 18 years ago,I was ready to start my vacation at this wonderful beach resort. We had left home at about 5.30 in the morning and reached the resort at 12.30 noon,thanks to the superfast Janshatabdi Express train and the rickshaw journey from Ratnagiri station to Ganapatipule.

I will be writing shorter posts on varied experiences in the train, the rickshaw , the resort itself, the return journey in the scary and rickety ST [ State Transport ] bus and lastly the final train journey by Mandovi Express though late by 50 min to start with reached Thane in time. Very enjoyable trip indeed ...

Monday, March 05, 2007

Reuters photos

Just came across these photos from ' Reuter's Editors Choice from photos in the past 24 hours '. Hats off to these photographers.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


The night of the demones [ From Rediff ]

Holi celebrates the demise of demoness Holika.

Holika is probably the most well-known legend involving demonesses. How well do you know the legends behind Holi and about other Indian demonesses?


Blessed with a boon of invincibility at the hands of god as well as mortal, King Hiranyakashyap thought he was mightier than god and ordered his people to worship him. All his subjects obeyed except his son Prahlad, who was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu.

Unable to persuade his son otherwise, Hiranyakashyap then tried to have Prahlad killed. All his attempts failed, so he turned to his sister Holika who had a special gift: fire could not harm her.

Holika sat on a bonfire with Prahlad in her lap, hoping to burn him to death. But Prahlad chanted Vishnu's name and the fire didn't harm him, although Holika perished in it.

To this day, Holi commemorates Holika's death in the fire, which symbolises the triumph of good over evil.

That is the information I got from Rediff regarding Holi and the other Indian Demonesses

Never knew at all about these legends . I am very poor at these mythological stories that abound in India. For us Holi is just lighting the fire like a bonfire and a chance to interact with the neighbors in the apartment on that day and then playing color the next day
.I look forward to the ' next day ' as that is when we get colored and wet and interact with the people under the influence of alcohol or cool drink of Thandai or Bhang that gives a ' high '.

The preparations start a week earlier.Contributions are collected from the members for arranging the bonfire on the day of Holi , the religious ceremony 'puja' , snacks in the afternoon the next day and dinner . There are a few very enthusiastic members in our Society,who are good at organizing , and because of whom we others can be relaxed and concentrate on our work schedule.

In the afternoon we see some laborers clearing the compound and then digging a small pit . Then they arrange a few logs vertically about 6 to 7 feet high ,tied by wire .They then stuff it with dry grass . The area around the pit is decorated with colors and all set to be lit at night.By the time I return from my clinic at night, people are gathered around ,chatting in small groups. A traditional religious ceremony ' Puja ' is held after which the fire is lit . I had forgotten to take my camera , but on seeing this special log separated from the rest and emitting smoke from one end like a cigar, I rushed up to get the camera and click.People offer coconuts by throwing them in the fire,They are then removed and the roasted kernel distributed as 'prasad '. I really look forward to eat the roasted coconut kernel with the distinct smoky flavour, coconut has always been my weak point. Ladies then go round the fire pouring water around in small containers that they bring. This is the time for all to interact and plan for the next day. There is a ' special ' group who plan for the booze session the next day as that is their main attraction.

Next day by 9 am we can hear screams of youngest members of the society running around with colored water filled balloons and water jets.They are the ones who really enjoy. Next the adults enter the arena , applying color and greeting each other. The ladies join later and by this time the youngsters are tired of playing in their groups so they target the adults . In a few moments all are wet, colored and not recognizable . Then there is a game of cricket arranged on the spot with teams formed amongst the members .We can now see some members quietly quiting the game and going for their fill of booze.

A common lunch is next on the agenda . usually light snacks and sweets . People then retire to their homes for a clean up and rest . By evening all are sober, cleaned of color, well dressed and presentable for the dinner get together.Here is Supriya with her friends , probably telling about her exam papers , which are uppermost on her mind. A simple menu is on the card and gossip of the day, recent national and local news , usual shop talk or bitching about about goes on. The ladies then go for a stroll on the Kachrali Lake nearby . We all then retire for the night and the routine next day ..