Friday, July 4, 2008

An Itinerary to Mumbai - Part 3

by chance or by choice

Tired of walking and waiting, i came to the Consulate just to face two seemingly rude folks, one a CR guy and the other an Indian Lady. We had a very short and formal talk which involved questions ranging from the purpose of visit to weather i am married and nothing in between. A gist of the questions that were asked are as follows.

Me: Hi, myy ....
They: Whats your name?
Me: VijayaBhaskar sir.
They: Okay Mr.Vijay. Whats the purpose of your visit?
Me: We in perot handle some of the applications of our client DHL who is in Prague. There are new requirements coming up and this needs us to collect ant understand their requirements. So to attend seminars i have to go to Prague for 2 to 3 weeks. (bull**** :P)
They: You need 2 weeks for this is it? (i guess he didn't believe me)
Me: Yes sir. We are starting from scratch and have to understand the business logic. This requires more than 2 weeks actually.(bull**** again)
They:OK. Tell me exactly how long do you want to stay three?
Me: 2 to 3 weeks,Sir.
They:Is it 2 or 3 weeks?
Me: Okay.. i will require 3 weeks.
They: Okay. Are u married?
Me: No, Not yet. (i still don't know why he asked it :D)
They: When are you planning to fly?
Me: 5th of this month,sir.
They:Okay you can go now and we will stamp it tomorrow.
Me: Thank you and have a good day ( well i didn't mean it)

And finally the important part of the travel was over. Just for a 5 minute interview, I had to spend a whole day and the company had to spend lots of money. I still didn't understand the logic behind the interview. He asked useless questions and i gave useless answers. Sometimes I keep asking myself if i am really going to Prague. And one of these days i will ask this question to my pm and i hope he does not give me useless answer :P

With lots of doubts in my mind, i came out the building and walked towards
HaziAli shrine. The strong wind shoved the doubts from my mind and as i walked towards the shrine some kind of fresh blood started flowing in me. Apart from human visitors there were some other living organisms that were attracted to this place, they are our good old crows. And immediately i could see a resemblance between myself and the crow.

Physically the crow and myself were different of course. The resemblance i am talking about is the way we lead the life. The crows there kept attempting to fly against the wind to only find themselves in the place they started and so was I. What they actually were doing was use the force in the wind to take them in different directions without putting any effort, so for that they had to first position themselves in the right direction, that is against the wind. Hence they could go places by choice and not by chance. And had control over what was happening. And this were i could see the resemblance fading. Such thoughts keep flowing in my mind and I unconsciously went into deep sleep in the shrine.

The breeze and noise of people around broke my sleep and the time when i woke up was around 4:30, time for me to say good bye to the shrine and proceed towards the airport. I had a tough time searching for a cab that can drop me at the airport and give a bill. On reaching the airport had my favorite snack, the Bingo mad angles, and patiently waited for flight. And the big old Airbus A320 brought me back to good old Bangalore. And so came my short junket to Mumbai to an end.

Even though the trip is over, some thoughts keep lingering in my mind. The beautiful stars of the sky :P . The unknown force in shrine, The
struggling black birds , The concept of chance and choice. Some of these cannot be understood and some need not be. Well isn't that life, where one will not know how things unfold and why they get unfolded in that fashion.

______ The Short End Of a Short Trip ______

Thursday, July 3, 2008

An Itinerary to Mumbai - Part !!

Stepping into a new world!!!

Everyone has expectations and so did I. I imagined that Mumbai will be a haven for the homeless and so it was. However, it turned to be more than what I imagined. It’s a place where the rich and poor coexist in one place, where the good and bad coexist in the same place. It’s really hard to figure out how this is possible but that’s our lifes where we won’t be able to figure out half the things.

Well I reached Mumbai at 10:00 am and checked out of the airport, which is under renovation, with a wish that Mumbai should be father away from the Bangalore. We covered the distance in a just one hour and 15 minutes. Once in the airport apart from making calls to eagerly waiting mom back home had to answer other urgent calls :P. But there was lots of traffic and the booths were crowded so had to wait for my turn :P.

As soon as I stepped out the airport some kind of transformation was felt. It was like being plunged into an unknown new world, where an unknown language is spoken, and where there are more strangers than friends. With that feeling in the back of the mind I proceeded to search for taxis that can take me to the HajiAli area (which is well known for the Haji Ali shrine). The search was completed with the discovery of the so called Cool Cabs. These Cool Cab guys are a bunch of folks who paint their own car Blue and deploy themselves into the cab service. Some of them can be trusted and some cannot. And I found one who cannot be trusted and ended up paying a heavy prize for it.

Though I was taxed heavily by the cab driver, the ride turned out to be pretty interesting. I made some interesting observations that has I would like to share, some of them as are follows. The roads on the route he followed were pretty wide and most of the road was built using concrete. In some places they used to tile the road with tiles that used to tile the footpath, he said that was being done to prevent any damage to road by rains. I came across of the rivers which are actually not present officially on the maps of Mumbai. They were actually overflowing drains like the Domlur drain. I am still wondering why the Ambani brothers didn’t start a Boat ferrying service after looking at the drain.

The taxi ride ended up with a meter reading of Rs.600. Shocked at the reading and with an intention of not starting a fight I just paid the money and took the bill. With another cut in the pocket I started out to look for the Czech Republic consulate.

They say that the CzechRepublic, CR is a small country and so was the board that declared the location of the Consulate. I would like to inform that the consulate is closely guarded by a watchman and a cop. They instantly caught me when I entered their premises by jumping over a fence. I cannot be put to blame as the guard of the neighboring building told me that it was the only way to enter. If at all that guy comes to me asking for directions I will, for sure, direct him to the ladies toilet. After saying sorry to the CR cop, I said that I work for Perot and have and interview at 3 in the afternoon. He probably realized that I was saying the truth and asked me to come after 2:30. Now who will get angry at a good guy like me :P. The time at which this happened is 11:30 and I had a big chunk of time to explore the city.

The exploration started when I entered the Heera Panna shopping complex. Found lots of smuggled watches phones and fancy apparels there. It was pretty boring while window shopping so I shifted my gaze and started admiring the beauty of fair ladies who spoke some unknown language. They filled the space like the stars in the sky. You can only admire their beauty but cannot make an attempt to get close to them :P. The star gazing continued and so was my search for Vada Pav. The shops I found either had vada or either Pav. Finally I came across a shop that was selling them both, but that was a road side shop and didn’t want take any risk. My next stop was the Mahalakshmi temple, which is a famous land mark around this area, there only thing I liked here was the legions of Pigeons that swarmed the temple.

Continuous walking and gazing me made tired and I planned to have some refreshments and found a vegetarian hotel whose name starts with a K. Non vegetarians can go to a hotel, which is beside the one I went to, whose name starts with N. The hotels menu boasted of a variety of cuisines and so was their range of prizes. I quenched my hunger by just having a veg-sandwich and a glass of watermelon juice and he charged me 76 bucks.

The lunch gave me fresh energy to continue the expedition. The time was still 1:30 so I had to find ways to spend the remaining one hour. So I walked down the Camballa road and entered some shops pretending to buys something. One such shop was the snacks shop. The owner had so many items stocked that I felt like buying everything. Because of budget constraints I just restrained myself to buys some sweet and salty snacks.

After spending that one long hour I showed my face to the CR watch man, but this time entered the building from the right direction :D . He asked me to leave my bag and phone with him and took my sign on a register. Then went to the first floor of the building to meet two seemingly rude people out of which one was an Indian lady and the other was CR guy. Even before I could introduce my self they started firing questions at me. And for a few minutes I was in a battle ground where only one side is fighting and the other side is just watching :D

To be continued …

An Itinerary to Mumbai - Part 1

/* Flash back: The day before the visit I got the to and fro tickets to Bombay and got the Travel guys to book a cab for early morning pickup and late night drop. I was pretty much lucky yesterday as the flights were right on time and the skies were clear in Bombay.*/

The excitement was high and it didn’t permit me to have sleep. I woke up thrice even before the alarm that was set at 4:30 am went off (this happens every time when I am about to do something new or explore new frontiers). Had a quick bath and answered all calls :P and got ready by 5 am. Had a suku caapi, which translates to ginger tea and it’s used to wade of sleep, and started browsing to get some details on Czech and used google maps to look at the landmarks surrounding the Consulate in Bombay. I left home at exactly 6 in the morning and reached BIAL at 6:45. Once inside the airport there was a formal security check, during which the cops were checking for hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction :P. Luckily for me I was travelling light, I just carried a file and a wallet in my bag. The cops declared that I was clean and can board the flight.

The flight was at 8:30 and it was not yet 7:00, so I broke fast in the airport and had a plate of Upma and lassi to fill my stomach, but bill tore through my pocket. The breakfast turned out to cost 150 bucks. Now I just had to wait for the Gate 11 to open as that was the gate that leads to the Indian Airline Airbus 320 - IC106 plane. In the meantime I enjoyed the WIFI connectivity over there and checked how various websites are rendered on my cell. I Downloaded opera browser and checked out GMAIL, Facebook, Orkut and XM application :D.

Later the clocked ticked at 8:30 and the gate was thrown open for us. And I sadly turned off wifi and happily moved towards the gate where a grand Volvo was waiting to ferry us till the plane. In the plane there were lots of aunties wearing traditional saree in the plane posing a beautiful smile and welcoming us. My seat number was 12f and was next to a window from where I got a beautiful view of the Silver lined clouds and tiny little cities from my seat during the flight.

This being my first flight, I was initially weary about how the plane actually manages to make so many sorties without a hitch. However overcame the negative thoughts and enjoyed every minute in the flight thoroughly. The plane as such was empty probably because the Kingfisher pulled many customers towards there side ;). During the flight they demonstrated how to use the seat belts and air masks and safety jacket. Probably I was the only guy who was paying attention to them while others were busy reading newspaper that had the news that Bombay is flooded on the home page. Later at 9 they gave us breakfast, I was anyways hungry so I grabbed my plate eagerly. However, it only had regular idly and stuff so just returned it laterL. As we were proceeding toward Mumbai the pilot announced that the weather in Mumbai is better and the temperature was 29 degree celcius. The brought a smile on my face as I had forgotten to take my Umbrella and RainCoat. He also spoke about turbulence that the plane may come across and that made me wonder what turbulence can do to such a big plane. And Just as that thought crossed my mind the plane started vibrating violently, so I silently said sorry to the turbulence outside for underestimating its power.

Now was the time when the last leg of a successful flight comes into picture. I got a Birdseye view of the good old financial capital of India Mumbai the city of underworld Bhaees and beautiful Marathi speaking Bais. The city as such didn’t look beautiful from the sky. I Could easily figure out the famous slums which were covered by blue covers to preven rain water from entering the already damp house. So we had a touchdown which was rough according to me. However the touchdown as well declared smooth by the pilot, but I am still wondering how can a plane that comes to a halt vibrating like bullock cart be called a smooth landing. Anyways if the pilot says so I am ready to buy his statement.

To be continued later ….