Thursday, June 23, 2005

I Feel Privileged... have railway-ed these stretches:

Delhi-Dehra Dun: The wisps of fog in the bleak winter sun as the Shatabdi tears across the plains of Western UP are an unforgettable sight. But the best part is the home stretch into the Doon valley post Haridwar. The track actually cuts across dense jungle that is a part of the Rajaji National Park and there is an upper limit to the speed for the sake of the elephants that may wander onto them. Pitifully, many a beast has lost it's life on these very tracks.

Konkan Railway: One cannot affort to sleep on this ride. The best train perhaps is the Delhi-Trivandrum Rajdhani as it traverses the entire stretch in broad daylight. The western Ghats are mesmerising as the train snakes in and out of HUGE tunnels and crosses bridges that are amazing feats of structural engineering. The best of them all is the span across the Zuari in Goa. The most picturesque station is Ratnagiri (can't find words to describe it). And after Goa, the sea plays a tantalising game of hide and seek with you. Beautiful.

Ratlam-Baroda: Picturesque. The hills look as if a gigantic hand has etched lovely designs on them. The terrain forces the tracks to take big, loopy curves enabling one to get a full view of the entire train as it cuts across the landscape.

Mumbai-Pune: Need I say more. I've been lucky enough to have traversed this one in the monsoon. It's the expressway that hogs most media coverage but it's not a patch on the rail stretch. Not by a long distance.

Delhi-Kurukshetra: Pure nostalgia. I can still rattle off names of more than half the stations that the EMU halts at.

Churchgate-Andheri: Nothing great, one would think. But at 6:30 p.m. On a working day. In a Virar fast local. Believe me, it's worth writing home about. (Ok, on a blog at least!)

The Metros: Both Delhi and Calcutta. Spanking. Delhi scores hgher due to the amazing views of the cityscape on the elevated section.

Food not to be missed:
  • Chilled Rabdi at Abu Road.
  • Piping hot Bhajjiyas for breakfast at Godhra
  • Masala Chai anywhere in Maharashtra or Gujarat
  • Chholey Bhature at Mathura
  • Rajma Chawal at Jammu


Cant wait to pack my bags for:

  • Delhi-Udhampur (and a few years from now, Srinagar)
  • Any hill railway (I can't believe I've missed all of 'em - an ultra-short ride on the Nilgiri one notwithstanding)
  • Konkan (again!!)
  • Palace on Wheels (yeah, I wish!)

I wonder if anyone noticed two songs in recent releases (Dhadak Dhadak, Bunty Aur Babli and Kasto Mazza, Parineeta) didn't just feature trains extensively in the visuals, but the chugging and clatter on the tracks forms an integral part of the rhythm. Awesome.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Choo Choo

I just LOVE trains. Gimme good ol' Indian Railways over any airline any day. Can't stand the arriving-one-hour-before-flight funda, check-in procedure, security check, the agonising wait in the lounge and in the aircraft, cramped seats, rubbery food ugghhhhh :(

I'm smitten with the chaos at a railway station, the vendors with their penetrating 'chai, chai', AH Wheeler stalls, that typical ding-a-ding-dong that precedes any announcements, I could go on and on and on...

But positively the best part is standing at the door with the wind blowing through one's hair. I've shocked a few travel companions by refusing to sit in the comfortable climes of an air conditioned compartment and favouring the hot and dusty (and at times stinky, ugh!) space just outside the insulated area! There's something almost intoxicating about the diesel fumes that come wafting by soon after the engine goes chugga-chugga-chug as the driver ups the tempo.

I still go 'paani, paani' and point downward excitedly when a bridge comes along, still count the bogies of passing or stationary goods' trains as they pass by and exult each time the number surpasses the highest on that journey so far. Junk food at the railway stations, precariously collecting the cup of tea through the grille....ah, gimme good ol' Indian Railways over any airline any day!

Am not through with this topic. No way.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

But It Rained

Never heard Parikrama before.
Most arbitrarily ran into their website.
And downloaded this song.
It's hitting me at some level.
Still trying to figure it where, though.

Wrapped in a polythene tucked away safe in my mind
A little goodbye maybe or just a passing smile

The birds fly away to the southern sky searching a home
A bunch of paper flowers or a little boy left all alone
Can somebody hear me I'm screaming from so far away
Morning who will calm you now, the evening is eclipsed again

Well does life get any better
More yesterday than today
How I thought the sun would shine tomorrow
But it rained . . .

Listen to it here

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


It's quite unbelievable that I've been lucky enough to stay clear of people selling credit cards over the phone. Still trying to figure out how I managed it this long. Honeymoon ended this weekend. But by the second call, I realised I'm a pro!!

Smart Sales Guy: Sir, I'm calling from American Express. I've been referred to you by Mr Kartik Chandra for a special credit card offer.
Innocent Me: Okay, tell me...
SSG: There's this Gold Card that will give you features like...[launches into delivery outlining how perhaps the card just about stops short of enabling me to buy the moon!]
IM: Umm..okay...SSG (hyper as ever): And, there's no fuel surcharge, no hidden charges....blah blah...
IM: You know, I'm not so sure...
SSG: It's the best deal, sir. Plus you can also avail of facilities like....
IM (partly confused, and partly falling for the pitch): Listen, I need to think; can I get back to you on this?
SSG: Certainly sir, I'll call you in two days time. Have a good day.

Sheesh, this guy almost got me. Now I was determined to (over)compensate with the next call. Didn't have to wait too long. Come Sunday...

Smart Sales Gal: Hi, I'm calling from Citibank.
Well Prepared Me: Yeah!
SSG: We have received a reference for you for our Gold Card.
WPM: Er, reference from whom, may I ask?
SSG (sligltly shaken, possibly not used to such a retort): Sir, I cannot say that...
WPM (cutting in): Then that makes this call unsolicited. Are you aware of a recent Supreme Court order regarding such calls?
SSG (definitely rattled): Uh...let me tell you about this card sir. It's free for life with a credit limit of Rs 2.5 lakh.
WPM: Listen, I understand all that but I'm not interested. Thanks.

You know - all said and done, I sometimes feel sorry for these guys selling cards over phones.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Finally broke the PVR/DT mould and hit Noida for an evening out yesterday.
Wave is good.
Will now seek to break the psychological barrier and go there more often.
I'd say Gurgaon and Noida are equidistant from my place but Noida just seems farther off!

Mr and Mrs Smith.
All about Chemistry.
And Angelina Jolie.
And Brad Pitt's irrepresible one-liner deliveries. (Best one comes at the very end: "Ask the sex question again!")
And Angelina Jolie.
And about slick effects.
And Angelina Jolie.
About a climax sequence that's choreographed to (what sounded like) Latin American music.
And Angelina Jolie.
(I think I've conveyed my point!)

Dinner: Lavanya
(Once vaguely knew someone by that name. Will check out the meaning.)
Standard North Indian fare.
Service could've been quicker though.
Waiting for roti with food on plate is not very pleasant.

All for now...

Thursday, June 9, 2005

It ain't THAT bad!

This is in defence of Bunty Aur Babli. All those critics gunning for Shaad Ali Sahgal's head should take a hike.

The lead couple looks good. Abhishek Bacchhan's UPite accent comes across as natural and Rani Mukerji portrays a convincing sardarni. The cons are refreshing (even though predictable at times). The songs seem very out of place but once they start, each one comes across as hummable. The rap number in the end is downright hilarious. The background score with all the 'appropriate' numbers from the 70s gives a sorta funny-funny feeling even when words or antics of the protagonists aren't there.

Sheesh, it's a Bollywood film for cryin' out loud. Give it a break. Everything's relative - and you'll have to agree B'n'B has been better than a lot of flicks thus far in 2005.

The crappy coverage this one is generating is just beyond me.

Undoubtedly the funniest moment from the flick -
Rani M: "Agar maine ek martaban aam ka achaar aur daala, main mar jaoongi!"

Close second -
Rani M: "Oye Rakesh, just married!!"

Can't wait to see it a second time!

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

While on B-School...

The problem with [a] first job is that we come out of b-school thinking like CEOs but do the work of chaprasis

I got this gem of an SMS from a friend this morning. Yea man, agree that field sales (esp in Delhi's criminal heat) ain't the greatest. But, like I asked him in the afternoon, does the problem lie in the first job or in the way b-school formulates our thinking before letting us loose?

(Sorta funny that this one comes along just after I post something anti-bschool!)

Tuesday, June 7, 2005


My b-school e-group gets all abuzz with activity whenever a magazine featuring management institutes' ratings hits the stands. People question rating methods, even accuse other colleges of bribing their way into the top positions, the latest is talk of understanding how different publications rate institutes and try and score well on those paramaters. There'll be long threads of e-mail, bitching on internet fora, the works.

Question is: do these same guys then raise questions when a second magazine comes out putting our institute right at the top? No, we deserve it you see. Of course we're better than IIM, Ahmedabad!

We're all in agreement that our insti is right up there in all regards. Rankings should be incidental. Plus, with 5 different rating approaches giving diverse results, who should have any faith in the rankings anyways? Problem is that the aspiring MBAs use these as inputs for their college selection decision. So, confusion rules.

On a slightly different note, I think management college is called b-school as a shortened form of back-to-school. Seriously, school shared more similarities with MBA than with engineering (no wonder, they ain't called e-schools, jus' plain engineering colleges)!

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Of Priorities...

Late morning today, one of my friends was on his way to a weekend class for a course he's taking. Concern: backlog on assignments, pre-readings, this morning's opening two hours already missed. Then he sees this damsel in distress standing next to a (broken down) car on the roadside and pulls over.

He's no genius under the hood, but that's not an impediment. 30 minutes later, car heaved to safety, he's dropping the lady to her destination.

Mission accomplished, our hero looks at watch and promptly decides to skip his entire session (no point walking in late to the second half of a lecture, you see).

When we meet in the evening and I hear this story, I ask - "What if it had been a forty-something guy?"

Response - "Nothing. I had a class to attend!" *evil grin*

Cool friends I have. (Well, at least his hormones are working fine).

Update: Chatted with Superman today afternoon, looking back, he says, it was real philanthropic of me (aakhir main ek insaan ke kaam aaya). Wowza!