their first trip to Bangalore…

…was awesome. And they’re coming back again, soon! 🙂

Semi-travellogue, this post is.

Relatives had come from Trivandrum. An uncle, aunt, and 2 girl cousins. What fun it was 🙂 It was their first ever trip to Bangalore. And I was excited to bits. Hehe, in the guise of taking them around, I planned an itinerary that included most of the places I’d either not been to in a long time, or hadn’t been to at all: Cubbon Park, Vidhana Soudha (because if you’ve been to B’lore and not seen Vidhana Soudha, then maybe you hadn’t been to B’lore at all :D), ISKON Temple, the 60-feet-high Shiva Temple behind Kemp Fort, LalBagh, Forum (only for the cousins’ sake), the Scary House at Garuda Mall, and farther, the Mysore Palace, Srirangapatnam (remains of the Tipu’s regime), Vrindavan Gardens, etc.

The girls were excited most about (read as only about) going to Commercial Street here in Bangalore.

The uncle and aunt were excited to be in Bangalore: excited to see a lovely park so close to the house; excited to be in a city with such ‘lovely weather’; excited to see a ‘sparkling city’. 😉

Day 1 was spent at Lal Bagh (most of the day was spent there) and then Forum Mall. We all walked continuously for almost 6.5 hours. Came home, had dinner and crashed 😀

Day 2 was planned for Cubbon Park, Vidhana Soudha and simple lazing about. Only the third happened. By evening a quick plan was put to visit another cousin who stays in Marathahalli, who’d recently had a baby girl (whom I hadn’t seen yet). Lil’ Avanthika turned out to be a real doll! 🙂

Day 3 was supposed to dawn early (by about 4.30) and we’d planned to leave to mysore by 5.30. But well, we managed to do so by 8 😀 After covering Srirangapatnam and finishing off lunch, we reached Mysore Palace. Oh! The beauty of it! I’d seen it once, about 10 years back, when we (Dad, Mom, Bro and I) had come to B’lore and Mysore. It still looks the same!

But we were a little disappointed. For instance, right at the entry, it said “Entry: Rs 20 for Indians; Rs 200 for foreigners”. How shameless, to sell something like that! They could at least write Rs 20 for Indians; $ 20 for foreigners! Anyway, we went in, and a lot of things we’d seen when we came last time were not on display anymore. Like the many clocks which were a sight to behold! Or the many swords of the King…

Anyways, after exiting the palace, we were forced to visit the “Original Palace”, at an extra entry ticket (of Rs 20 for Indians; Rs 200 for foreigners). Daylight thieving, I’d call it. Apparently, what we’d just seen was the Official Palace. My God, if what we were ushered into was the Original Palace of the Mysore King, the dude really must have been a Scrooge himself. It was the most pathetic building, ill-maintained and adorned at corners by bits and pieces borrowed from the Palace belongings. And, to top it all, not even lit up well. It was dingy and dark and oh-so-not-beautiful! And it was here, the swords of the king were displayed in the most uninspiring manner.

We were all royally pissed off by the time we exited. And to make matters worse, even at the exit, even though one need just take the steps to the left, they’d roped it all in such a way that we were forced to take some 5 steps up and 5 steps down to the right, walk along a corridor full of shops with salespeople who constantly yelled, take a u-turn, come back to the exit point, take the same 5 steps up and down again and go where we intended to go up on exiting. Bah! Humbug. I hate such commercialisation.

Post that, we went to Chamundi Hill, spent some time up there and rushed back to see the lit up Palace. They light it up from 7.00 to 7.30pm every Saturday. It was 7 already, when we left Chamundi Hill, and rushing back into town, after sunset, in an alien city is no joke. We lost our way and finally managed to reach the city a minute before 7.30. We saw it lit up, glowing like a piece of gold ornament, from a distance. And then, the lights just shut down. 😦 But it was a sight one shouldn’t miss. I’d go to Mysore time and again just to see the Palace lit up that way.

Day 4, which was also their last day in Bangalore, was the one they looked forward to the most. Because Commercial Street was slotted for this day 😉 The itinerary included the 60-feet Shiva Temple, Garuda Mall, Commercial Street and ISKON. And then, of course, the railways station.

We reached the Kemp Fort SHiva Temple at about 12. The big sign outside said “Haridwar, Rishikesh and two other places in just 2 hours! 😀 And I thought, “I hate commercialising God”. The entry did prove interesting. they’d created a pseudo cave with a thred of a stalagtite and everything. But as we went down some 5-6 steps, we realised we’d entered a shop! 😀 Like one of those plastics + vessels section of Spencers/Smart/Nilgiris or so!!! 😀 😀 😀 And then, we went through a queue, paid for our slippers, paid for our camera, paid for the flowers and a coconut, paid again to get them to accept it, pretended not to hear them offering to take us through the cave at just Rs 160 per head, again pretended not to hear them offer to take us through a smaller cave at just Rs 30, and finally, pretending not to hear them offering to let us go around the idol for just Rs 10. Bah. I hate commercialisation. That too, in a place of worship! Though the idols were dramatic and awesome, we felt like they’d built two majestic idols only to mint money. Go there to see the majestic Shiva, with Ganga flowing off his head and everything. Not to pray.

The 60-feet statue of Lord Shiva, with the Ganga spearheading out of his locks. Apparently, this is made of healing stone! See those tiny heads at his feet? Those are the devotees 😉

Well, we ended up spending a lot of time at the temple, what with the queues and everything. The girls were getting worried their shopping time was being eaten up, and wanted to skip Garuda Mall and head straight to Commercial Street. But, I insisted we go to Garuda Mall, just to see the Scary House and the Scary Maze. Am so glad I did that. It was the most fun we had in those 4 days. How much we laughed! The dark, pitch black walkways, where dead bodies who rise up to scare you; skeletons that make a beeline for you; huge monstrous beings that brush against you; and ghosts who heave their cots at you even while they’re sitting on them… It was constant screams of fear, peals of laughter and bouts of leg-pulling. At times when there was nothing to scare us around the corner, Amma and I’d simply scream, scaring the rest of the group and rewarding ourselves with their screams 😉  Hehe, screaming, laughing, and getting scared out of our wits, we literally fell out of the place with tears streaming down our cheeks. We still laugh like crazy whenever we think of that day. We’re waiting for our next set of preys 😉 Kunjamma, you’re next in line. You’ll have a lot of fun there! 😉

Then we went to Commercial Street. We had about 3 hours to spend there, and had planned to go to Iskon temple from there, and then drop them off at the Yeshwantapura Station. But like Dad rightly put it, “Thunikandappol deivathine marannu” (chose clothes over God :D). So, we ended up shopping from 3 to 8. My younger cousin went crazy! She could be seen flitting about like a butterfly from one shop to the other. Collecting her and her things was tough! 😀

And finally, we were at a stage where we thought we’d miss their train. We reached the station at 8.55 pm to catch the 9 o’clock train. And that too, only bacause an auto driver was kind enough to show us a short cut and block the busses to let our two cars weave through! We have no words left to thank him: he was just too good 🙂 Anyways, it was a mad rush. I remember sending people flying for cover as I rushed into the terminal like a bulldozer and ran through the platform with two huge bags trailing along on both sides 😉 God thing trains have so many bogies and so many doors 😀 😀 😀 They all boarded from different doors, and finally met at their seats about 10 minutes after the train chugged off 😀

Four full days of fun, travelling, shopping, weariness, photo shoots and what not.

Their first ever trip to Bangalore was super! And they’re coming back again in a couple of months! 😀

us & them @ munnar: a travellogue

Till we actually set off for Kochi on Friday evening, I was dreading it’d be called off any minute. The couple from Dufaai Dubai might drop out, the couple from Kochi might want to stay back with the baby, the couple from Bangalore (me n the husband ;)) might miss our bus and not reach…etc. But we did reach Kochi at 5.30 am on Saturday. And it was raining like the skies had gone crazy! 😀 Anyways, the tempo traveller came to pick us up by about 10.30 am, and off we went. The tempo traveller had seats that were swaying like a boat. And a whacko for a driver 😉 So, when we started the climb towards Munnar, it was almost a 4D experience 😉 Well, we were moving in all 4Directions 😉 and even moved from within, by the pathetic PJs of the driver 😀

Of the initial 10 enthusiasts, 2 had dropped off. Well, it was 4 couples plus 2 single guys. So, when one of the guys dropped out, the other declared he’d be too left out 🙂 So, it was the 8 of us: (pic of us all) And of us 8, five were classmates. So, we were a bit anxious about how the other three would feel. We had back-up plans for everything else, but not if these 3 felt left out 😉 But well, it was all like the proverbial eggs of the same basket 😉 Probably why, the trip turned out to be as great as it was! Oh my. How much we laughed. All that laughing plus the boat-like motion in the bus finally made us all sick! 😀 Well, maybe it was also because of the 60 Ferrero Rocher chocolates that vanished in less than 10 minutes…mainly gobbled down by Gulfu, Jaya and me 😉

We reached Elysium Garden Resort by 3.30 or so, because of the heavy and constant rains. We all trooped into all the 4 rooms and made all of them equally untidy 😀 And almost instantly, the cameras were taken out and the posing and clicking began 😉

When I clicked a pic of the three girls, Merlin said “Priya, you don’t even know how to take photos. Give me the camera. I’ll take.” And she clicked this one 😀

Every time we went out on to the balcony to click a group pic, it’d start raining and the winds would drive it in, right into the room. It was like the rain had signed a pact against us…and would make sure we stay indoors all the time 😉 Well, we weren’t complaining. It was quality time we spent, getting to know each other, having limitless fun. And, we had packed playing cards and Pictionary and Ludo and all. So, finally, we settled for Pictionary. And my god, the fun we had. There was just so much cheating and screams and finger pointing and red cards and yellow cards and everything! Hehe…here are a few snaps of what the words were…and how they were sketched. (For those who do not know the rules of the game, CLICK HERE! You should play it sometime…if possible, with a big group. It can be the best fun ever! High scope for cheating and calling names :D)

Well, it was fun! Prashant saying “oh…ithenikkariyaam…Aamayalle? Frog Frog Frog!”; and for “surfing the net:, drawing a cloud to indicate “foam…surf detergent…and surfing…” 😀 :D; and Leena slyly pushing their token two blocks ahead every chance she gets; and Jaya slowly writing the word itself next to her sketch (but me the dimwit still not getting it right ;)) 😀 😀 We had about 2-3 hours of pure fun!!!

There were times when we all laughed out so loud, it was deafening. Like when Prasanth ordered “naalu chappathiyum oru chakan curryum”; when Jaya kept asking “adimaly ethaaraayo” too many times, that Prasanth finally said “Ho! Enthonnithu. Ethumbo ariyikkam :D”; when Ragesh kept making the weirdest statements which we kept connecting with the gay community, like “Da, nee kaalukal ingane veche…njaan kaanichu tharaam” 😀 :D; when Merlin said, in a most serious tone “…Why do you all keep calling him Rakesh? It’s Ragesh…as in RaGEYsh”; when Leena asked “Pavaroor kalava ethiyo?”; I can’t think of anything I, Gulfu or Suraj said…but am sure there were enough and more 😀 Especially from me 😀

And then, after another round of photo shoots and everything, we all went off to sleep. Planned to wake up at 6 the next morn and go for sightseeing. We all slept through right till 8 o clock and woke up to constant rains again. Went back to the fun thing: photo shoots.

Leena had planned to have a black-n-blue and white-n-blue themes and everything….so we got all that done 🙂 Gulfu, or professional photographer, was driven to madness by me and Jaya, making him click pic after pic of us both, till we finally got a snap we both liked 😉

Gosh! We were having so much fun that we forgot to do the one thing girl-friends supposedly do the most: gossip! So, on the way back, when we stopped for lunch, we had a proper gossiping session as well. It was a laughing riot at the Maria International Hotel, Kothamangalam. But we got bored of it in less than 5 minutes. So we went back to what we were best at: making stupidly funny statements, one after the other. 😉

Like Suraj kept telling me before we left Bangalore, the day we were doing countdowns for and waiting ever so excitedly, just slipped through our laugh riots…and we were back in Cochin before we even realised it 😦 But not before we planned out next trip: Malaysia in May 2011. Yes, it’s a doubtful month (one that sounds skeptic), but we WILL go 😀 And then, little Ananya would be with us too! Yeyyyy!

We reached the same rainy Kochi that we left behind the previous day, at about 5.00 pm on Sunday; hugged, kissed and separated and went our ways—everyone back to where we belonged. And, on Monday, back to work. I couldn’t stop giggling now and then, even at work, thinking of the many funny incidents. I still am giggling! 🙂 Next time, we’ll make sure we carry a tape recorder along, so that the funnies can be recorded for later laughs 😉 😉 😉

A few good outcomes:

  • Got to know Lee n Gulfu are finally getting married. Yeyyyy.
  • Jaya quit her job, when she went back home and realised her baby had not missed her one bit the past two days! 😀 Between me and Jaya, we know why I say it’s a good outcome 😀 😀 😀 Sad though, that it wasn’t accepted 😀
  • The 8 of us have become closer, and know each other much better (so much so that we’re actually sooo looking forward to the next trip)
  • We’ve definitely decided to make this a yearly thing. Next trip: Malaysia, Truly Asia 😉
  • Each one of us knows there are at least 7 people who’ll be there for us, at any point of time 🙂
  • We’ve realised that one does not need to be constantly in touch to maintain the friendship/or to have limitless fun when one meets up. What matters is just the mental wavelength… 🙂

Oh that was one true-blue vacation. A real fun ‘meet-up’. The best fun trip ever. I can’t justify the fun with words. The rest of the gang who missed it: you guys missed a lot. And we missed you too! 🙂

then. now.

Like almost 3 weeks back, I promised my blog I’d celebrate its 2nd birthday in style. Some style that turned out to be! I never even came back to it 😉

Life was hectic, filled with anticipation, dread, excitement, tension. Now, it’s all settled. I’m happy. It’s going to be a new life.

AlphabetWorld turns ‘B’ ;)

Well, what I mean is that AlphabetWorld! is two years old… and well, it being a world of alphabets and all, thought would continue using alphabets 😉

P.S.: This post had been saved in drafts, so I can just log on and post, even if from a mobile 🙂 A true blog-birthday post will be put up for you, AlphabetWorld!, as soon as I’m back in Bangalore 🙂 Live long! 🙂

Here’s to a long life for you, dear blog o’ mine! 🙂

excuse me

Funny things happen to me. It’s moments like these that make life so loveable. You never know what’ll happen the next moment 🙂 You may decide on one thing, but may end up doing another, just because of a split-second change in mind 😉 Anyway, one such thing happened yesterday evening.

I’d left work in a hurry, willing it not to rain till I reach home (so I can get drenched in peace!) 😀 Had a million thoughts running…weekend trip, tuscan wine, workplace issues, uncle’s heart attack, aunt’s fall, bro’s fever, mom’s BP and a lot of other things I don’t remember. You know how the mind works, don’t’ you!?

Well, what topped the list was Amma’s BP. She’d spent a tensed 5 days in Bangalore before she could get a ticket to rush to TVM to see her brother, my uncle who had the heart attack. He’d had 4 blocks and had to go through angiogram (which is damn dangerous; life-threatening, if not done by the expert of experts) and angioplasty…and had been in the ICU and everything. He’s totally fine now.

Anyway, all that sent her BP shooting. She reached back yesterday…and was all tired out and a bit low because of the BP and the pills. I’d been worried for her and wanted to reach home soon and cheer her up. Little did I know there’d be such a wonderful story to give her 😀

Anyways, here’s what happened.

There was a light drizzle when I left work, which was awesome and transported me into another world altogether. Rain can always do that to me. I was so lost in thought, humming a song I can’t remember now, thinking about unrelated arbit stuff…and trudging down the unbuilt road in that state of mind, I actually said “Excuse me…” to a dog lying on my way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I said that in the most serious, polite tone.

And, what did the dog do? It actually got up and made way for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I didn’t realise what I’d done, until I took another 5-6 steps. Then, it struck! I’d said “excuse me” to a dog, which actually responded by making way! Now THAT was too much, and I burst out laughing, right there!

Of all the things, to have said “excuse me” to a dog. Unbelievable, Priya!! 😀  The dog probably got up and moved when it realised I would walk right over it if it didn’t (after giving me a quizzical look, am sure).

How hard I laughed. God, I was clutching my sides within 5 seconds! Got a few really quizzical-concerned looks from a few passers-by…making me double up further! 😀 😀

That’s like the funniest thing I’ve done all my life. Or so I think.

But am sure I came across as the most polite human being to that dog. 😀 😉 😛

One for me, from the dog 😉
One for me, from my mom who couldn’t stop laughing.
One for me, from my bro who’s down with fever, all alone in the UK… and had a good laugh.
One for me, from the dad who built up on the now-famous ‘excuse me’ to create his own PJ!
And, one for the husband, from me, for giving me one of those typical “you’re impossible” looks on hearing this and making my day 😉

“Excuse me”, but such is the way of life. 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

.

E.T.A.UmaS commented here, saying I’m a very focused person, who plans well! Do you still think so, Uma? 😀

Woods are lovely, dark and green

Woods are lovely, dark and green
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep.

I love trees. I’ve always loved trees. And I’m sure I’ll never stop loving them.

One of the things I love doing is to look at the sky through the pinholes that a lush tree’s branches create.

Every time I look at a tree, I think, “Wow. Wonder how many years it took to become this big, this strong, this green, this beautiful…” Every time I pass under a tree and walk in the shade, I utter a silent “thank you”. Every time I see a tree swishing in the breeze, I can feel a smile pulling up the corners of my lips. Every time I see a downpour washing away the dust from trees and leaving them fresh and clean-green, I feel cleansed and rejuvenated! Every time I see new leaves peeping out from the branches, it gladdens my heart. Every time I see birds alighting on or flying off a branch, I feel serene.

Evevrytime I see a tree being cut, I feel I could kill.

The people responsible…the people who ordered for it…the people who’re doing it.

Very recently, about a week back or so, I left office right on time and was already pretty happy with myself for that. The sky had donned a deep grey overall and was threatening to pour. Unlike all the other days, I waited for a bus, hoping to get caught in the rain. Then, I got down at my stop and decided to walk. When I was almost home, it started drizzling and I took a different route, a slightly longer path that runs adjacent to a huge park near my house. Walking through the tree lined lane, with droplets bouncing off the leaves and branches right on me, made me ecstatic.

Until I reached home. There, I saw the two tress—they sheltered most of my house from the dust and direct view off the busy road—massacred. Literally. They seemed to have been cut done by someone who had a pen knife instead of an axe…and was asked to finish duty in 5 minutes! There were branches and twigs and leaves strewn all around. The parts where it had been cut, looked like someone had cut a bit through the wood and had wrenched loose the rest! It was awful! All that remained were the stumps! 😦

All my ecstasy drained right there. I was furious. Though I shouldn’t have taken it out on the wrong person, I snapped at the poor husband because he took about 5 long seconds after I rang the bell, to opened the door! I was swearing away in my mind, cursing the people responsible with the most horrid fates, donned the most fowl expression ever and even refused to attend my mom’s call (something which I never do, no matter what!).

I can’t even BEGIN to explain how furious I was. I don’t know what gets into me when I see a chopped down tree 😦 But it drives me up the wall, makes me furious, inconsolable and all that’s in that league!

On further examination of the area, I realised that about 12 trees had been chopped down, massacred similarly along one side of the road. And for what? To keep the branches from disturbing a wretched hanging electric wire! The ass**** (pardon me, but my fury is coming back! :() could have easily lifted the wire to a higher knob on the post than cut down 12 trees!!!!! Somewhere the power supply might have failed…and some dork must have decided it’s the trees’ fault.

I'm now sorry i didn't have a proper "before" pic; but well, I'm sure you can make out how tall the trees were...and how they are now 😦 😦

There’s nothing we can do, is there, to prevent such things?

I was recently talking to an aunt who’s demolished the house they’ve been living in, for years, and is now rebuilding it in a much better way! And she said, there was a coconut tree that had to be cut. And apparently, she needed permission from the Govt to cut it. After all formalities and everything, she ended up paying over Rs 35,000 to the Govt, for cutting a tree that’s right in her own plot!!!

But when it comes to electric wires, tress are a nuisance. Does the cost of getting someone to take up the wires to a higher level and get it tied there run into crores? Is that why cutting off fully grown trees to make way for these wires a better and oft opted solution!?

Bah! I hate people who cut trees. Even if it’s my very own brother who does it! There! Now that statement says it all! 😐

I guess for some…

Woods are lovely dark and green
But I like dust and heat than trees
And a million ones I’ll cut ‘fore I sleep.

E.T.A: Gosh! I know I sound dumb right now, but I had no clue today is World Environment Day! This post on trees here is a mighty coincidence! I’m off to plant a sapling now. And tomorrow, I’ll be at Lal Bagh to participate in “The Sapling Project”! Go GREEN! 🙂

The Sapling Project @ Bangalore
Venue: Lalbagh, Glass house.
Time: 10:30 AM
Contact: Joel Fernandes – 9008905774

Best people off to one of the best travel destinations ;)

We had planned this once in 2008…but, like all Plan As, it didn’t work. And we didn’t have a Plan B then 😀  So, in 2010, we directly named it Plan B. And it’s working! 😀

Started off when one person just took the initiative and sent mails to everyone saying “We need to meet!” 😀 Guess time’s not just a healer, it also makes people sensible 😉 Because, this time, we quickly invested money and made bookings: so, now, no one plans to opt out.

On the 12th and 13th of June, 10 of us are going to be at Munnar 🙂 At the Elysium Garden Resort. And we’ve already set the mood through a Facebook page we created for this. It’s brought a lot of memories and forgotten pics back to life!!!

This is our Facebook Page’s description: Before the group began we mapped out three primary goals: 1) to see and meet every year 2) to make our bonds and relationships stronger and 3) to love each other more every year. Brilliant words, Lee!

The mail has already run into threads that crossed 100. A couple from Dufaai Dubai, a couple from Bangalore, a couple from Kochi. A girl from Bangalore, a guy from Aluva, another from Kochi and yet another from Dufaai Dubai again—we’re all discussing this, making fun of one another, making back up plans, deciding colour combos for the photo-shoot 😀 😀 😀 (so that a few years later, we won’t look like a bunch of something the cat brought in!)

We’ve arranged a tempo traveler. We’ve booked the rooms. We’ve asked for campfire and music. And we’ve planned to have a night out…to relive our college days…to refresh those memories.

People say it might rain there. So, we even have back up plans:

  1. A big umbrella and one adoring husband to hold it for his ‘paavam merlin’ and all her friends who’ll huddle beneath it ;))
  2. Uno Cards
  3. Pictionary
  4. Ludo 😀 [we used to hold championships at college; it’s part of our team’s existence ;)]
  5. Photo shoots (the gang’s favourite past time; guess we did more of that than any studying at college ;))

It’s amazing how friends always catch up like there hasn’t been a day of gap. None of us ever call each other every day (or week, even!), most of us don’t mail to/chat with each other…and yet, when the trip plan popped up, we’re all in, high on enthusiasm and spirit…and memories come flooding 🙂

The last time we all had a trip was when we were in college. 16 of us went off to Thekkady-Kodaikanal. We still have very good memories of it. Thankfully, time has erased the not-so-good ones, which were few! 😉

This time, we’re hoping it’ll be a brilliant one…and that time won’t have to linger around with the eraser 😀

Just 10 more days to gooooooo. Yippeeeeee 😀

Munnar…here we come 🙂