Travel Diaries

  •  Last week, we travelled from Bangalore to Trichy by road. From there on, we drove up to temple of our family diety located at a tiny hamlet called ‘Annan Perumal Kovil’, about 10 kms from Sirkazhi. All through the way the roads were brilliant, the only stretch that sticks out like a sore thumb is the one between Thanjavur and Kumbakonam.
  • The Thanjavur – Kumbakonam stretch is very narrow lined with paddy fields and houses on the way. The trouble is not only that it has got lot of bends, but the quality of the road leaves a lot to be desired.
  • When we were driving past Salem, Narendra Modi was present at the town addressing an election rally and so was Vijayakanth. We didn’t get any idea of his presence. No visible presence of cops, no hoardings or posters or what not.
  • If one were to travel by car, it costs approximately 300 quid on tolls between Bangalore and Trichy. Given the quality of roads, I would say every penny is well worth it.
  • Between Chennai and Bangalore, one can spot several shops / shacks selling ‘Kumbakonam Degree Coffee’. This time around, such shops have sprung around in the TPJ – BLR route.
  • It is very painful to see Kollidam without a drop of water. Cauvery has a trickle flowing though.
  • The best local drink to taste in Tamil Nadu after ‘filter coffee’ would be Bovonto. It is a shame that it is not available in Bangalore (to my knowledge).
  • All along the long stretch of highway, why isn’t there a concept of lay-bys? Wouldn’t it be convenient for long distance drivers to pull over, stretch and drive on? I think it might work if the petrol stations on the highways are mandated to provide few amenities for the moving population.



low fare airlines

Spice Jet was offering air tickets starting from Re 1 + taxes and the offer lasted for three days from April 1. I picked an arbitrary day in October and checked the return fare for 2 adults and 2 kids between Bangalore and Delhi. While tickets are available for the base fare of 41 rupees, the total for 4 after adding all the taxes works out to 38,000 and odd rupees. Each trip works out to approximately 5000 quid, not very less than what one would pay in normal circumstances. Considering the fact that the base fare is only 41 rupees and also that I am booking the tickets several months in advance, I would expect the average per trip per passenger fare to be around circa 2500 – 3000 rupees.

Talking about low fares airline, the very first time I heard about such a concept was in the year 2000. I was living in London at that time and bumped on a promotional material offering return tickets to Pisa in Italy for 50 pence + taxes (yeah, you read it right!). I thought it must be a fake advert of some sort, but decided to call them up anyway. To my surprise, it was true and when I told my friends, we quickly hatched a plan to visit Italy. None of us could believe that the air fare, whatever might be the distance could be as low as 50 pence. The taxes worked out to 7 or 8 pounds then, marginally more than the cost of a meal in McDonalds in London during that time. We would have made two dozen calls to ensure what we heard was true and there is no detrimental stuff in the small print. Eventually, we did make it to Pisa and by the time we booked the tickets the fare had gone up by a pound, still a steal. It was from an airline called Ryanair, pioneer of low fare airline in Europe.

The concept of low cost airline was a great discovery for us. Not just Ryanair, there were few other options like Easy Jet, Go etc. With friends and family, we had several happy trips with these carriers. Coming back to India, do the low fare airlines in India really live up to their tag? Well, that is for another post.

Happy Hour at work

It is not that very often that an invite at the workplace would become a reason to feel glad about. Last Wednesday, when a fellow manager from our business line invited me and one another person to join his team for the ‘Happy Hour’ at our office cafeteria, I was smiling at the choice of name and the cartoon that went up on the pillar near their work area. As my desk is in the close vicinity of that team, I am not only privy to the artistic skills in that team and more often than not, I get to witness the work in progress.
The idea behind the ‘Happy Hour’ is when this particular team based out of our Bangalore office gathers informally for a potluck lunch. What appealed to me the most was the way in which they used the occasion to give a pat to their own team members and make them feel at home. As the one who had the privilege of signing few of the beautiful hand-made cards – one for welcoming a new team member, one for someone who had taken up a new role, one for the guy who scaled new heights by clearing a tough certification exam, some to the guys for doing a commendable job, I was indeed amazed at the camaraderie among the team members. It is a great feeling to be appreciated and backed up by your own team and I am sure it would have done wonders to the spirit of the folks who were cheered. They even made me feel important by asking me to talk for a few minutes.

Needless to say, the potluck lunch was a sumptuous feast of homemade food and I could see lot of effort had gone in organizing this. It is a simple way to celebrate, relax and rejoice as a team and these folks made it very effective. Pot was theirs, luck was ours and it was indeed a very happy hour! 🙂

KKR and their Celebrations

I am glad that the IPL is over. At least, I can focus on winning my daily bread. With the amount of games that are being played all through the year, I hardly watch any cricket match and IPL is no exception. But with the IPL, the buzz gathers momentum as the tournament progresses and when it comes to the play-off stages, I take an interest in how Chennai Super Kings fare. As they never fail to make up to the play-offs, I end up watching the tail end of the tournament and this year was no exception. With CSK, I like the way they gel as a team and raise when it matters. The camaraderie, bonding and the team spirit are infectious. More so, when the team carries the name of the city you associate yourself with.

Although I was a little disappointed that CSK didn’t win the title for the third time in a row, it was not a big deal. The team that held the nerve won and Kolkatta Knight Riders won deservingly. But, what happened after their victory was amusing. It was funny and sad that a club cricket victory was turned into a state sponsored spectactle at Kolkatta. Imagine 100,000 people turning up on a working day to felicitate the victory at Eden Gardens led by Mamta Didi and a equal number lining up the streets cheering their “heroes”, who apparently are Bengal’s pride. Three other teams have won IPL before and we haven’t seen celebrations of this scale in the past. Today, there is a full page advert in Times of India – Bangalore edition (possibly in all the editions of all the other national dailies) thanking the fans for their support.

I don’t really care how KKR celebrate. After all, it is their hard earned victory, especially after languishing at the bottom of the table for long. But, what irks me is the will of the politician in Mamta to quickly seize the opportunity and turn KKR’s victory as her own. It is a shame that she believes that people would bury the memories of her misrule deep under the lawns of Eden Garden. I wouldn’t be shocked if KKR owner Shahrukh Khan gets nominated to Rajya Sabha from West Bengal. Well, in this country – anything is possible.

If KKR’s victory is a trendsetter, that will be great. A team achieving victory through hard work should be the lesson for every other team in any game – not just cricket. But, if their celebrations become a trendsetter, we will have something to worry about in future. Over a period of time, this will turn into a victory of one Indian city over another. Given the emotional nature of Indians, this will pose a serious challenge to the federal structure of the country. I ask myself if I am over-reacting. I am not. Imagine a city like Bangalore celebrating the victory over Chennai or the viceversa, just like Kolkattans did yesterday – I would shudder to think of the consequences.

On a lighter note, what if the same team ends up at the bottom of the table next year? Wouldn’t Mamta declare the team as a bunch of Maoists. Well, in any case – as KolkattanS and their team are having the moment of their lives, let me end this rant by congratulating them on their victory and wishing them good luck for next year.

India Shining?

Although I have been visiting India for the last eleven years at least once every 18 months, the extent to which certain organisations provided service shocked and amazed me.

If Airtel surprised me by providing the phone connection and broadband within 48 hours, HDFC Bank even shocked me by providing me with Instant ATM card and other paraphernalia the moment I gave their representative the documents they asked for. Last Sunday afternoon, there was some issue with our landline connection and the line went dead. I called up Airtel and they promised to set it right by 10 a.m on Monday. I was very, very sceptical about the promise mainly because it was a Sunday. But to my surprise, an engineer came knocking at our doors two hours later and the line was set right.

I am well aware that I shouldn’t generalise things by the above experience, but it was a pleasant and welcoming change. Perhaps, the key lies in being mentally prepared for the worst. In any case, I am getting prepared for the law of averages to strike. 🙂


To those of you who still visit this site, just to let you know that we have moved to Bangalore, after 11 good years in United Kingdom.

We moved here about two weeks ago and gradually settling down. Personally, this is my first visit to Bangalore and in my short experience in the city, I should say that I like the place. We should count ourselves lucky and blessed to have friends – esp. Vijay and Priya, who ensured that every little thing was taken care of, so much so that we didn’t even have to struggle for a thing. They treated us like they would do a child and ensured a super smooth landing. I owe a lot for what they did, considering that I know them only through this blog. As I pretty much know that I wouldn’t be able to repay my gratitude in any way, I am feeling like a Ravanan or Rajapakshe due to what I owe them. (கடன் பட்டார் நெஞ்சம் போல் கலங்கினான் இலங்கை வேந்தன்)