Saturday, April 17, 2010

Amdavad Chhe Part 1

I visited Ahmedabad last week. It was after 18 long years that I was heading to Gujarat. I used to stay in Porbander when I was two years old, but I don't think that counts for much. Plus, Ahmedabad was my first time. And I decided to take Saurashtra Exp, since it involved a day journey and I wanted to 'experience the natural beauty of Gujarat'. HUGE mistake number one.

The route from Mumbai to Ahmedabad is HOT. REALLY HOT. I had bought a sleeper ticket, and I was on the upper berth (which is confusing since if you wanted to see the beautiful sun-baked fields, you need to be at the window). And the upper berth had the beautiful heat of the 43 degree sun reaching me directly, and 'Saurabh Fry' was served even before it struck twelve. Abhi toh picture baaki hai. I twisted and turned for want of some cool air, and I was wearing jeans. Thick ones. Brilliant strategy again. HUGE mistake number two. I only had Suketu Mehta's Maximum City for company, and I read quite a lot of it, before he got to the part where he describes Mumbai's sweaty weather. I couldn't bear it anymore. The only relief was the infinite flow of food vendors. I love Gujaratis and their food. I had a lot of stuff - bhel, khaman, chai, dhokla and something else which I don't know what to call but was suspiciously yellow. To hell with it, I thought. I was going to die of the heat anyway. 

There was a couple opposite my berth, and they were coochie-cooing. I just hoped it didn't reach Bandstand proportions. They were my source of entertainment, actually. The guy was ignoring the girl's requests to talk to her parents (like all normal guys). Instead, he chose the best way out. He rested his head in the girl's lap and fell asleep. I managed to catch a wink or two also. Then suddenly, when Surat came near, the guy got up, went down, wore his shades and sat still. Like a beggar. Like a statue. The girl had no clue what had happened. She got down and tried asking him, but he was motionless. Sitting there with his pink shirt (Gujarat remember!) and his black shades, only a bowl was missing if you know what I mean. I slept off again, and woke up when the train pulled out of Surat. Here's where the fun began.

I got down and my sandals were gone. Poof. I asked around, and the aunty said that a sweeper had just passed by. That made sense. But another uncle told me that 'Shades guy' had taken my sandals and gone. WHY WOULD HE TAKE MINE? Didn't he have his own? Luckily I had an extra pair of shoes, but they were formal ones. 

There I was, looking like a doofus with a tee, a blue jeans and BLACK FORMAL SHOES! Even in the land where men wear floral prints in bright colours, I looked like an idiot. And now I had two choices. Take off the shoes, keep them in the bag, go to the kiln on top and roast alive till Ahmedabad arrived. Or wear the shoes, burn below beside the window, and wait for Ahmedabad. I chose the former. At least I could sleep there. So I did. Till evening came and with it the cool 35 degree air. Heaven!


Friday, April 2, 2010

Dilli Dallying

I recently visited the capital city. For yet another MBA interview. Now I shall refrain from describing the interview, because it was just another interview. But I was actually looking forward to my trip because it was my first time travelling in a plane. I had heard horror stories about how it gets really wobbly and how people are puking left right and centre. I just hoped I didn't (and also the one sitting beside me).  It was perhaps the most expensive trip ever in my life. And I will put it down in points because, I don't know why :)

1. I flew to Delhi in Go Air. They followed a funny safety routine where the poor air-hostesses had to gesture and act out the instructions. I guess they must be accustomed to it. 

2. Delhi was HOT. I've lived 4 years in Nagpur, and I still felt Delhi was hotter. I got down at the airport and took a prepaid cab to my place in Panchsheel Park, South Delhi. Thankfully, I didn't get robbed (#mumbaikarsperceptionofdelhi). And the first thing I see after the cab turns out into the main highway is a carcass of a dead dog. Another thing I noticed was that almost all the cars had dents, scratches and remnants of an 'encounter'. I experienced Delhi's mad traffic for the first time after 15 years, when the cabbie almost ran into a BMW (Yea Delhi!) when the BMW just revved across the street from the extreme left to the rightmost lane. 
I finally reached the place which was quite near my centre - IIT Delhi. 

3. I was supposed to meet a friend at SDA market. But I couldn't get a single rickshaw auto to the place. Why the strikethrough? Because rickshaw means the cycle rickshaw. I walked to the place and almost got ran over by two cars while I crossed on my green signal.  
We had something to eat and it turned out, that we were both indecisive about what to do next. So we headed to the friend's college. Which is JNU.

4. Now, I'd heard all about JNU, its love for communism, jhola, Fabindia kurtas and other such stereotypes. There are also Maoist sympathisers. There are posters put up across the college buildings saying "Maoism - The only way", "Work, Struggle" and other such things. JNU doesn't allow franchisees on campus. The capitalist pig that I am, I found it revolting and quite depressing to see the underground rundown canteen (Sorry, Rini!). I took some pics too, but my phone is now a breeding ground for viruses, so I can't download it.

5. We then went to the highest point of JNU (or Delhi? Rini?) from where was quite a good view. It would have been even better if we didn't have a scorching sun drying our lives out. We were also given company by some kids (5-6 of them) getting 'high' on one can of draught beer and a quarter of vodka. They had also started shouting in English. One of them said, "Oye man, light this cig. Isko light kar. I'm...I'm very very...high." 

But my light-heartedness was ruined by some weird thing in my eye which rendered it red. Almost crimson. 'Bloodshot eyes' never had an more apt example. I was roaming around looking like a drunk pirate. 

6. IIT Delhi is old, and not a very nice campus. I saw the paranthewala mentioned in Five Point Someone. And the DoMS is on the other freaking end of the campus, with a nullah running through it, not unlike Nag River a la VNIT. IIT Delhi seemed even hotter. The interview got delayed, but nothing more on that.

7. I was flying back by Kingfisher, and I wondered which one of Mallya's famed beauties would be at my service. I only hoped it wouldn't be from the Nagpur branch, which was right outside VNIT (VNITians know why!). Or maybe it would? Sure would have been nice to go back and eat orange barfi, and do some jhaamal jhaamal on the plane! Kingfisher has Yana Gupta deliver the safety instructions (on recorded video of course). Yo Mallya!

8. I now know why being a pilot is such an adrenalin rush (NO! Not the girls. Maybe a bit!) The rush that the sudden speed the plane catches while taking off is amazing. I could feel it as a passenger (maybe because I was a first timer) and I'm sure the pilot likes it too. 

9. Delhi has an INFINITE number of hot women (Srini, thanks for reminding me :P). I swear. And I also learnt how to wear a tie. Over the phone. #win

Delhi trip was cool enough, except for the eye thing, which is now back to normal. Missed out meeting another friend due to that. Stupid eye!