Friday, 29 April 2016

Hong Kong Layover

April 12th - CX 632 delayed by 3 hours.
April 13th - CX 632 delayed by 4 hours.
April 14th - No trace of departure of CX 632. There was a notice in Cathay Pacific website stating that all the flights to Hong Kong may experience a major delay due to extremely bad weather.
April 15th - CX 632 delayed by 4.5 hours.

This shattered my hopes. I booked my flight to LA in such a way that I've a good 7 hours layover at Hong Kong allowing me to sneak into the city and spend at least 3 to 4 hours exploring it. Delay means trouble. The more the delay the less the chances of sneaking into the city. I thought I was doomed. I was afraid that all the research and all the plans I've been making for the past two months, especially for Hong Kong, were going to be a waste. Then came the D-Day (the departure day), April 16th. I was at the airport at 10.30 pm on April 15th, that is 3 hours before the departure, and that's when I heard the golden words from the Cathay Pacific staff. The conversation went like this,

Airline staff: Good evening, Sir. Here's your immigration form.
Me: Thank you! Is the flight departing on time today?
Airline staff: Luckily, yes, Sir.
Me: (with an enlightened face) Are you serious? The flight has been experiencing some crazy delays for the past one week.
Airline staff: It was delayed every day for the past one month, Sir. Luckily, we don't see any trouble today as the incoming aircraft from Hong Kong is right on time. We're departing as per the schedule today. 

That's how my adventure begun. 

I had no hopes on visiting Hong Kong until I heard those golden words from the airline staff. After dropping my baggage, I sneaked into the security check, which was a very long and haunting queue, and starting visualizing the plans I made for the layover. 

Departure from Chennai - 1.50 am IST; Arrival at Hong Kong - 9 am HKT; Connecting flight to Los Angeles - 4.30 pm HKT.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Follow me into the Jungle


Be warned that this post will be incredibly lengthy. Have lots of patience to read this. I can assure you it will be worth the read if you're planning for a forest trip in Kerala.


Gavi is a very small village located amidst the thick forests of Western Ghats and it is a part of the World famous Periyar Tiger reserve (well, i'm not sure whether the babies in Namibia know about this, but trust me, this is World famous). Gavi can be reached by two ways and by only one mode (road transport). One option is to make an entry from Kerala, where you need to reach Ernakulam (Cochi is the nearest airport) or Kottayam (again, Cochi is the nearest airport) and take a bus all the way to a place called Kumily (you'll burst into a hearty laugh if someone calls this a hill station). From Kumily, you need to reach Gavi either by hiring a jeep or by taking an Ordinary bus service that runs between Kumily and Pathanamthitta (2 buses per day), which i'll be discussing in detail as the post progresses. The other option is to make an entry from Tamil Nadu, where you need to reach either Madurai or Theni (Madurai is the nearest airport) and take a bus all the way to the mother of all hill stations Kumily. You poor thing have no other option than to take either jeep or the Ordinary bus services (or by your own car if you're self driving) to reach Gavi from Kumily, even if you make an entry from Tamil Nadu.   

Option 1:
Chennai to Kottayam - distance: 749 Km (overnight journey by train)
Kottayam to Kumily - distance: 108 Km (4 hours journey by KSRTC bus) 
Kumily to Gavi - distance: 32 Km (1.5 hours journey by Ordinary KSRTC bus)

Option 2:
Chennai to Madurai - distance: 472 Km (overnight journey by train)
Madurai to Kumily - distance: 141 Km (4 hours journey by TNSTC bus)
Kumily to Gavi - distance: 32 Km (1.5 hours journey by Ordinary KSRTC bus)

Route Map - Chennai to Gavi
I decided to choose option 2 as option 1 was ruled out because of festive season (no train tickets were available from Chennai to Kottayam). In the route map, the total distance between Chennai to Gavi is shown as 642 Km, which is applicable when you're driving from Chennai to Gavi on your own vehicle (conditions apply) and it can increase according to the road conditions.

My option 2 had this plan: Chennai to Madurai by Duronto Express (departed on October 21st 10.30 pm and arrived on 22nd 7 am) - Madurai to Kumily by bus (departed at 8 am on 22nd and arrived at 12 pm on 22nd) - Kumily to Gavi by Ordinary KSRTC bus (departed at 1.15 pm on 23rd and arrived at 2.45 pm on 23rd). Then, depart from Gavi on 24th by following a different plan, which i'll explain as the post progresses (told you, it will be an incredibly long post).

Friday, 25 September 2015

Here I am, back in the game

Whoa! It's been 4 months since I wrote something. Sounds terrible, isn't it? This time it is not procrastination as I had lots and lots of stuffs going on with my personal as well as professional life. The period from May-August proved to be the most interesting months of my life as I had the opportunity to visit United States of America. Visa interviews, documentation, travel, work stuffs, household responsibilities, financial management... I wonder what turned me so responsible (FYI, I wasn't like this earlier).  

You might be wondering what was I doing all these months? I guess it's time to break the ice (well, it might sound like one but there isn't any mystery). 

USA Trip
I had an opportunity to visit the beautiful state of Wisconsin during the month of July. It was a short business trip, which lasted for 13 days. Prepping for the trip was quite challenging as I had to get all my paperwork done in a right way for the smooth processing of my visa, the part I thoroughly enjoyed. 

I traveled in an airline which I didn't knew about its existence until I saw the name on my ticket - Etihad airways. I was surprised to know that Etihad, Abu Dhabi based, is one of the top operating airline (next to Emirates). The services were good but the part where I had to sit for 14 hours long (Abu Dhabi to Chicago) was kinda clumsy. 

Hannibal (Season 1 - Season 3)
Post Dexter, it took me almost 5 months to start another series and this time I decided to watch 'Hannibal', as suggested by one of my friend. Trust me, this is way too gory than Dexter, yet it was extremely entertaining. Packed with brilliant performances by Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal), this series is a must watch for those who enjoyed watching Dexter. Again, I had a marathon completing all the three seasons within the time frame of a month (took me close to 3 weeks to complete 39 episodes). I had a blast watching season 2 and season 3 finale as they were the most intriguing episodes that gave a nerve chilling experience. I feel bad hearing rumors that the Season 4 has been cancelled. I hope that it gets revived and now I would have to wait for an year or more to catch up with the forthcoming seasons (fun).

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Goodbye Bangalore!

I recently discovered that procrastination is a by-product of writer's block. Ever since I left Bangalore, I have been procrastinating a lot when it comes to writing, which, I realize, is not at all fair. Now, after a gap close to two months, I'm here to write about my 'stay' at Bangalore. 

Earlier, I would have written an article Bang Bang Bangalore in my blog stating every negative aspect of the city. If you ask me whether I have changed my perception about Bangalore, my answer would be 'No'.  I still hate Bangalore as much I used to hate it before - reason(s): air pollution, cost of living & traffic. This article from DNA India states that Bangalore is ranked as the second most polluted city in India, next to Delhi. It's obvious for Bangalore to be listed in top 5 most polluted cities, because the population of the city has grown from 80 lakh to 1 crore just in a span of 4 years, which means lot of people have migrated to this 'almost congested' city making it 'extremely congested' (and, I was one among them). Migration of people leads to increase in utilization of resources, which in turn leads to exhaustion of the same. For instance, the area where I stayed was dumped with several multi-storeyed apartments (most of them were paying guest accommodation) and I witnessed the electrical transformer going rogue everyday (poor thing couldn't handle the load).  

Now that I am out of Bangalore, I don't wish to dig deeper into its cons. In this post, I'll be listing out the things that relished my stay. 

Interstellar in IMAX
Watching Christopher Nolan's movie in the first few days of its release that too on an IMAX screen isn't an easy task. I would say that I was lucky enough to be a part of those audience who had the chance to experience the visual extravaganza on IMAX screen on the second day of its release. Watching Interstellar on IMAX screen was the most relishing experience I had during my stay at Bangalore. 

Watched on: Saturday, November 8, 2014
Ticket price: Rs. 400 per ticket + Booking charge (I guess it was Rs. 30)

Monday, 30 March 2015

736 days of Blogging, and still counting!

Facepalm I recently realized that my blog's 2nd year anniversary went unnoticed. 736, that's indeed a great number, isn't it? I'm astonished at how much I have achieved so far in my writing journey. Let me walk you through the timeline of my blog since its inception highlighting the initial achievements.

March 25, 2013 
I posted the first post in my blog. It was a short story titled 'Fury' (Click here to read the story). 

For the next three months I was posting nothing but short stories. In the meanwhile, I was exposed to blogging platforms like Indiblogger and BlogAdda, and my blog began to gain readers from those blogger networks. 

June 16, 2013
On this day, I posted a short story titled 'Misfortune' (Click here to read the story), which literally changed my perception of 'me' as a writer. I was astonished to see my work getting published in Storizen (e-magazine) - published in the month of September 2013. Thanks to my blogger friend Meera who introduced me to this e-magazine. 

July 15, 2013
My blog crossed 10,000 page views.

August 2, 2013
My post about the link between the science and the religion titled 'Science and Religion interlinked' got selected for BlogAdda's Spicy Saturday Picks.

August 8, 2013
I received my first Liebster Award from my blogger friend Vashti. Thanks Vashti for sharing this award with me.

September 15, 2013
I received my first Creative Blogger Award from my blogger friend Meera. Thanks Meera for sharing this award with me.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Cultural Fest (Short Story)

'Hello everybody! As your training days nears the end, we would like to entertain you by organizing a cultural fest. We need each and every one of you to participate. Non-participants names will be written on chits and those selected in the lot will have to perform the act written at the back of their respective chits. Participation is mandatory!'

Mr. Saxena, the trainer, made an announcement to the newly recruited graduates who were undergoing their first batch of training at one of the most popular nationalized banks of the country. All the trainees of the batch were excited about the participation, except Sooraj, who was hesitant to enroll his name for any event. He glanced through the list of events - dance, singing, skit, magic, martial arts - but wasn't interested to enroll in any of those. Two things ran in his mind that stopped him from enrolling himself - stage fear and shyness.  He was neither a good dancer nor a good singer. The other events sounded alien to him. As the participation was mandatory, he made his mind to enroll himself in singing as he felt it quite easier task compared to the rest. 

As Sooraj went ahead to give his name, he was stopped by a couple of his co-trainees, who were also his roommates. 
'Hey Sooraj, we need your help.'
'I'm all ears,' replied Sooraj.
'Me, along with Dinesh, Ramesh and Suresh, have enrolled our names for the dance. We need someone to operate the audio part of the event. Would you be interested to take care of it?'