Monday, March 31, 2008

Day 3: To Delhi

Day 3: To Delhi (9th March 2008)

1) Arrival at Delhi
2) Jageer Palace
3) Visit Red Fort (Ice creams for breakfast)
4) Andhra Bhawan
5) Palka Bazaar
6) Back to Bangalore.

We arrived in the early hours on Sunday. We had some trouble with Kaalu and as usual Vijayan spoke in Hindi to get rid of him :). We somehow got an accomodation near the Airport, the place was called Jageer Palace, it was a decent enough hotel and the price was good when comparing Delhi prices. We had some rest, freshened up and all of us were hungry to the core.

We first tried the restaurant at Jageer palace itself, we found the prices were too costly so we simply quit. We just took the bus to Red Fort. We had small naps in the bus, everyone was feeling sleepy and hungry to the core. We reached RED FORT at around 9:00 AM and started searching for food, God just did not want to give us food that day, we never found a hotel or a tiny restaurant to eat. We just kept walking, some one came up with the brilliant idea of having ice creams for breakfast and that's all we found. Everyone took a choco bar and munched on to RED FORT.

The red fort to me was nothing, it was just a fort. It was boring to go through it, we just got some history lessons from the museum and that's it.

We walked out of the red fort at around 1:00 PM. I thought of eating some Delhi delicacies but Delhi was our nation's capital but certainly not the gastronomic capital of our country, it was lucky we got good advice from Srikanth and Kapil as they insisted to go to Andhra Bhawan, if we had not went there I bet we could have starved.

We headed to Andhra Bhawan, I had to say I was thrown back by the crowd there but I was also perplexed by the way the crowd got clearing. They somehow had got the throughput right, the people were really waiting for less time. The management was really good. Besides the no. of customers they had, they respected everyone and managed to get seats for everyone as the customer's pleased, that was truly outstanding. The food was great, I had very little words coming out of my mouth at that time as I was busy relishing the quality of the food. When the meal was over everyone had only one thing to say "Relief from Rotis" :).

During my trip north of the country I realised a fact of why all dieticians recommend rotis to reduce weight. I think I am right, please have a look.

1) You have a count of how many rotis you eat.
2) By struggling to eat them you give up eating.

These two make a perfect combination to reduce weight.

Just kidding, all roti lovers excuse, I am just expressing how I felt.

Next stop Palka Bazaar.

Palka Bazaar was a great market with everything cheap, you got to make it cheap of course by bargaining. Kapil lent me the trick and I made my moves based on that, he said "They will quote 3000, you say 500 and they will agree". I tried this and it worked. I felt all my friends who bought some item or the other got it for 20% of the price that was initially quoted.

We just went back, had some sleep, packed our goods and went back to Bangalore.

That was the story of fun-loving, highly-adventurous, accomodating and enthusiastic eight men in one of the best trips I ever had.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Day 2: Trip to Mcleod

Day 2: Mcleodganj

1) Breakfast at Shangrila
2) Dalai Lama
3) Shopping at Mcleod (with special mention to Vijayan's never ending shopping spree)
3) Trip up to the Bhagsunag waterfall.
4) Lunch at Asoka International restaurant.
5) Trip to "The Sacred Dal Lake".
6) Trip back to Delhi
7) Dinner at a Dhaba
8) Puncture, Puncture and Puncture all the way to Delhi.
9) Jokes, jokes and lots of PJ's.
10) Bowling, throwing and a violent game of hitting the National Highway notice boards.
11) Counting minutes and seconds at an abandoned wearhouse in the middle of the night. (Special effects from Saumya). - Sherlock Holmes
12) Antakshari - Indian Style.
13) Knee cracking, back breaking, head hitting and hard banging ride to Delhi. (Courtesy Kalu Radhesham).


Day 2 was the most eventful, scariest and the most adventurous day we spent. We all woke up at around 9 AM, but as usual Saumya's feverish enthusiasm woke us all up at around at 8 AM but nothing could get us out of our beds till 9 AM. We then quickly freshened up and headed to HOTEL SHANGRILA again and had our break fast of bread, omlettes, Tibetan Herbal Tea and Tibetan bread, this time the service was better than yesterday with a nice lady picking our orders. Tibetan bread was hard stuff to eat, Tibetan Herbal Tea was very refreshing.

Previously on Day 1, we got the info of Dalai Lama's presence in Mcleod, we learnt that Dalai Lama will be available from 10:30 AM till noon today. We all headed to get a glimpse of one of the well known holy leaders of our time.

We started our walk to the monastery, the monastery was at the eastern end of the first street at Mcleod. While we came close to the temple, we heard someone doing the Tibetan Bardo (rrrrrrrrrrr mmmmmmmmmmmm) and that kind of spiritual stuff, it was very nice to hear.
Lucky for us, it was not like Tirupathi, no ques or overwhelming crowd, it was easy to get in and get out. Camera's and mobiles were not allowed inside, so we went in groups of 4 to safeguard our goods. Me, Vijayan, Rajesh and Saumya went first, we were let in after a brief security check.

We walked past room 1, Dalai Lama was giving his speech via video-conferencing there, we walked around room 2, we could not get into room 2 as there were too much crowd sitting and listening to Dalai Lama. We got a good view of him and we decided to leave. We came out and let the next team pass in, we were all out of the temple complex at around 11:30 AM. The view of the TRIUND peak from the monastery was breath taking and we took some snaps. We went out for shopping after that.

Shopping near the monastery consisted mostly of antiques, beads and some craft work made of Yak horn. We all went to each shop to find if something suits our interest, after a brief walk up, we found a man selling small jewel boxes, suitable for keeping rings and small jewelery. The craft was very good. Me, Vijayan and Rajesh altogether bought 5 of it and managed to pay 45 for each, where the initial quote was 70.

Somehow Vijayan managed to find something for his little daughter, I was very relieved before him coz I was the one who accompanied him an all his shopping expeditions, God saved the day :). We tried our luck at finding something more interesting, but nothing suited us. On our way Me and Rajesh stumbled upon a mask which resembled the mask in the Hollywood flick Mask, it was really spooky, don't know if it had magical powers, I should have put it on Rajesh immediately, bad luck I get to remember this when I am writing the blog :). We finished our shopping with this.

We then started our journey to Bhagsunag waterfalls. We went to the Bhagsunag temple on the way, it was temple that was built by our Soldiers, there were many inscriptions of the donations of many battalions all over the place. We went around the temple and we found our guys doing some research with the camera and coolers, the research was to get a snap of what is being seen when the coolers are on someone's eyes as usual this research was headed by the ever enthusiastic Saumya.

We then quickly started off to the waterfalls. We had to walk to the waterfalls from the temple, the journey was again easy. The views of the mountains on the way to the waterfall was very beautiful. We took some pictures of monks trying to meditate in the small hut like enclosures in the side walls, actually the monk we took the picture of was more enthusiastic posing for the photos than meditating, may be that's all the fun you get for being a monk.

We reached the waterfall finally after so many tiny photo sessions. The waterfall a moderate stream, the water in it was ice cold as hell and there was a small pond like dent formed out of the ever flowing water. We all had photo sessions there and we also had a tiny competition on who stands the longest in the waterfall. Initially me, Saumya and Rajesh stood there, Me and Rajesh managed it for 25 seconds, then came Saumya he was very eager to break our record and upped the record by 20 more seconds. Vijayan came in rushing and shouting "learn from me" and did not last for more than 20 seconds :). Srikanth and Kapil stood for another 20 seconds each. Then I and Swami went in and upped the record to a whopping 1 min 25 seconds. We by that time had got used to that, we could have stayed there a little longer, but we thought enough is enough and came out of it.

There were some guys and girls from Pathankot, they kept playing in the water for very long and they were oblivious of the coldness in the water, but Saumya was so happy about these people from Pathankot, he ended up playing in the cold water as long as they did :). Saumya finally broke all records and no one had counted the time, I guess he spent more than an hour there. In the meanwhile Vijayan went for a Himachal massage and ended up cramping himself more than the cramps he had before the massage.

There were two ways to go back to the Bhagsunag temple, one climbing down to the valley and climbing up back again to the temple and the other was the route we came in. Me and Vijayan took the same route back and others took the what so looked like a dangerous path initially.
We learnt that Swami, Srikanth, Kapil, Srinu, Saumya and Rajesh had a better time taking that route, they had fantastic photo sessions with the kids, monks, small shrines and leisure photos of them sleeping around the shades of rocks, the photos were superb and scenic.

Me and Vijayan had some photo sessions in the normal route and we both tried to get tatooed. These tatoos were stamp like things of scorpions, lions, butteflies etc; the vendor told that it will last for 15 days, don't believe her, if you want the tatoos for 15 days, forget bathing for 15 days, it won't last a day or even a bath. It costed Rs. 20 for each tatoo, it was daylight robbery and as we were adventurous we never minded that.

Then we all gathered at the Bhagsunag temple again. This time I thought of buying the binoculars and Vijayan too somewhat had that in mind, he wanted it for his daughter and I wanted it for bird watching. The binoculars in the first shop we saw cost 450, we did not take that, the second shop it costed 300, we brought him down to 250, but he had only one piece, we went back to the first shop and this time around the father of the guy whom we met previously was selling the stuff, within the few minutes we had left the shop, the price from the father's mouth was 700, we said that we had bought the same piece for 250 from the other shop, but he did not budge, his final price was 500, we dropped the plans of buying it from him, we found the same binoculars from another shop and it costed 250 straightaway and we got it immediately.

We meddled with the binoculars until we finished our meal in Asoka international hotel. It was an Indian hotel, we all ate some rotis and pulaos and Vijayan took a noisy vegetable steak. There were lots of birds and breath taking views to watch via the binoculars and I would say binoculars were wonderful instruments for entertainment. We finished our meal and headed to the Sacred Dal Lake.

On the way I bought a flute, there were plenty of flute types made of bamboo, teak wood, rose wood etc., the wooden one's were costlier at around Rs.600 to Rs.800. I was just an amateur and I just brought the cheaper one for 70 bucks. The guy who sold the flute had a way with the flutes, he was a very nice guy and also tried to teach me and Vijayan, we somehow managed to blow some noises out of the flute, I guess that was enough to get started. I later learnt from Vijayan that the bamboo stick I bought was Murali and not a flute. One can play murali holding it like a saxophone, but flute can only be played holding it horizontally.

We reached the sacred Dal lake and I used my binoculars wherever I can. The Dal lake was a very small lake or a big size pond that we find in many villages. It was sacred though, but I don't know why? The fishes in the pond could swallow us alive, they were very big considering the courtesy of travellers who kept feeding them all day long with rice flakes.

There was nothing else to visit in Mcleod, by now it was already 5:00 PM, we decided to leave immediately so that Kaalu can cross the Ghat section before dark.

The trip back to Delhi was the most adventurous one, we had a pretty steady ride down hill from Dharamshala, then started the toughest journey we ever went through. We stopped in a Dhaba for a tea first at around 7:00 PM. After this we started our usual Antakshari, but this time I was too bored of listening to the same songs again and again. I tried starting off in Tamil and the team agreed to sing songs in all languages possible, it was great fun we had songs from Bhojpuri, Hindi, Oriya, Tamil and Telugu. Then Kapil came with the brilliant idea of forming two groups. Kapil, Srinu, Saumya and me were a team, Srikanth, Vijayan, Rajesh and Swami were another team, the teams can sing in any language convenient to the individual participants, this to me was an antakshari in Indian style, which I have never seen before or heard of before, this is a great testimony to the ways the group bonded with each other. I was quieter than others as I really don't listen to songs and even if I manage to listen, I have a special filter in my ears to filter out the music and let the lyrics at bay. I just manage to sing 6 songs and out of it I was wrong 4 times and I never knew beyond two lines in any of the songs, I knew only "Tanha Dil" which I memorised long back and sang only that. Point to be noted here is that Srinu, Swami, Kapil and Srikanth were movie buffs, they were able to sing in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi, I guess from the way they sang those songs they knew the lyrics of every song too well.

We had a light dinner in a small Dhaba, the food was ok, we managed to eat it. Always clean the plates in a Dhaba with a tissue paper, swipe the paper once over the plate and you will know for yourself on what to do next. Punctures begin now :)

We had a puncture near Pathankot, it was at the cross roads of two highways, we had some street lights, pebbles, roads and signboards. It was later proved that these were ideal ingredients to have fun. Vijayan suddenly started bowling by taking some of the pebbles he found, his aim was to hit one of the National Highway turret sticks. We were amused by Vijayan's enthusiasm, Vijayan hit that turret three times in a row and after that he kept trying and he kept missing the turret by yards :). We all started throwing stones at one of the National Highway signboards, our aim was not to hit the board, but to hit the pole, everyone were having a great time like kids, we never left half-a-chance to have fun. Kaalu managed to repair the puncture by getting the spare tyre.

We had one more puncture and again we never missed a chance to have fun, I started off by saying some PJ's and everyone joined in, there were too many jokes of all genre, we woke up the people in what seemed like a remote village with our loud laughter and we were given special instructions by the locals, but we just reduced the volume.

We started our journey again and beyond this point, the journey got too dangerous and rocky. The roads were bad and full of fog, we could hardly see anything. Kaalu shamelessly went through it in full speed, often getting the vehicle into deep pits, we had such a nightmare of a journey. Me, Vijayan and Saumya were in the back seat and got the blunt of the shock when the shock absorbers in the backside were particularly very bad. Vijayan was bouncing like a ball from the ground to the ceiling of the car as he had nothing to hold him to the ground. I heard his bones cracking all the way long.

We had another puncture near Chandigarh and this time it was too serious, we were in the middle of nowhere, no people, no lights and just an abandoned warehouse. We spent two hours in the warehouse between 12:00 AM to 2:00 AM. We were hardly able to see anything beyond 50 metres. The weather was too cold, everyone did whatever they could to cover themselves up fully. We had a scary time with Saumya bringing shivers within everybody by saying dracula and vampire stories plus some of his own Karma stories which always raised the question of "why we stopped exactly near this warehouse? why not fifty metres away from this place?" ahn! what a scary night? I myself had stupid thoughts of Kaalu being some kind of dacoit luring us to this warehouse to loot our money, I thought Kaalu might have gone to bring in more reinforcements.

All these were turned wrong when he came back with the tyre and the back breaking journey continued till Delhi and nothing else, I was holding my fists to hit Kaalu, I thought of to at least burn his effigy to vent out my anger, but when things went calm, I just held back saying "chalta hai".

For the trekkers:

Make sure your driver is good and the tyres + shock absorbers are good before you start a long journey and also make sure the luggages at the top of your trucky may sway or untie based on the shock it gets, always keep an eye on the luggage.

Count your luggage at every stop possible.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Day 1: Trip to Mcleod

Day 1: Mcleodgangj (7th March 2008)

1) Trip up the Triund mountain.
2) Shopping in Dharamshala
3) Breakfast and Tea in Palsong Cafe.
4) Dinner in Shangrila (Special mention to Thukpa)

We reached at around 9:30 AM at Mcleod and started searching for a hotel, to our shock all hotels were booked and we were very lucky to get a decent accomodation in HOTEL SHIVALIK. The rooms in the hotel were decent enough had a nice view of the neighbouring hill town.

We booked 3 rooms and immediately got ready for our trek up the TRIUND peak at around 12:00 PM. We had our breakfast at Palsong cafe in the first street at Mcleod, it was a decent hotel run by a tibetan family, we had some Aloo parathas, bread, omlettes and Vijayan took a sneak peek into a tibetan breakfast containing of tibetan bread, tibetan porridge and tibetan butter tea. After having our breakfast we straightaway jumped in the vehicle for the trek, after having a struggle finding our way to the peak, we took our vehicle and our driver for an ultimate test, a test which none of us will ever forget. The road was filled with rubbles, loose sand and broken rocks all-over and was not very inviting for a vehicle.

We climbed up the hill with the vehicle, the entire path was around 5 - 6 feet wide and in some places lesser than that, in every hairpin bend, we saw the deep valley down and the very sight of it was scary enough for our guys to start thinking of avoiding the trip downhill in the vehicle.

We now came to the treacherous bend, where the path was just exactly enough for the vehicle to pass through, a slip here would mean, we were going down rapidly to take a faster upward journey. Me, Vijayan, Rajesh and Srinu did the scouting job to ensure safety of the road beyond the tiny hair-pin bend, we did a fair bit of scouting and found a good clearance, where we could turn-around or park our vehicle. Me and Rajesh went back to get the vehicle till that point, whereas Vijayan and Srinu went till the top to Gallu temple after receiving instructions from a fellow trekker and ensured the safety of the road beyond the clearance point.

Somehow Kaalu managed to get past this hair-pin bend, but it took a seperate monumental effort to convince him to take the plunge. This devilish driver took the opportunity to blow the bill by an extra Rs.500/- just for his not so daredevil stunt, his bargain was silently turned down, but he still kept bargaining till the top, I learnt from him that, bargain could have been a combination of 2 english words bark + gain :).

We reached the Gallu temple and then we took the goat path to reach TRIUND peak. The goat path wasn't so steep and challenging, it was easy to climb up, but rubble and uneven rocks just made the journey a little more risky. The trip up the top got better and better, the views were splendid and we were very lucky to find some snow, that was the first time I saw snow in my life and the same goes to many of us in our gang. We threw the snow all over everyone and had some brief fun and photo session, all the way up the hill we found more and more small islets of snow.

I have to particularly say about a relatively large islet of snow we found near the half-way point, the islet was wonderful, it almost covered a 15 x 25 x 0.5 cu.metre in volume and was also melting slowly, for the first time I saw a small stream being formed, the sight itself was wonderful and admirable of the ways of the nature, everyone had a brief photo session there and climbed up till the half-way point, Vijayan and Gang left swiftly, whereas Swami, Srikanth, Srinu and I climbed slowly. By the time we reached the half-way point, Vijayan and Gang had already ordered Maggi for all of us in one of the oldest run shops in that mountain, the shop was just on the tip of the mountain, the view was splenid from there and the breeze was very soothing too. Maggi was salty up there, but everyone just yummed through it because of the hunger.

OK, I have to tell something about my slow climb with Srinu, Swami and Srikanth, I had a ligament injury and just got treated for it a month ago, but my only restriction was that I should not bend my knee beyond a particular degree, that's it, I am free to go anywhere if I kept to this restriction strictly. Srinu, Swami and Srikanth gave me good company and it was also fun to know that they had leisure photo and video sessions because of this, I am very thankful to them for not making me feel like a show stopper, instead still having a great attitude to make use of the other nice ways to spend their time while climbing TRIUND. The other group was fast and Saumya always tried to run faster than the others, closely followed by Vijayan and Rajesh.

Half-way up the mark, I decided to stop as it was already 2 PM and it will take 2 hours for even fast climbers to reach the top. Our guys had to comeback before dusk, so I stopped, took some rest and started my relaxing climb down half-an-hour later. The climb made me mesmerize in the breathtaking and beautiful views from the top.

When I was climbing down, I heard the shouts of our guys and to my surprise they abandoned the climb up because Soumya's bull run trailed up a wrong route to the peak. The route they initially took became steeper and steeper and our guys found the right route while coming back.

We took a leisure stroll down the hill and went back to Gallu temple and boarded our car to take the ride further down hill.

We took a video of the scary ride down the hill. Srikanth, Swami and Kapil preferred to walk, we caught up with them after we crossed that narrow path which I mentioned earlier, they were relieved and joined us in our ride down the hill.

All this had set the hunger on us, we went back to Palsong cafe, had Tibetan Butter Tea, Ginger Tea and some bread omlettes. The Tibetan Butter tea was thick and salty, but it tasted very good when it got cold, the Ginger Tea was very good, it was strong and biting a piece of Ginger sent a shock till the top of the head, it was good enough to keep a person awake for 2 days. We ran back to the hotel room to have a quick refresh and headed straight back to shopping.

The Tibetans seem to have a closely knit community thriving there, we saw the same people around the town in different shops doing different things. The night life was calming and gave a communal feel. Vijayan and me left for shopping together and the rest of the team split up to do their own bit and we decided to meet at 8:30 PM back at the place we started.

We had a brief session of shopping, we started of from the second street at Mcleod and roamed the whole place. We found lot of interesting things like hats made of rabbit, fox, antelope and Yak fur, they were really cool, but the vendors quoted a huge price of Rs. 450/- to Rs. 500/- and we were not sure of buying it. Tibetans seem to have a flair for antiques, they seem to have a lot of incense holders, statues of Gods, old face masks and lot of items made of Yak horn etc.

I never felt like buying anything that day, Vijayan was searching something for his daughter and shop vendors taking on to cheating led him to buying nothing till the end. I saw Swami and Srinu buying some T-shirts, I was happy that at least they were able to find something to buy.

Then we all met at the point we started at around 8:40 PM and headed to find a restaurant for dinner, we all went to Hotel Shangrila, it was a restaurant run by the Gyudmed Monastery and all the profits of this hotel was used up towards the education of the monks.

Me and Vijayan had Thukpa (Tibetan for Soupy Noodles), the noodles were not so spicy and both of us tried putting a load of red chilly paste inside it and both of us cried our way down till we finished our stuff, I personally used 4 paper towels to finish off with my tears :), it was very adventurous.

There was a small mess up when the monks brought us extra food than we actually ordered for and we found that we had ordered a dish twice, but still the monks also made a mistake for their part and bought another dish which we had not ordered for, since it was a charity organization, we all decided to pay up for the monk's mistake, since I was the root cause for the first mess up, Vijayan and team asked me to give the money for charity, we dropped the cash in the charity box, the monks were very happy with this. We were particularly happy with the neatness and the quality of food there, but the service was little sloppy as the monks did not understand good english, but the overall quality and price was remarkable.

We just went back to HOTEL SHIVALIK and had a great sleep.

For the trekkers:
Mcleod is 1700 metres above sea level, almost twice as high as Bangalore.
Maggi seems to be the State dish for the State of Himachal Pradesh, you can get it everywhere and people just seem to love it.

The shop at the half-way point started at 1984 and is run till now, a Maggi costs Rs.30 and no one's complaining for it is hard work to get stuff up there.

Day 0: Trip to Mcleod

Day 0: Adobe Noida Office (Wednesday 6th March 2008)

1) Mess up with the travel bookers and our huge baggage.
2) Introduction to Kaalu Radhesham (The creepy and spooky driver)
3) Antakshari (Soumya special)
4) Puncture near Chandigarh.
5) Early morning tea at a Dhaba in that nail biting weather.

Here we go,

Exhausted after the QE tech summit, we began looking for our trip partners and got introduced to each other, after a brief session of maggi noodles, bread omlettes, chit chatting and bird watching in the splenddid ambience of our Adobe Noida campus, we started by moving our back packs to the car at 6:55 PM, we found that the Qualis that we ordered for did not have a carriage over the roof and it was impossible for us to pack all of our luggages. There was a wonderful session of Vijayan's rebid in Hindi to get us all a vehicle with a carriage over the roof. The wait was not over yet, the bid was over though, we were asked to wait for 15 minutes by the travel booker, we waited, waited and kept waiting in the road for 2 hours and alas we got a scorpio with a carriage over the roof and Kaalu Radhesham, the driver whom we later found was a devil in disguise.

We loaded our packs in the vehicle and started off, we had an entire session of Antakshari in Hindi and the songs just kept flowing, I was just amazed by the song databases that our guys were and especially Soumya, he seems to have a directory index of songs starting in all letters, he was so enthusiastic about his directory index, he ends up singing all the songs in 4x speed, just to get ready for the next song and he many a time ended starting off a new song when he had just completed a song (truly amazing).

OK, here starts our puncture story, we had a puncture after a few miles from Chandigarh, we were in the middle of a bridge and we spent some time in the chilling weather outside our cab all alone and not even a dog around us, after this, I don't know what happened to our driver, he started driving rashly and it was too rash that I had to wake up and give him company just to avoid his rash driving and a day later he told us that he was driving rashly because I was sleeping sitting next to the driver's seat, to my knowledge that's just a "What an excuse?", if he had some problems he could have straight away told us.

We stopped somewhere near Punjab for tea in a Dhaba at around 6 AM, the weather was nail biting, Rajesh and Vijayan's hands were shivering when they tried to hold the tea, after the tea, me, Vijayan and Rajesh went near the just lit Tandoor, the Tandoor was so comforting, everyone had a good time showing our fronts, backs and hands to the Tandoor.

For the trekkers:

Except for the roads in and around Chandigarh, Dharamshala and Noida, all other roads were bad or under construction.
Just watch out for the beautifully laid out Chandigarh, it is so well crafted like a city in Europe.

Overview of the Trip to Mcleodganj

The trip was an excellent one, one of a kind, filled with fun, dangerous and adventurous moments. I will try to cover the fun-filled moments in brief and give you the feel we had when we dangerously moved over the points between heaven and earth.

Trip Plan:

The plan was to reach Dharamshala by morning of 7th March 2008 and be back in Delhi on 9th March 2008.

WE:

We were 8 adventurous people and our names in alphabetical order as follows and the funny one-liners (no offence)(some one liners were courtesy of Vijayan, so please make sure before you come and hit me, just kidding :)).

1) Kapil - The Perpetual Sick Man
2) Rajesh - Giggler
3) Sathish (Me) - Lazy Boy
4) Soumya - Highly Adventurous Kid
5) Srikanth - The Accountant Extraordinaire
6) Srinivas - Quiet One
7) Swami - The Perpetual First Timer
8) Vijayan - Trip Planner

We bonded well right from the beginning of the journey till the end. We faced numerous hiccups and problems from the start of the journey, the one thing that got better and better through the journey was the fun factor, it just did not sulk even in tough situations, we managed to laugh over the tough situations away with the unifying spirit of having fun, fun and fun only. "What more can I say?", just read through and you will know the true meaning here.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Trip to Dharamshala

The trip was an excellent one, one of a kind, filled with fun, dangerous and adventurous moments. I will try to cover the fun-filled moments in brief and give you the feel we had when we dangerously moved over the points between heaven and earth.

Trip Plan:

The plan was to reach Dharamshala by morning of 7th March 2008 and be back in Delhi on 9th March 2008.

WE:

We were 8 adventurous people and our names in alphabetical order as follows and the funny one-liners (no offence).

1) Kapil - The Perpetual Sick Man
2) Rajesh - The Always Giggling Geek
3) Sathish (Me) - Lazy Boy
4) Soumya - Highly Adventurous Kid
5) Srikanth - The Great Chartered Accountant
6) Srinivas - Quiet One
7) Swami - The Perpetual First Timer
8) Vijayan - Trip Planner

We bonded well right from the beginning of the journey till the end. We faced numerous hiccups and problems from the start of the journey, the one thing that got better and better through the journey was the fun factor, it just did not sulk even in tough situations, we managed to laugh over the tough situations away with the unifying spirit of having fun, fun and fun only. "What more can I say?", just read through and you will know the true meaning here.

Journey Details:

Day 0: Adobe Noida Office (Wednesday 6th March 2008)

1) Mess up with the travel bookers and our huge baggage.
2) Introduction to Kaalu Radhesham (The creepy and spooky driver)
3) Antakshari (Soumya special)
4) puncture near Chandigarh.
5) Early morning tea at a Dhaba in that nail biting weather.

Day 1: Mcleodgangj

1) Trip up the Triund mountain.
2) Shopping in Dharamshala
3) Breakfast and Tea in Palsong Cafe.
4) Dinner in Shangrila (Special mention to Thukpa)

Day 2: Mcleodganj

1) Breakfast in Shangrila
2) Dalai Lama
3) Shopping in Mcleod (with special mention to Vijayan's never ending shopping spree)
3) Trip up to the Bhagsunag waterfall.
4) Lunch at Asoka International restaurant.
5) Trip to "The Sacred (Scared) Dal Lake".
6) Trip back to Delhi
7) Dinner at a Dhaba
8) puncture, puncture and puncture all the way to Delhi.
9) Jokes, jokes and lots of PJ's.
10) Bowling, throwing and a violent game of hitting the National Highway notice boards.
11) Counting minutes and seconds at a abandoned wearhouse in the middle of the night. (Special effects from Saumya). - Sherlock Holmes
12) Antakshari - Indian Style.
13) Knee cracking, back breaking, head hitting and hard banging ride to Delhi. (Courtesy Kalu Radhesham).

Day 3: Delhi

1) Jageer Palace
2) Maya Palace - (Truly Gayab and Sleazy to the core)
3) Ice Cream for breakfast
4) Red Fort
5) Andhra Bhawan - (Relief from Rotis)
6) Palika Bazar
7) Back to Bangalore

Here we go,

Day 0:

Exhausted after the QE tech summit, we began looking for our trip partners and got introduced to each other, after a brief session of maggi noodles, bread omlettes, chit chatting and bird watching in the splenddid ambience of our Adobe Noida campus, we started by moving our back packs to the car at 6:55 PM, we found that the Qualis that we ordered for did not have a carriage over the roof and it was impossible for us to pack all of our luggages. There was a wonderful session of Vijayan's rebid in Hindi to get us all a vehicle with a carriage over the roof. The wait was not over yet, the bid was over though, we were asked to wait for 15 minutes by the travel booker, we waited, waited and kept waiting in the road for 2 hours and alas we got a scorpio with a carriage over the roof and Kaalu Radhesham, the driver whom we later found was a devil in disguise.

We loaded our packs in the vehicle and started off, we had an entire session of Antakshari in Hindi and the songs just kept flowing, I was just amazed by the song databases that our guys were and especially Soumya, he seems to have a directory index of songs starting in all letters, he was so enthusiastic about his directory index, he ends up singing all the songs in 4x speed, just to get ready for the next song and he many a time ended starting off a new song when he had just completed a song (truly amazing).

OK, here starts our puncture story, we had a puncture after a few miles from Chandigarh, we were in the middle of a bridge and we spent some time in the chilling weather outside our cab all alone and not even a dog around us, after this, I don't know what happened to our driver, he started driving rashly and it was too rash that I had to wake up and give him company just to avoid his rash driving and a day later he told us that he was driving rashly because I was sleeping sitting next to the driver's seat, to my knowledge that's just a "What an excuse?", if he had some problems he could have straight away told us.

We stopped somewhere near Punjab for tea in a Dhaba at around 6 AM, the weather was nail biting, Rajesh and Vijayan's hands were shivering when they tried to hold the tea, after the tea, me, Vijayan and Rajesh went near the just lit Tandoor, the Tandoor was so comforting, everyone had a good time showing our fronts, backs and hands to the Tandoor.

For the trekkers: Except for the roads in and around Chandigarh, Dharamshala and Noida, all other roads were bad or under construction.
Just watch out for the beautifully laid out Chandigarh, it is so well crafted like a city in Europe.

Day 1:

We reached at around 9:30 AM at Mcleod and started searching for a hotel, to our shock all hotels were booked and we were very lucky to get a decent accomodation in HOTEL SHIVALIK. The rooms in the hotel was decent enough had a nice view of the neighbouring hill town.

We booked 3 rooms and immediately got ready for our trek up the TRIUND peak. We had our breakfast at Palsong cafe in the first street at Mcleod, it was a decent hotel run by a tibetan family, we had some Aloo parathas, bread, omlettes and Vijayan took a sneak peek into a tibetan breakfast containing of tibetan bread, tibetan porridge and tibetan butter tea. After having our breakfast we straightaway jumped in the vehicle for the trek, after having a struggle finding our way to the peak, we took our vehicle and our driver for an ultimate test, a test which none of us will ever forget. The road was filled with rubbles, loose sand and broken rocks all-over.

We climbed up a hill in the car, where the path was around 5 - 6 feet wide and in some places lesser than that, in every hairpin bend, we saw the deep valley down and the very sight of it was scary enough for our guys to start thinking of avoiding the trip downhill in the vehicle.

We now come to the treacherous bend, where the path was just exactly enough for the vehicle to pass through, a slip here would mean, we were going down rapidly to go take a faster upward journey. Me, Vijayan, Rajesh and Srinu did the scouting job to ensure safety of the road beyond the tiny hair-pin bend, we did a fair bit of scouting and found a good clearance, where we could turn-around or park our vehicle. Me and Rajesh went back to get the vehicle till that point, whereas Vijayan and Srinu went till the top to Gallu temple after receiving instructions from a fellow trekker and ensured the safety of the road beyond this point.

Somehow Kaalu managed to get past this hair-pin bend, but it took a seperate monumental effort to convince him to take the plunge. This devilish driver took the opportunity to blow the bill by an extra Rs.500/- just for his not so daredevil stunt, his bargain was silently turned down, but he still kept bargaining till the top.

We reached the Gallu temple and then we took the goat path to reach TRIUND peak. The goat path wasn't so steep and challenging, it was easy to climb up, but rubble and uneven rocks just made the journey a little more risky. The trip up the top got better and better, the views were splendid and we were very lucky to find some snow, that was the first time I saw snow and the same goes to many of us in our gang. We threw the snow all over everyone and had some brief fun and photo session, all the way up the hill we found more snow.

I have to particularly say about the snow we found near the half-way point, the snow was wonderful and very large, it almost covered a 15 x 25 metre area and the snow was thick and was also melting slowly, for the first time I saw a small stream being formed, the sight itself was wonderful and admirable of the ways of the nature, everyone had a brief photo session there and climbed up till the half-way point, Vijayan and Gang left swiftly, whereas Swami, Srikanth, Srinu and me climbed slowly. By the team we reached the half-way point, Vijayan and Gang had already ordered Maggi for lunch to all of us. Maggi was salty up there, but everyone just yummed through it because of the hunger.

OK, I have to tell something about my slow climb with Srinu, Swami and Srikanth, I had a ligament injury and just got treated for it a month ago, but my only restriction was that I should not bend my knee beyond a particular degree, that's it, I am free to go anywhere if I kept to this restriction strictly. Srinu, Swami and Srikanth gave me good company and it was also fun to know that they had leisure photo and video sessions because of this, I am very thankful to them for not making me feel like a show stopper, instead still having a great attitude to make use of the other nice ways to spend their time while climbing TRIUND. The other team was fast and Saumya kept pushing the limits of his endurance and always tried to run faster than the others, he was enthusiastic and was bullish for adventure.

Half-way up the mark, I decided to stop as it was already 2 PM and it will take 2 hours for even fast climbers to reach the top. Our guys had to comeback before dusk, so I stopped and I started my relaxing climb down half-an-hour later, trying to get mesmerized in the beautiful views that were available.

When I was climbing down, I heard the shouts of our guys and to my surprise they abandoned the climb up because of Soumya's bull run trailing up a wrong route to the peak. The route they initially took became steeper and steeper and our guys found the right route while coming back.
We took a leisure stroll down the hill and went back to Gallu temple.


For the trekkers: Mcleod is 1700 metres above sea level, almost twice as high as Bangalore.
Maggi seems to be the State dish for the State of Himachal Pradesh, you can get it everywhere and people just seem to love it.

The shop at the half-way point started at 1984 and is run till now, a Maggi costs 30 and no one's complaining for it is hard work to get stuff up there.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Scare the dogs away.......

Dogs I love them but then I had a bad time with dogs when I was a kid. I was bit two times and I went through that painful procedure of getting 14 injections all around my naval, that was the only solution that was available during those days. It was bad really bad, luckily the second time I got bit, I was more than happy that a better variant has emerged, where you get only 3 injections and you can run home happily without any fear of diseases.

Since then I have been looking for ways to scare away unfriendly dogs, now I found one. This one's God Damn effective in the streets of Bangalore. During mid night you get to see more dogs in the Bangalore streets than men, there will be 10-15 dogs trying to do a round up and may be they think of a meal, I don't know. I always have the habit of roaming around till midnight and I never felt any problems till I was in Chennai, but once I set foot on Bangalore I had to be more careful with the street dogs, they were ferocious.

I don't know why Chennai does not have that many dogs in the street, may be it's because of the Chineese influx, it is well known that the Chineese can eat from ANTS to ELEPHANTS and still feel sad about not having a DINOSAUR for DESSERT. lol

OK, coming to the point, I learnt from somewhere in the past that animals get scared when the opposition shows it off like as if it suddenly became big.

I tried this, whenever I saw ferocious dogs, I just held the shoulder part of my shirt and pulled it up, thus creating a feeling that as if I suddenly became big ( I know I am big but I am no match for 10-15 dogs), to my surprise all these stupid dogs just ran back (No team spirit, they just don't seem to count their safety in numbers). I kept doing this for the past 6 months whenever I got an opportunity and it worked just successful.

May be someone should try this on a tiger or on a pack of wolves and send the results. :)

OK don't try it before me and say that you tried it before a LION. just kidding.......... ;)