Thursday, April 18, 2013

Paradise of Eastern Coast : Puri

It had been almost eight months since I started my MBA.  I was really tired of being in the campus and my last vacation has been around four months back to Gangtok.
So we planned a four day trip to nearby Puri and Bhubaneshwar. We boarded Kalinga Utkal Express from Tatanagar Station at around 8:35 PM. I had some assignment to be prepared so I stayed awake till midnight as the train travelled to Puri. Morning 6 O’clock I got due to some noise. It looked like the train driver was honking the horn quite a lot. I just peeped outside the window. It was all misty and may be because of that the driver was honking the horn so much. I could see that train was passing through paddy fields and some small colonies of farmers. Coconut trees and small ponds with lotus plants were ubiquitous. In another hours’ time we reached Puri station, where as usual a lot of auto rickshaw drivers started talking to us. After some time I spoke to one of the drivers. He assured me that he will show some of the excellent but cheap hotels in the city on the beach side. After visiting three to four hotels with him I realized that this man is not going to show any decent hotel so I took out the list that I had prepared from I asked him to take us to couple of places to which he agreed. First we went to Hotel Sea Palace. The hotel was bang in front of the Puri Beach. However at reception we were told that they did not have any non-ac room. As we were not interested in AC room, we thought of looking for some other hotel. However as we went outside, the roomboy asked us to wait and he told us that if we could wait for another hours’ time we would get the non AC room for Rs. 1500 + Taxes. We were fine with this. He provided us a room in the basement to get freshened. However as I made entries in the register they told me that the charges would be Rs. 1500 including taxes. I could not understand the reason behind this pleasant surprise. Looks like they had thought that we will bargain on the hotel charges which we did not.
As we checked in the hotel we prepared the plan for next three days. As it was already around 9 AM, moreover because we had travelled throughout the night, we decided not to indulge much in sightseeing. We decided to see only Chilika lake on the first day. We reserved the next day for visiting Konark Temple, Jagannatha Temple and Chandrabhaga Beach and the last day for visiting Bhubaneswar.
After enquiring at reception, we came to know that hotel has its car and we found they charged only Rs. 800 for Indica for visiting Chilika as against Rs 1200 by other private operators. The choice was obvious. We booked the car through hotel and left for Chilika by around 11 AM. The climate was pretty comfortable. As I have spent significant part of my life in Coastal Maharashtra, I always miss the moist and salubrious climate of Devrukh in Jamshedpur. As the road from Puri to Chilika is along coastal Odisha, I could enjoy the weather. Most important thing…Driver was nice to talk with. He did not try to cheat us at any moment although we were extra cautious. Finally in about hour and halfs time we reached Chilika lake at Satpada. 
Chilika lake has around 6 to 7 points on its bank from where the boat service is provided to tourists. Satpada is one of the most popular points due to its proximity from Puri. We booked a boat for four hours and we went for dinner in nearby shack as we did not know whether we would get decent food on the other shore. Fragrance of prawns is ubiquitous as far as Puri is concerned. Wherever you go the fragrance follows you and if you are a non vegeterian, then I would say it would be injustice to yourself if you don't devour Prawns. We enjoyed Prawns and Chicken with rice and then boarded our boat for sight seeing.
Our boat driver was a poor man of Odisha and he tried to strike some conversation with us through his basic  Hindi. He took boat straight inside the lake. The waters were somewhat muddy. Quite a few nets were built in order to catch the fish. We asked him where are we going. He said "Dolphins". After reaching distance of couple of kilometers from shore he showed us couple of Dolphins. We spent some fifteen minutes in watching dolphins. It was fun to trace and follow the dolphins. However our boat driver seemed to be more interested in showing dolphins to us than we watching them. We could not see them completely. We could see only upper portion of their body as and when they came to breath air. But these dolphins were certainly not as cute as we see in television or in parks. They were darker than the usual kind and we could not see beak of  single dolphin. Ashwini my wife doubted whether the driver had shown us real dolphins. As we returned to the City in the evening we saw some paintings of dolphins in Chilika on the walls of city.None of them had a beak and all of them were dark. We joked at painters saying that these painters perhaps have never seen a dolphin completely. However when I did internet search on Chilika after reaching hotel I realised that the Dolphins from Chilika are Irawaddy Dolphins the sweet water dolphins.They are generally darker and don't have beak !
After watching dolphins for around half an hour we started our journey towards Sea Mouth. This is the place where waters of Chilika lake mix with Bay of Bengal. It took almost little more than one hour to reach sea mouth. As we moved towards the Sea Mouth the water became more and more cleaner. The colour of the water also changed as we moved. Initially the colour of water was blue, then it became light green and afterwords it became dark green. It was pleasant to seat on the boat and enjoy the scenery and breeze as waters touched your legs.
At sea mouth there were few local restaurants. The most attractive dish in the restaurants was local crabs, prawns and fish. We ordered for a fried crab and prawns. He got those ready right in front of our eyes and served in fifteen minutes. After enjoying the prawns and crabs, we thought of visiting the beach on the other side of bank. However our boat driver suggested that it will take too much of time. But we persisted and told him that we will not linger there. It took another fifteen minutes to walk through hot sand to reach the beach. The beach was very clean and very lonely too. The water was beautiful. We really wanted to spend some more time there. But as we were getting late, we decided to move back. We got back to the bank of Chilika lake and boarded the boat so that we could leave for Satpada immediately.
By 7 pm we had reached hotel. We were happy with the service received from the driver. So we booked the same car for travelling to Konark the next day. In the evening we walked on the streets of Puri. We went to beach as well. However it was very dark and lonely. As a result we decided to relax in the gallery of the hotel where we could enjoy beautiful breeze coming from sea.
Ruins of Chaia (Shadow) Temple  at the Konark Complex

The next day we left little early for Konark. We had a lot of activities planned for the day. Visit to Konark Temple, Chandrabhaga Beach, Puri Beach and Jagannath Temple. The road from Puri to Konark is through reserved forest and you get a glimpse of sea intermittently. The climate was again comfortable and we reached Konark in almost hours time. As Konark is historical site, we hired a guide to explain us about the temple. He was pretty old Odisha man. As per him he was around 85 year old. However he appeared in excellent health. However his pronunciation of English was not good enough. At least I found it difficult to understand. Thankfully, my  wife could understand it very well. He talked about many things. He explained about history of the temple, the actual structure of main temple and other ruins around it as well as different sculptures at temple. I had always wondered about the design of the Konark Sun Temple. Because it is distinctly different from other temples in India. This visit helped me to understand the reason behind it. Less than half of the Sun Temple exists in its actual form. The Gabhara of the temple, the place where idol Sun God was kept has already fallen. This part of the temple was apparently much taller than the temple we see now. Today what we see is only frontal part of the temple. We spent about one and half hours at the temple. Clicked some photographs and then decided to move back. We came out of the temple complex. There were some food vendors selling variety of dishes. As it was noon, we thought of enjoying a gola. Near to us there was another vendor selling something new to us. When we asked him, we came to know that he is selling Dahi Wada. However when we tested Dahi Wada, its test appeared to distinctly different from the Dahi Wada we had tested. We did not find the Dahi Wada tasty at all. We did not eat it completely and went back to the place where our car was parked.
On the way back to home we took lunch at OTDC restaurant near Chandrabhaga beach. It was simple but tasty. Chandrabhaga beach was nearby. We spent another 15-20 minutes at the beach and then we moved back to the hotel. As we had planned to visit Bhubaneswar the next day, we had decided to visit Shri Jagannath Mandir on the same day. Some people at the hotel had advised us to visit after 6 pm as we could get darshan from closer distance if we went between 6 pm to 7:30 pm if we went during this period just by paying Rs. 20. As it was 4 PM only, we went to the Puri Beach and played in the water. It was exhilarating experience to forget the age and play in the water. We had a lot of fun at beach.After spending some time at beach we made a move towards hotel. After taking bath we went to Jagannath Temple.
It took another 15 minutes for reaching Jagannath Temple. The autowalla dropped us in some galli. The galli had a lot food shops all around Bhaji, Rasagulla, Chena Cake (Kharwas) etc. After walking for five minutes we reached near the entrance of the temple. The temple was not much crowded. There were some beggars inside the temple. We could see quite a few temples inside. The main temple, temple of Bhagawan Jagannath is largest among them. As we went inside the temple we could see the three idols (Krishna, Balaram adn Subhadra) from far distance. The idols at Jagannath are around ten feet tall and more importantly they are not made of stone, but of wood. The shape of the idols is also quite different. Even from distance of around 10 m we could see the idols quite clearly only because of large size of idols . Thus we did not choose to get into queue of Special Darshanam. While I was getting closer to the idols, one person held my hand took me to the front and one of the pandits tried to give one packet to me. I thought they were offering Prasadam (for free), but then I realized that they will charge me for this. I immediately moved back and told them that I am not interested in buying Prasadam. I think they believed us to be gullible as we appeared to be a newly married couple. Although we were a newly married couple, their first guess was wrong.
As I said earlier, there are quite a few temples in the complex. Almost all the temples were occupied by  pilgrims. In one of the temples loud bhajan of "Hare Rama Hare Krishna" was being sung. After having darshan at couple of temples. We started to move towards exit. However we came across a small area offering Bhog (Khichadi) inside the complex. Just out of curiosity, we had a stroll around the shops selling Bhog. There were around fifty shopkeepers selling Bhog and other edibles. However I did not feel like buying bhog as I perceived the place to be somewhat unhealthy. Finally I ate little bit of ras malai as I could not resist digestive juices in my mouth. As we came outside the temple we traced back our steps to the same lane from where we came. We bough some bhaji and Chena Cake and enjoyed it. Chena Cake/Kharwas was really delicious unlike the ones we get in Mumbai. The kharawas reminded me the olden days when I used to visit home my maternal uncle in Karambele near Devrukh and used to enjoy the Kharwas. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Travelling in India (Part I)

I love travelling a lot. Many people love travelling a lot. Travelling helps people do something different from their routine activities. They see different things, meet different people, eat different food. It is altogether a learning experience. Moreover many times we are on holiday when we travel. So travelling is connected with psyche as a comfort or luxury. However, travelling comes with some risks also. You may lose your money, you may be cheated, may get in altercation with wrong people and so on. Incidences of cheating particularly are common in India. I thought of presenting some of my such experiences here.  

Once we were going to Manali and one of our friends helped us with phone number of a driver. As per her , the driver has been extremely polite throughout the journey and he also helped her to find a good hotel. In fact she was very happy with the kind of hotels she stayed (cheap and comfy) and she believed it was only because of the driver. I did not find any reason to not believe in her. I called the driver and booked Indica for travelling to Manali from Chandigarh and then from Manali to Shimala and back. I observed that his rates were reasonable. However he came to pick us up with Alto instead of Indica. He told that Indica was not available. But I never liked alto. It is very small, legroom is very low and I could not imagine travelling through such a small car for 6 days. I asked him whether we can get another car, he said it is not possible now.  I tried to negotiate with him on the price as alto is cheaper to drive compared to Indica, but he was not ready to agree. We had no choice but to go with him. We started our journey towards Manali, however he has been very slow in his driving. We were expecting to reach Manali by night. But ultimately we had to take halt near Bhuntar. He helped us in a hotel which was reasonably good. However it was at a lonely place with no much activity around. Considering our safety we disagreed to stay at that hotel. We said we will prefer to stay in Bhuntar. The hotel owner and driver tried to convince us a lot. We moved out of hotel and sat in the Car. Apparently our driver was angry. But we forced him to move to Bhuntar town. By the time we reached Bhuntar, it was around 10 PM and we had no choice but to stay in an average hotel. I think the driver should have driven the car at least at speed of 50 Km per hour which could have taken us to Manali on the same day. We lost one important day and were forced to stay in average hotel.  As we moved to Manali next day, the driver tried to bluff us at every possible opportunity. We wanted to do rafting. Hence he introduced us to a rafting kiosk who were charging at least four times more than government approved price. He again tried to arrange an average accommodation for us for Rs. 1500 to Rs. 2000 per night. But I had already noted the phone numbers of some good hotels from the hoardings on the road to Manali. I called them and checked their rates, they were pretty cheap. I was advised that I should visit log hut area to see the hotel and rooms. As I told drive to take there, he was really upset and told us that the hotels I referred are pretty far from the City. Well, I again called up those hotels and they told me that they were at walk able distance from the Mall Road in Manali. I told the driver to take us to the log hut area and I was surprised to see that quite an excellent quality of hotels were available at same rate. The driver tried to cheat us as we went for skiing the next day. We were really upset with him and decided to move ahead with a new driver. It was indeed a difficult task as driver belonged the same region and could hold us for ransom. But somehow we could get rid of him. I think our trip would have been much more comfortable had we had a good driver.

Another such incident happened when I visited Jaipur in 2010 along with my parents. We booked an Indica and went for sight seeing in Jaipur. We were very much interested  in visiting Jantar Mantar. But he tried to dissuade us by saying Jantar Mantar does not make much sense visit. But of course we persisited. Later we asked him to find a suitable hotel for us to have lunch. However in a city like Jaipur he took us to a shack like hotel and told that the food tests very good. We did not have much choice as we were already out of the city and were very hungry. When we reached the fort of Amer, he said that he will not go up till the gate of the fort. He asked another 500 Rs. for it. We chose to climb the stairs rather than paying the driver extra and it took only 10 minutes to reach the gate.

Such instances are very common when we travel. They spoil all fun that is associated with travelling. We definitely cannot get rid of such instances completely. But we can definitely reduce them. In next post I will write about getting rid of such instances.

Monday, March 12, 2012

I Teach India

Since long back I wanted to do something for society, but I could not do due to some or other obligation. Thus when I saw advertisement of Teach India in December, I was interested in opting for it. But I could not participate as my schedule did not allow it. However by end of February I saw another advertisement for Teach India in Economic Times and I decided to give my best for it.
Within a couple of days after reading the advertisement, I filled up online form. It took approximately 30 minutes to fill the form. I spent most of the time in choosing three most suitable locations. As I stay in Mansarovar and  work at Kanjur Marg, I wanted to choose  a location which falls on my way back to home in evening. So I chose Chembur, Sanpada and Nerul.
Two days after filling up the form, I received a call from Teach India. The person on other side asked me where I work, why I want to join Teach India, whether I will be able to give enough time for training and teaching. By the end of the call I was informed that process of selection involves two interviews and I have finished my first interview. Again in another three-four days I received a call from Teach India. I was again asked whether I will be able to attend all seven days of training. I said yes and then the person on other sided told me that I have been selected for Teach India and wished me all the best.
Training started in a couple of days.  I reached YMCA, Belapur at 8:45 AM on Friday. We were asked to reach there at 9 AM. There were around 22 people of different age group who had chosen to volunteer for Teach India.  However program started pretty late. Very soon I realized that this was an induction and not training. The volunteers from ToI (also called as consultants, they are not on roll of ToI) gave us introduction of program, its goal, organization structure, dos and don’ts , safety issues etc. Thankfully the session could end at 11 AM as mentioned in the schedule. Overall I would say induction was good one but they could have combined it with other full day training schedules.
We were supposed to spend next three weekends attending training, totally seven days. Teach India is joint endeavor of ToI and British Council. The curriculum of program is decided by British Council. Hence British Council trains the volunteers who in turn teach the students. The program is carried out at select NGOs in Mumbai. The targets of this program are youngsters in the age group of 18-32 and who have some basic knowledge of English. Teach India expects that after attending training of three months the youngsters will be able to speak English fluently with strangers. The graduates from this program get to attend a job fair organized by ToI where many retail companies recruit them.
Next two days were full of activities, fun and learning. Many a times we started our session with an activity, which involved using English and some physical work. We played quite a few games which helped us understand how we can use them effectively to teach English. A couple of times we were presented demo classes which helped us how we should teach and how we should not. We also had a micro learning session where we were divided in groups and were asked to teach a lesson to other groups. The method of teaching at Teach India heavily relies on eliciting the information from students, making them speak in English as much as possible. This can be done through methods such as showing a photograph to students and asking students to describe the photograph. Teach India aims to keep STT (student talk time) as high as possible and TTT (Teacher talk time) as low as possible. This is a major difference   when compared to traditional Indian classroom where primarily teachers talk and students just listen. In order to gauge the effectiveness of the course, the volunteers are  also expected to employ ICQ (Instruction Checking Questions) and CCQ (Context Checking Questions). ICQ check whether students have learned instructions and CCQs check whether students have understood the subject.
I have attended only two days of training as of now. But I think I will be able to contribute significantly to society through Teach India. I indeed expect that it will improve English speaking skills of the target group and will help them live their life better.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ekveera Aai Tu Dongaravari Najar Hai Tuji Kolyavari

Chaityagriha at Karla
For last two years we wanted to visit Ekveera devi temple. The famed temple of Koli (fishermen) temple is at Karle near Lonavala . Since childhood we used to hear about the deity through song ‘Ekveera Aai tu Dongaravari Najar hai tuzi kolyavari’. But we did not know where the temple existed. So about two years ago we came to know  that the temple is situated near Lonavala in some nearby mountain. But we could not plan our visit for long time.
With beginning of 2012 we decided to visit Ekveera devi Temple. On first Sunday of the year Jan 8, we decided to visit the temple. We took Manamad Pune Passenger from Panvel. The train was late by about half an hour . We got inside train at around 9:30 AM and we reached Lonavala at 10:50 AM. The journey was comfortable. The train did not have any reserved coach and it was pretty vacant throughout journey.
After getting down at Lonavala we went near bus depot and enquired about buses travelling to Karle. Next bus was after about half an hour, so we decided to travel by our favorite tumtum. The temple is at distance of about 6 Km from Lonavala. We bought some Chikki from shop in front of bus depot and then moved to locate Tumtum stand. Tumtum stand was not far. After getting inside tumtum it took around 15 minutes to reach Karle fata. From Karle fata we took another auto rikshaw to reach bottom of the mountain.
Inside Ekveera Temple
It was a sunny day. There were quite a few restaurants selling cold drinks and snacks in Karle. As we already had our breakfast. We started climbing the stairs right away. There were many street vendors selling tak, fruits and snacks on the way. As we were in picnic mood we drank tak and ate bor and guava, just to remember child hood days. Aai and Baba was also delighted to have sore and sweet fruits from village. It took around half an hour to reach near the temple. As the temple is just beside famous Karle caves, you need to pay entry fees while entering campus of the temple. However if you don’t want to visit the caves, you need not pay the fees. But the caves are quite splendorous. So anyone visiting Ekveera devi temple should make sure that he or she visits the temple. The fees is only INR 5 per person.
The temple is very small. But we had to wait in queue for about 15 minutes due to crowd. After long wait of 15 minutes we had chance to see the deity. The idol of deity was decorated with blue colored saree.  After having darshan we went to see the Chaityagriha, the famous caves of Karle.
The Chaityagriha stands for Conference hall in Sanskrit. The Chaityagriha of Karle was built around 2000 years before . It is one of the very few wooden Indian Chaityagrihas, which are still in good shape. At the entrance a tall pillar stands with four lions on top of it.   Then there are several sculptures of couples dressed in medieval Indian costumes along with elephants. Inside the Chaityagriha there is a small stup. There are several pillars. Each of the pillar has elephant on top of it with a couple sitting on it. It is really a wonder how a wooden Chaityagriha could sustain more than 2000 years!
Chaityagrihas were built for religious discussion of Buddhist Monks. There are several other caves just beside Chaityagriha. But they don’t carry any sculptures. I guess they were being used by monks for residential purpose.
After clicking few snaps at Chaityagriha we started our journey back to Navi Mumbai. We went to Lonavala and took Bus for Kamothe.  Ekveera devi temple along with Chaityagriha is located at very short distance from Mumbai. Considering the historical importance of Chaityagriha every Mumbaikar should visit Chaityagriha sometime in life. After all it is so near from Mumbai !                           

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Alibaug : A perfect weekend Getaway for Mumbaikars

This year we had decided to celebrate the 31st december in Lonavala at Fariyaz Plaza, but somehow it did not work out. So we decided to visit Alibaug instead. Since long time we had been interested in visiting Alibaug. I tried calling few hotels and resorts in Alibaug, but all of them have already been booked. We had only seven days in our hand. Ultimately one of Ashwini’s friends , Aasavari helped us by offering us free stay in her Mama’s flat. We were delighted at the idea of celebrating the 31st in Alibaug. I called up my parents and asked them to come down to Mumbai  as my mother was much interested in visiting Alibaug. They had somewhat different plans for the next whole week. But they decided to come down to Mumbai to celebrate 31st at Alibaug along with us. Prachi also decided to take a break from her office on 31st as we decided to leave for Alibaug on30th.
We decided that we will travel to Alibaug by launch or catamaran. So we decided to assemble at Gateway of India by 6:00 PM on 30th. As I was the one who worked at farthest distance farthest from Gateway, I was last one to reach. I reached Gateway of India by almost 6:15 PM. Passengers had already lined up to catch the Catamaran by that time. Thank god, Ashwini had already secured tickets of PNP catamaran leaving at 6:30 PM. Otherwise, it would have been pretty difficult to get the tickets for all of us. One way travel through AC Catamaran costs INR 110. We left Gateway of India at 6:30 approx and reached Mandava Jetty by around 7:10 PM. As it was dark throughout our journey we could not enjoy our ride much.  We were guided by Ashwini’s friend to catch the buses arranged by PNP Catamaran. The breeze was little strong although it was not as cold as we expected it to be.  After walking for 5-10 minutes, we reached the place where buses were parked. PNP had planned three buses for the passengers and all the passengers could be sufficiently accommodated in those buses.
A journey of another 45 minutes and we were in Alibaug. We got down near bus stand and walked for ten minutes to reach our destination. The building was just next to Balaji Temple and the local people were singing Bhajan in the temple. Asavari’s parents had already opened the flat and they welcomed us. After getting freshened, we chatted with them for half an hour. They requested us to visit their home for dinner. But we respectfully turned down their request as my mother had already brought Chapatis and Prawns from home.
After devouring Chapatis with yummy prawns we decided to take a walk to nearby Alibaug beach. The beach was very near to the flat. After walking only for 10 minutes we could reach the beach. It was around 10 PM of night. When we reached the beach we could not see the sea. It was pretty dark. The sea at Alibaug is shallow and therefore during low tide it moves few kilometers back from the shore.  We walked for few minutes in the direction of sea and tried to see the sea, but it was really dark and we were not able to make any guess. We were neither able to see any- thing nor able to hear any sound. We could see only some fishing boats. Unable to see anything we came back and spent some time at small garden built at seashore and then went back to home.
Next day we got ready by around 10 PM and went to nearby New Asara Hotel have break-fast in. We ordered for Misal Pav, Vada Sambar and Uppit. Misal Pav was really testy. After having break-fast we went to sea shore. It was a low tide again. We could see the sea at distance of around 1 Km from sea shore. On our right side we could see the fort of Kolaba. There were several horse carriages carrying the tourists to the fort. We decided to walk to the fort. After about 20 min of walk we reached entrance of the fort. We had to pay Rs 5 per head for entry in the fort. The fort is small one. 45 minutes should be enough to see the fort. It has several temples inside. The temple of Shri Ganesh is most beautiful. Apart from temples the fort has a lake called Apsara and a couple of cannons. After clicking a few photographs along with cannons and at temple, we left the fort and went to the sea. The sea at Alibaug beach is relatively calm. The waves are really small. There were few dogs who were trying to catch something in water, may be a crab or a fish. After spending 10-15 minutes playing in the sea water we started our journey ahead.

After reaching sea shore we got a tum tum ( also called Sitara or Vikram) and went to Alibaug bus stand. We decided to go to Chaul. The hotel owner of New Asara hotel had told us that Shri  Datta Temple at Chaul is beautiful and something we should visit. Hence we took a tum tum to go to Chaul. After journey of around 30 minutes we reached Chaul. The temple of Shri Datta was  around 2 Km from the spot where we got down. Hence we had to again catch another auto to reach the temple. However after getting down the auto we found that the temple was on a hill and climbing the hill would have certainly taken much of our time and energy which was essential for the day ahead. Hence we decided not to go to the temple. We offered our prayer to Shri Datta from the bottom of the hill and then started our journey ahead.
We decided to have lunch as it was around 2 O’clock. We soon located a hotel called Fafe Bandhu restaurant in Chaul. However the owner told us that we won’t get lunch. So we moved ahead to Revadanda as Chaul did not have any other hotel.  After spending some more time in searching for hotel we reached Kelkars. Kelkars are well known for their vegetarian food in Revdanda. But food was not ready there. Ultimately we decided to wait to get the lunch ready. After about 20 minutes lunch was ready. It was simple but testy affair. After having lunch we wanted to go to Birla Temple. But we were told by Kelkars that Birla Temple opens only after 4 PM. It was only 3 PM, so we decided to spend half an hour at Revdanda beach, which was at distance of 5 minutes from Kelkars’ hotel.
Revdanda beach is very clean and serene. There was no one at beach. We spent about half an hour at beach and then got a Tumtum to go to Birla Temple. We wanted to carry camera inside the temple. But we were not allowed to do so. It is temple of Shri Ganesha built in white marble. After spending about half an hour at temple we left for Nagaon.
We reached Nagaon Beach by 5:30 PM. As it was last day of the year, the beach pretty crowded. Quite a lot of people were enjoying the water rides.  Prachi wanted all of us to enjoy the sea rides. Therefore Baba, Aai and  Prachi went for a Sofa ride. I and Ashwini went for a ride over a Water scooter. It was somewhat adventurous and full of fun. We payed Rs. 1000 in toto for both rides. It was really an enjoyable experience. After enjoying the rides and playing in water for some time we decided to go back to Alibaug.
We reached home and took some rest. We had dinner at nearby Konkan Katta ( Seafood) and then we went to sea shore (Alibaug Beach). It was low tide again. Over all we could not a  sea high tide at Alibaug beach. After spending some time at beach we came back to flat. We waited till 12 AM to welcome new year. But we were too tired to celebrate, dance or sing songs to welcome the new year. At 12 O’clock we wished happy new year to each other and dozed off.
Next day we had a plan to head Mumbai in the morning . But Aasavari’s parents insisted that we visit their home and have lunch with them. So we postponed our departure to evening. As we had some more time now, we visited Samadhi (Tomb) of Kanhoji Angre ( Admiral of Chatrapati Shivaji’s Army). There were few other Samadhis near Samadhi of Kanhoji Angre. I guess those were of his other family members. After clicking few pics we headed to Asavari’s home. It was already 12:30 PM and delicious food had been waiting us. We thanked Asavari and her family for delicious lunch and left for Alibaug bus stand.
Overall the trip was full of fun and exploration. We enjoyed it quite a lot. I would recommend visit to Alibaug to anyone who does not have much time (1-2 days) and wants to enjoy serenity and nature.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Janlokpal Campaign Catches Fire

The Janlokpal bill has caught fever against the people of India. The spirits of people are very high. We are very close to achieve the goal. This is definitely one of the very important steps that are needed to empower the Country!
                As per data about corruption published by Transparency International in 2010, India ranks 87th in the world. The ills of corruptions do not need an explanation. India got its independence in 1947 and is now among top five biggest economies in the world. However the fact that the country has become the fifth largest economy is not of help to poor and middleclass. The people of the country are still very far from the basic amenities. The infrastructure of the country is very poor. The people have to face corruption since the birth till death. The inflation for grocery items has been hovering in two digit figures in last one year despite of good agricultural produce. The only reason behind it is corruption. If we get rid of corruption, we shall solve 50% of our problems. Everybody knew this, but did not know how to do it? It was not ordinary job. It needed a great leadership, a great thought, rich knowledge and the will.
                In  such situation Anna Hajare, a Gandhian from Ralegan Siddhi a village in Maharashtra has done this ominous task of bringing all the country together and uniting voice of  all the people, giving it direction. The lokpal bill drafted by the government is a sick effort to deceive the people of India. Despite of the fact that Anna Hajare and his team fasted in April, the government has been adamant in pushing its own agenda over Lokpal bill. The opposition, weak and equally negative about concept of Lokpal did not take strong stand against government proposed Lokpal bill. The very attitude of congress leaders suggest that their only agenda is to cheat the people. However the government’s belief that common man has turned a deaf ear to the government has been proven wrong  by Anna and his team. The people of India have stopped going by the attitude of Chalata Hai. This fire which has been waiting inside the youth of the country for years has now spread across the country. And it has been proven that the people of India are not lacking the conscience or the will but the leadership, the direction.
                Many people and politicians argue that Anna has been leading the campaign in undemocratic way. However the people forget the very fact that The democracy is a concept and the important reason of Democracy being in place is the people. If democracy is not able to bring the results for people then we must change the tenets of democracy. I have only one question to the people who call this campaign undemocratic, are the congress leaders following the conventions of democracy? If so why are they pushing for the bill which most of the country has been opposing? Why did they jailed Anna even before he started his fast? The fact is that the campaign is a best democratic approach to get rid of Corruption outside parliament.
The lokpal bill drafted by government does not address the concerns of the common man. It has been drafted in such a way that it helps politicians and elites. The people of India understand it well and they have come on roads to fight for their cause. On the other hand government is adamant on its stand, indicting the people who are protesting against them. In a way government itself is adding the fuel to the fire it wants to doze. Team Anna has declared August 30 to be a D-day in case the government  does not take appropriate steps.  The massive support from People and Media will ensure that the Campaign does not stop short of achieving its goal. The War against corruption has begun, and the victory is not far!