Things to do, for a foreigner visiting Mumbai.

 

Anyone travelling to India, will agree, that no visit to India is complete without visiting its maximum city, MUMBAI. Obviously, for any visitor the usual tourist spots like the Gateway of India or the Elephanta caves or Haji Ali Dargah are on the list,but ,if you are a tourist, who wants to feel the vibe of the city or wants to experience something,that only this city can offer, then here is the list for you :  

 

Mumbai  Local Trains:

local-train

                                If you are from USA or UK or any other western country, then am sure, you would have experienced the peak hour rush while travelling on the Undergroud in London or Subway in New york. But, when in Mumbai ,do experience the fun (and not so fun for many) of travelling in the mumbai local trains. One big difference s , that Mumbai locals are not closed unlike the underground or the subway. Trust me, the crowd on a non peak hour , will still be much higher than peak hour rush in any other country. My sincere advice is, no non Mumbaikar should try travelling at peak hours, just for the fun, visit just the station at peak hours and you will know what i mean.

Catch a Bollywood Movie:

pvr

                                Catching a Hollywood flick at Piccadily circus or a play at the West end or a musical at the Times square  might be a routine for some of you, but watching a latest bollywood release in Mumbai is a very different or dare i say a better experience. I firmly believe, that movie going experience in mumbai in way better than most coountries in the world. The luxurious theatres, awsome services, never ending queue of patrons makes is so much fun. So , next time in Mumbai, do catch a bollywood flick on a Friday or a Saturday evening at one of the plush theatres near you.

Enjoy  an IPL game:

wankhede

For beginners , who do not follow cricket , let me just inform you, that cricket is India’s number 1 sport and Mumbai is one of the most important centres of the game. IPL (Indian Premier League), is Indias premium T20 Cricket tournament (similar to EPL ) but is played only in the months of April and May. Even if you dont understand cricket, visiting the Landmark Wankhede stadium for a game ,just for the experience ,will be well worth it. 33000 screaming fans, never ending energy,deafening sound, its difficult to match up anywhere in the world.just make sure, that you book your tickets well in advance.

Ride an Auto Rickshaw :

auto

Public transport ,across the globe comes in various shapes and sizes, but nothing like an auto rickshaw. People ,who have traveled to Thailand, might find it similar to tuk-tuk’s , but auto rickshaws are much cheaper and easily available,do take a ride.

Visit a Ganpati  Pandal:

ganpati

Though, India is a country of festivals, in Mumbai, nothing compares to Ganesh chaturthi. If you are around during this festival (around aug-sept every year) , a visit to a local Ganpati Pandal will be an experience of a lifetime. The beautiful decor, courteous people, awesome mithai (sweets) distributed as sweets and long queues of devotees , makes it one of a kind. When in lords city, do visit him, its enriching.

 

Street  food:

Mumbai offers world cuisine and wherever you are from, you will find your food. But, mumbai street food is one of its kind. You should surely sample Vada Pav  ,Pav Bhaji and Pani puri in Mumbai. Though, maker sure you make a request for a non spicy one.

Street Shopping:

The last thing you should buy in Mumbai ,are brands. you can always buy them in your home city. Mumbai, offers huge amount of street shopping right from apparel to books to beauty products to everything. If , you can bargain well, you will end up buying a whole lot of stuff, whithout causing a hole in your pockets.

 

 

Why Indians shouldn’t take Thailand as their first International Trip

Travelling is something that everyone looks forward to. In India, for way too many decades, the idea of a holiday , was to visit the relatives. But, it is changing rapidly due to the ease of options available for travelling and most importantly,there has been a major improvement in the spending capacity of the families. The idea of travel is to have new experiences, and more importantly ,experience something ,that is different from our home country.

Before i get started with my reasons , about why Indians shouldn’t take Thailand as their first International trip, i would like to specify the assumptions that i have made. Most people who book their first trip to Thailand,generally travel to Bangkok and then to either Patayya or Phuket. Very few of them or maybe just the younger crowd travel to islands like Krabi , Koh Samui etc. So my write up assumes that someone booking a first trip abroad ends up booking the popular stuff than an off beat option.

CLIMATE :

when ever we land on any foreign shore, the first factor, which makes, the place feel new is obviously, the climate. Landing in Europe, on most days, you drive out into a hazy and overcast climate with a little bit of impending rain around. This is in absolute contrast to Mumbai or Chennai ,where it is hot and humid and there is sun beating down 11 months a year. well, landing at Bangkok, you will feel that you have landed at the same airport  from where you had taken off. The climate is almost identical to most Indian cities. So there is nothing foreign on that front.

HOSPITALITY :

Anywhere in Thailand, when you arrive at the hotel, you are welcomed warmly, your luggage is taken care off immediately and you are at so much ease during chek-in. so what’s wrong in that ? , well like Indian hotels, even Thai hotels are very hospitable and take great care of you ,by providing assistance everywhere. In comparison, if you had landed in a western country ,you would have to do all your stuff on your own. Don’t expect assistance. Thailand gives you an impression, that all the countries in the world are as hospitable and hotels as welcoming, well that’s not the case. so you don’t realize that most places in the world  are ‘DO IT YOURSELF’ kinda places.   

DIRTY BEACHES :

u1

Though India has a huge coastline, the idea of long ,clean and enjoyable beaches is far from being realized here. As travellers, our idea about beaches is long stretches of fine coarse sand and never ending view of crystal blue waters. Lot of water sports and a view of people enjoying lazy afternoons on the beach. well, all this obviously has been picked up from millions of movies that we have seen.

Sorry to say, beaches in Patayya and Phuket, let you down on this front. The water is dirty and beaches overcrowded. your stay on the beach ,is far from relaxing as hundreds of individuals will try and sell thousands of their wares to you. The activities like under sea walk are carried out in mud filled sea where corals are impossible to locate. Parasailing is rough and so are numerous boat rides. First timers , will end up believing that, it’s done that way across the globe. Trust me, it’s not , if you have been to USA or even Mauritius or Seychelles, you will realise these activities are way more fun. Thailand fails to leave you awestruck on this front too.if you have been to GOA, you will end up confusing Patayya beach or Patong beach to Baga or calangute.

BAR CULTURE :b1

One aspect that i loved while travelling to various countries, is their ‘BAR’ culture. Though a non drinker myself, i love the way these people enjoy a game of football over never ending jugs of beer. Any country that you visit, if it has a strong sporting culture, the atmosphere at the bars is not to be missed. I must admit, that this is common across the globe, but in India it is restricted to few places and is not a wide spread phenomenon. May be, coz we don’t have that kinda drinking or sporting culture yet.

In Thailand too, the bars are too crowded and noisy. People there drink , to get really drunk. At  Most places, the bars double up as pick up joints and hence dont let you be in peace. so unless you are into a habit of gulping down gallons of spirit or you have women on your mind, you might not enjoy the place.  

ANIMAL PARKS :

a1

The Pictures of pretty Dolphins ,amazing tigers or deadly crocodiles ,bring lot of visitors to the numerous animal parks across Thailand. Though there are few good ones , like the safari park in Bangkok, most of the parks are not well kept. These places end up disappointing tourists. We leave most places  feeling sad for the animals kept there and the treatments meted out to them.  Am sure most of these places are running on very tight budgets and hence can’t maintain the standards over a period of time.  A first timer there, feels that is how the wild beasts are kept, but across the globe , in more well kept places, you really enjoy these creatures ,as they themselves enjoy their stay in those premises. 

TEMPLES:

t1

Like India, even Thailand is known for famous temples. lot of westerners come all the way ,to experience these temples. For us as Indians, a visit to temples is hardly on the agenda, as we have so many back home. also, world over ,it is difficult to match the awesomeness of the temple architectures here in India. So , at times these temples in Thailand leave us un-impressed.

LOCAL SHOPPING:

 For a lot of people Bangkok is  a synonym to endless shopping. It could have been true a decade back, but its not the same any more. When shopping in a country , i look for local stuff, there is no point buying a global brand, which i could have bought in Mumbai or Delhi. The local stuff ,in Thai markets, is way below the desired quality and honestly ,all that stuff can be picked during a round of street shopping back home. The haggling for the prices is the same, as here in India. The shopping is restricted to few select areas in each city. My shopping experience in Bangkok is similar to that of Linking road at Bandra in Mumbai. Compared to other countries, yes shopping in Thailand is cheaper, but we Indians don’t gain much as the difference in the values of Thai Baht and Indian Rupee is not huge. if you compare USD to Thai baht, the difference is astronomical. The shopping experience in other countries is very different than in Thailand.

 

For a first time visitor, the take away from Thailand tour is, just a visit to another country. Its doesn’t give a peek into ,what the rest of the world looks like. I am sure, an American or European or an Australian, would be enthralled on their visit to Thailand, but i don’t feel, that as an Indian , I will feel too many differences. 

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Kindly note : Thailand is a great country to visit, just that, it shouldn’t be the first one an Indian should Visit.

Why Not to VOTE these Elections !!!

With 29 states and 7 Union territories, the elections are always around the corner in India. From zilla parishad to local municipal elections to vidhan sabha to Lok sabha , the election season is never ending.

while Studying Civics in school, we were taught  ‘Government of the people, for the people and by the people’. The Importance of of voting was stressed upon and vote was projected as the ultimate weapon against the government.  VOTE  was supposed to be a bhramastra against the government there by preventing it from getting corrupt or complacent.

I too, the day I became 18 yrs old, registered myself as a voter, i believed that now i had some power and a miniscule role in the working of the worlds largest democracy.

Even today, with elections around, there are campaingns for encouraging all the people to come out and vote in numbers. But honestly, today when i look at the scenario today, i dont get excited to vote, i dont think it makes a difference or it even matters. Look at what has happened in the recent past,     

 

1) Ideology , my foot:

                        Generally people are made to believe that they are voting for some ideology or may be against some ideology.We give a serious thought and decide whom to support, as the other party has a totally different ideology ,which we dont agree to. In the last State elections in Jammu & Kashmir, BJP and PDP made a post poll alliance and formed the government. During the campaign , PDP was totally against what BJP did and vice versa. Look at what happened later, did the vote for or against BJP or PDP matter?  Voters were made to look plain stupid.

2)  Power at any cost:

                        During the Maharashtra elections, our PM called for people to vote against NCP,which was being called a naturally corrupt party. Couple of years into the government, the NCP party chief has been conferred upon the Padma Vibhushan. well, its obvious, he is BJP’s plan B, just in case the Sena lion roars. So, all those who trusted and voted, well congratulations, you have been conned royally.

3) Coalition governments , a mockery of a system:

                                                            Just before Bihar elections, Laluji and Nitishji (a former ally of BJP) came together ,so as to keep BJP out of power. For years ,Nitish Kumar came to power harping on wrong doings of laloo yadav. so now, do people vote for someone , who they had voted against the last time? has he changed for good?..well who cares !!

4) I am with the goodies:

                        Building up to the lok sabha elections, Ramdas Athavale and his party were with the UPA and was very vocal about his criticism of the NDA. NDA throws a few foodies (read ministry positions) and there he joins  the NDA bandwagon. what does a voter do now?

 

5) Government of the family,for the family ,by the family:

                                                                        If lalu yadav is not eligible, promote Rabri Devi as CM. if you thought experience and few more qualities are required to be a CM, then you are grossly mistaken. Whether it is the Gandhi family or Pawar or Yadav or Thackeray or Badal or Scindia (list is never ending)  the baton is passed into the family only. whether the candidate deserves or not is inconsequential. So, are we obliged to vote for the family??

 

6) Amma or Amma Look alike:

with sudden & unfortunate demise of Amma, the other amma  becomes the front runner to be the CM.  so all those , who voted for the more experienced amma for the betterment of the state,please go and watch a newbie trample all your plans. Who is this lady and what are her credentials ??, well u voted amma, but now you dont have a say.

 

We can keep highlighting many many more examples like this. The fact today is, it doesn’t matter whom you vote , as the political dynamics and coalitions after the elections ,will make your decision look like a joke.

I Would rather stay home and enjoy a holiday for this election, but ,the only reason why i would vote is, that if i don’t ,the most corrupt will end up getting my dummy vote. I Vote ,just praying that the lesser evil wins.

 

A VOTE IS NO MORE  THE POWER, THAT IT ONCE WAS !!!

 

This is why ,I don’t go to New year parties !!!

It is that time of the year,when almost everyone is gearing up for the New years. There are folks,who have been making never ending plans. There are some, who are trying to shed the extra kilos. Some are still hunting for ‘that’ stunning dress  they gonna wear and then there is me (or people like me) who don’t  have a plan for the new years eve and we do not intend to make one.

Its not, that I  have not done that ever.In the growing up years, as a teenager , we used to get all excited about the new years. Wanted to see the glam parties and the stuff that goes on.But, that attraction and interest didn’t last long and here are the reasons.

  • Compulsive partying:

You might be in the middle of the most chaotic time in your personal  life or might be going through the worst appraisal at work, but you still need to party.

If, I ask why?

Dude its 31st, how can you not party, the whole world is partying. Lots of people end up at parties so that, they do not feel alienated. you party ,when you want to or when you are really happy, and not just for the heck of it.

  • Overcrowded:

You enter any party venue, and then there are a million people stacked in there. These events are always oversold and not to mention the gate crashers. I always felt that at least 30% crowd at such bashes are actually gate crashers. With such a sea of human flesh around, you start feeling suffocated in those small and closed venues. The dance floor is non-existent, there are never ending queues at the buffet counters.we Indians are any which ways never short of crowds. Be it trains,buses ,metros or even streets, please spare me at a party at least. I am here to enjoy!!!!

  • Free Pass hoarders:

Come December and everybody starts looking for a free invite or a free pass to some new year bash. Lots of people manage to get those and you can actually look at them and recognize when they arrive at the venue. These are those, who are trying to make the most of the opportunity .At times, ill behaved ,loud and in a herd.

  • Unlimited Drinks:

Though I am a non-drinker but, have friends who do drink and I have been out with them on multiple occasions. Drinking to enjoy the drink and drinking to get drunk, are two different things. I fail to understand why, but lot of times, even affluent people ,tend to lose their mind ,when they are offered unlimited drinks. They try to gulp a gallon down before the twilight. As the night progresses, these dancing drums of all possible spirits , start with their un describable dance moves and then graduate to throwing up. These sights are unbearable.

  • Over hyped :

Over the years, I realized all these parties are just over hyped. They are all the same. The themes ,which are used for marketing purposes are ridiculously untrue. From the Russian theme party to the Brazilian samba to moon and back and what not.They just don’t justify the sales pitch.

  • Over priced:

Any invite to a decent venue is priced from 5K onward ,and the for a 5 star event , they start at 10K. Even the hotel rooms are priced atrociously.Remember, they are exactly the same facilities which are sold at 5 times the price.Honestly, I never found a party,which was actually worth the price we had paid for the invite. In fact, the same hotels and venues offer much better services and quality on the other days.

  • Traffic:

New years eve , and how can I not mention the traffic. From the by lanes to the highways everything is jam packed. Every car in town is on the road and so are all taxis. The traffic ,starts to build up from early evening and remains the same through the night. The millions walking on streets or near beaches ,start jay walking bring the traffic movement to a crawl.

So what do I do on New years eve?

Well, for me its like an everyday evening. Just that, I don’t go out. Am home and that’s about it.

 

Miles between Inches

The weekend has just gone by and its Monday morning again. The buzz of the alarm reminds Ameya of his responsibilities and drags him out of the bed. His wife for 15 years,Priya  is already up and finishing her early morning chores. Its time for the kids to get up and get moving, its school time.

This morning is no different, infact just the replay of the previous one thousand mornings in the life of Ameya and Priya. The only thing that has changed in these mornings, is the date. Every day for them is a theatre that plays the same show, where they play their role to perfection. Their corporate jobs have acquired them and that too, to an extent where, they don’t own their time or thoughts, leave alone the time for the clichéd ‘SOUL MATE’.

Let us just blur the backgrounds and the surroundings and just look at just Ameya and Priya, as a couple. Two lovely people , who met in college,fell for each other and at some stage in their lives decided to be for each other forever. As time went by and the life progressed everything around them grew except for the intimacy between  the two.

The nonsensical fun that was part of their daily routine is non-existent, the chatter,the teasing and surprises are now replaced by well seasoned and agenda based talks. Hefty conversations involving home,finances,retirement planning are now the (only) things that they talk. Earlier they didn’t need topic to have a chat, now the urgency of the topic makes them chat.

Their day starts and ends on the same bed, just a few inches from each other, but the distance between them has grown miles.What is obvious is never said and what is said , may be has no soul to it.

The ‘COUPLE’ is now two individual entities under the same roof and may be, this marks the beginning of the end of a relationship, that was meant to be till eternity.

Speaking up to a spouse of 15 years might be more difficult for Ameya or Priya , as compared to, what it was when they spoke for the first time. Then it was an all to gain and nothing to lose situation, today it could be an all to lose and nothing to gain situation.

The conversations have the solution to everything in the past, their absence today is the cause of everlasting problems. The years and responsibilities have been a catalyst in ending them, but it’s not an irreversible chemical reaction.

May be may be, just get that bedroom conversation going and suddenly it might start rolling the time back.the issues that you thought were the reason , might not even exist, the anxiety over something could have been misplaced, may be what kept you away was just the creation of your own mind.

Shun those messaging apps and adorable social media comments, just speak up.

Yess, it is difficult , but not impossible.

Your agenda for the day, HAVE A HEARTY LAUGH WITH YOUR SPOUSE / PARTNER TODAY and see the magic. Lets reduce those miles back to zero distances.

…..and if you love it, do message back the experience, I am waitinggggggg!!!!

WHY BOLLYWOOD SHOULD STOP MAKING BIOPICS .

Let me start by getting into the minds of the cricket fans in India. We live all our childhood playing gully cricket and at the same times following everything that has got something to do remotely with bat and ball. Forget international games, we spend lot of our time in our young days playing and watching local tournaments ,box cricket tournaments and school tourneys on gymkhana grounds.

 

At some stage in our lives everybody has wanted to be a Gavaskar or Kapil Dev or a Tendulkar. For us they are not just cricketers or just stars , we all see a part of them in ourselves. It might be an absolute illusion, but that’s why the words ‘CRAZY’ & ‘FAN’ always go together.

 

Most of us will know the statistics of these heroes and their performances.we have heard experts & commentators discussing and analyzing their techniques a thousand times. So at least we feel that we know a lot about them, but obviously that is not true.

 

When Sachin tendulkar’s restaurant called TENDULKAR’S  had opened in Mumbai, I went their time and again for dinners, this inspite that the food was pretty average.The reason was simple, I never went there for food, I went their to see the memorabilia that he had kept there. His bats,jerseys,trophies etc. we were thrilled looking at them from close ,as it made us feel that we are in touching distance of our hero. That’s how the fans think.

 

On Thursday 29th Sept , I was at PVR ICON, Andheri ,Mumbai to catch another movie and was thrilled when I got to know that M.S. Dhoni, himself was present in the audi for the premiere of his movie. Not that, we got any special treatment, but , just that he was in the same campus as I, it made my evening. That’s how the fans think.

premiere.jpg

 

The list of Bollywood releases for the year 2016 got sports fans really excited ,as the list mentioned AZHAR , M.S.DHONI  and a movie on SACHIN slated for release. The IPL fever was at its highest when AZHAR finally released, no points for guessing ,I did watch it and sadly walked out of the theatre very very disappointed.

Today I walk out of M.S. Dhoni (the movie) and I am disappointed again.

 

The so-called biopics that Bollywood makes, have always been a disappointment as first and foremost they have to be politically correct. These movies talk about  those aspects of their  life or career, which are known to all the fans.Add to that, all the masala that is added to make it a commercial success.

 

We go into the movie hall, wanting to see and know the ‘OTHER’ side of our heroes, but unfortunately  that is non-existent. Also, apart from the struggle , we want to know about the feelings that they went through when they made correct as well as incorrect decisions. The world talked about it, but what was it within their minds. If the unspoken has to remain unspoken, why have a biopic??

 

What I Got to See in M.S. DHONI, the movie

  • His early childhood ands passion for the game.
  • Hurdles he faced on his way up.
  • The steps he climbed on the way to the top.

 

Apart from point no 1, I guess the fans knew the other 2. So how is watching this movie different from reading the daily newspapers.

 

What I (as a fan)  wanted to see in the movie.   

  • His childhood
  • What was he told when he was handed over the captaincy. (remember , it was in very controversial scenario)
  • What was he thinking when he handed the ball to Joginder  sharma in the penultimate over of the 2007 T20 world cup.
  • What was the reaction of yuvraj, when suddenly Dhoni decided to bat ahead of him in the 2011 WC finals.
  • How did he feel to be ‘AUCTIONED’ in the IPL in its inaugural year.
  • What he felt about the failures that he faced as a TEST captain overseas.

These are just some of the questions, the list can go on and on.

The movies don’t present both the sides of a coin. I am not mentioning AZHAR at all, as it was a disaster from the first scene to the last one.

DEAR MAKERS, WE WANT TO SEE THE PERSONALITY OF THESE HEROES FROM WITHIN THEIR REAL MINDS.

What they appear or do superficially is known to all of us.

If 3 hours is not sufficient to do justice to all aspects, why make it?

HOW ABOUT A WEB SERIES??

WE FEEL CHEATED AFTER WATCHING SUCH BIOPICS.

 

 

 

Reasons , why i don’t support ECO FRIENDLY Festivals

 

Come August and its celebration time. For we Indians, the end of august marks the beginning of the most joyful  time of the year. It marks the beginning of our festive season ,which goes on ,almost till the year end. We are loud, we are hyper,we are colourful  and that’s how we like celebrating. That’s how we have always been and will always be.

The festive season has just kicked off, from janmashtami to raksha bandhan to Ganesh chaturthi to Eid to Durga puja to Diwali , going all the way to Christmas, they keep coming.

Along with the festivals, the crusaders  on the social media to get hyper active and  start pushing the agenda of ECO FRIENDLY festivals. Less water, no synthetic colours ,no fire crackers , no this ,no that , the just keep going on. But, personally ,I DON’T support them nor do I buy or want the idea of eco friendly, safe and non polluting festivals. No , I am not a jerk, I am being logical.

 

In august, The supreme court , refused to change or relax the restriction ,that the lower  court had put on the height of DAHI HANDI during the festival of janmashtami. It said it wont permit a height of more than 20 ft for the human pyramid,as it is dangerous . Also ,earlier the high  court had disallowed children below the age of a8 from participating in the pyramid formation.

Building up to the festival, a prominent leader in Maharashtra  openly  refused to accept the order and asked ‘HIS’ people to go ahead and do as they wish. The issue here was not about,what the court had said, it was more about, ‘THEY’ interfere in ‘OUR’ religious matters and not ‘THEIRS’.

On the occasion of Eid-AL-Adha (Bakri Eid), the ask for an eco- friendly (read  blood less)Eid grew and the reason cited was, why only ‘OUR’  festivals are targetted and not ‘THEIRS’.

 

I am no expert on religion or on ill effects of pollution and stuff, but purely as a lay man all I know is, festivals are supposed to unite us and give joy to one and all.

We have shared the puran poli’s  and sheer khurma’s to easter eggs  thinking of the festivals as our own. The thought of ‘MINE’ and ‘THEIR’ has never crossed our minds and it never will.

I don’t mind , if few people suffer by falling in dahi handi or get injured in Muharram procession or get skin infection due to chemical based colours or inhale a little more of poisonous gases from the fire crackers. This number will be small (hopefully) and only the unfortunate few will suffer on short or long term basis.

Agreed, that it does affect all of us in a longer run, but it will kill us slowly ,without letting us know and over a period of time. On the other hand if this OUR’s  and  THEIR’s debate flares up and it keeps growing, it will spoil the secular and friendly fabric of the nation ,thereby  killing the entire nation at once. Hence, I choose to sacrifice a few unfortunate ones for the larger interest of the nation. We have survived the Mughals to British to World wars only because of our unity and I don’t want to give that up for any reason whatsoever.

So, let the decibels go up , lets increase the height of pyramids, lets not bother about the pollution or and other damage, they  will hurt us in a way much smaller than what the communal polarization of our nation will do.

 

Note: I know,lot of people might find evil intentions in this post as well, coz unfortunately lot of us interpret stuff , not based on what is written, but who has written it.

 

JAI HIND