Posted in life, travel

AILA…..Some happy memories

A search for some old photographs led me to some of my old Web albums, which in turn led me to some other pics that revived some old happy memories that were lost in some corner of my mind.

Somewhere in the year 2010 to 2011 I happened to be working for an Oceanagrahic institute. Although my job didn’t have much to do with my specialized subject, I didn’t mind doing it because it was something new, interesting at times and moreover I enjoyed the company of people at the Institute.

The best part of that year are the memories of our adventures back home from the Institute. We were a bunch of 3 females which later grew up to maybe 5 or 6, thanks to the success rate of the group.

Well after a whole days work,  we ladies had to travel back home which was almost a 1 hr distance. Now imagine your self tired and then squeezed up like a sardine in a bus packed with mackerels…(oops I meant men😁😁). Sometimes it felt like a concentration camp, where you were forced to breathe in different smells of perspiration coming from varied sources. The worst would be in the rains……even if you entered the bus dry, there was no guarantee you would be dry when you exited. In our side of the world the Monsoons can be so intense at times, that it practically rains inside the bus.

So that was it ……We ladies had enough reasons not to be commuting on the otherwise considered safe public transport. We rather risked our lives with a few strangers than going through the ordeal of the public transport. So we began Hitching hiking. And mind you in a couple of months we were experts at the trade πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.

We formed are self into an association named….All India Lift Association (AILA) and Namz was the appointed the president. The other 3 regular members being Doms, Deeps and Jolta. We had our own set of rules and responsibilities were distributed amongst us.

Our location was a mango tree, a couple of metres ahead of the bus stop. We ladies would align ourselves in a line, stretch our hands out and start our business. Many factors were considered before hitching. Our requirements were based on the group strength. If we were just 3 of us….Then small cars like alto, Maruti 800 would do, a bigger group would require something like an i20, Innova etc.

Then came safety….Now we ladies though desperate to get home, we wouldn’t always compromise with safety. Firstly we would prefer a lady driver ( which very rarely happened). Infact many lady drivers would just pass us by with an stare as though saying…”look at these girls risking their lives for a free ride…. And then they cry that they were attacked ??”. 

Next we checked the registration of the car, we only went for local cars. It’s a myth though that locals are safer than outsiders. Nevertheless we stuck to rule except for a few occasions where we did stop some outsiders.

The moment the car stopped, one of us would have to make the deal with the driver. “Where are you headed to? Can you please take us along?” If it was a cab then it was the bargaining job…..”How much?? Too much ??” Etc etc. Now during the conversation we had to quickly scan the vehicle, the driver and decide whether it was safe. If the majority of the group found the situation unsafe…..then the deal was dropped. How?? Simple……😁

Us:…..Where are you headed??

Driver:… Margao…..( Scan result >> unsafe,to scary, drop the deal)

Us: …Oh sorry we’re headed to Vasco.😁😁😁

We would just change our location. 

If everything looked safe we agreed on the deal, but the next dilemma was, who would sit next to the driver??? Now if it happened to be a handsome guy, then all of us would shy away πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ ( making the dude feel even more great). If it was a not so handsome type or an uncle type then we were not so reluctant.

Initially we were a little hesitant about what we were doing. The crime rate against women was not a new issue afterall. But with time we grew bolder and damn shameless 😁. 

Finally are endeavors took us through various experiences. We travelled through many cars which ranged from the humble Maruti 800 to the posh BMW 😎. ….. Believe me it’s true.

We experienced various personalities. Some would not utter a word through the entire journey…..and in order to maintain the silence, we group members would be talking in whispers. Then you had the other extreme that would enjoy chattering throughout the entire journey. I hated when we were interviewed to details….Where are ull from?…. Where are you’ll working? ….. Qualification?…… Surname?…… Salary?……Uhh 😡😡. Those are the only times I used to regret taking the lift.

There were times when we used to get certain vibes which made us feel unsafe along the trip. In such situations we had another plan. One of us would pretend to call up her brother on the pretext of asking him to wait for her and in turn she would kind of update him about our exact location, description of the car, registration number if known etc. This natak was done hope that any vested interest in the mind of the driver would be dampened.😎😎

Today I know how to drive and although not many people have asked me for a lift. …..I have on many occasions given people a lift (90β„… only ladies). And I do understand the risk involved in both taking a lift and offering one. But at times you can’t help it.

I miss those days, those trips, I miss my buddies ….The AILA ladies. Every time I pass that mango tree on the highway, I  still notice some girls (and boys too) hitching and at once it brings back memories of the past. 

I wish our juniors good luck….Just remember be safe. 😁

AILA was also a classic example of how women can face great challenges, if they work together.

Here is an old post written by our AILA president, many years back which I came across yesterday. It’s a very funny one. A must read if you’ve read through my crap πŸ˜πŸ˜‚.
Until then long live the memories of our sweet AILA .

http://namratagreat.blogspot.in/2013/11/once-upon-time-in-bambolim.html?m=1

Posted in travel

Train tales….

Trains….. Something I have the worst memories about, when it comes to traveling.

The 4th largest railway network in the world, the Indian Railways was started by the British in 1853 and Nationalised after independence as one unit in 1950. Today it stands as an important life line of our country be it for tarde and commerce or commute.

But unfortunately ………and really unfortunately I am not happy about the progress the railways has done over all these decades. The fastest train in India …..Gatiman express can run on an average speed of 160kmph……far behind the world’s fastest train the Shanghai Maglev with an average speed of 360kmph…….Need I say more???

OK fine let’s keep the speed aside……Can I expect a little cleanliness? Swatch Bharat? ……I know the railways can’t be entirely blamed…..People have to be blamed first. There is so much to be eaten and drunk on the train, right from wada paos , noodles , chai to biyanis and cold drinks. But where does all the waste go? ………..Most of it will end up strewn in the boogies or out of the train where the garbage adorns the railway lines. 

Why are the toilet facilities so pathetic??? Either the water is endlessly flowing down the drain or the taps are running dry. The wash basins chocked with leftovers of food articles, the toilets smeared with remains of human leftovers. Gross!!!! Is not the word.

Whom do I hold accountable?? ……The Railways or the people, I really don’t know. 

The railways ultimately is undeniably the lifeline of our country, allowing long distance movement of people at reasonable rates. But can I expect some improvement in the basic services if not in the speed at least.

One of the advantages of railway travel is that the railway routes pass through some of the most beautiful terrains of the country……….so the passenger is blest to see some rare sites that you wouldn’t get to see in the other means of transport. 

Recently I traveled back home from Pune by train……Second class sleeper to be precise. I was disgusted by the lack of cleanliness in the compartment and the toilets. …..And equally irritated by the people around……Specially a bunch of uncivilized boys. But the only best part of the journey were the beautiful sights I saw……..the barren hills , the peacocks, the rainforests and of course …..the Dudhsagar waterfall

These are few of the clicks…..

Train journeys could have been awesome if facilities had to improve and surely if people could also improve their civic sense.

Posted in life, travel

Allz well that endz well

It’s my last day at Pune. I awake early after a good nights sleep. The sun rises a little early in this part of the country. My friend promised me to show me around the city but she’s still asleep. I wake her up reminding her that we need to leave early. 

Finally she woke up, we had a quick breakfast …..a kichdi of cornflakes, banana, honey and milk 😁 and we began our tour dΓ¨ city. My friend owns a 2 wheeler which would be our horse for the rest of the day. 

We visited places like…..

….. Magarpatta a commercial zone where my friend has her new office situated. (I am still confused as to why the name sounds too southee ??)

……JM road….named after a saint Junglee Maharaj. This place is like an oasis in a desert. A quite place consisting of some caves. It was nice to see a few students from near by colleges studying in the premises. Perhaps the ethos of the place provided them the peace required to acquire knowledge. ( The same opportunity given to my students, and they would be busy clicking selfies) 

FC road……….. Ferguson College road.

MG road……..a good place for Street shopping . We stop by at a famous Parsi fast food eatery named “Marz-o-rin” I guess the name comes from ‘margarine’ that is used in biscuits. A friend of mine had very greatly the Shrewsbury biscuits from Kayani Bakery in Pune. The dicription sounded divine……. Since a visit to Kayani Bakery was not possible, hence i purchased some of the same biscuits from Marz- o-rin …..to have a taste of the divinity 😁.

Finally our last stop was the D Mart …..A store where you get most of the stuff at very discounted rates. I was only supposed to shop for slippers, but I set my self on a shopping spree which ended up with me purchasing a suitcase to carry all the goods along.

In the midst of the shopping spree we didn’t realize how time flew. We had only 1/2 hour left to catch the train going home. I was cool until my friend warned that we might miss the train. Suddenly I had my heart thumping and my thoughts running wild. The last time I visited the city I had almost missed the bus. Was I destined to miss something or the other from this city……???? Was it gonna be today????  What would my mother think….she wouldn’t be proud for all the household shopping I did, if I missed the train 😱.

We managed to hire a rickshaw. Its a common observation that if you are in a hurry, every other thing slows down. The driver seemed to be old and was equally slow. I pleaded to him in Marathi to speed up, to which he paid no heed😭. We both kept checking the time and calculating our chances ……Time ticked as we stopped at every signal…and our chances kept becoming bleak.

Finally we reached the station and it was a mad run……totally mad. I made my way through the crowd, as I dragged the weight of my shopping spree. Oh how I wish I hadn’t shopped at all. My cap was determined to delay me further, as it kept dropping on the way. We didn’t notice any train on the platform as we made our way towards it. My friend in a soft voice declared…..”It’s gone”. The worst had happened πŸ˜₯. 

I had prayed to God that if he willed, we should be getting the train. Maybe he didn’t will…… We still kept moving to the platform as though to confirm our loss. Just then we saw a train moving along the platform. Alas!! It was our train. My thoughts ran even wilder now…… Should I get into a moving train????  What about my heavy luggage…..??? My friend ended the wild thoughts as she happily declared that the train had just arrived. Hurray! Hurray! My happiness knew no bounds for a few moments. God willed in our favour. Thank you Lord 😁.

We boarded the train. It waited for almost 20 min more…..Making me feel like a fool on a mad run. Finally the train began chugging……..as it marked the end of a short trip…..and a long post.

Finally allz well that endz well…😁

Posted in life, travel

Exploring a city….1

Unplanned trips work…….That’s how I ended up unexpectedly in the city of Pune. I ended up in Pune with a friend of mine who was visiting the city for a 2 day official trip.

Since the trip was planned at the 11th hour we couldn’t book a convenient mode of transport. As a last option we had to travel by a non-AC seater bus. For me it was absolutely fine since I have traveled on such buses earlier, but my friend was not too happy about it.

The bus left 15 min late from schedule. The 2 of us were busy talking and simultaneously admiring the beauty of our state from the window. A few of the usually unusual things I observed on the bus trip were….

….Ladies fighting to convince the bus manager that the box carton they were carrying didn’t contain fish. I wonder why the bus manager presumed the ladies were smuggling fish πŸ˜€?

…..the man sitting ahead of me seemed to be suffering from a terrible itch on his back. He initially asked his wife to scratch his back, which the loyal wife did without any hesitation. Then he unshirt himself…..Uhh. And finally as a final resort he began scratching his back with a tablespoon…….Gross😡

……The nights get really cold, irrespective of the high temperatures that hit the day. My night was a struggle sitting near the window, trying to shut the window as a fellow passenger tried to keep it open. 

……In this part of the country National Highways become racing tracks in the pitch of the night. Oil tankers, passenger buses , cars and trucks all struggling to overtake and in the bargain blatantly pressing that horn…..Creating a noise in the silence of the night.

The sun sets on the riverfront as the state gears up for a new bridge.

Finally we reached the city. My eyelids were heavy with the incomplete sleep, but I managed to follow my friend as we made our way to her residence….. I was literally sleep walking. Finally my friend left for work….And I began exploring the city alone.

My observations of the city…..

……Well this city is like any other metro city in the country. You get to see both the extremes……The prince and the pauper living together. The city surely united them but the class difference maintain the divide between them.


 The 2 worlds living together.

……there is a lot you can do in the city to while away your time. Take today for example I spent almost 6 hrs in a mall doing nothing really constructive then whiling away my time.

The Aga Khan Palace……A museum and a memorial.


Some food for thought…..

….. The city is very dirty….With stagnant water to dog poop littering the streets and pavements everywhere. The municipality seemed to be doing work. But I guess it will never be enough as long as people don’t inculcate a sense of cleanliness within.

……The city has a lot conviniece be it transport or shopping. Everything is available at the drop of a hat. But conviniece comes at a cost……the cost of a human connect. As long as you have the required technology at your disposal, you don’t really have to interact with people around. Imagine sharing an apartment and even bed with another human who you don’t even interact with. Wouldn’t be accepted in my village life setup .

I like going out places but whenever I am in a new place I miss the ethos of my own land. Home is Ultimately where the heart is. And inspite of all the glamour the city fails to stand above my village.

Water fountains try to bring a sense of calmness……that a river or the sea would have done at my place.

I just hope I never have to witness my land getting converted to a city. 

I hope that some day if possible these cities do get converted to villages.

Until then…..I’ll continue exploring the streets of this unknown city.

Posted in art, photography, travel

Carpet of Joy

What comes to your mind if you were asked to imagine a dry open field filled up with around 1,50,000 empty plastic bottles………?

…….An average mind like mine would imagine a serious garbage menace…..an obvious ugly sight….An eyesore. Something like this …….

……Not until you go to the actual sight and open your eyes to reality.

So what does reality look like? 

Well it looks like this…….

Wondering where the plastic bottles are?

Take a closer look……. They’re right there in all those vibrant colors.

Well this is an installation put up together by world renowned famous contemporary artist Dr Subodh Kerkar of Goa. The installation is called ‘The carpet of joy‘. Dr Kerkar wants our land to be rid of the plastic menace, so he used art as a means of Satyagraha (protest). The artform draws inspiration from Israeli artist Uri de Beer.

The installation is set up in a field very close to the Saligao church in Goa. Almost 1,50,000 plastic bottles, collected from hotels and other places were cut up into flower formations, then painted and fixed into a plastic net. This enormous installation was put up together with the help of school children. It was one way of bringing awareness amongst the young generation too.

I got to know of the installation through a friend of mine. I am convinced that the installation has, to a large extent served its purpose. No passerby can escape the attractive power of  the vibrant colors of the artform. The colours just manage to enchant the eyes.

Locals and tourists stop by and click photographs at the sight. Hopefully the message of the artform is also taken along with the photographs. We can only hope that this Carpet of joy inspires many to be the change we would want to see in our country.

Until then we can enjoy the vibrant beauty of the ……carpet of joy.

Note: excerpts taken from

http://www.tribuneindia.com/mobi/news/sunday-special/kaleidoscope/a-carpet-of-joy-for-goa-s-happiness/392570.html

Posted in photography, travel

Al Khamsa

Horses……One of God’s most beautiful creation. Horses are one of the most graceful animals. If not for dogs then I guess that horses would be tagged as men’s best companion.

As per what I read on Wikipedia there are about 300 breeds of horses. Horse breeds are divided into 3 categories : the hot bloods ( they run fast), the cold bloods ( they run slower) and the warm bloods ( mix of hot and cold ).

Yesterday  I got to visit a museum of contemporary art where I came across an interesting bit of information about a breed of horses which I would like to share.

One of the most priced horses in the world are the Arabian horses. The most sought out pure breed amongst the Arabian horses is the …..Al Khamsa.

The legend goes on to say that the prophet was a lover of horses. It is believed that one day after all the day’s work he allowed his horses to go and  drink water from a nearby oasis. The thirsty horses began running towards the Oasis. But before they could reach the water the prophet blew the horn, asking them to return. The thirsty horses were in a dilemma on whether to satisfy their needs or obey their master at the cost of their lives.

Finally only 5 of the horses obeyed the command and returned back to the prophet. The Arabs believe that these 5 horses are the ancestors of the famous Arabian horse breed….Al Khamsa.

Al Khamsa in Arabic means ‘The Five’.

Beautiful legend, beautiful animal …….that inspired a beautiful artifact.


A horse shoe …. With the word ‘Al Khamsa’ engraved in Arabic at the bottom.

Posted in leisure, travel

Un voyage contemporain

It’s the peak of summer and it’s hot in this part of the world that I live in. 

A normal trip would consist of a day on the beach, a waterfall, a spring or a water park……..anything to cool those body temperatures.

How about a trip to museums ,admiring church architectures and exploring the lanes of some laid back villages?……..something more of cooling the temperature of the mind. Sounds weird? Well that’s what I call a modern day trip or a ‘contemporary trip’……….’un voyage contemporain’ in French.

So the day started with me and my 2 friends at the State custom Museum. The museum housed in a centuries old blue building manages to easily escape the eyes of many……… Although situated right on the road it hardly has visitors……mainly because people are either ignorant or they’re not interested in art and history. The museum is spread out over 2 floors and it is divided into various sections pertaining to smuggling, drug trafficking, exise, etc. A must visit place if you’re in Goa.

 From the Customs museum we headed towards are next stop……Another museum …..But this time of Contemporary art. I am not an artist myself but I love admiring art……be it sculptures or paintings. The museum named ” Museum Of Goa” or MOG which in konkani means love is the brainchild of renowned Contemporary artist Mr. Subodh Kerkar. The museum is situated in an unlikely location. It’s a steep climb into an industrial estate till you locate a few blue figurines indicating that you’re close to destination.

The museum is spread out over 3 floors , displaying art forms made by different artist. Simple things like the burnt paper to pods of seeds are converted to such beautiful art forms. I got to know of some interesting facts about my own state through the art forms. I won’t say much, one must visit the place to experience the art.

Our minds filled with art and our stomachs empty for food, the 3 of us decided to visit another place before we breaked away for lunch. The next stop was another art installation by the same artist in the village of Saligao. Named “The carpet of Joy” the installation was made up of 150000 used plastic bottles. I have written more about it in another post.

On the way I fulfilled a long-standing wish, of visiting the famous Saligao church. Where most churches in my state our influenced by the Baroque style architecture, the Saligao church is built in the Neo Gothic style……. It was as beautiful as I expected it. Got to also know about a dumb controversy regarding the image of Mae de deus (Mother of God).

We had our meal at Mapusa…..the theme of the meal being…. “Don’t waste food”. Our next stop was to be the beautiful village of Calvim. 

Calvim an island village is situated on the banks of the river Mandovi. This quite secluded village came into limelight after a tragedy hit it. Almost 6 years back 9 lives were lost into the river when a bus drowned into its waters. After the tragedy a new bridge was constructed to link the village to the mainland. The bridge today stands as a link between the tragic past and a hopeful future. 

One of my friend updated the other 2 of us with some interesting facts on some species of wildlife and mangroves. On the way we stopped by a sluice gate. I was amazed by the entire ethos of this village. I would have died to live in a place like this. 
Our eyes content with the beauty we saw, we began our journey back home. I first dropped one of my friend who lived on the way in the village of Pomburpa. The other 2 of us proceeded. I had to maneuver the car through the narrow lanes of the village. It was getting late but there was an urge within me to stop by another place which I hold very close to my heart……..The Britona or Penha de France Church.  Built on the banks of the river, with its facade facing the waters, this church has a breathtaking view. The church was closed, but in such a beautiful place it’s not difficult to feel the presence of the divine. 

Given a chance I wouldn’t mind sitting on the steps of the church and just watching the waters. But life is not so easy…….and we have to return back to our not so beautiful worlds in the hope of making life beautiful.

So finally with a heavy heart I bid adieu to the church and made my way home…… Bringing to end the “Contemporary Trip”.