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Foursquare,Fun,Goa,Maps,Travels

Goa – Beaches, Churches and House Parties (Off-season)

Goa has always been the preferred holiday destination and the centre of the party scene for Indians and foreigners. It’s the one place that you talk about visiting growing up as a teenager. I never thought I’d be going to Goa this late in my life, but it finally happened with the best bunch of people I can think of. Going to Goa in June/July is something many people would advice against, but given our schedules this was the only period of time that all of us would be getting together and we wanted to make the best of it. Hence, Goa was chosen. Plans began more than a month before we were to leave. Tickets were booked 30 days in advance (that’s the earliest one can book bus tickets), and the place that was going to be our home for three days – a duplex house with a swimming pool in Saligao, was booked amidst much enthusiasm. Day Onebroken down bus, surprise birthday party, Aguada fort, Candolim beach, nightmare at Curlie’s, and a night that cannot be mentioned. We left Bangalore at around 8.30 in the evening and after a night’s worth of talking and catching up, we were in the state of Goa. For the next few hours, almost nothing went in our way. Having barely passed Panjim, our bus broke down. The weather had turned into a nightmare with heavy storms lashing the whole state. Reaching Saligao from the bus stand in itself was a headache with every cab and autorickshaw there trying to fleece us. We knew immediately that we had to get our own transport arranged soon or we would end up spending a fortune on travel alone. It was then decided to head out and rent a Toyota Innova. We could have as well gone for a Honda CR-V given that it was just a few hundred extra but the CR-V was a petrol variant with a fuel efficiency of 4 kmpl. surprise partyWe stayed at Blue Waters House in Saligao. Arriving there, I had no idea what was planned. As I went upstairs, the whole place was decorated and there hung a “Happy Birthday” sign in the middle. This was a surprise birthday party for me by Chhavi and Prashanth! Wow! An hour later, the car was rented. We were all unpacked and settled in at home and eager to head over to the beach. Except that it was pouring cats and dogs. Cursing each second that passed by, we decided that it would be best to eat something while we waited for the rains to subdue. At 3 in the afternoon, we had a guy come down to our house in the heavy rains and deliver us our food. A couple of hours later the rain finally stopped and we didn’t waste any further time heading out to Aguada Fort around 15kms from Saligao. To our luck it didn’t rain the entire time we were there. We then headed to Candolim Beach which is on the way back. Next we wanted to check out the nightlife of Goa. For a Bangalorean, nightlife is almost NON FSCKIN EXiSTENT! So you’d understand our desperation to go out past 10 in the night. Relying on Google Maps, we headed out to Curlie’s Restaurant in Anjuna Beach. little did we know what we were getting ourselves into. I had heavily relied on Trip Advisor and Foursquare to plan this entire trip and not one person there had mentioned about the route to Anjuna Beach or that Curlies was deeply hidden away from the public. After an hour’s worth of following Google Maps through roads that almost looked like they weren’t going to lead anywhere, we reached Anjuna Beach. The sound of the waves against the rocks pumped up our spirits as we made our way from the parking lot to Curlie’s. It was more like a trek. Using our mobile phone LEDs as flashlights, we made our way through streams of water all the while sticking close to each other because there wasn’t a single soul in sight and of course, everybody has heard horror stories of women being molested and raped in Goa. Curlie’s – we had finally reached our taste of “nightlife” – a dingy tent that had a couple of guys playing pool to a music system that was blaring out the sound of crowds. That’s right, the sound of a huge crowd cheering and partying was what was being played. All this and we were at a place that was trying to be something it wasn’t. Imagine the horror on our faces. Thankfully a little further down and we came across a bigger place that was actually teaming with party goers. This was Curlie’s – a hyped up restaurant that served booze and hookah while the rain poured in through the holes in the roof. After a disastrous night at Curlie’s, we decided we had to make up for it. What followed was a night I cannot remember. *wink* Day Two – Old Goa, churches, desperate search for food, and a night to remember. Day two began with two more entries to our little group – Vikas and Vinayak, two people who would be instrumental in documenting our trip with some beautiful photos. After a round of breakfast brunch that consisted of noodles and bread, we headed out to Old Goa. The rain gods were kind to us and it didn’t rain the whole time we were on foot. Driving through Goa, in the rains, in a car as big as the Innova and main roads as small as driveways was a nice challenge that was a thoroughly great experience to me. The churches were magnificent. The Portuguese art, sculptures and culture were all a stark reminder of the times before Independence, something that you don’t see everyday in Bangalore or elsewhere in India. goaaa3 What was surprising though about Goa was that none of the restaurants are open past 4pm. We had such a hard time finding a good place to eat that we had to actually fathom the possibility of going to Domino’s… in Goa! Thankfully we came across Sher-e-Punjab, a nice restaurant that was just about to close. The food was fantastic. Would recommend it to everyone. On our way back, we stopped to go on a cruise on the Mandovi River. There are lots to choose from. There are cruises with dinner that cost about 300 per person and they’re really a very calm and pleasant experience. I would suggest staying away from the “parties” that happen on board these cruises since most of them are filled with either drunk locals or the elderly. goaaa2 We headed back home late night, with the news of the VTU results in our minds and good scores to make some of us happy. The night called for a party. And a party it (apparently) was. (I say apparently because I was knocked out cold early after a tiring day at the wheel of the Innova. For this one reason, you could consider hiring a driver. I wouldn’t, of course.) Day Three – Calangute Beach, lots of sea food, and heavy rains. seafoodDay three began early. All of us wanted to head out to one more beach before our scheduled 5.30pm departure. So we decided to head to Calangute, a very talked about beach in Goa. The road to Calangute Beach is a nice place to shop for clothes. It also happens to have a couple of nice sea food restaurants, one of which Chhavi, Vinayak and me decided to check out. I can’t seem to remember the name, but it’s the building just before the beach and on the first floor. A must if you love sea food. The majority being vegans, headed out to a place called Shanthi Sagar (yeah, it’s EVERYWHERE!). goaaa4 As I mentioned earlier, the bus was at 5.30pm and we were still at Calangute at 4pm. We headed back to Saligao while it poured rain heavily, got ready, headed over to Calangute to drop the car off and by the time we reached the bus stand, we had missed the bus! Apparently 5.30pm meant FIVE FRIKKIN THIRTY, and not a minute late. DAMN! Thankfully for us, Chetan -the guy who helped us out with the car – decided to drop us off at Panjim where we could hopefully catch the same bus. Fifteen minutes and an insane Jason Statham inspired drive later, we were in Panjim. And guess what, the bus was scheduled to come an HOUR later. Hah! So that was Goa. Also, I’m sure a lot of you would ask about the check post on the way back to Karnataka – don’t worry. We didn’t have a problem at all and all of our “luggage” arrived safely with us. ;-) List of must-visit places in Goa A special mention should go to Colin, the person who made our three days in Goa such a memorable experience, for decorating the house for a surprise party complete with a cake and drinks. If you plan to go to Goa, do not hesitate to book Bluewaters House Guesthouse Saligao. It’s worth paying for the hospitality and to get a whole duplex house to yourself. So much better than staying in a hotel or resort. Trust me.

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Fun,Hyderabad,Music,Poets of the Fall,Travels

Poets of the Fall ‘Temple of Thought’ India Tour – Hyderabad

After their second visit to India, Poets of the Fall, a band that I closely follow and whose music I’m quite fond of, were here in India again. This time around it was a whole tour that comprised of 5 cities – Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Delhi and Kolkata as part of their newly released album ‘Temple of Thought’. I just had to go, of course, to see them for the second time. The concerts at Bangalore, Pune, New Delhi and Kolkata were all part of Kingfisher and VH1’s efforts, except for the sole concert at Hyderabad which was organized by the guys at Leonia resorts. The Bangalore concert was on the 22nd of August, and I happened to have three consecutive exams the next two days, as always with my college. So the Bangalore concert was out of the question. Pune was close by and the next choice, but the concert there was happening on the same day as BarCamp Bangalore XII. That ruled Pune out. Hyderabad was the next logical choice where the concert was happening on Sunday at Leonia Holistic Destination, a resort about 40kms away from the main city. So at the last moment, tickets were booked and off I went to Hyderabad with Prashanth. We booked a bus to Hyderabad, which is around 700kms or 12 hours from Bangalore. The bus was scheduled to leave at 10.45pm and we were still at SAP Labs (where BarCamp Bangalore was hosted, somewhere about 30kms from the centre of the city) at 6pm! To top it off, I had to go to the south of the city to Jayanagar to pickup a digital camera, all while the city was experiencing heavy rainfall. It took me around 4 hours from SAP Labs to Jayanagar and back home to Rajajinagar where Prashanth was waiting anxiously with an autorickshaw. Hah! I packed in a couple of minutes (I travel often, so my travelling kit is always ready) and we reached Majestic in less than 10 minutes, only to find out that the bus was delayed by an hour because of rain. Err! Part One As a Bangalorean, the first thing you start to worry about a new city is how the weather will be. To our surprise though, the weather was pleasant and when we reached our stop in Hyderabad, it was actually raining very lightly. We hadn’t made any hotel reservations thinking that the place we got off would be something like Bangalore’s Majestic, a place that caters to every need of a tourist just coming into the city. To our dismay, we were dropped off at a Ring Road! There was not a hotel in sight, not even a place to eat. We made our way to Banjara Hills where we were going to meet a friend for lunch thinking we could get a hotel there at least. We couldn’t have been any more wrong. There wasn’t a single hotel in sight, and the one that we did come across after walking a couple of kilometers had no vacancy. At this point you might be wondering why we didn’t use Google Maps. We did. And that’s what got us into this trouble in the first place. Maps was wrong about almost everything we searched for! (In fact, it was because of Maps that we ended up so fscked in the first place.) When we finally came across a busy area that happened to have a run down shabby hotel, we decided it was enough for our requirements. We went in expecting a room to be a few hundred bucks but were shocked when the manager asked 1.2k for each room, plus a security deposit of two thousand! WTH?! Having no choice we ended up paying that ridiculous amount. We just wanted to freshen up, charge our phones and get the hell out of there anyway. Little did we know that we were far from being done. The room so pathetically small, aesthetically unpleasant, and dingy that we just wanted to freshen up and get out. We were in for another shock though – the bathroom was worse than a public urinal, with an unusable loo, a dirty slippery bucket, and a shower that sprayed water more like how a garden hose would. WE. WERE. SCREWED. Charging our phones and managing to just barely bathe, we were out of the hotel even before photocopies of our IDs were done. Part Two We were to meet a friend of mine at Hyatt Park, but eventually ended up at Taj Vivanta, Begumpet. It was a little past noon, very early for a lunch buffet, but we were famished. Taj’s hospitality and the food was such a pleasant experience, one that made us completely forget about the prior Hyderabad hotel experience. In just the couple of hours that we were in Hyderabad, we had already experienced the best and the worst the city could offer. We reached Leonia at exactly 6pm, the time that was mentioned on our concert tickets. We heard that the opening performance by a local band had been cancelled and that POTF would be taking to stage directly. At close to 7pm the gates were opened, and that’s when we figured out that the e-tickets were to be redeemed for paper tickets. So from the front of the queue, I watched as dozens of people went past me and into the resort. The front row had been lost. Sigh. Nearly two hours after being allowed into the venue, two hours of standing amid a bunch of overly enthusiastic and noisy teenage girls, the guys from Finland took to the stage opening with Kamikaze Love to an audience of a thousand teenagers. Ouch! Not the usual crowd that you’d expect at a POTF concert. Blame the law school next door to the venue. Set list:
  • Kamikaze Love
  • Temple of thought
  • Cradle in love
  • Lie eternal
  • Dreaming Wide Awake
  • War
  • Stay
  • Diamonds for Tears
  • Sorry Go Round (Acoustic)
  • Locking Up The Sun (Acoustic)
  • Gravity (Acoustic)
  • Roses (Acoustic)
  • Desire (Acoustic)
  • Late goodbye
  • Lift
  • Carnival of Rust
The crowd apart, the Poets played for nearly two and a half hours, one of their longest gigs ever as they pointed out, to make up for the fact that they were late. By the end, my voice was all but non-existent and my legs felt like they were going to give way anytime. I can’t even imagine how the band must have felt playing for that long. Kudos to them. Poets of the Fall - Hyderabad

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Fun,Travels,Vizag

View of Rishikonda Beach from the resort

Vizag – Goa of The East Coast

For a resident of Bangalore, there could be no better holiday than a weekend at the beach. A lot of you would agree. Bangalore has the weather, the people, and places to hang out as well. But we seriously miss having a beach nearby. Vizag, or Vishakapatnam, is the second largest city in Andhra Pradesh and is famous for its natural port, apart from the tourism of course. It’s about 1300kms from Bangalore and hence my initial thoughts were to take a flight. But after finding out the ridiculous cost of a flight ticket to Vizag, I decided a train was better. By train it takes about 18 to 20 hours depending on the train you’ve taken (as I found out when coming back, it could take a LOT more than that, so be prepared). I was pleasantly taken aback by the weather when I arrived. It was very much like what I was used to, cool and calm. Surprising for a beach town. The Vizag railway station however lacks a lot of basic amenities, including a (working) air conditioned waiting room. This would turn out to be such a big damper on my return journey. More on that later.
View of the Haritha Beach Resort

View of the Haritha Beach Resort from the beach.

My room was booked at the government APTDC Haritha Beach Resort at Rishikonda. That was another 15kms from the railway station and travelling there would be only by auto. Be prepared to pay a couple of hundred bucks unless you can talk Telugu. One thing though, the auto drivers there don’t hassle you like in Bangalore. So you can let your guard down… a little. vizag-rishikonda-beach-haritha-resort-viewComing to the resort, the staff were extremely helpful. Language was not a problem as I could (sorta) follow Telugu. They’re quite fluent in Hindi, just in case. The rooms were fantastic and we had a stunning view of the beach from our second floor deluxe room. One does not have to worry about food either. The room service was quick and the food was brilliant. There’s even a very nice restaurant called Offshores. A view of the beach and the sound of the water make a very scenic background for a quiet dinner. Don’t forget to order sea food. Cooked in traditional Andhra style, you can expect a spicy affair for your taste buds.
View of Rishikonda Beach from the resort

View of Rishikonda Beach from the resort

My only qualm about Rishikonda was that it wasn’t a private beach. However, the crowd was small and the people weren’t privy to what tourists were up to.   All I wanted to do on this vacation was to laze and enjoy the beach. There are a lot more things to see in Vizag though. The Borra Caves, Arakku Valley, more beaches, and lots of temples. If you love to drive, it would be well advised to rent a car because the city has some breath taking scenic roads that one will thoroughly enjoy driving. drive to vizag rishikonda beach road My experience with the return train journey was horrible. The train was initially delayed by 3 hours, and it only kept increasing. It finally arrived a whole 5 hours late! This did give me an opportunity to explore the city, and I managed to sit through a whole Telugu movie – for the first time. :) All in all, Vizag is a truely beautiful beach town to visit, and for me, it really was the Goa of the East Coast.

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Delhi,f1,Fun,Metallica,Travels

Yes, It Actually Happened!

bic_logo Millions watched it, but we were there! That’s what a friend’s Facebook status said late Sunday evening. The first Formula 1 race in India had just ended. The air was still dusty, you could smell the burnt rubber, and we wanted more! Barely two months ago, the Buddh International Circuit was still a huge pile of dirt. There was uncertainty in the air about whether the first Indian GP was ever going to take place. I took my chances, booked my flight tickets early. And then, the tickets went on sale the next day! Two days later, more than 15,000 tickets were sold and the South Natural Stand was already sold out! It was going to happen, F1 in India! I left to Delhi on the 28th, by a very early morning flight. Delhi’s weather was surprisingly very much like what I love and am accustomed to in Bangalore. The only signs of being out of place was being in the center of what is an insanely huge terminal, Delhi’s IGI T3. Wow. After a few phone calls, I was headed to Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, where accommodation for us had been arranged. I was already in a cab when I was told Ghaziabad was 40kms from IGI. Ouch! Oh well, the cab ride gave me a chance to enjoy the sights of New Delhi, at a price of course.
india gate

India Gate

We headed out to Greater Noida, where the Buddh International Circuit is located, another 40kms from our hotel. The roads around New Delhi are amazingly well kept; not a single speed breaker or ditch through the whole ride. I had already started liking New Delhi, and it was just the beginning. The area around the circuit was hardly complete. I’m talking acres here, because it looked like the Jaypee group owns half of Greater Noida. It was Jaypee for as far as you could see. Amazing really. Then there was the circuit itself, damn. The first sight of it really gives you a sense of pride, making you not believe something like an F1 race was actually happening in India. tweetAnd then came out Alguersuari in FP2… oh my gawd. The sound of an F1 car was just unbelievably loud. And for fans like us, it was the epitome of the trip thus far. Unbelievable. A thousand miles traveled, and the just the sound of an F1 car had made us feel it was worth it all. Friday evening was spent in Delhi, visiting India Gate and the famous eatery Khan Chacha. My opinion about Khan Chacha – the owners are egoistic and the prices just don’t justify the taste. More on this later. Saturday involved being late to Qualifying because of traffic, visiting the F1 Village, returning to India Gate, and heading out to Karim’s. Karim’s too, was over hyped. It was 9pm and the Biryani and Raan were already over. WTF? Sunday. Race Day! And boy, was it worth the 2 hours in traffic. We made it just in time for the parade lap, and cheered as Vettel, Schumi, Massa, Alonso, and Karthikeyan went by on old classics; and uttered racist words as Hamilton passed by. We watched as Massa and Hamilton collided, Massa’s Ferrari grinding to a halt as it passed turns 10 and 11, Massa being scootered away (on a Honda Activa! :P ), and after the race, the damaged Ferrari being towed away just a few feet from us. Ahh, worth it all.
f1 collage

We were THERE!

And as an added bonus, we saw the God of Cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, stuck in traffic right besides us, happily acknowledging the crowd that had stopped their cars to take photos! Sunday night’s dinner was at Kake-Da-Hotel, and WOW! The half an hour wait was a small price to pay for what was the best Butter Chicken and Mutton Keema I have ever had. Khan Chacha and Karim’s can learn a thing or two from Kake-Da, the food was superb and light on the wallets. A must for anybody visiting Delhi.   Sides: This post was to be written more than a day ago, but I ended up sleeping for 20-hours straight after coming home!

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Android,Apple

Why I Want A Tablet

image I’ve been using an Android phone from the past 4 months now. I like it for the most part. My main activities mostly revolve around texting, calls, and using the Internet. The 3.6″ screen is pretty nice for surfing, BUT, it doesn’t do a good enough job of reading articles and ebooks. That’s where I feel a tablet would be handy. Sure, you’d argue that carrying a tablet and a phone would be quite troublesome. For most people that would be true. For me, nope. Six days a week I carry my backpack with me. I have an immense need for it. Adding an additional tablet to it would just about me perfect for me. I could catch up on a book or read the news while travelling, and I travel a lot. What made me realise that a tablet is much better than a phone at reading books and news was the iPad. Actually, the Pulse newsreader application. It’s magnificent. Having the iPad in your hand and reading the Huffington Post makes you feel like you have the hard copy of the Post in your hands, and THAT is simply orgasmic. I’ve been driven towards an iPad, but cost is obviously one thing that isn’t going to let me have it. I’ve come to terms with that. The iPad isn’t for me. But I’m not going to give up on reading the Huffington Post on a tablet idea. After all, Android tablets are just around the corner (forget the Tab. Samsung and I have a mutual allergy to each other). The supposed Motorola tablet should be a beauty. It probably won’t be very cheap, I get that. So even though a Tablet isn’t for me now, two years down the line, my prediction is that every book and news lover will have a Tablet in his hand, and the costs shall obviously be driven down, THAT’S when a Tablet will be mine. Why settle for a closed book reader (Nook anyone?) when you can have the openness of Android on your tablet. P.S. – This happens to be my first post from the WordPress app for Android. Mobile blogging at last.

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