Friday, January 26, 2007

Trip to India...

I have already written about my travel ordeal, so would be writing about the places I visited: Kanpur, Bangalore, Goa and Chennai.

KANPUR: For those of you who dont know me well enough, I spent the first 18 years of my life here (that does make me sound old). I have no particular affinity to place (yes i am heartless) and went only because my parents live there and to visit my old school(spent 14 years studying here).

This place never fails to shatter my notions about life. I arrived at Kanpur on 19th dec'06 only to find 12hour powercuts and a 2-3kbps connection called Reliance High-Speed Data Connection... which supposedly is some sort of improvement over dial-ups. One would think that I would be frustrated with no electricity and no internet... but I wasn't. Yes I didn't read Digg every 10 minutes, did not blog every week, did not check my mail every 5 seconds, did not watch videos online, or did not surf the 100+ channels we get on television... but it was really relaxing not to do all these things. After 1.5 years of running on the information highway, it was great to settle down for a month. This gave me ample of time to bond with people, talk at leisure with my family, make small talk with neighbors, give advice to wannabe engineers... without thinking about anything else in the back of my head. It was as if I had my garbage collection done.
To top it all, there was a reunion at my alma mater. It felt great to return to the place after 6 years and see some long forgotten faces.

I didn't do any touristy thing here. Living without a broadband internet in an old industrial city(350+ years old) was touristy enough for me.

GOA: What can I say... I spent the New Year here. It was crowded with people from all over the world. That, coupled with a warning from Al Quaeda added a few policemen to the already crowded place. The entries to the local clubs and pubs shot up by 600%, rendering them inaffordable to poor students like me. Rest assured, it was heaven... albeit a crowded one.

BANGALORE & CHENNAI: I did my engineering in Chickballapur, 50km from bangalore, so most of my friends are in Bangalore. Most of my friends from Kanpur have also relocated to this area, making it impossible for me to meet everyone of them. I ended up sending bulk mails on community websites, asking for phone numbers of people who want me to contact them. I called few of them and scheduled time slots to meet the rest of them. Unfortunately, I did not leave buffer time between the appointments so ended up saying "Hi" and "Bye" at the same time :( ... people need to be more punctual. I was in Bangalore for two days, in which I met my relatives, went to my undergraduate college to collect some papers, and met few of my friends. Trip to Chennai was relatively less stressful.. I just relaxed at my Aunt's place and spent my days there in front of her "wall mounted, 72 inch plasma display, home theater system".

All in all, my trip to India was what I wanted it to be... refreshing.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sridhar's log... stardate 200701.01: Travel Ordeal

I am back. Its been ages since I blogged, sorted my mail, read blogs, chatted online, uploaded pictures... i.e. did anything on computer. Since the whole trip cannot be covered in totality in a single post, I'll posting multiple entries about it. This one is about my traveling experience... It is not for people with weaker hearts :P.

Although I booked my tickets a month early, I didn't look at the itinerary. I delegate work whenever possible, so assumed automatically that my agent (U.V. Travels) will plan the best itinerary for me. What happened next was a disaster:
  • To India: I flew by Turkish Airlines. Without doubt, it is the most incompetent/inconvenient airlines I ever flew in and would ever fly. The in-flight entertainment systems belonged to the stone age. They had an old projector, which had three separate lights(RGB) that tried to create a pseudo color projection... it didn't go very far. The volume/channel controls were outdated and used some sort of mechanical dials.. none of them worked. Fast food was served on the plane... which was again a disaster because I am a vegetarian and my agent didn't seem to consider my food preferences while booking the tickets, but it was manageable. There was a layover in Turkey...for 14 hours!!! The hotel at the Airport has only 20 rooms, 5 reserved for the airlines... which are given to families and not single bachelors. I spent 14 hours sitting on a wooden chair/couch in a Starbucks cafe... It was more painful than it sounds. There was free wifi at the airport but no ports to plug in the power cord.

    The flight was till New Delhi, after which I had to take a connecting flight to Lucknow and then get a ride to Kanpur. At New Delhi airport, I realized that I had booked the flight for 19th jan rather than 19th December!! I took a train to Kanpur (paid another unscrupulous agent three times the fare)

  • To Goa: I was supposed to fly to Bangalore, and go for a road trip to Goa with 8 other friends. The flight to Goa got canceled, had to rebook it at twice the price... small price to pay to meet priceless friends I thought. Reached Bangalore at around 7pm and had to leave for Goa at 9:00 pm. At 9:00pm I was informed that 6 of them had dropped due to some reason. Instead of 9, three of us went for the trip to Goa in a Tata Indica. We took NH 4a.. which despite being a National Highway was the worst road (no there was no road) I have ever seen... The engine cover was damaged, the axle bent and the wheel alignment destroyed. Fortunately there was a garage near the end of the road... The road trip took us over 15 hours...

  • Back to US: Turkish Airways again... but a 19hr layover this time. Got accommodation in a lounge which made it more bearable. The flight from JFK to Syracuse got delayed by half an hour, then got delayed by another 3 hrs... and then finally got canceled. Took a bus to Syracuse and reached 6 hrs later than the estimated time.

Distance travelled:
By Air: 24000 km
By Road: 2000 km
By Rail: 2400 km

I can safely say that I traveled ALOT!!