Pune/Kochin/Munnar – Taxi not in service

So I’m sure everyone is wondering where is Dad’s taxi during his vacation in India? Well today I’m in Munnar,  recovering from a nasty case of food poisoning that I got a few days ago in Pune..

For the next few days, I’ll not be able to update these adventures..

By next week, I’ll be back home and provide details from Pune On.. Yes I know, it’s tough being me..

I’m in a 5 star Indian Resort (Mahendra Resorts) in Munnar, India  which about 6,150 above sea level and no WIFI and only 2 computers with access to the web.

Life is truly interesting..

Till we talk again..


Prarthana Joshi – Pune Diary- March 2010

Today, I met my talented niece in Pune.. She makes short films and has won awards in India for her work.  In the very near future, she will be showcasing her work on BharatBeat.

Prarthana has been making short films for 2 years now. She’s a rising star in the short film industry.. Watch out for Prarthana.

Not only is she a talented film maker, she is a talented photographer and poet as well.  Her blog will be found on the sidebar under our favorite blog sites.

Give Prarthana’s blog a look and you will see the future winner of the Acadamy award in the category of “Short Films”.

In the very near future, she will also be a contributor with her reviews of films (Both Marathi and Hindi).

We at BharatBeat welcome her to our family…

Puneri Attitude – Indian Premier League (IPL) fan rules

In India right now  the rage is the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Cricket. Indians are fanatical about their cricket and honestly,  I’m starting to get into it as well  I continue my vacation tour of the country..

The IPL is similar to Major League Baseball where players are “drafted” and teams are created for cities.  The owners of these teams are Bollywood stars that have bought these teams.  Each match is a quick match (only a few hours, as opposed to the days normal cricket matches take.

Suffice it to say the IPL is like Baseball on Steroids when it comes to sport in India.. I’m still trying to understand the game, but when it comes to  cricket, the madness rules in India. Every action related to the IPL is microscoped and analyzed. Any comment by an owner is scrutinized.. Hey wait.. it’s similar to the National Football League as well!

Pune is designated as a city for the IPL.. Full credit for everything beyond this goes to Deepak Iyer.   I read about his blog entry  in the local paper. The following rules for watching Puneri IPL cricket matches.. These rules for fan behavior are posted outside the stadium whee the matches are to be played.. I don’t know whether these rules are for real, but knowing the Puneri attitude, I suspect these rules are very real…

I found these rules to be very entertaining to say the least.  What amused me the most was that I think that the rules listed below are Not in jest, but rules that will be enforced..

As a courtesy to the blogger (Deepak Iyer), I have extracted in it’s entirety (including the Marathi font of devangi) for your viewing pleasure.. Keep up the great work Deepak!

Oh I forget that the proposed uniform is all in Marathi..


*ह्या पाट्या आहेत त्या’मैदानावरच्या’ …..

Signboards at the stadium

१. सामन्याची वेळ तुमच्या तिकिटावर छापलेली आहे, उगाच कधीही येऊन गर्दी करु नये.

The match timings are printed in bold letters on your ticket. Do not crowd this place by showing up whenever you please.

२. सामन्याच्या वेळेच्या आधी ३० मिनिटे मैदानात प्रवेश दिला जाईल, तुम्ही गडबड केल्याने सामना लवकर सुरु होणार नाही.

Entry begins 30 minutes before the match and not before that. Your haste will not ‘prepone’ the match.

३. खुर्चीचा वापर फक्त बसण्यासाठीच करावा… एका खुर्चीवर एकच !

Chairs are strictly meant for sitting ONLY. And only one person on each chair please.

४. मैदानात पिण्यासाठी (साध्या) पाण्याची व्यवस्था केली आहे, थंड तसेच फिल्टर्ड पाणी आपण दिलेल्या तिकिटाच्या पैशात मिळणार नाही, उगाचच आयोजकांकडे हट्ट धरु नये.

Only tap water will be provided inside. The price of chilled or filtered water is not included in your ticket. Do not bring such silly complaints to the organizers.

५. मैदानावरचे कॅमेरे हे सामन्याच्या हालचाली टिपण्यासाठी आहेत, उगाच हिडीस चाळे करुन त्यांचे लक्ष वेधण्याचा प्रयत्न करु नये.

The cameras in the stadium are only to record and telecast the match. Do not try to distract the cameraman with your silly gestures.

६. आपण पुण्यासारख्या एका सुसंस्कृत शहरात एका सार्वजनिक ठिकाणी सामना पहात आहोत ह्याचे भान ठेऊन चियरलिडर्सना खाणाखुणा करु नये किंवा त्यांच्याकडे डोळे फाडुन बघुन लाज आणु नये. अश्लील चाळे कराल तर नुसतीच पोलीस कारवाई नाही तर धिंड काढण्यात येईल.

Please remember that you are watching the match in a city that is the epitome of culture. Do not bring disgrace to Pune by making lewd gestures or ogling at the cheerleaders. Such acts will be met with not just police action, but also with public humiliation.

७. फुंके ( सिगारेट, बिड्या, चिलीम ), थुंके ( तंबाखु, गुटका, मावा, पान ) आणि शिंके ( तपकीर आणि स्वाईन फ्ल्युग्रस्त ) ह्यांना मैदानात मज्जाव.

Smokers (cigarettes, bidis), Spitters (tobacco, gutkha, paan) and Sneezers (snuff inhalers and swine flu carriers) prohibited.

८. मैदानात दारु विक्री केली जात नाही, मैदानात दारु पिऊ दिली जात नाही, मैदानात बाहेरुन दारु पिऊन आल्यास प्रवेश मिळणार नाही.

Sale of alcohol is forbidden, bringing alcohol is forbidden and entry when drunk is forbidden.

९. मैदानात विकत मिळणार्‍या खाद्यपदार्थांची आवरणे, पिशव्या तसेच पाणी किंवा शितपेयाच्या बाटल्या मैदानात फेकु नयेत, बाटलीवरुन खेळाडु घसरुन पडुन जखमी होऊ शकतो ह्याची किमान जाण ठेवावी.

Do not throw any kind of waste (paper, plastic, cans) into the playing field. Be aware that players can slip and injure themselves.

१०. सामन्याच्या वेळी खेळाडुंना पाठिंबा देताना हळु आवाजात आरडाओरड करावी. हा क्रिकेटचा सामना आहे, तमाशाचा फड नव्हे !

During a match, keep your voice low when cheering for your team. This is a cricket stadium, not a fish market or a tamasha.

११. अनोळखी वस्तुंना स्पर्श करु नये … व्यक्तींसह !

Do not touch unknown objects… or people!

१२. मैदानातील मोठ्ठे पंखे फक्त दुपारी आणि गर्दी असलेल्या ठिकाणीच लावण्यात येतील. पंख्याखाली बसण्यासाठी मोठ्ठ्या आवाजात भांडण करुन आयोजकांना त्रास देऊ नये.

The stadium fans will be turned on in the afternoon, and in crowded stands only. Do not argue loudly with the organizers just because you want to sit under the nearest fan.

१३. स्त्रियांचे स्वच्छतागॄह, खेळाडूंचे पॅव्हेलियन, चियरलिडर्स पोडियम, व्हीआयपी गॅलरी, पत्रकार कक्ष इत्यादी ठिकाणी उगाच जास्त घुटमळु नये.

Do not loiter needlessly near the ladies restrooms, players’ pavilion, cheerleaders’ podium, VIP gallery, press box, etc.

14. सामन्यातील कसल्याही घटनेचा ( सामना हरणे, षटकार मारणे, धावबाद होणे, झेल टाकुन देणे वगैरे ) राग खुर्च्यांवर काढु नये.

Do not vent your anger at any incident (losing the match, run-out, sixer, dropped catch, etc.) on the stadium chairs.

15. सामना पहायला आलेल्या प्रेक्षकांचे खेडाळु, चियरलिडर्स, व्हीआयपी यांच्याबरोबर अथवा खेळपट्टी, पत्रकारकक्ष, समालोचन खोली, पॅव्हेलियन, व्हीआयपे बॉक्स इथे ‘फोटु काढुन मिळणार नाहीत’ किंवा त्याला परवानगी दिली जाणार नाही.

The audience is forbidden from snapping photos with players, cheerleaders, VIPs or at the pitch, press box, pavilion, VIP box, etc. Permission for the same will not be granted.

16. सामन्याच्या वेळेदरम्यान तुटलेल्या चपला, कापलेले खिसे, मोडलेला चष्मा, हरवलेली पर्स, गायब झालेला मोबाईल ह्यांची जबाबदारी आयोजकांकडे राहणार नाही. समोरच पोलीस स्टेशन आहे, तिकडे जाऊन तक्रार करावी.

Management cannot be held responsible for your stolen purses, lost mobiles or broken spectacles. There is a police station nearby. Take your complaints there.

17. हे पुणं आहे, शिमला नव्हे, उन्हाळ्यात गरम होणारच, पण म्हणुन मैदानात सामना पहायला शर्ट काढुन बसु नव्हे. अशा निर्लज्ज प्रेक्षकांना बाहेर काढले जाईल.

This is Pune, not Shimla. It is obvious that summers will be very hot. This does not mean you can take off your shirt. Such indecent spectators will be thrown out of the stadium.

18. पाऊस पडल्यास पैसे परत मिळणार नाहीत, कॄपया हवामानखात्याशी सल्लामसलत करुन मगच तिकिट काढावे.

The ticket price will not be refunded in case of rain. Please check with the meteorological department before you buy your tickets.

19. परदेशी खेळाडुंच्या अंगचटीला जाऊ नये तसेच त्यांना स्थानिक भाषेत गलिच्छ आणि अश्लील शिव्या देऊन वेडावुन दाखवु नयेत. ते आपले अतिथी आहेत, आपण घरात पाहुण्यांशी असे वागतो का ?

Do not needlessly rush to make bodily contact with the foreign players, or pass lewd remarks at them in the local language. They are our guests. Do we behave like this with guests in our own home?

20. राजकीय नेते, सरकारी अधिकारी, स्थानिक दादा ह्यांचा वशिला लाऊन फुकट पास मागु नये. परवडत नसल्यास झाडावर चढुन सामना पहावा.

Do not ask for ‘free passes’ just because you know a politician, government official or a local goon. If you can’t afford tickets, climb on nearby trees and enjoy the match.

21. खेळाडूंना गाढव, माकड असल्या कुठल्याही प्राण्यांच्या उपमा देऊन चिडवू नये. असे करताना आपणच त्या प्राण्यासारखे दिसतो.

Do not insult players by addressing them as a donkey, monkey or any other animal. You will look like one if you do.

22. स्वच्छतागृह स्वच्छ ठेवावे. स्वच्छतागृहातून घाण येते याची तक्रार खपवून घेतली जाणार नाही.

Keep the restrooms clean. Do not complain about foul odour from restrooms.

23. समोर नाचत असलेल्या चीयर लीडर्स जरी “मस्तानी” असल्या तरी आपण “बाजीराव” नाही. म्हणून कृपया सामना खाली बसून बघावा.

The cheerleaders are as attractive as Mastani, but you are not Bajirao. Therefore, please be seated during the match.

24. वरील सुचना ह्या चेष्टेचा विषय नव्हे ह्याची नोंद घ्यावी, ह्याची चेष्टा करणार्‍या प्रेक्षकांना संपुर्ण सामना संपोस्तोवर अंधार्‍या खोलीत बळजबरीने बसवुन ठेवले जाईल.

Please note that the above rules are not to be taken lightly. If you are caught poking fun at them, you will be kept in solitary confinement in a dark cell till the end of the tournament.


***ह्या पाट्या आहेत त्या’आयपीएल-पुणे संघाच्या कार्यालयातल्या” ….

Signboards outside the IPL Pune team office :

१. फक्त दिवसाचे सामने खेळले जातील, त्यातही दुपारी १-३ असा विश्रांतीचा वेळ राखुन ठेवावा लागेल.

All matches will be played only during the day. Also, keep in mind that 1 p.m.-3 p.m. is our afternoon nap time and this will not be compromised at any cost.

२. रात्रीच्या सामन्याचा चार्ज वेगळा पडेल, कुठल्याही परिस्थीत रात्री ८ वाजता सामना संपवण्याची जबाबदारी आयोजकांची राहिल, सवड मिळाल्यास उरलेला सामना दुसर्‍या दिवशी खेळता येईल.

Matches played during the night will be charged extra. It will be the organizers’ responsibility to end the match by 8 p.m. The rest of the match may be played out the next day, at the sole discretion of the team management.

३. सोमवारी सुट्टी घेतली जाईल.

Monday will be a holiday.

4. सर्व लोकांना जाहीर निवेदन देण्यात येते की “आयपीएल-पुणे संघ ( पुण्याचा अभिमान, महाराष्ट्राची शान ) ” ही आमचा पुर्णपणे स्वतंत्र संघ असुन “मुंबई इंडियन्स, महाराष्ट्र” ह्या संघाशी आमचा कसलाही संबंध नाही. त्या संघाशी केलेल्या व्यवहाराची जबाबदारी केवळ तो मराठी आहे ह्या कारणाने घेतली जाणार नाही. तसेच त्या संघाच्याविषयी आमच्याकडे कसलीच चौकशी करु नये.

We hereby declare that ‘IPL Pune team’ has no affiliation to ‘Mumbai Indians’. Any transactions done with Mumbai Indians will not be honoured by us just because they are Marathi too. Likewise, do not inquire about Mumbai Indians here.

5. हा क्रिकेटचा संघ आहे. उगाच गाण्याच्या स्पर्धा, नाचकामाचे कार्यक्रम, पाणपोईचे उद्घाटन, नव्या दुकानाची चित्रफीत कापणे ह्या आणि अशाच इतर कामांसाठी खेळाडुंची चौकशी अथवा मागणी करु नये.

Please note that this is a cricket team. Do not needlessly make inquiries or demands for our players to make appearances at singing competitions, water-fountain inaugurations, ribbon-cutting ceremonies or other similar activities.

6. क्रिकेट हा एक खेळ आहे ह्याचे भान ठेवावे, आम्ही मॅचफिक्सींग करत नसल्याने जिंकण्याची कसलीच गॅरेंटी देता येणार नाही.

Please note that cricket is a sport. Since we do not fix matches, there is no guarantee that we will win.

7. देणग्या मागणारे, गौरवनिधी सामने आयोजीत करणारे, सर्व्हे करणारे, फुकटात जाहीरातीसाठी कार्यक्रमाला हजरी लावण्याची विनंती करण्याची शिष्ठमंडळे आदी तत्सम व्यक्ती किंवा संस्था ह्यांना सक्त प्रवेश बंदी आहे, ह्यात कोणत्याही कारणास्तव बदल होणार नाही.

Donation seekers, benefit-match organizers, survey-takers or representatives of any organization seeking ‘free passes’ for publicity and similar persons or entities are strictly prohibited. No concessions shall be made on this policy for any reason.

8. आमचे प्रतिस्पर्धी संघ कमी किमतीत खेळत असल्याच्या बढाया आमच्यासमोर मानु नये. आमचे इथे क्वालिटीला प्राधान्य असल्याने कमी किमतीत सामना खेळवण्याचा विचार केला जाणार नाही.

We are aware that competing IPL teams play for a lower price — you do not have to inform us. Such teams know what their performance is worth. Quality is of utmost importance to us, so we will not consider lowering our price.

9. आपण आमच्या खेळाबद्दल समाधानी असताल तर इतरांना सांगा, नसाल तर योग्य आणि सभ्य शब्दात आम्हाला सांगा, योग्य दखल घेतली जाईल.

If you are satisfied with the team’s performance, kindly let us know. If not, write to us in civil language. We shall look into it.

10. आमचेकडे शाळकरी संघांना ट्रेनिंग दिले जात नाही

We do not train school teams.

11. आमच्याशी ठरलेल्या करारानुसार सामना झाल्यावर आमच्याकडुन सदिच्छा म्हणुन खेळाडुंचे टी-शर्ट्स, ट्रॅक सुट्स, टोप्या, बॅटी, चेंडु अथवा तत्सम कुठलेही किमती सामान भेट मिळणार नाही. उगाच हावरटपणा करु नये.

Under the terms and conditions agreed upon, you will not receive any t-shirts, track pants, caps, bats, balls, etc. as memorabilia after the tournament. Do not display your obscene greed here. Tantrums won’t work.

Pune – Travel Diary March 24th, 2010

So we came here yesterday after cutting our Goa trip short by a few days.. Heat being the key contributing factor to cutting our trip short..

Personal note: After my return, you will hear more of our horrible  experience in using Make My Trip services.  Double charging,  Horrible/pathetic customer service,  overall not a pleasant experience.. Fortunately, my wife has been dealing with them (god bless her fortitude and patience in dealing with the incompetence she dealt with in changing our plans!)

After almost missing our flight from Goa even though getting to the airport 2 hours earlier, we got on the puddle jumper to Pune.. We we were the last ones to board as there were no announcements of boarding. We would have missed the flight, if not for the King Fisher personnel that went through the terminal looking for stragglers!

After almost missing our flight from Goa even though getting to the airport 2 hours earlier, we got on the puddle jumper from Goa to Pune.. King Fisher Airlines…Great Local service in India!. which airline in the US will give you a decent snack for a flight less than 1 hour? Kudos to the King Fisher team.  See I am capable of saying nice he things for good service!

We arrived in Pune and oh boy has Pune Grown! The airport (in Lohgaon) is in the outskirts of town.. Near the city prison and near the air force station!

Best part of the day was going for my favorite ice cream/shake treat. It’s called mastani.This absolutely delicious concoction of milkshake and Ice cream (various flavors), will leave you in a diabetic coma (guaranteed).

Where I live in Pune – Sadhashiv Peth – Sujata

Sujata Mastani
On Sadashiv Peth, this landmark parlor for Mastani ice creams still rules the roost when it comes to luscious, syrupy liquids and dollops of high-calorie ice cream that go into the making of an immaculate Mastani, fortified with a lot of other flourishing superfluities.

The flavor that is the most popular remains the most sold- Mango. As an  frequenter of Sujata from childhood to have the delectable Mango Mastani, says, “This is the highlight of my visits to Pune. The tangy mango taste steeped in the dense fluid has no match”.

My wife and kids loved the  stuff just as much as I did.

Anyway.. time for breakfast

Goa Travels – March 2010 Highlights

So Dad’s taxi escaped the heat of Goa yesterday… We cut short our trip in Goa, as it became quite apparent that the heat would get the best of us (Me specifically).  We spent our last full day in Goa at the beach (I think it was Tito’s Beach).. Near Arpora.

Highlights of Goa:

  • Heat is unbearable, unless you like to deep fry on the beaches and while you tour
  • Goan Food/Seafood (fish, prawns, calamari, crab) is to die for.. You will not find such delicious food/seafood anywhere else in the world. Goan spices make the seafood just a treat!
  • When you order food, make sure u know what you are odering.. Pancakes can turn into crepes very easily.
  • When you order any “masala” dish, make sure you order Mild, unless you want to pay for it later.. we won’t go here.
  • Shopping Nirvana.. There is no such thing as a fix price. Everything is negotiated down from the asking price.
  • Go to the local market and learn the skill of haggling for a few rupees.. My best method: “Shake your head, and walk away”.
  • Look for Bargains and carry a calculator, you will easily pay more if you don’t know what is the value in your local currency!
  • Roads are narrow, and taxis are expensive! With the generous conversion rate from $ to Rupee, you still come out ahead.
  • Do not go to Goa in Summer.
  • The Goanese people are very friendly and helpful. Friendliest people you could ever meet. They are soo happy…
  • You must rent a scooter if you are staying at a resort. I didn’t do it as I was with my family and none of them wanted to ride with me.. hmm.. probably with my history of accidents on 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles gave them just cause. 🙂
  • Be prepared to spend lots and lots of money..
  • If you are looking to buy a summer house, Goa is the place for you.. with construction going on.. you can pick and choose where you want to buy.. Be prepared to pay thru the nose….
  • European and Foreign Tourism is putting a lot of money into Goa.. Many foreigners now call Goa their 12 month home.

Overall, my trip to Goa was great. Incredible scenery.. Beaches, Food, Shopping, and great fun to be had.  My next trip will be during a cooler time, so I can visit some more churches and temples…

I will always consider to be one of my favorite places.. My special attachment to Mangeshi is the clincher for my reason as to  why I will come again and again to Goa!

My next posting will be about Pune.. Another one of my favorite cities..

Goa – week of March 18, 2010

So Dad’s Taxi has been in Alpora Goa for a few days now and only a few words words can describe my stay here thus far… Sticky, Hot, Humid, and just overall very difficult. Even if I took a shower 2 to 3 times a day, I’d still be bathed in sweat as soon as I stepped outside my air condititioned Suite

The Royal Goan Resort is ok.. Nothing outstanding… The most memorable thing is paying for all the utilities during my stay and the huge walk up hill that takes your breath away whenever you have to go back to our room… Don’t look forward to that now either while carrying my laptop! 😦

Goa is truly a tourist trap.. I have not been here for 20 years and no way I could recognize the Goa that I knew to what it is today. Today’s Goa is fast roads and cars and new construction everywhere for vacation properties that are being snatched up by everyone. If you got the cash and can stand the sloooow pace, this is the place for you.

The natives are really nice, even as they over charge you for the taxi rides. Rides that should cost 5 to 10 rupees cost 50 to 100 Rupees. God bless the all mighty dollar for the conversion rate.

Today we went to Mangeshi. This is the town where my Mom was born and raised and during my childhood, I always considered to be my second home. The Mangeshi Temple today is a  mecca for the tourists and visitors to Goa. To me it is still home.. Today when I visited the temple and the place where I spent many a summer vacation, I felt the pangs of recognition and the emotions raced through my mind as thoughts and images of my late mother  flashed through my memories.. I had to hold back many a tear as the pangs of these memories at times were overwhelming for me.

Seeing my Uncle and his family also was a joy.. So much has changed in 20 years.. I promised to myself that I would not wait another 20 years before I visit Mangeshi again.. Next time I will stay at my uncle’s house as this is truly where I belong..

In Old Goa we saw the Basilica of Bom Jesus (A world Heritiage Site). I felt at peace when I saw this shrine  for St. Xavier. I could have spent the whole day in this church and listened to the tour guides for this site. If in Goa, you must visit this site!

As I sit under this roaring fan, I’m still sweating profusely and I realize that I could go on and on about the beauty of Goa.. To see Goa is to really appreciate it. We are staying in a European tourist ridden area named Aspora by the Portugese, and this is a beach town!

The variety of Sea food in this area is just beyond belief!

Where we are staying is great, but the biggest annoyance is carrying my laptop down to the registration area for Wi-Fi Access. Don’t know why this is the case that Wi-Fi is only in this small area, but there must be a business reason behind it.. I just don’t think it’s convenient to the guests. I took down 2 stars for this nuisance.. My teenage daughter does not seem to mind as she’s been uploading our trip pictures to her Facebook account and keeping in touch with her friends in the US.

As I take prepare for the trek up the hill to my room, let me leave with this thought.. Goa is a beauty of a place to visit. You should absolutely put it on your list of cities in India that you must see!

Oki! Now back to my kike up the huge slope to our room..

Dad’s Taxi – Sweating it out in Goa!

Diary – Mumbai – 3/19/2010

We came to Mumbai on the 15th of March and we quickly realized what Indian Summer truly is.. The heat is on! We’ve been here a few days now and I gotta tell you, the blistering daytime heat just drains you of all your energy. You are constantly bathed in sweat (not a pretty picture) and feeling exhaustion. Fortunately for us, my cousin in Mumbai has an amazing house with Air conditioning and the works.. Thank god for my dear Ravi!

When we are at Ravi’s house, we are truly home.. all the conveniences of home, plus all the love and affection that anyone could want. At times, we just don’t even want to leave the house in Mahim. His building is centrally located in Mumbai with easy access to both downtown and uptown parts of Mumbai..

We had planned to do some sightseeing, but due to the heat, we have just spent the last few days Shopping!

My younger daughter is really suffering from the heat. She just refuses to go outside, unless she gets bribed.. oh well nothing new here.

From the last time I visited Mumbai ( 2 years ago), you can see the infrastructure changes that have taken place. Similar to Delhi, there are many more flyovers (bridges) in place to alleviate the traffic congestion. These flyovers do this purpose, but the traffic getting to these flyover’s is just unbearable. Especially if you are sitting in an non air conditioned Fiat taxi..

FYI: The rule of driving in Mumbai: There are none! Do not look sideways or backwards, only look forwards.. I have to commend the drivers of Mumbai, they certainly would feel at home driving in Manhattan.  Blaring horns and heavy traffic at every turn. Even with the price of gas hovering at about $5 a gallon, it has not discouraged the mubaiites from buying cars.. Cars are smaller of course, but they are quite comfortabe.

Due the enormous influx of money..many families are living the good life, with cars, drivers to drive their car, and over 200 channels of satellite TV!

As a passenger in a car the front, try not to look anywhere but straight forward as this alleviates the anxiety that you will feel when you are in the car. Fortunately, the speed of the cars is only about 25 to 30 mph on the roads. The number of cars, taxis, buses, trucks, pedestrians all sharing the road in unbelievable. Rush hour is 24 hours. You may get better results if you try to travel in Mumbai during early morning hours or after 9:00 PM, otherwise, good luck.

Mumbai is a tale of two cities. The “Haves” and the “Have Not’s.”

In order to survive in this city you have to have Money and lots of it. If you don’t have the lots of the Rupee you will be in serious jeopardy of survival.  Fortunately for me, I’m here spending in converted $ and let me tell you something, the value that you get for the $ here  is excellent due to the 1 to 45 conversion ratio.

If I were to earn in Rupee, it would be difficult for me to spend 2 to 3 Thousand (yes I said thousand)  the way I am right now. Of course this amount only includes the taxi’s, food and miscellenous expenses that you incur on a day to day basis.

If you are coming to India, I recommend you pad your bank account and bring an ATM card… You will hit the bank over and over again. Remember that you will get the highest rate when you do your conversions at the ATM machine and face fees from both the local and your bank. Be careful and don’t take small amounts out.. take larger amounts out?

For the past few days we have been seeing a few of my cousins in Mumbai and doing quite a bit of clothes shopping for the girls. Best thing about shopping in India is that when they know you are spending money, you will be offered soft drinks as soon as you sit down. You are treated like royalty at the mega malls. Of course we are flagged as “foreigners” as we are wearing shorts and have our famous “American Accent”.

The city on the whole is huge bustling metropolis with business and residential towers being built everywhere. The roads are under construction which contributes to the traffic jams!

The construction of tall towers, residential (unaffordable) towers, is just unbelievable. The common man (middle class) will be priced out of most of the housing that’s being built.. In one of my prior blogs, I talked about the slums… Well from what I’m seeing, these slums are being torn down one by one and being replaced with high rise buildings… The rules have gotten stricter so the lower class slum dwellers are now getting new housing and are being forced to utilize them for a period of 5 years. In the past I heard that these slum dwellers, took the money and just relocated. Now these slum dwellers are actually living in the government towers being built. This is great progress.

Don’t misunderstand me, the poverty is still here.. It just seems to be more controlled. I look around and I see a lot less beggers. Perhaps I’m not looking close enough? When I was in the upscale part of Mumbai (by the Taj and the Gateway of  India), the beggers were out in full force.

Everyone here tells me that the difference between lower to middle to upper class has gotten wider.. I do tend to agree, but opportunities abound everywhere. If you want a job, a job is there in the multiple mega malls that continue to spring up all across Mumbai. I went to one yesterday in Mumbai. The Phoenix is a mega mall with food court, Staples, Supermarket, restaurants, Best Buy Type electronic store, Movie Theaters. As you will quickly see, the trend to having a super mall is all over Mumbai. The security and the choice of one-stop-shop is exemplified in these Malls. Every suburb in Mumbai has at least one mall! Oh goodie, more places for me to spend.

These super malls are not driving the local markets out of business. The malls provide an upscale shopping environment. The local markets are a sight to see as well. Fruit stalls, vegetable vendors, small stores.. it is a crazy sight that you have to see to believe!

High Street Phoenix is spread across three zones — Skyzone, Courtyard and Main Street Boulevard. While the leading national and international retail outlets feature in Sky zone, Courtyard represents various eating joints, The Bowling Co and Big Bazaar outlet. MainStreet Boulevard houses formal and casual clothes, premium accessories and jewellery brands.

These types of malls are seen all over Mumbai and they are truly a joy to shop in with every possible product you may want to purchase. Some of the prices do compare to the US, yet others (electronics) are easily double.

Tip: Make sure you bring along a calculator to convert from Rupees to Dolllars. You could easily destroy any resembence of a budget by not doing the proper conversions.

Today we just came back from the Colaba Causeway. We did quite a bit of shopping from the street vendors and the exclusive boutiques.. Negotiating with the street vendors is an art..

Tip: Walking away is the best way to get a best price.. Never ever pay the asking price. The boutiques are all fixed price..

Tomorrow we are off to Goa! It is one of the vacation paradises in India.. Beaches and sun! To me Goa is my ancestral home. I have quite a bit of family in this seaside city which is South of  Mumbai.. More heat, yeah!

Leaving Mumbai with this thought: Within the next few years, Mumbai will become wealthier than any city in the US. Technology, wealth, infrastructure and the business’s that call Mumbai home will grow exponentially. I am really overwhelmed by what I see here and hope to come back and spend more time in the city where I was born the next time I visit.

PS: I forgot.. the food.. the food is to die for. You can get any type of food within any locale. Where we stay in Mahim, you only have to about 500 yards  and you have a choice of  vegetarian, non-veg, chinese, goanese and South Indian cuisine.. Oh yeah.. I forgot the pizza joint!  The quality of food is amazing! I can easily gain 10 to 15 pounds if I stay here for more than a few days..

There is so much more I can write about this city.. I am just totally overwhelmed by my visit this time.. I’m not only proud to call myself an ex-pat from this great city, but an admirer of the abilities of the residents of this great metropolis.. You know how they say about NY: “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere..”, Mumbai can easily step into NY’s shoes and say the same thing..

If someone can make it with success in this city, they can succeed any where!

Ok folks.. will write some more when I get to Goa!

TravelLog – 3/15/10-New Delhi

So we’ve been here for a few days now and tonite we leave for Mumbai. This is my new favorite city to visit.. I’m totally impressed with New Delhi and this is city  which you can sped days and days seeing it from it from end to end. As a capital city, you can see that the cleanup of the city in preparation for the commonwealth games is almost done. Construction is everywhere.

Road construction is everywhere. New “flyover” are being built.. and this is truly a “Rich” city. Rich not just with culture and politics, but with the wealth that is apparent everywhere you look.

Yesterday, we visited a family friend and he we were talking about New Delhi and he presented an interesting perspective.. He indicated that New Delhi is being cleaned up to “hide” the true poverty that exists.  The beggers have been thrown either in jail or pushed out of the city,  so they are not visible to the visitors of the capital.. I was surprised to see this but perhaps that’s why I saw so few beggers during my few days here.

Outside New Delhi city limits, you will see the poverty and how the lower class lives.. they work hard to make ends meet.

It seems in this city the middle class is the wealthiest.  From what I have heard the gap between the lower-middle-upper classes is growing wider.. I know this is true for Mumbai but I can’t say I agree/disagree with this as I really am a newbie to the city.

Yesteday was so much fun.. We cancelled Agra as the kids had no interest.. they are more interested in hanging out with their cousins. They are having an absolute blast..

Our relatives took the kids and me on long drive yesterday to this place called “Karnal Haveli” about 125 miles outside Delhi.  This place was so much fun for the kids (Magic Shows, go carts, bhangra dancing, great food!). M

Tonite we leave for Mumbai.. We had a blast in New Delhi.. now onwards to Mumbai! I’ll upload my pics on my Facebook account..

Right now, I’m just soaking up New Delhi.. I truly misjudged this city. Even though the traffic is unbearable.. the City is truly a treat for the eye and everything in between.

Day 1-2 – New Delhi

Hi all. Arrived in India on the 12th evening in one piece.. Came through from JFK (NY) –> Paris —> New Delhi via Air France.. Service is good on this airline, but the flight personnel absolutely have the French Attitude.

After arrival, plan stayed on tarmac for over an hour, as there was no gates open. Apparently, this is a common problem at Indira Gandhi International Airport. Too many arriving flights chasing not enough gates.  I guess that ‘s the price you pay for being a popular tourist destination.

My Mantra for the next few days is “This is India”. You’ll soon see why this is so later…

At the airport, went through custom/immigration with now problems. normal delays  the manual stamping of the passport and verification process in immigration took me over 1 hour as a foreign national. Of course the Indian national line was tiny and over manned.

Fortunately, I had slept for 3 or 4 hours on my journey so, I was somewhat  alert as I went to grab my bags and get a Taxi to go to my hotel..

First instance of  “This is India”:

  • Went to get a prepaid taxi and the taxi cost about Rs 350. Gave a 500 Rs note and the clerk said  “No change”.  One of the things you see quickly in India is that No One wants to part with change. It’s like someone is hoarding all the change (small bills and change).  So,  I told the guy that listen.. just give me my change.. He gives me a uninterested look and throws the my change in my direction. Again all together now: “This is India”.

My taxi driver doesn’t know how to get to my hotel.. He actually has to call someone to get directions. I guess this is universal.. where the taxi driver doesn’t know directions to a local hotel.. I get to the hotel and I’m pleasantly surprised to see the Jusako Inn, New Delhi is really a nice hotel. Maybe that’s because we are paying $200/nite for a suite to accomodate all of us.. 🙂

Day 1:

Slept a couple of  hours as my body is telling me its mid-afternoon and my eyes are telling me it’s past midnight and need to get some sleep. Next day, I woke up and was starving.. looking for dinner (NY time).

Went out today for some Tourism and we had a blast.. had a few more instances of “this is India”. I gotta tell you I was so wrong about New Delhi.. Even with all the traffic, smog, pollution, crowds, the capital is a must stop on any visit to India..

We rented a car today and went to see the Lotus TempleAkshardhan site, and India Gate.. Doing these three sites in one day is easily doing at least of 5 miles of walking. Too much too soon when you are suffering from delayed Jet Lag..

I tell you something.. the architecture and the Akhsardhan site is something you will remember for a long long time.. I takes a lot to impress me, but I was in absolute awe of this religious site of Swaminarayan.  You must stay at night time to see the musical fountains and the boat ride is a must..

I loved India Gate! Even if they turn off the lights at 10PM, the scene is so much fun with the tourists and natives really enjoying themselves. Street vendors hawking their wares and of course food.

If  you want some really good food in the capital.. you must stop at Haldiram’s in Rajpath Nagar (on Ring Road).  Amazing food… be prepared to wait….

Miscellenous Rants and Raves:

  • One thing that I learned (again) today, there is no such thing a personal space.. If you are on line (queue) for tickets.. the person behind will be all over you to get ahead of you.. “This is India”…. .
  • How many family members do you need to stay on line to get tickets.. Answer is all of them..
  • Rupee is just paper… The value of the rupee is very less than the paper it’s printed on.. God forbid you tear any part of the currency.. Good luck trying to pawn it off on someone else..
  • Damn 1, 2, 5, 10 rupee coins.. When you get back change.. guaranteed that your pockets will start flowing over with these damn coins..

Thus far nobody has fallen ill. I know with the way I have eaten over the past 24 hours.. I have a destiny with the doctors.. need to slow down…

Spent good money today on pampering myself (massage, facial, hair cut, the works).. You gotta love it..

today (Sunday)… Shopping… ugh!

Agra is cancelled.. Kids are more interested in spending time with their cousins.. I guess missing the Taj is ok… they have their whole lifetime…

TTYL for now friends.. as I head out into the heat of New Delhi for some shopping!

Blogging from India

Dad’s Taxi is taking a road trip to India for the next few weeks. All my posts will be from there. I’ll be giving my unique perspective on my travels as I make my way through the land where I was hatched.

This blog entries will be interesting in that I will be reporting the trip from the eyes of my 10 yr old child.. I will ask her to give me some feedback on what she observes on her trip. NM has been to India only once and I know her fresh eyes will truly observe and report back on the trip from a wide eyed innocence of youth.  One of her assignments from school is to keep a daily diary of her trip.. hopefully she’ll share this with us!

First stop will be the nation’s capital New Delhi. The field hockey world championship is currently going on, I’m going to try to get tickets to see at least one game, but I won’t hold up high hopes of that happening.

My better half is already there and she already has experienced first hand the smog and dirt which has caused her to head to the doctors with a throat infection.

We get a daily blow by blow activity of her  (mis) adventures as we speak to her every night. Thank god for Vonage.

Kids are so excited for their trip. I’m just queasy and kind of leery of the whole trip. Went there few years  ago and was both impressed/unimpressed with progress in India. No doubt technology is everywhere, but the infrastructure to support the technology still has gaps.  Inflation and corruption is rampant.. Yes the outsourcing has made the country wealthier, yet the gap between classes has gotten wider. I could go on and on.. but I won’t as this article will turn more negative than shine on the accomplishments of the “World’s largest democracy”.

Where else can you go to where the beggers can afford cell phones,  yet still live in cities within cities.

To get a true picture of life in India for the lower class a must see movie is  Slumdog Millionaire. It depicts the life of the lower class (hut dwellers) of Mumbai in it’s harshest of realities. Many Mumbaites will disagree with what is depicted in this movie, but what you see is reality.

If you want to get an really good view of the diversity and the Indian diaspora, you should visit our sister site BharatBeat, where we share insights on Bollywood and various links related to the India.

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