Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A road trip to cherish-3

Was supposed to finish this narration last week but something literally stopped my breath! What else but demonetisation? The initial reaction was shock and then the feeling that finally something is being done about it. Then came the nagging doubts, knowing well how the Indian administration works. How in the world are they going to manage this exercise! As for it's long term effect, not even Harward experts seem to have any clue, so why break my head? And knowing our politicians, if this only to fool the voters, then it is going to burn them for a very long, long time. So let me leave it and get on with my trip.

We decided to leave Panaji early in the morning so as to reach Kerala in time. The roads were free at that time except for the cows! Think Goans are letting their cows use the roads during the night. A dangerous action for the cows as well as the vehicles. We decided to go slow until daylight broke completely. It brought back memories of Kumily- Kottayam road of yesteryears, when cattle for slaughter were made to walk all the way from Kambam, Theni etc, to Kerala. They could be seen in all sizes along the roads.

What are you doing on my road? :)
Did click a group of them but cannot find it now.

Thus we reached the Goa-Karnataka border and we still had the Feni and Wines to be taken care of.

 We had packed them into our bags and the police guy wanted to see our bags. For sure they found it and Hubby was asked to see the Inspector or whoever was heading the police station. He went along and was asked to pay IRS 2,000! The whole stuff did not cost that much but since we had no clue of the rules or regulations and since we did not want to waste time, had to settle for 1000. Yes.. it was a bribe. Meanwhile, Son was asked to show the papers by another guy who demanded IRS 100. Upon telling him that all the papers were fine he said this is the custom. After all that trouble, not many takers were there for the Feni. I think Kerala toddy is much better.

The drive through Karnataka was smooth except for a few stretch where the roads are being widened. It is only upon driving through Karnataka that made me realize that it is blessed with so many rivers. The beaches along the road beckoned us to stop but we had to reach Udipi in time to visit a friend.

We halted at Udipi and was treated to lunch by our friend. They almost made us break the journey by enticing us with so many places that Udipi has. The Krishna temple that I once mentioned on this blog is one of them and so is Manipal where so many from Kerala come to study. We promised to visit another day and continued our journey. We thought of halting at Kozhikode but realized it will be to late to find a good hotel. The drivers were fine with driving non stop (it would be almost 25 hours of driving) and since they were taking turns to sleep, it looked okay.

The GPS did take us through a vey bad stretch of road in Kasargod which delayed our journey even more. It was near Kasargod town, when we stopped for refreshments that a strange incident happened. There was this ice cream parlor which also had a board saying Tea/Coffee available. We stumbled out of the car, much tired and in want of something to drink and maybe eat too. Upon asking the father and son duo (they looked so) who were running the shop if they served coffee, they said there was no coffee but can serve tea. We waited for quite some time and found no tea coming. Later, the fellow came and said that there was no gas to boil the tea. Just when we were about to enter the car, we saw the fellow happily boiling something on the fire! Why did they refuse to serve us? I still do not have an answer to this question and at the next stop, both me and daughter stayed in the car while coffee was brought to us. Did not want to test anymore and go without refreshments but this was the first time we encountered such a behaviour in Kerala. Hence it was with much dread that we halted at Kannur for dinner. It was getting late too. But to our utter surprise and delight, we found the hotel(Bamboo Fresh) crowded even at 10:30 pm. A very jolly crowd too. Maybe it was the Onam spirit and celebration.
The rest of the journey was mostly nodding off and waking in between to see if the drivers were fine.  Reached home the next morning and used the day to rest. Thus ended our road trip and maybe next time we shall plan a longer one.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A road trip to Cherish - 2

Bombay/Mumbai, for a newcomer is always a horror until you get used to it's liveliness and convenience. Aggressive drivers are more in Bombay than anywhere else in India am sure. The skill of our taxi driver to negotiate the meanest traffic was so fascinating to watch that I kept wondering how people managed their cars out here. Don't they get scratched and dented all the time?

Our trip to Bombay was during the two main festivals: Ganesh Chaturthi and Eid A Adha. In fact our trip around Bombay was on the Eid holiday and hence Mumbai was supposed to be less chaotic! We were able to watch the big crowd at Haji Ali Dargah and also the various pandals erected for Ganesh Chaturthi.

The mandatory visit to the Malabar Hills to see how the rich in Bombay lived was done too. Unfortunately one finds not much difference anywhere in Bombay since everything is kept shabbily, at least outside. And as long one will never get to see the inside, it is what one gets. Think about Beverley Hills in California and what would you expect to see? Hopefully how the rich should be living? :) Or maybe it is the great Indian paradox where equality can be found in strange ways. Even Ambani couldn't resist building his Antilla smack in the middle of the whole mess. Am sure he faces the same mess that the rest faces unless he is using a copter for every trip that he takes outside. No wonder India’s richest man still thinks he is “middle-class” at heart. Anyway, Mumbai can do better being the commercial capital of our nation. And if the rich is able to manage the inefficient government machinery to make money for themselves, they can also do the same to improve their city too. (High hopes indeed!)

So we left Mumbai early morning for the drive to Goa. Was stopped by a traffic cop just before we exited Maharashtra and wondered if we would have to dole out anything, even if all the papers were up to date. The licence, insurance and pollution certificate were checked thoroughly and we were allowed to proceed. Hope we did not disappoint the officer :)

The drive to Goa is through a forest area and it was a very nice trip. We checked a few hotels online and called them up to see if rooms were available. Panaji was our destination and we reached there in time for hotel hunting. The first one was right in the middle of the city and the shopping centre but they had a room for only one night and had no parking space. Guests had to use the paid parking service located elsewhere. The next one was Verandah Do Mar which looked good enough and being offseason,  we were offered a suite with sea view and a big balcony. We decided to rest for the day and maybe do a bit of shopping later. The hotel had a good restaurant and hence we did not have to go elsewhere for dinner.

Found Goa exactly the same as Kerala; the same kind of vegetation, houses and weather. The only difference being, in place of mundu/lungi one saw pants/shorts. To me, Goa looked like how Kerala looked two decades back. Everything was there in Panaji; branded shops, restaurants, wine shops and yes the Casinos too,

... yet it looked laid back and simple and not filled with concrete buildings like Kerala. Maybe the Goans are living elsewhere? The one's who served us in the hotel restaurant were from Karnataka and Bengal since when I asked them about the nearby touristic places they could not help me. Even the driver who drove us around was from Belgaum.

We had a tour of Panaji and being off season it was an easy trip. Shops were also not crowded and we had a good time selecting things leisurely.

Upon asking our driver to take us to a good restaurant, he chose The Fisherman's Wharf. We loved the food!

Chicken Teriyaki
Beef Stroganoff

Breaded Kingfish fry
Midnight in Panjim

The permit paper
How can we leave Goa without it's Feni? So we were taken to a wine shop where we found the salesman who speaks Malayalam (maybe a Mallu pretending to be a Goan? :) )

We were told that we are allowed to take two bottles each per person and that the shop will provide the necessary permit papers for the same. Maybe it is an age old trickery but we fell for it! We bought a few bottles of Feni and some good wine too.

 Papers were given to cover the entire purchase and just when we were exiting the shop two Malayalees appeared and told us that it is an utter waste of money. They warned us that the Karnataka border police will not let you go and it is better to consume it in Goa. They did look a bit drunk and we decided that it must be the drunken advise from an overzealous Malayalee. (It was not!)


Sunday, October 16, 2016

A road trip to cherish

Am back on these pages to reminisce another vacation and a crazy trip that we made. If I put it down here, can always return to savor those days once again.

Since the children are now studying in Kerala, one has to wait until they get a vacation for us to move around. This time it was the Onam vacation and although it would have been my first Onam in Kerala after coming to Kuwait, our promise for a road trip had to be kept. Our plan was to drive to Bombay and maybe take a break in Bangalore. No hotel was booked but only the car was serviced to ensure a smooth drive. This time around we had two drivers; one reason why we embarked on this trip. Our son who landed in Kerala year before last took his licence as soon as his age allowed and was already driving comfortably (if one can forget the occasional screams and advise given by his parents).
We left early in the morning on a Sunday and hence had an almost traffic free roads in Kerala. The road after Vadekkencherry is too good. In fact the National Highways are too good outside Kerala. Not sure how Kerala can have a 3 lane highway when the space is limited but......I mean look at the roads...

Kochi - Salem Highway (NH544)

The drive and the food is what we were all looking forward to.

At Peelemedu, we had a very delicious Thali. Along the national highway, specially in TN, one can find good restaurants and toilets behind petrol bunks. Most of them are built similarly and this one was named Gowrishankar Pure Veg. The normal meal is at IRS 80, while the special Thali(vegetarian) was IRS 150. It started with lentil soup and ended with an ice cream. The fried cauliflower even tasted like chicken to our chicken lover son who seldom relishes a vegetarian meal. The waiters hovered around asking us if we wanted anything extra or more. They ensured we ate until our stomachs were full. The bathrooms were neat too which mattered even more.

We had to break our journey either inside Bangalore or little ahead by skirting around Bangalore.  Hubby decided that we break the journey outside Bangalore, since getting out of Bangalore would be tough, so we chose Tumkur. Daughter had already chosen Naveen Regency, after reviewing them on TripAdvisor. Since it was getting late, we did not want to go hotel hunting even though the GPS was behaving pretty well. Luckily we found them very close to the highway and although they are not well maintained, the food was good. We just needed a few hours of sleep before we hit the road again.

It was only later that we realized that not getting into Bangalore was the best decision since the Kaveri riots would have cut short our trip. Oblivious to the agitation we left Tumkur early in the morning.

The roads were too good and the drivers were having a gala time. Both Father and Son reached speeds which Kerala would never give them. We passed places which we have only read about, occasionally stopping for toll gates or refreshments. I think there was a toll gate every 60-100 km and we ended up paying around IRS 2,000 for the Kochi-Bombay road.

Just before Pune, we stopped for lunch at hotel Kaveri and found that it was run by Keralites. They had a vegetarian and a non vegetarian restaurant. We skipped the vegetarian this time and headed for non veg. It was pure malabari food and tasted really great.

 We skipped Pune and headed for Mumbai. Went through many tunnels and drove down the mountains. Reached our destination after 9pm since the traffic inside Mumbai was pretty slow and the drivers very impatient. Not seeing the regular MH car but a KL registration may have made them put extra efforts to heckle. It was after two decades that we were both visiting Mumbai and I found it to be the same old Bombay.

We took a taxi to tour Bombay the next day and the driver gave us a Mumbai Darshan. The kids were more interested in shopping and that is what we mainly did in Bombay. We dined at the fairly new restaurant Bombay Vintage.

We selected the chicken and fish meals; the Mangalorean Tiffin style while the children had a Continental fare.
We had planned two days in Bombay and was supposed to return via Bangalore to visit relations, but the riot made us drop the entire route and take Goa for the return trip. Thus the much awaited Goa trip too was accomplished. Since we had a function to attend on Sunday and the kids had to return to their classes, we could spare only two nights and day at Goa. Another blog post maybe....


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Justice for Jisha

I am on this pages once again for Jisha, a 29 year old who tried hard to fight against all odds and would have succeeded, if it was not cut short, in the most horrific manner. Those who found her says they have not come across such brutality in their life time.
Normally I scan for local news from newspapers, as well as from TV, yet I never caught this news. It never scrolled as breaking news when Kerala has 7 regional news channels. It happened 6 days ago and yesterday, the TV channel, Kairali  commenced a hashtag #JusticeforJisha and only then did the rest catch up. Where were they until then is another mystery but let me give credit where it is due even when I try to forgive the political motivation. I scanned for an English version to post in twitter and realized that no other newspaper had given any importance to this news as yet. Maybe it is the election heat but it is extremely shameful and a very sad state of affairs too.

Jisha, a law student was staying with her mentally unstable mother. She has an elder sister, a divorcee who is staying with her grandmother. Her father abandoned them when she was barely 5 years old and is staying elsewhere. Her mother being a daily wager and had gone out for work on that fateful day and she was alone is their one room house.

KOCHI: In a chilling reminder of the ‘Nirbhaya’ incident in New Delhi, Jisha, an LLB student in Kuruppampady near Perumbavoor was brutally tortured and sexually assaulted before being murdered, revealed the postmortem report.

The report also revealed that the culprit had used a sharp weapon to extract her intestines. Jisha suffered over 30 stab injuries. Her chest was pierced by a double-edged dagger. The severe injury inflicted on her head led to her death, according to the postmortem report. The postmortem was conducted at the Alappuzha Government Medical College.

According to officials, the samples have been sent for forensic examination, and the result is expected within a week.

Meanwhile, the probe into the murder has not gained any significant leads so far. According to the police officers, preliminary investigation revealed Jisha was  murdered when she resisted the rape attempt. The police are yet to ascertain even the exact time of her death. A special investigation team headed by Perumbavoor DySP Anil Kumar is probing the case.

Here is a girl who was trying hard to make it on her own in a State which is generally conducive to such attempts. Or am I living in a fool’s paradise?
The justification for this rape too may come in due course. Even in Kerala there are many enlightened ones who think girls should not venture out of the house after dark to avoid rape and should also choose rape resistive attire (What is that?? ). For such intelligent beings, please chew on this; this girl was in her own house and yet a few decided to rape and kill her brutally, in broad daylight. But the worst fact is that no one thought this was news worthy and hence I am forced to say it here; she was poor and a dalit.

Now one may fault the housing, the location, and even the fact that she did not have a male “protector” in her house. How many girls in our nation can pass all this criteria? Never mind the entire nation, let me only take my own State. My daughter too occasionally lives with her old grandmother in a house which can be broken down if a serious attempt is made.
Knowing Kerala, like the rest, even I would like to suspect the migrant workers who are in abundance in this area. Perumbavoor, a municipality in Ernakulam District is one place where the migrant workers came in hordes more than a decade ago. In fact, this district has the highest number of migrant worker: 8 Lakhs. Yet the State has no foolproof method to organize them. Organizing them is not tough if one demands voter’s card or any other national identity before hiring them. But unless the authority and those who hire them cooperate, this is not going to happen.

But let us not be quick to blame the migrant worker. Here is another case which is yet to be solved and though she was in a “secured” place, she lost the rape fight.

Delayed justice: Kerala HC's order for CBI probe comes out after a yearMahir HaneefOver a year after reserving a case seeking CBI probe for pronouncing orders, the Kerala High Court has finally delivered its judgment on a petition regarding the mysterious death of nursing student Jisamol.| TNN | Jun 12, 2014, 10.21 PM ISTKOCHI: Over a year after reserving a case seeking CBI probe for pronouncing orders, the Kerala High Court has finally delivered its judgment on a petition regarding the mysterious death of nursing student Jisamol.

The case that became notable for the delay was on a petition demanding CBI investigation into the death of Jisamol, a final year nursing student in a hostel at Thrissur. Though the final hearing on the petition filed by the girl's mother, Binny Devasya, was over by April 12th last year and the case was reserved for pronouncing orders, the judgment was delivered only on May 26th this year

The case that became notable for the delay was on a petition demanding CBI investigation into the death of Jisamol, a final year nursing student in a hostel at Thrissur. Though the final hearing on the petition filed by the girl's mother, Binny Devasya, was over by April 12th last year and the case was reserved for pronouncing orders, the judgment was delivered only on May 26th this year.

 CBI probe was sought by the mother into the death of her daughter, Jisamol of Chetupuzha, in her hostel room on December 5, 2005. She was a final year general nursing student at San Jose Parish Hospital at Thrissur. The girl was found hanging dead in the hostel room.

 In the judgment by justice CT Ravikumar, it is held that a CBI probe is needed as local police and crime branch hasn't been able to determine the cause of the alleged suicide even after the long-drawn investigation.

 After conducting an investigation into the unnatural death case, Pavaratty police had filed a report to the magistrate court stating that it is a suicide case. Meanwhile, chemical examiner's report said the girl was subjected to sexual intercourse.

As for the recent victim Jisha , they say it may be too late for the probe. If the rapist was a migrant worker, he may have already left Kerala, and as for neighbors, I think 6 days are more than enough to nab if it was one of them.
The police force in Kerala have always done their best, unless political intervention thwarted their efforts, but this crime is going to stand out as the worst in their history, if the criminals are not found and punished.


Thursday, April 21, 2016


Why did I ever leave this beautiful place? Where my thoughts could wander without any hindrance.
When can I return?
Will I ever return?
Maybe I should return..
My soul does seek this space...
But where are the words, the thoughts..

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