Saturday, April 25, 2015

Stories: Always Stay Positive

Once upon a time there was a bunch of baby frogs....… participating in a competition.The target was to get to the top of a high tower. A crowd of people had gathered to observe the race and encourage the participants..... The start shot rang out.......

Quite honestly, None of the onlookers believed that the baby frogs could actually accomplish getting to the top of the tower.

Words like "Ah, it’s too difficult!!! They’ll never reach the top." Or "Not a chance... the tower is too high!"

One by one some of the baby frogs fell off…... Except those who fastly climbed higher and higher.. The crowd kept on yelling "It’s too difficult. Nobody is going to make it!" More baby frogs became tired and gave up... ...But one kept going higher and higher..... He was not about giving up!

At the end everybody had given up, except the one determined to reach the top! All the other participants naturally wanted to know how he had managed to do what none of them others had been able to do!

One competitor asked them winner, what was his secret?
The truth was....... The winner was deaf!!!!

The lesson to be learned - Don’t ever listen to people who are negative and pessimistic... … they will deprive you of your loveliest dreams and wishes you carry in your heart! Always be aware of the power of words, as everything you hear and read will interfere with your actions! Therefore - Always stay… POSITIVE!

And most of all Turn a deaf ear when people tell you, that you cannot achieve your dreams!

Always believe - You can make it!

#'Forwarded' label refers to stories and anecdotes send to me by friends or the ones I came across in net. I neither know the source of these stories nor its correctness. Being said that, I like the story and truly believe that readers will get inspiration/ motivation from these articles.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Stories: Father, Gift and Patience

A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer's showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted. As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. 

Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box. Curious, but somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man's name embossed in gold. Angrily, he raised his voice to his father and said, "With all your money you give me a Bible?" He then stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and a wonderful family, but realizing his father was very old, he thought perhaps he should go to see him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make the arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.

When he arrived at his father's house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father's important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. As he was reading, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer's name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words….."PAID IN FULL".

How many times do we miss blessings because they are not packaged as we expected? Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

#'Forwarded' label refers to stories and anecdotes send to me by friends or the ones I came across in net. I neither know the source of these stories nor its correctness. Being said that, I like the story and truly believe that readers will get inspiration/ motivation from these articles.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pakistan’s Dilemma and a war in Yemen

Someone is fighting with someone in Yemen; rest of the world hardly noticed that. After all, there were scarcely much time when people of Yemen were at peace in past half a century. More than that, Yemen is neither a big supplier of oil nor that of gas. Apart from American drones and occasional Saudi interferences, Yemen was at war with itself.

However, the equations are quite different now. It’s not only about two factions fighting with each other; but a Saudi backed one against an Iran backed one. It’s a different matter whether Iran actually provide supplies to Houti’s; after all Houti’s land is located faraway from Iran borders. As a result, the wealthy coalition of Sunni Arab world took arms against a Houthi’s backed by financially broken Iran.

So how Pakistan came in to this equation? In order to understand that, we need to look at the oil flow. Currently Saudi and other gulf monarchies are fulfilling the oil needs of Pakistan. As a fellow Islamic country they offer reduced price to Pakistan. In return they also expect support of Pakistan’s military (probably one of the finest battle hardened military in Islamic World).

We can’t blame Saudi for asking Pakistan’s support, after all they supplies oil and aid (Saudi sent their Islamic affairs minister – Saleh bin Abdul Aziz - to Islamabad). Support here means – ships, fighter planes and ground troops. Pakistan already deployed major chunk of their Army at eastern border and for the operations in Afghan border. So in paper Pakistan can argue that, they don’t have much troops to spare. But I hardly believes that is the case. After all Pakistan still contribute troops to UN Peace Keeping Missions.

So here comes the other probable reasons,
1. Thoughts like, why to take sides on a conflict (in a faraway country) which have strong religious undertones.
2. Operations against Houthi’s, connected to Shia dominated Iran, may not go down well with country’s minority – but significant – Shia population.
3. Pakistan shares a long border with Iran (During this time Iran sent their foreign minister to Islamabad).
4. Taking part in such an operation may send a message that their army is for hire. Which of course is not a good image for Pakistani Army.
5. This may jeopardize Iran – Pakistan pipeline project.
6. Possibility of more troubles in Baluchistan.

There may be multitudes of other strong reasons as well.

In this situation Pakistan Administration did what they could do the best – issuing statements. Will support Saudi’s territorial integrity but no boots in Yemen (they didn't say the later part explicitly). As parliament passed the resolution, administration can easily market it as the will of the people. Will this decision go down well with Gulf Monarchies? I don’t think so. After all they were propping up Pakistan economy for a long time with generous aid and subsidised fuel.

Whatever may be the reason, I appreciate their decision – not to put their nose on Yemen.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fight for national Icons: The haves and have-nots

It is interesting to see how political parties are fighting for iconic figures form Freedom and social reformist movements. Was it started with M.K Gandhi (exclusively claimed by Congress)? Probably yes. In earlier days, congress had so many leaders to claim. However, the sudden swipe by BJP is creating ripples everywhere.

First it was Sardar Vallabhai Patel. All of a sudden he became BJP’s popular icon. Then came Vivekananda. They successfully claimed ownership for him as well. I think in between someone tried for ‘Bhagat Singh’ too. Latest ones on BJP’s list are P.V Narasimha Rao and B.R Ambedkar; claim on the later was patented and exclusively used by BSP till this day.

Interesting factor is, Congress woke up recently and now trying to reclaim Ambedkar. Mayavati’s BSP probably stunned to see the new developments. After all, how could BJP and Congress can claim the legacy of Ambedkar?!!! I think Congress is currently working on a plan to stop the outflow of historical figures. Hope that the plan won’t be as leaky as 2G auction.

I think the fight is heating up. That day won’t be far, when Rajaram Mohan Roy and Jyotirao Phule will wake up from their graves, only to see their names on some party list!!!


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Stories: 14 Short Stories

1. Fall and Rise
Today, when I slipped on the wet tile floor a boy in a wheelchair caught me before I slammed my head on the ground.  He said, “Believe it or not, that’s almost exactly how I injured my back 3 years ago .

2. A father's advice
Today, my father told me, “Just go for it and give it a try!  You don’t have to be a professional to build a successful product.  Amateurs started Google and Apple.  Professionals built the Titanic

3. The power of uniqueness.
Today, I asked my mentor – a very successful business man in his 70’s – what his top 3 tips are for success.  He smiled and said, “Read something no one else is reading, think something no one else is thinking, and do something no one else is doing.

4. Looking Back
Today, I interviewed my grandmother for part of a research paper I’m working on for my Psychology class.  When I asked her to define success in her own words, she said, “Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you smile.

5. Try and U shall know
I am blind by birth. When I was 8 years old, I wanted to play baseball. I asked my father- "Dad, can I play baseball?" He said "You'll never know until you try." When I was a teenager, I asked him, - "Dad Can I become a surgeon?". He replied "Son, you'll never know until you try." Today I am a Surgeon, just because I tried!

Today, after a 72 hour shift at the fire station, a woman ran up to me at the grocery store and gave me a hug.  When I tensed up, she realized I didn’t recognize her.  She let go with tears of joy in her eyes and the most sincere smile and said, “On 9-11-2001, you carried me out of the World Trade Center.”

Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying.  And just before he died, he licked the tears off my face.

Today at 7AM, I woke up feeling ill, but decided I needed the money, so I went into work. At 3PM I got laid off. On my drive home I got a flat tire. When I went into the trunk for the spare, it was flat too. A man in a BMW pulled over, gave me a ride, we chatted, and then he offered me a job.  I start tomorrow.


Today, as my father, three brothers, and two sisters stood around my mother’s hospital bed, my mother uttered her last coherent words before she died. She simply said, “I feel so loved right now. We should have gotten together like this more often.”

Today, I kissed my dad on the forehead as he passed away in a small hospital bed.  About 5 seconds after he passed, I realized it was the first time I had given him a kiss since I was a little boy.

Today, in the cutest voice, my 8-year-old daughter asked me to start recycling. I chuckled and asked, “Why?” She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.”  I chuckled again and asked, “And why do you want to save the planet?” “Because that’s where I keep all my stuff,” she said.

12. JOY
Today, when I witnessed a 27-year-old breast cancer patient laughing hysterically at her 2-year-old daughter’s antics, I suddenly realized that I need to stop complaining about my life and start celebrating it again.

Today, a boy in a wheelchair saw me desperately struggling on crutches with my broken leg and offered to carry my backpack and books for me.  He helped me all the way across campus to my class and as he was leaving he said, “I hope you feel better soon.”.

Today, I was traveling in Kenya and I met a refugee from Zimbabwe.  He said he hadn’t eaten anything in over 3 days and looked extremely skinny and unhealthy.  Then my friend offered him the rest of the sandwich he was eating.  The first thing the man said was, “We can share it.” 


#'Forwarded' label refers to stories and anecdotes send to me by friends or the ones I came across in net. I neither know the source of these stories nor its correctness. Being said that, I like the story and truly believe that readers will get inspiration/ motivation from these articles.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Stories : How our Inner Ego Sometimes Misjudges a Person - The Stanford Story

A lady in a faded grey dress and her husband, dressed in a home-spun suit walked in timidly without an appointment into the Harvard University President's outer office. The secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods, country hicks had no business at Harvard and probably didn't even deserve to be in Harvard.

"We want to see the President "the ma n said softly.

"He'll be busy all day "the secretary snapped.

"We'll wait" the lady replied.

For hours the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would finally become discouraged and go away. They didn't and the secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to disturb the president..

"Maybe if you see them for a few minutes, they'll leave" she said to him. The President, stern faced and with dignity, strutted toward the couple.

The lady told him "We had a son who attended Harvard for one year. He loved Harvard. He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed. My husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him, somewhere on campus."

The president wasn't touched....He was shocked. "Madam "he said, gruffly, " we can't put up a statue for every person who attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like a cemetery."

"Oh, no," the lady explained quickly” We don't want to erect a statue. We thought we would like to give a building to Harvard."

The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and homespun suit, and then exclaimed, "A building! Do you have any earthly idea how much a building costs? We have over seven and a half million dollars in the physical buildings here at Harvard."

For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased. Maybe he could get rid of them now. The lady turned to her husband and said quietly, "Is that all it costs to start a university ? Why don't we just start our own?"

Her husband nodded. The president's face wilted in confusion and bewilderment. Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford got up and walked away, traveling to Palo Alto, California where they established the University that bears their name: Stanford University, a memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about.

Most of the time we judge people by their outer appearance, which can be misleading. And in this impression, we tend to treat people badly by thinking they can do nothing for us. Thus we tend to lose our potential good friends, employees or customers.

In our Life, we seldom get people with whom we want to share & grow our thought process. But because of our inner EGO we miss them forever.


#'Forwarded' label refers to stories and anecdotes send to me by friends or the ones I came across in net. I neither know the source of these stories nor its correctness. Being said that, I like the story and truly believe that readers will get inspiration/ motivation from these articles. 

Stories: A few Interesting Ironies of India

Indian moms want their daughter to control their husband and expect their son to control their wives.

Parents want their children to stand out in a crowd but expect them to do what everybody else is doing.

Everything that is run by government looks very bad except government jobs.

While we criticize Maria Sharapova for not knowing who Sachin Tendulkar is; but we are been caught napping as we desperately Google our Nobel prize winner or Sita Sahu (double special Olympics medalist who now sells Golgappa in Delhi for survival.

National animal - Endangered 
National pledge - Unintended 
National river - Heavily polluted

A huge country of 1635 languages..... united by a foreign language.

Government talks about removing the caste system but you are required to mention your caste on every damn form you fill.

Seeing a policeman makes us nervous rather than feeling safe. 

We often say "Atithi Devo Bhava" but we do not allow visitor parking in our residential societies...

Last and good one...

We are Always in a hurry but never on time..!

#'Forwarded' label refers to stories and anecdotes send to me by friends or the ones I came across in net. I neither know the source of these stories nor its correctness. Being said that, I like the story and truly believe that readers will get inspiration/ motivation from these articles. 

Stories: Selecting which battle to fight

There once lived a great mathematician in a village. He was often called by the local king to advice on matters related to the economy. His reputation had spread as far as Taxila in the North and Kanchi in the South. So it hurt him very much when the village headman told him, "You may be a great mathematician who advises the king on economic matters but your son does not know the value of gold or silver." 

The mathematician called his son and asked, "What is more valuable - gold or silver?" "Gold," said the son. "That is correct. Why is it then that the village headman makes fun of you, claims you do not know the value of gold or silver? He teases me every day. He mocks me before other village elders as a father who neglects his son. This hurts me. I feel everyone in the village is laughing behind my back because you do not know what is more valuable, gold or silver. Explain this to me, son." 

So the son of the mathematician told his father the reason why the village headman carried this impression. "Every day on my way to school, the village headman calls me to his house. There, in front of all village elders, he holds out a silver coin in one hand and a gold coin in other. He asks me to pick up the more valuable coin. I pick the silver coin. He laughs, the elders jeer, everyone makes fun of me. And then I go to school. This happens every day. That is why they tell you I do not know the value of gold or silver." 

The father was confused. His son knew the value of gold and silver, and yet when asked to choose between a gold coin and silver coin always picked the silver coin. "Why don't you pick up the gold coin?" he asked. In response, the son took the father to his room and showed him a box. In the box were at least a hundred silver coins. Turning to his father, the mathematician's son said, "The day I pick up the gold coin the game will stop. They will stop having fun and I will stop making money." 

Point: Sometimes in life, we have to play the fool because our seniors and our peers, and sometimes even our juniors like it. That does not mean we lose in the game of life. It just means allowing others to win in one arena of the game, while we win in the other arena of the game. We have to choose which arena matters to us and which arenas do not.


#'Forwarded' label refers to stories and anecdotes send to me by friends or the ones I came across in net. I neither know the source of these stories nor its correctness. Being said that, I like the story and truly believe that readers will get inspiration/ motivation from these articles. 

Satyam Scam and Lessons Learned

After long legal battles, finally multi-crore infamous saga of ‘Satyam’ came to an end. CBI special court awarded 7 year Rigorous Imprisonment (RI) to Ramalinga Raju, his brother and 8 others. Apart from RI, Ramalinga Raju and his brother was also slapped with a fine of 5 crore each and eight others with 25 lakh each.

It is indeed true that Satyam Scam drastically changed the way accounting and auditing systems works in India. It also introduced so many checks and balances in the system. But, did we really fill gaps in the super-structure exposed by Satyam Scam?
  1. Why fines are so low? As far as I remember, amount involved in scam involves thousands of crores. But the total fine was just 12 crore. I think even the prosecutor might have spent more than 12 crore to prove the case. What about then shareholders? It was a nightmare and bog loss for them as well.  Fine shouldn’t have been such a small number. 
  2. I am still not clear whether independent directors in company boards are doing or able to do the job they are supposed to do. 
  3. FTIL and other scams indicates that cooking up books and dubious transactions are still there. What we are going to do with that?
  4. What about whistle-blower system? Do we provide enough incentive and protection to the whistle-blower to come out and provide evidence?

Satyam scam definitely improved a lot of things. But still there are lot more things to do.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Greatest Paper Tiger of all time.

Anyone recently read Mint article on National Green Tribunal's verdicts? If not, its here - 'National Green Tribunal: Orders galore, but what then? - Mint'

I don't think who coined the word Paper Tiger. But that person might be knowing that, a certain entity called 'National Green Tribunal' is going to form in India. My only plea to government is, if it can't provide tooth and nail to NGT, then please dismiss them and save those sitting in the tribunal from further embarrassment.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Return of Janata Party

An interesting political movement India currently witnessing is the consolidation of political parties to a particular group called Janata Parivar. By the way, there is hardly any ideology which brings them together. As often happens, the one fact which all of them have in common is the fear about the rise of BJP and protecting their base.

I wonder how long the Parivar will stay together. It is altogether different matter, whether Samajwadi Party (SP) – which hardly stands for ‘Samaj’ except in name; Rashtriya Janata Dal – which hardly ever cared about ‘Rashtriyata’; Janata Dal (United) – which showed some hope in the beginning and then went on a path about which one have any idea; Janata Dal (Secular) – which is more about a family and its affairs; Indian National Lokdal (whose leaders are in Jail over Recruitment scam) etc. will come together even for their own good.

What, leaders of these parties failed to understand is, India changed. The country is no longer the one, where they could supress people in the name of caste and religion. When Indians want their country to reach the level of Korea, Singapore and Japan; there is hardly any place for their narrow vision. More than coming together under a different a name, what they need to do is an introspection. Be the agent of modern Indian and try to do something for people.


Ola, Money and the Business Model

Ola and start-ups similar to that, attracted (and continues to attract) big ticket investments from foreign and domestic investment vehicles. Backed by IT infrastructure and GPS, Ola is riding on traveller’s need for economical, reliable, comfortable and safe travelling options. One of the big factors working on their favour is the absent state machinery (read traffic police and other related departments). After all who don’t want to escape from auto drivers’ hands, most of whom won’t ply by meters and says the first imaginary number coming to their mind as fare?

However, after seeing global funds’ hunger for picking up these stocks I am a bit confused. Do these companies business model really have such sky high valuations or are we going to see a 2000’s type IT boom and bust cycle?

My worries are,

1. The amount of money they burn each month. After all, the company is paying the difference to the driver (User is paying some 10 INR/km, which is lower than the amount Ola pays to the driver)
2. Driver don’t need to feel any loyalty towards Ola. If Uber or Maxicab is offering higher discounts, they can simply switch to the other one.
3. User also may not feel any loyalty towards Ola. They can also make a switch to other one, if it offers a better deal. This trend is already there, while buying electronic equipment, recharging mobile, buying books etc.
4. Unlike Flipkart or Amazon, which are also building up infrastructure, physical infrastructure is absent in Ola’s case.
5. It is still not clear how long it will take to witness a consolidation in market.

Even though this article is talking about Ola, it is not limited to Ola but applicable for all those service companies who offer services but don’t have any control over underlying assets/infrastructure.

I hope that all those companies do have a great business model and become profitable very soon.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Konkon Reise - Netravati to Sabarmati: Part X - Konkan Coast, Wild West of Western Ghats

On the way to Mumbai from Mangalore and while coming back to Udupi from Mumbai I travelled through Konkan Railways(KR). So I am dedicating this article to one of the finest engineering project independent India ever undertook.

Konkan is a narrow stretch of land between Western Ghats and Arabian Sea.This separation enabled Konkan Coast to develop its own culture over centuries. Nature blessed this beautiful land with many rivers, pristine beaches and wide forest cover.

Konkan Railway

I think I can rightly say Konkan railway project is one of the most challenging railway engineering work conducted in last century. To understand the importance of Konkon like, one need to look in to pre-Konkan railway map of India.

Just look at the alternate routes for a from Cochin/Mangalore to reach Mumbai in the 70s and 80s? One need to go faraway places like Chennai and Vijayawada to reach Mumbai. Its not only increase the journey time dramatically, but also the transportation of goods. By the way, road network connecting Mangalore to Mumbai was not in a good shape in those days.

Konkan is also probably one the handful of railway project undertook by Independent India. Majority of other rail routes were there from British time itself.

This 741km long train line - passes through Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka - connects Mumbai with Mangalore. Kerala is also one of the states benefited by this railway line. Commissioning Konkan rail significantly reduced the journey time from Malabar and Konkan coast to Mumbai and beyond.

You may be thinking what is the herculean challenge in creating a 741km broad gauge single line. In order to understand the complexity of the project, we need to look in to the geographic parameters.

Konkan Rail - Facts

This coastal strip is a narrow geographic area bounded by Western Ghats on the east and Arabian Sea on the west. Entire stretch is dotted with numerous fast flowing rivers, dense forest, paddy fields and mango trees.

Total route length - 760 KM

Number of Curves - 320

Deepest Cutting - 28 metres

Total Earth Work - 388.77mn cubic metre

Number of Stations - 59

Major Bridges - 179

Minor Bridges - 1819

Total No. of Road Crossings - 300

Longest Bridge - Across Sharavati River @ Honnavar - 2065.8 metre


Initial steps for this project was started in the early 70s. In fact first survey was conducted in between 1971-73; another one(Dasgaon to Ratnagiri) was completed in between 1975 and 1977; followed by another one (Roha to Mangalore) on 1984. In 1985 the scope was increased to cover the remaining length.

In 1977, then Railway minister Prof. Madhu Dandavate sanctioned the first stage from Apta to Roha, which was opened in March 1986. Then we saw further developments in completing the project when  George Fernandes became Railway Minister in 1989.

Based on the suggestions of then  Economic Adviser in the Finance Ministry - Bimal Jalan -  Konkan Railway Corp become a reality by including it in 1989 railway budget. E Sreedharan then Member Engineering and about to retire become the head of Corporation as Chairman and Managing Director (CMD). This time GoI let the beneficiary states - Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala - as partners in the project.

Konkan Rail Corp got four and half years to complete the project. Entire project was divided into seven (Mahad, Ratnagiri (north), Ratnagiri (south),  Kudal, Panaji, Karwar and Udupi) sectors each having a length of approximately 100km under a chief engineer.


In Goa, were KRCL engineers went out of their way to save maximum number of houses. It is because of this reason Goa has the maximum number of curves on alignment (even the Mandovi bridge is on a curve).

There are multiple interesting stories related to the project. For e.g. near Dasgaon (at the confluence of the Savitri, Kal and Nageshwari rivers) there was a burial ground, exactly on the Railway alignment between Dasgaon Tunnel (South face) and Savitri bridge. There was no way that the alignment could avoid this route, so Konkan Railway built another cremation ground for the villagers with a wide approach road, transplanting bones to the new location after conducting appropriate rites.

Anyone who worked on land acquisition project in India will understand how difficult to acquire land in populated areas. Here, Konkan Corp have to acquire a total of 4,850 hectares spread over 760 km. Many gave the land voluntarily; in return KRCL offered first preference to the land losers while recruiting or awarding commercial contracts.

Another problem was obtaining clearances for vast forest lands in Karnataka from MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests) and from other state and Central government agencies.

My Journey

I boarded Mumbai Express from Mangalore. For most of the time, I stood in the doors so as not to miss anything. Numerous rivers - small and big, paddy fields, bridges etc. However, by the time we reached Goa it was very much dark. So while coming back, again I stood on the doors so as not to miss anything on the Maharashtra side of Konkan.

As it was January end, temperature was high and most of the places were dry. I think I need to travel through Konkan once again - during Monsoon time.



1. Konkan Railway Corp

Konkon Reise - Netravati to Sabarmati: Part IX - Uduppi, The Krishna Town

Udupi is one of the major cities in Karnataka and is famous for Sri Krishna Temple and Udupi cuisine.
When I reached the station, time was too early to visit the temple. Hence I went to second class waiting room and tried to sleep there itself (in sitting position). Here I met a guy from Alleppey, who came to Udupi to attend an interview. He had nothing else to do till interview, which was scheduled at 10 in the morning. So he was also interested in coming to the temple with me. So we hired a prepaid auto from the station to the temple (temple is is some 3 kms away).
Sri Krishna Temple and Mutt
Established by Madhvacharya in 13th century; this is a complex of temples and monasteries located near Madhva Sarovara, or Madhvacharya's pond.
Main temple is constructed in an architectural style typical to Kerala and Dakshina Kannada, with multiple layers around the inner sanctum sanctorum, with no massive sikhara over it; as the case in elsewhere in South India.
Unlike other temples, deity in this temple faces west and is away from devotees. It is believed that, a lower-caste devotee named Kanakadasa was denied entry into the temple, so he tried worshiping from a small window outside it. The Lord was so pleased at his devotion that He turned around to face the window. The window is now known as Kanakana kindi, or Kanakadasa's window.
Like temples in Kerala here too men have to take off their shirts and vests to go inside.
After temple, my next destination was Malpe Fishing Harbour. As my new friend had to attend the interview, I said good-bye to him and walked towards bus stand. From this bus stand buses are available to Malpe.
Malpe Fishing Harbour
After some thirty minutes in bus I reached Malpe and walked towards fishing harbour. The place was very much alive with fishing boats, and people roaming around. A building on the right was manufacturing dry ice, small tipper lorries were carrying it to fishing boats. At one place fishermen were busy with fixing their nets. Further down, a small crane was pulling a small boat out of water.
It was an interesting place. In the end, I reached boat jetty from where I can catch a boat to St Mary’s Island. On its side there is a small ship manufacturing centre. Police’s patrol boats are also located here.
St Mary’s Island
Now the problem is, the boat is somewhat big and is not going to start unless it’s filled. They assured that by 9.00 more people will come. Well, another 30 minutes to go. Finally one school excursion party from Maharashtra’s Sangli came and I also joined with them. It took a while to reach St Mary’s Island. Its a small Island, if you walk for some 10 minutes you can reach the other side of the island.
The speciality of the Island (Coconut Island, St Mary’s Islands) is its rocks. We walked through the rocks and waters for some time, the structure of rocks looks very much interesting. After some 40 minutes we returned from the island.
There were hardly anything remained in the list. So I simply roamed around the city, drinking sugarcane juice. It was at this time, I remembered about Manipal - a nearby city which is very famous for its excellent (but costly) educational institutions. Bus to Manipal is available from City stand. After roaming here and there and talking to some of aluminis I headed to the planetarium. Unfortunately, I was closed for maintenance.
Now back to the city, and went to SeaBird office to catch the bus back to Bangalore.

Konkon Reise - Netravati to Sabarmati: Part VIII - Gandhi Nagar, The Capital

It was my last day in Ahmedabad. After having some juice and tea in the morning, I went to Sidi Sayed Mosque.
Sidi Sayed Mosque
This mosque is unique for its exquisite screens, which are praised for their amazing Jhali screen, framed, in the ten semi-circular windows. From a distance this screens looks wonderful. Apart from these screens there were hardly anything else to see.
From mosque I came back to railway station. Here I met one guy who was also on the way to Sita Mandir. He studied in Ahmedabad and spent much of his youth in the city. The moment I started talking about Ahmadabad, he was more than happy to tell me the about the city and its history. Soon we reached Sita Mandir and boarded a direct bus to ‘Gandhi Nagar’
Gandhi Nagar - An Overview
Located 23 km from Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar is the capital of Gujrat. Gandhi Nagar is a planned city, designed by Prakash Apte and H.K. Mewada. City is divided into multiple areas like ‘Capital Complex and Government Offices’; ‘Light Industries Areas’; ‘City Centre’; ‘Public Institutions Area’; ‘Shopping’, ‘Commercial and Warehousing’ area; IT Parks etc.
On the way Narmada canal also crossed our way. After travelling for while we entered the city limits and continued towards Akshardham temple.
Akshardham Temple
Swaminarayan Akshardham temple is one of the largest Hindu temples in Gujarat. Spreading over an area of 23 acres, this temple complex is dedicated to ‘Bhagwan Swaminarayan’. I think I never saw a security check stricter than the one at these gates in anywhere in India (except probably at Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple at Thiruvananthapuram). No one can carry bags or camera (except wallet) inside the temple complex.
By the way this temple came under terrorist attack in September 2002.
This place looks more like a theme park if we exclude the main building which houses the deity. Main building also have carefully preserved personal belongings of Swaminarayan. One need to appreciate the length to which the followers went to acquire and preserve the things used by Swaminarayan.
After visiting the temple, I bought the ticket for shows. This took some two to three hours to complete. During each phase of the show, they will show various phases of Swaminarayan’s life; and concludes it by showing a documentary. This carefully crafted areas (forests, water flow, moving life size statues etc) tries to give a close to real life experience to the visitor.
By afternoon, I went outside the temple and spend close to 30-40 minutes on road and then boarded a bus back to Ahmedabad. Planning is good - straight roads, proper crossings, well planned buildings etc.
Ahmedabad - Old City
After reaching Ahmedabad, I had some more time to spend before boarding the train to Surat. Hence I went to old city by catching a shared auto. For next two hours I roamed around old city and paid a visit to local markets and spend quite some time there. Main market was in an open area, where a lot of vendors were selling their goods.
It is improper to end this article without saying something about traffic police. Whenever I was in front of railway station, there were four uniformed personals standing at the junction. However, they hardly did anything to control the traffic. If you wait for the vehicles to stop before crossing the road, its never going to happen.
In fact I boarded a shared auto while returning to railway station. Those roads were not so wide and a lot of people were there on the roads. Our driver, was not so interested in driving either careful or slowly. In fact his rear view mirror even hit a lady. I think he knowingly did it. When one of my co-passengers questioned him for that action, his reply was simple. He don’t care whether he hit the pedestrian or not. It’s better if someone fell down and die. Then atleast from next time, they will be careful while walking!!!
I am not saying all drivers were like this, he may be an exception. But, it also shows the attitude towards obeying traffic rules.
Another good feature Ahmedabad have is its reserved lanes for public buses. I am yet to visit any other city which have this dedicated bus corridor. It’s indeed a novel idea.
Finally it was time to say goodbye to Ahmadabad and I started my return trip. My next destination was Udupi. However, I didn’t have a confirm ticket straight to Udupi. So I first had to board a train to Surat. Then to Mumbai.
I reached Mumbai by 6 in next morning. After taking a bath from Ammu Chechi’s home I went to Kurla to board a Konkon train.
After spending rest of the day and most of the night on that train, finally I reached Udupi on Monday morning.
PS: Some of the places I missed in Ahmadabad are was Hathisingh Jain Temple, Dada Hari ni Vav (step well) in Asarwa, Juma Masjid (Built by Ahmad Shah in 1423, this yellow sandstone mosque stands on 260 pillars which support 15 domes at varying elevations), Kanaria lake, Calico textile museum etc.

Konkon Reise - Netravati to Sabarmati: Part VII - Ahmedabad, Manchester of the East

I reached Ahmedabad by 9.30 in the same night and spent rest of the night in railway retiring room. Irony is, even the system in railway retiring was not getting connected to railway intranet. Can you imagine, a system located in one of major railway station is not able to connect to the network!!! If this is the case here, then I wonder what is happening in real time command and control systems of Indian Railways. IR need to make sure that, all systems located at their premises can connect to CRIS and other railway networks.

By the time I reached Ahmadabad, I almost lost my sound due to throat infection. As a matter of fact if I spoke one sentence, only a couple of words were audible. This took its toll in Ahmadabad trip.
History of Ahmadabad
This is the largest city in Gujrat and its former capital (Gandhi Nagar is the new one). Located on the banks of Sabarmati River, this city is probably the sixth or seventh largest city in India.
In 11th century AD, Karandev I of Solanki dynasty established a new city called Karanavati near Sabarmati River. After Solankis, this area came under the control of Vaghelas. During the rise of Delhi Sultanates, this city came under the firm grip of Sultanates. Later one of their governor’s - Zafar Khan Muzaffar – established his independence and started ruling on his own(Muzaffarid dynasty).
“his grandson Sultan Ahmed Shah in 1411 A.D. who while at the banks of Sabarmati liked the forested area for a new capital city and laid the foundation of a new walled city near Karnavati and named it Ahmedabad after the four saints in the area by the name Ahmed” – Wikipedia.
In 1487 Ahmad Shah’s grandson - Mahmud Begada - fortified the city with an outer wall having 12 gates and a circumference of 10km (It’s not actually 12 gates, there are more gates).
During my two days in Ahmadabad I visited a lot of places on vehicle and on foot. Some of these darvazas(gates) are still there and places (bus stops) still carry old names. However the wall is no longer there. Lal Darwaza (Red gate), Theen Darwaza, Delhi Gate, Kalupur Gate, Dariyapur Gate, Prem Gate etc are some of the famous gates.
Humayun briefly occupied the city in 1535 AD, but lost to Muzaffarids. Finally Akbar captured it and transformed the city to a major trading centre of Mughal Empire.
When Mughal rule weakened, the city fell into the hands of Marathas. During this time, Ahmedabad became a point of conflict between ‘Gaekwad of Baroda’ and ‘Peshwa of Poona’. During First Anglo-Maratha war Ahmadabad fell into the hands of British. But they had to give it back to the Marathas. However, after 3rd Anglo-Maratha war city firmly came under British rule.
Over the period of time, Ahmadabad became a centre of textile industry and earned the name ‘Manchester of East’.
Nalsarovar Lake
I woke up early in the morning, but was not in a condition to speak. First thing I had was a couple of glasses of Apple Juice and tea. Instantly I liked it and remained as my favorite diet for next two days.
It was still very early and temperature was low. There were hardly much people in the road. One of them informed me that the bus to Nal Sarovar would start from Sita Mandir. He told as if it Sita Mandir is around the corner; I walked and walked, but Sita Mandir never came.
Anyway, finally I reached the place. There were not much buses which directly goes to ‘Nal Sarovar’ and I was not even able to pronounce the word ‘Nal Sarovar’ then (thanks to throat infection). After walking here and there, finally I got a bus which goes there.
Nal Sarovar (largest wetland bird sanctuary in Gujarat, and one of the largest in India) is located 64 km to the West of Ahmedabad (40km from Sanand). It is mainly inhabited by migratory birds in winter and spring.
The lake measures 123 km², attracts over 210 species of birds in the winter, and harbors a variety of flora and fauna. Thousands of migratory waterfowl flock to this sanctuary just after every Indian monsoon season. The shallow area and ponds on the outer fringes of the lake attract the birds that feed in the shallow waters. Besides a few mammalian species including the endangered wild ass and the black buck, its migratory bird population includes Rosy Pelicans, Flamingoes, White Storks, Brahminy Ducks and Herons.
Once I left the borders of Ahmadabad, most of the place looked like village only. The road was good but there were hardly any infrastructure or modern facilities. Especially in the road from Sanand Bus Depot to Nal Saraovar. People were working in their fields vast fields. By the way road sides were also dotted with modern houses (probably farm houses for tourists or industrialists from the city).
It’s better to go to this place in a group. If you travel alone it’s costly to get a boat. First some people approached me and offered me to show the entire place for 900. Normal boat costs around 220 INR, though it will show very limited area. Finally, I opted a small one and after paid some extra to go for an additional distance. He showed me a place where a lot of birds were standing in circle as of to attend a conference!!!
After roaming around sarovar for some time, I got a shared auto to Sanand and then a bus to Ahmadabad.
Jhulta Minara
This is located in Ahmadabad Railway Station itself.
This pillers will move back and forth by applying a little force at the topmost arch. One of the minarets was partly demolished by an Englishman while trying to resolve the secret behind the structure. The mechanism that leads to this vibration is still a mystery.
Old people in the area had very fond memories of climbing to the top of the arch. There are some days in a year, when common people can go to the top of the pillars and enjoy the movement.
Sabarmati Ashram
Next in list was Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram. Ashram complex is located in the sides of Sabarmati Station. Shared autos are available to the Ashram from Kalupur (railway station is located in Kalupur area of Ahmadabad).
This ashram was founded by M.K Gandhi in 1915. Famous Dandi March of Salt Satyagraha campaign started from here in 1930.
Sabarmati River
Unlike many other rivers flowing through the cities of India, Sabarmati is in good shape and flowing. By the way thanks goes to the water coming from Narmatha River and administrators.
Before the waterfront project, the average width of Sabarmati channel was 382m and the narrowest cross-section was 330m. To develop the riverfront, authorities had uniformly narrowed the channel to 275m.
Water flowing in the river channel is a 10.5-km artificial canal with water diverted from Narmada river canal. Many environmentalists say this is not the way to rejuvenate a river. Of course it is not. At the same time, Sabarmati looks good and government saved it from becoming a sewage channel. Hyderabad, Pune and good number of Indian cities have something to learn something from this project.
Amusement rides including speed boat and motor boat are also available here.
By the time, I left Ashram it was already night. So I had Dosa from a near by Dosa Express stall and then headed towards Railway Station for spending the night. Another night at railway retiring room.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Konkon Reise - Netravati to Sabarmati: Part VI - Vadodara, India’s Chemical Capital

I reached Vadodara early in the morning. It’s was dark outside; so I went to second class rest room and sat there for some time. Here I met Shiva. He was on his way to Delhi to write UGC GATE exam and then to UP to celebrate his birthday with parents. He was sitting in a chair next to me and was quite restless. Later I came to know that, his ticket to Delhi was still in waiting list. So for rest of the night we talked and in between checked the status of his train ticket.
I had one full day in Vadodara. My plan was to see Laxmi Vilas Palace first, Fateh Singh Museum and then to simply roam around the city. The problem was, Palace wouldn’t open before 10 or 10.30.
Anyway, it was better to roam around rather than simply sitting in the steel chairs of Railway station. Hence I went to clock room, unloaded all luggage (except camera bag) and then went outside with Shiva to have some breakfast. By the way he was quite unwilling to use the clock room facilities and carried all bags, which later proved to be a bad choice.
We went to the make shift stalls located outside the station and had some pakoda and tea. Now it’s time to go to the palace. Unfortunately, we missed the bus stop and got down at a different gate. So we had to walk back towards palace’s main gate. Sun was in his early innings and was not fully in form, so the fog stayed in the air for a while. As there nothing much to do, we sat in the benches placed in road sides. Road, its side and the benches were very much neat and clean. We killed the time by talking about quite a lot of things.
I think helmets are not compulsory in Baroda. Most of riders were not wearing that.
Vadodara is the third largest city in Gujarat, after Ahmadabad and Surat. In the beginning of the millennia, Guptas established control over the region. Later it was taken over by Chalukyas. Then Solankis gained power and established their dynasty.
During the rise of Delhi Sultanates like many other places, this region also came under the tight grip of Sultanates. After the fall of Sultanates this region was conquered by Mughals.
When power tilted in favour of Marathas, Gaekwads got this area and Baroda became their capital. In those days, Gaekwads were under Pune’s control. However ‘Third Anglo-Maratha War’ changed the equation and Pune’s control over Gaekwad’s weakened considerably. Then onward till India’s independence Baroda remained as princely state.
Lakshmi Vilas Palace
Finally it was time to enter Lakshmi Vilas Palace. Entry fee was 170 INR and photography was prohibited inside. Shiva was not ready to spend 170INR just for seeing a palace. So he told bye and left for station.
Palace was big and beautiful; there was a working golf course located next to it. From front room audio guide was available. For next two and half hours, I spend my time in that building.
Main attractions in the palace were armoury (guns, knifes, spears, poisoned swords, chakras etc), throne room (some of Ravi Varma pics are displayed here), elephant hall, banquet hall) etc.
Fateh Singh Museum
This museum is located in the palace complex itself. However we need to go through a different gate. Entry fee was 60INR and another 30 INR for audio guide. By the way, this museum hosts a lot Raja Ravi Varma paintings. I spend quite a lot of time in front of Raja Ravi Varma’s works; original and copy of many other artists.
Ranji Match
Cricket ground is located beside the museum. On that day ‘Vadodara Vs Mumbai’ Ranji match was going on in that stadium. Unfortunately, common people can’t go through the gate located next to museum; hence I had to take a long path to reach the other side of the ground. There were not much viewers, some were standing here and there. A small group was near to fence and shouting. I was a bit tired and sat on the grass and watched the match till the end.
By the way, Irfan Pathan was fielding at that end.
After the match I took a shared auto to railway station. Next destination was Ahmadabad. Soon Ahmadabad Double Decker train came. I heard about the introduction of double decker trains in some routes. However, it was the first time I was travelling in it.