Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Thugs...the pub, not the people

I happen to be in the gang of the most prestigious group of walkers in Delhi...if I may say that...i.e KLOD_B matlab Knowing and Loving Our Delhi Better. leking uske baare men alag entry hogi.

So, my fellow KLODB walkers have often bragged about this pub and it was the favourite place for the gang to catch some beer after an old Delhi walk. Unfortunately, I have always missed it.

So, one fine day I went there with my friend. By the way, before I tell you the story let me tell you that the claim to fame of this bar (apart from its name Thugs)

is the ambience... which is of Bollywood villains. So right from Gabbar Singh to Mogambu...you will find all on the walls.

To isliye mera jaana zaroori tha aur hum pahuch gaye. I knew that its a little rustic...but the ambience seemed to be decent.

A valet parked the car for me. Its right on the main road if you drive from Delhi Stock Exchange to Delite Cinema parallel to Ram Leela Maidan.

The menu card also is a little different. Rum with cola is called Kalia and Bloody Mary is Mona Darling.

But thats what it has...otherwise its the usual drinking station with I would say... limited menu and not so inspiring crowd...unless you join in.

Service is ok.

But definitely a place to visit for the filmy guy

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Para-motoring in Sohna near Gurgaon

Was looking out for some interesting movies on book my show and there were none for the week. Just went into the events section and found something called Flyboy. Read that its about para motoring. Didnt know what that meant. So googled para motoring and found it to be interesting.

There was the phone number of a person there. Called the person and fixed up for a slot the next day early in the morning at 6 am. He asked me to give him a call at 5 to check if the wind condition was right. Next day morning it was windy and when I called him up he said it wont happen that day. A few days later, the same procedure was repeated and he asked me to come in.

The site is about 30 kms from Gurgoan on a road that chips off from Sohna. Its right next to the Westin Resort and Spa. The site is nothing but a patch of fenced land where you can do your thing. A small outdoor lounge is there for people who are not so keen to go up in the air.

I was curious to see how it works. But in some time it was all clear. Two people sit on a cycle kind of a thing with a huge fan behind it and a parachute which takes the air from the fan. It takes off like an aeroplane and lands in the same way.

Goes to quite some height, lets say about a 1000 feet up. I have always wanted to fly a plane but off late I realised that the slower moving air borne vehicles are much more fun because you get to see around whereas in a fast moving plane...you miss out on that.

Here's how you go up

For about  a 20-25 minute ride it costed me 3200 rupees. They said it was a discount and the actual rate is around 5k. Dont know if thats true. But it was sheer fun prompting me to try out para gliding at Beed-Billing in Himachal. But thats another story.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Keylong and Rohtang

I started my professional journey at a rather remote place, Keylong, a tiny town in the high altituted Western Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh province of India. I used to work on a project to conserve endangered medicinal plant species and culture in that tribal area. No doubt I visited numerous villages around and have an attachment for the place.

I recently viisted it after a gap of about 10 years and the place still is the same unlike many other places in the world where things have physically changed. The bazaar of Keylong boasts of some 20-30 shops selling day to day needs. The hotel Tashi Deleg belongs to a local gentleman Mr Tashi, who happens to be a good friend. Its a good option to stay if you want to stay close to human habitation as the HPTDC hotel Chandrabhaga is a little away from this town.

I reached the place within a fortnight of the Rohtang Pass opening and could get some amazing shots of the Rohtang Top. Being at Rohtang is always an excitement when you are in this area. Rohtang decides if you can cross it or not as you never know when it will snow and it will get closed. You can also get stuck on the pass if there is heavy rain or snow and then you will have an experience of a lifetime there - I have had one...but thats for another blog entry I guess.

Right now I just want to show you the video I captured with snow on the top.

Also I took the Himachal roadways bus while going and some pics of the bus on its way and at the Pass. Here you go:

The buses parked at Kothi (as they start the drive up towards Rohtang from Manali)(above)

Just after the pas opens the space available on the road is just enough for the bus to sneak through...which sometimes lead to jams especially on the top if their is traffic from the opposite side. Cops do try to manage it but it could take hours especially due to the tourist traffic. (Above the bus stuck in a micro jam at the top)

After you cross the pass, all buses stop at Khokhsar the first habitation on the other side of the pass and a police check post.  Above the bus at Khokhsar.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Parking for Villagers only - Hauz Khas Village

Was at the Hauz Khas village a few days ago after many years.

It has transformed over the years with unique shops and European style cafes. I was there to visit the unique Kunzum Cafe...more about it later.

While I wasnt intriqued by any of the shops trying to be European or Indian...just to be different...what really intriqued me were the sign posts at places saying...parking for villagers only. In India rarely do the two words 'parking' and 'village' go together until its the Commonwealth Games village or Asian Games Village.

Wonder if the 'villagers' referred on the sign post are people who own shops there or are we talking about the real villagers of Hauz Khas.

The only place which attracted my attention and called me in was a village style temple in the middle of this cosmopolitan space - A temple of Lord Hanuman. In went the Musafir...to pray. A Huge plot and in the midst is this tiny temple of Hanuman...wow...what peace in Hauz Khas village. Put this on the must visit list.

After this I went to the Kunzum Cafe...a place for travellers in Delhi and a place to hang out and get to know Delhi. Nice place run by a maverick who truly believes in the spirituality of travel. Bought some of his books and listened to an American artist performing there. Must visit place for people travelling to Delhi from any part of the world.

You can sit and chat here with people about the city.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Kasmur Dagah

 It seems to be Dargah season for me these days. Was travelling to Nellore in Andhra Pradesh. Happen to meet one Mulla Sahab and asked him if there are any dargah's around. He promptly named the Kasmur Dargah and the Rahmatabad. Kasmur was just 25 kms away...so thought of giving it a shot after a days work.

Checked Google maps and found that I had to take a country road from Venkatachalam, which is 15 kms from Nellore on the highway towards Gudur. Took a bus to Venkatachalam and asked the bus conductor to drop me at Kasmur Road.

Got down at Kasmur road and took the lone auto going towards Kasmur. Kasmur is actually a small village hamlet in the countryside. The auto from the highway took 20 minutes to cover about 10 kilometres amidst paddy fields.

The dargah area is a largish market selling food items and a number of small items associated with dargahs i.e pics of Mecca Madina, chaadars and some other secular stuff. There were hardly any visitors to the dargah. It seems that the place is abuzz during the Urs only.

The main gate of the Dargah is a mini charminar. The main gate below

Went straight inside the dargah. The sanctum santorum was not the usual dargah style. It was rather a huge balloon kind of thing on top of the dargah. Perhaps so many chaddars have been put that its seems like a bloated been bag...see if you can get that from the  pics I clicked.

Also, present were a couple of devotees, who seem to be talking to the Peer of the Dargah i.e Baba Mastan (Hazrat Kaleem Ulla Shah Qadri) You will find this at many dargahs...where devotees get into a 'zone' where they start communicating directly with the Peer. I have seen this at Ajmer also.

Another very interesting thing about this dargah is that its open air. There is no roof to the mazaar. Its just in the middle of a courtyard...thats it. Perhaps Babaji wanted some fresh air. In India, I know of another temple in Himachal called the Shikari Devi in Mandi district...out there also the temple doesnt have any roof and there's are many stories around it.

Found some living quarters of very poor people behind the dargah. There is a huge lake just behind the dargah...but I dont think its maintained...found a lot of filth there.

Didnt really connect with the supreme at the Dargah...but was happy that I made it to the place. May be that was what the supreme power wanted me to see and experience there.

Apparently, you get rid of jinns and balayas if you visit this dargah...I am sure there were none with me...I walked out clean anyway.

P.S - I read online that amongst the celebrity devotees of this Dargah is AR Rahman...may be this place is close from Chennai...thats the reason.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Ghari Wale Baba - Nau Gaja Peer on G T Road

A mazaar on the GT Road from Delhi to Ambala always fascinated me as I saw a lot of trucks parked near it. All that I could see while driving was a green gate saying mazaar of ....and the bus or my car zipped past. Always thought that I will stop one day and explore it.

That one day...happened to be this Monday. I quietly parked my car behind some trucks and for the first time saw that there were a few shanties near the mazaar selling the usualy flowers and chaddar. There was something else also I saw but I didnt care...as a couple of shopkeepers prompted me their shops to keep my shoes and to wash my hands.

I gave them a pass and walked up to the main green gate visible from the highway. Have been to many mazaars around India and the world...so my mind was prepared to see the same. I had thought I will do my little prayer and go ahead with my drive. But that was not be so.

Some stairs go down from the highway to the shrine...which is in a depression...or rather the highway is elevated.

Removed my shoes and entered the lobby of the mazaar. Saw 4-5 sardars there...so I recollected that mazaars are secular places in many ways. Finally entered the sanctum sanctorum and saw the mazaar. It was unusually long with the usual green chaddar over it. Did the sajda and prayed for bringing 'nothingness in my life' and of course to bring my love in my life.

I had seen many devotees bringing small bottles of oil with them as is common in many parts of India. But then something struck me...I saw many people bringing wall clocks and offering it to the Peer. Didnt really understand why so. Then I noticed a number of clocks lying in a row on one side.

It was clear...there was something about clocks here. I questioned one of the sardars there to tell me the reason behind clocks. He said 'Oh...you dont know this is Ghari wale Baba?' People from all over the world offer clocks at this place for being in time and bringing good time in life."

I was intriqued. 'So whats the story I said?'. ' A driver's truck stopped working and he reached this mazaar and offered his wrist watch and prayed for the truck to start and for him to reach his destination in time'. And you can guess what happened...'His truck started working and he reached in time' and the place became popular among truck drivers and later with people offering clocks.'

'Every channel has made documentaries on this place'. So I was clear that this is a popular place that I had hit upon accidentally. He said that as you have come here of your own volition...so Baba will give you a gift for sure.'

I was ecstatic ...the dreamer me. Good times in my life will start now. I was eager to go out buy a clock from the shops outside and offer it to the peer. Who knows my Teacher Logo Project is going to become a hit? Interestingly I stopped wearing a wrist watch a decade back... I dont own a wrist watch. Some connect it seemed to me.

As I started moving out...the sardar asked me to stop and presented me with a gift...a wall clock. He said take it as a gift from Baba and dont let it stop ever...and may be I can come with a clock as a gift for Baba next time around.

Elated I was...never ever in my life had I got a return gift from any such place. My good times had started.

Bought some nice Punjabi Qawwalis from the shop outside...One of them I have been listening since yesterday...Mere Shahenshah...Maine Kuttiyean ch Rakh la. Awesome.

I also saw a CD on Gugga Peer...who incidentally is my Kul Devta....the main god revered at my native village Larha near Galore in Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh.

My drive from Ambala to Delhi was a delight listening to those Qawwalis

Jai Babeyan di...Jai Mastan di

P.S -

1. The exact name of the mazaar is Nau Gaja Peer Saiyyad Ibrahim. Not to miss while driving on this highway. It is around 10-12 kms from Amabala towards Kurukshetra and couple of Kilometres before Shahbad.

2. You will find a lot of cocks and ducks and this place

3. Googled this place and found not much is available..and also varying stories...this is mine

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Ice Bar in Stockholm

Every time I have been to Sweden...never had time to see Stockholm city as work took me to other cities with me just being able to see the Arlanda Airport in Stockholm.

But I was clear...the day I get some time I will hit the Ice bar in Stockholm...had read quite a bit about it on the net. Finally got an opportunity in October 2012. Never been to our desi ice bar in Saket, Delhi but Stockholm to phoren hai na.  So, wahan ke ice bar men to jaana hi hai.

If I remember correctly..I spent about 290 SEK to get into this place in the Nordic Hotel. Bade khwaab the...par it turned out to be a very average experience. I think its overhyped and apart from the thrill of having made it ...its not that a great experience after all.

Its just that you are put inside a room which is like the deep freezer of your refridgerator with ice all around you. 

The only thing I enjoyed inside was the drink in an ice glass. You get some special gear...jackets to enter inside and thats it. Your entry is for 45 minutes but I guess I came out in 20 minutes flat from that place.

I saw the website of the Saket ice bar...looks much better than the one in Stockholm. Will try it sometime.