February 10, 2014

When acting makes up for lack of story

I did not love Hasee toh Phasee. But after a long time, it was one movie that could be categorized as a time pass. It had its moments, but i found too many glaring holes in the movie that i don't know how the director, editor, cast missed while making/ editing or watching the movie.

  • A young boy does not confirm to rules, is arrogant and breaks out of the house to go and catch an Amitabh Bachchan movie. Skip a few years, he grows up into a spiffy young man and once again, escapes from the town while he is supposed to be preparing for an exam to attend a friend's wedding. Does he become a happy-go-lucky nonconformist maverick? Nope! Instead, he falls in love with this pretty snooty female and bears the brunt of her verbal assaults and constant harassment.  She threatens to break up to get all her work done. He simply gives in to all her threats. Why? Some ghisa phita philosophy about how easy it is to break up and how can he know that the next girl will be perfect? So he puts up with her. Maverick did we think? More of a doormat. Then why waste first ten minutes trying to sketch a character that has no connection with the person he grows up to be! 
  • And then a young girl, who is touted to be a scientist, ends up stealing from home to fund a "project" after doing her share of drugs at college. She is said to have spent many years in China doing research and is back again in India since she needs money again and is back to steal from her estranged parents. What has she achieved in China? She has invented a ball made out of a polymer that continues to bounce and its kinetic energy can power a high-rise. She is portrayed to be addicted to anti-depressants, incapable of showing emotions, having "sensations" that cause her to blink too much and twiddle her tongue. But halfway through the movie, she is in louve, she grows her hair and does punjabi dance with an elan of a seasoned heroine! How? 
  • The story unfolds against the backdrop of an impending wedding between the hero and his girlfriend. While the groom is seen bonding with the girl's parents, there is not one scene where she is seen talking to his friends or family. 
  • The story is too flaky and all over the place. Why introduce skype calls to China without any subtitles or a brief about it?  What transpires between Parineeti and her dad when they meet? What leads to her falling for Siddharth? Why does she take pills that cause behavioral changes? How can she just stop taking them and still be normal?  
  • Parineeti's character sketch is very spotty while Siddharth has just one brief- try too hard to please the girlfriend and then that he should fulfill the next responsibility that the girlfriend dumps on him- that of taking care of Parineeti- with full sincerity. What makes him put so many things at stake to take care of a girl that his girlfriend brings to him as a guest? All his actions are done regardless of how they affect his career - oh yes! he is bidding for the event management of the IPL ( It's Dharma productions, can it be anything less than the IPL?). To keep his woman happy, he needs to take personal calls while meeting investors, put girlfriend and her family above everyone else. 
Too many complaints? Yes. But despite the way both their characters are sketched, both the lead actors have done full justice to their roles. Siddharth is effortless as the lovelorn boy who wants to prove himself to his girlfriend and get her affections. Parineeti has done a great job in the first half of this girl who is stuck in a mess and is slightly dotty. And then pulls a power-packed performance towards the end after she realizes that she has lost the love of her life. I had brushed off Siddharth Malhotra as someone who cannot act and dance after watching SOTY. But he does a fab job dancing ( See Shammi!) and with acting too. Look out for the scene where he locks Parineeti in a room and forgets about it and then goes back and hugs her in apology. He is earnest in his attempts to please his fiancee and in taking care of Parineeti to keep her happy. I could totally overlook all the unwanted subplots and inconsistencies in the story simply cause both of them have done an amazing job with their acting. Go watch the movie for their performances. The songs Manchala and Zehnaseeb are haunting and will live with you long after you are out of the cinema hall. 

January 30, 2014

Reflecting on the 100 happy days project

Oh no, the 100 "happy" days are not over yet, not even half way through for me to introspect about them. Just a few passing thoughts as I am dutifully putting up a picture each day. When I first spotted the 100 happy days project on instagram, I was really kicked about the prospect of all those lovely pictures that would go up each day as "this is what made me happy today!" and going over them at the end of the 100 days and feeling all joyous about all the little things that put a smile on my face that day.

As I started taking the pictures each day, I realized that it is not like everyday you go for an outing that makes you spill over with joy, so trip pictures got restricted to weekends. You cannot keep putting up pictures of jogging track where you go for your morning walk and get the adrenalin rush or the happiness at finding an empty bench in the park after the evening stroll. So you are left with the mundane food and material acquisitions. Well, eating the chocolate cake is fun, but not so much putting up a picture of it while I am waiting for it to cool down.

So this puts me into a moral dilemma. I end up putting pictures of "things" that are photograph-able for the project. But what about the moment when I threaten that Arnab Goswami shouting on TV will end up causing our divorce and the husband promptly hands me the remote and then wistfully looks at it, hoping I would change my mind? At this point, I smile more than what I did when I ate the chocolate cake and change back to the shouting match cause I can't see the fellow's depressed expression. Or the moment that the sister laughs at me complaining about the weather in Bombay and tells me that it is God's way of punishing me for all the days when I turned off the fan saying I can't stand the cold. And the next moment she tells me that sitting in the biting cold in Delhi, she does miss having me around. And my heart just melts.  A whatsapp conversation with a friend can make me all chirpy the whole day, but how do I capture such moments of joy?

Most things that make me happy are abstract- a spoken word, a warm hug or actions from people I meet or interact with. Until there is a way to put these up on instagram, I will stick to the more material things that are secondary sources of happiness. I am just praying and working towards ensuring that at the end of 100 days, it does not look like a collection of "what I cooked" or "what I ate" today :D

P.S. Oh, and by the way, you can find my collection on instagram hash tagged as #100hdquirkygrl 

January 6, 2014

A year end trip to Matheran

This post has been languishing in the drafts for a while now. I was down with an upset stomach after returning from the trip and was caught up in the year end frenzy after that and could not complete it.
Coming back to the post, we decided to do a trip to Matheran since the season seemed perfect to go to a hill station. Anytime is perfect to escape to a hill station when in Mumbai, actually, since it is never too cold here. We picked Matheran after reading about it being an eco friendly place and a nature lover's paradise. Matheran does not have too much to offer in terms of "hill station type" tourist attractions per se- no boating or flower garden or adventure sports. It is a hilly region that is full of viewpoints from where you can catch the sunrise, sunset or other breathtaking views.
Matheran View

If you are driving to Matheran, you have to park your vehicle at the Dasturi car park and hike from there onwards to reach your hotel. We chose to make it an out and out train trip since we wanted to experience the famous Neral Matheran Toy Train ride. Tickets cannot be booked online and you have to reach Neral early to buy your tickets. The toy train starts off at Neral and goes through the winding tracks along the mountains for a good two hours to take you to Matheran.It is painfully slow, so much that someone jogging along the track can overtake the train. But if you have the time, then simply take the train to savor some beautiful views. So many times, it seems as if you are almost floating in the air since the track runs right along the edge of the hill. As you travel through the woods, you can gorge on guavas, berries, freshly squeezed nimbu juice, bhel and lots of other snacks that the vendors sell through the window at every station.
Matheran is the perfect pick for you if you are a hiking enthusiast. The place is devoid of any pucca roads cause motor vehicles are banned here. So in order to get from one place to another, you have to walk. Or take the horse. Or sit in one of those precarious looking hand carts.
Yours truly was not really prepared for all that walking, so imagine my agony when we found on reaching the Matheran railway station around noon that our hotel The Verandah in the Forest was actually in the midst of the forest, a long long way from the station. So a porter was called to carry the luggage while we dragged our feet in the red soil. Enroute, we stopped at the Gujarat Bhavan for a lip smacking thali lunch and headed to the hotel.
The Verandah in the Forest Matheran

After a 20 minute walk through the winding pathways in the forest, we reached The Verandah, a quaint imposing bungalow that has been converted into a hotel by the Neemrana Group. The rooms open out into the verandah which overlooks the forest.It is the perfect place to be in if you are not really looking at doing any touristy activity and just want to sit back with a book and a cup of tea and relax. The rooms have high ceilings and all the furniture is antique. I really love places like this that have the old world charm in them. There are no televisions and no cellphone reception. Its as if you are really transported to history!
A short siesta later, we were recharged enough to walk to the sunset point and then to the marketplace, which is near the station for a spot of shopping and dinner. When you do not have any luggage to worry about, you can walk all that you want to and not feel a thing. The market doesn't really have much to offer in terms of souvenirs. Lots of leather chappals, jute bags and the usual tourist place stuff. You can indulge in a variety of mocktails from the refreshment stalls that dot the entire street. They concoct amazing mocktails with all the "imported from mahabaleshwar" fruit crushes and mocktail mixes. There are many decent restaurants all along the street where you can sample indian and continental cuisines.
By the time we wrapped up dinner and headed back to the hotel, it was pitch dark. The flashlights that the hotel gave us was not going to be of any use inside the winding pathways in the forest. And the horses do not ply in the night. So in God's name we entrusted ourselves to the hand cart wallahs. After a scary 15 minute journey in the pitch darkness, we thanked the heavens when they dropped us off safely at the hotel.
Make sure you wrap up before sundown if you stay away from the marketplace. If you want to be in the hub of all the activity and stay out till late in the night, then you better pick a hotel near then station/market road. Most hotels near that area are kid friendly, with loads of games and activities but are not really an unwinding destination.
All the walking you do in Matheran ensures that you get a good night's sleep. A nice spread of breakfast was awaiting us when we woke up the next morning. Take in the scenery over your cup of masala chai and you will wonder why on earth doesn't your dining table have a view like this.
The Verandah in the Forest Matheran

Half an hour later, we were walking again, this time to catch the views from Louisa Point, once again far into the jungle. You walk, walk and walk some more to reach I don't know how deep into the jungle and then suddenly there is the clearing and a breathtaking view that is worth all the effort. Only after soaking in the view, when you walk back do you feel the strain.
Matheran has just about enough spots for you to cover it in two days, making it an ideal weekend destination. The trip will help you slow down - starting from the slow train to the pace at which everything moves around in there. Go there to rediscover walking, to get your feet and footwear dirty in the red mud and to connect back to nature. 

January 3, 2014

Viviana Mall Thane

The brand new Viviana Mall in Thane has been on my "places to be checked out" list for a while now. I waited for someone to put up a review or for the mall itself to update its website in order to see if it was worth the trip all the way to Thane. None came my way. So rather than waiting some more, we decided to check the place out on the New Year's day. And I am writing this post for the benefit of the people who are perhaps waiting for somebody to give some information about the mall.

Viviana Mall is located on the Eastern Express Highway, a little further from Korum Mall. It is almost 5 kms from the Thane Station. If you are driving, then you will be happy to note that they have ample free parking space. Just that, you have to do one whole pradakshan round of the entire mall in order to reach the parking lot.
viviana mall thane 1

The mall is pretty well laid out, with a courtyard in the center where they have their events and games. The walking area which is elliptical on each floor is flanked by stores on either sides such that you do not miss out on anything while you complete one round.
viviana mall thane 2

Once in, you find the usual suspects when it comes to the stores. But what was different was the number of anchor stores that the mall has. Its got Lifestyle, Shoppers stop, Hypercity, Homecentre, Marks and Spencer, Zara (awaiting completion), Pantaloons, Reliance Trends and perhaps the biggest Bata store that I have seen till date as anchor stores, clearly outnumbering those in other malls.
viviana mall thane 3

We reached there pretty early, in time to glance at the layout of the mall and do a quick recce before heading for lunch. Lunch was at the much-hyped Cream Center which overlooks Sanjeev Kapoor's Yellow Chilli. The food was decent, but certainly not upto the all of the hype around their food. Thankfully, the crowd started trickling in as we were wrapping up lunch.

viviana mall thane food court

There are plenty of options when it comes to food in the form of restaurants, aside from of course the food court. You've got Cream Centre, Pizza Works, The Yellow Chilli, Rajdhani, Mainland China, Fire House Grill, Yoko Sizzlers and Banana Leaf. There are many cafes at every floor, notable among those are Starbucks and Tea Trails a midst your regular Barista and Gloria Jeans.

viviana mall thane fun city

Once you are done eating and shopping, you can head to their Fun City for a round of bowling or play all of the shooting, racing and redemption games. Bowling is charged at Rs.220 per head and you can buy a card for the games at Rs.200, with Rs.50 being the minimum top up after that. The multiplex, Cinepolis is still under construction, not something you would complain about since the mall expedition itself will be a 3 hour affair. Add to it time for lunch or a refuel and games and almost your whole day is taken care of. Head out before the evening on a weekend since you want to avoid the crowd and the mad traffic on the expressway.

September 30, 2013

Mee and Tata Safari Storme

Mee was driving along the Arter Road IV. She was summoned by her Uncle Soul who seemed very distressed. She knew that Uncle Soul had lately been having difficulties ruling his Kingdom Bodos. Kingdom Bodos was once a thriving kingdom with the finest of roads, 24*7 water supply and people living prosperously. All that changed when Soul made General Mindus the head of Bodos army . General Mindus had secretly nursed an ambition to rule kingdom Bodos after his late father Bryan Mindus was put away in prison, charged with treason by Soul. Soul didn't want to deprive Mindus of this position which he had earned on merit and also secretly hoped that Mindus wouldn't keep any ill-will inside him.

 During the initial duration of his term, Mindus did not do anything untoward, but soon that changed. General Mindus started creating silos in villages of Bodos, where he wouldn't allow the local produce of Heamos and Plateletos from reaching other parts of Bodos where this was not produced. This created severe nutritional deficiencies in small kids in other villages resulting in increase in cases of malnutrition. General Mindus also started a parallel economy by constructing a new road network across the kingdom and named it after his son Veinus. These roads were made of inferior quality material and were used to transport ironless Haemos grown in the fields owned by Mindus. The health of the people from different parts of Bodos started deteriorating but they still hadn't realized this as the deterioration was slow and Mindus was selling this produce as low cost produce to gain the support of the people.

Through the vast army of sycophants who were under his control he was successful in convincing the farmers about the margins they stood to make with this inferior quality Haeomos and Plateletos. In areas where the land was not fertile, he would use the vast media empire he owned to sell these produce as part of Subsidy
program from the government.General Mindus was very successful in creating a perception that all the ill-wills in the kingdom was because of King Soul and he was striving hard for the people. All these resulted in popular support for him from the people of Bodos and indifference and diffidence to King Soul though he had ruled his kingdom very well.

The authority of King Soul slowly started to wilt and General Mindus was calling the shots.It had been 8 years since General Mindus had taken control of all the major administrative work in Bodos. King Soul had trusted him enough to give him a say in most matters involving the kingdom. Though some of his close advisers like General Heart had warned Soul over the way General Mindus' influence was increasing, Soul rubbished all these concerns attributing them to the jealousy of Mindus' peers.

Mindus used to run an annual competition for the best drivers of Bodos along the different roads in the Veinus highways. The winner would receive the grand prize of 10,00,000 RBCs which he could then use for the betterment of his/her family or village.

This time the competition was different, and the repercussions would resound for generations for Bodosians. General Heart's warnings had finally managed to breach the stubborn ears of Soul. He had sent out some of closest aides from his Secret Force and to his shock realized that all the warnings and foreboding of his men were actually true. Mindus had destroyed the economy of his once flourishing kingdom and had put in place a black economy which made profits only for a few and put lakhs of Bodosians into poverty.

Soul asked for Mindus to be present himself to the court and answer all the questions put forward by the jury regarding his illegal actions. Mindus bluntly refused and called on the entire army to seize the court, the king's key aides including General Heart and other influential aides. Mindus declared emergency in the Kingdom and wanted to throw King Soul into prison. It was the timely intervention of his key aide Major Epiglotia who said that doing so would result in people of the kingdom uprising against him. So Mindus asked for his men to escort King Soul to his military home.

Mindus gave Soul two weeks deadline to leave the Kingdom to seek refuge in a neighboring country. Soul found it humiliating to face the potential of being banished from his own Kingdom. He asked Mindus to give a chance for a fair fight. Mindus did not want to go to the people as he was not sure which way the people would vote. Of all the things Mindus was known for, he also made decisions in haste many times. He agreed with the condition that King Soul or one of his nominee had to win this year's race. If he did, then Soul would continue to be King and Mindus would take the land east of the River Intestine and would no longer interfere in the affairs of Bodos. If he lost then he would immediately be exiled to a neighboring country. King Soul agreed as he had to use this last lifeline. Mindus' aides warned him against such a hasty decision but Mindus had a mind of his own.He would design the race in such a way that only his best racer-Cancerus could win.

Mee was the only person Soul knew who could represent him in such a race. Though there was already talk in the kingdom that no one had won a race against Cancerus in the last 5 years partly due to his driving skills and partly due to the support he received from his Evil Tumor buddies who lived high up in the hills which lined the several Veinus roads. Mee knew what she had to do. She had her Uncle's pride at stake and all the racing competitions she had won against very famed racers in various international competitions would come to naught if she didn't win this race.

Mindus got the best race designers to design the track of the race.The roads were the most rough, with his Evil Tumor buddies blocking these roads at various checkpoints just to eliminate competition. They would inflate themselves into gigantic balloons and block entire roads.Major Gall Blader would suck out all the water from River Bile and in its place would remain only thick crystallized stones which made driving over them extremely tough and dangerous. Cancerus would also during the course of the race multiply himself into thousands of identical racers in order to confuse Mee. When the racers would reach the Bridge Medula Oblongata, Mindus would drench it with alcohol so that the bridge would swing wildly and make driving potentially life threatening.

Mee was told my Soul what she would be up against. It was not only Mindus that she was up against buy also her brothers who had chided her for being a girl who participated in car races, a male bastion for long. Her repeated wins had not managed to convince them she, a girl, could be successful at a man's sport. Looking at Mee's worried look, Soul asked her to go and meet General Heart's brother- Courage. When Courage saw Mee at his doorstep he could tell that the young girl had lost her bearings a little while trying to ponder over what could happen in the race. Courage sat her down and showed her a design of a SUV he had made long back. Due to lack of resources and other things that kept cropping up, he could never fulfill this dream of building a SUV for himself that could be driven on any road.

He asked Mee to take the design and start building on it. With the King's last few resources left, Mee got her friend Pulmonus, known for huge interest in vehicle building to jointly convert this design into reality. Ten days prior to the race, the car was ready and Mee was ready to take on Mindus' men. Mee christened it as Tata Safari Storme after her late father Tata and mother Safari.

On the day of the race, Mindus chided Soul for giving a girl the baton of responsibility of winning back his kingdom when he knew that the competitor would be none other than Cancerus. Mee was determined even more after hearing this comment. The race started and Mee was making good progress driving her Tata Safari Storme. The roads were very slippery due to rains from the previous night but Mee felt in total control because of the anti skid tyres of her Storme. Then the Evil Tumor Buddies showed up and wanted to take Mee out of the race.They blew themselves into huge balloons and tried to block the roads. Mee could see that the road ahead of her slowly blowing up. She had to believe in the strong metallic bodies of the Storme to take the shrill noise and heat emanated by the Tumor Buddies. She could see Cancerus trailing off ahead of her. The hydraulic lash adjusters and Roller finger followers made the noise and heat less harsh. Her fully electronic controlled fuel injection system resulted in higher pressure which allowed her to speed up to maximum power and speed which helped her in crossing the Tumor buddies.The shock absorption springs put together in the car allowed her to safely cross the Stones left over after River Bile was sucked dry. Major Gall Bladder suddenly opened up the Glucose vents which filled the River Bile. However Mee was able to drive through the river owing to the high water wading capability of Storme.

Cancerus was taken aback by the advance being made by Mee He decided he had to use the last trick up his sleeve to prevent Mee from surpassing her in the race. He multiplied himself into thousands of clones which confused Mee as to how many people she was racing. Mee understood that this was a tactic to slow her down. Instead of playing into the hands of Cancerus she shifted to top gear and heated up the Storme to 160kmph. Cancerus was dumb stuck by the manner in which Mee raced past him. Close to the finish line, Mindus got his men to slip the huge boulders from their positions atop the hills so that one of them could crush Mee before she reached the finish line. A mirage of Soul was created at the centre of the road which confused Mee who tried to take corrective action by pressing the brakes very hard. Though the Storme skid a bit, Mee was still in control of the vehicle. However, in the midst of this, what Mee couldn't avert was a boulder hitting the car. But the Storme was built such that, apart from diverting a little from its path of activity due to the impact,its body remained intact. Mee crossed the finish line much ahead of competition. Mindus knew he couldn't play any more games. Before the Kings Secret Force would get their hands on him, he fled the scene. Mee was declared a hero by Soul and all the illegal activities of General Mindus was made public.

For Mee, it was a personal victory for her against the thought process of her brothers. She kissed her Tata Safari Storme for being her trustworthy companion, at every turn and on every road. King Soul took his kingdom back and worked on putting back Bodos on the path of progress.

The alarm rang and I suddenly woke from my dream. I put on my glasses and looked for the magazine that I was reading the last night. I flipped to the page that had the car of my dream- the Tata Safari Storme. With a car like that, life will surely be one helluva adventure, not just in the dream, but also in reality.

The post is written for the I am Explorer contest by Tata Safari on Indiblogger. 

September 14, 2013

The Future of Shopping

There was a time when Amma would complain about how Dad would stand aloof in the store, while she would go saree hunting. Or how he would lose patience when she would want to compare the prices between two shops before buying. Then, once we grew up, we were her perfect companions- for both window shopping and actual purchases.
Then came the revolution in our lives, a few years back, in the form of online shopping. The newly acquired credit card was pulled out of the wallet and the first online transaction was made. I checked and rechecked my credit card statement to make sure that there were no further transactions reported and that my card was secure. And the happiness when i got the call from the mail room about a courier that was waiting in my name, well, that is something that i really cannot get down to describing! After that, i was a regular visitor to the mail room and i was sold to the concept of online shopping. Not just buying stuff for myself, online shopping helped me buy things for my loved ones and surprise them with a courier that reached their address. Tracking pending couriers became a favorite activity! Books from flipkart, electronics from ebay, clothes from one of the numerous lifestyle websites were ordered left, right and center! And well, why would you not when you are getting branded goods, for crazy prices from people who save on showroom, air conditioning, sales persons and operate with a warehouse and a website.
When my mother was describing to a neighbor about my compulsive online shopping and how one can get anything online, what she had to say was- "amma-appa vittu verai ella kadaikum" ( you can buy anything online other than your mom and dad!) . True, isn't it, in a time when you can even find your soulmate (sic) online!
Where do i see this heading? Well, we already have "try and buy", where you can get two sizes of clothes or shoes at your doorstep and pick the one that fits you the best! You can compare prices of products on multiple websites, apply coupons, get freebies and get the best bloody deal possible. You go to the store  to check actual goods, only to go back and order it by clinching the best deal there is on the product. It has become so prevalent that there is a new term for this activity- Showrooming :D
In a decade or two from now, i do not see how the brick and mortar stores are going to survive at all. Lack of time, travel constraints, expensive rental spaces are all going to result in the online way being the way to shop.
What i envision the online shopping scene to be is something like this. Login to a website by facial recognition- no hassle of maintaining usernames and passwords.
The website maintains the data of all your previous purchases, the addresses they were delivered to, size details of your friends and family for whom the purchases were made.Next time you wanna buy something, click on the person you want to make the purchase for and default sizes are already selected.
Selecting a product will give you a 3D image of the product, which you can view from all angles. If it is clothing or accessories for yourself, you can see what it looks like on a 3D model that looks like you. 3D projections outside your screen will let you sense what the product may appear like, how big it will be et al- you can see if those pair of shoes fit you like a dream,  if they make your feet look prettier and order the right size only if you are convinced!
Or if it is jewelry or a watch, see how it looks on you when you adorn it on yourself and then only shell out all the big monies on it.
Today, you get product recommendations based on your browsing history or past purchases. In future, you probably will be getting recommendations based on what a close friend or a family member has purchased. You could even be able to subscribe to updates about what someone you know is buying if they are using their social media profile to make the purchase.
Or if you are the window shopping kind who just likes to browse through what the numerous stores in a mall can offer, you could get a virtual tour of a mall space, where you stroll through passageways and choose which stores you want to browse. Once you are done sifting through the virtual racks and checking out their latest merchandise, if you feel like it, you could add products to the cart. Or simply walk into the next store. All this, without hurting your feet, without spending your car fuel or worrying about parking and within the comfort of your home.
And well, lest you should worry about missing out on the social aspect of shopping, where you can stare at the lady in red with the pretty shoes or at the book that the person next to you is browsing or bumping into a friend in the mall, what the virtual shopping experience will offer you is that a simulated version of you walks in the mall and can bump into a friend or a colleague there! And do all this, without the husband in tow cribbing about how much time you take while shopping!
What would also drastically improve in the coming decade is the delivery time. Now i have to wait for a week or so for a shipment to be sent if the seller is in Delhi and i live in Bangalore. In future, when the brick and mortar stores are done away with, what will remain will be warehouses all over the country. That way, all you need to do is place an order, and the warehouse nearest to you will deliver it to you in no time- more like how the grocery delivery happens these days.
Goes without saying that buying online is already the way most people are buying today. In the next two decades, when the penetration of the internet will increase manifold and when people become less wary of online transactions and identify how convenient it is, online shopping will be able to link every artisan, every craftsperson and everyone with an ability to provide a product or a service with the person who has the power to purchase.
This is my entry for the future of shopping contest by ebay.in Though i am not sure whether what i envisage will be what the online shopping scene will be like in 2030, but the new ebay check extension for chrome is something that you should check out if you are an online shopper!

August 25, 2013

Pandavkada Falls

While marriage, a subsequent change in the city, setting up a home are all good excuses, i still do not think i should have missed out on writing so many of those posts that were drafts in my head all along these months. Any which ways, today's outing deemed a post and here i am, getting back to writing on the blog.
The first thing that struck me when i was looking around Navi Mumbai is that it is pretty well planned, and green and relatively cleaner than the main city. The locality we chose to live in reminds me so much of Bangalore and the place is inhabited by a lot of south indians. It did feel like home to me in a really short time!
Since the setup and all has been taken care of, it was now time for us to start exploring the place. Scanning the nearby places to visit, we zeroed in on Pandavkada falls. We could not have picked a better day. The sun was looking up after yesterday's rain. No rain = happiness already!

Getting there:

Pandavkada falls is located 5 kms from the Kharghar railway station. So taking the train is a good option to get there. However, getting an auto from the station might be difficult. The entry to the falls is located right next to the Kharghar golf course.
Once you get there, it is a 20-25 minutes hike to the falls proper.

First Impressions:

First thing you notice when you get there is the sudden greenery all around you! It suddenly gets all quiet and you can hear the birds chirping. We got there around 10 in the morning. I had read about an entry fee that is levied but never found any ticket counter anywhere!

The place leaves a lot to be desired with regards to developing the approach path and facilities for the tourists. There is no pucca road, the rocks and stones can get slippery during the climb and one needs to cross two streams in order to get to the falls.  I ended up wading through knee deep water with my shoes on! Also, there are no loos or changing rooms around.

The walk can get a little difficult with the slush around. But what is a waterfall unless it is the monsoons! It takes close to twenty minutes to get to the falls proper. But it is all worth the effort. Once you get to the falls, you can see the breathtaking greenery all around, sit on a rock, listen to the sound of water and enjoy the silence and do all the introspection in the world! Or else, if you are feeling more adventurous, climb down a set of rocks and you land in the pool of water bang under the falls!  The caves behind the falls did not seem to have any approach route but i still saw signs of X loves Y within hearts inscribed on the rocks! People really do crazy things in/for love!

It is amazing that such a beautiful place is tucked away in this part of the town.It has not yet been a victim of too much crowd and commercialization. So much that, there is just one stall at the entrance selling some snacks, that too way above the MRP. So best thing would be to pack your own picnic snack or lunch.
The place is scenic, makes for a good half day outing.

But the flip side of the isolation is that the area is not supervised. Or maybe it is and the people who were doing it had the permission. Nevertheless, i was not happy to see the low intensity blasts happening among the rocks to break them up. Or the trucks at many points along the way, scraping away into the landscape or taking away silt and sand from the water.

Navi mumbai has some greenery left in it. I hope it does not become a casualty of all the land grabbing. It is lung spaces like these that make the place livable. I would love to see the spot having an entry fee to regulate crowds and for the fee to be used to develop a solid pathway to get to the falls and to protect the environs.

It is actually a vicious circle. Sometimes, bounties of nature such as these are better left unexplored, lest we destroy them as we have done a large part of the planet already!