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Friday, April 24, 2009

Give me a break… Okay, Taken!

Taking break for a week :)

I am travelling to hometown [Rajkot]. Hmm..last time I went home was in December 08.

I am leaving on 25th April, Saturday [tomorrow]. I will spend Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at Surat attending cousin’s wedding. Rest of the week, I will laze at Rajkot and be back in Hyderabad on Sunday.

Though there won’t be any respite from the scorching heat, I am looking forward to enjoy the marriage and have some great food! LOL... Aha, how can I forget YUMMY MANGOES! WOO HOO…I will eat as many mangoes as I can throughout week :-)

Let me start packing as I won’t have much time tomorrow morning.

Talk to you after a week.

Cheers!

© All rights reserved with Mihir Rawal. To re-print or re-use, prior permission is required from the author.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Let Us Be Monkey Again!

Its strange feeling. I am covered with tight waist belts and hooks. I am wearing a helmet as well. Standing just one foot away from the cliff, lot of thoughts going on in my mind and yet mind appears to be absolutely blank. I am turning my head to have a glance and immediately instructor is telling me not to look back.

There are moments in your life… moments when you rethink about your own decision. You wonder, curse and kick yourself for taking that decision. Without exception, such moment arrives only when it’s too late to change your decision and you don’t have any other option except to go ahead with your decision.

While standing on a cliff, listening to instructor, holding the rope and trying to look back, I am going through same emotions why I decided to do this?

Yes – I am doing rappelling. In next few moments, I will climb down a rock with the help of a rope. Here is the rock I will be climbing down.


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The toughest part of rappelling is – when you are standing on the cliff and you have to lean back your body while keeping your feet straight. You have to make L shape where “I” is your upper body and “_” is your legs. So from standing upright position, you have to make L shape and only way you can do is – by leaning back in the air! WOO HOO! Lean back in the air! Your legs are barely holding the cliff, and that’s the only worldly contact you have with mother earth! Rest of your body is hanging in the air… Like a monkey hanging from a branch :)

After you lean back in the air, you have to make THE TOUGHEST move. You need to lift one of your legs (and that’s your only contact with the earth!) and move it down by couple of feet, rest it firmly against the rock and then do the same with the other leg. If you do these steps successfully, you are greeted with bouquet of dust all around you! Here… do you except flowers? LOL!

Now you are couple of feet below the cliff. You are still scared, thrilled…and above all,EXCITED! This is the most interesting position in your journey of rappelling. Why? Because you have successfully completed first couple of moves and now you are on your way!! YIPPI! Take couple of more steps… go down little further…

P1040045 rappelling

Around 10 feet down, all sudden instructor is asking me to stop. Okay. I stopped. Now next instruction is surprising and scary! He is asking me take off my hands from the rope! (You have two ropes around you. One is attached to the rock above you and another one is in instructor’s hand). Now all my senses, my conscious don’t allow me to take off the hands… After all, that’s the only string attached! Reluctantly, I take off my hands and hey! I am hanging in the air! WOO HOO! Amazing! Few feet down the cliff, I am hanging in the air thorough a rope. He is a funny chap. He released the rope by couple of feet and bang! I felt the jerk and I was pushed down by couple of feet in hanging state! Now that was really scary and my survival instinct forced me hold back the rope in a split second!

After that, it’s all FUN! Now you have done rappelling for few feet, you know it’s safe and you know it’s thrilling! Best part of rappelling is to jump like a monkey. Yeah you release the role a little and that brings you down by few feet. You rest your legs against the rock and release the rope again. When you follow this sequence at fast pace, it appears like a monkey climbing down by taking small jumps!

I am enjoying being a monkey..LOL! ...and all sudden my legs touched the ground…Hmmm its mixed bag. I am happy to know that I successfully completed rappelling and yet I am unhappy because I want to do some more of it! I was really enjoying!!!

Earlier while watching rappelling on TV, I never thought how exciting it can be and now I am a fan of rappelling! I am looking forward to next opportunity. This time, from even greater height :)

It’s scary, thrilling, exciting. It will surely make adrenaline rush through your entire body! You must experience rappelling once in your life!

Go – do it!

Happy Jumping!

© All rights reserved with Mihir Rawal. To re-print or re-use, prior permission is required from the author.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thrilling, Scary, Exciting, Funny, Silly, Memorable – All sort of Experiences in just 3 days!

After visiting a doctor and having 4 round of medicine, I am feeling lot better. As it’s being election day here, it’s a holiday which gave me some extra rest. So just thought of penning down some of the Dandeli experience..

It’s amazing that every trip brings new experiences. Every time we do something which we have never ever done in the past! Here are some of such things from my trip of Dandeli…

Moonlight walk in the Jungle
Sounds romantic? Well, take this : To walk on trails and dry leaves. Being surrounded by trees, darkness and unknowns! To get surprised by a tree branch crossing your way (almost makes you feel as if you have encountered a snake.. hiss hiss) or a tree root makes you stumble.. LOL!

All you have is moonlight, a torch, 15 other people and a guide. Most of the time, I preferred to walk ahead of the guide as it brings thrill of facing unknown. What’s the fun if I am 14th in the line of 15 people?


To use a life jacket
I have seen life jackets many times [though never touched one]. Even while flying, they show a demo – how to use it. But the biggest question I always have is – does it work??

It works!!!

On the first day, I saw few chaps floating in the water (near riverbank) wearing life jackets. I was little apprehensive about trying it out but once I jumped, it was FUN! If you love water, if you don’t know swimming and yet you have assurance that you won’t sink, it’s like you obtaining some magical power!

On curvy mountain roads, to race in open jeeps running at close to 100kmph!
Three open jeeps, each one carrying 10 people and each one trying to outdo each other on curvy mountain roads. I was sitting at the end of an open jeep with one leg hanging outside the jeep. Now it’s surely a scary sight to have a jeep chasing you at 100kmph! Jeep following us came as close at 10 feet! Boy that was one hell of a ride… Want to see? Check out these videos :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABBJhKY9fUM and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfMMdo_6xYQ

To sit just 2 feet away from a bunch of honeybees
I was sitting on a rock, stretching my feet and admiring a waterfall and all sudden heard buzzing sound. Looked around and saw this bunch of honeybees just couple of feet away. On other day, I would have jumped off even having one honeybee around. This time, I just stayed, watching them, observing without retreating my leg. Nothing happened! Touchwood :-)

To play tambola with 25 people (and monitoring and explaining to 4 kids about rules and numbers they need to strike every time a number is announced) I lost one price for completing one of the raw as I was occupied explaining kids and didn’t realize I had completed a row. Cruel organizer didn’t hear my plea and I lost on making some money :-( Huhuhu…

To play Chor – Police with 6 kids
Yeah I was the lone thief and all 6 kids took great pride in chasing me from all direction and circling me like a real life chase!

To travel with 30 people
Right from our Group Manager to the junior most, we were group of 30 (including children). When you want to have FUN, nothing helps more than a group of known people :-)

To wear sleeveless T-shirt and shorts for 3 days
I carried a bunch of clothes but I ended up wearing couple of sleeveless t-shirts and shorts throughout the stay. Having less and comfortable clothes brings that feeling of relaxation and enjoying vacation :-)

To stand at the doorstep of a running train and being splashed by raindrops
Though my mom finds air travel scary and risky, she still feels happy when I travel through plane as I can’t stand at the doorstep of a plane :-) I always prefer to spend some time at the doorstep whenever I travel through train. While coming back from Dandeli, I was standing at the doorstep and all sudden it started drizzling. WOW! It was heavenly feeling to have raindrops splashing all over my face... If you get a chance, don’t miss to experience it!

Changing underwear 8 times in 3 days
No other thoughts! It’s just too much of water sports :-) LOL!

Rappelling!
Have you tried this? If not, you must!! In nutshell, it’s all about climbing down from a rock by using a rope. May sound very simple but trust me, nothing is more scary and exiting to be standing on the edge of a stone, your back facing the depth, you are holding a rope and then you have to push yourself backward in the air while keeping your feet straight.. you know what, it stops your heartbeat for a moment!

Rafting! Rafting! Rafting!
This is another adventure which you must try! Wearing a life jacket and helmet, having a paddle in hand, sitting on the edge of a rubber boat and moving along the waves which lifts you and throws you occasionally… And every time it happens, you will be fully covered with the water… and your boat? It just rocks from left to right and up and down.. LOL! I loved rafting so much that I couldn’t stop myself from one more round of rafting on the last day before leaving Dandeli…


Jumping in a river and floating with the current
Now nothing can beat this! On the way while rafting (which was almost 9km long route), our guide asked if anybody would like to jump in the river.. We were at the center of the river where it is the deepest and having strong current flowingI JUMPED! WOO HOO! Yeah I jumped in the river and I don't know swimming! I was floating due to life jacket and when I looked around, I saw – dense trees on either side of the river, my boat which was almost 25 feet away and water, water and more water around me! I just loved the feeling of floating with the current and I will never ever forget this experience…

Sitting on a side berth, watching beautiful countryside, feeling raindrops and writing notes for the blog in a running train
I always prefer to read while travelling. For a change, this time I borrowed pen and paper and started noting down my Dandeli experience to ensure I don’t miss out any of them!

If you enjoyed reading this post, it means you love adventure and new experiences and it means it’s time for you to plan your next trip!

Happy Holidays!

© All rights reserved with Mihir Rawal. To re-print or re-use, prior permission is required from the author.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sick, Tired, Mute and Lost…

On 9th April, I went to Dandeli - all excited. On 13th April, I came back from Dandeli.
Well I had FANTASTIC time! First time I travelled with group of 30 people and it was total FUN! Two and  half days passed like a blink...
However - too much of fun, too much of water sports, too much of shouting and screaming and very little rest took the toll. I came back with body ache, eye pain, cough, cold and sore throat [to the extent that I can’t speak :(]. That sounds like one of the combo pack which Biz Bazaar offers during festival season! Based on my “health history”, I wonder why sickness doesn’t strike individually and always pours in a pack of a combo?
While coming back, travelling in sleeper class for 16 hours carrying unhealthy body, sleeping without pillow or shawl, bearing noise and crowd made things worse.
It’s been like hell to be sick and to be alone. I came back on Monday at 12pm and for rest of the day, I was a lost soul. I didn’t know what to do. I slept – woke up – slept – woke up. I was so lost that I didn’t realize I need to take cough syrup and some basic homely medicine like turmeric powder! Thanks to a friend, who buzzed me and told me to do so...
So far I had 2 crosin, 8 strepsils, 2 vicks action 500, 3 doses of cough syrup, 3 doses of turmeric powder - since i started feeling sick.

I will visit a doctor tomorrow. I hope to be better by tomorrow evening. I have so many things to write about the trip and my experiences. Let me get back in shape…
Let me take cough syrup and go to sleep now...
Good night.
© All rights reserved with Mihir Rawal. To re-print or re-use, prior permission is required from the author.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Unwind!

Since the day I came back from Hampi - my heart, bones, blood, brain - entire body is craving for the next trip…

It’s 8th April 2009, 11.37PM. Guess what, I am less than 24 hours away from my next trip! Yes – I am going to Dandeli [www.dandeli.com]! I am going there for the first time but I have heard from others that it’s an awesome place to have fun :)

We are 30 souls in total going for this trip. This includes my colleagues, their families and even kiddos...

We will be starting out train journey on Thursday evening @ 5.10pm and we will be back on Monday morning. Yes! For three good days, I will be away from all worldly chaos. I won’t have to struggle for food; no need to save myself from rampaging auto rickshaws coming from the most unexpected directions, no need to think about the most critical piece of office work needs to be completed on time… Nah. Nothing.

Instead, I will be spending next three glorious days in the company of the most amazing architect this world has ever seenGOD.

So where is Dandeli?
Here is the location / motor route [courtesy http://mapindia.live.com].Though we will be travelling through train and route will be different.

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What will we do there?

Here is the glimpse of it :)

Note: This plan may change based on water level for Rafting.

9th April
5:10 PM Board the Rayalseema Express @ Namapally, Hyderabad Station.
10th April
10:15 AM Arrive @ Londa Jn
10:30 AM Start to HornBill Resorts by Bus/Van
11:30 AM Check-in to Resort
11:30 AM – 1:00 PM Fresh Up & Lunch
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM River Rafting
6:00 – 7:00 PM Snacks & Activities
7:30 PM Barbeque Dinner + Tribal Dance
11th April
8:00 AM Breakfast
9:00 AM – 12:00 PM Rappelling
1:00 – 2:00 PM Lunch
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM Coracle Ride + Jacuzzi Bath
6:00 – 7:00 PM Snacks & Activities
7:30 PM DJ followed by Dinner
12th April
5:00 AM Nature Walk + Trekking
8:00 AM Breakfast
9:00 AM – 12:00 PM Sentheli Rocks
1:00 – 2:00 PM Check - Out & Lunch
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Activities
3:30 PM Start to Londa Station
4:55 PM Board the Haripriya Express 7416, back to Hyderabad
13h April
10:30 AM Arrival @ Namapally, Hyderabad Station .

So my next travelogue is about to come! Stay tuned :)

Have a good weekend.

Keep Smiling :)

© Except image in this post, all rights reserved with Mihir Rawal. To re-print or re-use, prior permission is required from the author.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mera Bharat Pareshan : Educated laborers and illiterate unqualified billionaires

Nowadays, I get up in morning and tune in to news channel. I come home in evening and tune in to news channel. Yeah its election season and I have been following elections very closely.

I am amazed. Yeah I am amazed at amount of assets each politician declares. And yeah, as you rightly guessed, what they declare is just the tip of the iceberg.

299 crore rupee [2990 million rupee]. Yeah that’s the highest asset declared by Congress candidate from Vijayawada [Andhra Pradesh]. Looking at this election, someone who has asset of 1 crore rupee [10 million rupee] is now appears as “poor” politician!

Oh and I still remember how “rich” I used to feel when I had 5 rupee note in my pocket - in 1989.

In 2009, rupee has lost – meaning, shine, and value. So as human life.

I am wondering. Currently I am working for one of the best [or the best] company. [Officially] I am in the most lucrative profession in India. I earn very decent amount compare to most other Indians of my age earn.

Yet

  • I don’t own a house. Yeah I can buy house on loan but it’s a scary thought to take loan of 4 million rupee and pay 40K of EMIevery monthfor next 20 years.
  • I don’t own a car.
  • I don’t have exorbitant bank balance.
  • I don’t know how tomorrow will be. I don’t know how much money I will need to live a decent life – after a year – after 5 year – after 10 year and after I retire. Looking at present, I just don’t know how my future will be.

And a politician – having no qualification – no knowledge – no degree - [officially] we don’t know how he earns – [officially] we don’t know when he earns – yet, earns millions and billions of rupees!

I can’t dream of owning a house and they have multiple apartments / bungalows / farm houses / cars / gold / cash / stocks! Without any known source of income!

I am thinking:

Am I in wrong profession? OR is it time for cleansing the most corrupt profession in India?

What you say?

What you think?

Will you vote this time?

© All rights reserved with Mihir Rawal. To re-print or re-use, prior permission is required from the author.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Finding peace of mind can cost you peace of mind...

Couple of months back - on one fine Saturday. It was 11.30am but Hyderabad was HOT! I was riding my bike after very long time. I wanted to go inside the building to park my bike but guard refused. He said - I couldn’t take my bike in. Alright. All I wanted to know was – where could I park my bike? I asked multiple times but every time he gave me same answer: I couldn’t take my bike in. DAMN! I was sure I was not speaking in Spanish that the guard couldn’t understand. The deadly combination of HOT SUN and repetitive irritating answers brought THE BAD LEO out of me and I SCREAMED at him. WTF. Why can’t he give a proper answer?

That makes me wonder why all my experiences are around peak noon hours :-)

Anyways, I parked bike outside the building and went in. The building was Cyber Tower.

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Well… now we need to take a flashback.

Sometime last year, financial market went south. Lehman brothers sank. ICICI bank was hit a little bit [around 500 crore :-)] and that was the first time I realized that I was banking with ICICI and only with ICICI. Now I needed one more account in a nationalized bank to distribute my liquid cash. When I thought of a nationalized bank, first name came to my mind was the mother of all Indian bank – State Bank of India (SBI). I was sure having my money in SBI would give me peace of mind.

clip_image003

So now I am going to share how I lost peace of mind while trying to find peace of mind :-)

Opening New Account
Never thought it would be so easy! A representative from the bank came to my office, collected documents and opened account on the spot! I received welcome kit, checkbook, debit card, debit card PIN number, internet user id and password and all done in less than 30 minutes. WOW! Yeah that was really WOW from a nationalized bank!

Internet banking
I was asked to wait for 24 hours before logging in. I waited. I logged in and it worked! Sometimes though certain things are suppose to work, it surprises when it works! Like a city bus coming on time, like my bike which starts even if not used for 6 months, like a politician keeping a promise..!

So once you login to you SBI account, you are asked to change your user id and password which I did happily. (Well, I didn’t know something screwed up. I came to know after few days…)

First Bitter Pill
Now first thing I wanted to check was - if I could transfer money from ICICI to SBI. I logged in to ICICI and searched for all SBI branches where I could transfer money. BUMMER – my SBI branch was not listed L. (Let me confess – I love net banking. I just love everything that I can do online while sitting on my bean bag. I do so many things online - pay phone bill, pay credit card bill, do online shopping, open online recurring account, open online FD, find online driving direction and much more). So for my lazy bums, it was such a shock to know that I couldn’t transfer money online to SBI account L Hmmm.. What to do? The simplest solution is - I need to transfer SBI account to another SBI branch where I could transfer money from ICICI.

I called up customer care hoping I will get some help. I was told I need to visit the SBI branch to get account transferred. I could do that only on Saturday.

Second Bitter Pill
Meanwhile, after couple of days I tried logging in. BUMMER - I was greeted with an error message: Invalid user id or password :-(

Do you hate this message as much as I do?
A minute before, you want to login and do something important and a minute later, you realize you have a long battle ahead - To retrieve your forgotten password. Oh it’s such a painstaking experience… GRRRRRRRR.

Once again I called up customer care hoping I will get some help. Only help I got was the suggestion – I need to visit the branch.

So to transfer my account and to get internet account working, I was visiting the branch when I had that heated exchange with the security guard.

1st Branch Visit

Account Transfer
Enter the office. Appears like a government – those typical tables, chairs and scattered arrangement. Only difference is - nice sofa set for visitors. I ask what I need to do and I am told to surrender my old checkbook and fill in a form to transfer account. I did. How long will it take to transfer account? 2 weeks. How will I know it’s completed? Will I get SMS or an email? NOPE! I am told that I need to come to branch and check it. How silly. Why we don’t use technology when we have it available? They ask customer to provide email id and telephone number while opening an account but don’t use it to notify them. Why O Why?

Internet Banking
I am told I can’t get internet account problem solved till account is transferred. Why O why? No answer.


2nd Branch Visit

Account Transfer
To my surprise, account was transferred! YIPPPI! So where is my new checkbook? Bummer – I need to provide address proof once again. Now this certainly defies logic. I opened an account with SBI just a month back and I provided address proof at that time. Neither I am a cat or a criminal who keep on changing their whereabouts every now and then. So why I need to provide address proof once again? Why O why? Again, no answer. I am told that’s the process. Sucks.

Internet Banking
Interestingly (and annoyingly) my bank account is transferred but my internet account is still not linked with the new branch. What should I do? Something which I haven’t done for ages and something which happens every minute at a nationalized institute – Write an application! Is there a form to fill up? I ask. Answer is – No. Take a blank paper and write an application. Same way as you used to write absent note in school.

3rd Branch Visit

Checkbook
So I obtained address proof from my office. On official letterhead. I went to the bank. Went to the lady who had asked for the address proof as part of account transfer process. She asked me to go to another person to submit.

I went and told that chap about story of account transfer and checkbook. I gave him address proof. He looked at me with a question mark on his face and asked – why am I submitting address proof? Now that was a shock! I was asked by one employee to submit address proof as part of process and another employee is asking me why am I submitting? Another shock – he verified with other employee too that NO ADDRESS PROOF IS NEEDED TO TRANSFER ACCOUNT.

Fine.

Question: So where is the checkbook? Answer: I need to request for it. Question: How? Answer: Hehe... I need to write one more application on a blank paper :-) I did so and submitted the application. Now I need to meet another guy for internet banking.

Internet Banking
Hurray! Account is configured correctly! I am given a new user id and password to start with. I am determined not to screw up account details this time. I don’t have any more stamina left to visit branch on every single Saturday.

I came home. Logged in. It worked! First thing I did was to add ICICI account information as a payee. I added account information. Now I was asked to enter mobile number for verification. Generally mobile verification is simple. You enter your mobile number, they SMS you with a code. You enter the code and BINGO! You are done! Simple?

Nah. It’s not so simple with SBI :-) I couldn’t complete payee registration as my mobile number was not verified. So how verification should happen? Did you say online thru SMS? LOL! You need to visit branch – once again! This time an online form was provided which I needed to print, fill in and submit to the bank.

4th Branch Visit

Mobile Verification
So once again on Saturday, I went to the bank. Submitted the form. Someone from the bank completed registration process in their software. I was told it’s done. But how? I was told I would receive SMS. Fine. If I can receive SMS, why I had to visit the branch? Why couldn’t I use SMS code to complete the verification process? Why O Why? Again, no answer :-)

I came home. Very happy! At last, all set and done! I logged into SBI. Wanted to check if I could transfer money to ICICI. Here comes last bummer – ICICI account registration process was incomplete because when I registered ICICI account information, my mobile number verification was not completed and without that, I couldn’t add a payee.

But now? I do have mobile number verification completed. But…well..huh.. I have to visit the branch to have this payee information confirmed and registration process completed :-( Do you see me pulling my hair? BOY. This really sucks. I am tired of visiting SBI every Saturday with one issue or another.

5th Branch Visit

Verify Payee Details
It’s been pending for a while. Last weekend I had sprained my ankle and hence couldn’t move. So didn’t go to the bank and this Saturday, I forgot.

Now I sincerely, honestly hope that this will be my last visit to SBI in near future. I rarely visited ICICI bank as I could do almost everything online. In two months, I have visited SBI more number of times then I visited ICICI in a year!

But, I still love this bank. Simply because of the trust, size and being a nationalized bank. Though I may have to visit branch more times, may have to fill in application forms, I still feel my money is lot more secured with SBI then any other private bank.

Pray for me that next visit will be my last visit!

Happy Banking!

© Except image in this post, all rights reserved with Mihir Rawal. To re-print or re-use, prior permission is required from the author.

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