Tuesday, December 23, 2008

CHENNAI-ISATION OF MAYAWATI!!

I drive to the airport everyday during the week. Anytime a politician visits Chennai, we have these hoardings put all along the median on the Grand Southern Trunk road leading out of Chennai via the airport. Mayawati is visiting for two days. This is one hoarding on my side of the road that caught my eye. It says 'NEXT PRIME MINISTER MAYAWATHIJI HEARTILY WELCOME'. I suppose she thrives on such flattery, OR
are we all missing something??????????

Friday, November 28, 2008

DELUGE IN CHENNAI!!!!



These are some of the photographs that I have taken while driving to/ coming back from work, of the flooding on Chennai roads. Chennai has been hit by bad weather for the last three days comprising of heavy rain and strong surface winds. The rains have created havoc in low lying areas. Most of the roads have become rivers what with high concrete boundary walls and dividers on most roads, the only easy route for the water to drain out are the roads. People of Chennai have to be commended to reach their work places inspite of the rain, and knee deep water at most places. Bus stops have been inundated and most people are walking around bare feet with trousers rolled up to the knees. The police are manning their posts and helping traffic navigate whatever is left of the roads - hats off to the police.

The Chennai municipality had assured everyone that they were ready for the monsoon but the arrival of the monsoon has once again proven that the municipality has no clue what being ready means.

Vehicles are found stalled on most roads due to water ingestion into the carburetors. Schools have been closed and there have been problems with electricity availability at some places. Our area though has not had any major problem.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

CHENNAI TO TORONTO

It's been sometime since I wrote on this blog primarily because I am on a vacation for three weeks. I have moved from the Sunny South of India to the icy cold of Canada; from 32*C to single digit highs - we are expecting flurries today; its snowed about 30 kms North of here.

I am visiting my daughter and son-in-law and getting to spend time with my grand daughter who was born on 29 Sep 08. Should be back in Chennai on 23 Nov 08. So till then - good bye.

Monday, October 20, 2008

OUR TRIP TO YERCAUD - 13 TO 15TH JUL 2008TH

We set course for Yercaud from Chennai at about 8 am on Sunday, 13 Jul 08. The journey was very pleasant until 120 kms out of Chennai, thanks to the good, 4-lane, divided highway. We didn’t mind paying the Rs 40 in tolls, as the road was really good. However, there needs to be a concerted drive to educate the drivers on the correct use of the road and how to maintain lane discipline. After 120 kms the road was not too bad and the drive to Salem (about 325 kms from Chennai) was uneventful. We had a South Indian ‘meal’ at Salem and then started the drive to Yercaud (about 30 kms away). The drive was very picturesque and we saw a large number of monkeys on the way. There are 20 hairpin bends which add to the excitement during the drive. We drove in to Yercaud at about 4 pm.

Shevaroy Hills, Yercaud.
Yercaud is situated at about 5000 ft above msl in the Shevaroy Hills, in the state of Tamil Nadu. Yercaud is quiet little hill station on the Eastern Ghats. While the rest of this region is generally dry, Yercaud presents a welcome contrast with its cool climate where temperature never rises above 30 º C and dips below 13 º C. During our stay, the temperature was in the 15 – 25 º C range. It is known as the poor man’s Ooty and is also less expensive than either Ooty or Kodaikkanal. This peaceful hill station is nestled among coffee plantations and thickly forested slopes and is a good place for plain relaxation, trekking and boating.

We drove straight into Star holidays Inc., a resort about 2 kms short of the main city centre. This resort has cottages, which are neat and clean and provide you with ‘value for money’ pricing. The stay at the resort was good. The cottage had a double bed, an inverter, geyser, television (128 channel cable connection) and running water. The amenities were adequate. The surroundings are very green and ‘just adequately’ maintained. The only drawback is the restaurant does not cater for very much, as the occupancy was poor – maybe because it was a weekday. Star holidays are located very close to the lake – the centerpiece of Yercaud. We walked down to the lake in the evening. The weather was really perfect after the Chennai heat.

We drove to the Kiliyur falls on the next day. The falls are situated at 3.2 kms from the lake. The road was narrow and winding down. There is a platform to park the cars about 0.5 kms from the falls. Do not drive beyond this platform as you would not find any place to turnaround on the steep slope before you turn cross country for the falls. The falls are approachable only through a narrow goat track that has very steep drops and roots sticking out above ground level. The ground was also wet in places. Please be appropriately dressed for a professional trek. It is doable if you are fit and ready for the adventure. The overflow water from the lake drops about 300 ft on this rock face which comprises the Kiliyur falls. On this occasion, the falls were a very a narrow stream. Monsoons, or just after, would be the right time to enjoy these falls. However, the path at that time would be very treacherous. On one side of the pathway is a barbed wire fence guarding a coffee estate - please exercise caution. I do wish people would not throw non-organic waste while enjoying the trek and the falls. There were a lot of wrappers and empty water bottles dumped on the rocks close to the falls.























Two views of Kiliyur Falls
In the evening we decided to do some boating in the lake. Pedal boats and row boats are available for hire in the lake. We hired one four seater pedal boat for Rs 95 for half an hour. We were nearly exhausted after about 20 minutes of pedaling.
Poonam trying to click Rajni, while being clicked herself

Thereafter, we visited the Pagoda point, Gent’s seat, Ladies seat and Children’s seat. The view from each of these vantage points is good. However, our civic sense leaves much to be desired, not that Tamil Nadu Tourism has made any provisions for collecting and removing garbage. Wrappers, bottles, plastic and waste are strewn around all over. The other thing – most Government signboards are in Tamil – really frustrating for people from other parts of the country, and abroad. Maybe Tamil Nadu tourism is not interested in opening this hill station to people from outside Tamil Nadu. However, looking at the commercial activity in terms of hotels and guest houses, it seems that the private sector is already gearing up for increased traffic in the future.

We had dinner at the Tamil Nadu hotel restaurant on the first night – satisfactory. The next night we went up to Hotel Grand Palace. The view from this hotel was beautiful – the hotel is located on top of the ridge; the rooms were better laid out, but more expensive. The restaurant was classy and the food was good.

The last place we visited before leaving Yercaud was The Sky Roca hotel. The location of this hotel is on the eastern rock face. Every room in this hotel faces Salem town. You can see Salem about 4800 ft below. At night the view from the rooms must be gorgeous – considering that all rooms have a glass front to the East. There are five classes of rooms. The most expensive suite comes with a private lawn, Jacuzzi and other frills – highly recommended for once in a lifetime celebrations. Rooms are expensive but then you pay for the location, the ambience and the thought put into designing this hotel. Worth a stay – though a little on the higher side for the pocket. The catering is by ‘Sam’s Kitchen’ from Chennai. We had breakfast – nothing very great, though the location is once again good.

Our drive back to Chennai was uneventful. Overall the trip was very relaxing and enjoyable. We would love to visit Yercaud again, though by train the next time. Yercaud to me means – just unwind and relax, away from pollutions of all kinds, and enjoy the weather – just perfect.

Monday, October 13, 2008

OUR TRIP TO MAHABALIPURAM - 29 OCT 2006

Our kids, Medha and Chaitanya, had come down to visit us in Chennai from Canada in December 2006. Narsim, (now)Medha's husband had also come down from the US. We had a good time together. On 29 Dec 2006, we had made a trip to the Crocodile Park and Mahabalipuram. These are some of the photographs that were clicked by Narsim. The photographs bring out the majestic beauty of the sculptures at Mahabalipuram. I will be writing about them in due course. Chaitanya, The Elephant, Medha & Narsim

Poonam, Self, Medha & Chaitanya posing infront of the Ratha

The Shore Temple with the sea in the background

Medha, Poonam, Self and Chaitanya in a happy pose with the Shore Temple in the backgroud.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Reflection of a Glorious Sunset at Chennai!!



Being a Saturday, I had a half day at work and therefore decided to have a siesta in the afternoon. Windows shut, Curtains pulled and AC on, and off I went to sleep. Woke up at about 5:30 pm, made myself a cup of tea and came back into the room to watch TV while sipping the tea. Decided to open the windows and let some fresh air in, and this is what I saw - the sun was very bright behind a dark cloud. Waited for a while mesmerised by the beauty of the 'dark clouds with silver linings'. Imagine the all powerful sun can also be blanked out by a dark cloud....though only for a while. How true about life too. The other way to look at it is that even the dark cloud has a silver lining. Anyway, suddenly saw the reflection of the sun on the window pane - the colour bright orange, just touching the clouds with coconut trees in the foreground. Made a beautiful sight. Clicked it. Enjoy this glorious sunset at Chennai captured on my TV room western window pane!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

THE SETTING SUN IN CHENNAI - A VIEW FROM OUR BEDROOM WESTERN WINDOW

I tried to capture the glorious beauty of the setting sun from our bedroom western window. You can just about see the last of the red disc touching the mobile phone antennas in the background with a lot of greenery and coconut trees in the foreground. The photograph does not do justice to what I had witnessed - I am a novice at this photography thing. Hope to do better next time.

Friday, September 19, 2008

LET'S ALL HELP EACH OTHER STAY SAFE, CHENNAI

How many times has it happened to you? You are driving around in the city, by night, and are blinded by the headlights of the oncoming vehicle. It must be a daily occurence, and the only constant, if you happen to be driving around in Chennai. The majority of the vehicles in Chennai drive around with their headlights selected to high beam. It blinds you completely for a few seconds, and this is even worse with the latest high intensity headlights that most of our modern cars, motorcycles and scooters have. Many a times I have just about missed a poor pedestrian crossing the road, who is wearing no reflective clothing, or even aware that he was just going to be run over. At other times, I have missed cattle, dogs, or bumped over a pothole, or gone over a raised manhole cover. There is a need for all of us to be considerate to each other on the road. This would help us all, and also ensure that we donot run over some poor pedestrian trying to cross the road. We donot need the high beam at the speeds that we are driving around in the city. It is only needed when you are probably clipping on the highway. Even then, courtesy demands that you dip your lights to any oncoming vehicle. Can we all help each other and make our roads safer for people - both on the vehicles and on foot.

Monday, September 15, 2008

WHITE COLOURED MENACE ON THE ROADS OF CHENNAI

I was happy to come to Chennai after having lived in Delhi for some years. In Delhi, one got fed up of seeing every other car sporting a red flashing light - a sign that the car belonged to a VIP, whose time was more precious than that of the other citizens of the country. These cars invariably wanted right of way on the road, and honked when they did not get a pass, or if the road was not broad enough. In case you happened to be driving ahead of them, you were expected to melt into the surroundings to let these VIPs pass. In case the VIP happened to be an elected representative with a XYZ category, then you would have these black cats in other escort vehicles brandishing guns at you if you did not give a pass fast enough. I thought Delhi was the national capital and had a large number of VIPs, and that other cities would be better as regards treatment meted out to ordinary citizens, due primarily to lesser number of VIPs in the other cities.
When I moved to Chennai I found that this city was definitely better than Delhi as far as the red light flashing cars were concerned. However, I was soon witnessing another phenomenon in Chennai, and other parts of Tamil Nadu too. This is the phenomenon of the white menace in the form of either a brand new Scorpio or a Tata Sumo with dark tinted glasses which does not permit you to look inside. This menace invariably has a party flag of one of the DMK parties (there are so many of them these days) stuck on the bonnet. The occupant is always dressed in whites and sits besides the driver. This driver generally has no clue of the rules of the road and drives from the pavement to the median, about 10 times in one km. His only brief probably is to take the occupant of the SUV (a VIP in his own right) ahead of everyone else on the road. I have been trailed by these menacing vehicles a number of times. They flash their headlights, honk their horns and do everything in their control to throw you off the road. In case you are brave hearted like me, they immediately press on the pedal and overtake you from any side irrespective of other traffic. I mentioned this to a local friend and he said that these are the party functionaries of one of DMK parties, and it appears that these vehicles are given as gifts for jobs well done. The flag of the DMK or AIADMK on the bonnet ensures police impunity, and thus they have the right to break all rules meant only for lesser citizens, but not for their elected representatives or aspiring to be elected representatives. May God save the citizens from the menace of their own elected representatives or aspiring ones in these white menacing vehicles, or can the party bosses do something to reign them in, atleast on the roads.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Travel from Chennai towards Pondicherry.

These are some of the pictures taken while driving down the ECR in December 2006. The first photograph is of the Bay of Bengal as seen from the car travelling on the East Coast Road from Chennai towards Pondicherry. This is a very scenic toll road that travels parallel to the coast.
Our first stop was the Crocodile park where we saw different species of snakes, alligators and crocodiles. We also witnessed the venom extraction by the Irula tribesmen. The photograph is of one of the Irula tribesman forcibly opening the mouth of the snake to extract the venom in the container (with the white top).
The fangs of the snake look menacing to put it mildly. Notice the bare hands.
The Cobra sure looks like a king with it's hood raised.
Just you look at my jaws.......and the teeth.
Don't go by our looks and reputation, we are harmless......