Sunday, October 07, 2012

My wonderful recent past and the disastrous outcome

What I recall as my recent past:

1. I saw a queue waiting outside my neighbor’s house who got the only telephone in the locality, the queue is to book and attend their trunk bookings/calls.

2. I witnessed the first color television in my town

3. I was  always asked to go to the terrace to rotate the monster television antenna to get the blurry telecast signals on the TV.

4. I know how difficult to buy a bicycle during my school days (even at 8th grade)

5. I remember my father always pedaled to go to his work even at 40years of his age

6. Every time I saw a steam powered locomotive pulling 7 coaches filled with people, I wondered what was the white smoke emitted from all over the engine

7. Collected the spilled coal blocks from railroads only to share and build stories with friends

8. I always made it a point to visit the village to play on the farm fields during weekends

9. The irrigation well is the only known swimming pool to me

10. I have always enjoyed cooking with my little friends back in those days on the fields to make our own food

11. We played tag and hide and seek together with the friends

12. Walking to the school for a mile or more distance was always a mandate to me

13. I had long lasting experience in waiting in the queue to get the water from public drinking water supply, I still remember how much of happiness it brought when we got the first water connection to our house

14.  Elections were fun, even at small age I enjoyed seeing those beggars asking us to vote for them.  Now the evolution made those beggars  rich so they could buy votes

15. Studies ? No way, I climbed the hill next to my house only to rest with the book

16. The color tube TV, rented Video cassette player, Private cable video (each street will have a video player connected to the cable system to play movies every day), Satellite cable channels, Direct dish TV and internet broadcasted TV are all happen in just matter of recent past

17. Calculators that my father used to for his work was the only electronic device that I was always fondled with until the first computerized billing machine(nothing but the cash register) at my home town at co-operative super market called  karpagam suyasevai, it only lasted for few years as the first computer(PC-XT) that I knew over took my attention on the billing machine. Did I tell you, I grew up seeing no internal hard disk or 2MB memory capacity to only work on my personal laptop that hosts 8GB of memory and over a terra bite of hard disk ?

18. I was playing the snake games displayed on cga monitor to colorful dave game on a vga screen only to find virtual reality games on the current HD screens

19. I was amazed to watch the first 3D movie "My dear kutti sathan" and that experience lasted me for over 2 decades to catch up with a 3D theater at home.

20. It was always painful to go to school, I remember returning home with wounds created by the bamboo stick of my teacher.  In my little world schools were hell and teachers are the devils. Man last week I went to my children school, I envy them as their teacher called the kids sweety and hug them.  I saw a sparkle on my son's face and all I know he never says he don't want to go to school.

21. Ah, there was no social media but we always socialized in person

22. Love, Friendship, Affection and Fights were all in real world, in fact we all have had original faces.

23. The first borewell near to my home that made the water scarcity go away from the community but all our neighbors suddenly became enemies to each other.  One should have witnessed the kind of fight on the queue every day!

24. Did I tell you, traveling to Chennai from Tiruvannamalai (190 kms)took no less than 6 hours? The national highways were single lane and accidents were always fatal. I amongst others who traveled on those days were luckiest ones to survive today

25. I saw the super-fast high ways constructed before my eyes

26. I know the how it used to feel, when we got a lift on the govt. owned willys jeeps

27. I don't think I need to mention this cattle and bullock carts were part of daily life.  I also witness the transitioning of man pedaled rickshaw, bullock and horse carts to Auto rickshaw to ultra-modern cabs. Now I don't use public transport :-)

28. Festivals, Marriages and Family gatherings were happiest moments of life.  I simply not able to connect any of them in this modern world.

29. We loved to eat with cousins looking at the moon on the terrace with a single plate / vessel filled with our food

30. The only pick nick or tour we always go is to the nearest irrigation dam, those days it was the only place most of the movies were shot (Sathanur Dam).

31. I remember how peaceful rusty town the Tiruvannamalai(my home town) used to be, We accessed the temple at no hesitation, there used to be a water stream just before the northern entrance that flown from the hills. Alongside the giant granite compound wall of the temple were the home for all the sculptures.

32. Chennai used to be an amazing city with broad sized multilane roads, no one was competing to each other as there was plenty of room to everyone the road.  Do I need to describe the situation today ?

33. I saw another transition of all the terracotta tiled houses to RCC roofed one

34.  Cars were a dream machine for the riches on the community

35. It used to be years of my excitement to see an Air Conditioner machine and feel how chill to sit in the air conditioned room

36. Until my 10th grade, I never had a full pant to wear(except 2 of that were presented to me during my kindergarten age). Ready-made garments were aanother dream to most of us, we always depended on the tailor shop to stitch our custom made dress. I wonder how privileged person I used to be, as all my dresses were designed according to my taste :-)

37. Mixer grinder, Wet grinder, Washing machine, Refrigerator were all reason for fight between parents to finally bring them home.  I know how we survived without all these machines. Granites were so much in use for our daily life.

38. The only interior decoration we always had in almost every house is to hang ten and twenties of framed photographs all around the walls in the house.

39. Do you know how much fun to collect the 5paisa from grandfather to only go to the street corner shop to buy some crazy snack.

40. The street corner milk store queue transitioned to Milk man delivery and converted itself to processed pocket milk. I'm unaware of anyone else still drinks the hot fresh milk or hearing the sound of the early morning milkman's cycle bell. 

41. The festival at the street temple was always a local community integration day, all the girls used to cook, walk and chat together while boys decorate the whole street and sit on the open street whole night to watch the same old movie ten times.

42. I wrote about water already, even though water water water was the only problem I remember always.  We shared the public well system, We also had a private well at our home(I promise pulling the water out from 60 odd feet was no easy job for hours), the public bore well was the savior during the great drought, pipelined water was a boom and the ground water harvesting came in hand to fix all the long pending issues.

43. Another painful place to visit is to go to a doctor, I don't know why we had injection shot on all our visits. No matter what was the cause of our fever or illness the sharp bulky needle pointlessly punctured our butts.

44. When I was teen, the girls in my hometown never exposed to the western wears. It was always a great pleasure to sight them with traditional Dhavani (half saree). The sad story, today either northern Indian wear or western wear were buried those beautiful costumes and Dhavani is in near extinct state now.

45. Oh the vinyl players slowly gave path for legendary tape players.  Do you know we always made it as practice to buy blank audio cassettes and go to local recording stores to get our music recorded for a fee. Internet and MP3s killed many of the music store livelihoods.

46. My story on the internet is huge, I started with Shell accounts that only had character interface and pine like email clients. The first TCP/IP accounts brought in a new era of excitement

47. The first internet browsing center in India was 5 star category, The 64kbps RF leased circuit, all the dial-in plans, broad band, wireless broadband, and all Gs were great progress to make all our life smaller than a 14" computer screen.

48. The evolution of Internet explorer, Netscape Navigator, Opera, Mozilla, Chrome is phenomenal.  I find everything in the world through this tools.  Did I say HotBot, Excite, WebCrawler, Ask Jeeves,, Yahoo, Dogpile, AltaVista, Lycos, MSN Search, AOL Search, Infoseek,, Netscape, MetaCrawler, and All The Web and 100 other search engines were compressed to one single Google.

49. As on today, I miss all the traditional Tamil cuisine. I don't know if anyone will remember or aware of Adhirasam, Kai Murukku, Kozhukattai, Paal Kozhukattai, Seadai, Kesari, Souiyam and numours other southern snacks.

50. Rockets, Crackers and Deepavalis were the best combination to start a mischievous act.

51. Guys, How can I forget the pongal festival and the amount of business we have given to the postal department. Poor postal service faded away due to the electronic emails.  You know how much fun to wet the stamp on your saliva ?

52. There is another extinction that I knew, it was the bad news teller (that's how most of them in the community remembers), yes the one and only telegraph service.  Those days telephones are nightmare to call anyone outside the town as it took more than 24 hours to advance book the trunk calls; the quicker sharing of news like dismissal of friends and relatives were always through telegraphs. I learned how to form telegraph lines on the syllabus in the school it was so much part of everyone's life but today?

Man, It seems I have lived a longer life than anyone could have imagined.  I still love those westerner referred backward rustic peaceful semi-civilized town life that never going to come back to us. The conclusion is that all the revolutions that we claimed in the recent past only eliminated all our physical work and the internet eliminated our intelligence and made the whole world a walking dead. The disorders such as diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure were outcome of the physical activity elimination while all the vote for money and pledging our traditions for western life is outcome of stalled brains.  I wonder how and what will be the solution for me to fix this gigantic problem!  

Summer Vacation in NorthEast India - Part 5 (Tiger Hills & Land Rovers)

esterday evening at around 7:30 I went down from the hotel thinking that I could do some souvenir shopping, no way there was not even a single shop opened at that time. The entire Darjeeling went on hibernation.

With the help of SirAlec I have done so much of Darjeeling visit and today I got my first every LandRover ride that too with a distinct Landrover of SirAlec. I will let him describe the story behind this super smart India's only British Army driven LandRover. I did manage to click few jeep's picture sitting inside the LR.

I have been dreaming of seeing Landrovers and LR rides in Darjeeling, but it is like dream never comes true as most(all) of the LR already departed from Darjeeling soil, but today with the help of SirAlec and his driver my entire family achieved an opportunity to travel in the heritage vehicle.

Kumar the LR driver is a smart and nice gentleman landed in our hotel early morning only to show us the beautiful vehicle he brought, after taking a breath we all jumped into the vehicle and he pushed the vehicle towards tea garden, as we have already seen it yesterday I told him we will directly head towards the Tiger Hills(The peak of Darjeeling).

While we were travelling on the LR we found the Kanjanjunga was clearly visible, I didn't click pictures as I thought taking pictures from Tigerhills will look more beautiful. While we were approaching the Tiger Hills I once again spotted the same LR that was got in to my camera on the very first day working like donkey, here is the clearer picture of the same.

I realized the mistake I did after we reached the Tiger Hills, You know what it was completely covered with a thick blanket of fog, nothing visible around. Only for few minutes we could see some objects from near location, but the Kanjanjunka only left as a wish.

Then there was colorful chap, who realized I'm somewhat fed up as the fog played a spoilsport on my trip. He was sitting quite and posing for me to take all the required pictures of him.

Then I spent some time around SirAlec's LR and captured some good number of pictures , but then we are offroaders and with SUVs we really don't find bored to do anything even if it is a simple photo shoot session.

After a while we rolled our TigerHills trip and visited a Monastery, this one is the oldest monastery in Darjeeling built during 1850. Dalailama visited this monastery by 1993 and really a colorful building.

My wify tried out the prayer wheels in smaller sizes and larger one put inside the monastery.

After getting permission from this Darjeeling ladies, I took their prayer wheel custom picture just to make sure we didn't perform the custom wrongly.

We need to pay Rs.10 per person to take pictures inside the monastery, hence we clicked few individual photos alongside the buddha inside the monastery.

Today we found the entire Darjeeling weather went down multi-fold and it was chilling.

After a little while we went to Batasia a Gurkha Memorial place, it's small park which is surrounded/fenced by toy train railway track with beautiful flowers on it. The center of circle shaped park had a memorial pillar and a jawan's statue.

While we were in the park I located the Toy train approaching us from far away.

The train slowly moved an reached the park and halted for few minutes for the passengers to go around the park, I took this opportunity to click few pictures of the old marvel.

The Batasia made our final destination on the Darjeeling sight seeing plans and we reached a hotel to have lovely chowmein and closed the wonderful Darjeeling experience.

Summer Vacation in NorthEast India - Part 4 (Darjeeling Zoo and Peace Temple)

it is again a great day in Darjeeling, after reading many of the East Travelogues I decided not to visit the Tiger hills for the sun raise view as today I witnessed the fog rolling on the road at 9:00am in the morning and I'm sure at 4:00am nothing will be there. so we picked the idea from Bhimal to go for mixed point trip. This is basically commercial term to take you around the town for sight seeing options. We picked Japanese temple, Peace temple, Zoo, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (with in the zoo) and Tea gardens view.

We had a nice chap as our driver introduced by Bhimal to take us around, His name is Yogesh and he could be contacted over +91-9775963813

At first I was surprised to see even latest vehicles in Darjeeling runs with three alphabetical state/rto identification letters which is out from the country about 2 decades back. See it yourself with Yogesh TATA sumo number plate.

Kids were ready with monkey caps and we started our first sight seeing in Darjeeling, the roads were chaos with messy traffic, most of the vehicles we have seen are TATA SUMO, MM540, MM Commander, Bolero, Maxx and few other cars. The drivers are normally very rash.

We reached the really peaceful Peace temple (first sight) and climbed the steps to only see the Japanese temple. Both of them are really beautiful and cannot be missed in Darjeeling trip. For my family members this is the first time they are visiting a Buddhist temple.

The Japanese temple had a elegant wooden steps to reach the prayer hall where the statues of gods were present, I couldn't take pictures as there was a sign board requesting for the same.

On the middle of the staircase we found a wall hanging with a request for noble cause, Japanese know the pain of Atom bombs.

The opposite side of the wooden staircase had a glass window with a blissful Japanese garden along side the temple. after climbing the staircase we had the drum sequences played along with the priest who was signing some Japanese song. For this purpose the temple had a half of the hall covered with mat and 10-15 drum plates and drum sticks, so the visitors can follow the drum beat of the priest to play themselves while praying the god inside.

We have completed our prayer and got down through the same wooden staircase, the entrance of the temple also had a pillar with some Japanese Kanchi scripts, I couldn't read them for sure.

Next comes the huge and majestic peace temple in white color and golden buddha statues on all the four side of the dome. It was great sight indeed. We climbed all the steps to reach near the boddha statue and walk on the corridor around the dome where lots of stone carving of life of buddha explained.

After this temple visit, we have headed towards the Zoo and HMI, en-route to our next location I found a defunct rob car service commissioned during British era, the taxi driver told me there is no more rob cars in Darjeeling and everything was decommissioned. What a poor state of the administration to ignore such a wonderful service.

The drive ended soon on the Zoo, we have to again climb up to reach the zoo gate, man I know why the people of Darjeeling are so slim where ever we go we need to climb up around 100 meters, my parants had tough time and ofcourse me too as I need to carry the kids once in a while.

Before reaching the zoo entrance we had couple of street side shops selling darjeeling special souvenirs and Adhava is already took one among them, that was a Darjeeling cap.

We also grabbed some roasted corn from the road side vendor

The zoo consist of HMI hence we need to take tickets for Rs.30 (children below 6yrs of age doesn't require ticket) and entered in the well maintained zoo in India. It was green and clean, I really appreciate the care takers for their efforts in keeping the zoo clean and green.

Some of the pictures from Zoo enclosures here:

we reached the HMI to see the museum where most of the everest climbing / conquering activities from the past were photographed kept. Along with the tools and personal dresses used by the sports personal. I also witnessed lots of military vehicles visiting the HMI very often.

After HMI visit we were heading towards the tea gardens and on the way we found the HMI's training rocks on the road side. The taxi stopped at that point to take view of Darjeeling and Adithya was already on the rob to try climbing the rock I was bit shocked and rushed to control him.

After a little bit of travel we finally reached the tea garden and man it was breath taking view from the top of the gardens. That too with a cup of tea in the hands I really enjoyed the view while my wify went down the tea estate path to discover the process of tea harvesting.

Again as all of the Darjeeling areas are attracted by the tourist here also a bit of commercial stuffs, one can rent the Darjeeling traditional dress for Rs.30 to pose the camera. I could see the honey moon couples are more interested towards this dresses in many places.

We were almost dry with our body energy and pulled the trip back to our hotel, I must say it was a great day and everyone enjoyed it.

Tomorrow is the last day in our schedule at Darjeeling, hence one more post on this heaven on earth will follow

Summer Vacation in NorthEast India - Part 3 (Street Travel)

We did find some other beauties of Kolkata very interesting. The cool drinks served in terracotta pots, man pulled rickshaws, man carrying cargo and the beautiful Kali devi and Ganesha statues on the bazaar.

After we started from Sealda station, the train journey was good as the climate had its stake in making us cool. We found the co-passengers very talkative and there was an incident at 2:30am in the mid-night as there was an attempt to do chain snatching from a passenger in next bay. The thief was trying to snatch the gold train that lady was wearing through the window when the train was stopped for signal, luckily she awake and screamed so everyone in the couch switched on the lights, with a wound in the neck she saved her chain. But none of us could locate the thief as the outside was pitch dark. I'm still wondering how did the thief climbed up and found the chain from sleeping lady.

We reached the New Jalpaiguri(NJP) station in the next morning with 1 and half hour delayed schedule. The taxi guys at NJP will follow you right from the couch till you sign a contract with one of them to go to Sikkim, Darjeeling or other tourist locations nearby. We stopped for a breakfast at the railway station food counter and booked a Sumo to Darjeeling (drop) for Rs.1250. Meanwhile I got my accommodation details from Mr.Bhimal of Ken's(TBHPian) friend.

The co-passenger at the Kolkata to NJP train already told us to choose the coronation bridge road instead of rohini road to reach Darjeeling, so I insisted the taxi driver to take us through the coronation bridge road. Rohini road is the common road everyone travels with lots of traffic, the coronation bridge road is actually a road that goes Gangtok along side we were enjoy the beauty of Testa river and the road diverts to Darjeeling in some place.

I must stay, this road was scenic to the eyes and very cold, our driver was little young aged (28yrs) and he claimed he never came in this route. His jaws went down after seeing the beautiful views and the temperature was sub 15degree with full fog outside the car.

I will leave the pictures to show you our fog filled mountain and complete lonely drive

The toy train rails along the road showed the symptom of reaching Darjeeling, our main destination in this tour. The school going children reminded me of Japanese kids , at time I forgot that I'm in India as I completely mad to think all the people with Mongolian skull types are east Asians, but here in Darjeeling they are my nationalist. I could say they are the most beautiful Indians.

We saw the toy train steam engine, that was a rare chance I should say.

There are monasteries and mandirs on the way to our hotel. My eyes were keep on searching for that vehicle as many people told me that Darjeeling hosts the most number of Land Rovers.

I found the first Land Rover aka work horse carrying tar mixture for road laying work, I pity this chap the most wanted offroader in the country is working like donkey. But I also have to admit I have only spotted three Land Rovers in this two days and most of them seems to gone out of Darjeeling to offroaders elsewhere in the country. (So, offroaders don't assume Darjeeling still have many leftover Land Rovers they were all sold off already)

We spend our rest of the day in the streets of Darjeeling doing some shopping, the temperature went down to very minimal and all of us started shivering in the night.

That was the end of yesterday, we continued to discover the Darjeeling from this morning and the details will be presented to you later today or tomorrow.