Welcome to the world of SPORTS!

17.01.2017:

It is around 08.30 hrs when we reached the Bangaram Island. As I told earlier, the Island is too beautiful. It’s almost as if I am into a different world altogether. It is an uninhabited island and it contains more marine life than the other islands in the Lakshadweep archipelago. We got down from our boat and made our way towards the island. There are a few resorts, a restaurant, dive center with the gear and equipment on display and some sun-bath chairs. It’s a white sand beach with a turquoise blue lagoon surrounding it and coconut groves occupying the middle part of the island.

Jaleel along with a person who works at the resorts took us to a room where we were intended to stay. He showed us two rooms out of which we chose the better one. To be frank, they are well-maintained and the washroom is too clean and has a running water tap. While we were enjoying the ambiance of the room and the surroundings, the person told us that it has not power supply and we were utterly surprised. It was at this time I learnt about the monopoly that was being enjoyed by an agency called SPORTS. I heard this word quite many a times from Imran and Avinash, but I thought that this is a word simply being used as the agency takes care of all water-sports and activities in the islands.

In Lakshadweep, two major private organizations are in-charge of managing and handling all the water sports activities. They are known as Lakshadweep institute of Water Sports and SPORTS (Society for promotion of Nature Tourism and Sports). These two bodies hold regular camps for the tourists all through the year. SPORTSย enjoys a monopoly on the entire tourist trade in the islands of Bangaram and Thinnakara. If one doesn’t have friends in Lakshadweep, the only option is to book their trips to the islands solely through SPORTS and the permit formalities of bonafide tourists will be taken care by them.

The person told us that earlier those rooms which we have seen were also used, but as it has been decided later that the power would be supplied only to the resorts owned by SPORTS, these became non-functional. For that moment, we were not bothered about the power supply or about how we are going to spend the night in the island, but we were bothered about our lunch and dinner. As for our breakfast today, aunty, uncle and I had some snacks which aunty has brought along with her and Jaleel and Imran had some boiled eggs and coconuts during our boat journey.

Jaleel left to see if he can find someone whom he knew, while Imran and I left to meet the manager of the SPORTS resorts on the island. We approached him and told that we were to spend a night in the island and we need some food and we were ready to pay. He considered our request and spoke with his restaurant people who agreed to provide us the lunch and dinner and we were happy ๐Ÿ™‚ . They made a point that the lunch would cost Rs. 300 per person and dinner Rs. 400 per person. We happily agreed! After all it’s better to spend some money on food rather than starving ๐Ÿ™‚

All settled, we left our bags in the room and moved towards the dive center. Bangaram is famous for it’s water-sports. Besides swimming, there is a lot to explore here. Bangaram is the exact stop for experiencing snorkeling and deep sea fishing. Experts who help people from all age groups with these activities realize the potential of the sport. Apart from the usual sport activities like snorkeling, canoeing, deep sea fishing, tourists can also indulge in varied other activities like scuba diving, deep sea diving, wind glassed bottom boat sailing, surfing and so on in this island.

Welcome to the world of SPORTS!!

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Demonetization – A realization ;-)

13.11.2016:

10.05 hrs – Here we are, at the Lonavla junction! Kaka dropped us here after giving his mobile number, if we need any help and giving us some info about the places to visit as well as how to get a vehicle to go around and things like that. We bid a bye to kaka and the first thing that came to our notice are the Chikki shops around the place. As far as my eye sight goes, the only shops which I can see are the chikki shops.

Chikki is a candy made up of jaggery and peanuts usually. But people do prepare these candies with other stuff like sesame, chana dal (chick-peas) etc. And Lonavla is famous for it’s chikki. Don’t forget to buy some when you visit this place next time ๐Ÿ™‚ . Kaka asked us to inquire with the auto-rickshaw people to go around the places and he told that usually they charge Rs. 500 to 600 for a trip. When we approached an auto driver and inquired, he asked us to pay him Rs. 1200, exactly double the amount which Kaka told us!

10.40 hrs – After a good bargain, he reduced the fare to Rs. 800 and it was only at this point of time did we realize that we are left only with Rs. 600. The next question to the driver is “Brother, are there any ATMs near by?” and the reply is “Lot of ATMs, but no cash in them” ๐Ÿ˜ฆ . Only then did we realize the gravity of the situation, that we were left only with Rs.600 and we still have a long way to go. So, it was decided that we would be sacrificing the plan of going around these beautiful hill-stations Khandala and Lonavla, for the sake of pumping few more bucks into our wallets ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

11.00 hrs – We asked the auto driver about AXIS Bank, coz this is the only bank which don’t require a pass-book to withdrew money and he told us that it’s a 10 min walk from there. We walked towards the bank only to hear the answer that there was no cash available with the bank. We wanted to give a last try. If we could get some money from the ATM of State Bank of India, we would go around here or otherwise we would be heading directly to Pune. We reached the bank and there were 3 queues with some 100 people in each of them waiting for their turn either to deposit the old bank notes, or to withdraw money from the bank or from the ATM.

11.30 hrs – We too stood in the ATM queue and waited for our turn. The twist in the story was that the ATM was closed, none knows when it is going to be opened or is it going to be opened at all? It’s just a hope that it would open sometime ๐Ÿ˜€ . When inquired about the same with the security guard, he always used to show me his index finger and the middle finger! I could never understand, what it meant, I mean is it that the ATM opens at 02.00 PM or in another 2 hours! Waited for another hour in the queue till the time we got exhausted. We gave up our quest for money ๐Ÿ˜ฆ . Headed to a small eatery shop and ordered for some vada-pav and decided to leave to Pune!

12.45 hrs – Something clicked in Mythri’s mind. She called up her cousin to find about the Rs. 500 she has lent to him and found that he kept the same in the book in Mythri’s bag. She made a thorough search and at last found Rs. 400! Yippee!! Another Rs. 400 added to our reserve. Now the dilemma crept in. Should we bargain hard and fix the trip at a cost of Rs. 600 and save the rest for our onward journey or should we save all of it?

13.20 hrs – After having a vada-pav, my brain started to work sharp I guess ๐Ÿ˜‰ :-p . I told Mythri about the plan that was running in my mind. It was to ask the auto-driver to accept our debit-card and swipe it at any one of those chikki shops or the hotels or any petrol-pumps and get the money! We were elated with our idea and headed towards the auto-junction and we found the same driver with whom we had a bargain in the morning. But to our utter disappointment he wasn’t of any help ๐Ÿ˜ฆ . We lost our hope again!

14.00 hrs – Mythri and I, the deadly combo will never give up so easily ๐Ÿ˜‰ We found another auto-wala and when we told him that we don’t have ready cash and he can execute the idea which we had in our mind and he readily accepted. He took us to a near by hotel whose manager he knew well, but that manager turned him down ๐Ÿ˜ฆ . But our driver was like the King Vikram who wanted to go after the ghost Bethal ๐Ÿ™‚ . He approached his group of drivers and somehow persuaded the leader to speak with a petrol-pump owner and finally the owner agreed to swipe our card and pay the driver ๐Ÿ™‚

14.15 hrs – We made a payment of Rs. 700 to the driver to show us all the important places which we should visit both in Khandala and Lonavla and asked him to drop us at the railway station before 17.00 hrs as we have to catch our train to Pune! Finally, we made it ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

Bye.. Bye.. Mumbai..

13.11.2016:

07.30 hrs – We reached Dadar from where we can catch a shared cab to the famous hill-stations Khandala and Lonavla. Yes, our today’s plan is to explore a bit of these two hill-stations! And this is also a part of my to-do bucket list. A drive along one of the finest roadways of India, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, which are the highest class of roads in the Indian Road Network. My cousin and nephew dropped us here after we got a cab and our driver is Rahman kaka (uncle). Usually they charge Rs. 150 or 200 for each person, thanks for the demonetization, they asked us for Rs. 300 each and we reduced it to Rs. 250 ๐Ÿ™‚

We opted a cab drive for two reasons, one – this is the fastest way to reach Lonavla, two – the road is one of a kind and we must try it at least once! Though we got another co-passenger, kaka was not happy and wanted two more passengers to carry on with the drive. As we were waiting, two more guys joined us on the back seat, while Mythri and I occupied the middle seats and another girl occupied the front seat. 8.30 hrs – It took us half-an-hour to hit the Expressway and just for info, an expressway is a controlled-access highway; it is a highway that controls entrances to it and exitsย from it by incorporating the design of the slip roads for entry and exit into the design of the highwayย itself.ย 

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The Mumbai Pune Expressway, officially the Yashwantrao Chavan Expressway is India’s first six-lane concrete, high-speed, access controlled tolled expressway. It spans a distance of 93 km (58 mi) connecting Mumbai with Pune.ย This expressway has reduced the travel timeย between the cities of Mumbai and Pune to approximately two hours and also reduced the traffic on the Mumbai-Chennai highway. The drive along this road is smooth as well as fast and soon we were to find why this is one of the most beautiful routes in India.ย 

The road makes its way through the Sahyadri mountains, a part of the Western Ghats and the smooth road offered us a magnificent view of the rolling hills which are draped with a blanket of brown-colored vegetation, leaving us to our own imagination of these during the monsoon. Am sure that, the road offers magnificent views of the lush green hills, verdant valleys, waterfalls and lakes during the rainy season and making the beauty of this route one of its kind ๐Ÿ™‚ . Looking forward for one such views!

Another attraction of this road are the tunnels carved in the Sahyadris and they are very well-lit to provide enough lights for the vehicles moving. This is my first experience on such kind of roads, as I didn’t see as many as the tunnels I had seen on this road. And the speed of the vehicles are insane and one of my wild fantasies is to have a bike ride on this road :-p ๐Ÿ˜‰ . I know it’s a kinda impossible task, but who knows, probably one day I can make it through ๐Ÿ˜‰

10.00 hrs – It took us around 90 mins to reach Lonavla and we were ready to begin our adventure ๐Ÿ™‚

Calungate – The mini world of Parasailing..

24.12.2015:

@ 14.00 hrs – Guneet and I walked towards a stretch of the Calungate beach which is like a few feet away from our resort. The beach is full of sand and shacks where few foreigners were chilling out with few drinks and some good sea-food, while a few others were sun-bathing and young children playing on the shore. What I found here were boards.. Yeah, boards asking us “Want to go parasailing”, “Jet Ski, 15 mins, Rs. 200” etc..etc..

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The beach is serene, not much crowded and not like most happening sort. We returned back to our resort and got settled in the open restaurant for our food. While I opted Noodles, Mythri opted a plain meal and Guneet settled for a Goan meal, as she is the only Non-veganย among us ๐Ÿ™‚ . The food was served quite quick and tasted good. After a good meal, we rested for sometime. It was during this time I came to know that my friend (a senior in my college) was also there in Goa with her husband.

@17.00 hrs – We went to the beach again. But this time it was different. It was too crowded, full of people and activity. People playing in the waters, adventurers trying the most famous Goan water sport ‘Para Sailing’, hawkers selling flowery crowns, some LEDs, shorts etc. are all on the sands of the Calungate beach. The beach which we stood on right now is the mid-point of the Calungate and Baga stretch. Baga is yet another famous beach in Goa.

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The best part of Goa is the mode of transport. It’s a simple process, what all you need to own a vehicle for any number of days in Goa is an identity card and few bucks in your pockets. Usually in the off-season, one can hire a two wheeler for 150 or 200 rupees per day and a four wheeler for 500 or 600 rupees a day. And it will be too difficult to take a bike on rent during the season time like Christmas and New Year. We tried very hard to rent two Honda DIOs for a rent a 300 rupees per each, that too just till the night ๐Ÿ˜ฆ . But we decided that we should make the most of it ๐Ÿ˜€

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Calungate is a town in North Goa, which is quite famous for its beach and shopping options. One more important thing is that it is quite simple to move from one place to another in Goa, even if one doesn’t have a clue about the place. Calungate beach has got some coconut groves and brightly lit restaurants and tattoo shops in middle of them. There isn’t any provision of paying a parking fee here, it’s totally free, but few champs try to outsmart us and be careful with them ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Once there, Mythri and Guneet wanted to have some temporary tattoos on their hands. While Guneet chose some starts on her wrist, Mythri thought for quite sometime and I helped her by saying to have “Joie De Vivre”ย inked onto her hand ๐Ÿ™‚ . Isn’t it just apt for the moment? ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ Once done, we moved towards the beach, by this time it was dark. While the shacks are filled with people boozing, eating and dancing on the floors, the sands were filled with chairs and tables dimly lit by the candles placed on them.

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The candle-lit tables resembled a patch of land filled with lots of fire-flies at a time ๐Ÿ˜€ . We chose a table at one of the shacks and ordered some food. The waves soothing our feet, a loud music turned out to be soft after travelling quite some distance towards us from the shacks, chirps among the people around us, the cool breeze comforting us.. It’s a moment which everyone should live through.. ๐Ÿ™‚

TTT – TIRU’S TRAVEL TALES

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I have started this blog, with a plan of writing on contemporary issues and subjects related to my preparation of UPSC. But it took a U-turn and recently, I came up with a new series โ€œThree Phenomenal Women of My Lifeโ€, in which am sharing my journey with those three beautiful women who has helped and helping me in becoming a good human being. Now, my mind has turned out to another passion of mine. Itโ€™s TRAVEL.

And here is my new series. โ€œTIRUโ€™S TRAVEL TALESโ€. The title itself indicates what this series is going to be. Yeah, itโ€™s going to be about my travel experiences. Some of my fondest memories are from these travel tales. I think, I have inherited this trait of travelling from my dad, who always loves to travel to one place or the other. Though I have not traveled extensively, I explored quite good places in India so far.

Eventually I became an outdoor enthusiast who loves adventure. I often travel alone, sometimes with friends and at times with family. I travel to the remotest destinations as well as the cosmopolitans. I wander through the jungles, sail on the seas. I search for the lost spiritual world in these modern times while exploring the most modern places. Itโ€™s not always easy to experience what all these places have to offer, yet I go to them just to enjoy the beauty of the places and experience their colorful stories.

Often travelling gives me a chance to understand many things about the people, their culture, and their food habits. It gives me a chance to interact with more people, change my perspective towards something which I was unaware till then, it breaks down few barriers which I carry with me. Above all, personally I feel that travel makes me feel more confident, it gives me more courage, it teaches me how to deal with the challenges that comes in my way, keeps me focused, and it teaches how to be comfortable when am out of my comfort zone. All in all, I believe that travelling makes me a better person.

Though am not a professional writer, like a little kid so excited to share her experiences,ย  I hope I can bring an account of some of the most beautiful places on this earth. Come, join me in this beautiful journey of mine and enjoy!