Winter's almost at an end here and it's time to start putting away all the woolens and blankets. I bid a sad farewell to my first winter in Delhi. I had a fun time; it is my favorite season.

It is such a relief to be free from the oppressive, sweat-soaked heat of summers. You can wake up late in the morning and it'll still be cool. In fact, if you can afford to, you could spend all day in bed, tucked in cozily in your blanket. You can safely skip bathing for days something you can't even dare dream about during summer. Though the frequent and protracted water shortages sometimes make this nightmare a terrible reality. And if its not you, then someone around you would surely be a victim.

Power cuts too lose their bite as you don't need the fans ( or coolers/ ACs if you're lucky ) to be on all the time. If there is a power cut and you can't use your heater anymore, it's not a big deal; just pile on another blanket or another layer of clothes and you'll be fine. The only reason why'd you'd suffer incase of no electricity is because you'd not be able to watch a movie or surf the net or whatever it is that you plan to do that involves power.

Winters also give me reason to bring out my jackets and pullovers that, strangely enough, I seem to have a large number of, considering that till now, I've lived in an area with a temperate climate. Staying in Delhi gave me chance to cycle thorough them all and break them in a bit.

Nutriment choice in summers is largely limited to ice-creams. Usually it's just too warm to have anything else. Winters, on the other hand, present you with a plethora of options. You can have soups, chaat, gaajar-ka-halwa, warm meals of all sorts and what not. Ice-creams are of course still an option.

Warm baths are another delight that can only truly be enjoyed in deep winter. A cold bath in summer is good, agreed. But it just isn't quite the same as a long, hot bath when you've come in from the freezing cold outside. After you're nice and clean, you can just go and tuck yourself back in bed again! A number of holidays that come during that part of the year, Christmas and New Year being the principal ones, help make it fun too.

I especially like the dark, overcast and foggy days that winter has to offer. The whole day seems to be stuck at twilight. And the fog makes it seem so mysterious. I love walking through a fog; it makes the world seem so peaceful and quiet and all my own; my private little place, a much nicer place. It hides out all the evil and sadness, and only shows me a uniform grayness all around.

Though I will say, there is one thing bad about winters; the cold makes my joints hurt. :D


I'm not sure that automobile companies are actually designing cars for India, as they seem to claim. Because then the vehicles would be a lot different considering the unique requirements of driving in this country.

First of all, there wouldn't be any horns; or at the very least they'd be for decoration purposes only and not really functional. Secondly, lucky charms ( not the edible variety ) would be found in abundance; four-leaf clovers, rabbit's feet, horseshoes, they would all be either part of the vehicle or given away as free gifts. To protect the driver and passengers from the numerous dangers on the roads. And of course, there would be better safety features, but lets not state the impossible now.

People in India have just no road sense; be they pedestrians or motorists. They consider themselves to be the sole owners and users of the streets and woe betide anyone who thinks otherwise; which is pretty much everyone else, so you can imagine the chaos that ensues.

It doesn't matter what strata of society they come from or what vehicle they own; they're all guilty of one or the other traffic offense. Pedestrians either dart across the road suddenly, like startled animals, or stroll along without a care in the world, often in ( or close to ) the middle of the road. They don't care that they're holding up traffic. Nor do they have any fears for their personal safety. After all, it's all up to God isn't it?

Then there are the cyclists. They weave in and out of traffic, ride on the pavements, cross when the lights are red, turn without signaling, ride down the wrong way on a one-way street and most seem to be under the impression that they are faster than the motor vehicles, judging from the way they endevour to overtake bikes and cars. A variety of cyclists particular to Delhi and adjacent areas are the cycle-rickshaws. They are the bane of these streets. They are insanely irritating. They are always crowded together at the front of the queues that form at traffic lights and then take their sweet time getting started once the lights change. This, of course, is when they stop at all, because most of the times I see them continuing across as if nothing else existed.

The motorcyclists aren't much better. They zoom around on their mean machines ( cliché alert! ), usually without helmets, and do pretty much anything to get ahead of the traffic ( not realizing, of course, that there is only more of. It doesn't actually end anywhere. you know. ) I've seen them riding on the pavements in their efforts at leading the pack, usually successfully, but I've also witnessed some who encountered an abrupt end of ridable sidewalk, often with no easy way of getting down, and a couple who were accosted by policemen who seemed to be waiting for just such specimens to ride by.

Four wheelers are just as bad, given the reckless way they drive and their lack of concern for any of the above mentioned sharers of the road. I've actually seen a group of people talking at the entrance to a service lane of the main road get plowed down by a car that just drove into them without any warning; no horn or anything. And after that he/ she ( though I seriously doubt it being a member of the fairer sex ) attempted to ( futilely ) drive away, tyres spinning uselessly as the car pushed against the side of the pavement. The last I saw of the scene, the guards of my colony were running towards him ( / her ), presumably to beat him ( / her ) up. Team these horrible driving skills with the alarming increase of spontaneous combustion of newer models of cars and you'll see why you should stay away from this category ( and roads in general, actually ).

But trucks and buses are easily the worst of the lot. Delhi's infamous Blue Line buses have made news all over the country and they stand testimony to what happens when you let idiots drive. These behemoths can scare the hardiest of souls when they suddenly loom up in their rear view mirrors and honk with their horns which are aural equivalents of a 1000 watt flash right in your eyes, in the dark, without warning. The state of the roads and the cretins driving on them doesn't do much to make them any safer. Yet, there are some foolhardy enough to consider racing with them!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I ride a bike myself. But I am different now, aren't I?

Points Of View

Going to my relatives' place is such a paradigm shift; everything is seen in new light, from a different point of view. My definitions of right and wrong undergo a major transformation. All that I would normally assume to be acceptable and morally right suddenly stands on shaky ground once I'm there. Things that I'm certain would be alright, I'm not quite sure about anymore.

It's just such a different way of thinking that they have; we just aren't on the same wavelength on so many topics. They don't understand. And I don't understand either. I don't get why they do so many things that they do; why they behave in a particular way. And I know they wouldn't get most of what I do either; why I would want to go out with my friends to a mall; why I would want to eat out every weekend; why I would go out to catch a movie; why spending money on cakes and pastries isn't that big a deal for me. They won't understand why so many things aren't that big a deal to us 'youngsters', its just the same old.

But when I'm there, I often find myself agreeing with them and the longer I stay the more comprehension dawns about why they are the way they are. But as I head back home, it fades away like mist under the morning sun. By the time I'm done parking my bike it's just a faint memory and things I need to get done take priority and by the time I unlock my door and walk in, the familiar sight of my room sweeps away the remaining wisps clear out of my head and I'm once again, back to my routine. Wondering why they don't understand.


You spend the whole week, right after waking up on Monday morning, looking forward to Friday evening so that you can finally get some rest and recuperation during the weekend and maybe, also catch up on doing some work that you've been putting off for sometime now. But before you realize it, the weekend approaches, is upon you and is already past as you wake up once again on a Monday morning, wondering where time went.

It's as if there is some sort of a time-warp set to fire around the region of weekends that speeds up temporal flow and leaves you more exhausted than when you started. You can barely get your multitude of chores that are lined up completed let alone have time for leisure. Friday evening is spent dragging yourself home after a week of hard( ly ) work( ing ). You step into your room and see the mess, sigh, and tell yourself you'll take care of it tomorrow. After all, you need to recover and regain your strength before you take on a task of this enormity.

Before you left for home from office, Friday evening seemed to stretch out endlessly ahead; you would be able to achieve everything you'd planned. But as the day ends, you realize it was just an illusion. Friday is over before you know it. As you tuck yourself into bed, you console yourself with the fact that you still have Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday arrives bright and early and full of promise. But you just push it away from under your sheets. It refuses to go away, however, and you wave a finger warningly at it. It still refuses to see light and finally you give in and you have to grudgingly pull yourself out from the warm comfort of bed and head to the bathroom. Sometime later, you emerge refreshed and ready to accomplish all that you have planned and still have time to relax. You head out ( or stay in, depending on the nature of your work ) but of course fate has different plans for you. For reasons that vary, suffice to say that you are unable to complete your list and some work remains for the Sabbath.

Come Sunday, you're up bright and early, anxious to finish of everything and get down to some serious relaxing. As the day passes, it slowly dawns on you that once again, you have been cheated by Father Time and there is no way you will be able to follow to conclusion your chores and unwind. Your shoulders slump in despair and you give up any hopes you were nurturing of a slow weekend. You rush to finish off as much as you can and then quickly try to cram in as much leisure as is possible in the short time remaining; read a few pages of a novel, mail a few people, watch a movie. Then it's dinner and back to bed, to get a little bit of rest for the week that’s coming up.

Weekends seem to come with so much promise but it's always a let down when you finally get around to it. It seems to me that a 5 day week is too much; we should start campaigning for a 4 day week now. But then, work always expands to fill up the time given for its completion, so I don't know how far a 3-day weekend would help. But I'm all for less work during the week anyway! :D

...'Til Death Do Us Part

There is a certain finality about death that is denied to us throughout life. We spend all our time alive doing things that we deem necessary for survival and for living a good life. We are constantly striving to achieve something and we're never quite done. Life is a work in progress. The destination of this particular journey is the demise of our mortal shell.

It seems as if, even before we're quite finished with one objective, another goal is setup. We are barely done with exams in school when we have to work towards which college we're going to attend. At college we strive to get good scores but at the same time have to worry about getting a job. But the job is not the end of it all, it’s just the beginning. We have to move up the corporate ladder, buy a house, fill it up with unnecessary but desired stuff, have kids, work for their needs; it never ends.

But when it does, what happens? Where does it all go? You leave it all behind. Everything that you've achieved, all that you've done, all that you were, it's all left behind, to be forgotten. Will you be missed? Maybe. By the ones who loved you. But for how long? They too will move on. They will go on with their lives. You will be just a fading memory. The person you were- just dust in the wind. A fuzzy, hazy picture. Maybe, sometimes, a memory would bring it all into focus for a moment. But we know how ephemeral memories can be. It will all be lost.

You can leave behind no lasting legacy. Nothing you do will ever make your memory immortal. Your loved ones will mourn your passing but they must go themselves. All that you've worked for would vanish in the passing of time. And what if you lost someone you cared for? Someone who was close to you? How much would their loss affect you? How long would it affect you? How long would you grieve? Would life hold any meaning for you after that? Or would you just bide your time?

I wasn't afraid of dying. But as I grow older and my responsibilities and my duties grow, I wonder what will happen after I'm gone. I would like to be remembered. But I know I won't be for long. I would like to be missed. But I know I can't always be. I would like all that I've seen and experienced to be passed on. And there is still so much I have to do, things I have to see.

All that makes me me; I don't want it to end with me. The mental picture that I get when I hear an old favorite; the memory of the fragrance from a special evening; the feeling of joy when you meet someone you love after a long time; the way you perceived something; the way you remember a day; the love that overwhelms you when you think of your family; the excitement when you first got something that you really wanted; the fun of being out with friends; it's all that makes me unique.

There will never be another me. But I don't want me to have to cease to exist in the first place.

In Sickness And In Health...

I've been ill the past few days; I've got a bad throat infection. Actually, it isn't that bad; I don't have a fever and my throat isn't actually hurting. But I have been coughing a lot and my voice is pretty much gone. I sound really ill. And I like it.

I've always liked falling ill. Maybe it’s because I don't fall ill very often. But I like the attention it gets me; even if it’s only for a little while. I like being fussed over by someone and getting sympathy from everyone.

It also gives me a very convenient excuse for skipping my daily jog and for spending a few more minutes lazing around in bed. And if I'm especially sick, I enjoy feeling sorry for myself, wallowing around in self-pity.

But if you're ill when you're staying by yourself, it’s a little hard. There's no one to check up on you; no one to get you some soup; no one to do those little things for you. You still have to clean up the room, wash the utensils, wash clothes, go out to buy supplies.

After a while, though, you get a little sick of being sick. A few days are enough, I think. I've had my few days now. I want to get better. Soon.


I've been spending quite a lot these past few months, ever since I started earning. I've been buying things left and right and I've realized that yes! It is therapeutic!

I love purchasing small utility items and then going home and putting them to use. I also like purchasing big utility items and then going and putting them to use but I can't afford to do that too often. I've recently bought a cupboard, a bed and a fridge. I had a great time arranging it all to fit perfectly in my room.

The fridge has been utilized to its full. I bought lots of stuff just to fill it up; ice cream, soy milk, milk, eggs, butter, cheese spread, the works! Its just wonderful, the way it sits there and hums away to itself!

I have fun with small stuff too. I bought some rope the other day to fashion a clothesline. I spent an interesting morning putting it up and adjusting it so it was just right.

I visit the local CSD canteens ( that’s right! Canteens! As in, more than one! ) every other weekend to pick up stuff. The fact that things there are cheaper than outside makes shopping so much more pleasurable! I buy cartons of juice, Chocos, coffee, jam, soap, scrubs, powder, deos, dusting cloths, noodles, napkins, everything! Oh, it’s just wonderful!

It's so relaxing to walk down all those aisles looking around for things to pick up. Scanning and observing. All that choice! All those goods! Making mental notes to pick up something during the next trip. And it all feels so good once you get back and go through your purchased goodies! And if you managed to get a good bargain or struggled and jostled through a crowd to get what you wanted, it feels even better. To sort it all and put it away. To sit down later, comforted by the knowledge that you have all the stuff you need, should you suddenly want it, right there. To use something and beam at it for easing your life and providing comfort and convenience.

Unfortunately, I don't get paid nearly enough to support my hobby. There's only so much I can buy before I'm all out. And then its 3 more weeks till the next round begins.

Collateral Damage

Is it just me who feels sorry for all those poor extras and bystanders in movies who get shot, burnt, mauled, electrocuted and more often than not, killed, all in the name of entertainment?

I mean, here they are, walking down the road; maybe on their way back home after a little shopping; planning on that big, well deserved holiday they would finally be taking; the birthday party for their daughter; the chance to meet up with loved ones; and suddenly, someone who thinks he's a hero crosses their path and inadvertently causes them to be exterminated. Or someone with an inferiority complex thinks he's the next super-villain and vaporises the general surroundings in order to make a point to the remaining people to give into his demands, whatever they may be. Where is the justice in that? Whatever did they do to deserve such an end?

I think it's rather sad that no one pays attention to them and all the focus is on the hero. Their death is brushed away as it were inconsequential ( Ok, maybe it is but that's not the point. Oh. Wait. It is. )

The reason why I bring this up is, I have a nasty suscpicion that I'm most definitely not the hero in this feature. And I'm dreading the moment when I become the next collateral damage.

Age Of Innocence

I've just noticed, there's never been a major change in my life. What I mean is, there's never been a sudden shift into the real world from my protected haven. It's always been a gradual transition to the next step.

I became self-aware in school ( :D Just watched T3 this afternoon ). And by the time it was, um, well, time, to pass out of school, I was dreading going to college. I wasn't sure what I'd be facing there. I was worried about ragging, studies, being away from home, having to study hard enough to get a job and all those things that come with higher education. It was scary. But it turned out to be easy enough to adapt to it. The fact that I had great friends, both old ones from school and new ones at college, helped. But the change wasn't that profound. It was like school, for the most part, but with more independence and responsibility.

The years passed and I ( like to think that I ) grew more mature. All too soon, it was time to bid adieu to college. A life as a corporate professional beckoned and I eyed it with trepidation as once again I was on the threshold of a transformation that I expected to be life-changing. I was to move to a new city; I would have to manage my own home, my finances, investments, studies, everything. Again, it wasn't so bad; my parents and relatives were there to help me settle down. Work too, wasn't so difficult to get used to, it was mostly study in the beginning and we didn't face as much pressure as I'd feared.

All in all, it has been pretty easy. And I've grown up a bit along the way. But inside I still feel the same. I don't feel like I'm this old. I don't feel like a professional. I don't feel like I'm an adult. I'm doing a few things that make me realize I've grown up like investing in mutual funds and dealing with people who would have otherwise talked to my parents. But it’s still as if I'm looking at real life through bars in a window. Really thick bars. Every now and then I get a glimpse of it. But largely, its hidden from me; and I'm living like I always have. If I look close enough, I can see the changes. But I'm so used to them that they don't stand out otherwise.

And that worries me. It might not always be this easy. I've been lucky so far. But what if the next change isn't this smooth? What if instead of a gradual transformation, it’s an upheaval that destroys all that constitutes my life? And I feel sorry for those who haven’t been as fortunate; who've had no one to support them as they take their first steps across into the big, bad world.
But maybe this is how it’s meant to be. Maybe the age of innocence does just fade away. Slowly. Gradually. And you never realize it till it’s all gone.


People today have just no consideration for others; they only look out for three people: I, me and myself. It’s so disheartening to be the one who is on the receiving end.

Consider my neighbours. It’s a family of four; the father works in the same company as me, the lady is a housewife and they have two little girls. More than once, I've suspected them of taking my newspaper when theirs doesn't get delivered. Recently, they had gone out of station for about 15 days and presumably, asked the newspaper guy not to deliver their paper since I only found one paper in the mornings in the ( common ) balcony.

After they got back too, I only found one paper. When I found it at all! Because for three days, I didn't find anything there. Nothing. Zilch. Zip. Nada. I figured the paper guy mustn’t have been coming. But I was proved wrong when on Sunday, there was a knock on my door soon after I woke up. I opened the door to see my neighbour standing there. He gave me Sunday's paper, which had obviously been read, and, get this, the paper for Saturday! He said, '...your paper..’, gave me a small smile and turned away.

I was still dazed from having just woken up and I smiled back and closed the door. It struck me later: 1. He never asked for my paper before reading it. 2. He never apologized for 1. 3. What was the point of giving me Saturday's paper on Sunday?

As a result of their kleptomania, I've had to start getting up early ( By over an hour. On freezing cold mornings when all I want to do is lie in the warm comfort of my blanket ) to get my paper before they do. Where's the justice in that I ask you?

Now take a look at the guy who lives in the room above me. He comes back from work late at night, sometimes past 0100, usually around 2300. In a brilliant flash of inspiration, he managed to leave his key ( or so he claims ) to the common door to the stairs at a friends place one weekend. So now I have to get out of my warm, comfortable bed and go down to unlock the door for him and lock it after him. But that's ok. It's not that big a deal. But one Sunday, he managed to get locked inside. Everybody had gone out and he woke up late to find that the common entrance was locked and he didn't have his key. So he had a friend from work call me and ask me if I could come. I felt sorry for him and so I went back. Luckily I wasn't that far from home. But it was still a favour. Of course, he only laughed about it when I got there. I should've just told him I was at my relatives' place and would only get back late at night. Serve him right then. Mumble mumble mumble. Grumble grumble grumble. Hm? Oh! Sorry! You still here? Hehe. :D

Both of us also go to the same place for dinner. The lady there sends over a packed dinner to your place if you ask her to. But only if you tell her in time since the carriers are sent off at around 2000. This gentleman, in his continuing genius, always calls me at 2030 asking if he would still be able to ask her to send it. And always I reply that it wouldn't be possible this late. Then I, in my contribution to world stupidity and philanthropy, offer to get it for him since I go there to eat. He always accepts. But that is alright too. I don't mind picking it up for him.

Now here's the thing. He managed to call the woman in time one day and his food was delivered. To me. Since he wasn't home. I don't mind collecting it on his behalf but the least he could do was call me and let me know that it was coming and whether I would mind collecting it. Basic courtesy, yes?

And finally, he borrowed a water bottle from me the other night since he had run out of it. And he doesn't seem to be showing any signs of returning it. I know it's a small thing but it's the small things that peeve me. I like my stuff in order and with me. I hate it if there's a return pending from someone.

None of these things are really too much or crossing a line. Except for the newspaper, that is, well, unbelievable. But I still feel that these are the basic good manners that one must have. We have to display some civility to live in a society. Some regard for others' feelings and maybe a little consideration. Thanking someone or apologizing are little things that go a long way to making people like you.

Trip To Bangkok : Finale

( This post follows from Trip To Bangkok: Day III. Post V of V chronicling, well, what else? My Trip to Bangkok! )

The day after my return from Bangkok was a Sunday. That was fortunate since I could spend time recovering from the hectic 3 days and take care of mundane activities like cleaning the room and washing clothes. It was unfortunate in that I was all by myself and that was cause for me to ruminate and that always leads me into depression.

I wondered if I'd ever be well-off enough to actually be able to afford a trip like this one. If I'd have the time to be able to spend time out somewhere with my family, just relaxing.

I was also painfully aware of the crude way in which Indians presented themselves, even while travelling abroad. Their lack of culture and boorish manners make me cringe all the while. I want to get away from it all, move away from all this. But I also know that I'll never actually fit in anywhere.

If I were to immigrate, I'd never be a first-class citizen, especially in, say, the States or the UK. But if I were to stay back here and live out the rest of my life in this country, I'd spend sometime everyday in frustration at the lack of basic amenities; the lack of civility among the people; the apathy of the government; the state of the country in general.

The trip was an eye-opener, yes. But it hasn't made anything clearer.

Trip To Bangkok : Day III

( This post follows from Trip To Bangkok: Day II. Post IV of V chronicling, well, what else? My Trip to Bangkok! )

I woke up after about 3 hours of sleep to the insistent ring of the phone. I answered to hear a voice at the other end say ‘This is your six-thirty wake up call, sir’. I thanked him and fell back to my pillow. I lounged for a while then got up and went to get ready. Freddie, who had decided we should be up at that ungodly hour, was still snoozing when I came out from the bathroom. After he got ready, I took our breakfast coupon and we went down to eat.

There was a large spread awaiting us. There were cornflakes, Chocos, toast, fried eggs, bacon, sausages, fruits, juices, pancakes and some more things. I stuffed myself on the chicken sausages and consequently, was feeling queasy the rest of the day. We both ate well and after being completely stuffed, lumbered our way to the front door to catch a taxi to the Grand Palace.

The Palace was quite a distance from our hotel. When we reached there, we were approached by an old man who offered to be our guide for 300 baht. We considered it and agreed. You aren’t allowed to wear clothes that expose too much skin; so 3/4ths, shorts, spaghetti tops etc. are a no-no. But they do provide you clothes to wear over your own. You’re supposed to deposit 100 baht or your driving license or something similar and collect it on the way out after depositing the borrowed clothes. We both had to get a pair of pants to wear over our 3/4ths, but our guide took care of procuring them.

We then walked down to the ticket counter where the guide told us to buy tickets, 250 baht each! We were stunned since we’d figured the 300 baht we were paying him was inclusive of the tickets! There was no alternative so we bought the tickets. Freddie was kinda ticked off at this. We then went inside and started following the guide. He seemed to be in a big hurry. He would point at something, tell us a little bit of its history, tell us to click a picture and then rush us off to see something else. It was very irritating and Freddie was especially peeved at this. He started showing his anger by not following him, or at best, ambling along at his own pace. He stopped everywhere to click photos.

As an aside, Freddie loves to take pictures. He doesn’t want to be in them. He doesn’t want anyone else to be in them. He just wants to take photos of the buildings and things that he sees. Just to document the trip. I hate going through photos like that! My dad does the same thing! We’ve got hundreds of photos of mountains and valleys and lakes and other natural exhibits. They’re ok for one look; some of the places are quite beautiful; but I just can’t go through that many photos of the same thing! I would prefer to see someone I know, perhaps doing something stupid so we can all get a laugh out of it.

Anyway, we went over the whole place and were out of it in less than an hour. We then walked around and went past the Democracy monument. After some more wandering around, we caught a taxi back to the hotel since we were supposed to check out at 1200. We reached back around 1100 and had a bath and packed all our stuff. I went down to get our things from the safe deposit box. Once we were all done we went down to the lobby. Freddie wanted to buy some Thai beer for his friend and he said that he’d seen a place along the Sukhumvit Soi 55, the road we’d walked down from the Thong Lo station. He suggested we walk back that way, buy the beer and then take a taxi the rest of the way. I agreed and we set off.

My suitcase was heavy and clumsy to carry. All Freddie had was his bag. We kept walking, looking for that elusive shop that Freddie thought he’d spotted the evening before. My shoulders were killing me and my palms were starting to blister when we reached the Thong Lo station without having found the shop. We gave up on the idea of Thai beer and took a train to Siam. Except we bought tickets for 15 baht and not 25 baht as we should have. So when we got off at Siam, the turnstile wouldn’t open for us. So we asked a guard what was wrong and he said we’d have to pay 40 baht to get out. Luckily, he was under the impression that only one of us was stuck. So he got us one pass for 40 baht and then was confused as I asked him from the other side about how Freddie was going to get through and finally just let him through.

Freddie wanted to go back to Sizzlers since, he said, he’d not get to have authentic beef steak till he was back in Ireland, and that was two months away. I wasn’t very hungry and wanted to have junk food so I waited for him to finish eating. I was so tired that I slept through his whole meal; right from placing the order till he ate his last bite! After he paid, we went to get him a coffee from Starbucks. On our way out, he pointed out a KFC across the street and we made our way to it. I ordered a Zinger burger to take away and went out to the pavement where Freddie was waiting on my suitcase and proceeded to devour the burger. After that, I felt like some ice-cream so I went to the Siam Paragon, where we’d been the first day, and got myself a scoop of chocolate ice-cream from New Zealand Natural. On the way back, I crossed some people promoting Eragon, the movie. I got a couple of mini-posters from them for my sister. On reaching where I’d left Freddie with my luggage, I put the posters in my suitcase.

As we started walking, a car stopped by us with a Starbucks paper coffee cup on its top. A tourist passing by tried to take it off to discover that it’d been pasted on top! As a Christmas promotion, they were giving away coupons for a free coffee at Starbucks. We both got one each too but we were too tired to go back to the store and get any. So we just caught a taxi to the airport. We stopped once on the way as the guy needed to make a visit to the bathroom :)

Once at the airport, I went to get changed into clothes that’d be more suited to the Delhi winter. It was a difficult job and it took me quite sometime to get done. By then, Freddie’ had already got his boarding pass. I’d to struggle a bit to get the guy at the counter to understand that I wanted a seat with Freddie. With that finally done, I checked in my suitcase, collected my boarding pass and we walked around a bit and then decided to move into the airport. Then we discovered that we needed to pay 500 baht as airport tax! Freddie had been saving some money for duty free shopping, so he had 1000 baht. I had almost nothing. He needed more money now, so I got a $20 bill changed to lend to him.

The duty free shops were incredible! There was so much to buy! And buy Freddie did! He spent more there than he had during the entire stay at Bangkok! I don’t remember what he bought since I was more interested in getting on the plane and getting back home. I spent all that time trailing behind him and watching all the gadgets at the electronics shops. Later, we tried to locate a Starbucks so that we could use our coupons but couldn’t find one. Sigh!

Finally, we were tired and Freddie had bought all he wanted, so we sat down and waited for our gate to open. After it did, we went through the security check and walked to our gate and sat down to wait some more for our boarding call. I spent the time reading my magazine. We found our seats; they were right next to an emergency exit and at the start of the seats. So that meant that there were no seats in front of us. That gave us leg space but no pockets to put stuff into and tables that were awkward to get out of they little places in the armrests.

Freddie got talking to the guy with us who was also from Ireland and I got out my player and magazine. We were soon served dinner and I watched the in-flight movie ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’ which was nice. We were delayed a bit and when we finally reached, it was 2130. Stepping into Delhi airport was such a disappointment after having seen the Bangkok airport. We walked to the immigration counters where we parted ways since I had an Indian passport and Freddie was a foreign individual. I was through faster and I went to collect my suitcase. I was soon joined by Freddie who was looking for his duty free shopping parcel. After a bit of running around to find out where he’d be able to collect it, we found out that it’d be coming on the same belt, but right at the end. So we waited till all the luggage had come and then he finally collected his stuff.

We were supposed to be picked up by a car that Freddie had requested from the company but we couldn’t see anyone at the arrival area nor could we get in touch with the driver. Freddie tried calling up the guy who arranges the vehicles and he told him that he’d try calling the driver and get back to him. To cut a long story short, the driver was somewhere at the airport and we were able to explain to him where we were after a little struggle and he turned up soon after to pick us up. The journey back home was quick, since it was around 2230 and soon I was back home.

I waved goodbye to Freddie once I got off the car and then I proceeded to the gate to find it locked! Since everybody in the house where I rent a room was out of town, the landlady had locked up the doors from the inside. I rang her up and asked to open up. Luckily she was home otherwise I’d have had to spend the night outside! I went home, heated some water for a bath. I didn’t bother to unpack since I was really tired.

After bathing, I got into bed and lay for while thinking about the whole trip. I was a little depressed at coming back home, back to the dirt and crudity of India. But I’d also missed it and it was a contest between depression because of short trip and familiarity of being back home. Guess which won?

Trip To Bangkok : Day II

( This post follows from Trip To Bangkok: Day I. Post III of V chronicling, well, what else? My Trip to Bangkok! )

Freddie, in his state of gleeful bliss, following the umpteen glasses of champagne cocktails, set the alarm for 0830, Indian time! That meant that it was about 0950 in Bangkok. There was no way we could make it for breakfast. So we continued sleeping. A simple yet elegant solution. :D

We finally woke up at around 1200, Bangkok time and after a quick wash, went down to catch a taxi to go visit the malls. We took a taxi to Thong Lo station and bought an all day pass for the SkyTrain. It was 120 baht and allowed us to travel for a whole day to any station as many number of times as we wanted. We then took a train back to Siam. When we observed it during the day, we saw that it was actually 3 malls all connected to one another.

We went to the Siam Paragon which was had all the classy, expensive boutiques. Inside we saw a Ferrari F430 and a Lamborghini Murcielago. Of course we took photos. :D We walked around a bit and then went downstairs. Since we were hungry, we were looking for a place to eat. Downstairs was the food court. I saw a chocolate pudding that I liked the look of, so I decided to sample some. Freddie spotted a New Zealand Natural ice-cream stand so he ordered 3 large scoops of different types of ice-cream. We found a place to sit and spent a few minutes polishing off our goodies.

Temporarily satiated, we went to the mall next door, the Siam Center, which we’d visited the night before too. On the way we saw preparations for a Skatejam. People were setting up the area and there were also a few guys practicing. We made a note to come by later and watch it but unfortunately we couldn’t make it for the actual show.

We strolled through the Siam Center and Freddie found a Starbucks and got himself some coffee. I’ve tried something from there once before, in Jakarta, and I didn’t really like it too much then, so I decided to pass. We then went to the third mall, the Siam Discovery and did a bit of window shopping. There, we found a big shop selling lots of stuff like stationary and gift items and crockery. We went to have a look. I bought a mouse pad and a couple of phone charms.

After an hour or so, we’d had enough of these malls. Freddie had this restaurant that he wanted to go to, the V9. It was on the 37th floor of the Sofitel Silom hotel. So we went back to the Siam station and caught a train to Chong Nonsi. When we went to the hotel, we found that it was open only after 1700! But we spotted another restaurant, Shanghai, on the 38th floor. So went up to that. It was very classy and looked very expensive. I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend so much on Chinese food but Freddie had his heart set on it, so I went along with it without protest.

We took a table next to window to be able to get a good view of the city. We weren’t disappointed. The panorama was incredible. We could see out for miles. Freddie started ordering the food while I went through the menu. He asked for 3 dishes and asked me if I’d share one of them with him. Since I wasn’t very hungry, an aftereffect of the chocolate pudding, I didn’t order anything else for myself. When it came, the food looked very enticing. It had been arranged very nicely. I tried a bit of everything.

First up was the Drunken Chicken. It’s served cold and tasted like it’d been cooked in beer or something. I didn’t like it too much, but it wasn’t bad, just different. Then there were pork ribs which were alright. I forget what the third dish was but it was the best of the three. There was also fried rice. Even though I shared with Freddie, my hunger was sated. And even though I shared with Freddie, our bill was about Rs. 1800!

After lunch we strolled back to the Chong Nonsi SkyTrain station and caught a train back to Siam where we changed over to the other line and went to Thong Lo. From there we decided to walk back to our hotel since it seemed close enough ( it wasn’t that close! It was around a 40 minute walk ). Freddie and I bought a fake perfume each from a vendor under the station for 200 baht each. We then wandered down the Sukhumvit Soi 55 road, looking at shops and the general area. We saw a Burger King on the way and decided to get our dinner from there. After collecting our orders we continued our journey back to the hotel.

Once we were back, we rested for a while, eating our food. The plan for the evening was to go to a Thai boxing fight and to visit the Patpong area, famous for its night market. And its red light district. So we asked at the front desk for information on Thai boxing. We were told that there were two places where we could watch and the timings were 1830 to 2230. It was about 1900 then so we decided to go there first. The nearer boxing stadium was at Lumpini. We caught a taxi to there and on the way crossed the Suo Lim night market which we figured we could visit if the Patpong one was closed for some reason.

At Lumpini, as soon as we got out, an official asked us if we were there to watch Thai boxing. She then directed us to the ticket counters. There are 3 levels: you can sit at the ring side; stand behind those sitting at the ring side; or stand one more level up and further. The prices forced us to buy tickets for the third and cheapest level. We were still lighter by 1000 baht, each, though! Inside there was a ring with two guys, one in red and one in blue, who were in amazing shape, fighting. It really wasn’t that exciting. The fight was slow and there would be sudden increase in the action but it short lived. Maybe it’s just the influence of too many Matrix movies, but I thought it’d be a little more to it.

We left the stadium after the main fight of the day was over. Freddie wanted to ride a tuk-tuk so we looked around for one. We found one who was ready to take us to Patpong for 100 baht. We piled in and he roared off. The tuk-tuk is kinda like the autorickshaws we have here in India, except its more open and more powerful. The driver was under the impression that we were going to Patpong to indulge our baser desires. So he kept asking us if we wanted him to recommend some place! It was pretty much the same after we got off at the market where we were accosted by every third person to come visit the shop he/ she was working for! We kept fighting them off and making our way through the market.

The market itself it set on the road itself. Lots of people setup make shift stalls and lay out their wares. It’s pretty much the same stuff in all the shops: DVD’s, trinkets and jewelry, belts, clothes and watches. A little further, on the pavement next to the main road, there were shops selling other show pieces and assorted Thai handicrafts. We both bought some little stuff ( I paid too much for mine! The trick is to quote less than half of what the shopkeeper says and then haggle your way up to a price that is good for you both )

After spending so much money in one evening, I thought it was best to go back to our room and so we went to nearest SkyTrain station and decided to make a detour to the Victory Monument. We got off at the station, walked to the monument and took a few pictures. Freddie had heard of some other palace nearby and wanted to take a look. I wasn’t too keen but we went out looking. After walking for a while and not being able to figure out where to go exactly, we gave it up and decided to go back.

We went to the Asok staion. We planned to take the MRT which is the underground version of the SkyTrain. Except the last train for the station we were trying to get to had a long since departed. We hurried back to the SkyTrain since it was getting close to midnight and the operations for the day would soon stop. We caught a train to Thong Lo and caught a taxi back to the hotel from there. Freddie asked for a wake up call at 0630 so that we’d get ready in time for breakfast. We went up to the room and had a bath and got ready to sleep after a very long and tiring day. Except we just couldn’t! Both of us kept tossing and turning in our beds for almost an hour before I gave up on sleep and switched on the TV. The Glass House was on on Star Movies so I settled down to watch that. It’d been a few hours since we’d last eaten so Freddie got some stuff out of the mini-bar. He polished off a couple of Toblerone bars and a fruit juice.

I was groaning inside at the prospect of just 3 odd hours of sleep once again in 2 days when we finally drifted off to sleep at around 0300.

Trip To Bangkok : Day I

( This post follows from Trip to Bangkok: Prelude. Post II of V chronicling, well, what else? My Trip to Bangkok! )

We stepped into the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi and looked around for the check-in counters. I got my suitcase x-ray'd and then we went to get some bahts, that’s Thai currency, in lieu of some of the rupees we were carrying. We then headed to the counters and got our boarding passes. That’s when we noticed that the flight scheduled departure time was 1015! We'd been planning for 0840! ( After we got back I found out that that flight had been rescheduled because of concerns of delays due to fog. Well, nobody told us! )

We then strolled down to the lounge to try and catch some shut-eye. I'd eaten before leaving because I'd suspected some sort of delay but Freddie had been out to a pub the night before and hadn't slept all night. We spotted a SubWay outlet and he went off to get something to eat. After he'd finished, I felt a bit peckish myself, what with having to watch him devour his sub, so I went and got myself one too. Tummies full, we went to find some seats in quieter spot. We found one that was relatively silent and dragged another set of seats closer and lay down on them as comfortably as we could in that situation. Freddie slept off immediately but I couldn't, being as paranoid as I am, I kept jerking awake to check that our bags weren't being stolen.

Hours passed and finally our flight was announced. We walked through the security check and headed towards our gate where we had to wait for another 40 minutes. When we finally boarded our flight, I noted with some apprehension that it seemed a bit rickety. Settled in our seats, we waited for take-off so we could get back to the pressing business of catching up on lost slumber. As we taxied towards the runway, the left engine, the one next to our seats, started an ominous knocking. Observing closer I realized that the damn thing hadn't started! It was turning over but not catching! I had this funny feeling in my stomach as I considered the implications of making a 2900-odd kilometer journey with only one engine or at best one good engine and one iffy engine. I contemplated cutting short the journey; surviving to talk about a trip to Bangkok that almost happened is better than not quite being there to describe how terrifying the crash into the ocean, during the course of one, was, right? Well, luckily, it started soon after and we soared off into the sky, as gracefully as it is possible for a rattling, aging aircraft to.

The flight was pretty uneventful. We were served beverages and food. I watched a bit of King of Queens and before we knew it, we were there. The Suvarnbhumi Airport looked nice as we taxi’d in to the parking bay. It’s huge and laid out very nicely. Of all the airports I’ve seen ( a meager few though ) I’d rank it second after the Changi International Airport at Singapore. We walked ( ok, stood on travellators ) a pretty good distance to reach the immigration counters. Freddie breezed right through ( Irish passport holders don’t require a visa ) but the lady asked me where my visa was. I told her that I had planned for the visa on arrival. She then directed me to the visa on arrival counter. I rushed there since I didn’t want Freddie to wait too long but I stopped in my tracks when I saw the number of people waiting, predominantly Indian! I got my number in the queue; there were 50 people ahead of me! A 40-minute wait followed during which I read most of my copy of the December issue of Digit. When my turn finally came, I paid the required 1000 baht ( Rs 1250 ) and submitted a photo to get my visa. That done I rushed back to find Freddie. He had been waiting on the other side of the immigration counter on my suitcase, which he’d collected. We walked out to look for a taxi. We found them easily enough.

We told the lady at the pre-paid taxi counter our hotel ( A-One Hotel, Bangkok ) and got into our taxi. The guy drove out of the airport and a few kilometers down the road asked us to confirm our hotel name. We repeated it and he looked lost. He said he didn’t know where it was! I showed him the inadequate map that I’d printed off the net but he couldn’t figure it out. He then kept coasting as he waited for his dispatch to call him back with directions. At this point, I was having serious misgivings about the quality of the hotel. I hadn’t been able to find much info on it on the net. In fact, at first, I couldn’t find anything at all! The travel agent sent me a mail saying we’d be booked into the ‘Avon’ hotel! And that turned up absolutely nothing!

The driver finally found out where it was and we spend on our way. It was tucked away somewhere in the back lanes of the outskirts of Bangkok and my apprehensions were mounting as I surveyed what looked like a wasteland on the approach to the hotel. Once we entered, however, it seemed pretty nice. We went to the counter and presented our voucher and gave $100 as a deposit and sipped on our complementary juices as we waited for our room key. A lift took us up to our room on the 10th floor and the carpet as we stepped out was amazing. It was so deep and soft! And after all those hours of being in our shoes and walking around at the two airports, it felt great! We walked to our room and admired the layout on the approach. It was nice.

Our room was absolutely awesome! The beds were soft and springy, the bathroom was nice, the whole place was done up very tastefully and nicely. Freddie said it was the best room he’d ever stayed in and he’s traveled around a bit so I guess that counts for something. You have to see the pictures to get an idea. We unpacked and put our phones and cameras for charging. Freddie went in for a bath first and took his time in the tub. I watched TV in the meanwhile. Most of the channels were local Thai ones but we also got Star Movies and BBC World so not all was lost. I watched The Librarian while I waited. It was an ok movie.

While I had a bath, Freddie went downstairs and deposited our passports and excess cash ( a phrase that I never thought I’d use! ) in a safe deposit box. We changed into our 3/4ths and t-shirts and left to have a look around town and visit a few places that Freddie’s friend’s girlfriend, who’d just visited Bangkok, had recommended. We caught a taxi at the lobby and asked to be taken to the All Seasons Place. We reached there in about 15 minutes. We looked around the place and since Freddie wanted to go to a club there, we decided to look for a place to have dinner at, first. We walked back to the main road and found the entrance to the Phloen Chit SkyTrain station was the nearest. It was quite nice, very like the Delhi Metro stations. The train runs above the road ( Sigh! Of course! As the name would imply ). The stations are at two levels, the lower one is where the ticket vending machines and the personnel are and the upper one is where the platforms are. There is a guard on every platform to keep you from the crossing the yellow line. Freddie was admonished quite a few times; every single time we took the train, in fact. There are two lines: the Sukhumvit Line and the Silom Line, you can change them at the Siam station.

We didn’t know quite where to go and we were wondering whom to ask. I spotted a couple that was definitely Indian and I went and asked them were the main downtown area of Bangkok was. They said Siam and so Siam was where we decided to go. We got our tickets and a badly required map of Bangkok, it was drawn from the point of view of the SkyTrain, but very useful nonetheless. ( I’m putting a picture of that too. Because I can! ). We got off at Siam and I was surprised to see that the station opened into the mall itself! As we walked in I noticed a sign with the timings and realized that it was about to close ( it was 2100 )

Almost all the places that we checked with were not taking any new orders. But we finally found Sizzlers and though it looked kinda expensive to me, we went in. Freddie ordered lots of stuff ( he eats a lot, yeah ) and I don’t quite remember what I ordered but it was nice. While we waited for the order, we went to the salad bar and got some munchies. Again, Freddie piled his plate. I ate minimally. :)

After dinner we went back to the station and caught the SkyTrain back to Phloen Chit. We traced our route back to the All Seasons Place and walked in and looked for 87, the club there. This hotel, incidentally, was so much better than ours! It was breathtaking! We found our way down to the club where the guy at the entrance asked me if I was over 20! If you know me you’d know that was a really stupid question to ask. Especially I hadn’t shaved for almost 24 hours now! :D I warmly ( and possibly very convincingly, since he didn’t ask for proof ) confirmed that I was and we went inside. There was a live African-American band performing and they were good. But the bass was just too heavy! I was feeling a little queasy the whole time I was sitting there as it just pounded away without relief, the vibrations running through me.

We sat there for quite a few hours as Freddie kept sipping on a champagne cocktail ( 300+ baht each! ) At the end of it, I was very tired and sleepy and Freddie had a happy, contented glow about his smiling, pink face. We caught a taxi back to our hotel but we got off at a 7/11 some distance before and bought a few bottles of water. We walked the rest of the way back to the hotel. Before we reached, Freddie needed to answer the call of nature so he stepped into the shadows in an alley and emerged with a noticeable spring in his step.

Once we reached back, Freddie had another bath but I was too tired so I just changed and brushed my teeth and flopped into the bed. We wanted to get up in time for the complementary American style breakfast the next morning so Freddie set his alarm for 0830 ( breakfast was 0600 to 1000 ).

After being awake for that many hours, it wasn’t very difficult for me to fall into deep, dreamless sleep almost immediately. It’d have been nice to write that I slept and dreamt off all that I’d seen but nope. I was too tired for that.