Wednesday, December 30, 2009


From the ship deck

From the deck

I can see some fertilizer ingredient lying around near the conveyor belt on top.

It seems to be phosphorous.

The ship

MS Kavaratti.

Nice little ship, we are on the top deck! Should have nice views!

Can you see the truck unloading the luggage w/o any passengers even being present?

H1N1 checking

Interesting device that measures your temperature and checks for H1N1

Apart from this stroke of intelligence, the overall boarding process was a complete mess.

First they had exactly ONE luggage screening machine for passengers of all 5 ships.

2nd, passengers and luggage travelled separately to the ship and then the luggage had to be manually identified - there were no tags - something that couldve been done since the rooms get allotted at the time of booking!

And third - once luggage was identified they had one porter to carry people's luggage to their rooms - which meant most people ended up just carrying their own luggage.

Ticket office!

Cochin is surprisingly clean.

Collected all tickets for the 11 of us.

This should be fun!! Can't wait to get started!!

The most beautiful landing approach

Cochin seems to be insanely pretty.

I need to visit this place.

The kids in front of me think they are landing in farmville. I hate FB even more now.

More clouds

Mountain through the clouds.

En-route to cochin - can you see the mountain rising above the clouds?

I would kill to be on top of that mountain and see the view.

I think this is probably Munnar.

Ancient shell!

Water rock

This was a mineral rock which had water trapped inside! And it has been this for hundreds of thousands (maybe even millions) of years.

This shop was recommended by lonely planet and its totally worth a visit.

They had an ancient shell as well as a rock from a meteorite!

Jurassic park DNA

Remember how in Jurassic park they found amber with a mosquito inside?

See the stone in the guy's hand? It's amber with a dead mosquito inside!

Dinner at Jaisalmer

The restaurant was nice, had very good food but absolutely appalling service - a trend we noticed even at the Jaisalgarh hotel.

We went w/o reservations (it isn't exactly a 5 star restaurant and even there I seldom go with reservations and have always been accomodated :) )

The manager told us that there was no way they could join 2 tables so the 9 of us could sit together - an attitude we didn't really care for. So we went and asked the travel agent on the ground floor if there were some other restaurants around since this one refused to join tables.

Turns out, he owned the restaurant and was shocked (rightfully) at the refusal. He shouted at someon and suddenly a table for 9 appeared.

I think this bad service is the result of catering to a largely french audience - they generally have lousy service too!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Onwards to cochin

The damn flight keeps getting delayed.
WTF Jet!

First it was at 12:45 then 13:45 now 13:50.

Take off already! I have a ship to catch!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tea stop

50kms before Jodhpur.

There was a group of 20 or so peacocks but the BB cam is too lousy to capture.

But I have some on the dslr.

Will post pics later!

Funny truck message

Jageshwar ki fauj karegi mauj.

More military

Lots of practice going on.


Or dust blown by tank movement.

We are divided.

I think its the tanks.


Strangely enough, we saw a TON of army movement today.

4 large convoys with tank carrying trucks - they were empty. We also saw 2 practice ranges for the military with tanks practicing whatever it is that tanks practice.


You can just about make out some tanks behind the pole.

Can you?

Goodbye jaisalmer

Hello Jodhpur.

Off to Jodhpur which is the last stop before I head to delhi where vacation part II begins!

Cool villager shoes

Water storage

Since this is the desert, the water storage is underground for each house instead of in a big tank over head.

This is intelligent. Most houses in cities have this on the roof - which is stupid because in peak summers you end up getting hot water only.

The panchaayat

In discussions with my uncle about insurance for crops and other credit/loan facilities.

Off to a village

After the fossil park, now off to a small village in the real interiors of rajasthan.

It's surprising how good the roads are here. It seems the state government and the prime minister's grameen sadak yojna are bearing some fruits.

The villagers cannot really afford vehicles ( I saw 1 bike and 2 tractor total) but when they do, they have a road BETTER than most in Mumbai to take them to the big cities.

At the village we(means my relative who's a banker) talked to them about agri loans and credit stuff.

We got to see a whole panchaayat happening. Very cool. The villagers seemed to know their stuff and had lots of questions.

In the end an understanding was reached and things will improve for them. Awesome.

More village

A local house.
It's made from cow dung.
Very properly done.

Solidified lava at fossil park

This was at SOME point molten lava.

This is what preserved the trees.
I picked up some to keep at home :)


Fossil park

This was a bit cool.

Very close to Jaisalmer and en-route to jodhpur is this wood fossil park where you can see fossilized trees from 180 million years ago - the lower jurassic era.

Wouldve been cooler to see some dinos too though :)

However, I think the presentation was drab with very little info about the place available.

I wouldve preferred big boards showing what we should be looking at and maybe an artist's impression of what this place might've looked like 180mn yrs ago.


Music from the 1800s?

I've seen many of these. What I'd like to see though is the place where they actually recorded this into the LPs!

Sofa set

This is made entirely of silver.

Sewing machine from the 1800s

An old sewing machine.

I don't see how this is fundamentally different from what we have even today.

The glass room

In the haveli. Very cool.


This is a replica of the havelis and was made in 1993.

It's no match for the intricate work they did in 1800s.

Meeting room

This was the formal meeting room for Patwa.

Note the old radio.

The big object in the centre is a device used to distribute opium to the meeting attendees.

Now THIS kind of stuff is needed for the incessant prezos in today's meetings :)

Patwa haveli - Ancient Lego

Visiting the Patwa haveli in Jaisalmer. It's an awesome structure with mind bogglingly intricate work.

Infact, the designs of the carvings on the exterior can and are used on jewellery! The intricacy of the work is difficult to produce even on jewellery despite gold's amazing moulding capability. This was made possible because the haveli is constructed from sandstone.

The other mind blowing bit about this structure is that it has no usage of limestone or cement. The entire thing is built by interlocking of different parts. This means that you can simply dismantle the structure and rebuild it elsewher - yeah, like Lego

It took 60 years to build (1800-1860) and was commissioned by Ghuman mal Bafna - a jain trader. A total of 5 floors were built - 1 for each of his sons. The total cost was about 10 lakh rupees in 1800s money - which is a LOT. The architecture is a mix of Hindu and Muslim styles with the curved windows representing the latter and the flat plain windows the former.

He got the name Patwa because he had significant exposure in trading gold, silver, pearl and opium as well as running this silkroute successfuly.

Recently, it was bought by some members of that 'kothari' clan(for lack of a better word)  for am ere 80,000 rupees rupees who gifted it to the ASI - this was to prevent it from being auctioned into private hands.

It is now under their maintenance - and they have done a pretty reasonable job.

It thus also known as the Kothari ki Patwa Haveli.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Auto drums!

Stopping at the famous temple en-route to the border - Tanot temple.

It has AUTOMATIC drumming machine that is switched on to call people for the arti.

The temple is famous because the goddess ensured that all the pakistani shelling in this area was useless because the missiles/bombs/shells just wouldn't explode - there were 450 of them.

They have even put the recovered shells on display!!

Divine intervention indeed :)

Car freaks!

These guys were very fascinated by our car and kept asking questions about it.

Cars spend universal love and friendliness.

I knew it! Take note ye lousy world leaders.

Also, awesome turban color!

The border milestone.

Literally, the road ends here.

The border!

See the fencing?

That's the indo-pak border.

Interestingly enough, the fencing and lighting is only on india's side. Nothing on the Pakistan side.

Makes sense though, since no one from here is trying to cross the border into that country :)

Border checkpost

15 kms before the border


At the Tanot devi temple 20 kms from indo-pak border.

Temple and a muslim mazaar in the same complex.

I don't know any other country where religions can co-exist in this way - while always seemingly being at war :)

Now THIS is the real desert.

Sure, at Sam dunes we saw the sunset and saw some dunes but NOTHING compares to the vastness of the desert that lies before me as I drive from Jaisalmer to the Indo-pak border - about 140 kilometres away.

While this photo is kinda useless (crappy BB cam) the sand dunes are the size of proper mountains. If you really want to know how tiny mankind is in nature's scheme of things, you don't have to go into space, just spend 5 minutes in the vast nothingness that is this desert.

Asia's tallest TV tower


Rajasthan seems to have a lot of 'asia's largest'

1. The largest man made lake
2. The largest library
3. And now the tallest stand alone TV tower
4. I think also Thar may be asia's largest desert but I'm not sure.

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Jaisalgarh hotel

Nice pretyy little hotel just on the outskirts of Jaisalmer.

Now off to indo-pak border which is about 125 kms from here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sunset at Sam dunes

The amount of people is staggering.

I thought desert would be a lot quieter than this.

Haldi vegetable


I didn't know there were vegetables made from haldi - entirely!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Deshnook - Mice everywhere!

Situated about 40 minutes from Bikaner, this is a temple built for goddess Karnimata who was 1 of the 7 sisters that have temples dedicated to them.

The temple is famous for being a place that's crawling with mice - called kaaba.

The Rajasthani word for 'little boy/son is Kabba and kaaba is derived from that - the mice are considered as sons of the goddess.

Considering how dirty they are, it was surprisingly clean and absolutely un-smelly.

The 600 year old temple has never had a single case of plague in its history. Even when there have been plague cases nearby.
It is said that the mice of the temple never ever step out of the temple - which seemed true since before entering we couldn't see even one!

It is further said that the mice from outside the temple don't enter the temple either - something a LOT harder to verify - but probably giving a good explanation for their ability to escape the plagues - insulation/isolation.

The temple has a long 'parikrama' that spans 36 kilometers and apparently has to be finished in one night - this year 80k people finished it.

Interestingly enough, the lady forbid people to worship her through her entire life (150 years estimated) but ofcourse once she was dead, people went ahead and did it anyway.

Karnimata was not really interested in the social life but her parents were after her life to get married. So, she did what any normal goddess-in-the making would do - she married the king.

However, she probably didn't like the honeymoon destination or maybe the king sucked at seduction but the wedding wasn't consummated because she wasn't interested. So she got her sister married to the king as well so that THEY could have a normal married life - I think some minus points for lack of foresight of getting the sister married in the first place - especially since she was a goddess in the making.

Anyway, so coming back to the temple, there are literally hundreds, maybe even thousands of mice roaming the place - so much so that first time visitors are advised to put their feet on the white tiles because its easier to spot mice on it - and avoid stepping on them.

Apparently its lucky to see a white mouse. I saw one - twice!
Don't care whether its true or not but its a good feeling :))


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas at select citywalk

More amazement at just how seriously we celebrate this festival.

For shops, ofcourse this is another reason to offer more discounts and increase footfalls.

For me, its a 10 day vacation! Woohoo!!

Also, why is this purple?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas decorations

At dilli-o-dilli at IHC.

I find it increasingly surprising just how many places are getting these christmas decorations and just how many of us look forward to christmas breaks.

It speaks volumes for our collective secularism. Well done!