Travel Diaries: Surreal Kanyakumari

Kanyakumari was just a few hours away from Kovalam, the venue of 2015’s hackbeach, that I() decided to plan a day trip to visit the Southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent. We toyed with the idea of taking a cab like a friend of ours did but in the end we opted to take the Island City Express to travel the roughly 3-hour journey.  This was turning out to be quite a low cost trip thanks to the company I had. One of the concerns I have with solo tripping is that it does burn a hole in your pocket if done for short periods of time.

Tip: To get to the station from Kovalam, you have to choose between a rick (tuk-tuk), cab or the bus.

So we caught the train around 12:30 and reach Kanyakumari by 15:00. We were staying at Vedanta – Wake up and since it seemed closeby we decided to walk there. As we walked to our Inn, we got our first taste of  the multi-ethnical, multi-cultural town of Kanyakumari.

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After a brief break, we decided to head to the tip, where the action seemed to be; the sea shore. The Triveni Sangam is one of those rare places where you get to see the “meeting” of 3 bodies of water. This incidentally also means that at Kanyakumari you can see the sun rise from the sea and set into the sea as well. However the weather was gloomy and we did not get to see the sunset.

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There is a Gandhi Mandapam where his ashes were kept before immersion. This is really a huge empty building populated in some parts by lovers.

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As it grew darker we decided to explore the shops around and man! were we in for a surprise. The busy market was full of LED lit shops selling wares for Rs. 30, Rs. 20, etc. Entire shops dedicated to a single pricepoint.

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We headed back to Vedanta to sleep early so that we could wake up to see a sunrise.

IMG_20151114_061148933.jpgUnfortunately, the morning was just as gloomy and the crowds that had woken up with the hope of seeing a sunrise had nothing to do. Some of us walked down the stone jetty to the far end and sat down to take in the calmness of the morning but there were people selling watery tea and trying to con people into buying ‘pearl’ necklaces. There was this one guy who haggled with a family and brought down the price from 200 to 20. Later on in the market, I overheard another seller trying to sell similar necklaces to foreigners for $100. I wonder if anyone falls for their tricks.

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When we got back we could see that the line to visit the Vivekanand Memorial snaked through the bylanes of the town and the memorial had not even opened yet. So we decided to skip it since we wouldn’t be able to make it back to Trivandrum in time. But we had plenty of time to kill, so I decided to go for a stroll along the coast.

Being from a coastal town, I felt surprised to see the amount of construction and development done to commercialize the shoreline and provide people a place to sit and see the ocean. The roads too were well maintained and the streetlights bright.

Finally it was time to go. We headed back to the train station and waited for the island city express to start.

Back we headed to Trivandrum.

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A little off course…

It was May and I badly needed a break hence we planned a last minute impulsive getaway to Mahabalipuram(Mamallapuram) over a weekend. The trip was unplanned and people were few but the fun was good. All we did was eat and after starving through most of April I really needed it. The trip may have been too short but then frankly it was not the best time in the year to visit.

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We stayed at the Lakshmi Guesthouse, where we were assured that we would get bakcup power for our AC room. We visited the Le Yogi for Breakfast(Crepes were had with a mug of good tea) and then headed to Seashore Restaurant and Shanti Cafe for a *long* lunch. The beach air was just what I needed and I ended up exhausted and slept prior to dinner. Dinner at Anand’s Moonraker’s was not as good as I had hoped it would be. Perhaps this was a lesson never to go for anything other than the real Moonraker’s. Next day’s breakfast was at Nautilus and that was because the Gecko Cafe was closed. Unfortunately as it was off season, there was no bacon anywhere.

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Its definitely one of my favourite getaway spots. This was I think my third visit and I bought a well read copy of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods back as a memory of it.

Pincoding India

I was running through the book, Visualizing Data by Ben Fry and came across his pincode example for USA. I decided to replicate the example for India. Thus began my search for an geo-tagged dataset of indian pincodes. Sadly it does not exist. The best set of easily available data is hosted by datameet at http://pincode.datameet.org/

I ran the set through Tilemill and found large parts of India still untagged especially almost all of Maharashtra and Bihar. I asked Arun and he told me that ” there are no official public datasets available. But there is reasonably good coverage in the openstreetmap data. The simplest way to view the data is to probably use http://maperitive.net” which I will try to explore for now.

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You could help by mapping your own pincode on this website. Go on, it only takes a minute.

 

Ko Da Gu!

A not so last minute trip to ‘the Scotland of India’ was planned and executed this last weekend. In just a couple of days, we somehow managed to get rooms booked in a homestay and our bus tickets to and fro. We had a limited amount of time so we planned the itinerary to cover the most of the visit places.

Day 1 was rainy and we were drenched by the end of it. We visited Talacauvery, Abbey Falls and Raja’s Seat. The Evening ended with us warming ourself at Pause, the unwind cafe.

Day 2 was surprisingly sunny and after morning problems of waking up and getting ready, we were finally on our way to the Dubbare Elephant camp. This was followed by us visiting the Namdroling Monastery. This trip wanted me to learn more about buddhism. Finally it was time to go home and we caught our Volvo back to Bangalore.

If any of you are planning a visit, do try booking a cab from Bangalore or perhaps opt for this kstdc plan.

JYG: A Concert to Remember

There are bands you always wish that you get a chance to listen to live in concert, but being in India that doesnt often become a reality. Big Band concerts are few and far between and often limited to the same set of bands. Now the indian rock scene is an interesting one. There are more bands than you realise and they are all trying to fight for the top positions in india and believe me its not a easy thing to do.

Junkyard Groove is one such band. I first heard of them through Rajat. They had appeared on Channel V’s Launchpad and they apparently played an epic version of ‘Dont Cha’ by PCD. That piqued my interest and after a little bit of digging around i found out that they gave their music away for free download, actually they would get paid if people downloaded their music. So i got all their tracks downloaded and i was hooked. I got people hooked as well. I keep doing that. I am a self-confessed music explorer ever on the lookout for good alternative music. My latest find was ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ and before that was ‘Newton Faulkner‘. I would like to mention more but i digress.

So when i came to know i was going to work in Chennai, i was hoping to get a piece of the music i had heard so much about. But 7 months passed by and with no luck. I sincerely feel that finding out events in big cities(or small) is not easy. I know there is Burrp but that isnt always so helpful. For eg., i finally came to know about the JYG gig via a friend and more info via a Facebook event. I had to be there for the concert. I was not going to miss this opportunity and i started rounding up people to go along with.

Junkyard Groove had all of a sudden undergone a breakup barely a couple of months back. It happened on their Facebook page where 3 of the quartet decided to call it quits while Ameeth was left in the dark about the whole thing. Sad stuff. When i heard that they had called it a day, i was sad. I thought i should somehow finish a tribute post to them but soon i came to know that the line-up was reformed by Ameeth.

The new JYG line up has Hudstin Fernandez on drums, Naveen Thomas Joseph – Fan Page on lead, Ameeth Thomas on vocals and acoustic guitar and Sajith Satya on bass …..

This was good news, but even better was the fact that they would be playing their first gig at nearby EC41.

So 17th July was the d-day and we made it in time. Bassin Bridge was headlining for them. Sajith played the Bass for them as well. So the show began and that was one awesome night. I missed the fact that i didnt have a camera to capture those wonderful moments. I had to make do with Nievu‘s android phone. So not much could be salvaged from that. Hardly anything is clear but then i could not be choosy either. The venue was wild, underneath the moonlight sky they played with the bay in the background. After the first few songs, me and Reddy made our way downstairs and we spend the rest of the night there. In front of the band, enjoying the music we swayed, barely a meter from the band. I didnt want it to end and i screamed the songs and headbanged through the night so much so that i had to take the Tuesday off ;P but i still say it was totally worth it. That was my #1 concert till date and i had the most fun. Even now as i write this post , i am happy that i was able to attend it.

JYG, Rock On!

Re: Talking Fossils

A  friend of mine shared this article from the Telegraph on Facebook and he asked me my views so i ended up typing a hastily written paragraph on my thoughts.

Time and again someone writes such an article which makes people think about the current state of affairs in the most populous country of the world. People share it around and then after some days its consigned to the corner of their minds. People talking about change but there are hardly anyone who is doing anything that will change the way things are. The common man has been too alienated from the bureacracy that they dont want to get involved or cant if they want to. Take for examples our political parties, they are a prime example of how our democracy is actually an oligarchy. There are few young people in government service and no way for them to climb up the ladder to actually bring a change, add to this the fact that they would rather live a relaxed life than create a new world order implies that India wont change, not now and not by 2020. You would know what happened in our college itself, the administration was unwiling to listen to the ideas of the students and always tend to do what they think is right eventhough it would not make  sense. There also comes another problem when you try to change something for the good, there are people who make a living because of the way things are. Your actions would inconvenience them and that would add to resistance thus impeding the change you desire.

Read this also.

What are your thoughts on this article?