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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Biking around the Green Lung of Mumbai

THIS is MUMBAI

 

The Crowded bustling city of Mumbai

A concrete jungle where greenery is seen in corners and window sills (within small pots); where traffic and pollution are an integral part of one's life

If you notice the Mumbai Map above, you may not seem to agree with the lack of greenery aspect of my comment. After all, you can see a whole big green patch right in the upper centre of the image. Well, that's the Sanjay Gandhi National Park of Mumbai which has taken care of the green cover of Mumbai. Thankfully, it is a protected area and hence the greenery is still saved from the encroachments of the concrete jungle.

Above the green zone, is Ghodbunder Road, which connects Borivli and Thane. On the left of the green lung of Mumbai is Western Express Highway while on the right we have the Eastern Express Highway. On the lower side, we have the JVLR … the Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road. These 4 major roads form the periphery of the green lung of Mumbai and THAT circular (well, not exactly) path is My Personal Favorite Biking Route.

Let me show you. Here is another map of Mumbai with my fav route marked out in Blue (courtesy Google Maps)

 

 

 

 The entire route spans about 80 km and can take anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours to commute on my bike depending upon traffic conditions on JVLR and Ghodbunder Road since these two are pretty busy roads with a bit of construction work going on in certain parts leading to traffic jams.

Why is this my favorite biking route for a long drive?

Simple. These are roads where I can actually push my 2-wheels to their max limits. These set of roads have the least traffic on them. AND the most important factor is the overall climatic conditions on this route. Since the road is surrounding the green lung of Mumbai; all that greenery has a nice cooling effect on it. The temperature on these roads can be about 3 to 5 degrees cooler than the rest of the city (concrete city). Especially the stretch of road on JVLR which is right below the green lung can be real cool (in fact chilly in winter).

The wide highway like roads with sparse traffic for most parts is a boon for the 2-wheels which can whiz through the route with best possible cool breeze blowing at your helmets windshield and through the folds of your jacket.

I have been tempted so many times to take the route without the burden-on-the-head (helmet) but have done it only once and that too only for just the Eastern Express Highway part of the journey wherein I was praying that I wouldn't encounter our dear traffic constables who would be ready to hand me a tiny slip of paper with a nice little fine mentioned and I would be lighter by a couple 100 bucks.

The journey was simply amazing. I remember the thrill of the speed which I could completely feel on my face and in my hair. It was a fantastic feeling which I would love to re-live but then safety of self as well as my money is important and I am not really a risk-taker at heart. So its me and my 2-wheels with the burden on my head going around in the green-loop of Mumbai.

If you are a biking enthusiast in Mumbai and haven't tried the Green-Lung Route; give it a try.

I am sure you will love it.

I have never written about me and my 2-wheels … and most people don't know this side of my personality which prefers the twin-wheels. I have practically never driven the 4-wheeler we have, since I am more than biased towards my 2-wheeler.

I have written for the first time about my biking preference inspired by the contest held by Indiblogger.in in collaboration with Castrol (visit them at www.facebook.com/CastrolBiking)

 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Doha Taxi Color

Can you imagine what was the first thing I 'noticed' in Doha, Qatar last month when I landed there for the first time? The Color of their Taxi !! 

Yeah ... the Aqua Green taxi color looked very pleasant. 
It was in stark contrast to the black-n-yellow cabs I have seen in Mumbai all my life. 



Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sherlock Holmes Finished

 

Well … What I really mean is that I have finished reading all of the original Sherlock Holmes.

 

I started reading the entire collection of Sherlock holmes Stories last year in January and over the span of last 16 months; have managed to read all of them – so that's like 60 in 16.

 

Not that I needed that much time. I could have read the entire 2 volumes with 56 short stories and 4 long ones in a matter of a month … but I wanted to enjoy SH over a longer period of time and also avoid a SH overdose. So I stuck to reading a couple of short stories or a long one in a particular month and continued reading other series as well … like Satyajit Ray's Feluda, Three Investigators and Satyajit Ray's short stories collection.

 

I finished the entire Feluda collection last year and now Sherlock Holmes also is finished. 3I has a lot more stories than I originally thought and I am not sure if they will be finished this year also.

 

Now that Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Canon Doyle is done; next month I will be picking up The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz … it's a new Sherlock Holmes novel by a new author.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I like Gmail

 

Yes. The blog post title is almost contradictory to the previous post I made.

But yes, the contradiction is not there.

Ever since its launch in 2004; I have been a huge Gmail fan. Its fantastic and innovative features, its huge inbox size, its simplistic and compact design and the conversation style arrangement of messages and labels instead of folders

I still love Gmail … it's the new interface that I don't like.

I had been a troubled soul when I had seen my gmail box usage touch 97% once upon a time. This was way back in time when the mailbox was 1 GB. I had exchanged emails with my close friends about what will I do now. And then just like that they increased the mailbox size from 1 to 2GB and the 97% went down to 48% … wooohooo ….

I was going through similar feelings since past we months as my 7.5GB mailbox began to show near 90% usage. The message in my mailbox at the time of posting is "92% full - Using 7108 MB of your 7710 MB"

AND it happens again … Google has announced yet another quantum jump from 7.5GB to 10 GB !!!

Wooooohooooo ….. http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/gmail-now-with-10-gb-of-storage-and.html

And that way they advertize Google Drive to all Gmail users directly J

 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I don’t like the new Gmail

I don't like the new Gmail ....

And the new Blogger interface too

 

Google has revamped the look and feel of Gmail (followed by Blogger) and I don't really like it. I have always loved Google interfaces due to their simplicity and compactness. They show u plenty of stuff in the visible screen space without the graphical overload on the page and they had a compact layout.

 

The new interface departs from these basic qualities that I liked. I see a lot of 'space' getting introduced into the layout and this has directly impacted the visual appeal of the page.

 

I soooo wish Google would allow us to 'go back' to the older version and older look and feel.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

An Incredibly Adventurous Day


A day of extreme variety and adventure …

O! What a day it was !

From the sweltering 45 Degrees to the chilling minus 5 degrees

From the speed boat ride in the open seas to the snow sleigh and tobogganing tyre sliding on snow

From walking on the HOT sand to wading through waist/chest deep COOL water to sliding and slipping on the COLD snow and flying / parasailing over Sea !!!

We rode the Bus, Taxi, Metro, Speed Boat, sleigh and even flew with the parachute thingy … all in a span of 12 hours

That is how I celebrated my Wedding Anniversary in May last year !!!

The end of the day was pretty calm and subtle as compared with the rest of the day … a walk down the sea side and a candle light dinner at Kamat Restaurant


It was a truly awesome day and THE MOST Adventurous day of my life ... of our lives ... 

Some pictures of our adventures ... 


 

 

 





 









This recollection of an incredible day is courtesy Mahindra XUV and www.Indiblogger.in :) 


Indiblogger is running a Mahindra XUV (http://www.mahindraxuv500.com/) sponsored contest where contestants can chronicle their adventures !! Fun .. isn't it !! 

The Only Change that is needed …




My first thought was to post the picture above with Mahatma Gandhi’s quote and close this post. Because that is essentially the message that I would like to put across;

That is essentially the change that is needed in the world. Real Change is one that happens at an individual level. A change that is not dependant on you ‘expecting’ change to happen around you … a change that happens inside individuals. It might seem illogical that change can happen without changing the world but the fact of the matter is that change can happen only by changing people …. And people cannot be changed so easily. People change only and ONLY when they want to change themselves.

So that is where MG’s quote lays down the entire philosophy of change. Be the change that you want to see in the world.

Parting Shot: This might seem strange but this post was inspired by Stayfree (something you might never associate with me :) … Indiblogger.in came up with a contest in collaboration of Stayfree with the theme of change and this post was a response to that.



Stayfree’s initiative on change on FB can be found at http://facebook.com/sftimetochange

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Water for Birds in Summer

Monday, April 02, 2012

March Reading …

 

March began with book review of short novel by an Anonymous Indian Author. The month had a lot of travel plans for me in the second half which helped my reading; while setting some new personal travelling records (6 flights in 13 days). The reading score may not be high but then it has 3 full length novels along with the usual shorts.

New author this month was an Anonymous one, whose book I reviewed. I could also put the authors of Chicken Soup series book in this category but then they are not really authors, they just compile the stories together. In this case, Mark and Victor have Indian help at hand in the form of the third co-author, Juhi Rai Farmania.

The reading score may not be high but the month was satisfactory. 3 full length novels (all three of different genres) and my regulars of 3I, Sherlock, and Satyajit Ray (missed reading Famous Five this month)!

Best part of the month was reading a Robert Ludlum and Chicken Soup for Soul series book after a long long time.

 

1. Scammed: Confessions of a Confused Accountant by Anonymous

Stating the month with yet another 'new' author'… err … well he/she is actually Anonymous. This was yet another book I received from BlogAdda.com for review; so this has already been reviewed in a separate blog post in March. The author chooses to remain anonymous but I hope he continues to write more of such works. This one was pretty good.

The story is about a typical over-worked accountant who waits for his promotion putting in long hours and dedication for years. The life of our depressed accountant takes a sudden and complete U-turn and he becomes the CEO of a new company. The story is pretty interesting thereafter as he goes through the HIGHS and LOWS of life. 

 

2. The Three Investigators & the Mystery of the Scar-faced Beggar by M V Carrey

Bob unknowingly witnesses a bank robbery while he is helping a blind beggar who had dropped his cup of coins. The beggar also accidently drops a purse and runs away without taking it from Bob. The story advances as the trio gets involved in the investigation of the robbery and things lead into historical and political problems of another country. The mystery man with a scar on the face (the blind beggar) turns out to be a part of that history … and he has been dead for quite some time.

The story moves as more characters get involved and the plot thickens. The pre-climax sequence has all our good guys and gals tied to chairs inside a house waiting for a near death situation as water from a swimming pool threatens to flow into the house as the house (and the swimming pool) begins to slide on the slope of the hill under the influence of a mudslide/landslide. To top it up, the climax has a speed boat chase which ends in a crash.

 This story also introduces Hector Sebastian who would be introducing the cases from this story onwards. He is introduced in an interesting manner becoming part of the story (and as usual being a suspect for some time). 

 

3. Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Three Gables by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

When someone tries to buy a House … lock, stock and barrel … it becomes an intrigue for the owner and she contacts Sherlock. A little deductions and Sherlock reaches his conclusions and meets the mastermind behind the mystery. He brokers an interesting deal; giving his client a world tour as a gift (from the mastermind) as a compensation for the trouble caused.

 

4. Bonku Babu's Friend by Satyajit Ray

This one was short story about a Teacher of Geography and Bengali in the Kankurgachchi Primary school in Bengal. He is the butt of jokes of all people around him, not just grown-ups but also kids. He does have some serious self esteem issues and he is taken for granted by  most people. A chance encounter changes everything.

 

5. Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire   by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes is surprised when he receives a request to assist in a case involving a Vampire. He clearly believes that it is not a case of him since supernatural and vampires are beyond his realm of deductions.

But once he hears the details of the case, he realizes that a different game is afoot. This story is yet another example Sherlock Holmes being an 'armchair detective'. He has formed his opinions and reached a conclusion even before leaving his room and going to the client's house.

 

6. Point of Origin by Patricia Cornwell

I decided to pick up yet another Patricia Cornwell this month after reading my first PC novel last month. This one begins on two parallel tracks; A threatening note from a murderer who has a history with Scarpetta & her Niece and the case of a farm house fire.

The fire managed to kill his collection of high profile multi-million dollar worth horses (except one) and also kills a lady whose identity and cause-of-death becomes a mystery. In the meanwhile, the murderer (who is scaring the shit out of Dr. Scarpetta) manages to escape from prison and also manages to send damaging press-releases. And then another fire incident and the investigation of this case leads to a piece of evidence which connects the escaped murderer to the fires. How and why are they connected becomes a mystery while Scarpetta and her niece (who was in a relationship with the murderer in old times) go through a mental hell.
I personally did not really like the climax, the ending. It was pretty uneventful. It was nothing really interesting.

I constantly got the feeling that the story is going forward very very slowly. A bit more pace could have been helpful (at least to me). In fact, when it ended; more than the joy of reading or the excitement of the climax, it was relief. I felt relief that the novel is finally over. Much like Dr. Scarpetta felt that the ordeal was over. I felt the same. I am now skeptical about picking up another Dr. Scarpetta / Patricia Cornwell novel.

 

7. Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul at Work by Juhi Rai Farmania, Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen (collection of 101 very short real life stories)

This one too came from IndiBlogger.in as part of their book review program. My earliest memories of reading the Chicken Soup series date back more than a decade when I got my hands on my first 'chicken soup'. It was interesting to read the similarly flavored sentimental humanly touching stories with the Indian 'tadka'. This book brings together a collection of 101 stories of entrepreneurship & creativity at the Indian workplace.

This being part of IndiBlogger.in book review program, I have reviewed the book separately in an earlier post in March.

 

8. Trevayne by Robert Ludlum

I have been a Robert Ludlum fan ever since I first read his novel way back in 2006. I read quite a few of his novels in 2006-2008 years but don't remember reading much from his writings in past 3 years (maybe 1 or 2 max). So Robert Ludlum is back on my reading list this year.

I begin with Trevayne which Robert Ludlum published under another name when first released. The novel touches the American political scene and how the controls of power are a complex web of connections and influences. How a man of influence got to make his decision and take his stand because in the power games, a powerful person can become a king maker or could become a threat to others and thus get eliminated.

It was a delight reading Robert Ludlum again. There is absolutely no one who can write like him with of course the exception of Matthew Reilly but then both belong to different genres and writing styles and both are super awesome.

 

9. Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Three Garridebs by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Imagine a Sherlock Holmes story starting with a talk of 'comedy'. One doesn't exactly expect humor from a Sherlock story although there are some lighter moments in some of the stories. But humor is definitely not something you expect and if it mentioned in the very opening of the story; it does spike up the interest levels. Well, the story was not really a comedy. It just had a comic premise.

It turned out to be one of the several stories where the client of Sherlock Holmes is being driven out of his house by a fantastic turn of events because the 'villain' was interested to be 'in' the house in the absence of the current occupant. I am surprised why Sir Arthur Canon Doyle utilized the same device/premise in several stories.

 

Series Completion Score: (as of 31st Mar 2012)

Three Investigators     31 out of 63

Sherlock Holmes         54 out of 60

Famous Five                03 out of 21

Best of Satyajit Ray     04 out of 21

Total                           91 out of 165