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To The Taj and Back May 1, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Blogging, City , 2comments
Go and visit the Taj

Taj, as I saw it

The Taj Mahal as I saw it was under restoration. It is almost off-white or yellow today and the “Multani Mitti” (Fuller’s Earth/ Bleaching Clay)  is being used to restore or take us closest to its original color, milk-white. If the one minaret which is ready is the benchmark, I agree the Taj Mahal would be closest possible to what it would have been.

I had last visited Taj Mahal some 16-17 years back, in my recollection, it was much whiter  and river Yamuna had more water. Probably now it gets almost 10x of people it use to get, so there are lot many restrictions today.

I have borrowed photograph from my friend & colleague Bill Spicer’s update on FB, Bill and I traveled in what was definitely above 45 degrees to see the Taj Mahal. It was a dream destination for him, and it is not that he travels to India for a living, at least not as of now.
We did “supersonic speed visit” – hired a guide, in this case Dilip Guide, who worked for his money and his tip. Dilip was adequately knowledgeable for a quick trip, but depth was 1/10 of a good article on internet. His knowledge was very functional. 7-10 spots, where to stop, where to talk, where to take pictures, all set before hand and reversed.  We were quick and he made sure that he had Bill get the buck for his money, specially the “been there done that photographs”. We negotiated Rs 1,000/- for his guide trip, and Bill tipped him another 500, for good work.  I am glad, I didn’t carry my camera, with camera I would have been very disappointed as I wouldn’t have taken even 5 photographs in the little time we had. I am sure, on a good sunny day in December, I will be back at the Taj for a dawn to dusk shoot. it would drain me and they don’t allow any food inside, but i think one can manage, if weather is not too bad and one is willing to buy a couple of entry tickets.


Heat definitely got better for us, we concluded that the only way to cool ourselves was to have a chilled beer, and we did, and it helped. I have heard people falling down in the Taj Complex due to heat, not being adequately hydrated leads to enormous sweating not getting compensated enough. This leads to blood getting thicker and making it more difficult for it to reach brain. Person passes out, falls on the ground, if he or she doesn’t break their head, blood starts flowing again due to fall, situation of TIA is handled, more life to live.

Almost everyone over-speeds on Yamuna Expressway, we didn’t. We were at 100 +-10, but it was nightmarish to see a 10 year old Hyundai Santro being pushed to do 120/130 plus. Too risky for the occupants and for all those on the road.
It is a toll road and there are no ATMs on or around the expressway. In 20 years, this Expressway would be completely done with, the amount of construction which has started coming on both sides, would ensure Noida-Agra would be a commercial/residential belt.
I think if they increase official speed to 150 and ensure that every other car which jumps is punished, this expressway would be safe.

 

 

Ahmedabad Blasts Update July 27, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Blogging, City, India, Is anyone listening, News, News Reaction , 1 comment so far

I avoid writing twice on a news, but this one is disturbing me a lot. It is 3:30 AM in San Jose and the restless me is trying to get hold of the actual number of deaths in the Ahmedabad blasts, 40 to 50 is the range which most of the sites are now talking about.

What are the calculations, the masterminds amongst the terrorists would be doing, 3 per blast is good or bad for them. Numbers matter to all, and more over to those who are in the business of fear. I am sure they would have planned and hoped for 100 per blast, yes hoped. Reading across Guardian, CNN, NDTV, Headlines India, Times of India and BBC one just gets one feeling, media would move on, the Government would move on, the terror merchants and there terror network would move on, even the relatives of those who have died would move on, but these 40 -50 lesser mortals would never move again.

No one is talking about Bangalore blasts today, 48 hours is what it took for everyone to move on, a search on Google for both Bangalore Blasts Suspects and Ahmedabad Blasts Suspects, got an unexpected first result – http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rlz=1T4GGIH_enIN234IN234&q=Ahmedabad+Blast+Suspects - Al Jazeera. Yes Al Jazeera network’s english website. No CNN, no BBC, no Times of India, no NDTV. Ruthlessness of the conspirators is demonstrated amply by the fact that they planted bombs near/ inside the hospitals – objective can be nothing but if you survived so far, die now.

Ahmedabad blasts have something more in them, they bring back unpleasent memories of series of communal violence incidents which have been happening  in Ahmedabad and other areas of Gujarat for about a decade now. Gujarat has suffered, it was coming up very well and would have beome number one on per capita income in India in these last ten years. Every blast takes it  back, demotivates some, cautions others, investment climate does suffer.

India as a nation needs to practice zero tolerance when it comes to such acts, we need political will and quick execution. I am sure our police would know the sympathizers if not the accused very well. Just lock them up and hang couple of them after every incident. On the other hand, work towards economic integration of both the communities, economic ties can sometime be thicker than religion.

Thank Usha for a more balanced update: http://blogs.mapsofindia.com/2008/07/27/ahmedabad-blasts-update/

India Under Attack July 26, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : City, India, Terrorist Attacks , 2comments

What are we waiting for?

How can we allow this?

We are just becoming a testing ground for Terrorist attacks. Are we becoming complacent?

Are we reconciled that our territory and our land is open to abuse at will?

Are we sending the mesage that do whatever with us, we don’t have a spine?

Are we sending the message that “India Under Attack” so what?

or So what’s new?

 How can we allow an attack after an attack and allow those responsible to get away?

The President of India condemns! The Prime Minister of India condemns! The head of UPA – Sonia condemns! The head of the opposition – Advani condemns! The Government of India condemns! But who acts? No one. Never ever.

Isn’t our police capable. Home Ministry says we had informed Gujarat Government. So what did the Home Ministry do after that, did someone call Mr. Modi to follow-up? Did PM offer additional support, NSG and RAF in advance, was CRPF summoned to handle the threat?  

8 bomb blasts in Bangalore, 16 bomb blasts in Ahmedabad are we waiting for 32 in Bhopal? Ahmedabad becomes the third BJP ruled state capital to be under attack in recent past, so what stops say a Bhopal being the fourth one? News is, that New Delhi has been put on high alert, what is the meaning of high alert? Traffic congestion’s because of adhoc police bandobast (arrangements)?

What does an individual “non entity” like yours truly feel in these circumstances – hurt, insecure and agitated. Agitated on the government’s inapt handling, agitated on the “success of occupying the bandwidth of a nation” by a handful of terrorists.

It is high time that “India under attack” should mean now “India would retaliate”, or now “India would attack”.

I just came across another blog by my colleague Usha who runs http://www.mapsofindia.com- Usha’s blog is official blog of Maps of India, hence states a fact, to me who knows Usha – http://blogs.mapsofindia.com/2008/07/27/another-bomb-blast-series-in-india-%e2%80%93-it-is-now-gujarats-business-hub-ahmedabad/ the blog hides what Usha must have been going through while writing it. Usha would have been like me - hurt, insecure and agitated.

My another colleague Anu who runs http://www.headlinesindia.com has better luck of expressing herself, http://www.headlinesindia.com/main.jsp?news_code=79742 her bureaus news says tht the Minister has no comments to make after being told that some group called “Indian Mujhaideens” have claimed responsibility. Usha/ Anu/ Simar are just three of millions of individuals who would have lost there bandwidth to these terrorist attacks.

Honorable Prime Minister of India, please listen to our prayers and act. We’ve enough problems on hand, every Indian is troubled with this inflation and economic issues, our bandwidths are occupied, and peace, security and prosperity challenged. Sir, please act.

Barbeque Nation Restaurant – A Review May 18, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Barbecue, City, Food, Review , 5comments

Date: May 18, 2008

Time: 8:30 pm to 10:00 pm

City: New Delhi (Janak Puri Outlet)

Address: B-1/ 623 Janakpuri, (Near District Center)

Country: India

Restaurant: Barbeque Nation; Owners: Barbeque Nation Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.

Occasion: Sunday evening Family Dinner

Location: Bang opposite District Center Janakpuri on Shivaji Marg/ Najafgarh Road.

Map: http://www.mapsofindia.com/delhi/block-b-jankpuri.html

Drinks: Masala Cola – No issues ; Pistachio Twirl – No issues

Format – One Price buffet spread, no drinks included. Barbecue on the table.

Starters: 5 Veg and 5 Non Veg Starters – Served on the table – Directly to plates or on skewers kept on Charcoal Grill placed in the hollow center of the table:

Vegetarian Starters: Hara Seekh Kabab - totally avoidable; Mushrooms on skewers – OK; Thai Grilled Vegetables – very good; Uncut Sauteed Potatoes on skewers - very good;  Paneer Tikka - trash, poor quality of Cottage Cheese followed up with extremely poor marination. 

Non Vegetarian Starters: Chicken Kabab on skewers – OK; Mutton Seekh Kabab – all chilli no taste; Chicken Boneless tandori – Good; Fish Fry – very good; Prawns on skewers- very good.

Salads: Standard unexciting spread with an exception of Corn Salad. 

Main Course Buffet (Non Veg Menu) Spread: Standard Upper Middle Class North Indian Shaadi Spread, looks like a roll call. 1 chicken dish (Chicken Tikka Masala) – Good; Mutton Biryani – Good; 1 mutton dish (Rogan Josh) – Good, 1 fish (Lemon Sauce) – Rubbish and hopeless and above all it was stale and real bad – had to be vomited out instantly and still live with chances of food poisoning for several hours. 

Main Course Buffet (Vegetarian Menu) Spread: Dum Daal – Regular OK; Veg Manchurian – OK; Paneer Dish – Horrible, they have a problem with their quality of Paneer; Mushroom dish – Good. Veg Biryani – Very Good; Roti & Naan – Good.

Deserts: Fresh Fruits – OK, Gulab Jamun – good; Ice cream with sauces very good.

Water: Kinley bottled water served as part of the buffet.

Locational Access: Very good.

Parking: Valet support.

Ambiance: Very good.

Interior: Excellent for this price range.

Tables: Very Good, Plates need to be wiped once brought on the table.

Cooling: Not correct tonnage. Becomes too hot, with live grill.

Acoustics & Music: Acoustics bad, becomes very noisy, Music could be far better. 

Staff Attitude: Indifferent

Service: Very Fast but totally Unpersonalized

Washroom: Insufficient numbers and not very clean

Rates: Reasonable (at 500 + drinks in May 2008 )

Why Go: Ambiance; Location; Concept; Starters

Why Think Twice: Main Course unexciting menu; Indifferent staff and unpersonalized service; Process flawed – stale fish landed on the table, I noticed – Fish was withdrawn from the buffet for rest of our stay. Thank God.

More to come…

 

Amritsar – Sifti Da Ghar May 16, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : City, Food, Golden Temple, Review , 8comments

Yesterday was a good day for me, a visit to Sri Harmandir Sahib – http://www.goldentempleimages.com always does good to me, it recharges me. As it was Sangrand, beginning of the month, even at 3:00 pm there were lots of  us for our own individual reasons.

Amritsar Airport was recently renovated you can smell it, but wait, there’s another smell and more visible changes happening. The new terminal is being demolished. A heritage oriented structure is being changed over to a swanky Iron & Glass House.  They could have retained this and made another, it would have been best. Why bring it down, and so quickly?

Ambarsar, as the locals call it, is known for Sri Harmandir Sahib. It is also known for being a foodies delight. Kundan, Kaiser, Gyan, Kanhiya, Bansal, Lubhaya are all legends. Papar and warian, a whole bazaar exists and they would gladly make you eat the raw Papar to understand how the cooked would taste. I try my level best to go to Gyan on my every visit, located at Chok Regent Cinema, Gyan to me is the finest Barfi you can have in the world, and why his lassi tastes the way it does remains a tasty mistry.

Amritsar is the city most visited by me and I am seeing the city change, the change is of course making the city yet another city of India, Amritsar is loosing its distinct character. None of the folklore lush green fields welcome you the minute you step out of the airport, it is the concrete, either done up or under construction.

The wikipedia link offers lots of information on Amritsar, but the soul of the city is missing, the information is more like 10 pages read one page written: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amritsar

So here is an attempt to define/ explain the statement which is as old as Sikhism:

Q: What is the meaning of Amritsar – Sifti Da Ghar?

A: To understand it fully we must reword the sentence – Amrutsar – Sifti Da Ghar, Amrut + Sar, (as per local fokelore first hand from generational chain) Amrut (Amrit) is used here to mean Pure, Pious, Water, Nectar and Medicinal and Sar means – Sarovar or a Pond or a Pool. A rough cut  meaning of Amritsar is a “The pool of pure, clean, pious and medicinal water”. Sifti as per them stands for Adorable, Appreciation and Praise. Da of course means “is” here, and Ghar means home which is an abode.  So Amritsar – Sifti Da Ghar means – ” The adorable  abode of the Pool with pure, pious and medicinal water”.

The city of Amritsar (also referred as ASR) gets its name from the Amrut Sarovar. The Amrut Sarovar’s digging on a lot of land which had a pond with medicinal values was initiated by the Fourth Guru Ram Das. The generational chain referred to earlier also substantiates that Guru Ram das initiated the same as per wishes of the third Guru, Guru Amar Das Ji. The sarovar per se is now popularly referred to as Ram Das Sarovar. Some devotees also refer to Amritsar as Amarsar, substituting Amrit for Amar, first name of the Third Guru.

If anyone disagrees with the above interpretation, I pray with my folded hands for a submission of your revered view, and may Wahe Guru “Bhulaan Chukaan Muaf Karnian” (Forgive me for my forgetfulness and mistakes).

More to come…