Sunday, December 25, 2011

Oh yes!

A new blog template. I never changed it since the beginning of time and was adamant that white font against black is the most awesome combo ever.
But it was part laziness, part resistance to change. All that is in the past now. Here's a splash of yellow!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The movie experience

I miss the day's of the single screen theatres where the viewing public would make sure you know that you are at the movies, with their catcalls and whistles!
Each impressive dialogue would be whistled at. Every actor entry would be cheered, with the exception of Tushar Kapoor, whose entry would bring in a hushed silence.
Rumours are, that the latest Vidya Balan movie was titled 'The Picture' until they cast Tushar Kapoor. But let's not get into that since this post is not about him.

My favourite theatre was 'Urvashi' which was very close to where I lived. It had a 50rupee balcony seat and an awesome Dolby surround sound.
Bangalore was also well known for the 'Majestic' area, which along with its - then- state of the art bus station was also named after the most popular theatre - Majestic. I think KG road alone boasted of over 20 theatres at a point!

The MG road area had a few very popular movie screens - Rex, Symphony, Plaza, Bluemoon. Some of them still haven't lost their 'charm', I remember Plaza still had ceiling fans and windows until a 3-4 years ago when it was shutdown.

Then came PVR - with its multiplexes. The ticket cost shot up, the screens got smaller and the experience more diluted. The multiplex movie audience now was more like the cricket crowd watching England play New Zealand at Lord's.
Also ordinary movies(Bodyguard, Ready) started getting called 'big hits' simply because of their collections (not surprising when some tickets are priced at 450bucks!). Sad.

But it the multiplex does have its benefits - If you feel like watching a movie but don't know what movie. The multiplex is perfect.
Certain movies got made, targeted right at the multiplex audience - 'Pappu can't dance saala' to cite the most recent example was awesome!

So all in all I still go watch loads of movies, but miss the whistles and the energy at times.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Rafting in Rishikesh

The trip to Rishikesh was planned for a big group. For once, we had no planning to do and all I needed to do was pay-up when asked to.
Suited me fine. I dislike planning trips with/for large groups....'I would like a single bedroom with double bedsheets', 'I would like a double bedroom with Single bedsheets', 'Why aren't we going on a safari? I want to see tiger.' etc etc

Though the initial plan was to drive down in our cars, it thankfully changed to getting ourselves a mini-bus, that fit about 12 of us. The people with the families got there in their own cars/taxis.

We left Delhi at 4am and The ride took about 7 hours, mostly because the road after a point goes through some small towns and villages which slows down the pace. Our driver, a chap called 'Vishnu', had decided that our adventure trip starts as soon as we sit in the bus. The driving was atrocious and filled with some narrow escapes. There was this once where he decided to over take a slow moving truck at the last minute from the left only to realise there was a slower moving bullock cart on its left blocking the entire highway. Our man then went off the highway into the dirt to overtake the bullock cart from its left, all while maintaining the same speed.

Anyway we reached Rishikesh, via the holy city of Haridwar and Rajaji national park around 11:30am. The plan was to go white water rafting the same day, but we were told that the water gets really cold as late afternoon approaches and the best option would be to raft the next day.

So we started getting acclimatised to the conditions, by taking a dip in the lovely stream right behind our resort. The most soothing experience after a long bus ride :)

Followed it up with some good lunch and then headed out on a mini-trek to a waterfall nearby. The waterfall was beautiful, there was no one around and we decided to take a quick dip. The water turned out to be freezing, but got us rid of all tiredness.

Headed back to the highway to get some kadak chai and fan. Well, a 'fan' is like an outer layer of the cream roll, without the cream. Quite tasty when had with tea, bland otherwise.

On the way back to the camp, we went by the river side, walking on the white sand and taking some time out to sit on the rocks and listen to the river and the odd group of rafters going on their merry way.

Back to the camp and a few games of mafia, followed by some delicious dinner by the bonfire. We ran out of firewood around 1:30am so had to head back into our bamboo 'cottages', away from the chilly night.

The next day dawned bright and cold, and off we went accomplish the main order of business of our trip - River rafting in the Ganges.

We were picked up the rafting guys at the iconic Laxman jhula and headed out to the starting point of our 26km rafting route - Marine drive

All set with our protective equipment, we headed out in a couple of rafts straight to the rapids. The water was cold and the rapids were fantastic! Our raft almost flipped over in one of the rapids and we were allowed to voluntarily jump out of the raft in one of the rapids.
The water was freezing and our hands numb with all the rowing but we had a blast!

The high-point was the cliff jump right into the Ganges. The height of 25 feet, did not seem like a big deal until we stood on the edge of the rock looking down at the river. I just followed the idea of just jumping without thinking and it worked very well!

By the time we were done with the rafting it was evening and the light was fading. So most of the day had gone in getting to the rafting place and the rafting itself. Overall it was a fantastic experience and a highly recommended one. Let me know if you need details!