Friday, August 01, 2014

Giant Robot and the world of tomorrow

Back in the late 1980s, there was a TV series called "Giant Robot". Now, I was too young to understand the overall plot and what was happening. But I used to LOVE it!

So much so, that I once turned up at a school fancy dress competition dressed up as "Giant Robot". Do they even have "Fancy Dress" competitions anymore? Anyway. I would have shared those pictures on this post, but that would be far too embarrassing.

A Giant Robot action figure in err...action
This post, however, is not about my embarrassing escapades as Giant Robot. It is about the series itself. Like I said, I was too young to understand much of it. What I do remember, is that each episode had this kid who would encounter some trouble and summon Giant Robot. The Robot would then fly to his rescue.
The one thing that was imprinted in my head at that time was the manner in which the kid would summon this Giant Robot. The kid had this watch, which he would talk into, and the next thing you know, Giant Robot has answered his call and is up, up and away!
Here is Johnny and his magical watch
It was all very magical. To me this was cutting edge sci-fi. It was the 1980s, my grandparents had a red bakelite telephone back in Bombay and we had to place a "trunk call", if we wanted to talk to them. A boy talking into a watch to summon a Robot was unheard of!

>>> Fast forward to today >>>>

The other day a colleague in office was quietly checking his emails on his watch. Yup his watch. 

You smart watch you!
While I looked on , he casually proceeded to deploy a build to the showcase environment!! Here in front of me, live, was a live demonstration of Giant Robot being summoned using a watch!

We truly live in the world of tomorrow.

Goa in the rains

Goa, arguably the most popular tourist destination in India, is known for the sun, the sand, the seafood and a laid back way of life.
However, this also makes Goa an extremely crowded place. Even for some of you who may love the buzz of activity, it can get a bit too much to handle.

So, here are a couple of tricks for those who want a more relaxed Goa experience.

Travel Hack 1 - Stay away from the more crowded and popular beaches such as Calangute and head to the more serene and calmer ones.
Querim beach, right on the Northern tip of Goa, by the Tiracol river is one such beach. Cross the river by the ferry (free of charge) and you are in Maharashtra with access to places like Redi and Malwan fort.
Querim (Tiracol beach) is also my personal favourite beach in Goa. But, since it is mostly empty it may not be to everyones liking.

Travel Hack 2 - Visit Goa in the rains

This is the one we tried this time round. "Why would one want to go to Goa during the monsoons?" I hear you ask.  Well, there are multiple reasons!

a. Goa is extremely beautiful in the Monsoons, the rains make every thing green. As for me, I love the grey skies above and greenery around.
Fort Aguada, as seen from the neighbouring lighthouse

b. It opens up a lot more options of things to do!
Since one tends to go to Goa for the beaches, one tends to spend most of the time at the beaches.
If you know you way around the beaches, then you will have picked one of the nicer beaches (read Candolim). But, Calangute beach is where you would find your regular tourist. That beach is a horrible place to be in during the tourist season. Crowded. Dirty. Disgusting.

Now in the monsoon, since the sea is rough, the beaches are just another item on the list. This gives you time to -

Visit the forts.

In hot humid weather, I avoid open places, such as forts. But in the rains, forts are great to walk around.
Fort Aguada is the popular one. But another beautiful fort is the Chapora fort. Overlooking the Vagator beach, this fort is known for being featured in the cult classic "Dil Chahata hai". Nestled at a location overlooking a beach and the confluence of a river, it affords fantastic views. A must visit!

See the Dudhsagar falls in all their splendour.

We had rented a car, so drove down to the Castle Rock station (about 90kms away from Candolim), we reached just in time for the 10:30am train. Now this train stops at Dudhsagar station to check the brakes. So one can hitch a ride till the station. The other option is to trek on the tracks, but this is a 13kilometre hike. So be prepared.
The train however gets you there in about 20minutes.

A trek on the tracks in the rains is pleasant as well

A kilometre away from Dudhsagar station, right by the train tracks. are the fantastic Dudhsagar falls. We went on a Sunday, and were surprised to see a lot of crowd, which diluted the experience a wee bit. I would recommend doing this on a weekday. Carry your own food and torches. There a couple of tunnels you cross to reach the falls.

Now, once you enjoy the falls from up close, you can walk down another kilometre or so. The train track curves back and you can now see the falls in their entirety, albeit from a little afar.

The falls from afar
If you want to wait for the train to head back to Castle Rock, you will have to wait till 5pm, which is the first passenger train in that direction.
You still do have the option to trek back up 13-14 kms, to reach quicker and enjoy the views of the valley, known as Braganza Ghat.

c. Less expensive and less crowded

Since it is non-tourist season, there are lesser crowds everywhere, making Goa a nicer place. The added advantage is that everything is cheaper on the pocket.
The stay is generally discounted and you will get some wonderful offers if you hunt around a bit. Renting a car is easier and recommended. Since the rains are fairly incessant, a two wheeler would make things uncomfortable. A small hatchback can be rented at anywhere between 800-1000Rs. Which is great, especially since the petrol costs are significantly lower as well.
Either ask an auto-rickshaw guy to help with car rentals, or check at the hotel where you stay. Compare the prices and then decide.

Buy a Poncho and make sure you wear footwear suitable for the rains. This will keep you dry. Ponchos can be bought at about 250 bucks. Loads of stores display them, go check the price and strike a bargain.

Other shopping in Goa is cheaper in this season too. So make sure you bargain!

d. Spend time at eating joints

The rains mean that you can sit around sipping beer and eating great food. There are loads of eating joints. So make sure to research on some and visit them.
Locally made chocolate liqueur is a must try when in Goa. Take a bottle back for friends. It is yummy and you will be pleasantly surprised by the price tag.

So there! So many reasons to visit Goa in the rains. Before this post starts to sound like a rain tourism for Goa, let me warn you,
It is not all good...

Well, there is a reason why Goa is less crowded in the rains. The sea is rough, so you can go for a walk by the beach, but do not venture into the sea. The shacks by the beach are all closed. So a lot of food options are gone.
Obviously if you do not like the rains, then do NOT go to Goa in the monsoon. It tends to rain a lot (duh!).

But, the above are tiny drawbacks and should not hold you back from planning a trip to Goa. The monsoon is still hanging around, so head to Goa as soon as possible!