Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hayden calls Harbhajan 'obnoxious little weed'

Listen to this (The audio clip begins with an ad.)

In other words, "He still keeps objecting to our sledging after all this time." Note that it was Hayden himself who started it.

Also, to Ishant Sharma he says, "We all play for our country mate!". But Hayden also plays for Chennai Super Kings.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Goa - India Trip Part 2

When I decided to travel all over Australia and then may be more across the world, I realised that I haven't travelled anywhere in India itself. Sure, I have been to Udaipur when I was young, but that was with my parents and not as laid back as travelling is supposed to be. So, as honeymoon plans were being made we had to pick Goa as one of our destinations as my wife had been there earlier and she knew a bit about it.

We reserved first class train tickets to get there, first class being air conditioned coaches with clean sheets, clean towels and marginally better food service. Also included in the deal were cleaner toilets and an attendant to clear the litter.

Earlier, getting to Goa meant taking a train upto Hubli and then taking a bus ride to get there (or direct flight). But train lines were now going to Goa state. The last stop of our train was to Vascodagama, but we got down at Margao and spent Rs 550 on our auto trip to Candolim where we were supposed to stay.

The major thing that gets you in Goa are the costs involved. Rs 550 for a 55 kilometre trip wasn't much as the taxi cab charges would make us poorer by Rs 770. We took the cheaper option.

Beach shacks in Goa are the places to spend your day in. I heard that these are set up only during winter. At the shack one can drink, eat, read a book, have lunch, have dinner, drink a bit more, watch fireworks, play board games and much more without leaving one's cushioned seat. All this while taking in the fresh salted air in and watching the sun go down.

Renting vehicles is the way to move, unless you want to spend all your cash on taxis and autos. The rent is around 200 to 250 rupees per day and require minimum paperwork. The guy we were talking to said if there is Police lafda(issues) then I need something, I gave him my bank atm card which I don't hold money in, he kept it for five days, cash was handed over and I had a scooter at my disposal.

Northern Goa has the most number of beaches that are recommended. Ask anyone and they will rattle off names like Anjuna beach, Vagator beach, Arambol beach etc. All of them in the Northern side of Goa. Candolim is in the Northern part of Goa and going to any of these beaches didn't take too long a ride.

The roads are very narrow in Goa and it feels like you have gone back a 100 years looking at those old style houses and churches, driving by them you would occasionally come through to huge fields surrounded by coconut trees. Commercialism, if alive and well in Goa, has not hurt the natural beauty away from the beaches.

Fort Aguada is a proper fort. Though paling in size to other bigger forts in India, this fortress has a moat with self explanatory design. One doesn't need a guide to go around it, nor does it take hours of walking through it. The views from this fort of the sea and of Goa are not to be missed.

The one beach that is not be missed is Arambol. I have read about this beach in Jamies blog and wanted to get there. It is a good 40 kilometres from Candolim and took about an hour to get there. But there was a double surprise when we got there. On the way to Arambol is another beach called Mandrem.

Mandrem Beach surrounded by coconut trees. The coconuts cost Rs 50 each (compared to Rs 6 in other parts of India).

If the major beaches of Goa are filled with touts and sellers of an assortment of trinkets Mandrem and Arambol are featured with their absence. So, to really relax one has to first get here and then sleep it off in the sun.

Sellers of trinkets and various other types of clothing speak very good English. It is about their survival for them. They also speak in rhetoric: "You kidding madam?", was a question posed by one lady when my wife tried to bargain for a sarong.

The temperature while we were there was a gorgeous 30 degrees with some humidity as to not make it dry and hot. Guys could ride around without their shirts all day and all night, so did many of them.

More about Goa later.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Australia Apologises

Tomorrow the 13th of February 2008, will be a great day in the history of Australia. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is going to apologise formally on behalf of the Australian government to the Aboriginal community. This apology will be for the policies of Stolen Generation which were in place for almost a century from 1869 to 1969.

This is great news, not just for the aborigines of Australia but for every Australian as they shake off the stigma attached to their past and now move on.

Full text of the speech is here.

History being made and I am present here, I feel very lucky.