Monday, February 27, 2012

Maharashtra/Bombay ~Tribute to the spine of India~

{All the information here has nothing to do with any political or personal gain. It is just my personal knowledge from the books, and the stories that has been told by my friends, school teachers; lastly little bit of my own faith, and opinion from my journey. Nothing more; nothing less}.

काळ माशूर शहर बोम्बाय कि कहाणी पारणे कि लिया चालू राहे !!!

आखिर मुजय आपके शहर सी प्यार हो गये!!!!
जय महाराष्ट्र, जय शिवा जी महाराजा, जय शिव सेना, 
जय मराठी माणूस !!!! 
बोम्बाय थे लंड ऑफ गोर्जौस अच्त्रेस सोनं कपूर अंड स्तुन्निंग अंड फामोउस व्रीतर शोभा डे!!

अंड प्रौद्ली रुलेद बी थे मोस्ट एक्ष्त्रओर्दिनर्य बुसिनेस्स त्य्कोंस ऑफ इंडिया अंड वोर्ल्द विं थे वेरी पत्रिओतिक शिव सेना!!! 
(Uddhav & Rashmi Thackeray on cover of Upper Crust and they talked about their favorite food being nothing else but oneNonly Maharashtrian pride<3 I post this picture because they're the pride of Maharashtra and I've never once seen him screaming and angry while giving speeches; and he doesn't scare me as well. On top of that he is very proud and passionate about his position; being the leader of his Marathi people. Lots of well wishes and congratulation to their victory on this year election!!!
(Local Maharashtrian restaurant at central Mumbai; I have yet to get used to all these dokla and bokla. But the paw baji that I had wasn't too bad either.) 

(Locksmith selling locks at Delhi train station, on our way to Mumbai)

On the night of 23rd january, 2012 I left Delhi with my cousin sister Dolma to go to bombay, one of the most famous city in the world. Our prominent destination was Aurangabad but on our way we have decided to stop two nights in (bombay) Mumbai. And it's the only city in India that never sleeps; almost like mini_new york! I have heard a lot about this city but never once had any desire to visit, but the film industry that has occupied this land of glamorous (bollywood) has always succeed in entertaining the 90% of people from India and it has always brought colors to our innocent growing up days. I grew up in complete opposite side of this world where we can have all four seasons in year, that too right next to Himalayas (Uttranchal). It seem as in Mumbai, there's only two things that nature can offer; rain and  sun. Back then people from every corners of India have risked their lives just to come to this city of opportunity. Be it the superstars of todays film industry or the mega business tycoons of India today, or in worst case, even many villagers are sick and tired of dealing with their cows and cattle that many of them had actually ran away from their homes just to be at the place that they had no (idea) about the roots of its culture, custom, language, or tradition. Can anything be worst then this? UNIMAGINABLE!!!!!! For us (Tibetans), there is this famous saying that before we lost our land to hands of Chinese Military coming from Northeastern Tibet. One of this saint from remote village in western Tibet (the home of my ancestors) who had came from his India trip and with him he has brought countless piece of large wooden spoon and he warned them and mentioned "pretty soon they will have to leave everything behind and it is better off if they start learning and getting used to cook food with wooden spoon." Where as back in those ancient and innocent times in Tibet, everybody use their own hands to eat our native food Tsampa (wheat grind flour) and Pak (dough). My grandparents had never once eaten rice, or vegetable in the early stage of their lives. Neither did they ever fried any vegetables or steamed any rice. Back then, in happy times in ancient Tibet, everything comes in organic and everybody eats Tsampa, pak, dairy foods, butter tea, with lots and lots of dry yak-sha. Still their mental awareness had already adopted the change way ahead of time, before even worst of worst had hit them; they were ready to beautifully embraced their new ~home away from home~ 
Bombay has always consider rage city while we were growing up at the hills of northern India. Only because we know nothing of it besides the glamorous filmy world and it's underworld connection that we often get to see in films. Forget about bombay city, I didn't even knew it belongs to the state called Maharashtra until I came to US and met some amazing people from there. The warmness of our Maharashtrian friends had inspired me to visit their state. I'm very disappointed with the fact that bollywood had never made films on Shiva Ji Maharaj, or great tycoons like J.R.D.TATA. Without his existence, today I won't even be able to fly to Mumbai at all. But thank god, at least they made film on Dhirubhai Ambani and now we all know who he is; I guess better late then never. On that note happy birth anniversary to J.R.D.TATA, India is more then lucky to have such a fine industrialist that had shaped and supported the nation at where it is right now. I'm glad faith had took us nowhere else but in one of the world finest, young, and developing nation. And without this famous bombay city, countless people would have not achieved what they had dreamed of in their very own village. So cheers to mumbai city. Even thought I had spent only two nights here yet I loved it, and definitely looking forward to go back and visit other places that I have yet to explore in Mumbai. I really want to ride the local train in Mumbai but we had no time for that. May be next time!!!! 

Talking about faith,,,,,
I was very excited and nervous about this trip since I have no idea, where to go, what to eat, where to stay, what to see, how to travel, and yet everything went just the way we had planned. We met some nice people in our train. One lady is super friendly doctor, who has been to almost every state in India and has so much to talk about. Also one man and his son, who owns family bar and restaurant in Goa, both of them were super tall and he was super talkative; the man talked all night long and was a great great company to have. He even gave us his business card, it's called: "SAFFRON" it says they're both veg and non veg. You get Indian, South Indian, Punjabi, Goan, Gujarati cuisine there. So if any of you were in goa please do visit there. Him and the doctor lady called their people and tried to help us find place in Andheri and was willing to give us ride there with his family members. But unfortunately we have very little time and we had decided to find place on our own in central mumbai. Next day we reached Mumbai in the morning and from railway station we found our taxi right away and the driver had decided to find us a decent place in central mumbai and we end up staying at this place called Hotel Sanjary, right next to the opera house. I was bit nervous being completely allen to the city and deep down I was worried if I will safely return back home or not. Also wondering where this taxi driver will take us. Hotel Sanjary is only 10 minutes away from station and post our check in, as soon as I entered restroom/toilet, surprisingly I spot this red string with locket that has picture of one of our holy lama, rinpoche. Man, after discovering that locket, it made me realized at least we had end up at right place where other tibetans had already stayed so thought this place might be not too bad and plus it was a good auspicious. Right then I went to reception and checked if they knew anything about the previous guest, just to make sure if my instinct was right or not. Right then, the hotel manager walked in and he spoked in Malayalam with the tiny man that I was having conversation. My cousin sis Dolma studied in bangalore and that's how we knew they were speaking Malayalam but any how, so the man greeted us. And I continued my detective_ghiri. He reciprocated to me that I was right, their previous guest was Tibetan and infect many Tibetans stayed at their hotel in past. He even showed me all the names on the registered, even though he is not suppose to but he did and that made me more relief as well. Right then the manager  paused and started speaking in Hindi and he asked: "Are you guys our Tibetan," I was bit confused what he was saying but then realized he meant if we are tibetans that belong to India and for a while I forgot there are Tibetans that are not from India as well, the ones from Tibet that I can't even properly communicate at times while meeting them in places like Bodh Gaya and Nepal airport. I will write more about them in my Kathmandu blog. In any way, I'm glad at least he had an idea who we are unlike those stupid people from places like Delhi, who can't even differentiate between people from Northeastern India, Nepal, and Tibetans. After that, we went out to Gate way of india and had a boat ride. We were suppose to go see elephant cave and instead me and my cousin dolma got so caught up with our talk that without any notice we jumped in the first boat that we spot, we still manage to continue our talk, trying to catch up with everything that we missed in all these years that we were apart. All of sudden after an hour, I start having this feeling that how come everybody in this boat dressed up in swimming suite and etc. So I paused our conversation and asked this gentleman sitting next to me that if our destination will be to elephant cave and guess what? He gently said "NO, IT'S GOING TO ALIBAG"! HAHAHAHA OMG! OMG! I'M IN BIG TROUBLE. Deep down, I felt so lost. But oh well, I stayed calm and told him we were suppose to go to elephant cave instead so he guide us that there is nothing to be worried and we can smoothly go back. I didn't enjoyed that boat ride, the wind was such a headache and it takes two hour journey for two way ride and by the time we reach back I have no energy left for another painful ride. So we went to eat at Sahakari restaurant and called it a day. I didn't even get to walk around church gate and missed that one Kalimpong art shop. It was too hot and my face got burned within a day, the clothes that I was wearing was too warm for the weather and by the time we went back to room, it was too late. We failed to find decent travel agency where they can make our reservation to Aurangabad. The employee at hotel were major hopeless. Since morning they were trying to book our reservation and the only thing that's available was the Volvo bus that leaves at 10 p.m. at night and returns only at 10 p.m. the next day from there. That means I have to waste entire day and night for that trip. When I have to catch flight the very next day at 8 am in the morning to Kathmandu. Our main journey has started to look impossible but then we took a risk and decided to take that Volvo bus at 9 p.m that day. Expecting that no matter what we will return to bombay within the next day. 
Until then to be continued & enjoy the clip below. One of my childhood fav.....................


Dolma was feeling super warm and exhaust , so we head back to our hotel, freshed up and got ready, thinking it will be super warm outside, so this time we tried to blend with Bombay weather; dressed up as thin as possible. That way at least we can eliminate that awkward moment in big and famous city. But guess what? It turn out opposite. HAHAHAHA Yes, we faced yet another challenge. Arghhh First, we waited almost an hour at that coffee shop for bus to pick us up. I forgot the name of coffee shop but the bus suppose to pick us up at 10 p.m and instead it showed around close to 11 p.m. Meanwhile, I got harassed by this one drunk bihari boy; some how he guessed that we were from Nepal and start irritating us, requesting other bus drivers to take him to NEPAL until someone came and took him away; what the hell? He should rather go back to his village man, bombay doesn't deserve drunk and waste creature like him. So many bus came and left yet there's no sign of our bus. Instead they keep calling on my cell, promising that they pick us up after 15 minute, 15 minute has turned in to almost an hour and finally they showed up. And guess what? From bus driver to their ever little staff were biharis. Uff, I thought I'm in the famous cosmopolitan city of bombay but these people are making me feel like I'm still in Bodh Gaya. They were super rude; we walked in super duper cold bus and spotted one bihari staff conquered the entire first row and slept peacefully with bundle and bundle of mounted blanks that was actually for passengers. There, Dolma and I were in our skirts and thin clothes, shivering, and these people had refused to share us some blanket. Major disappointed but the only good thing was Govinda's movie partner that they showed in bus. 

No, this isn't the volvo bus that took us from bombay to Aurangabad. Volvo is only better looking then this but other wise not so much difference in service. This bus took us from our parking load to Ajanta Ellora, as cars are not allowed there. We reached Aurangabad early in the morning around 6 a.m without even knowing for sure. We were still in sleep and all of sudden that bihari screamed "Aurangabad" and it woke me up. We rushed and exit that torturing bus,found ourselves in middle of road. What the hell? Where are we????It was still dark and cold. I can barely see anything clearly, all of sudden this Khan bhai/chacha look alike came and greeted us "Tashi Delek/ welcome to Aurangabad." I rubbed my eyes and was speechless!!!!!!!! 

Khan chacha took us to his garage where he promised to pick up better car for our journey to Ajanta. We reached his home and met his sons, nephews, and etc. His nephew went to pick up the so called "better car." Mean while, he went somewhere else as well, so we just waited outside his home. Right next to his home, there is this buddhist temple. His nephews and sons gathered around us and we talked for a while. They start telling us some stories about buddhist in their hometown, and honestly I have zero interest in their stories yet we just sat there and listen to them as time pass. Judging by the kids stories, the buddhist temple that they grew up next to their home is nothing but limited only up to "Buddham Sharanam Gachhami." On the other hand I wasn't even fully awake at all. It was too cold and too early to even talk. After some time, Khan chacha's nephew showed up with the so called better car and guess what? The car is worst then any city bus in india. The window is broken and the size is super small with full of dirt. Yuck! But oh well, we survived for 8 painful hours again. Within that 8 hours it made me feel like I'm back in Bodh Gaya. This place is exact same as Gaya. I attempt to take some nice pictures of the city but sadly the town has nothing to offer besides some dull trees, empty grounds, and countless empty grounds. No sign of beautiful village, no sign of beautiful farms, no sign of beautiful people, no sign of buildings, no sign of even ugly pigs. Arghh, who lives here anyways??????????? On that note, we stopped at this dhaba for toilet break and they had best aloo/puri, I even end up having another round of it. Honestly! This aloo/puri is the best thing the city has to offer apart from Ajanta & Ellora. We head back to our Khan chacha's luxury car and survived dirty air for another couple more hours. At last we reach Ajanta..............
And I must say this place is awesome! I wonder why not so many films were being shoot here? This place is ancient and rich in so many ways, beautifully craft with great amount of devotion to the so called "awaken beings from Lord Indira's world" who have came to this earth with many different forms, and touched the body, mind, and speech of the most superior group of animal called "human species" from eastern world. Ajanta and Ellora now belongs to the entire world wide, it is part of world heritage property. Enjoy the beauty of this amazing cave. For more details, I urge you to visit Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra. 
(Welcome to Ajanta)


From Ajanta to Ellora it took us another 2-3 hours to get there. Post our Ellora trip, we rushed to railway station of Aurangabad to catch afternoon train. Our driver mentioned that is the last train as well. When we left Mumbai, we have no reservation to get back, neither have any idea if there's any buses or train that leaves the city apart from that Volvo bus that does not leave till 10pm at night for over night journey when I have to catch flight the next day at 8am to Kathmandu. But I have no time to wait till night. I want to get back to Mumbai like right now. So Dolma and I decided to catch that last train. We rushed our driver and by the time we reached station, our train to Mumbai arrived around 2 in the afternoon at the same time thankfully. But there's long line to get the tickets and plus we have no reservation. At last, we got the ticket right before the train was about to leave. And guess what? The ticket is for the people who have no reservation and we end up in this room that is pretty overwhelming. My cousin sister Dolma said, "Acha (didi) I have travelled so many times in train from Bangalore to Delhi but I have never ever travel in this kind before, I'm just so amused the fact that I'm experiencing this for the first time and that too with you." HAHAHAHA Any way, Dolma enjoyed! hahaha lol. I had awesome time in that train as well. By the time when we reached Mumbai at the hotel, it was around 11pm. We freshed up and ordered our dinner. We packed our baggage, got ready to check out tomorrow morning. As I'm flying to Kathmandu and Dolma will be off to Mangalore, since that's where she works as a Nurse. I must say the tiny man who was in charge of the hotel that we stayed was pretty creepy. He remind me of the characters from famous indian television series "Crime Patrol." He must be in his mid 20s yet he is so thin and short, not that he is young and innocent boy. His behaviors are silent killer type. When we ordered food at late night, right after we open the door, he just stood by the door with pin drop silent and stared at us like statue. I was pretty clueless and wondered what must be in his head but Dolma just slams the door right in front of his nose. I felt strange and told her she shouldn't do that but rather she said; "these folks are good for nothing, this is how you have to treat them in India." In US this action is consider bad manners but I've learned in India bad manners are good for your self defence. lol It sounds supper awkward but I'm sure she is right. Post our dinner, I told the hotel staff to reserve our taxi for tomorrow. Next day, the alarm rang at 5am and I was all set to check out. Whoever said, Maharashtrian and Mallus sucks in business is so true. The taxi driver was demanding 500 -/ to go to airport. What the hell? He refused to go by meter, when everything goes by meter in Mumbai. I told me there's no way I can accept that rate. Not that I can't effort but the fact that I don't want to get ripped off and make fool out of me. Instead the driver tried to blamed it on hotel staff that they are the ones who fix the rate not him. With that, I've decided to go negotiate with the hotel people since we were still outside the hotel. I told him to bring that tiny man (the staff at hotel) out. He came out with that strange, silent killer look. Right then, he start reducing the price to 300 -/ which I wasn't ready to settle with. It was cold and dark and I was worried if I will miss my flight and on top of that I have a stomach pain at the same time as well. So we made a deal on 300-/ and left hotel. Seriously, if I have enough time and feeling well, I would had beat that price. I must say, when it comes to the matter of "precious time" we should rather be wise and avoid the stupid risk factor over couple rupees. On that note, I left Bombay with wise thought and memorable mark in my mind.

PS. Looking forward to visit again!
Jai Maharashtra!