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April 9, 2019

The Aurangabad Trip

It was the month of Jan 19 which happened to be the last month to be spent at my now X organization. 

Decided to take a week off coz I could and the timing couldn't get any better.

All kind of thoughts came to my mind like spending the time to get the pending house/personal chores done. To go on a solo trip within India or abroad, etc.

However I was not able to decide thanks to the work that did kept me busy till my last day. I know for someone on a notice period I was actually doing my work which left me with little time to think of how I should be spending my vacation.

As the D-day was nearing, lot of thought was put into place, distances, travel days, itinerary, expenses, etc and I was finally able to zero in onto the location of Aurangabad.

Aurangabad had been on my mind for a long time just like Murud Janjira fort. You keep hearing about the place but nowhere near to go there.

When you talk about Aurangabad, the only places that pops up is Ajanta & Ellora Caves. One might have read about them during their school days. I had the opportunity to visit those places and others and see if they are really that magnificent and serene as it was written in the books.

Now the question was how? 

Everything was put into play and the winner emerged was my bike. Yes, this going to be an another solo road trip that I would be undertaking. 

The bike needed servicing and yes new tires since the old ones worn out.

I would be staying there for five days. Aurangabad is around 350 kms away from Mumbai and an approx 7hrs ride. It was going to be a Sunday ride.

The beginning of the ride was good. Riding on the highway, watching the sun rise, passing through the ghats. Had breakfast at chai ki tapri. It was only as I got near to reach my destination, google maps decide to pull a googly on me. I realized I was lost and decided to rely on locals directions. That did got me on the track but the roads were bad, very bad.

This trip was not short of any adventure. My headlamp casing got broke from one side and it started dangling making me worried that the whole thing might come off. I found a garage nearby who did a temporary fix with the help of fewi kwik.

Still worried if it will stand through or not as I made my way into the city of Aurangabad.

 My place of staying was different this time. It was going to be a hostel. I let myself in to my bunk bed, placed my luggage into locker. Took a shower and then hit the bed to sleep. The room was pretty empty with around 10 bunk beds but there were luggage and clothes lying around.

I woke up in the evening, had my dinner outside and went to sleep again. Had a schedule planned for myself. Did not want to mess that up.

Next day woke up at 5 am, took a cold shower on a chilly morning. Revved up my bike and was putting directions to Ajanta caves when Google maps showed it was closed. Decided to go to Ellora caves instead.

Ellora Caves was a treat. The good thing was I reached early and the crowd was less. The Kaliasa temple is one not to miss. One can still see colors on a few idols making one wonder how it would have looked in its hey days. Its quite a walk to cover all the caves. Do carry water & eatables with you. The highlight of the visit was the lift given by the security guard on his two wheeler all the way to the exit point. It was a nice gesture. The visit to Ellora caves was certainly worth it.

I happen to visit Aurangzeb's tomb thereafter which was not far. One can actually wonder if he repented his actions in his last days. He wanted an open grave with no markings of him being the king. He bought his burial place from the money he earned from selling his hand made caps. However today it stands covered in marble thanks to Lord Curzon. It lies within a masjid.

Nearby, I also visited the Bhadra Maruti temple, the only one of the three temples where Hanuman is in a sleeping posture.

For Lunch I had the local delicacy Naan Khaliya. It was worth the taste.

My next stop was Daulatabad fort. The place has silver monkeys all round. It also has a minar similar to qutub minar. On top of a watch tower lies a ram shaped cannon neatly polished and worth a sight. The very unique monument would be the the bhara mata temple. The whole arena was built with granite like stone and designs different from what I have seen earlier. The disappointment was the idol which was not a statue. It looked like it was painted on and certainly did not look good. There was a Andheri passage which has its own story to tell.

The next day again was early morning ride to Ajanta caves. It was going to be a very interesting ride. It was roughly a 105 km ride but one that was going to prove challenging. The start of the ride was great. The sunrise was beautiful, it was still foggy in the air.

Had stopped for breakfast on the way as it was getting chilly cold even though I was wearing a jacket.  I don't have the habit of wearing gloves even though I carry them with me all the time. My palms got so cold that it felt as if the blood rushed out. I had to stop for the blood to rush in my palms again. Wore my gloves and let my common sense prevail.

I found Ellora caves much better than Ajanta. Only the caves that had the paintings were worth seeing. Otherwise it was pretty much the same almost every cave. When you are a solo traveller, you end up becoming camera person for other people. I ended up taking snaps of other people. Lot of foreigners visitors groups were seen here.

As I was done with my sight seeing, I was worried about getting back to my hostel. The roads were not great. In fact to call it a road itself would be wrong. There was work going on the route and it was full of gravel stones in patches which certainly is not great if you are riding a two wheeler as there is a tendency for the tyres to skid.

I  happen to skid on the gravel stone but since I was on a slow speed, no harm happened to me. One of my fog light glass got broken, the crash guard got scratched and my gear pedal got shifted on the inside.

Post getting my bike up and running, It wont move beyond the first gear. With very difficulty I moved the bike on the first gear from the gravel stone road to have it parked nearby on a safe side to resolve the issue I faced at hand.

The realization dawned that I needed help. I asked the locals nearby if there was a mechanic nearby and they said no. In fact, I will have to travel to another place to get it fixed. I decided to get a lift but that was not looking promising. A tempo decided to help me to take my bike to the place where I can get help for a price. I agreed.

Somehow they change their mind and decided to take someone else help. A two wheeler stopped and two guys helped load the bike into the tempo. Once it was inside, one of the guys asked what was the problem which I told them. The guy took a small stone hit the gear pedal from the inside and it was now on level again. Apparently the same thing had happened to him and this is how it was fixed. Now you know why 'jugaad' works in India. I thanked them as I made my way back to my ride as it was going to get dark soon.

I soon realized that one of my reflective mirror almost came off. I took out the whole thing and found a mechanic to fix it.I started again, this time speeding up as before the sun would set and it could only get worse from thereon. I got back in one piece my bike too with minor damages.

I was done with my long distance places visit. The rest of the places lied within the city to travel. My choice of transport was Ola auto. The first place of visit was Bibi ka Maqbara.

It certainly does gives you the feeling of Taj Mahal on entering the place but its certainly stands on its own. The sad state of affairs is that its not well maintained. They have toilets built inside the premises. The place itself is quiet and peaceful.

People can be so ignorant as there were coins, money thrown all over the tomb. Certainly not the way to pay respect to the dead.

Panchakki was next on the go list. One can only image the ingenious thought put behind building it. The only problem its not well maintained and yes the water gives bad odour. It certainly does not gives a good impression when you visit such places.

My last stop was a zoo and the highlight would be the lions, who were making noises, roaming freely. It was a sight to watch them. The bonus was seeing a white tiger which is rare to find.

I had a day left and I decided to leave as I covered all the places in my itnerary. There were places that I wanted to go but could not for want of time and distance.

The hostel experience was ok. There were good amount of foreigners who were staying there. Some traveling solo, others in groups. I don't think sharing a room is meant for me. I got rudely awakened in the middle of one night by a guy saying that I am snoring (which I do but not always). Seriously who does that? I was not able to sleep there after. Hostel comes with its rules and one needs to follow that. They don't make your beds like they would in hotels. There was no room service. They served only breakfast. If you are ordering food then you have to wash your dishes too. Itne paise main Itna hi milega.

Roads of Maharashtra need some serious work to be done. They are in terrible conditions. I have seen much better roads down south on a state highway than over here. It really makes me wonder how the villagers ride the gravel roads in the night especially two wheeler's. They don't even wear helmets. One can imagine the damage that it can do...

As I look back on my trip, it has been filled up with lots of memories, adventure, experience and learning. Solo traveling has its own fun as one get to do things the way you want to, meet new people, interact with others. Having fun at your own pace.

 The travel bug has just bitten me. Let see where it takes.

P.S. Back from my trip to Aurangabad, had an impromptu trip to Matheran which again was a first time. It was not solo though but with friends.

April 1, 2019


As people passed by, Pushpa kept ranting at them. Sitting on a bus stop with her grey hair neatly tied up, wearing an old used pink white punjabi suit. She kept talking to herself as she stared back into people who looked at her.

A little girl walking down the road with her mother saw Pushpa as their eyes met. "Mummy, who is she and why is she talking to herself.?" "Beta, woh pagal hain, aise logo se durr rahena chaiye" ("she is mad and one should keep away themselves from such person"). Her mother said as she passed by Pushpa.

Pushpa heard what the mother told the child. "Pagal nahi hu main. Pagal nahin hu main" (I am not mad. I am not mad) she kept mumbling away as she felt the hurt on the inside.

The only solace she could find was in her memories, the ones where she was surrounded by people whom she called her family...

July 23, 2018

Mutual Funds Sahi Hai

I am sure everyone must have seen the ads on the television sets of "Mutual Funds Sahi Hai". It is being promoted in a big way.

With the dip in the interest rates of Fixed Deposits, the only option for a person looking to making better returns on their investments is the stock market and mutual funds.

It kind of reminded me of my days when I wanted to take the plunge into it but was unaware how to go about it. I guess it has to be about  somewhere  around 8 years back.

The first thing that I did was to get a demat & trading account opened. Since I am a bit tech savy, I played with the online platform to understand how it works before making my first purchase. Post that I did ended up buying more shares of different companies.

How did I make my purchase of shares? It all came down to gut feeling. Its a wrong way to buy stocks in this manner. One should always study the company financials, stability, opportunities for growth before making a buy. Something I started to do later on.

Even though few of the stocks I owned did made a lot of sense to me predicating their growth. The management of those companies were though not that keen to be transparent to their shareholders. I ended up burning my hands by selling them at a loss.

At that point of time, I knew of mutual funds but did not knew how it worked out so never invested back then. Now I do and so invested in a couple of them.

The only point that I disagree with the ad that it forget to mention the risks involved which a majority of people would avoid to take. Even though the last line of the ad says "Mutual funds is subject to market risk...."

Yes, it does give better returns compared to other forms of investments. The only problem is that you need to time your exit to end up with a profit. Something that most of the advisors will not talk about.

One might keep their money locked for a year or maybe three. Chances are that even after three years, there is a possibility of not getting returns or seeing your principle in negative. This will happen when the market conditions are not right to make a exit. One needs to make a note of it.

Alas, there is a sure upright trend in more people opting for mutual funds/investment in shares. I just hope they don't have a twinkle in their eyes with the offering of moon in the sky when a pit below can drag you down.

Market is all about timing. When to enter and when to exit...

P.S.I share a fascination for personal finance. In fact had a blog too, which I shut down as I did not had the time nor an idea on how to go about it. Sharing here my two cents.