Tuesday, January 30, 2007

India Trip

Came back Sunday after a way-too-short, completely-packed 2-week trip to India. While the lengths of previous India trips were usually decided by the amount of vacation my wife and I had, the short trip this time was because of Kavya since she can't take more than 10 days of vacation in her school. But we did try and make the most of the short trip. Here are a few notes from the trip...

- At Chennai airport, by the time we made it to the immigration counters, the line for visitors had about 75 people while the line for citizens had just 3 people. I'm not sure if this is the case every day, but it was definitely a telling sign of the impact of outsourcing and the growth of businesses in Chennai/India.

- The increase in traffic since my last trip was immediately evident once we got out of the airport. On the drive back home, I kept wondering how I ever rode a bike in this traffic. But once I actually sat on my bike a couple of days later, the doubts vanished and in no time at all, I was weaving in and out of traffic. Pure exhilaration! I think the key difference between driving in the US and in India is who you trust. In the US, you trust yourself. You check for other vehicles and you make sure that you are driving correctly. In India, you trust others! You go however you want to go knowing that others will see you coming and do the needful to get out of the way. And that works too!

- Made a day-trip to Pondicherry. Visited the ashram there and on the way back(via ECR), stopped at Crocodile Park and Dakshin Chitra. The sheer number of crocodiles they have at the Crocodile Park is pretty amazing and they also have a cool show where they show how they extract venom from snakes. Dakshin Chitra has models of houses from the old times and offers an interesting look at life in those times. Have to walk a lot though!

- Visited Bangalore over the weekend. Made the trip mainly to see friends and relatives and so made only 1 sight-seeing stop at the Shiva temple. The giant statues of Pillaiyaar and Shiva were wonderful and the temple also had a neat walk through a tunnel whose walls are lined with small models of different incidents in Lord Shiva's life.

- Saw only 1 movie - Pokkiri - in the theater, which is probably the best indication of how busy the trip was! It was fun watching the movie in Udhayam and since it was just the 2nd week, the there was a lot of screaming and whistling from Vijay fans. Really wanted to visit Sathyam or the new INOX multiplexes since I've read so much about them but never got the chance.

- Saw a cricket match on TV after a very long time. The icing on the cake was that India won the match I saw (the 2nd ODI with West Indies). Caught only snatches of the Indian innings in the 3rd ODI since I was busy packing. But did manage to see Rajni (with his family) in the stands.

- The only TV program I watched regularly was Yaar Manasula Yaaru on Vijay TV. It was the popular '20 questions' game, which used to be a staple of the school and college cultural programs. The 'grandmaster' tried to figure out the personality that a guest was thinking about by asking 21 questions with yes/no answers. Very interesting and the grandmaster's knowledge of trivia was very impressive. The show was compered by actress Maheswari and had a couple of celebrity guests like Naren and Vijay Yesudas. Also caught the first couple of episodes of the SRK-hosted Kaun Banega Crorepati?. Seemed like he was being a lot less formal than Amitabh.

- Attended two functions - my wife's dad's sashtiabtapoorthi (completion of 60 years) and my wife's grandparents' sadhabishekam (completion of 80 years). It was a get-together of sorts for my wife's relatives and so it was nice meeting many of them after so many years. Kavya and Karthik had fun dressing up for the functions.


At 10:19 PM, Blogger Ganesh said...

Your son looks very cute in that dress;much better than the previous photo(Of your son.)you've posted here.Did you meet any of our friends in Bangalore?(Sorry Bengalooru)How was Pokkiri?(2*0r 2.5*?)What about our Chennai autodrivers?(Same old Exorbitant price?)
Say somethngs about that.

At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

balaji!!! welcome back. i think all of us have missed your posts dearly. i came to bbthots everyday with hope that you'd post from india.
glad to know you had a wonderful trip. makes me wanna go back to chennai and bangalore as well. did you wife do loads of saree shopping?


At 11:09 PM, Blogger srivatsan said...


poi sollatheenga neenga match paaka ponathe Rajini kaaka thane

:-) just kidding.

At 11:45 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

ganesh, spent barely a day and a half in bangalore. so couldn't meet anyone other than my old friends and relatives. pokkiri - review coming soon :) autos - took autos a few times. didn't seem too exorbitant. a lot of measures were announced to regulate prices. not sure how many r gonna be followed :)

gayatri, would've defly posted from chennai if i'd found the time. barely had time to check my mail so posting was out of the question :) wife's there for a week with karthik while i came back with kavya(cos of her school). she's probably on a shopping spree right now :)

srivatsan, rajni varuvaar therinja avarukkaga dhaan poiruppen. but didn't know before. so just luck :)

At 5:58 AM, Blogger Bart said...

Hey Balaji,
Welcome back to blogs. Would've been happy to ping you for a short while when you were in blore. But I do understand - 10 days is too short for a trip home ...
Saw "Guru", "Pokiri" and "Thamirabharani". Will comment after you type in your reviews...

At 6:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nalla sappittu weight pottutiyada..

At 6:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nalla sappittu weight pottutiyada..

At 8:57 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

sounds like a flying visit indeed. I couldn't recognize your pettai when I went there this time.

I too did Pondicherry and Dakshin Chitra. The kili josiyam guy at DC was very accurate. Esp. about my younger one. Did you get a chance to see Auroville?

You were brave indeed to venture out in a bike. But I think it is soaked in our blood and with in a few days, you get inured. :-)

send me pix

At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's bals?


Anyway, awaiting your thoughts on the recent releases, bb...

At 9:59 AM, Blogger Sriram said...


neenga madras'la endha pakkam? Naan beasant nagar (karpagam gardens).


At 11:02 AM, Blogger Filbert said...

Welcome back, Balaji. These were the longest 17 days that we, the BBThots-ians, have had to endure without your posts :)

At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bb, glad u had a fun time in India...the two kutty pops look incredibly cute, as usual...glad that the weather in india didnt create problems for them, knock on wood...

we did a good job of keeping the blog busy in your absence...u better do a good job of acknowledging that!!

At 12:52 PM, Blogger Raju said...

welcome back, Balaji.. Glad you had a good trip to India.

At 1:01 PM, Blogger மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said...

Welcome Back, Balaji

I missed your posts these days. I believe we can expect your posts from tomorrow :-)

At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! Thanks for the update about your recent visit to India! It's been 4 years since I went home (Coimbatore)! Planning to go only next year (hoping to bring my parents here before that!). Welcome back! BTW, I pity that you had to see "Pokkiri" in that short trip to waste your invaluable time!
(Thanks god you stayed from Alwar atleast!) I just can not imagine the future of Tamil cinema with these clowns (Vijay/Ajith and the likes) thinking as if the whole world is under their feet and churning out such craps continuously!!! (I think it's about time- from now on it should backfire for them - I wish!!!) Could not stand the way they speak (periya veNNai mathiri!!).

At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to have you back, Balaji. Hopefully refreshed by the short vacation. Looks like the kids had fun despite the hectic schedule.

Looks like the year has started off in grand fashion for all of you. Enjoy!

At 8:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome Back. It is suffice to say this...that you feel "at home" the minute you joined the queue at Immigrations at Chennai airport or when you set foot back on Californian soil.

The difference I am sure is when that warm, fuzzy, almost all embracing feeling envelopes you that makes you go...ahhhh...HOME, I AM HOME...

At 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kids have both grown up a lot. Karthik looks very cute in his outfit. Same goes Kavya of course.

10 days is definitely too short a time. But of all films, Pokkiri!


At 12:30 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

bart, did want to c a couple of bloggers in b'lore. but never had a chance. maybe next time :)

pushpa, nalla saapten. so weight inum chk pannala :)

munimma, yep defly a flying visit. but surprisingly, not my shortest india trip :) one of the people i went with did the kai josiyam. said it was accurate but then again, it was so generic that it would've fitted anybody!

anon, adhu en college nickname :)

sri, kknagar

filbert, thanx :)

ram, wanted to write a couple of lines about u, srivatsan, filbert, etc. keeping the blog going. but forgot to add that :) so a big THANKS :) was interesting reading the comments...

raju/karthik, thanks

sampal, my opinion of both those movies isn't quite as bad as yours. so no regrets watching 'pokkiri' :)

sandya, thanx :)

anon, nicely put :)

kajan, more a vijay fan than ajith fan or vishal fan. so 'pokkiri' was the obvious choice :)

At 6:43 AM, Blogger Me too said...

Even before jetlag got you you must've gotten back!
One of my relatives too couldn't plan their trip to India for Deepavali b'cos of their daughter's limited school vacation!!


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