Hyderabad Trip

21st December 2013, 4.50 am: We left to the Bangalore International airport in meru cab and reached there by 6.25 am. This was the first flight journey for my wife, Nandini and my little princess Keerthana. Actually, it was a childhood dream for Nandini to travel by flight. Finally, the dream was coming true on this day of 21st December 2013. I can see the sheer joy and excitement in her eager eyes…

After check in, we had our break fast and hot coffee in the food court. We had ample time to roam around and click a few snaps. Then I settled on a vacant chair with my playful little daughter, while Nandini started clicking some snaps of the planes in the airfield.

Finally, the time came for us to board the flight. I clicked some snaps of Nandini posing in front of our flight and later, inside the plane. The only spoilsport was that she didn’t get the window seat. I assured her that next time I would make sure that she gets the window seat. The journey by flight was normal one and we landed in the Rajeev Gandhi International Airport by 9.40 am. The one thing that was bothering me throughout the journey was local sight seeing travel arrangement, which I hadn’t planned so far.

Once again, we got into meru cab and I started my conversation with the cab driver whose name is Shaik. Shaik gave me his visiting card and asked me to call him by evening and let him know if I needed his service for Ramoji Rao Film city, the next day. He dropped us at the Minerva Grand Hotel, Banjara Hills. It took some time for our check in due to formalities at the reception. 

Room no.308 was very comfortable. It had all the amenities like electric kettle to make coffee/tea, hair dryer in the bathroom, even a telephone in the bathroom, a mini fridge, you name it and it had it. Even the sewing kit. I realized that I had made the right choice with the hotel.  The only thing was that the view from the window wasn’t that exciting one, as I was expecting to some nature view when I pulled aside the curtains. We thought of having a short nap before going out. However, Keerthana, who had a nice nap in the flight didn’t allow us to have it. So we decided to get ready and go out to have our lunch, before deciding on the next reception.

We set on foot and found a hotel named Sarvi at the corner of the road. We decided to have our lunch over there. The food was delicious… all waiters started giving their full attention to little Keerthana as if she was a little princess. Later, in Reliance Fresh,  I got five packets of Goodlife milk for Keerthana, as milk is the one thing she has frequently. The other thing she loves is Cadbury’s Gems.

After having fruit juice at a nearby fruit juice stall, we walked back to hotel to take some rest. We never knew how long we had slept as when I woke up it was 6.30 pm in the evening. Actually, this delay was a blessing in disguise for us. My wife told me that we should see at least one place for that day. So we got ready and I picked up Charminar, as I knew this was one place we could go and see at this point of time.

Looking for an auto, we started walking on the road which leads us to the main road. One auto person declined to take us to our destination. Then we saw the auto no.AP09 X0523 coming in our direction and the auto driver asked for Rs.200 as he said Charminar was quite far from Banjara Hills. I agreed as it was already getting late and didn’t like to waste time waiting for another auto to come along.

During the journey, I started the conversation with this auto person. He told me that his name is Shaik Haji. He took us to Charminar, where we clicked some snaps. Then he took us to Mecca Masjid…he was waiting for us outside.

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Later, he took us to the pearl shops one after another one. Later, I asked him to take us to some good hotel to have our dinner. He took us to one…unfortunately, idli wasn’t available there. Idli is only food my daughter used to have usually. So I went and told him that I require idli for my daughter. He told me not to worry…he would go and get the idlis parcel while we finished our dinner. He had the parcel ready by the time we came out.

The food in this hotel was delicious too, but the bill wasn’t so. Finally, he dropped us at our hotel. I asked him how much I should have to pay him. He hesitated and said pay whatever I like. I told him that I may pay him less, which I didn’t like to do. Finally, after much hesitation he asked for Rs.500 which I felt was pretty reasonable, as the to and fro journey from Hotel to Charminar and back would have cost me Rs.400…Also the place was quite far as he had rightly said. His honesty touched me. Also we felt that we were lucky to find such a person.

He wanted to take us to the Ramoji Film City, the next morning. Also he said that he would charge us less too. I told him that I had already called and asked the Meru person to take us there. I didn’t like to call him and cancel it now. I told him that I would use his service from Monday. I asked him to be at our hotel by 8 am on Monday morning. He agreed and left with a smile on his face.

22nd December, Sunday, morning, Shaik had come and was waiting for us in the parking lot of the hotel. We had our breakfast and left to the Sangi Temple in the comfortable Meru cab. Bala, my colleague had told me not to miss this temple. It was truly magnificent as he had described. Many Telugu movies had been shot at this place. It was very near to Ramoji Rao Film City. 

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Shaik dropped us near ticket counter and told us to call him two hours before leaving in the evening. The Ramoji Film City is really wonderful place to spend time with one’s family. Also the longest winter feast was going on. We started roaming around clicking snaps.

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We went for some complimentary joy rides after having our lunch, which wasn’t that good. Then we hopped on the Vintage Bus ride around Ramoji Film City, with a guide explaining us about the film city and movies shot at various sets inside the film city. The film city is spread across 1,664 Acres and it would impossible to cover all these places by foot. 

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Later, when it became dark and lights came on, it was like as if we were in a dreamland. The carnival parade was good too. We came out by 8.30 pm. We had our dinner in Sarvi and this was second time we were dining at this place. We went to sleep with alarm set at 5.55 am.

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23rd December 2013, Monday morning, Shaik Haji was waiting for us while we had our breakfast which was complimentary. There were so many varieties in the breakfast buffet. Shaik took us to the magnificent Birla Temple. Nandini loved the temple. We went to a pearl shop near the temple, while returning back from the temple. Nandini and I liked a pearl set and ordered for making pearl bangles for the same. The shop keeper said it would be ready by evening.

Next, he took us to the Salar Jung Museum. It was really very good with vast collections of everything ancient. I and Nandini took turns in taking care of Keerthana. Nandini could see almost one floor and I completed covering the remaining floors. We had some snacks in the food court.

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Next we went to Charminar, on the way we had very nice chai. Shaik introduced us to a person for clicking our snaps at Charminar, who charged Rs.10 per click. We took some snaps which came too well. We next went to the Mecca Masjid. Then we did some bangles shopping at one street nearby Charminar. Bangles are not only cheap; also so many different designs are available here.

We reached Golkonda fort from Charminar.  We were almost half way through the sound and light show at Golkonda fort, when Keerthana started to cry. Maybe, darkness scared her. We had to abandon the show half way through and go out of there. 

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I asked Shaik to take us to nice hotel to have Hyderabadi Biryani. He took us to one hotel and we asked him to join us. He refused to do so. Finally, he agreed for us taking parcel for him, which we did after having our dinner. The biryani was good and we had tea after that. We returned back to our hotel. I paid Rs.1,000/-  to Shaik as it was full day trip.

24th December, Tuesday morning, after our breakfast, we went to Chow Mahalla Palace and spent some time going around it and clicking some snaps too. I liked the watch tower in the palace. They say that the clock is running non stop for more than a hundred years now. Passers by adjust their wrist watches based on the time of this old antic clock, it is so accurate.

Then we went to see Guinness Book of World Records holder Sudha Cars Museum. It was really amazing seeing the wonderful creativity of this person and his wonderful creations.

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We went to see the seven tombs from here.

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 It took us some time covering all the tombs and even clicked a wonderful picture of Keerthana over here, which I am sharing with you guys.

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We went to a vegetarian hotel to have our lunch. We went to NTR Gardens post lunch and for the first time, we played dashing cars and it was nice fun. Also went around the gardens in a toy train. Then we reached the Lumbini Park and went for a boat ride towards the Buddha statue in the middle of the Hussian Sagar. We took a couple of snaps and returned back.

We were disappointed to know that there was only one laser show for that evening, tickets for which were given already. Dejected, we were resting in a nearby lawn. Then based on the crowd, they decided to have one more laser show at 8.30 PM. We got the tickets this time and

We had dinner in the same vegetarian hotel before returning to our hotel room.the laser show was amazing.

25th December, Wednesday, X’mas day!  Sadly, this was the last of our stay in Hyderabad. We woke up bit late as we were all tired. We got ready and went down for breakfast. Shaik didn’t turn up till 9.15 am. I thought he may not turn up as he hadn’t called and informed me the reason for the delay. So we decided to take another auto to the Nehru Zoological Park. This auto person demanded Rs.300 for one way trip. We negotiated for Rs.200, which he finally agreed. Shaik called me while we were half way to Zoo park. I asked him to come to Zoo park directly. We reached Zoo park, bought entrance and camera tickets and went inside. We went for the train ride around the zoo and saw the animals. Then we went by walk till the safari ticket counter. The safari trip was just about okay.

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We had some ice cream and came out of the zoo. We found Shaik was waiting for us outside. He took us back to the hotel. We got refreshed and then checked out. Then he took us to travel agency where we bought two tickets for the Snow world. We decided to go for 6.30 to 7.30 pm show. We decided to leave our luggage in the auto for the sight-seeing of remaining two places…Shaik told us that he would take care of them and we believed him.

We went to a posh hotel to have our lunch. This time I had lunch with Shaik. He was very pleased with this gesture of mine. He told me no one had lunch with him like this. I told him I see everyone equal. He said that I was like his younger brother; incidentally, he was the only child for his parents.  He spoke about his late mother and his family. He is actually a poor man with 4 daughters and 1 son. But he is honest and down to earth. He has a dream to own Innova one day. I hope and pray that his dream comes true one day. He told us that he would pray for me and my family in masjid. I just smiled at him J

Then he took us to NTR Samadhi, where I took his snaps along with his auto. We spent sometime in this place. Then we went to the snow world. They said that they can’t allow our daughter inside as it is -5 temperature inside. So I asked my wife to go inside first and she came back after half an hour. I went inside and felt that it was nothing much. It was as if we were in a freezer…it wasn’t so cold. But it was too much artificial. Nothing close to real snow one sees on television or in movies.

We went to the vegetarian hotel and got two plates of chapathies packed for our train journey. Also got milk for our daughter. Finally, Shaik carried our luggage and came till our compartment. I spoke to my colleague Mr.Prashant, who was coming the same night to Hyderabad from Bangalore in bus with his wife, Pavithra. We bid farewell to our auto friend, Shaik Haji, as the train left the Kacheguda railway station. I messaged Shaik Haji’s contact details to Prashanth, so that he could contact him for the pick up from the bus stand, the next morning.

One more surprise waited me in that compartment. One person recognized me…he was my school mate Shasidhar Jayana. We had studied together from the middle school. He was also travelling back to Bangalore with his family. We had last seen each other many years back. We exchanged our mobile numbers and added each other on Facebook. We clicked each other’s snaps and parted in the Yelahanka railway station. So finally the memorable Hyderabad trip came to an end, leaving behind an everlasting sweet memory for a lifetime….

IMG_8844Shaik Haji, Auto Driver, Mobile No. 9346738358

Shaik, Meru Cabs ( Radio Cabs) Mobile No.9346361541

 

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Bird’s Song

Bird’s Song
A Poem

You sing so softly yet so clear,
Your song rhymes without a word.
Your Beautiful song travels along
with the cool and gentle breeze
Reaches the nearby stream,
Adds to its flowing icy cold waters
Which adds music to your song
While passing through the
Crevices of the rocks.
Then your song reaches
the wonderful mountains
Passing through bushes and trees.
As the sun’s rays pierces through
The sleepy dark skies,
Into the greenery,
Into the clear water stream
Sending the owl and bats
back to sleep.
While your wonderful song soothes
And wakes up Mother Nature
Like some beautiful wake up song!

​The Body Shop 2 : ‘Soul Talk’

The Body Shop 2 : ‘Soul Talk’

A Short Story by Vasu Gangapalli
It was one cold December evening, Ashok entered the Café Coffee Day to have a hot cup of Cappuccino as he didn’t smoke or drink, and this was one way to fight chilly winter to some extent. He found all the tables completely occupied, except one in which one woman in her thirties was seated reading some book. As he neared that table, he had a closer look at the book which she was reading; it was ‘Soul Talk’ by Rachna. Rachna was his favorite writer and he had read most of her books including this one.  Rachna never gave any interviews nor shared any of her snaps anywhere. Hence, he didn’t know how she looked like?
‘May I sit here? All the other tables are occupied..’ He said, placing his fingers on the chair.
‘Sure..’ The woman whose face was hidden behind the book replied, without bringing down the book and even having a glance at him.
‘Thank You…’,  Ashok said, pulling the chair and occupying it, ‘I have read this book  twice..’ He added.
‘Nice to know that!’ She said, bringing the book down and keeping it on the table, she wasn’t as attractive as he had anticipated, but had a wonderful smile and beautiful eyes. She lifted her hot cup of Cappuccino and had a sip.
‘What would you like to have, sir?’ asked the waiter coming towards their table.
‘One hot cup of Cappuccino, please!’  Ashok said, looking at him.
‘Sure, sir!’ He said, going to the next table.
‘So what did you like about this book which made you to read it twice?’ She asked, ‘By the way, I’m Ritu..’ She added, retaining that wonderful smile on her face.
‘Oh, I’m Ashok…’ He said, smiling back, ‘Well, I liked the story so much…‘Well, to quote from the book ‘Sometimes, not so attractive body could hide the most wonderful and beautiful soul!’’ He added.
‘But then most of the men prefer woman with beautiful bodies than souls, isn’t it?’ She asked, ‘Then how would a beautiful soul really matter to someone? If given a choice between say that beautiful woman in that table and me, whom would you prefer?’
‘True! I may prefer her!’ He said, having a glance at that woman in the other table, ‘But such beauty doesn’t last forever, isn’t it?’ He asked, turning and looking at her.
‘Come on, even we don’t live forever, do we?’ She asked, turning the pages of the book, ‘So what’s the point in choosing an average looking person like me?’
‘Maybe, you’ve the point! Is that the autograph of Rachna? May I have a look…?’ He asked, trying to have a closer look. Ritu pushed the book towards him and he felt the words written by his favorite writer with his fingers.
‘From your curiosity, I assume that you haven’t met her in person, right?’ Ritu said, having another sip of coffee.
‘No, I wasn’t so lucky…’ Ashok replied. Meantime, his cup of hot Cappuccino arrived to the table. He picked it up and had a sip.

She realized that it was time for her to leave and she stood up.
‘I’ll have to leave now…it was really nice speaking to you, Ashok.’ She said, smiling at him.
‘What about the book?’ He asked.
‘You can keep it! I have her autograph in another book….good night!’  She said, leaving.
‘Good night! Thank You!’ Ashok said, flipping through the pages of the book and he found a Café Coffee Day tissue paper on which something was written and to his surprise the handwriting matched with the author’s writing inside the book. The realization soon dawned upon him that Ritu was his favourite writer who wrote with the pen name Rachna. He rushed outside the Café Coffee Day looking for her, but she was gone!
Sometime later, in her apartment, Ritu was feed up of men rejecting her every time she thought she had found her man. She didn’t want someone to marry her seeing that she was a famous writer. Hence, she distanced her writer self with a pen name. She picked up The Body Shop visiting card which someone close to her had given and dialed the number. Forty-five minutes later, a black car arrived before her apartment and the driver tied a blind fold covering her eyes. The car reached the destination after a long drive and she was taken down in an elevator.  Someone removed the blind fold and she closed her eyes unable to take so much brightness at once.
‘Welcome to the body shop!’ The stranger dressed like a surgeon cried with a warm smile on his face. He took her to a system and ran an application. He asked her to make a note of the body in which she liked to get her soul transferred in. Ritu went through the collection of bodies and chose the one she liked most. He came back, he saw her selection.
‘Good choice! That body belonged to the soul of a famous model,’ He said, handing her some papers to sign and then he said, ‘Please follow me!’
‘Would I get her voice as well?’ Ritu asked curiously.
‘Nope! You’ll retain your voice..Just her body would be yours…nothing more than that! You’ll have your feelings, memories; almost everything that belongs to your soul would be only yours!’ He added, taking her to a place which resembled a huge operation theatre. He strapped her to a chair, smiled at her and said;
‘We are going to start the process now. Are you ready?’
‘Y….es…’ She said.
‘Just relax yourself. Everything would be fine!’ He said smiling, holding her hand and pressing it gently and she smiled back at him nervously.
Few hours later, she was taken in front of a huge mirror and she had a glance at her new look and was pleasantly surprised. She looked stunningly beautiful, ‘Am I dreaming this?’ She asked, smiling at her reflection in the mirror.
‘No, you’re not!’
‘Alright, may I see my old body once, please?’ She asked.
‘Sure, follow me!’ He said and led her to a huge hall which had many bodies kept inside glass cases. Finally, he stopped at the glass case which had her body. She kept starring at her body and she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Her hand touched the glass case and a drop of tear rolled down from the corner of her eye…
‘What would happen to my body?’ She asked, wiping her tear drop.
‘If someone comes and chooses your body then they will have it!’ He replied.
‘I may come back for my body, so could you please hold it back for sometime?’ Ritu asked.
‘Well, at the most I can hold it back for two weeks and not more than that!’ He replied.
‘Fine. Please do it!’ She said, having another glance at her body, before taking leave.
***
Next morning, while she was passing by some street someone shouted at her, when she turned, she found a young man running towards her.
‘Alina, where have been? You’ve missed three to four modeling assignments so far…’ He said, trying to catch his breath.
Ritu just smiled at him and replied, ‘I had been on a personal vacation!’
Soon, Ritu started doing the ramp walk wearing new designer clothes. Initially, everything seemed interesting and something different. But soon monotony set in and she started hating her new life as a model. Days went by, then one evening, she saw Ashok enter the Café Coffee Day, while she was having her coffee. He walked up to her and said;
‘I think I have seen you some where..’
‘Maybe, on some cover of magazine as I’m a model,’ She replied.
‘Oh, yes,’ He said, ‘May I sit here?’ He asked. ‘Sure.’ She replied.
‘Your voice reminds me someone…’ Ashok said, taking the seat opposite to her.
‘Really?’ She asked, smiling at him.
‘Yes… I met her sometime back…but I don’t recall whom I met and where?’ He said.
They chatted with each other for sometime. When they were about to part, she asked him;
‘What are you doing this evening? Would you like to go on a date with me?’
‘No, I am looking for someone with whom I have fallen in love with..’ He replied.
‘Is she more beautiful than me?’ She asked.
‘Her soul is most beautiful!’ He replied smiling, ‘Now, I remember…it was my favorite writer Rachna whom I had met sometime back on this same table. You know what? I had met her again few days back and she pretended as if she didn’t remember me at all…’ He added sadly.
‘What? You met her again? Are you sure about it?’ She asked quite shocked.
‘Yes, I’m sure about it…’ He replied.
‘I’ll have to leave now! See you later, bye!’ She said, rushing out.
Sometime later, she reached the body shop. Then:-
‘I told you to hold back my body!’ She cried, rather annoyed at the stranger.
‘Well, I did! I only gave it away after two weeks when an old lady insisted only for your body…I had no choice..’ He said.
‘An old lady?’ She asked, surprised.
‘Yes, follow me…’ He said, leading her to the huge hall, where the body of the old lady was kept in a glass case. Ritu kept staring at the body for a few seconds and then said, ‘I need this body! And her address!’
‘Are you sure?’ he asked.
‘Yes, I’m!’ She replied.
Some hours later, her soul was transferred into the old lady’s body. And he gave her the old lady’s residential address.
‘Just give me call when your body is ready and I shall put your soul back to where it belongs!’ He said, smiling at her, ‘and I hope it happens pretty soon.’
‘Thank You,’ She said, leaving.
It had been tiresome to Rosy who had aged gracefully. She felt her ever youthful soul was now trapped in an old body, which was weak. She wished that she could lead her last days being active like she was before. It was then she came across the body shop and contacted them. Soon, she was there and she ended up selecting Ritu’s body. Somehow, this particular body attracted her more than other bodies.
‘You could’ve far beautiful body than that one,’ The stranger had said.
‘No! I have made my choice!’ She said sternly.
Now, Ritu in the old body reached the given address and rang the door bell. After sometime, her physical self came and opened the door. Both of them were shocked, and kept starring at each other in disbelief for a couple of minutes. There was pin drop silence.
‘Please do come in!’ Rosy said, finally smiling at her old self.
They sat in the living room and Rosy asked her maid to get some coffee and biscuits for them.
‘Now, tell me about yourself? Who are you?’ Rosy asked Ritu.
Ritu told her the complete story. The maid came with a tray filled with two hot cups of coffee and a plat filled with assorted biscuits. She kept the tray on the small table before the two ladies, and went inside.
‘Wow! So you’re the famous writer Rachna…I am really honored that I’m dwelling in your body and vise versa. I have been your fan and read most of your books…’ Rosy said, pointing her finger at the bookshelf in which were her books.
‘Nice to know that..’ Ritu said, picking her cup of coffee, dipping a biscuit in the coffee and having a bite.
‘It would be my pleasure if you agree to stay with me in my last days. You can have back your body once my time comes to leave this materialistic world!’ Rosy said.
‘Thank You for the invitation. I would stay with you…’ Ritu said, ‘Now, I would like to hear your life story..’
‘It would be my honor to narrate my simple story to a great writer like you. I always had a wish though this would be my last wish..’ Rosy said.
‘What is it? Please tell me!’ Ritu asked, coming forward.
‘I wish someone could write my story for others to read about me and to remember me while I’m no more!’ Rosy said.
‘Well, if your story sounds interesting enough then I promise that I would write it for my next book.’ Ritu said.
‘Oh, God, I just can’t believe what I just heard. It is like a dream come true as I am confident that you would like my story when I conclude my narration.’ Rosy said, coming forward in excitement.
They both retired to the bedroom which had a fire chimney. They sat before the warm burning fire, as Rosy started to narrate her life story to Ritu. Who got so much interested in the story that she started taking notes in a note pad. It was just before dawn when Rosy concluded her wonderful life story and Ritu had tears in her eyes.
‘I’m sorry for making you cry, my dear.’ Rosy said, holding Ritu’s hand and pressing it gently.
‘It’s alright!’ Ritu said, wiping her tears away.
‘Now, tell me, did you like my story? Would you write it?’ Rosy asked, with excitement in her eyes.
‘Yes, I liked it a lot! I would start writing it today itself…’ Ritu replied.
‘Thank you very much, my dear. I might not be around to read it though. Anyways, I wish you all the very best!’ She said, resting back on her easy chair ‘Now let us get some sleep…’
‘Alright, good night.’ She said.
‘May I know, what would be the title of this book?’ Rosy asked, yawning in sleep.
‘Soul Talk!’ Ritu said, looking at her peaceful body in sound sleep.
She stood up slowly, walked towards her body, bent down and kissed on her forehead, and whispered, ‘I’m glad that you borrowed my body and I got to meet a beautiful soul like you!’

A Candle 

A Candle

A Poem
I like to get my

Inspiration from

A burning candle,

Which stands brave

Against the

Fighting wind,

It melts down

Itself with the

Burning flame

Above,

To provide us

Some brightness

In the room filled

With darkness.

It finds its joy

In sharing its flame

With fellow candle

To increase the

Brightness and to

Drive the creepy

Darkness away.