Lansdowne – Part 1 – Getting there

My wife and i decided to finally take a weekend break. 2 months of hectic work timings and pressures got me to a bursting point… in addition i needed a break from technology – no computers, processors, mobiles, laptops, emails …! Lansdowne was a name which kept cropping up frequently whenever we have planned a weekend getaway over the last year or so and we decided to take this destination up finally , added advantage that its very close to Delhi – 2 nights 3 days was the length of the trip and we got back yesterday.

Getting There

People who know me know what my prime recommendation is here – yep! Driving! There are of course the usual options as well but other than driving or taking a bus the best option , from all perspectives, is talking a Train to Kotdwar which is about 45 Kms short of Lansdowne. 2 trains which run regularly are :-

Mussoorie Express – Leaves Delhi at 1015 PM and arrives at Kotdwat at 0500 AM – all days. Fare upwards of 135 INR.

Garhwal Express -Leaves at 7 AM and arrives at 1420 PM – All days. Fare upwards of 250 INR.

 

Driving time is between 5-6 hours. While going one was not too sure of the road surface and was a bit slow in general which put the total time at 6 hours. On the way back it was faster with the us being back in Delhi in about 5 hours. The trip, on a peppy enough car can be done in 4 hours or so. The toal distance is 260kms. Dont let anyone tell you otherwise. I did a lot of research especially on mapmyindia.com and they were off by about 40 kms. The driving can be broken into the following segments :-

1. Delhi to Ghaziabad to Meerut – The slowest segment. Both these places are very crowded, and traffic discipline is non – existent. Approx distance is about 80 kms. Driving time between 1.3-2 Hrs.

2. Meerut to Mawana to Bijnor – Once out of Meerut you can go up to 80-100 Kmph and cruise on that endlessly. The road is not as big as some of the other highways but has to be one of the best i have ever been on. Next to no traffic, excellent quality…one almost feels like it’s yours alone. Peppy stretch. Approx distance 60 kms. Max 1 hour. The Ganges is crossed shortly before Bijnor. Snaps at end of the post. Continue reading

Online Grocery Shopping – Storrz.com

This is a bit late in the day i.e the site has been around for a while but i have been putting this off hoping that the site would see some more development.

Everything seems to be going onto the net , and i guess thats good in a way , but not everything can work on the net , and this is something which i dont think too many people have managed to grasp. Its difficult to really stand out in this space and i understand the need for something unique, risky, radical, controversial,  to be used as drivers but some things are just not meant for the net.

storrz.com offers online grocery shopping. In reality what it offers is convenience.  Not having to take out time to shop, not having to get out office or home and so on. The service is currently restricted to Bangalore only, and i am glad that they are using Bangalore as a testing ground for this instead of having gone all out because i quite frankly do not see this working out at all. There are just one too many factors going against it.

The way i see it, the primary TG for a service like this would be DINK’s (Double income no kids) families. People who simply do not have the time. I belog to such a setup as well…but i have not felt the need or the attraction for such a site..and i am sure there are many like me who would fall under some of the reasons below.

1. Prices – The ability to haggle , a way of life with Indians, with your local retailer esp for vegetables and fruits is absent.  The prices are, obviously, fixed and there will always be a doubt whether it would be cheaper in the market place.

2. Quality – You wont know what you are getting till you have got it..

3. Physical Contact – This i think will be a prime factor and is an extension of point 2. There has always been a high degree of physical interaction in this kind of purchase. Wanting to do it yourself to ensure you dont get the worst apples, to take them from the bottom rather than the top of the basket, feel, squeeze, examine to ensure they are ripe and acceptable, no rat bites, bugs etc. All this is not possible on the net, and even if someone who has gone for this has one incident where the quality has not lived upto expectations …it will be bye bye!

Home delivery – One of the “conveniences” offered but to be honest , more often than not, this is more of an inconvenience than otherwise. My wife and i are the only ones at home, with a maid who comes in 3-4 times a week , 2 -3 hours to cleanup. Now what control do i have over the delivery from Storrz.com? None , if it happens to come at a time when no one is in the house then what? With my local colony retailer i can simply call him when i am at home or better yet tell him what time to come.

Credit – Agreed, this might be a small reason. I mean one must really be weird to not have the money to pick up day to day groceries but once in a while you might not. Blame it on work..you forget to go to the ATM …and the delivery guy’s standing right there, you can hardly tell him to go away and that you will stop at the shop later on and pay… but thats possible with your local retailer, in fact depending on the rapport one can establish , you could open a monthly account. No more day to day transactions, having to remember to carry money, carry change.

Final verdict – yep the concept is unique, dont think anyone in India has tried it… but that might not be because no one has thought of it…but more because they have thought of the reasons above.

Blue Line Buses – Not their fault alone.

Updated at 4 PM , 8th Oct – The Delhi hig court has asked the government to take action. One – Find out how many politicans own Blue Lines. Second, though i just hear a bit, is that the plan to phase out Blue Lines to be sent in by Thursday this week. Let’s see what develops.

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It turned out to be one of those rare Sundays where i actually managed to get some news time in and right from the morning all the way till i went off to sleep at 1 AM , everyone was talking about Blue Line Buses in Delhi.

The enthusiastic coverage had been generated by another accident near Faridabad which resulted in 6 people being killed. The bus was speeding ( 60 kmph in a 40) and ran into people who were getting off another bus. Total death this year , by these buses , is at 93. In typical Indian style the mob beat up the driver, destroyed the bus, police did not do anything and news media started the age old discussion of whether they should be banned and how everyone in Delhi is afraid of them.

After listening for a while i finally got fed up and had to pen this down. The way i see it is that 50% of that 93 probably deserved to die. Most Delhiites  have no manners- be it driving or walking. I drive only 2 kms’s to work everyday and 4 out of 7 days i almost end up hitting someone..not because i drive too fast , or dont concentrate but people here tend to spring out onto the road like rabbits, one would almost imagine that they wanted to get hit..maybe its a new suicidal technique…

Last month at 9 PM near the Interstate Bus Terminal 7 cars got involved in a pile up in front of me..why…

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Travelogue : Ramgarh – Uttaranchal

Good things come to he who waits. Keep repeating this if you find yourself headed to Ramgarh. One of the most notorious drives i have ever been on and the end result was a spectacular 3 day vacation amid one of the greenest places in India and some of the most helpful and friendly people i have ever come across. I will be posting some pictures later as well so watch this space. Currently all the pic’s have been taken from the net.

Getting There 

1. Fly to Pant Nagar which is the closest airport and from here hire a cab or go in a bus.The distance from here is 80 kms. I am not too sure about the cab fares but i am guessing it would be around 1k-1500 INR. Flights would be in the range of  1000 + Taxes per person one way. Jagson airlines is the most frequent (and i think only)  airline to this sector . They have daily flights. Availability can be checked at jagsonairline.com.

2. Train to Kathgodam which is 50 Kms before Ramgarh. Again hire a cab or a bus.

3. Drive – This is what i always do since it allows me tremendous flexibility. While the distance is only 318 Kms ( Less than Shimla) ,if anyone tells you that it will take 6-7 hours , please dont believe them. The road is pretty bad till you enter the state of Uttaranchal and the drive can take as much as 10-11 Hours. The route to follow is :-

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