Western Sojourn

 “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain

After the epic ride to Southernmost tip of India, it was about time for another adventure, this time onward march to the Westernmost tip of India. And the destination Gaurav and I chose was Western India, specifically Gujarat and Rajasthan. This time we had company, Swapnil a.k.a. Swappy with his Triumph Tiger and Vaibhav a.k.a. Veebz on his KTM Duke but both of them backed out due to some unforeseen circumstances but a huge thanks to these two, Ayudh Sports, Pune and Team Driven India, Pune for their support. They have an amazing range of protective riding gear and accessories. Please visit and follow them on the links below and if you’re in Pune do visit their stores

http://www.ayudhsports.com/

In terms of planning and route mapping I got tremendous support from Nandeep Pathak, who has already covered this circuit couple of times on his beloved Dulhaan Mahindra Scorpio. He literally prepared the day to day itinerary for the whole ride! Thank you Nandeep, it means a lot. Read about his journey by following the below link

Rann TLog:

http://www.bcmtouring.com/forums/threads/the-amazing-kutch-road-trip.56741/

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travelogues/95004-raiders-rann-kachchhi-kaleidoscope-gujarat-5.html

Rajasthan TLog:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travelogues/173692-international-border-xuv500-international-border-pillar-no-609-a.html

Unlike the last time we kept the riding to minimal, no long stretches except a few so that we get to spend more time at each location and explore it. Fortunately, like last time my generous boss gave me approval for my leaves.

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Route Map thanks to Nandeep Pathak

This ride was epic because I rode solo from 4th day onwards, more info about it in sometime. This time I had a mission, to reach Tanot and Longewala in Rajasthan and hand deliver Thank You letters to our Soldier posted at the borders. This mission was accomplished and was possible because of a huge help from my colleagues at work and my friends and family who graciously wrote heartfelt messages for our soldiers. Thank you all… I’ll now put down my day wise travel route and the details of the places that I visited from 22nd October 2016 to 2nd November 2016.

The Sojourn Begins – Day 1 – Mumbai to Baroda – 430 Kms

We left in the afternoon post lunch for Baroda as Gaurav had some work at his school. We made regular halts for water and fuel specifically at Vapi and near Ankaleshwar. The roads were smooth all the way to Baroda but we hit a block near Bharuch due to ongoing construction of a bridge on the Narmada River. It took us an hour to cover a distance of approx. 10 Kms but once the traffic jam was cleared, we raced to Baroda and reached at around 9PM. Gaurav’s friend from UK was kind enough to let us crash at his place for the night. Thanks a lot Bhaumik for your hospitality.

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Inching closer to the 1st destination – Day 2 – Baroda to Bhuj – 441 Kms

We started from Baroda at 6AM and stopped on the outskirts of Ahmedabad for a not so healthy but filling breakfast at around 10AM and continued onwards with fuel and water stops every hour. The roads were amazing, well maintained all throughout. There were plenty of salt pans and windmill farms as we were closing in on Bhuj. We stopped near one such Windmill farm to rest and for a photo session with our bikes. The climate got a bit hot toward afternoon but it was manageable. We reached Bhuj at around 5PM and checked into Hotel Shiv which was inside the city. After freshening up we roamed around the city on foot and saw a few places like Kutch Museum, a small lake and Swami Narayan Temple, a temple where they have been chanting a mantra since last 40 years non-stop.

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Onwards to Westernmost Tip of India – Day 3 – Bhuj-Lakhpat-Koteshwar-Bhuj – 320 Kms

We started a bit later than usual at 7 AM as the ride was chilled out cause the distance to these locations was not much. We had a not so healthy breakfast consisting of the local delicacy i.e. jalebi and faafda along with a hot cup of tea. We stopped on the way as we saw a board ‘Tropic of Cancer” passes through here, the feeling of standing on one of the significant navigation cues was something else. We went off road for a bit for a photo session, posing with our bikes with glee. We reached Lakhpat at around 11AM and roamed around inside the Lakhpat Fort which has a BSF post, Gurudwara, Mosque and a Mandir in its premises. From top of the fort we could see the vast salt marsh land that separated India and Pakistan. The view was truly beautiful!

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Jalebi and Faafda

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Tropic Of Cancer

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Bowing down before my Electra 🙂

The fort was actually rebuilt and expanded in 1801 by Fateh Muhammad is an irregular polygon, defended by round towers and built of hard brown stones. Lakhpat Gurudwara Sahib is a Gurudwara, a place of worship for the Sikhs. It is believed that Guru Nanak on his way to Mecca for Haj stayed over here and it has his relics like footwear and palkhi. The Gurudwara itself is declared a protected monument by the state archeological department and has won the UNESCO award for restoration. We had a peaceful lunch at the Gurudwara Langar and spoke with the few people there who were in awe of our plan of travelling on our bikes. We both made generous donations to the Gurudwara and left for Koteshwar which was around 35 Kms away.

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Lakhpat Fort

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Lakhpat Fort

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On the way to Koteshwar

Koteshwar is the western most point of India and lies right next to Narayan Sarovar which is one of the five sacred lakes as per the Hindu Theology. Koteshwar temple rising boldly from the sea that washes their western face, is enclosed by a fortified wall, the gate approached by three flights of steps. We stood there admiring the BSF post and the feat we just achieved, reaching the westernmost point of India. After getting enough of rest and water, we began our return journey to Bhuj and reached back at the hotel at 5 PM.

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Koteshwar, Westernmost point of India

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This is where the fun began! After reaching back, Gaurav got an important email regarding his work and so he had to head back. Nandeep asked me what my 1st reaction was during this situation, I clearly recall exclaiming, ‘Wohoo! Solooo Trip!!’. Ha-ha, I know. I was always looking forward to travelling solo and now I could finally do it. I didn’t tell my parents fearing that they would pack me and my bullet and take me back home. I had made up my mind to do this and the only person I consulted is Nandeep to ask him if it’s safe to continue. He gave his go ahead on a condition that I will update him every hour and at every stop that I take, I happily agreed. I informed Meghnad as well who gave me much needed added moral support, just in case…

Solo Ride Begins – Day 4 – Bhuj-Kalo Dungar-India Bridge-White Rann-Bhuj – 240 Kms

“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” – Henry David Thoreau

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And thus began my Solo Bullet Road Trip of Western India! I bid farewell to Gaurav and wished him a safe journey and started for my next destination Kalo Dungar. Kalo Dungar or Black Hill is the highest point in Kutch, 458 mts and it is the only place in Kutch from where a panoramic view of the Great Rann of Kutch can be witnessed. I reached here at 9 AM where I was welcomed by a beautiful sunrise and an awesome view of Kutch and the Great Rann of Kutch. On top I met one of the BSF officers and he happened to hail from Maharashtra, I had a lovely chat with him for quite some time. After spending a good time admiring the view I continued for India Bridge, an actual bridge to enter the Vigakot outpost of the Indian army guarding the border with Pakistan. Special permit is necessary to reach the border but due to the recent ongoing tensions I couldn’t procure it. Photography is strictly prohibited. To the left side of the bridge is White desert and on the right side is the Rann of Kutch. After reaching the India bridge I was allowed to park my Bullet next to the entry point by the BSF jawans. They were kind enough to offer me tea and water and gave me company. They were keen on knowing where I came from, where I’m headed and why I’m doing this alone. I was more than happy to answer them. I conveyed the fondness gratitude and respect which my colleagues, friends and family had to express, they felt happy about it and the smile on their faces was priceless. BSF, the sentinels of our borders make me proud and safe!

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At Kalo Dungar – Highest Point in Kutch Region

I then headed toward the White Rann post 12 in the noon, despite being told by Nandeep and my hotel manager that the rann would be filled with slush or water instead of the white sand/ salt. It was quite hot and humid in the white rann and yes it was filled with salty water. But somehow I felt joy for having reached the spot. The preparations for the Rann Festival were on full swing, they have erected a 2 storied view point from where you can see the whole of White Rann. All I could see in the vastness was the salty water and the White Rann Village, it was totally worth it. Another trip has to be planned to visit again somewhere in the month of January of coming years.

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White Rann

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View Point at White Rann

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On my way back I noticed some oil seepage from the top of the engine of my bullet and I got it checked from a local mechanic suggested by the hotel manager who quoted 4000INR, opening up of the engine and 2 days to get it repaired. I coolly walked away without uttering a word called my Service Center in Nerul, Navi Mumbai, Nilesh Sonavane heard the issue and told me to change the rubber seal of the engine and told me to visit an authorised service center and that’s what I did! I found the Royal Enfield’s authorized service center in Bhuj and waited in line. They had lots of bikes waiting in line to be serviced but I spoke to the person in charge, Anik Bhai, he was empathetic towards my situation and he agreed to cut me in line and get my bike repaired. All it took was a replacement of a broken rocker cover and seal to get my bullet back to normal. Thanks to Anik Bhai I went back to my hotel, relaxed and ready for the next destination.

Exploring ancient city, Star Gazing et al – Day 5 – Bhuj-Bhachau-Rapar-Dholavira – 220 Kms

Bhuj to Dholavira was 220 Kms but I started early to beat the heat and enjoy the empty roads that lay ahead in the morning. The roads were scenic and amazing. Nandeep’s advice came handy once again, Rapar is the last village where there is a petrol pump. Rapar to Dholavira is around 100 Kms and there is nothing available in between and hence I fueled up at Rapar and rode towards Dholavira reaching there at 11 AM.

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Dholavira is an archaeological site at Khadirbet in Gujarat, the site contains ruins of an ancient Indus Valley Civilization/ Harappan city. It is one of the five largest Harappan sites and most prominent archaeological sites in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. After unpacking and checking into the Dholavira Tourism Resort I went straight to the Harappan Site. Kudos to the ASI who have maintained the museum and the huge site in pristine condition. I roamed around the site for over 2 hours getting a good look at each of the landmarks of ancient history. I came back for lunch at the hotel where I met another fellow traveler from Bangalore, uncle is a CA in some big firm and was on a quest to visit all the Harrapan Sites in India. We had an interesting conversation about the civilization, one question we pondered upon and many are still pondering upon was Where did they all go?

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Post lunch and rest session I took out my bullet and did some minor maintenance work on it, specifically the chain cleaning and lubing. After 5PM I set out to visit Dattareya Temple which was at the tip of Dholavira, the sun had already set on the horizon till the time I reached. There was a BSF outpost near to the temple, I went ahead and met up with the jawans who offered me tea and interesting conversations about their stint in the armed forces. I started my way back at around 7, it was already dark by then and the hotel was 10 Kms away with kuccha roads (good off-roading experience). On my way back I saw a helipad just a few Kms away from my hotel, I stopped there for a moment and happened to gaze up to the sky. I was rendered speechless! I could see the clear sky, brightest of the stars, no sound other than those of the insects and brighter half-moon. I went back to the hotel, had a quick dinner, packed my bags for the next day’s ride and came back to the helipad at 10PM.

Once at the helipad, I put my bullet on the main-stand, shut all the lights and slept on my bullet facing up to the sky! That view can’t be witnessed in any city. You had to be there to see the beauty that lay on top of us. I could see the endless shining and twinkling stars and luckily I got to see a few shooting stars as well. Friends, readers and fellow travelers; that is what pure bliss looks like! I spent around an hour star gazing in that same spot, and sadly I had to return back for an early morning start to Jaisalmer…

Padharo Mhare Desh – Day 6 –Dholavira-Rapar-Sanchore-Barmer-Jaisalmer – 620 Kms

An early start is always necessary to cover maximum distance and beat the afternoon heat, and an early start of 5:30 AM gave me an opportunity to cover good amount of distance before the temperature started rising. I made quite a lot of stops to stay hydrated and it helped me to be focused and alert throughout the ride. Once I crossed Sanchore the road conditions were the same, smooth. However, from Barmer to Jaisalmer the roads were bad, not that they were broken or not maintained, but because they were under repairs and some stretches were being widened. Hopefully they will be completed pretty soon as the work was going on in full swing. Many stretches had fresh tarmac laid down and with the hot weather the roads were burning up. To avoid tire burst or any damage to the tires I kept constant speed of 70-80 Kms and took a 5mins halt every 45 mins to cool off the tire. Better to be safe than sorry.

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At 5:30 PM I took a fuel stop when I was 120 Kms away from Jaisalmer and that’s when tensions arose, got to see missed calls and urgent messages from work. Stopped on side of the highway and finished my pending office work by calling the BHR’s across India! This set up back by an hour and at cost of loss of day light. Nevertheless, I got to witness the sun set behind mini sand dunes. I tried to speed up but couldn’t as the road were getting worse, there was no divider painted on the roads nor were there any signs. I rode slowly and steadily and reached Hotel Pithla Heritage at around 8PM.

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I quickly unpacked, had a scrumptious meal at the rooftop restaurant of the hotel that had a view of the shining skyline of Jaisalmer. I started preparation for the next day’s ride. The ultimate ride to Tanot and Longewala! I had around 80-90 letters accumulated from my colleagues, friends and family. I divided them into 2, one for the soldiers at Tanot and another for the soldiers at Longewala. I dozed off as soon as I hit the bed.

Sandese Aate Hai – Day 7 –Jaisalmer-Ramgarh-Tanot-Longewala-Ramgarh-Sam Sand Dunes-Jaisalmer – 320 Kms

Woke up later than usual, well rested and set out for Tanot at 9 AM and made my first halt at Ramgarh for breakfast. Reached Tanot at 11 AM and visited the Tanot Mata Temple Tannot Mata is a temple in western State of Rajasthan in District Jaisalmer of India. As per the oldest Charan literature Tanot Mata is new clone of divine goddess Hinglaj Mata, and then after Tanot Mata becomes Karni Mata, and known as Goddess of Charan’s. The village is close to the border with Pakistan, and is very close to the battle site of Longewala of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. It was the 1st day of Diwali and my most memorable one as I celebrated it with the BSF jawans by handing over the letters from their fellow Indians. From Tanot one can visit the International Border Pillar 609 with a permit but due to the tensions at the LOC the permits have been stopped.

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En route to Tanot

I tried using Nandeep’s advice to convince the Officer in charge but alas, he didn’t budge. Before continuing towards Longewala I handed over the letters to the officer. He was pleasantly surprised to receive it. I received a heartfelt thank you and that’s all one should expect from the Sentinels of our Borders who have sacrificed enough to keep us safe.

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Tanot to Longewala was 40 Kms but I rode slowly whilst admiring and enjoying the picturesque sand dunes that were there on both sides of the road. Reached there by 1 PM and spent a good amount of time checking out the Longewala Battle site, it is very close to the border and is the location of the Battle of Longewala during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Handed over the letter to the officers present there, and to my surprise they were from Maharashtra as well. They read the letter and poem and said ‘Tumha saglyanna aamcha baddal aapulki wattate he baghun fhar barra watta’ (Translation: Aap sabko hamare prati aisi aapnapan dekh ke humko accha mehsus hota hai)

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After almost an hour later I left for Sam Sand Dunes for experiencing Desert Safari. The road to Sam Sand Dunes was a single lane road but smooth and well maintained. I reached there around 5 and booked myself a Desert Safari Ride in a Thar. They ride was crazy, the driver crazier and apparently the best one in Sam Sand Dunes. He drove like the wind, and we went up & down and round & round in the dunes and halted at a perfect place to see the Sun Set. I rode a camel as well for some time, it was another fun experience altogether.many thanks to Lora for recommending the desert safari, it was totally worth it 🙂

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Selfie with a Camel named Lucky 😀

 

I started my way back to the hotel at around 7:30 PM, it was pitching dark and I stopped at a dhabha so that I could see the clear sky (Not as clearer as Dholavira). I rode around in the Jaisalmer fort for quite some time to admire the grandeur of the fort. I returned back by 9 PM feeling refreshed and raring ride once again.

The Dark Knight Rises Fort Visit – Day 8 – Jaisalmer-Pokhran-Jodhpur – 280 Kms

I got an early start to the day by leaving Jaisalmer at 5:30 AM but I had to make too many stops after every 40mins as it was too chilly more so as I was riding at 80 Kms/ Hr. I made proper stops at Balasar and Pokhran for tea and breakfast. Some stretches were under construction due to road repairs and road widening work due to which there was a lot of dust. I reached Jodhpur at 12:30 PM and proceeded to find my hotel after admiring the Magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan, formerly the seat of a princely state of the same name, the capital of the kingdom known as Marwar. Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest forts built around 1460 by Rao Jodha, the fort is situated 410 feet (125 m) above the city and is enclosed by imposing thick walls. Inside its boundaries there are several palaces known for their intricate carvings and expensive courtyards. A winding road leads to and from the city below was a treat to ride on, it gave an epic view of the city. Fun Fact: This was the fort that appears in the movie The Dark Knight Rises!

Google Maps wasn’t helpful as the Hotel was located in somewhat slum like area, after an hour I finally found it but I was disappointed to see that there was no parking and there was a small alley leading up to the hotel with sewers on both side of the road. I immediately cancelled it from GoIbibo App and booked another listed Hotel Kiran Vilas. Another disappointment awaited there as the Hotel was shut since last year. After loads of angry calls to GoIbibo and waiting in the scorching sun, they got me another Hotel nearby, Hotel Marvel Umed, a beautiful heritage hotel with a spacious parking place and welcoming and hospitable staff.

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After lunch I went to the Mehrangarh Fort, it was closed but I just stood there to witness the sunset and the after dark lighting of the fort and to get the panoramic view of the Blue city. In the evening after returning to the hotel it was nice to view to fireworks whilst having Rajasthani thali in the Garden Restaurant of the hotel.

Exploring the Blue City – Day 9 – Jodhpur-Umaid Bhavan Palace-Mehrangarh Fort- Bal Samand Lake-Jodhpur – 40 Kms

I woke up super late and well-rested, had a healthy breakfast at the hotel and left for sightseeing of Jodhpur. I started with the Umaid Bhavan Palace Museum that had exhibits of stuffed leopards, a very large flag gifted to Maharaja Jaswant Singh by Queen Victoria, an extraordinary collection of clocks in windmill and light house shapes, and photographs of the elegant art-deco interior of the palace. The classic cars ranging from Cadillacs to Rolls Royce Phantoms are adorning the garden in front of the museum.

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I then proceeded towards Mehrangarh Fort to see it from the inside, the fort looks enormous from the outside and it is equally huge from the inside. Rajasthani Folk Singers welcome the tourists with their soulful voice and as you reach to the top of the fort their mesmerizing and melodic voice echoes through the walls of the Fort. I had a quite lip-smacking lunch at Café Mehran located inside the fort.

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After resting at the hotel till 5, I left for some adventure, I wanted to visit the Balsamand Lake but my hotel manager warned me that the Lake is restricted and only the in house guest of the ITC hotel are allowed to visit. Nevertheless, I proceeded to try my luck, the road to the ITC hotel was beautiful, with arched trees and view of rolling mountains. I reached there and as predicted, the lake was restricted to outside guest, I insisted on visiting the restaurant at least and rode in the hotel premises. And to my wonder, the premises were magical! Small streams, loads of trees, greenery everywhere, peacocks roaming around and beautiful weather. The ride back to my hotel was beautiful…

A visit to Bullet Baba Temple and City of Lakes – Day 10 – Jodhpur-Pali-Udaipur – 265 Kms

This was the best ride of my trip! I left at 5:30 AM from Jodhpur and took my first halt 20 Kms away from Pali at the fabled Bullet Baba Temple or Shri Om Bana Temple which is a shrine devoted to a deity in the form of a motorcycle. The motorcycle is a 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet and Hundreds of devotees turn up every day to pray for a safe journey. I wandered around the temple for a while and began my journey towards Udaipur.

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Bullet Baba Temple

 

The reason why this was the best ride was the roads were amazing as always and specially because there was a route which started from Desuri ending somewhere near Kelwa, this two lane route cut through a forest, it had trees covering the road, monkeys, peacocks and a few deer roaming around freely and to add to this beauty there was a small stream that was passing next to the road. This great ride continued further on the main highway which was almost like a roller coaster which was going up and down and also one could see rolling Aravalli mountain ranges on each side.

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I reached Udaipur by 11:30 AM and after checking in to my hotel I set out to explore Udaipur. First on my list was The Udaipur City Palace, a palace complex built over a period of nearly 400 years, with contributions from several rulers of the Mewar dynasty located on the east bank of Lake Pichola. Honestly speaking, the grandeur of the City Palace was grand but I think Mehrangarh Fort was better than City Palace. I quickly paced myself and finished the tour of the City palace and marched toward Non-Touristy side of Fateh Sagar Lake. Fateh Sagar Lake and Udaipur is truly beautiful.

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The return journey – Udaipur-Ahmedabad-Baroda-Vapi-Mumbai – 770 Kms

The final ride of the Western Sojourn, the longest ride on this journey to reach back home began at 4:30 AM. I had to take compulsory Tea stops after every half hour as the temperature was around 12 degrees and me riding at 80 Kms/ Hr. didn’t help my case, I was shivering and freezing in spite of wearing 3 t-shirts underneath my protective jacket. But man, it was fun, I loved the cold! Throughout the day I took breaks every hour and I was making good time to reach each point. The roads were truly well maintained on the highways. Only time I got traffic congestion was near The Fountain Hotel area where I had to wait around half hour for the traffic to clear.

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The Return Journey

 

After reaching back home and talking to my parents, I finally told them that I was riding solo, all hell broke loose on me *ears closed* I somehow calmed them down. I got a diktat that future rides will be possible on if there is a group and no less than 6 people! LOL

Fateh Sagar Lake, Udaipur was the final destination on my ride and the realization that the ride was over was a bit saddening to say the least. Many people asked me the same question. “Were you not bored travelling alone?’ and my only response to them was, “If you are bored with yourself, how can you expect others to be interested in you.”

The best part of the ride was waving to each and every army truck that crossed my path. It was not forced, my hand automatically used to start waving anytime a n army truck came in sight. On my way to Longewala there was a convoy of around 15 trucks, I parked my bullet on the side of the road and waved to each one of those trucks. Each time I did that, I got goosebumps! It was natural and I never got tired of doing that.

I can’t thank Nandeep enough for his help and support. In spite of being at work he used to constantly be in touch and get updates from me to suggest better stops and give advice for sightseeing et al. His help from the planning stage, when I started solo and till I reached back home was immense. Thank you, bro! He is well-travelled and has travelled more than me, you can check out his chronicles by following the links below.

This solo ride taught me a lot about my inner self. No, I didn’t attain nirvana or self-actualization, but I did get a better perspective about my life and what lay ahead. It gave me the strength and the courage to face any odds that would come my way. I did the whole ride alone and I’m sure I can stand up to any challenge no matter what.

I would definitely recommend you all to travel solo at least once in your life. 😉

 “Not all those who wander are lost”

– J. R. R. Tolkien

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Southern Impulse

“To wander is to be alive.” ― Roman Payne

People close to me know that I’m a bit impulsive. And one such impulse took me on a Bullet Road trip to the Southern tip of India. I always had traveling on a bullet across India on my bucket list, inspired from the movie the Bucket List, I prepared my own comprehensive “bucket list”, or things to do before one “kicks the bucket”. At a random encounter with Gaurav at our usual coffee shop, bored and frustrated at the monotony of our routine, we suddenly decided to go on a road trip on our bikes to Southern India. Disclaimer for those of you reading this – Do not follow this route or plan as it is, our plan was not a well-researched route. We just picked up a location we thought were interesting and started to ride.

After months of random planning sessions, we decided to travel in month of January 2016. I was riding my brand new Royal Enfield Bullet Electra 350 and Gaurav was on his KTM Duke 390. Earlier we had been on practice rides to Lonavala to warm up my bike, it was an amazing experience for me as it was my first ever ride. We had our minimal riding gear prepared for our ride, Rhynox Protective Jacket, Protective Hand gloves, Knee Guards and Viaterra Claw for our luggage (Both of our luggage fit in the Claw). We carried spare parts (Clutch Cable, accelerator wire, chain lube and cleaner) for our respective bikes just in case of any issues on road.

You can find a rough route that we followed during our trip in the image below.

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I work in Powai so we decided that I will leave from work and go to Gaurav’s place and leave from Goa the next day early morning. Gaurav came to Powai to accompany me, and disaster struck! His bike was damaged due to a pile of stone left on the side of the road near Powai Temple. KTM Duke’s magnetic cover got a huge hole because of the hit. Luckily KTM Vikroli came to his rescue, we towed his bike to the service center which was just around 4-5 Kms away. And thanks to his lucky stars, they did have 1 spare magnet cover in their service center. The bike got repaired in less than an hour. His pocket surely took a huge dent, his spirits for the ride didn’t.

 

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KTM being repaired

We slept early for an early morning start, woke up at 4 and started our preparations for the ride. First destination for the ride was Goa and we were really pumped up. We chose the NH-4 route with an extended detour from Chorla Ghat near Belgaum. We had a good start to the ride with a first fuel stop at Lonavala and another one after we crossed Pune. We had to take a mandatory breakfast break because me made a mistake of riding on an empty stomach, cause of which we were shivering till post 11 am. We took a stop at Satara and continued our journey with regular water breaks after every hour.

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Lonavala

We reached near Chorla Ghat somewhere around 4:30 PM. The ghat welcomed us with scenes of rolling hills, winding roads and arched trees. The ride through Chorla Ghat was amazing, the roads were smooth and had proper turns where we could lean and ride comfortably.

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Chorla Ghat Begins

We reached Goa at around 6:30 but we had some issues finding the hotel. Nonetheless we found Benn’s Inn and we were elated. The rooms were great and it was located right next to Ashweem Beach and after freshening up we went to a restaurant recommended by his boss located right next to our hotel, Hotel Sunrise which served the most amazing Prawns Masala rice ever.

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View from Benn’s Inn

The next day we packed our books and set out to chill on Arambol Beach some 10 Kms away from Arambol beach. We had a scrumptious brunch at Dylan Café and sat on the beach till evening reading our books. I finished a book I had been waiting to start since months, Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them. I was at peace reading a book by the beach and enjoying the calm. In the evening we once again visited Sunrise to have their delicious Prawns Rice. We called it a night as we had to have an early start the next morning.

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Arambol Beach, Goa

Our next destination was Kannur’s Mascot Beach Resort and the distance to that was 551 kms. We underestimated the travel distance and we were screwed majorly. Even though we had a good start to the day with beautiful road from Goa till Padubidri in Karnataka the ride was tough. There was Marvanthe Beach on the side of the hihway where we stopped in the afternoon for water and to take pictures.

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Marvanthe Beach

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Further ahead there were roads under construction and diversions post Padubidri till we reached Kerala Border. As we entered Kerala we were stumped to see that the highway leading up to Kannur was a two lane highway and to add insult to injury, I got into a minor crash. An Alto reversed suddenly in the middle of the highway, I was cruising at 60 and an Activa was in front of me, to avoid the Alto the Activa Guy came in front of me. I tried to perform an evasive maneuver but I just missed avoiding him and his activa hit my leg guard. Thanks to my guard which took all the impact and kept me safe, I didn’t fall but the leg guard got a crack. We took a break for a while and proceeded in the night. After a 17 hour ride and covering 550kms we reached Kannur’s Mastcot Beach Resort. We were zapped and took a decision to stay another day at Kannur to recharge our batteries. And boy, it was the best decision ever. The hotel was right on the beach, we could hear the waves lash against the wall all through the night.

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The crash

The next day we had an enormous breakfast at the hotel and spent the whole day chilling in the pool, getting an ayurvedic massage and reading books. It was pure bliss. We spoke to a rider we met on the road, how do we get out of these dangerous road and the solution was simple, get an early start and keep your bikes on the extreme end of the road. And that’s what we did, left at 4 the next day and we cleared good ground till afternoon.

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Kannur Beach

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Mascot Beach Resort

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Selfie in the pool 😀

We reached Gaurav’s aunts ancestral home at Thiruvananthapuram by 7 PM. The house was beautiful, vintage and peaceful.

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We set out to reach our main destination the next morning, Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of India. We took the inner road which passed through small villages and almost touch the western coast. The road was smooth at many stretches but quite a few stretches were not in a good condition. It didn’t matter because the thrill of reaching the southernmost tip of India was keeping us pumped up. We reached Kanyakumari around noon and spent a good time clicking pictures and reveling in our accomplishment.

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We were about to leave for Thiruvananthapuram when disaster struck, my phone fell out of my hand the screen shattered! The pain was unbearable, we returned and I tried to search for service centers for OnePlus One and to my luck out of the two service centers in Kerala, one was 50 meters away from where I stayed. First thing in the morning I ran there and pleaded him to get my phone repaired. He told me to come back by 3PM and till then we proceeded to get my Bullet service and change my damaged leg guard. By the time my bullet was fixed, my phone was ready as well; we picked it up and headed straight to the backwaters of Kerala for a boat ride to see the sunset. The boat ride was soothing and the backwaters are truly beautiful.

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At the Royal Enfield service center I met ‘Nidhin’ who was quite helpful, gave us tips for the journey and he also got my Bullet ready personally. About Bullet he said “When I go to my native place, I feel like a boy so I ride my KTM Duke 390 or Pulsar 220ns, but I feel like a man when I ride my Bullet 350cc.” Coincidence as it may be, we met him and his wife on our way back from the Backwaters of Kerala and as you can see, he was riding his Royal Enfield Classic. Thanks a lot Nidhin.

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Nidhin on his Royal Enfield Classic

After reaching the southernmost tip and exploring the backwaters, it was time for us to start our journey back home. The route we choose for our return journey was Thiruvananthapuram-Nagercoil-Bangalore-Pune-Mumbai. We started early as usual and reached Nagercoil in an hour or so and Kanyakumari was around and hour away, we made a crazy decision to witness the sunrise at Kanyakumari! Another best decision we made on the trip and we got to see an epic sunrise. We were not alone, there was a huge crowd waiting to see sunrise. After patiently waiting for it, the sun rose to a cheering crowd. The atmosphere was amazing, goose bumpy!

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We started to ride again on the NH 7; concrete, smooth and empty road welcomed us. We couldn’t ask for more. We made regular stops for water and food till we reached our destination Bangalore. We reached our hotel in Bangalore by 7PM mostly because of the Bangalore Traffic after covering 760kms in 14 hours. We dozed off as soon as we hit the bed.

We left early the next day to reach Pune which was 850 Kms away. Once again the roads on NH 48 were amazing, windmill farms on the side of the road at many stretches and unending smooth roads were a treat to ride on. We stopped at McDonald’s Kolhapur and met 3 riders from Bangalore who were on their way to Rajasthan. Indian Scout, BMW and Triumph were their respective rides.

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It was a bit tiring but regular stops for food and water helped us keep up our energy. It took us around 14-15 hours to reach Viman Nagar, Pune where we received a warm welcome from Vaibhav a.k.a Veebz. I was so damn hungry that I ate like a crazy person. I slept like a baby that night. The next day we had a massive brunch and visited Team Driven India, Veebz and Swappy’s shop at Kalyani Nagar. Do visit them to get the latest riding accessories and protective gears from the leading brands from across the world.

The ride taught me a lot. It was the first time I traveled that long and too on my Bullet. We covered 4000 Kms in 8 days but we could only see the tip of the iceberg. There were n numbers of places we couldn’t and didn’t visit. It would take more than a few rides to explore southern India. Important lesson learnt that on a ride anything can go wrong in spite of proper planning. Hence plan and prepare for the best and pray that you find a solution for when the worse comes knocking at your door.

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Outlandish thoughts…

Posted: July 28, 2016 in Poems

Outlandish thoughts

I know we haven’t spoken in a while

I know that it ended on a bad note.

But I’ve been doing contemplations lately,

And, it’s good that we let it go…

 

I wish to tell you that I miss you, I sure do

But not all dreams are meant to come true.

No, I don’t want to talk to you again or start anew,

It’s heart-rending when someone we know becomes someone we knew…

 

It’s bizarre that memories about you keep lurking,

I keep busy so that those thoughts don’t come surging.

A photo, a quote, a song, or smell the perfume comes around,

And every ounce of effort comes crashing down…

 

This isn’t remorse, we had our reasons,

No! You had your reasons.

Yes, they were unfair towards me,

They’ll be unacceptable as long as I can see…

 

As outlandish as it sounds,

We never needed reasons for falling in love or to be around.

Everything felt right. Everything felt together,

After those reasons came in, it went downstream altogether…

 

I hope you won’t repeat the same mistakes you did to hurt me,

I hope you find a love that ours could never be.

Someone shall come across, who won’t perish in reasons,

Someone who won’t say goodbye, someone who would stand by me and endure seasons…

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Unopened letters

Music! It has the power to transport you right back to your familiar memories and moments which you once cherished. These moments and memories might be happy or the ones you tried so hard to forget. They are memories nevertheless and one cannot help but remember them once such a song plays around. Its rather painful when the past is not something you wish to remember more so when it abruptly came to an end.

One such song from my past played today and it hit me hard where it hurts. All the efforts I had put to forget the past were laid to waste. This brings me to the title of this blog, Unopened letters! The person I so loved was going to move to another city after a few months, agree or disagree, distance does hamper a relationship. For the first time in my life I wanted to continue in spite of the imminent distance that was staring in front of us.

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Google came to my rescue, I read several blogs regarding ‘long distance relationship’, out of the many brilliant ideas which ranged from surprising your partner, sending flowers, poems, video chats etc. But the one which I loved was writing preemptive letters and handing them over to your loved one. The letters, obviously sealed, had to be written for situations you might face while apart. I love to write and this was perfect for me, so I wrote letters for such situations like;

“Open when you miss me…”

“Open when you feel lonely…”

“Open when you are mad at me…”

I wrote several such letters for various sane and weird situations which might crop up and they were waiting for the right moment to be handed over to that person. But alas, all good things come to an end! The letters shall remain unopened for a simple reason that the person who was supposed to open them ceased to be a part of my life…

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Anyways, enough about me, what’s up with you? 🙂

The Girl Next Door !

Posted: December 25, 2014 in Poems

The Girl Next Door !

She was always in front of me,

But I was blind and couldn’t see

The Perfect Girl Next Door,

She was always there, dear to me.

She mesmerised me when her eyes twinkled

Her presence always forthcoming and unshakled

The Perfect Girl Next Door

She is the one who made me untangled.

She is kind, graceful and pretty

She walks tall with integrity

The Perfect Girl Next Door

Her soul is pure & without nitty-gritty.

Her chirpy laughs are hounding

Her joyous smiles are spellbounding

The Perfect Girl Next Door

Her talks, her memories are resounding.

The Perfect Girl Next Door

Just like waves on the shore

She is real, she is there

I couldn’t ask for more!

Seminar on

“How to Conduct Social Research?”

Just a month after MLS Part II began, we had our 1st Seminar on Labour Research and Statistics. The dates and topic for each group was put up in the 2nd week of July and without wasting much time I rallied my group to start preparations for the seminar. This time we planned on taking our group presentation to a whole new level and for that my group was well responsive to my ideas and they themselves had innovative ideas to make our presentation a success. We selected a topic “How to conduct a Social Research?” because we felt that this topic will help us and our class to conduct rational and better research while working on their projects during internships and also when they start working.

The only change in my group since last year was addition of Priya Maskar instead of Snehal Kumbhar because of the change in roll call. I divided the whole presentation into parts and allotted it to each one of them. Being a dry and theoretical topic we prepared our presentation as much entertaining and informative as we could, we tried to put as many examples as we could. Our ideas received positive response from the faculty and the Director of our institute. My group had proper communication and understanding since last year and we carried forward the same this year as well.

Tragedy struck when a day prior to our presentation we didn’t have a Guest from the industry for our seminar. But Yogesh Dhotre came to our rescue by inviting Mr. Sohil Bhimani, BPHR, Asia-Pacific, Smith Medical’s and we were very lucky that he agreed to come at the last moment. He graduated from MILS in 2006 and since then he worked with Siemens for over 5 years and then changed to Smith Medical’s. In a sheer coincidence we found out that he was Mr. MILS from his batch and his personality resonated accordingly.

We as a group had planned our presentation and its order of flow; we planned on linking each other’s topics so that the audience and the guest would have a link of our presentation so as to maintain continuity. Harshada as always presented with utter perfection and the audience and the guest agreed that her presentation and content was flawless. Tousif as always is improving with each presentation, this time I asked him to begin the presentation and he accepted and with confidence he presented his part well. Priya and Ketan presented very well and they thoroughly explained their part to the audience.

Sohil Sir keenly listened to our presentation and gave us constructive feedback after our presentation. He spoke about his journey from being a student like us to his present role as a Business Partner HR. He gave us insights into the role a Business Partner HR performs and the different interpretations currently used by different companies.

“HR has to move from its traditional role of transactional partner to a strategic business partner for the organization and personal growth, this was the view put forward by Mr. Sohil Bhimani, HR Business Partner-Asia Pacific at Smiths Medical while addressing students of MILS Part-2 (2013-2015 batch). Addition to this, importance of understanding overall functionality of the business and HR should lead from the front are seeds of thought given by Sohil Sir.” This accurately sums up the interaction we had with Sohil Sir.

So to conclude this blog entry I want to say that be prepared well in advance for any presentation and had a plan and with hard work and team work we succeeded and implementing our plans with positive results.

We planned, we presented, and we rocked 😉

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Integrity Farm

Posted: July 16, 2014 in Poems

Integrity Farm

This is a story about an animal farm named ‘Integrity’,

Where there was abundance of pretentious prosperity.

On the farm there were pigs and horses,

& there was a frog & a bald eagle that held their races.

These races were held each year on the farm,

Frog & eagle supervised and the animals fought without any qualms.

One year the horses started the race,

They ran and ran with dignity and grace.

The pigs however were no match for the horses,

They sat back and plotted various political discourses.

When the horses were about to reach the finish line,

The pigs behaved like their dirty nature and committed a horrendous crime.

They tripped the horses and finished the race with no pity,

& thus the pigs won and the farm is now called ‘Hypocrisy’.

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Flashbacks of a Fool

On 4th July this year I turned 25 – quarter of my life went by so quickly. It’s not as if this realization has dawned upon now but it’s been always on the back of my mind, everybody does think about their age and past. This realization was not just about being 25, but about being 25 and recalling the glorious years that went by. The road map or the plans one has about their lives, seldom work out the way they were planned. Same happened to me, planned and focused on one particular stream but didn’t achieve the planned goal. Nevertheless, the experience and knowledge I earned is completely worth its weight in gold and it definitely helped me and still is helping me in the alternate career I had in mind. I’m certainly excelling in my present choice of career and I’m truly enjoying MILS. Much thanks to Shraddha, Ishan & Darshan for being supportive and making this MILS journey fun and worthwhile and I’m also thankful to all my seniors for guiding me without any qualms.

I titled this blog entry Flashbacks of a Fool for a few reasons (i) it’s one of my favorite Daniel Craig movie & (ii) because I’m a fool who likes to cherish memories of my past (doesn’t matter if they are happy or sad). So the movie is about a Hollywood Actor played by Daniel Craig who following the death of his childhood best friend, reflects upon his life and the decisions he made in the past. It is one of the most brilliant performances of Daniel Craig and Harry Eden who play the central character of old and young Joe Scott respectively. The final scene almost always makes me teary eyed when Daniel Craig writes a letter to his best friend’s wife in which he writes the lyrics of the song they shared years back. And in the movie scene the song plays in the background as he writes it and also while she uncontrollably cries after reading it, which is

“Shake your hair girl with your ponytail,

Takes me right back, when you were young”

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My current situation or the blog cannot be compared to the movie, because fortunately no one died for me to write this blog, its heart felt tribute to the memories I was fortunate to have had experienced for all these years and a tribute to all the people who positively impacted my life. Earliest memories I love is obviously from when I was a school going kid, playing and enjoying without any care in the world. Such brilliant were those days when I didn’t worry about getting a job, choosing a career and what not. Only major worries I had were of missing my favourite cartoons, not getting enough time to play with my friends and being forced to eat vegetables I absolutely hated. These early years would not have been the same without Sabbir and Jerry, my chuddy buddies who I grew up with in Fire Salvage, Cotton Green.

Frankly speaking I hated the last few years of school, I didn’t hate my school but I did hate the people I went to school with, although there are only a couple of exceptions to that hate list. Only reason the final years of school were worthwhile was because of Meghnad, my friend, philosopher and guide without him I couldn’t have survived those dreadful people. And I thank my stars and him for his uninterrupted presence in my life since school till now, and for standing beside me through my thick and thin.

When I was a kid I wished that I would grow up quickly but once grown up I realized that growing up is a really cruel thing that can happen to anyone. The loss of innocence, expectations of being more mature and the weight of responsibilities thrust on your shoulder are enough to make anyone invent a time machine. Whatever the hardships one faces while growing up, they seem to be a bittersweet once you have reached a certain age because those experiences teach you valuable lessons. As I mentioned before, I did hate my school years but no such feeling about my college days. In words of Bryan Adams, those were the best days of my life, mainly because I found my BFF’s/ brothers from another mother while I was in Ruparel & St. Xavier’s. Sidhesh, Prajit, Mayuri, Gaurav & Sukanya are one of the few people I really love and would wish that they are a part of my life till my last breath. There were others who I thought would share the same position but alas they missed the bus called ‘Trust’ & ‘Integrity’ and I had to immediately distance them from my circle of trust, for good. Anyways, Final year of college was the best because St. Xavier’s gave me a better academic experience than my previous college and gave me a chance to be friends with a few special people!

Another crucial phase of my life was the years I spent in New Delhi preparing for the Civil Service exams, they were as tough as Delhi’s weather, but they taught me valuable lessons in life which I shall not forget. I’m forever indebted to my parents and Vrunda Tai (my God & my mentor) for their continuous and unending support and guidance; I haven’t given up on my dream yet, will get there eventually. In Delhi as well, friends played a great role in helping me endure and enduring along with me. Srishti a.k.a. Chottu Saxena first person I befriended in Delhi, whom I absolutely adore and love, thanks for always being there for me. Big thanks and cheers to Abhishek a.k.a. Shaikh miya for being himself and providing me with priceless advice time and again. Delhi ‘thank you’ list is incomplete without thanking Meghnad once again, gem of a person, really lucky to him in my life.

This year is final year of MILS which I really want to enjoy and cherish as much as I can, because after this the real struggle of life shall begin. Hopefully, it won’t be much of a struggle as long as I have the support and company of the amazing folks I mentioned above in my life 🙂

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Summer @ Greaves Cotton Ltd.

Posted: July 7, 2014 in MILS

Summer @ Greaves Cotton Ltd.

Summer Internship began as soon as the dreadful exams came to an end. I got a chance to intern at Greaves Cotton Ltd. and I specifically asked for me to be placed at a factory so as to gain exposure to I.R. And hence after 2 days of briefing at the corporate office in Mumbai I travelled to Aurangabad to report to AEB Light Engine Unit (LEU) – I. Luckily for me, Vaibhav stays at Aurangabad and he helped me finding a place to stay. As for Aurangabad’s weather, it is as awful as Delhi’s, so I didn’t have much issues adjusting to it, mostly because Veebz gladly provided me a Desert Cooler. Acknowledgements are meant to be at the end but hell, this is my blog, so Thanks a ton Veebz, and I seriously couldn’t have survived Aurangabad without your help. Thanks to Ishan and Darshan for helping me clear some difficult concepts which I came across. And special thanks to Sachin Nagre, for advising me to intern at a Plant instead of a corporate office, your advice meant a lot and surely helped a lot. Thank you 🙂

Anyways, I reported to the GM HR from 3rd May and Mr. Khisti (Sr. Mgr.) was assigned as a mentor to me. I was given a proper induction tour of the plant and the shop floor and I was even introduced to the HOD’s of the various departments. It is a huge plant and really old as well, after all it’s the Mother Plant of the Automotive Engine Business. I even got a chance to visit LEU V located at Shendra, it is a remarkable plant, brilliance. The LEU I plant and its premises are beautiful and the canteen food is by far the best I have tasted during my industrial visits.

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I began working on my project to build a procedure for redressing employee grievances as soon as the induction ended. I was asked to Benchmark the best practices prevailing in the similar industries in and around Aurangabad. This internship was however different from my previous one mainly because Khisti Sir asked me to get my concepts cleared up by reading up some literature on IR. This helped a lot in getting my basics right and consequently I prepared a specific questionnaire and visited these industries to get the questionnaire filled up. The response from the concerned persons at these companies was awesome and I got a clear idea as to what I would imbibe while creating the policy.

This internship taught me a lot about IR activities and practices of this field. Apart from the project I was assigned, I took part in various other activities in the plant. I assisted Mr. Pravin Joshi in Training Feedback Analysis and Evaluation, he elucidated the stages of Training & Development and how the evaluation and effective analysis is done after the training gets over. For my work in helping clear the Training Analysis Backlog, Pravin sir gave me a PanchaTatva ‘Responsibility’ card & not just that, he also gave me priceless tips and advice on a daily basis, which shall be helpful for me in my career. Special mention has to be made of Mr. Dhiraj Jain, Safety Officer at Greaves Aurangabad who helped a lot with whatever doubts that I ever had. Thank you two for guiding me & I wish you good luck in your future endeavors. Special thanks to Khisti Sir for appropriately mentoring me 🙂

Out of the 60 days I was there, I must have taken only 3-4 off days, not because I had to, but because I wanted to work and learn. And I worked, worked like a machine! I was there for a purpose and I didn’t plan on resting until the goal or any work I was assigned was achieved. And I can honestly say, Mission Accomplished! 😉

Submissions, Annual Day & Exams!

We had our final out of town visits in the month of March which meant we had more visits to write in our Journals. There was a mad rush to complete the journals and if that wasn’t enough, we also had our class assignments and home assignments! Now that I look back I think I should have completed my journals as soon as each visit was over. Nevertheless the journal was completed and submitted on time. Whew!

After that the 1st year of LNML MILS officially came to an end with the Annual Day function held in the college Auditorium. The chief guests for the function were Padmashree Dr. Shashank Joshi (President, Association of Physician of India) and our very own Dr. Rajan Tungare (Director, Maharashtra Institute of Labour Studies). The various award winners were felicitated with certificates and also various cultural activities were held after the function. It was an extremely proud moment for me as I received the “Mr. MILS” award at the hands of the Chief Guests. 😉 Although it was a bit sad to see that it was also a farewell for our senior batch. I wish them all Best of Luck for their careers and future endeavors. 🙂

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The month of April was a bit dreadful for we had our final exams of our 1st year. Some papers went well because of the predictions made after going through the last 3 years question papers, but a few papers were unfortunately surprising because of the new questions asked. Those surprising questions were successfully dealt with using creativity, innovation and more creativity. I’m glad that my attendance was more than 90% otherwise the creative juices wouldn’t have flowed in the exams. 😛

Overall my experience of 1st year LNML MILS was awesome! So now I’m off to Aurangabad for my Summer Internships at Greaves Cotton ltd for two months. More about it after I return to my beloved city 🙂