Friday, March 25, 2016

Vultures and the Blank Cheques

This time the blog has a unique and unusual title. It may sound illogical and hilarious but the blog is on a serious topic. It took me many days to finally write this piece. Let me start with the definition of the word Vultures.

Vultures are, "Vulture is the name given to two groups of scavenging birds of prey: the New World vultures, including the Californian and Andean condors; and the Old World vultures, including the birds that are seen scavenging on carcasses of dead animals on African plains."  according to Wikipedia.

As for blank cheque,is a Negotiable instrument (technical term for cheques, drafts, etc) where the name of the Payee may or may not be written, the sum of money to paid is left blank but is signed. It can therefore be en-cashed for any amount the en-casher feels like.

Now, that both these terms, Vultures and Blank Cheque have been put in the right context. let me progress.

Many unfortunate deaths occur in this country for various reasons like accidents, mob violence, suicides, etc. There may be public reactions but the people in politics are generally oblivious of them. Their concern  kicks in only and only when these deaths bring with them an opportunity.

Without being judgemental I would highlight my point. A young boy committed suicide in HCU. Many boys and girls are committing suicide in academic institutions in this country including in IITs, NITs and various other such places. Failure of the institutions and the families of the children doing such act should have been the subject of discussion.

In another incident a man was killed by a mob for alleged consumption of some kind of meat. All killings which happen for political, religious or any such other reasons need condemnation including what happened in Delhi in 1984. It also must be remembered that in villages and towns, the reasons advanced for such acts are merely fronts put up to justify the act while the actual reason could be sheer settling the old score.

In yet another incidence some boys tried to carry out a memorial function for a person who was  hanged by the state (illegally and wrongly, so they claimed) not after Kangaroo court verdict (which is the case always in the countries from where these boys and girls and their political masters draw inspiration and it is must note point) but after verdicts at all levels of Judiciary and after exhausting all channels of appeals and pardon request. They also used this occasion to raise not the anti government but anti national slogans (remember anti govt slogans is legitimate opposition to the govt  but slogans against a nation in that nation is sedition any where in the world).

Irrespective of which end of political spectrum one belongs, very logical action for all of us was for case one demand that the problems in education institutions resulting in frustration among students which leads them to commit such acts like suicide must be identified and acted upon. As for case 2, it was a pure law and order issue and no action except demanding that gulty must be brought to justice was in order. As for case 3, it needed thorough investigation and each of these students should have been tried as per the gravity of their act and law should have taken its own course (remember all these students were well past teen age, way beyond Juvenile justice act and were fully aware of what they were doing).

But if logic is a way for human beings, Vultures are not humans, they fly high and have a very sharp eye to detect any food in the wide swath of their vision. As soon as the detect food they swoop down from no where and hunt the food or eat already dead animal etc.

This is what precisely happens. The vultures sense the opportunity. They all individually or collectively swoop down on the target and that is where the behaviour of these vultures in human shape is different from the vultures of the animal kingdom.

Human type vultures are looking for opportunity to convert an event, any event having smallest of potential, in to a Blank cheque which can be en cashed immediately for petty gains, (however much unfortunate the incidence may be) or for encashment at an later time. The nation, the propriety or the correctness may be damned.

The moot question is, is it a new phenomenon? it is really not, such vultures in human shape existed for all the generations but it is only this era that their presence is noticed in large numbers and they seem to be rushing from one blank cheque to another with out worrying about the consequence of their acts for the public in general and the nation in particular. Some even create an event where none exists and then try to encash the cheque of the opportunity.

God save us from these birds of prey or rather birds of preying on events to make them Blank Cheques. The blog looks cryptic? that is how it is intended to be.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Konkan Coastal Journey by Car - A Road Travel Report

I have just finished 4 days Konkan Trip driving my car with three passengers. While outbound journey was by traditional route, the return journey was truly a journey on coastal road.

Prior to journey, during planning, I did lot of research (obviously using Gogale Devta) but got very sketchy information about full route, some information in bits and pieces was though available. That made me to take a resolve to do this journey and put a very informative post to bring in clear picture / advice for others.

The verdict even before completing this post - take this road at least one way if not both ways, even to Goa. You avoid bad traffic (but you may encounter bad roads in few patches) and the peace of mind due to scenic beauty and sea shore for company. You will never regret it.

Our out bound travel was on conventional lines, Super express, Goa Highway and State Highway. Our return leg started at Ganpati Pule in Ratnagiri district and finished at my home in Colaba, Mumbai after a 2 days drive, one stopover, 4 ferry boats across the rivers / creeks. The total coastal run was 397 km except a small patch of few km between Dabhol and Dapoli where I took SH 96 on  local advice rather than MH SH 4.

See the map for the whole route below-


If one looks at time, distance and Road used chart, this is how it appears:-


Time - Distance - Road Used Chart
05-Mar-16
Time Location Km ex GP Road Used
1040 Left Ganapati Pule 0
1110 Reached Jaigad Ferry Jetty 20.5 MH SH 4
1130 Landed at Tavsal Jetty 20.5 MH SH 4
1155 Hedavi Dashbhuja Ganesh 31 MH SH 4
1215 Left Hedavi 31 MH SH 4
1250 Reached Vadyashwar Guhagar 54 MH SH 4
1405 Left Guhagar 56 MH SH 4
1435 Reached Dhopave Ferry Jetty 71.6 MH SH 4
Missed ferry, next at 1515 MH SH 4
1525 Reached Dabhol 71.6 MH SH 4
Anjarli via Dapoli SH 96 / MH SH 4
Anjarli Kelshi (un-numbered road) un-numbered
1650 Get on to Velas Kelshi road 124 VK road
Got on to Kuccha Road at Panhali Block Kuccha Road
Reached Sakhari - Better road un-numbered
1830 Reached Velas 165.2 un-numbered
1830 left Velas 167 un-numbered
1955 Reached Vesavi Jetty 173 un-numbered
2015 Landed at  Bagmandala Jetty 173 un-numbered
2030 Reached Harihareshwer 178 un-numbered
06-Mar-16
Time Location Km ex GP Road Used
1000 Left Harihareshwer 178 un-numbered
Shrivardhan town Sh 99
1145 Reached Dighi Jetty 227 Srivardhan - Dighi road
1215 Landed at Agardanda Jetty 227 un-numbered
1235 Rajapuri Parking (Murud fort) 235 un-numbered
1515 Left Rajapuri 235 Revdanda Murud road
Revdanda Revdanda Alibag Road
Alibag NH 166A
1745 Stopped at Poynad 302 NH 166A
Vadkhal Naka NH 66
Kasarbahr - Dolghar Switch to SH 104 / NH 348
to Belapur NH 348A
Belapur Vashi Palm Beach road
2057 Reached Home (Colaba) 397 Sion Panvel HW and EF Way
Now let me switch to Step by Step description of the trip.

Day I - 05 March 16

Stage I - Ganpati Pule to Guhagar.

This part of the trip was done on MH SH 4 (also called Sagari Mahamarg) all the way from Ganpati Pule till Guhagar. It is a real coastal road with attended delight of having sea nearly running parallel to you through out the journey.

The road surface is mostly good and in some places it is drive-able. However approaches to Jetty / exit from jetty for about 4 to five km on either side are narrow and the the road surface is poor at both Jaigad and Tavasal,

Fare Rs 230 for car+driver and 3 passengers

Time that we spent on road works out to be 1 hour 50 minutes including Ferry travel time which is reasonable considering the travel is mostly on two lane undivided road and some times even narrow single lane road.

The map of the travel looks something like shown below:-



If the map is studied properly, it emerges that travel time using MH SH 4 that we used and MSH 4 (major SH 4) seen inland is the same. The gain however is, Mh SH 4 distance is less (54 vs 76 km) so less fuel expense and also the company of water front, scenic beauty  and ferry crossing are bonus.

Guhagar has famous Vyadeshwer temple, a very beautiful Shiva temple and a Durga Devi Temple. This place also has a pristine beach which we did not visit (middle of the day is not a time to visit a beach.

Stage II - Guhagar - Velas Via MH SH 4.

Initial stop was Dhopave to catch a RORO ferry to Dabhol (Enron fame, incidently, Enron Power Station is in Dhopave and not in Dabhol). Left Guhagar at 1405. Guhagar to Dhopave (about 16 km) was done in was done by MH SH 4 in 30 min. We reached Ferry Jetty at 1435 and thus missed the 1430 ferry by 5 min. Had no option but to wait for 1515 ferry.

Fare Rs 160 for car+driver and 3 passengers

Taking 1515 ferry we reached Dabhol at 1525. Continued on MH SH4 but after a few kilometers where MH SH4 and SH 96 branched out (with SH 96 being inland) we took SH 96 for Dapoli on local advice instead of MH SH4 as we were told its surface is bad in that stretch. From Dapoli we were back on MS SH4 till Anjarle - Murdi via Murud and  Harnai. Road surface of MS SH4 and SH 96 were good on this stretch.

We reached Murdi and the nightmare started. We took a un-named road which was scenic but narrow and with mostly poor surface till Kelshi. At Kelshi the road improved as it was laid fresh but right in the middle of the village the road was blocked for relaying. We took a detour through narrow unpaved roads and came on to Kelshi - Velas road which was nothing better.



Continuing on Kelshi Velas road till the bridge on river crossing we came across a junction of a road going straight and a road going left. We took the left road on Google Maps navigator's advice. Since it looked coastal we also felt this to be right road. This is where our nightmare became of highest level like the image below



It was narrow, going mostly parallel to the route that we took from Kelshi, just that it was across on the other bank of the river. Worst thing was there was no surface at all. It was all Bauxite filled rad soil with tracks such as made by bullock carts. Two vehicles could not cross without one reversing and creating space for other.

Driving on that road, if it can be called one, was a test of driving skills, vehicle and also patience. We felt stupid on that road but more than that we felt bad for villagers staying there. It was in Velas that we were told that we should not have taken the left turn from the bridge and continued straight on tar road which was supposed to have been better!
Route Not Recommended - Very Bad Road
Finally the road improved at Sakhari, about ten km from start of this road and continued till Velas. Roads around this area look to be bad anyway because any route I selected on google maps after this journey showed a time of 45 min to 1 hr for 17 to 22 km distance. However, the road we took was the "King of bad Roads". Recommended route is as shown (even if we loose travel on coast, it is OK).

Recommended Route

We reached Velas by 1830 by the time the Tortoise Release effort was over but no hatched tortoise were found then. Thereafter we visited Mr Mohan Upadhaye's house for a small documentry on Turtle hatching on Velas Beach and left for Harihareshwer by 1930.

Stage III - Velas _ Hariharishwer.

Route between Velas and Harihareshwer (Via Vesavi - Bagmandala Ferry) is given below :-



The comment given earlier about approaches to / from Jetty are true for the whole route. They are narrow and have badly maintained surfaces.

Fare Rs 160 for car+driver and 3 passengers

Taking 2000 ferry, we reached Bagmandala and thereafter reached Harihareshwer at 2030 hrs. Thus our first day tryst with Coastal Road (in MH SH 4, Some SH and Some unnamed roads) finished in a total of 10 hrs time including halts.

Day II - 06 March 16.

Stage I Harihareshwer - Murud Janjira.

The travel plan was to go from Harihareshwer to Murud Janjira (Rajapuri) via coastal highway and then cut across to Roha - Pali and then to Super Express for Mumbai for a faster return trip to Mumbai.

But it is said that the man proposes and God disposes (mostly for good though). Our car was giving mechanical trouble since last two days while reversing. As we started from Harihareshwer at 1000 hrs the same trouble started appearing while driving forward too. That got us worried about our plans. More about it later. The route map for this stage is as shown:-



Except for the worries on mechanical trouble, the journey was smooth. The road surface (with exception to jetty approaches) was very good. Roads were reasonable wide too.

We crossed Srivardhan by SH 99. Srivardhan to Dighi Jetty was done by Srivardhan - Dighi road via Borali (Boralipanchatan). Again beautiful road through hills, woods and sea shore. We reached Dighi Ferry Jetty (last Boat crossing on the trip) at 1145 hrs. It took us one hr 45 min for a stretch of 50 km despite good road due to keeping speed under 50 km/hr because of the worries about car.

A word about Ferry to Agardanda. For quite some time a ferry runs between Rohini, further down the road on the right turn from Dighi road, to Agrdanda. Time table of which is given below

Add caption

There used to be only passenger ferry between Rajapuri and Dighi. However, in last few months, a car ferry between Dighi and Agardanda has been started. The boat has a romantic name called Dighi Queen. I could not obtain time table for this service on the internet but it can be obtained contacting the Service office at 9028223139, 8805635675 and 02147227622. The fare was Rs 200 for Car +Driver and Three Passengers.

We took 1200 ferry from Dighi  to Agardanda, reached in 15 minutes and then proceeded to Rajapuri parking after another 20 min drive (from where boat is taken for Murud Janjira Fort). We had already contacted Tata Motors and they were deputing a mechanic for inspection of the car at Rajapuri Parking. Since the mechanic was coming, I had to stay there, rest could go to the fort.

I got the car inspected by the mechanic who found the problem and said that it should be repaired. But he was of the view that I can drive it on my own risk at speed less than 60 km/hr with negotiating curves slowly to Mumbai. He further advised to take the Alibag route and not Roha Pali route since mechanical assistance from garages was available on Alibag route and not the other one which passes through Jungle (as per his input).

That disposed off our plan for quicker return junking coastal road (See God desired that we complete the journey through the coast only). After this activity, only thing left for me, as I had decided to take that risk of driving to Mumbai, was to wait till my people come back from the Fort. They returned by 1500 hrs.

Stage II - Rajapuri - Kashid - Alibag - Vadkhal - Colaba.

Our final journey in our affair with the coastal road started at 1515 hrs. Road was mostly good throughout. very few patches while crossing villages and towns enroute were bad. Despite mechanical trouble with the car it was possible to do 60 km and below throughout. The route of stage II took us through beautiful landscape as can be seen in the map.




We made rapid progress and stopped at Poynad at 1715 for refreshment after crossing Kashid and Alibag. Leaving Poynad we crossed Vadkhal at about 1850 and reached home via NH 166A, SH 104 (also called NH348) and NH 348A, Palm Beach road, Sion Panvel highway and finally Eastern Freeway. We finally reached home at 2057 hrs (before 2100 hrs). The good news was that the car held its ground and got us home safely.