Saturday, December 27, 2008

When Sai Baba got angry with me

I am the elder son in the house and I have my one own personal younger brother who I hate to say is more intelligent than me. However this blog is not about me or him or my family, here I have just tried to describe the most dreadful moments of my 3 day trip to Shirdi.

Why I mentioned about my brother in the beginning it was because he is in some way responsible for our screwed up journey. He finished his Engg. recently and as I told you that he is quiet smart which earned him a employment in the company Tech Mahindra at Pune, he was to join there on the 18th of December and my parents decided to visit Pune while he joins to his first job.

I am from Jaipur and I m in Bangalore from last 8 years, I did my Engg from Bangalore and now I am into my job, I am married and partially settled here, My wife was pressurizing me from a very long time for us to pay a visit to Shirdi Sai Baba, so we made a 4 day program originally bu

t since my family was also visiting to Pune almost at the same time, me and my wife decided that why not we make a program to Pune at the same time so that we could meet my parents, we cancelled our original program and scheduled a new 3 day program which could be in sync with my family’s plan.

 But you are already aware about how bad IT sector is right now due to recession, so Tech Mahindra decided not to take anymore fresher in this year and they deferred my brother's joining date for an indefinite period, just a week before our voyage, now the trouble was that we could not have rebooked our original journey due to unavailability. So we decided to carry on with the passage via Pune. The program was 18th evening start to Pune, 19th reach Shirdi and stay there for the night, 20th come back to Pune and then directly go to Lonavala and catch train back to Bangalore.

1. To Pune - We started at 8:10 at the sundown by Udyan express, we had booked the tickets for the sleeper class (Biggest mistake), the train was remarkable, our seats were near the restroom and it was stinking all the way till Pune, I was traveling after 3 yrs in a train so did not know that superiority of the sleeper class has hit so low that it seemed like a general class, I think the whole train was in our compartment, people without ticket, people with waiting list bla bla bla.

2. To Shirdi - The nightmare soon got over after roughly 20-21 hrs when we reached Pune at around 4:30 in the late afternoon, we decided that we will grab any means to reach Shirdi as soon as possible, we kept enquiring for the bus and train schedules to Shirdi but there were none due to weekend rush, at last we got last seats in Pune-Indore sleeper AC bus for 250/- per person, we were quiet thankful that we at least can relax in sleeper coach BUT there was something else for us in the box, the distance from Pune to Shirdi is about 180 km but its takes approximately 5 hrs to arrive at, HOW ??? Because of the poor roads, the whole night me and my wife had our worse nightmare, we had an experience of mother of all bouncy rides.

3. In Shirdi - We reached Shirdi at around 1 AM in the hours of darkness, Let me tell you about Shirdi, the place is very packed but the management is good along with the natives, they are peaceful, they are supportive. We got down in front of the Sai Baba temple and we didn’t have to look for for the hotel because there are plenty around the Temple, so we checked-in to one of the hotel, the room charge was 800/- per day which was very high but all other rooms which we saw were pitiable, even our room was not worth 800/- but it looked much superior than the other rooms, prices were high might be because of the weekend crowd. So we settled down and had GOOD NICE SOUND nap after a very extensive time in last 24 hrs.

    We got up with the first light at around 8, we got ready by 9 and started for the temple visit,

 we did not take our Camera or Mobile phones because they are not permissible inside the temple any longer and there is a queue of around 1 km to lease a locker to deposit the same, we reached small market kind of a place which is in front of the temple entrance where all the  necessary things for the Puja are available, there we bought what all was compulsory for Darshan and then we entered in the temple, the place of worship was very very clean and well supervised and because it was Saturday it was pretty packed so it took us almost 2 hrs to finish Darshan, we came out and had brunch near the temple.

After the lunch we went to a travel agency to book our trip back to Pune (Lonavala can be reached only via Pune) and we didn’t want any nonsense to be repeated so we asked for VOLVO seater bus tickets and we bought 2 tickets for 400/-, bus was at 2:30, here also we got last 2 seats but since it was sitting we thought it will be just all right.

4. Back to Pune - When bus came it looked overwhelming from exterior, it was GOA tourism dept. bus and it was going to GOA via Pune. But when we entered in the bus, it was the most terrible, dreadful and disgusting bus I had ever seen in my life, Seats were wrecked, seat covers were covered in some black shit, window curtains had some kind of fungus, they looked as if they are not washed from 1902, I told my wife its ok just 5 hrs, lets deal with it. So the bus started, and after 15 minutes our legs were almost on fire and we realized that the AC vent of the bus was just below our legs and it was gusting out air within the bus on our legs at the temperature of about 100 degrees to only those 2 seats taken by 2 of us!!! Why us, did we do something immoral??? Is Baba annoyed with us!!! I don’t make out ….. More to it was that the top speed of the bus was just over 30 km, so it took that hopeless bus 7 MOST hideous hrs to reach back Pune.

 GOA tourism SUCKS, Maharashtra Travel agencies SUCKS.

 5. Back Home - It was 7:30 in the evening and now we had to reach Lonavala to enjoy the panorama which we could not anymore since we dint have time and addition to that we had to catch the train back to Bangalore at 11:55 PM from Lonavala, yes I know it was one hell of a screwed up preparation but it wasn’t completely our blunder. So we started to Lonavala by Pune Lonavala Local and reached Lonavala in an hour at around 10 in the night, Lonavala is a tourist place but its station is sad, it does not have anything, at least when we reached there it was a dead stillness no one was there, each train stops here for just 5 min, may be not even that long.

 At 11:55 we boarded "Chalukya express" till Yashwantpur (Another blunder), the train was ok, sleeper class was much cleaner then the Udyan express, we reached Bangalore by 10 and home by 11 in the night,

 I shared all this with you so that next time if you or your friends are visiting this place, you will go well geared up;

 Following are the few points of wisdom from my experience.

 # Never go to Shirdi Via Pune if you are starting from Bangalore, go directly to Kopargaon which is 18 km from Shirdi, and its 21 hrs from Bangalore by Karnataka express.

 # If you are going from Pune to Shirdi never go in the bus whether its AC, Sleeper AC or VOLVO, it will be very painful and it will take extra time too, better option would be to hire a car or a taxi.

 # Don’t go with mobile phone or camera when you are going to Shirdi Sai Baba temple because they are not permitted and you will have to be in a stretched LONG queue to hire a locker for them.

 # Always reserve at least 3 tier AC train tickets because they are dirt free, safe and not at all packed with needless people, they give you head support and blankets so you can actually relax in your complete expedition.

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