Rickshaw or a lounge? you decide

In this modern era of technology, when Uber and Ola have overtaken auto rickshaws, this tuk-tuk still is the centre of attraction among Mumbaikars. It is customised to meet the needs of today's generation. 

We can live without water but not mobile and mobile is worthless without internet so, this auto rickshaw offers free wifi while you take a ride. Low on mobile balance? It has a PCO phone to allow calling. Well, that's not free and no international calling please.

Senior citizens enjoy rides at discounted rates and so do newly married.

Sandeep Bacche, the man who owns the rickshaw flaunts a big tattoo of Bollywood actor Sanja Dutt on his arm. Sanju Bhai helped Sandeep while his mother was fighting with cancer. Since then, Sandeep only swears by Sanju Bhai. 

 Sanjay became Sandeep's fan after Sandeep asked him to discontinue financial and medicinal assistance as his mother had died. 

Sandeep is known for his honesty and big heart as he serves free food to patients in hospitals.

He has a message for all - God is one, no matter what form we see him in. The man with no religion is proud to be INDIAN.
Every day, he updates gold, silver and currency rates on the display board for his customers.

Smoking is injurious to health and smell undesirable to co-passengers, so pick one complimentary sweet for the benefit of both. 

Women and mirror are indivisible. And to make the best use of the mirror, an Oriflame Sweden make up kit is rightly placed in front of the seat. Mind you, this too is complementary.

Newspapers and magazines in this autorickshaw will keep you from boredom.

Indians can't survive without a chai. He carries with him a flask of hot tea which costs Rs 5 a cup.

Mumbai gets India's first LGBT driven cab service

 For Sanjeevani Chauhan's life had never been so easy. From begging at Mumbai traffic lights, she has come to be trained as a driver for India's first taxi service operated by members of LGBT community.

Ganesh Somwanshi, project director for Wings Rainbow says one transgender or a gay person driving the cab in Mumbai has the capability to inspire other transgender begging on the streets. Consequently, they would like to be part of the change.

The LGBT community is badly sidelined despite the fact that they are legally recognised by India.

It took Ganesh around two months to get everyone on board. Post research, they had to identify gays, lesbians and transgender who were willing to be part of the project. They were a little apprehensive as they were afraid customers would use their cab service or take them seriously.

Pallav Patankar, director of programmes at Humsafar said, "Post NALSA judgment, LGBTs were constitutionally given all the rights, but we had to find out ways to implement this on a grassroots level."

He has been working for around 20 years promoting the rights of the LGBT community and empowerment of community through computer literacy classes, vocational training, and convincing corporations to invest in jobs for the LGBT.

"They have a right to work and live like everyone else. We need to build their capability and at the same time sensitise the general public towards accepting them in such roles", said Patankar.

Wings Travel and Humsafar Trust, a Mumbai-based NGO that promotes the rights of India's gay community, launched the pilot phase of the Wings Rainbow initiative by registering Chauhan and four others.

These five members of LGBT community will initially apply for a learner’s licence. In next 9 to 12 months which is the time taken to get a permanent driving license, they will be imparted training on customer etiquette.

Arun Kharat, founder-director of Wings Travels and Management said, “We want them to eventually become entrepreneurs and become owners of these vehicles. We wish to ensure that the LGBT community in India enjoys the same rights and income opportunities in India as their counterparts in western countries.”

According to Mr Kharat, Wings Travels operates roughly 5,500 radio taxis in nine cities. These cities include Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Nagpur and Ahmedabad.

Kharat hopes to enrol 1,500 people from LGBT community across all nine cities.

School where all children are ambidextrous

One child in a million is ambidextrous and can write with both hands. But at a school called Veena Vandini in Singrauli district, it's a custom.

All students of this school can effortlessly write with both hands. The school is up to 8th standard and was started by a former soldier, VP Sharma, on July 8, 1999.

"I was travelling in a bus when I read in a magazine that President Rajendra Prasad could write with both hands. This inspired me a lot and I tried it. Later, I launched Veena Vandini school at my native village, I started training my students and today, we have the results," said Sharma.

"Students receive training after they enter class 1 and by the time they reach class 3, they can efficiently write with both hands. Students of class 7 and 8 can capable of writing with speed and accuracy. Not only that, they can write two scripts at the same time, one with each hand," he said.

The children are taught six languages that include English, Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit, Arabic and Roman.

In a period of forty-five minutes, fifteen minutes are devoted to writing practice.

With the strength of 300 students, the school boasts of 200 students who can effortlessly write with both hands. Rest of the students are still being trained.

Most of the students in the school are either Dalits or tribal. The school is located in a distant area, 15 km from Budhela village. Now, ambidexterity is part of the school routine.

Patna surfs porn on free WiFi at railway station

Patna can proudly say it tops the chart of the highest surfers on free WiFi at Patna railway station, unfortunately, surfing porn sites. 

"More than any other railway station in the country, where free WiFi service was launched, Patna railway station is on the top in the country for using internet search, particularly search for porn sites," an official of RailTel, a mini-Ratna public sector undertaking (PSU), said.

Patna is followed by Jaipur at the second position and then Bengaluru and New Delhi.

Railtel official said, "It was revealed from our records of use of data by users."

Patna station that comes under Danapur Division of East Central Railway has been the first station in Bihar to have the facility of free Wi-Fi. Over 200 trains pass through it daily and it is known to be one of the most crowded stations.

India’s first railway station to have free Wi-Fi facility was Mumbai Central.

Railtel officials claim that Youtube and Wikipedia are the most searched sites at Patna railway stations. "More than anything, porn sites have been watched and downloaded by the people at Patna railway station."

At the same time, there are others who used free wifi for downloading applications and Bollywood and Hollywood movies.

Currently, Railtel is offering 1 GB Wi-Fi at Patna railway station but it plans to increase it to 10 GB owing to low internet speed. The internet is used by passengers as well as young people who invariably spend hours at railway station to enjoy free internet.

Last month, free Wi-Fi services were launched Patna in Bihar, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Ranchi in Jharkhand.

So far free Wi-FI facility has been made available at 23 railway stations in the country. Railway minister Suresh Prabhu said that the government is committed to introducing the service at all important railway stations in the country in the following three years.

"By this year-end, the free Wi-Fi facility will be launched at 100 major railway stations. We will achieve our target of 400 stations in three years. Once in place, it will be the largest public Wi-Fi system in the world," Prabhu said.

The service to provide free high-speed internet was commissioned by RailTel, in association with Google.

The free WiFi service is being provided under 'Railwire' which is the retail broadband distribution model of Railtel.

Last year, Google India and Indian Railways collaborated to introduce high-speed Wi-Fi network at 400 stations in the country.

Addition to my favourites - Amber Vilas, Jaipur

Had been to Jaipur many times before but this time, we decided not to go anywhere and rather just stay inside the resort. Well, there could not be a better decision as the resort was a tourist spot in itself. It had its own-styled Chowki Dhani which opened between 5 and 11 pm. There was something for everybody - various types of dances, swings for kids, puppet shows, Mehandi, pottery, horse and camel ride, villagized bowling, street food and typical Rajasthani cuisines. 
It's beautiful, it's spacious and it looks like some toy world. 

That's the room we stayed in. Rooms are comfortable, with nice antique interior. 

No matter how you like other things, but greenery and space in the resort you would definitely love. If you plan to travel during the day, then don't come here. It is a destination in itself.

Swimming pool depth ranges between 3 feet and 5 feet. There are two small baby pools beside the bigger one. Depth of baby pool is appropriate but size should have been a little bigger. 

This lady here makes fresh Bajra chapatis and serves with garlic chutney (sauce) and gur (jaggery). Chutney tastes no different from Schezwan chutney. Do not overeat here as you will later be served with high in 'taste and quantity' dinner.

They played a trick here. Indians love their chai and pakodas at any cost so this combination here is not complimentary. 

Watching dholak thumping is no fun until it's accompanied by dance. His partner does that job. He makes you dance till you literally start sweating. 

You are literally made to feel "Atithi Devo Bhav", i.e. Guest is God. Have unlimited quantity of Rajasthan cuisines immersed in ghee or butter. At the end, we were served with small Jalebis. I gulped so many of those without any regrets.

I believe these pots are glued to each other but she commendably balanced it on her head.

Traditional puppet dance that you can see in Rajasthan only.
I am not really fond of puppet show but was thrilled to see how comfortably they do it with strings. 

Next time you go to Jaipur, spend a night at Amber Vilas too. I chose this over any five star hotel.

Went to Agra for Wyndham, not Taj

I visited Agra in the last week of July. Based on my previous experience, I again booked Wyndham Grand for my one night stay. And this time, it was all the more pleasant.
Built on 14 acres of land, the hotel is based on Mughal architecture with glorious display of terraced gardens, fountains and age-old interiors that transport you back to the epoch of emperors with advanced facilities.

 Extremely spacious, hotel offers unparalleled comfort, food and facilities for people of all age groups. 

 Blocks are called courts and are named after historical characters such as Noor Jahan, Jodhabai etc.

That's the entry to my room court.

 Each court has 16 rooms. That visible room on the first floor is where I stayed.

View of  the court interior from my room.
 This area remains unexplored by most of the visitors. Grass has overgrown owing to monsoon season. 

Spotted these antique telephone sets at the reception area.

They are not showpieces. They are absolutely functional.

 The best thing about the hotel is its pool which is open from morning till evening.  In the middle of the pool, there is an area where snacks are live cooked and served with beer.

The area is surrounded with bar stools which remain under water. It's an awesome experience for those who take pleasure in food and swimming together.

 Sunbathe or relax! whatever..

There is something for each age group.

Tennis and basket ball court for the game lovers. Do you need more reasons to visit this place?

Majuli, for nature lovers

Located amidst the river Brahmaputra in Assam, Majuli is a very large river island, which was once an integral part of the Jorhat district. Owing to floods and changed courses of the Brahmaputra, it cut off from the mainland.

Island is located at a distance of about 20 km from Jorhat town and about 200 km from Assam's capital city Guwahati. It is 90 kms long and 16 kms wide. 

  One can reach the place by ferries, which can be taken from Jorhat. Jorhat is very well connected with the major cities of India. It's airport, called Rowriah, provides direct flights to major cities of India. 

People from this thinly populated island mainly rely on agriculture, fishing, dairy, pottery, handloom and boat-making. The island is inhabited by tribal folk of the Mising tribe from Arunachal Pradesh. Other inhabitants are from the Deori and Sonowal Kacharis tribes. 

Here, we came across a sow feeding her piglet

It is clean and worth a visit for people who love nature in its original form. 

Greenery is all you see everywhere..

Days are short and people avoid outdoor activities at night fearing attack from animals. 

This is the cottage I stayed in. It is elevated so that I wake up safe next morning. On entire island, there was no concrete accommodation for tourists. These are the only best cottages on the land.

Mornings were awesome while nights were scary. My cottage was full of insects. All night, all I could hear was hum and buzzing of insects. My only friend at night was mosquito net which too had minor holes.

Looks like a postcard. Isn't it? That's the beauty of island.

You are served with simple and freshly cooked food that is prepared by tribal people who also run these guest houses. Recent reports suggest that housing has now transformed from traditional bamboo to concrete constructions.

Loved sharing my cottage with my new friends.

They loved my company as much as I did theirs. Pics are blurred, thanks to my old phone's low megapixel camera.

 They kept coming in and going out.

While we were en-route to Airport, our car got stuck in muddy water resulted from previous night rains. To my shock and surprise, this was what I sighted. It was Monday. I can't forget it ever.

A closer look...

The blogger is obsessed with self photography...