Monday, October 27, 2008

HotSpot - Another Mobile Store

Do we really need another mobile store... beats me.

I am quite amazed with this one ad that I saw on TV. A Marathon race, the clever guy instead of running faster to get the gold medal goes into a "HotSpot" store, buys a mobile and get a gold coin.

HotSpot - another mobile store and look what its offering to create the initiate hype. Gold or a Silver coin.

Whats amazing is the number of investors interested and committed to put in money in retail stores selling mobile and mobile accessories. 

The mobile store has not even stabilised. Its claim about being a one stop shop for mobile phones and accessories is far from near sight. You hardly have any option in 'The Mobile Store'.

Subhiksha Mobile is another one trying to do business... how successfully only time can tell. But it does not look healthy from an outsider perspective.

Now this is another one - HotSpot promoted by the Spice Group of Companies. From what I have heard, it existed from 2005. It started with 15 people and currently claims to employ 1200 people. The plan and ambition is to open 5000 outlets by financial year 2009-2010. 

Makes me wonder. Investments too follow herd mentality. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lehmann Brothers Vs Union Bank of India

It is quite a feeling when I look at the new brand campaign by Union Bank of India in a scenario where Lehman Brothers is no more, Merrill Lynch got sold off for a paltry sum and AIG is about to get liquidated.

In retrospect, everything seems so easy and stupidly missed. It is a commonly accepted fact that any financial institution needs a stable, low cost, least elastic source of funds to further invest and make money grow. And the stablest, least cost, least elastic fund is the money that the banks accumulate through the 'ordinary' savings accounts.

Investment Banking can best survive on retail savings account.

Everybody is writing the same in big bold letters now. What were they doing till now? What was the 'hep' investment banking hotshot 'Lehman Brothers' thinking for 158 years? Was this simple concept not taught in all the IIMs where Lehman Brothers used to be one of the top recruiters?

Union Bank of India on the other hand is the conservative, not so forward looking, slow to change bank. Interestingly UBI seems to be not bothered by the dipping liquidity scenario and spending over double the amount in media advertising and relaunching itself with a new look and logo.

Bank of Baroda has done it two years back. Canara Bank did it last year. And now Union Bank of India has also gone ahead and effected a brand repositioning by spending Rs. 75 crores.

What is the reason that almost all the supposedly MNC banks with all the best talent pool are getting impacted by the global liquidity crunch but the nationalised boring banks remain untouched?

Sometime I like to reason that human proactiveness is the cause. To sound more philosophical, progress is the cause. 

The smart quick thinkers are always short sighted. Tighter targets, Rat race to achieve those targets always leads to short-sightedness. Being restless to achieve targets, to achieve materialistic career ambitions is the reason.

Being cool and relaxed about life and not thinking about too much quick progress help avert short-sightedness by default. (Mind you, not by design)

Interesting thought. Isn't it? 

Friday, August 15, 2008

Another Addiction - Jennifer Connelly

Its been a long time that I could manage my time and write my thoughts down on to this beautiful human invention – blogs. You know what brought me here after so long an inertia. You know who could just not let me sit on my ass doing anything but write about her.

Jennifer Lynn Connelly – born: 12th December 1970 – immortal
A cat in whichever movie she acts and amazingly she stays in Catskill Mountains, New York.

I first noticed her only recently when I saw “Requeim For a Dream” on one of the movie channels. How could I not see her before. She has been in this world 6 years more than I have been.

RFD is a tale about the haunting lives of drug addicts and the subsequent process of decadence and destruction and is a must watch for people who loves drugs and its affect on movies. Yes there are people who get a hard on watching girls and boys tripping on drugs.

Jokes apart, it was a mind blowing performance for Jenniffer Connelly and she stole my mind (and heart but not so much as my mind). She also managed to steal a Spirit Award Nomination.

It was a fixation for me but then I thought there are so many other good (and good looking) actresses. Sharon Stone, Madhuri Dixit, Mallika Sherawat (!!?).. etc. Then one day “Blood Diamond” happened. Leonardo was brilliant but Jennifer Connelly struck me again. She IS good.

Immediately after Blood Diamond, another diamond of a movie came by me – A Beautiful Mind. I almost cried in the movie. Russel Crowe was brilliant as usual but Jennifer Connelly was brilliant too. I found that she is not only a good actress but she also selects great scripts, great directors and great movies. I was hooked.

I started hunting in the world wide web for the names of all the movies she has done till date. First movie I discovered was “Reservation Road”. I was startled. I remember watching this movie. How did I miss her and then I realised I cant remember the storyline. I was relieved. How could I remember Jennifer and the role she played if I cant retrieve anything about the movie?

I bought the DVD – Reservation Road. And watched it again as soon as I got back home. It was 11 PM and a Sunday, which means I had office the next day. Not giving heed to the monday, I watched the movie. As soon as the movie started, I recollected the storyline of the movie. And I could give full attention to Jennifer Connelly. Her emoting skills, Her beauty and everything about her. She was mind blowing. I was addicted to Jennifer Connelly.
I have drawn out a list of movies to watch in the next couple of days to come. This blog is for people who have not discovered Jennifer Connelly till now and for people who considers her as just another hollywood hottie. Watch her movies. All of them are above average and she is just great.

Few of the movies where I intend to devour Jennifer Connelly to avoid withdrawal symptoms:
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Phenomena (1985)
Labyrinth (1986)
Some Girls (1988)
√Čtoile (1988)
The Hot Spot (1990)
The Rocketeer (1991)
Career Opportunities (1991)
Mulholland Falls (1996)
Inventing the Abbotts (1997).
Dark City (1998)
Waking the Dead (2000)
Hulk (2003)

Hope to see you soon with some more writing ...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

CRAZZY 4 - Good movie and a great strategy !!

If I am right about what Mr. Rakesh Roshan is planning with his new release - Krazzy 4, he is a genius. He tried to do the same with Krish and now he is trying to do it with a better approach.

Contrary to the reviews, the movie is much better than most of our comedy brigade. If Partner, which was completely trashy, can be a hit, I wonder why crazzy 4 cant be a hit.

It has the best of actors in Irrfan Khan, Rajpal Yadav and Arshad Warsi. Acting was consistent and could beautifully carry the characters without deviation. Humour was not overflowing, stupid and unrealistic. The movie is based on 4 characters and so the humour was because of the nature, attitude and personality of the characters. Situational, genuine and of course very funny.

The movie is definitely worth a watch.

What really caught my attention in the movie is a clear strategy of Mr. Rakesh Roshan trying to introduce this whole concept of crazzy 4 as a brand. He has tried to create brands like 'Fantastic Four', Famous Five, 'James Bond'.

I am really surprised that none of the movie reviews have noticed or written about the same.

I wonder if the strategy would work but he did a good job. Firstly, he along with his director, Jaideep Sen etched the four character with utmost precision and clarity.

Character 1 - Gangadhar (played by Rajpal Yadav) is a Gandhian whose mind is stuck in a time warp. He thinks that the country is still a British colony and we must fight for its freedom. Character 2 - Dr. Chowdhury (played by Irrfan Khan) is an eccentric with an obsessive compulsive urge to keep everything clean and proper. He has the urge to think that he is the captain of the team and be the messiah to keep the society clean and better. Character 3 - Raja (played by Arshad Warsi) is a character suffering from perpetual and spontaneous anger, who cannot control his anger in support of the world view that he has. Character 4 - Dabboo (played by Suresh Menon) is a character who has suffered trauma in the past and is unable to talk and is perpetually scared of the world.

Secondly, the director has shown an emotional bonding between the 4 characters. Even though the characters are not in proper mental state, they understand each other. To top it all, the director has brought in the character of Dr. Sonali who is the Godmother for the crazzy 4. They would do anything for her and also listen to her without question out of respect and love. This makes a team and perfect for branding and making a series of movies on the team.

Thirdly, the movie has a lot of scenes that tries to preach morals and good principles. It is typical for a movie brand to preach high morals without being boring and by being acceptable to the society at large. It is also important that the brand takes relevant issues into consideration. For instance, it preaches patriotism. In one of the scenes, the movie screen-play makes everyone in the scene stand up and respect our national anthem. The scene is so entwined with the story that it is hardly preachy and boring. It also brushes through the issue of keeping our cities clean through the character of Dr. Chowdhury.

Lastly, the movie has a song after the end of the story which clearly tries to put forth 'Crazzy4' as a brand. Hrithik Roshan introduces Crazzy 4 with his excellent dance. The lyrics of the song is cleverly crafted to introduce Crazzy4 as a brand that is truthful, honest, daring and would fight for the good.

Break free gotta get some chhutti... Tod do zanjeeron ko…Break free get ready kyon ki…Aa rahe hain krazzy4; They may be nuts… but they’ve got guts... Woh hai paagal deewane; And they don’t care… if people stare…Laga dein sabko thikane…; They’ll make you drool… they ain’t no fool…Chant hain wo mastane…And if that’s mad… its just too bad…Sach hai ye solah aane; So if you wanna… yeah… yeah…Dil hai deewana… yeah… yeah…1 and 2 and 3 and 4…Swing it with me doston…. Break free gotta get some chhutti... Tod do zanjeeron ko…Break free get ready kyon ki…Aa rahe hain krazzy 4…

Great Song. And I hope it does its purpose. All the best, Mr. Roshan.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Shit! Katrina is my favourite too !!

Isn't she beautifulSo She is my new favourite bollywood heroine - the beautiful Katrina Kaif. And I find it that she has managed to win hearts across the board. During my many discussions about bollywood during office hours and off it, Katrina seems to have a positive impression among both genders and all age group.
She is not an Indian by birthplace. Her mom is a caucasian. Her dad is a Britisher, who was a Kashmiri. She can hardly speak Hindi or for that matter any other Indian language. Not so sure about Kashmiri. But my guess would be that she cannot manage Kashmiri either.
Above all that, she cant even act too well.. ya, she is improving every movie.. thats what every other movie critique says.

Everything notwithstanding, the fact is that she is popular and getting more popular day by day.
I hate the kind of movies she is making. All of them are too commercial and therefore nonsense and non art. But I watched 4 of them. I even went racing against time to watch RACE.
Let me tell you that it is not at all easy to find a way into my crazily choosy, expert in flaw finding, 'devil is in the detail' mindset.
What is Katrina that others aren't?
Firstly, irrespective of her origin and her language capabilities, she looks extremely Indian. She has that shy, innocent look that a stereotyped Indian woman is expected to have. Indian men prefers that look. Indian women does not envy that look that much. She is Smart but very Indian lookingEven in a western outfit, she looks Indian enough to carry off a bindi along with the dress. Indian men prefers that. Indian women takes it in awe.
Secondly, she seems to have the tendency to put on weight - very familiar to the Indian male as he would expect the same in a stereotyped Indian housewife. Indian women feels part of the same phenomenon.
When she was a model in UK, she was skiny and as fate would have it, she put on weight by the time she became popular on the big screen. That probably surely is clicking.
She looks sexy in a very Indian wayIts not a secret that Indian male fantasy revolves around bigger breast - boobs as we fondly call (biting the lower lip to give the full meaning out). You need to be well-endowed to look sexy and she(Katrina) is ravishingly well-endowed, as one of my dear friend would say (biting his lower lip).
There may be a few other well-endowed actresses but Katrina is different. You dont see her in vulgar, craving for sex kind of clothes and postures. That makes Katrina even more attractive.
Thirdly, behind her innocent veil she does not come across as kiddish and childish. She has been handling her (I would tend to say difficult) relationship with Salman Khan with great maturity. I have seen the media mess that was there when Sangita Bijlani and Somy Ali were linked to Salman Khan.
Not to forget that she has been paired with Akshay Kumar, not Salman Khan, as one of the most good looking couple on screen. Her biggest hits have come with Akshay Kumar. Even then she has hardly been on the news for the bad embarassing reasons. That speaks a lot.
So, Katrina Kaif is my current flame. She has the innocent expressive face, hour glass figure and drop dead gorgeous looks. And above all, it seems she is not easily intimidated by the glamour world, by her fame, by her relationships and by her being so very beautiful.
Enclosed are a few links if you want to see more of my favourite Katrina Kaif.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGofWPfUn7c

http://www.katrinakaif.org/

http://www.kaifkatrina.com/

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Meetings - A necessary evil !!

I have often realised that meetings are very potent tools to conclude something stupid, which individually no one participating in the meeting would have concluded.

I have never doubted the utility of meetings. It is an essential platform for all the depending parties to a particular conclusion to come together and take a responsible conclusion.

The question is if we need a means to make the process of a meeting fool-proof. Foolproof from the

  • herd mentality that at times creep into a meeting
  • strong personality swinging the meeting to his/her favour
  • super boss with a tendency to impose viewpoints
  • lack of interest that a few participating parties may have towards the point of discussion
  • and other such negative dynamics

From my experience, I think that we should take two meetings at least to arrive at a strategic decision.

Some might argue that there are always more than one meeting to arrive at a conclusion. They are right. However, I am not referring to meetings that conclude a process to execute a particular conclusion. I am referring to meetings that conclude a objective decision - Yes or No to a hypothesis. I am referring to meetings which give direction to a project, company or a brand. Usually such conclusions are taken in one meeting and the implementation of that conclusion takes many meetings.

My contention is that we should have at least two meetings to conclude on core strategic direction.

The first meeting should be

  • a discussion on the brief and problem at hand
  • followed by free brainstorming of ideas without any restriction
  • without any intention to conclude
  • moderated to avoid any imposing-one dimensional behaviour

The second meeting should

  • have presentations of viewpoints by each participating party in a structured manner
  • not permit any interuption during the presentations. Only questions for clarity by the audience should be allowed
  • have an incentive structured to acknowledge the best presentation arrived at through blind voting
  • Once all presentations are presented with, the meeting should analyse the pros/cons, scope and scale of the problem at hand and solutions suggested by each presentation.
  • Hence arriving at a conclusion with a much better grip on the problem at hand and repercussions of solutions suggested.

This kind of a process would prevent hasty decisions, emotional decisions, short-sighted decisions and give rise to pragmatic decisions with a good view of the future impact of the decisions.

Above all, this process should breed intellectual thinking in the organisation and improve confidence of the employees behind all major decisions.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Is Air Deccan now being run by an ego ?

Everytime I visit the airport, I get sick. I get sick of realising that the first low cost airline of India - Air Deccan is no more. It is simplifly Deccan or some such name.

It is not only some irrational emotion about my love for 'Air Deccan' but it is also my education that taught me brand marketing communication. In the case of Deccan I see brand marketing tragedy. I see short-sightedness and at the same time high-handedness.

Why would someone change the very established 'low cost', 'quintessentially rural' Deccan yellow-blue branding to the 'rich', 'quintessentially urban' Kingfisher red; unless the reds want to prove a point that they have deeper pockets. And can do anything.

Why would someone change the color, the website, the boarding passes, the uniforms, the badges, the nameplates and all corporate stationery but the NAME; unless the reds want to simply prove a point that they are in control. And the masses need to know that.

Why would someone serve Kingfisher mineral water in a Deccan flight, when the press release after the merger implied that Air Deccan would be treated as a separate brand addressing the low cost segment; unless the reds are managed by shortsighted managers and high-handed supremos always proving a point.

How do I tolerate such branding? How do I tolerate the demise of a great brand - Air Deccan for no fault of the brand?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Our work that makes Us !!

It was one day that it struck me like lightning that how mutated we gradually become because of the work we do. Mutation is not only about genes and chromosomes adapting to situation but also I kind of relate it to the way our brain mutates to adapt to the work situation that we do day in and day out.

Try talking to a software programmer of 10 years experience about abstract illogical creative thinking. He can hardly appreciate the same. For him, it sincerely appears to be utter bullshit.

Observe a creative copy writer or art director of 10 years experience in terms of his/her forgetfulness, casual undisciplined behaviour and attention span. He or she is generally absent minded, hates following rules and constantly seeks for newer things and these traits keep getting more and more prominent with experience. Unlike the programmer he would never get kicks out of logical thinking and outcome.

I have seen people who does defined operation work organised into an everyday process flowchart, becoming flustered and UN-easy when they are told to think for themselves and innovate. They are attuned to follow a particular schedule without any mistake, day in and day out. And they are good at it.

Talk to a sales guy of repute and experience. He would have the flair or habit of saying things to convince of his ideas to his/her friends. He increasing tends to stay in his selling mode even when he is not selling. More often he would blurt out things that are beneficially in the immediate short run, but may have adverse repercussions in the future.

I am not sure if I am completely correct in my analysis but one thing I would like to theorise is that every profession needs certain traits in the professional and those traits keep developing in an one track dimension, slowly killing certain other supposedly non critical traits in that professional. This leads to specialised lifestyles and reduce diverse thinking. It is getting more and more acute in today's highly knowledge oriented society and in cities like Mumbai where there is no time for anything else but your profession. It brings monotony and boredom.

This thought was like lightning to me because I for myself do not want to get straight-jacketed. My philosophy is to stay 'jack of all trades'; mastering one or two of them. Till now I have managed to do that. I have been growing myself into diverse but related functions. Advertising, Marketing, Online Marketing and now technology enabled marketing. But now what. I cant keep going to newer functions. I need to choose one or two of the above to be the constant in terms of my profession. If I do that, how do I maintain diversity?

The answer was immediate. I need to play more sports, read more books and go for more adventure trips. It may not be possible to maintain diversity in your profession but involving yourself in other extra-curricular activities would always give your mind the broad spectrum to develop and flourish.

Greatest PETA activist - Motor Engine

There must be some relation between bullock carts and Muharram. There were so many bullock carts on the road that day. It was hurting to see so many teary-eyed bullocks pulling carts loaded with healthy and hefty human males.

I dread to imagine the days when motor engines were not invented. Every motor existed were rotated by horses and bullocks. (and humans !!)

Thanks to the great Gottlieb Daimler and Rudolf Diesel that today I see the plight of the helpless bullocks only on special ocassion.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Women Molested - Two consecutive new years - WHY?

Unbelievable.
We saw women being molested by public for two successive years.

Media is full-on condemning the same and raising the consciousness that it is a heinous act and an extremely a bad thing to do. Women activist writing newspaper columns titled "Protect our Women", "Self defense is needed...", "Enhance policing system..." etc. Good thing. Will surely act positively to the society.

What is worrying is that I don't see any point of view on what is the root cause of such an act?

Are we saying that the molesters do not know that molesting is immoral? Impossible. Every sane human being knows that molestation is immoral.

I have two questions or you may say theories that try to explain these kinds of behaviour.

Is the female of our species over-exposing?
In both the incidents (2007 & 2008), the girls molested were not dressed appropriately. It is commonplace to see girls and not boys wearing sleeveless and short skirts (half pants for boys) to a party and more dangerously to places where there are chances of misbehaviour.

Firstly, this brings the point of taking care of oneself. I know that there is a chance of my purse being pick pocketed in a train. Even then if I am keep my purse very easy to be pick pocketed, then I am myself to be blamed. I need to keep my purse concealed and take care of the same.
Secondly, why do women expose? I refuse to believe that they are showcasing beauty. One can look beautiful in a saree. The fact is that women expose to look sexy. Perhaps they like being sexy or it is cool to be sexy. Whatever be the reason women have, we need to look at how the opposite sex is accepting this behaviour. We cant forget that human beings are sexual. A sexy look will give rise to sexual feelings.

Education (moral science classes in schools), social institutions like marriage, need to belong to a society and the wish to be considered a good citizen by the society tells us about not being sexual in public. They make us believe that a scantily clad woman is just to be admired (or have sex in your dreams !!). Somehow it does not tell the women folk to wear proper concealing clothes.

I am not against exposing. I don't subscribe to Burkha culture. But somehow exposing is incomplete in today's world of conventions favourable to women. Men cant reciprocate.

This leads to my second question (or theory).

Is the male of our species deprived of sex?
If you look at animal species (I know that they are not educated and so should not be compared with humans) the female of the species act sexually (kind of expose) during mating season and so they mate. It completes the cause and effect relationship.

In our society especially in Mumbai (as I have been staying in Mumbai for some time), we see tight dressing being accepted even for a 15 year old, figure hugging tops being the fashion, clever cleavage being the norm in parties. Dance bars until recently were the pride of Mumbai (and the must visit place for men tourist - unmarried or without wife). Prostitution is so open, rampant and inviting. But we know we should not indulge, as it is forbidden.

Do we ever give a thought what kind of effect all these sexual act of the female species have on the male psyche? More so, when it is a well etched mindset not to give in to these acts of the female species. Its like you make him thirsty and tell him that drinking water is not considered good.

The effect is nothing drastic like having an instant erection. It is very slow that we hardly notice.

This is a huge topic of discussion about the causes, effects and intent of women exposing, about why sex is not a taboo in western societies, about why prostitution is legal in some societies, about why divorces are being accepted more and more in our societies... I wont go in detail on what I think about all these societal phenomena.

I would just conclude that these rare instances have some relation to women exposing to look sexy and men not being given a chance to reciprocate to the same. In a mob, in a drunken mob, in an excited mob, sometimes the frustrations show up instinctively.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Bandhavghar, kanha, jabalpur on bike

It feels like just yesterday that I was excited about my impending bike trip with my wife to Madhya Pradesh, today I am sitting with wonderful memories of the great trip.

Gunjan and I had been planning for a bike trip for some time now, since I bought my Royal Enfield Bullet 350(Machismo-350) in the month of April 2007. And we were thinking of the new year to be the ideal opportunity for such a break. New year was quickly approaching and we had no concrete plans in our mind. Things were getting little anxious when one fine day, we darted towards the MP tourism office in Cuffe Parade in South Mumbai and decided to go for a break in the wild. Decisions had to be taken in impulse when nothing is getting formalised in the formalised way !!

So we were finally going to the land of tigers - Bandhavgarh and Kanha and then round off the trip with a day in Jabalpur enjoying the marble rocks. The plan was to take the bike in the train to Katni in MP, then bike around MP staying over at Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Jabalpur. At Jabalpur, we would board our train back to Mumbai with our bike in the luggage van.

This is not a travelogue that describes the journey inch after inch. But an effort to share the learnings that we experienced, that would help everyone who wants to do biking around or who wants to go to Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Jabalpur.

After a sleepless night full with last minute preparation, Gunjan and I loaded our new saddle bag (Cramster-Stallion) at 6:00 AM in the morning to our bike (Machismo-350), made sure that we have carried all our necessary items and documents and started our bike towards Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Kurla terminus). The bike ride was peaceful with cool breeze in the morning giving a great feeling of pure exhilaration and heightened expectation of what lies ahead.

To give a little brief on Cramster, it is a good bike accessory brand that has a good range of saddle bags, protective riding gear and other biking utilities. Cramster Riding Gear was nominated for OVERDRIVE'S Product of the Year Award. I had a good experience with their products.

Loading the bike into the luggage van of the train was a painful experience. One needs to wrap the bike with gunny cloth with proper safety support for the lights and then do the cargo booking at the parcel/cloak room. The packing of the bike has to be done through private agents and only when the packing is done, the railway authorities would proceed with the other formalities. Here you face the crooks hungry to fool you asking for around Rs. 600 over and above the railway booking charge. They would behave like parcel consultants taking responsibility of loading and unloading of the bike with proper care. Please dont fall for that.

Only the railways can ensure the loading and unloading of the bike in the right stations. No private person can have any say on that. The private guys are only present for the 'gift-wrapping' of your bike. And the conventional rate is Rs. 100 for the same, wherein they should ensure that all the breakable parts of the bike are wrapped with shock absorbing materials (mainly paper!!). They should use card board paper to cover the engine and seat and use layers of normal paper to cover the lights. (I wish I had a photograph of my packed bike)

Once the bike is packed, you need to fill the booking form. Please carry your original RC book, one photocopy and the train ticket. You would be given a red receipt and from then on the bike is the responsibility of the railways till you acknowledge receipt with your signature in the destination station.
However, it is recommended that you should be with the bike when it is loaded to see whether it is loaded properly; preferably next to the entry gate if the destination station is not the end destination of the train. Even for unloading, it is better if you run to the luggage van as soon as the train reaches the destination station to nullify any chance that your bike is not off-loaded.
Finally the train started moving... we were on our way to our dream vacation. Rest assured that the bike is coming with us, our immediate priority was to sleep as we had not slept the previous night and would not get to sleep the following night, as the train was supposed to reach Katni at 1:15 AM in the morning.
28th December 2007 - Be careful when you are travelling in an AC compartment. You dont get an idea of the outside temperature. We knew that Katni would be much colder than Mumbai but had no idea till we actually got down at Katni. We reach at 2 AM in the morning and immediately froze. Fortunately for me that I had to do some running around to offload the bike. After getting the bike next to the cloak/parcel room, we ran to the waiting room to lock ourselves from the cold breeze that was hitting on us like crazy. Here there is a thing to remember. Never take delivery of the bike or any luggage that you have booked with the railways till the last moment. Take delivery when you are going out of the station. That way you can be in peace about the security of the belongings.
At 5 AM in the morning, we came out of the waiting room, took delivery of the bike and loaded the saddle bags. Immediate thing was to fill petrol, as you can only have 200 ml of petrol if you transport the bike on a train. At 6 PM, we finally started our bike for the first time outside Maharashtra in Katni to look for a nearby petrol pump. Luckily the petrol pump was close by and it was a 24 hour pump. So we had a full tank and ready to zoom ... but it was still dark and we were very clear that we wont bike at night. Biking at night in MP is not a good idea especially when you are alone.
At 7 AM, we started our bike trip. We went around a 2 kms towards the state highway when we see a never ending stretch of a one lane (hardly) non-metalled road filled with dust by the trucks ahead of us. Gunjan reminded of one of her friends saying, "Dont take the bike, there are practically no roads in MP" It was just the start of our journey and we had abundance of excitement to get demoralised. We asked one of the truck-drivers while over-taking him about how far is the highway. He said two kms and added that the roads are good from then. The first good news of our journey!!
To be contd...