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Old 24th July 2010, 13:00   #31
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Nice travelogue. You have bought out minutest details in all honesty.
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Old 24th July 2010, 17:13   #32
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Originally Posted by aargee View Post
@SafeDrive - I heared they serve pot coffee in 1st A/C, isn't that true anymore? I wish to travel in 1st A/C provided there's a private toilet too in addition to bin; IIRC, there're only about 8 tickets available & the distribution is 2 + 4 + 2. This means, one room for 2 travellers, another room for 4 travellers & last one again for 2 travellers.
Not sure on the coffee. We got in at 10:00 p.m. and were out by 06:30 a.m. so that could be a reason. The Pandian for that day had one and a half coaches of I AC, the configuration you've given I think is for half a coach. I'm not sure on this though.
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Old 24th July 2010, 17:16   #33
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We are waiting for updates Safedrive Sir. Hope you write one about your HK trip too

Never knew Ist ACs would be so comfortable. Will try it shortly provided you approve a vacation.

P.S - Safedrive is my Manager
Hey, I'm supposed to be incognito here
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Old 24th July 2010, 17:42   #34
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Hey SafeDrive, firstly belated anniversary for completing a decade. I hope it was happy and peaceful .

You do have a way with your writing and I'm enjoying it every bit.
Thank you for the wishes and the compliment MileCruncher

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Belated nniversary wishes Safe Drive. BTW, my Birthday falls on the same day. I am sure you have married on a good day.
Well belated wishes to you gsajjanraj. If I had known earlier I would have forced a treat out of you

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Very well written 'trainlogue' SafeDrive, loved seeing and reading it, waiting for you to continue ! Really miss those train journeys that we used to make when life was a little less hectic !
Thanks kannan666
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Old 24th July 2010, 18:59   #35
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Originally Posted by Motomaniac View Post
Nice travelogue. You have bought out minutest details in all honesty.
Thanks Motomaniac, thanks a lot.
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Old 24th July 2010, 19:21   #36
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Default Thekkady - Day 1, part I

We drive for a very short while and as we make a turn it suddenly appears to our left – Club Mahindra, Thekkady.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0299.jpg


We alight from the car and a staff from the place immediately comes to take care of our luggage. Another person leads me to the reception. I show them my CM membership card and my letter of confirmation and they request for a photo ID. (Why have a CM membership card at all? ) We’ve reached at around 11:30 and the check in time is 02:00 p.m. Can we have an early check in? “Definitely sir. Please do relax and have a walk around and we’ll come and get you when your room is ready.”
So we step out of the reception to have a look around.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0221.jpg


A few meters from here and we discover Svaastha, the Ayurvedic Spa – yes me likey, likey.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0224_p.jpg


I go in there to enquire on what’s available. They provide me with a book that looks like a menu. I take a look at the book and do make a note of the prices, high but I am determined to take one. That’s when they come and tell me that they have some specials – the monsoon specials. This is fantastic, he’s got an irresistible offer, a message, a steam bath and then something like a Chinese torture (warm oil poured onto head) for Rs.1800 per person. Individually these would come to over Rs.3000. So this is great and just when I’m beginning to digest this offer comes the clincher. Two of these for Rs.3000. It’s a couples offer, so she and I can have the same treatment for a combined cost of Rs.3000 – a 50% discount. This is just too good. I tell him that I’m certainly game and will book an appointment with him once I get the room. As we come out of the spa, a lady comes and tells us that our room is ready. Wow, that was fast and it’s not even 12:00!

She leads us to our room and assures us that our bags will follow. We reach the room and she puts the card into the lock. The light turns green and she lowers the handle – nothing. It’s repeated again – nothing again. This is repeated a few times with the same results. My son who is a curious chap now wants to try. So she gives him the key and he repeats the exercise – still nothing. He now starts getting excited and starts banging on the door and “manhandling” the door handle – still no luck. I take the key from him although it is a funny sight. The lady in the meantime has gone to get help. She finds a guy around and asks him to bring Shaji down. He goes off to fulfil his errand. I hand her back the key. We’re standing there waiting for Shaji when she turns to my wife and says “Madam, can you try?” I’m confused now – does she think it’s some sort of “kai dosham”? Susann tries with the same results. All this time the lady is reassuring us that the door was just opened less than half hour ago for cleaning – we believe her.

Shaji and an older man come armed with their tool – a hair dryer. This is definitely going to be good. “Sir, it because mansoan sir” the older man tells me. I reply back in Malayalam to put him at ease. I am barely holding back my laughter after seeing all this and I don’t want any more English guffaws to send me over the edge – no siree no, that would be plane rude. They’re trying to help me and moreover I’m here for a few days and you never know when you might need them again. All along the thought of asking for another room is also going through my mind but I refrain. Let them try a for some more time, maybe if it does not work they will offer it themselves.

Shaji and the old man get to work. The old man opens the electrical box next to the door and holds the wires of the hair dryer into it. Shaji tries the hair dryer – nothing. The old man adjusts the wires again and Shaji tries again – vroooommmmmmmm. Yes, they’ve got the hair dryer working. Shalji first holds the hair dryer above the lock (air blowing downwards into the lock) and heats that part. He then moves it to the other end, holds the hair dryer below with the air heating up the bottom of the lock. He then does the same to both sides of the lock too. Calvin by this time is really curious and wants to know what is happening. He’s pulled a chair as close as he can get to Shaji and he’s on top of it looking at what is going on. Shaji shuts off the dryer and the moment of truth has arrived. Shaji takes the card and inserts it into the lock, He pulls it back out – the light has turned green. He then pushes the handle of the door down, we hear a click. He pushes the door in – but nothing. The door will still not open. It’s a moment of embarrassed silence. The lady’s face is blushing red and both Shaji and the old man turn away. They get back to work and repeat the drill, this time a little longer. The dryer is shut off and we wait eagerly. The card goes in, the light turns green, the handle goes down and halleluiah the door opens. There’s a smile on everybody’s face now except Calvin’s. He would have loved to see a bit more of that. I really would have loved to take some pictures of this but that would have been very rude.

Last edited by SafeDrive : 24th July 2010 at 19:25.
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Old 24th July 2010, 20:26   #37
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Originally Posted by SafeDrive View Post
Club Mahindra, Thekkady.

We reach the room and she puts the card into the lock. The light turns green and she lowers the handle – nothing. It’s repeated again...

The old man opens the electrical box next to the door and holds the wires of the hair dryer into it. Shaji tries the hair dryer – nothing. The old man adjusts the wires again and Shaji tries again – vroooommmmmmmm.
This was hilarious! and your style of story-telling makes it even more so.

Your experience certainly compares well with ours at CM Coorg (Hawk-on-fours on a pan-India tour: Delhi-Mumbai-Goa-Manipal-Coorg-Kolkata-Delhi) last month!
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Old 24th July 2010, 20:40   #38
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Smile Thekkady - Day 1, part II

We enter the room and the room as in all CM resorts (except Kodai) is fantastic.


Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0308.jpg
This is where we will be spending the next three days.


Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0306.jpg
^^ That weird expression on Calvin’s face is his reaction to something on TV. Only kid I know who gets scared watching Tom and Jerry. He doesn’t like Jerry beating Tom!^^


We freshen up and go for lunch. CM has a fun dining offer where they offer you breakfast, lunch and dinner at a very reasonable price. The cost at Thekkady was Rs.550 + taxes per person for all three meals and the kiddo ate free. We go to the dining room which is right next to the swimming pool. In the pool is a large (gigantic) inflated ball and Calvin is immediately attracted to it. “Not now Calvin, let’s explore in the evening.” I notice that I do not see many guests around; in fact I haven’t seen any guest so far.
We enter the restaurant “Periyar room” and this is what it looks like.


Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0237.jpg


Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0236.jpg
^^Ooohhh for some food.^^




And guess what, the buffet table as well as the restaurant is empty! Are we at the right place? Just then a server walks up to us and says – “Welcome sir”. Me – “Do you have another restaurant?”. He’s a little taken aback, “No sir, we only have this one”. Me – “So, where’s lunch at?” He understands, “Lunch will be served here sir, please have a seat. We don’t have the buffet table set up as we have very few guests for lunch sir. We have a fixed menu from which you can choose and we’ll serve you unlimited portions from that.” Aaah, that’s more like it.

We sit down and he brings us a printed paper with the menu for the day. Uuumm, that looks good. He then brings us a plate of salad – cucumber, onion and tomatoes. We start off with some chicken and Phulka. My wife then gets a brain storm – “Please bring us a little bit of everything on the menu. Not much, just a small katori of everything and then some rice”. We enjoy a sumptuous meal and then leave. Just outside the restaurant I spot the bar – place logged into permanent memory. There’s a pool table also there. After we pass this we come to a glass door that leads out. Now this is a great place. As we step out, we are on the roof above the reception. It’s got two chairs there by the sun shade and the rest of it is open. The floor is tiled.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0271.jpg


After this it extends to above the car porch and this part has grass. The porch roof has the shape of a typical sloping tiled Kerala roof with the exception that it is covered with grass instead of tiles. Beyond this is a superb view of the mountains and a lot of greenery.


Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0239.jpg
^^ Notice the slopes of the roof^^

Hold the camera just right and you’ve got a beautiful landscape without leaving your resort – cool.
Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0260.jpg

We spend some time here and then go back to our room for a nap. We’ve booked an appointment at the SPA for 06:00p.m., it’s going to be a 120 minute thing.
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Old 24th July 2010, 21:14   #39
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Hey, that is a nice trip that you had. Will definitely go through the entire blog in detail.
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Old 24th July 2010, 21:26   #40
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Hey safedrive,

Very well written. I like the way you enjoy small-small things in life. At least the way you describe them it appears so.

The resort looks clean and good. BTW, did you ask them why there were no more guests?
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Old 24th July 2010, 21:36   #41
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BTW, did you ask them why there were no more guests?
They did have more guests. Occupancy was low as it was off-season and almost all guests leave for day trips after breakfast to places like Gavi and then return only by evening. So during the day it's kind of deserted - suits me just fine
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Old 24th July 2010, 22:29   #42
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Thumbs up Thekkady - Day 1, part III

I wake up by around four to find Calvin and Susann watching TV. I have a cup of tea and then decide to hit the gym. As we are about to leave the room, Calvin reminds us of the inflated ball at the pool. Alright so come on. All of us reach the pool and I tell the attendant that my son would like to try the ball. “Aap aur madam bhi try karo, bahut majaa aayega”. This always happens to me – I’m a hard core Mallu but people almost always mistake me for a North Indian. Not that I have anything against it. Go to US and they think I’m South American. Go to Europe and it’s normally Spanish. Why, in Singapore a man once walked up to me and talked in Chinese, I wonder where he got that thought from!!

Anyway the guy convinces us to try it. Why not – you live only once. And it looks Simple. You step into the ball and walk on water – that’s it. The ball moves with you walking – what could go wrong? I’ve read of Jesus walking on water in the Bible.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0252.jpg
^^Picture of the ball. It’s Calvin in there.^^

So he pulls the ball out of the pool and opens the zip. Psssstttttt – the air escapes and the ball deflates. Huh, now what? He then asks us to get in and sit on the ground. What? “Sir, aap aur madam andhar jake baitto”. And how the hell am I to do that in a deflated ball! I give him the look and he smiles back. I can see that he is enjoying this.

We remove our shoes and watch and I step in with great difficulty and sit down – I’m not the very flexible kind. “Thoda aur andhar jao sahib, madam ko bhi aana hai”. I had enough difficulty just getting in and now he wants me to move! I turn round to look at him and he’s grinning. I push the plastic up and drag myself a little forward. Is Madam having second thoughts? Seems not, she joins me in the ball. It was wet in there – yeah, what can you expect of a ball that has been in the pool.

He then calls a lady over. He zips the ball back leaving just a small gap there. He inserts a tube through this into the ball. The other end seems to be attached to a vacuum cleaner. Drooooommmmmm… the thing is switched on and the ball starts to fill with air. “Please stand up as the ball fills sir”. Ok, I stand up bent as the ball begins to fill up. When the ball is full, he slowly rolls it to the pool, we’re taking baby steps inside it – hey this is easy. We’re now at the edge of the pool. “Just walk when you enter the pool sir and the ball will move. You can go all around the pool.” I’ve got a surprise for him and my wife – I plan to run around the pool (evil grin). And the other people in the pool better watch out because here comes Superman. (yeah there were a few people in the pool).

Took my first step into the pool and splotch – I fall in the ball. I turn to look at my wife and she’s already on the floor. OK, so let’s get going. I try to stand up and splotch. Once more and splotch. This is getting to be a habit. So now we go into dual mode. After a quick strategy session with my wife in the ball, we decide to attack it together. I slowly hold on to the sides of the ball and try to stand up slowly. Splotch. I succeed in my third attempt. So now that I am up, my wife will have to slowly stand up and we will have to do a synchronized walk. She tries and we are both back on the floor. Oh this God dammed thing. This goes on for around five minutes and we are exhausted. We signal the guy to pull us back in. Our son in the meantime is at the edge of the pool jumping and shouting at us to just get up and walk. Yeah right! He’s full of ideas. “Just hold the wall and stand up. Just push the ball forward.” Right dude, you come in and do it. The guy finally pulls us back and it’s now Calvin’s turn to try – he’s going solo.
We get out of the ball and just fall down onto the chairs. Boy that was exhausting. Calvin in the meantime has got into the ball and it is being inflated. He makes it to the edge of the pool just like us without a problem. Into the pool and splotch. Guy jumps up – splotch.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0251.jpg
^^And splotch^^

It’s not working for him either. He tries getting up fast, he tries getting up slow, the result is the same – splotch. He then tries to go on all fours and still ends up falling. I leave for the gym grinning. Misery loves company.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0256.jpg
^^The gym^^

I am soon joined there by my wife and son. Half an hour later we go back to our room and freshen up. We need to go for the massage.
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Old 25th July 2010, 08:55   #43
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See.. thats perspective. How many guys would hit the gym on a vacation?
What most want is: camera, sighseeing and lots & lots of FOOD!
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Old 25th July 2010, 11:59   #44
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See.. thats perspective. How many guys would hit the gym on a vacation?
What most want is: camera, sighseeing and lots & lots of FOOD!
U're partly right there. I do it more to not feel guilty on the "lots of FOOD" part
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Old 25th July 2010, 17:50   #45
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Wink Thekkady - Day 1, part IV

The gym was right next door to the SPA and on our way out from there earlier we were informed that there could be a 15 minute delay. We anyway went there at 06:00 p.m. and spent some time reading through the literature there. Calvin is in the room watching TV and will be there till we return. Around 5 minutes later a man (another guest) comes out from the SPA and sits along with us. He’s speaking to the SPA receptionist in Malayalam – not a native speaker but pretty good none the less. He’s from Bangalore and has been to Kerala several times. But he did not learn to speak Malayalam on these trips. For that you must thank his friends in the Gulf. He works in Dubai and most of his friends there are Mallus – he needs this to survive there.

His wife is still in the SPA and would take a few more minutes so he’s got to wait. We’re taking the “Monsoon special” which includes an Abhyangam massage, a Shirodhara Massage and a steam treatment all for the price of Rs.3000 for two, a lovely VFM if you ask me.

Arun (my masseur) comes and takes me in. It’s going to take a few more minutes for Susann. Arun takes me to a room and closes the door behind us. The room has a chair, a massage table with an additional attachment like a copper pot, a cupboard like thing with a hole on top and a table with the masseur’s tools (mainly oil). He then asks me to strip and I do up to my underwear. I wait for the disposable thong (langoti) and that comes along. I swear – these things are getting smaller and smaller every time I try a massage. The one that I got would have put a bikini bottom on a Baywatch babe to shame! This is also a little different than the ones I usually get – you have to tie them on the sides.

Arun asks me to sit down on the chair. He puts some oil on my head and starts to massage it. This goes on for a few minutes. After that he asks me to lie down on the massage table face down. He helps me onto the table and I lie down. He then unties my thong and gets it out of the way. Whoa – hold on a minute, I can feel a draft. I’m a little self conscious right now and try to divert my mind by starting a conversation with Arun. He’s from near Kollam and has been in this business for around 6 years now. Svaastha is a new venture by CM. They used to have another vendor (a JV) to run the Ayurvedic Spas in their resorts but now have taken it in-house. It seems they had some kind of “misunderstanding” with the partner in the other joint venture. Arun had started with my legs and by now he’s doing my feet.

Arun tells me that +2 is the minimum qualification that is required to get into this profession. “Do you need to know English?” Not necessary but it does help to know. “Do you know English?” Well he’s not a master but can hold his own here. He’s done his training from Dhanvantari. If I remember right it’s a one year course. After that he was working in their hospital for some time before taking a course in “tourist massage” from a KTDC run institute. Whoa, hold your horses, you mean this is not the real McCoy? Of course not. My ego suddenly became a little deflated – I’m not sure why but my ego was a little inflated before that.

So what’s the difference? Well the pressure used for one. Then there’s Panchakarma. And he goes on. There are also different schools of Ayurveda. He’s qualified from Dhanvantari. I also know of Kottakal but I believe there are more. By now he’s done with the Abhyangam and he’s starting on Shirodhara. That copper pot is placed over my head and warm oil has been poured into it. It has a small nozzle like thing at the bottom through which the oil falls onto my head. It feels nice. Arun continues with his conversation while I’m mostly silent now. I’m really enjoying it.

His wife, child and mother are at Kollam. He’s actually employed by another company and CM has agreed to take him in as a permanent employee after a year of service. He’s also been promised a transfer to their Ashtamudi resort next year. I wonder if it’s just a carrot put in front of him or if that will happen – I’m hoping it will. Right now he stays at the staff quarters of CM with the others in the SPA. He says the pays good and yada, yada, yada. I’m beginning to lose him as Shirodhara normally makes me drowsy.

A little later and it’s time for the steam. I am helped up from the table and helped into the cupboard like thing. It’s got a wooden plank on which I can sit and my head is above – outside the contraption. He turns the steam on. It’s takes a minute to heat up. He asks me if I’m comfortable and then leaves the room. I’m in there alone. It feels a little uncomfortable as well as very good – all together. He’s back around 15 minutes later and helps me out. He then guides me to the bathroom to clean up. I do so, put on my clothes and then walk out of the room. She is not yet done. I’m feeling on top of the world and I’m starving. She joins me five minutes later and we go to our room.

We get Calvin and go for dinner. Post dinner we retire to our room and hit the bed. Good night everybody.

P.S. – Sorry guys, no pics.
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