Friday, December 18, 2009

India on Three Leg : Pune + Vadodara + Ahmedabad + New Delhi

Pune : O hotel in Pune exceeded all my expectations. This was my fourth stay in this trendy hotel in the Osho neighbourhood of Koregaon Park. The special room had chair, separate toilet and had retained the benefits of other rooms like having a bedside console for all electrical functions. A handheld shower could have been better instead of fixed top one. This time, everything about the hotel was exemplary, check in was in jiffy, food was great. Japanese restaurant prices look exorbitant; I doubt its viability at these prices.

Kitsch - a coffee shop/restaurant had just one local dish - bharli vangi ' stuffed baby brinjals with masala'. Once again, I am baffled why hotel restaurants shy away from ethnic cuisines. Most foreign guests are keen to try local food and we have such variety in every state. Somehow, we have embraced only the staple western food habits. On way to Chakan, at dehu road, road side eating joints announced ' gaoran rassa' and Kombdi Vade. How I wish this was part of menu in hotel restaurant with serving of liberal bouts of accompaniments of Thecha, Thalipeeth, Lasun Chatni, loni served with Thalipeeth, Sabudana Khichdi, Aluche Phatpate. I am convinced about the popularity of ethnic cuisines every time I see guests keen to try out something new. Unfortunately their exposure to Indian cuisine is limited to Mughlai and Sambar and to some extent Idli , Vada , Upma, Dosa, Paratha and Puri Bhaji with Sambar and chutney.

Visiting Khandala at Kesurdi , Satara was the best example of modern transportation can do. Mumbai Pune highway joins Pune Bangalore without touching Pune city and development around this area is by far the most modern. Fresh air at Satara was welcome from polluted air of Mumbai. Airport is Jet airways terminal in Mumbai is modern and impressive but there is no elevator to access first floor hotels.

Vadodara : I thought ITC welcome was the best in this ex royal town. Perhaps, it is still the best but what was shocking is having no elevator and customers are expected to lug around their suitcases and climb the stairs. What a pathetic portrayal of ITC hotel management group. I was lucky to have given a room on ground floor but was woken up by noisy people who passed along the corridor. It reminded me of 'bright star inn' a lodge in south Delhi. They had kitchen behind the room. Early morning, clatter of utensils, chatter of cooks would wake me up till I moved on to higher floor.

The mystery of poking side bars on wheel chair was solved on way from Mumbai Vadodara. This is needed for person to lift the chair on to the bus.

Is there any English word of game of "langdi" where you catch while hopping on one leg, within prescribed square field? Year after year, in my school, I had participated in inter school competition and was considered pretty good one foot athletic player. This skill came to my great rescue while climbing aircraft, reaching for first floor restaurants at the airport.

Despite being budget flight (no free food) Jet airways provided a meal as a goodwill gesture for delayed passengers and I was happy to see 'Pav Bhaji' in the meal box. Ramp - a simple yet effective necessity for all physically challenged persons. I now see the realisation coming while designing the structures.

Its 230 am and I am being woken by noisy young guys in the corridor. Normally, I refrain from admonishing against such behaviour but I had to do it as there was no end of their cacophony. They were gracious enough to accept their folly and quickly returned to their respective rooms.

I had heard about the professional approach of GIDC in promoting Gujarat as a business destination. To some extent. I am convinced by their interactive websites and their prompt response any queries. Today are travel to Jaghadia (near Ankaleshwar), Halol and I get to see their approach. This is my first chance to visit this part of Gujarat and I am excited to see places and the infrastructure of GIDC.

Familiar signs of Vadilal, Havmore still exists on Vadodara. Jaghadia has the entire infrastructure in place. Birla Century Rayon factory building is different. This high way up to Ahmadabad is one of the finest I have seen in India.

Visit to Ankaleshwar, Bharauch was an eye opener to realize the difference in quality of life. Who are the winner and loser in having prohibition policy in Gujarat? The car drivers claim to have liquor every day at their home. They say prohibition supports various govt departments to make extra money and this lobby is against the lifting of the prohibition. Politicians claim to have approvals from housewives who have been victims from their alcoholic husbands. It would be interesting to see if any of the companies decided against Gujarat because of Alcohol policy. But one thing is sure; Gujarat offers the competitive rates with excellent infrastructure facilities compared to any other states in India.

Ahmadabad : This was my second stay at Gateway Taj. Compact and comfortable hotel. Despite having written confirmation from Chennai counterpart, I don't get special room. But I can manage. Most fittings are easy, Bath tub is moulded plastic and low in height. By now, I have developed enough expertise to manage things with the help of crutches.
Visit to Sanad - a place of Tata Nano new facilities made me realize how one big project can impact the whole township or a city. West Bengal industry must be regretting their folly of letting slip Tata Nano project. Land is being levelled and we see many structures are coming up including vendor township. As i stood in the car, enjoying a crisp chill early morning air, a couple of men approached me. They were brought from Jamnagar by a contractor who is associated with the vendor of Tata Nano project. A promise of Rs 200 per day with accommodation for family but they don't get the money nor the work as was promised. There was nothing I could do except sympathise with them. India has long way to go to be in a position to protect every worker's rights.
Visit to GIDC head office was a disappointment. Here is a place where worldwide investors come with their moneybags of millions of dollars. But a sight of Pan stained walls , dilipidated elevatators whose control buttons are missing is a big letdown from the image created on internet followed by well laid out site development work. This is myopic vision of Indian Govt burocracy. They could do great job on many accounts but one mess up they do on such a grand scale that dilutes all the good work. GIDC office and their meeting room is impressive but just the building is a big let down. They could easily organize the meeting in one of the good hotels or have another office only for visitors.
Delhi : Le Meridian - a fine hotel with glass interiors. This was ultimate for physically handicapped. Here was the chair with round open bottom. You need not worry to bathe your bottoms, Handheld and top shower and tap as well. Console switches are at arms length and staff is courteous and efficient. Looks like I have now new comfortable and enjoyable place in New Delhi.

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