Travelling with pet – Day of Travel

All formalities completed, all legal papers ready. Now for the big day, the day of travel. Shadow gets excited, curious, stressed, apprehensive of what is happening in the house with all movement of packing and stuff. He has lost his sleep the entire day, he does not want to leave our legs, he follows us where ever we walk inside the house.
Finally the time has come to say bye to the house. We make a booking for airport drop via Ola. Normally cabs do not transport pets. We make a request with the driver and he agrees, surprisingly! We book a bigger vehicle to include in the transport also our luggage and shadow crate.
We reach the airport and we have a problem. One of the strays at airport spots shadow and wants to come in! After the first level security, part of their rules we assemble the crate and make Shadow go inside. The security were very cooperative. They helped my wife in assembling the crate and tried to keep us cool by chatting with us while I was holding shadow. Then we moved to check-in counter of Lufthansa. Once our boarding passes were taken, few other staff of Lufthansa got the other formalities completed. Fixing his food and water to crate, getting a declaration form signed by us, getting a sheet to be put inside the crate.
Then they took me to their ticketing service counter where I paid 400$+tax for the shipment. After payment they did a confirmation internally. Then the Lufthansa staff kept the crate on to a trolley and we went to the security area where the crate is scanned and say bye to Shadow. The crate is to be scanned without him inside.
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The staff helped in putting the sheet inside the crate and also we had kept a blanket and pillow for his familiar smell and something which he can (and eventually did) tear up when stressed during the travel. He did his usual sounds of “dont leave me”.
Then we got through our formalities and the flight left Bengaluru. Yes we had some tension, fear about how he would be doing in the cargo section. Once we landed at Frankfurt, he was moved to animal section for feeding, walking and test. Frankfurt was our transit point. We checked with cabin crew, ground staff and others but it is part of the process and we are not allowed to see him or be with him till the final destination.
Few hours later when we landed at Prague airport we got out of flight immediately. Then we stood watching through the glass window as Shadow crate was brought out and the ground staff communicating with him! What a sight of relief.
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We picked him up at the excess baggage counter and his whining did not stop till we took him out of the crate. We stopped at the customs for completed the next set of formalities. This took us two minutes. They checked the papers, scanned the micro chip. While we were told it would take 30mins at customs, all it took was just 2mins! Thanks again to Global Cargo Services for getting the paperwork in order.
We spent quite a long time outside the airport for his walk and to get him out of the stress before we travelled by road to Brno.

Thank you Lufthansa!
Finally we are at our new home together! 🙂

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Travelling with pet – Formalities

In 2016 when I got the confirmation to move out of Bangalore to Czech Republic, the biggest decision we made was not to abandon our boy Shadow. By that time he was with from late-mid 2012 and it did not seem ethical nor moral to leave him out. Abandoning him at any kennel or on the road or leaving him with some other people was not in discussion at any point of time. Which meant we would take up any obstacles that come on the way to ensure that he is in new place with us.

Who is Shadow? We did not buy him from any breeder nor from any other person. We actually do not know his exact breed. October 2012, late in the night when we returned from one of our long trips and parked the vehicle, he came as a small puppy and stood in front of the vehicle. We took him inside the house and next day enquired all around close to where we lived. Nobody had a clue where he came from. The security of hostel of reputed institute were taking care of him for last 15days. They had their own difficulties to keep him beyond certain period. They were happy if we were to keep him and they could see him everyday. It was first big decision we made when we decided to bring him and be a part of our journey.

First I travelled out of India late-mid 2017. Am not sure if any other person moved out with their pet to Czech Republic. We read through lot of material on websites like pettravel, understood government rules and based on that made a list of things to do and complete.
Firstly, a microchip (international standards) needs to be implanted into his body behind the neck. Secondly, for his dimensions a crate is to be bought. We got the micro chipping and a Petmate crate grade 4 from Cessna, Domlur.
Then we had to get the blood test done. There is 90 day wait period post extraction of blood for rabies testing. This is required because we come from “high rabies countries”. Before this he had to be given a rabies vaccination. Post vaccination the blood test can be performed after minimum waiting period of 21days. During the blood test while we were contemplating where to send the blood sample (whether to Dubai or London) is when we contacted Global Cargo Services via our doctor Nanjundappa. The representative from Global Cargo took the blood sample from Nanjundappa and sent it to London lab. Thankfully Shadow cleared the test. After which we were to wait for 90 days. This was a big delay for us. We had planned a New Year 2018 re-union and had to shift it to end of March 2018.

In the meantime my wife got him through training like making him first get used to the crate, then locking the crate and doing work inside the house and later locking him inside the crate and going out for few hours. To this she added additional training and also to go out for walk with muzzle aka mouth cap, because over here one can travel in tram, bus and train with pets.
Beginning 2018, his blood test result arrived and he was declared fit to travel by end of March. When you decide to travel you would have to mark special services during booking of ticket. Whether emirates or lufthansa, we zeroed in on Lufthansa due to less travel time from Frankfurt. After booking my ticket I called up their customer care and gave complete details, they confirmed the services and added to my ticket “Transporting Animals”.
The next and last important part was to get the paperwork completed. The representatives at Global Cargo assured us of getting it done. April 2018 when I was there in Bangalore there is one formality to be completed. This is to take Shadow to Animal Quarantine Center at Bengaluru Airport. Along with representative from Global Cargo we went for inspection. The inspection also includes scanning the microchip. He cleared the inspection. And finally his papers were ready along with clearance certificate.
Lastly 4 days before travel he had to be given deworing tablet. Recommended, Slayworm Merial.
Shadow was ready to travel with us! 🙂
Thanks to all those who had been part of his life during the last approximately 6yrs in Bengaluru
1. His doctor Nanjundappa from the time he came to us.
2. Cartman, Koramangala where we used to drop him for boarding some times.
3. Global Cargo Services for getting the paperwork completed on time and to perfection.
4. Cessna, Domlur

15yrs gone by (Life outside office space) – Part 2 (Travel in India)

Travel is an opportunity created by oneself for self. While traveling with a big group is fun traveling with limited set teaches a lot if your eyes and ears are open.

Something that I learnt are:

1. Planning and contingency planning.

2. Managing with available resources which includes cash in hand.

3. Handling situations and people and stress.

4. Getting out of comfort zone.

5. Admire the knowledge of people around the world and the beauty that nature has to offer.

6. The memories.

While many don’t travel to places considering language as a barrier, I would not agree. I traveled from Shanghai to Xitang none of the people I met in that entire trip spoke English!

From the first trip when I traveled to Waynad via a old Tamil Nadu govt bus leaking of water due to rain spending the journey sitting on the steps, I had shed the comfort out of travel. It does not mean not to do a luxury travel, that helps too!

With 1000/- rupees in hand my friend and myself set out to tour South India. We traveled in night bus to avoid taking accommodation! I think the best was how we got away from cops with a straight face lie! That night the cops were beating everyone who was sleeping inside the bus stand.

Or the night when we landed in Bhopal railway station, every taxi driver wanted a piece of cake and lot of money. When you walk out without hiring a taxi it is not pleasant especially when there is a foreigner and a girl. In the end nobody has touched you or hurt you is a miracle!

Rum and ride, this was a glorious trip by cycle across Goa. It was one hell of trip.

The first ever time I sat on a motorbike as a rider was in 2005, it was RE Thunderbird (my brothers) and we rode to Yercaud from Bangalore. It was annual ride of RTMC. From then on I spinned off with a subgroup RKMC which later became big in Bangalore. I bought a RE STD Bullet for myself and rode through many parts of India, major long journeys were solo.

Bullet and myself rolled through hill stations in the South India during monsoon, trip to Kolkata and back, many trips on West coast, Delhi to Bangalore. Bullet is not bereft of problems. Some times it would stop for no reason, some welding would come off, something would fail. We face the problems together and you learn to fix.

One of those trip was to leh-ladakh from Delhi. It was not smooth sailing trip. I had a fall and limping, bullet was giving up and finally nature also stopped us from reaching the destination with cloud burst but we eased out all tensions for two days at Bathal.

The worst of the problem is when you meet with accident, two accidents both times broken bones! Inspite of many issues, Bullet is so special for me that it was in one of those rides I met a girl, lost my 💓 and we got married later.

Having lived with Bullet the next vehicle was Mahindra Thar. The climax of the trips was month long trip to leh ladakh across mid and western parts of India, driving all the way supported by my wife who sat through giving up on all comforts.

Both Bullet and Thar were used exhaustively but I never forgot Indian Railways or each individual State Bus Transport! If you want to experience a tough journey take the train which travels for 5days starting from southern part of India to Assam.

If I sit down to name some places I would not be doing justice to our country. Each place has something attached to it that pulls you. Some that you could try visiting: Malvan, Murud, Majuli, Srinagar, Kaaladi, Kollam, Tenkasi, Omkareshwar, Valparai, Chambal, Chilka, Rameshwaram, Sariska, Malnad, Daman, Diu, Dwaraka, Machilipatnam…..

India has so much to offer to feel, see and experience. The people, the cuisine…. When I look back I still feel is that all that I have seen.

All the travel across India cannot be written about in one post. Neither have I after so many years traveling through India have seen everything. I am satisfied having seen majority of India but there is still lots more to see. Some time in future I would continue my travel in India!

Athithi Devo Bhava.

Whirlpool – Service & Social Media

It all started in the month of May 2016. After noticing for a month the fluctuation in cooling of the refrigerator, I called up whirlpool customer care and registered a complaint. The technician who arrived at the house conveniently said it is gas problem and refill is required and would send the concerned technician.
In 2nd half of June, the technician did come to fill the gas. Post which he discovered the core board was not working. He reported the issue to his boss and his boss promptly gave the response which is normally given to customer. “Sir, two days part would be available.” 2 days became 5 days to a week to 2 weeks to 3 weeks. In the meantime he asked us to contact his boss and put pressure! <brilliant tactics>
Frustrated with the behavior we made a post on social media, twitter and facebook. Whirlpool India facebook page post did not get any response from the company. With more than 40days since identifying the problem now the whirlpool incharge asked us to send model number and serial number and buy a new fridge since the core board was not available anywhere in India. I asked him for the requisition form which he had sent to his head office. I did suspect foul play.
On the other side I kept posting to the twitter handle of whirlpool customer care, apparently this is caters to US region. Due to constant posts and complaining about the attitude of whirlpool service guys in India finally they relented. They forwarded the complaint to India head office and then the action started. I got a call from Delhi office of Whirlpool. They followed it up and found that core board did exist in India. <unlike what was claimed by Bangalore office>
A week later the board reached Bangalore and was fixed by a different technician.

If you are talking to Madhu from Whirlpool, Bangalore ask him clearly what is going to be his action plan.

What this entire episode also highlights is the importance given to social media in India and in USA. While the India handlers ignored, the US after repeatedly pressing on understood there was a real problem. Thankfully there was someone listening.

Jan 2012 (part 2) – Murud

One of the unkown and not so touristic place is Murud in Raigad district of Maharashtra. This is only beach destination which is close to a hill station, Dapoli

. From Dapoli, Murud is about 8-10kms away and could be reached in an auto share.
Most tourists to this beach destination are from either Pune or Mumbai. Very peaceful place and few options for stay this is more a place for relaxing.
What to do here? Nothing actually. One can laze around, climb trees, watch birds, play with dogs, observe butterflies.

Month of January is also season when all blooms!
There is a small temple nearby and a village school. One can make a day trip to Janjira Fort in the sea. Also close to is Harnai and Anjarle.

This is a perfect getaway for all those who want to be away from crowds on the beach in Goa and other parts of Maharashtra.

Reflections, Murd Beach

Reflections, Murd Beach

PS: It is possible that the place of stay then is not in existence today.

Jan 2012 (Part3) – Anjarle & Harnai

Further about 15kms from Murud is little bigger village Anjarle.

There are two access to this village which is famous for Kadyawarcha Ganesha Temple.

Taking a ferry after a short distance of travel saves lot of time and distance. Once you get down at Anjarle you are again welcomed by white sands. Get out of the shore, walk a few meters & you would come across a big tree. IMG_2789Taking a turn at the tree marks the climb to Kadyawarcha Temple. I was initially scared that the steps to the temple would be steep making it a difficult & tough climb up.

It turned out to be contrary. Within no time I was up there at the temple.

After my prayers & offerings to Ganesha, I was back down to land in no time! There are buses which go all the way up but its better to walk up. Its refreshing.

Kanakadurg Fort

Kanakdurg Fort, Harnai - 25

Kanakdurg Fort, Harnai – 25

At the ship port of Harnai is the land fort built by the Maratha Empire. On the sea is the Suvarnadurg fort. Kanakadurg fort supplements the one on sea. Currently this is an abandoned structure and is mostly not in use. There are hardly tourists in this part of the map. In those days this served as military camp.

What one can see today is overgrown plants, trees, bird nesting and dilapidated structures.

Two of same flock together!

Two of same flock together!

Harnai

When the evening sets in people gather at sea shore.

They come in autos, bullock carts and many by foot. They have gathered to welcome the boats back from fishing. Once the boats are marooned to land, the fishes are segregated and prices fixed. People buy either in crates or in small quantities.
There is a lot of hustle bustle, bargaining on the prices. The reaction on the faces of people changes and so does the mood. Everyone is there to buy. It is apparently not just humans there are birds flocking around, dogs, cats who all are waiting for their share to drop off and pick some for their dinner.

Eagerly looking cat, Harnai

Eagerly looking cat, Harnai

It is quite a hectic evening and worth watching. This should be on the schedule of a tourist to these areas.

 

Sibsagar

About 90kms to west of Dibrugarh is a town Sibsagar (Sivsagar) which was in the 18th century capital of the Ahom Kingdom. While some say the Ahom rulers came up Thailand some say they came from China.
It is not a very big town rather a radius of 8-10kms. There are some monuments and temples to visit around here. Sitting by the side of the lake one can spend an entire evening supplemented with listening to the chirping of birds. There are two big lakes in this town.
We started with a salutation to Shiva & Devi before proceeding to see some of the monuments.

ShivaDol
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What stands out in this temple is the Shiv linga is reversed. The linga is actually under the ground with a passage leading to end of the wall. Unlike in temples of Shiva elsewhere one cannot go around the linga since you are not supposed to jump across the passage.
The gopuram or the tower is covered on the top with gold. People say that the entire tower was covered with gold and invaders in different forms took away the gold. The gold which is still remaining on the tower top is because they were unable to remove. Some claim that researchers were not able to find what material was used to glue to gold.
Adjacent to Shiva are devi and vishnu temples. Behind the temple is a big lake which apparently is not the biggest lake here.

Rang Ghar
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This was an amphitheater built by the Ahom dynasty for entertainment purpose. What is to be noted is the a boat is carved on top of this structure. There should be something significant in this since I observed similar carving near GanShyam temple.
The material as they say used for constructing this amphitheater is not brick or stone. Rather it is a mixture of rice, pulses, fish, eggs! How did somebody find out such a combination could be used in construction and would stand still even after more than 200 years!

Talatal Ghar & Kareng Ghar (Rangpur Palace)
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One cannot see anything of Talatal Ghar except read what is written. Apparently it is 3 floors under the ground used as a base for army and military training. It has secret tunnels heading towards Rang Ghar and other areas. The locals say that the 3 floors under the ground is like a maze. There were some including Britishers who tried to navigate through and got lost. Seems some people died inside trying to explore. It was sealed off during the Britishers time. (I do not know how much of this is true)
Kareng Ghar is four floors above the ground including ground floor. It is octagonal shaped Ghar surrounded by moats. There is a temple for Parvathi. While trying to understand the structure it is noticeable that lot which were part of this structure is missing. Actually yes, in the years post the Ahom dynasty it was destroyed by invaders.
One cannot but just admire on how in-depth the rulers in those days had thought before constructing palaces or temples.

Joysagar
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It is to date said to be the biggest man-made lake in India. The depth of the lake is about 14ft. There is a restaurant on one side and option for boating (self pedalling boats). The ticket for boating can be taken from the restaurant.
There are three temples here for Shiva, Devi and Vishnu. None of the three have murthi or idols in it. History says the idols were stolen. The temples still stand there.
What is not commonly seen is about 200mts further from Devidol there is another temple for Ganshyam. Here also no idol.
The ASI has taken over the temples and are doing some restoration and beatification work currently.
From here we spent quite a long time by the calm composed water body with cups of tea.