Tag Archives: Nagpur

Beer, my friend

I have a long relationship with beer and our relationship has evolved over all these years.

A mug of “Child” beer

I clearly remember my first beer (or any alcoholic beverage for that matter) which was at Orchid Lake resort next to the pristine Umiam Lake in Meghalaya. I was around 12 years old at that time & was going to Shillong with my uncle and his friend for the day from Guwahati & had stopped at that resort for lunch. My uncle and his friend ordered beer for themselves and offered me some. My first reaction was that it was bitter. I obviously kept that information to myself & commented that it was very tasty so as to not embarrass myself as less of a “man” in the presence of 2 adults.

I had beer a few more times with that uncle over the next few years but didn’t enjoy any of it.

When I went off to college at Nagpur, I was suddenly exposed to a whole plethora of alcoholic beverages. Beer was reserved for those hot summer days when we didn’t have electricity or had an exam the following day & didn’t want to get too drunk.

I remember one evening when Sood Sahib was feeling a bit low. I suggested that we drink some beer & his spirits lifted immediately. We bought beers from a store and some policemen tried stopping us on the way, but we somehow escaped, got soaked in the rain, reached home, dried up and enjoyed our beers.

Sood Sahib Enjoying and Appreciating Beer

I also remembering going to Urvashi with Neeraj after our gym sessions to drink beer with Tandoori chicken to aid our workout recovery. Beer also accompanied our jam sessions on numerous occasions.

My first major incident with beer was when I bought what I thought was “Haywards 5000” from a seedy store in Nagpur, went home and drank it alone. My roommate came home from college later to find me passed out with my head shaved. Later, when I regained consciousness, he also reported some strange behaviour from me but I would refrain from going too deep into those details. Later everything explained itself when we saw that the beer I had was actually a “Haryana 5000”.

When I moved to Gurgaon, I was exposed to a new world of freshly brewed beer also known as “artisanal beer” or “craft beer”. We used to go to Rockman’s Beer Island at Ambience Mall very frequently to drink fresh brewed beer poured out for us from taps.

We used to order barrels of this stuff and get hopelessly drunk. I remember one incident when we went to Beer Island with Soniel’s German colleagues, everyone got sloshed on beer and they ran away without paying for anything and we were stuck with the bill.

Beer plus Laser

Another incident with beer I remember is when I had something called “Beer Buster” at an office party. It was beer mixed with Tabasco sauce and I had litres of it. When I came back home, I couldn’t sleep because the Tabasco was burning in my chest and stomach all night.

Neeraj at Beer island

One of my best beer experiences was during my Beer trip to Bengaluru. We went to a place called Biergarten which was a huge open air pub surrounded by beautiful palm trees. The weather and the colour of the sky were unlike anything in Gurgaon. Even the washrooms had a killer view.

Biergarten, Bengaluru

Not until the lockdown, when I was forced to stay without any beer for months did I learn the true value of beer (among other things). When the lockdown did open and I rushed to the nearest beer shop to buy some, I decided that I would start treating beer with more respect from then on. Yes, I would savour my beer more and learn to enjoy it.

I started drinking beer slowly, appreciating the textures and flavours and enjoying the taste rather than aiming to get hopelessly drunk.

First Craft Beer after Unlock

When I drink alone at home, I never drink more than 1 or 2 cans at a time and I make sure I enjoy every sip. When drinking out with friends (rare), all these rules go out of the window, though.

3 cheers to beer and here’s to many more years of friendship.

Our first home

For the first 17 years of my life, I lived with my parents. When I went off to college, for the first time to a different city (Nagpur), things changed a bit. I started living with some seniors at a rented apartment. I was living without parents, but I was still living at someone else’s home. When these seniors passed out, I lived for a few months at the college hostel, which was, again, a different experience.

When the toilets at the hostel turned into shit-geysers, I knew I had to leave. I started looking for a new place to stay at and a roommate to stay with. The excitement was palpable; this was the first time in my life I would stay at a place of my own choosing with people I chose to stay with.

Eventually, I found a roommate in the form of a creature known as Whoreko and a nice, independent place to stay at Verma Layout.

The time spent in this new place were one of the most blissful years of my life. We had our own place, we could come and go as we pleased, we setup our stuff the way we wanted and we both had our own rooms. In short, we had our own place and we were masters of this little area. We even had our own terrace, where we perched in the evenings and threw water on Halud when he came to visit us.

We both had a computer of our own and we connected them using a LAN cable for multiplayer gaming and file sharing. We listened to our own choice of music (Which, thankfully, matched) in the mornings when getting ready for college and in the evenings, well into the night.

Our First Home
My Room

Once, we even setup a fireplace in our kitchen sink by burning old clothes, books etc. Flames were leaking out of the kitchen ventilator and the neighbours gathered around to watch. Everyone dispersed when we threw a pressurised deodorant can into the fire and it exploded, rattling doors and windows nearby.

Kitchen, forever charred by the fire

The place was at an awesome location. T-Point hostel and Shankar Nagar chowk were nearby, so was a Cafe Coffee Day and Ambazari lake.

After Whoreko, roommates came & went, but I will forever remember and cherish the time I spent staying at this house, our first home.

Below are some of my earlier posts about this place

Improbable things

I couldn’t sleep last night and my mind kept drifting between various improbable things that have happened in my life over the years.

Cardano, making the improbable, improbable
Cardano, making the improbable, improbable

Things that shouldn’t have happened (because, probability), but did. Some examples of these improbable things are:

  1. Once, when I was very young, I hadn’t completed my homework. While going to sleep, I kept wishing for fever or some other illness to befall me, so that I don’t have to go to school the next day. Sure enough, next day, I had fever in the morning and didn’t have to go to school, possibly avoiding a solid beating.
  2. The time I was returning home (in Nagpur) while drunk, riding my bike. I couldn’t spot the high tension electricity cable hanging in the middle of the road and my bike (along with me) was lifted 10 feet into the air. I fell on the road and my bike fell on top of me, all while electric sparks were shooting from the pole, the cable and my bike. That scene immediately sobered up my friends and me and we are all still in awe how I survived that incident.
  3. The time when I passed my engineering final exams because of a fluke. I have already blogged about it once, so won’t add details here.
  4. The time when I was hired at Aricent (now Altran). I lived at Kolkata with my parents. Aricent was holding a hiring drive in Kolkata and I went there just because I had nothing else to do. Somehow, I was selected in the interview and hired a few weeks later. The fact that
    • Aricent staff came to Kolkata for the hiring drive (Never happened before, never happened again)
    • I turned up and was selected
    • Got the right job (at that point of my career)
    • At the right location (I was already aspiring to move to Gurgaon) still boggles my mind.
  5. When I stayed at Kolkata, I used to watch a TV show called “Indian Rendezvous”. There was a part in the episode about Delhi which shows a balloon competition with a balloon sponsored by BT and I dreamed of moving to Delhi one day and working for BT. Years later, this would come true.
  6. How I was lucky enough to have the perfect child exactly like the one I wanted (I might be biased for this one).
  7. I had a friend “J” in college who introduced me to the song “Father & Son” by Cat Stevens. We used to listen to this song at his room very often. Years later, I was listening to this song on my own, when “J” called me and told me his father has died earlier that day.

Makes you wonder how probability isn’t always perfect and such things slip through its laws from time to time.

Sitabuldi

Recently, I had a dream about Sitabuldi. For those who are not fortunate enough to have ever lived in Nagpur, Sitabuldi, also called Buldi (But pronounced “Birdie”) is a densely populated commercial neighbourhood of Nagpur.

Sitabuldi
Sitabuldi, PC: Wikipedia

The area is divided into “Modis”, which means “Lane” (loosely translated to English). I have a lot of memories of this place during my (extensive) stay at Nagpur. Some of the highlights are

  1. The second hand mobile phone market, where I was a regular, both to sell and buy cellphones.
  2. Hotel President, in Modi No. 3, where my parents often stayed, when they came to visit me in Nagpur.
  3. Pape Juice Corner, which squeezed the freshest and best fruit & vegetable juices and was open till the wee hours of the morning. Unfortunately, the last 2 times I visited Nagpur, I found it closed.
  4. Haldiram’s Thaat Baat restaurant, where we ate sometimes, when we had some money, but only enough to be able to afford vegetarian food.
  5. Some rooftop bar, whose name I cannot remember.
  6. Janki Talkies, a small cosy theatre, where we went only once to watch some movie at night. Our group was the only group to buy tickets that night, so the theatre operator had to begrudgingly turn on the projector & start the movie just for us.
  7. Sitabuldi Fort, which we passed many times, but never bothered to go inside, because engineering students don’t go see forts.
  8. Shukrawari lake, also called Gandhisagar lake, which we passed many times, but never bothered to go inside, because single engineering students don’t go boating on lakes.
  9. The street vendors whom we visited to buy cheap garments from.
  10. Some dhaba where we once ate cheap food and the utensils were coated with sand.
Sitabuldi Interchange Station, PC: The Metro Rail Guy

The place has recently changed somewhat, with a futuristic looking metro station now constructed as part of Nagpur Metro. I did make plans for a Nostalgic trip to Nagpur this year, but the Covid situation made it impossible.

My Worst Purchases-Honda Activa

So, I was “studying” in my first year of engineering (around the year 2002) in Nagpur and living with 2 of my seniors in a rented apartment. For those not familiar with Nagpur, public transportation was almost non-existent at that time and 95% of the people rode 2-wheelers (Motorcycles, Scooters & Mopeds), remaining 5% had cars.

I had nothing of my own and soon started to feel the heat of wanting to go everywhere but not being able to go anywhere.

I wanted to buy a bike, but the aforementioned jealous roommates didn’t want me to have one, so brainwashed my father into buying me a Honda Activa. I was desperate for anything, so didn’t argue much and greedily accepted it.

The Activa is by no means a bad scooter and it is quite handy for middle age men/women looking for a quick trip to the nearby stores or for kids who are just learning to ride. For a college freshman however, it was the social equivalent of walking around college with “dork” written on the back of his head in Bold letters.

As if the social ridicule wasn’t enough, the scooter was also not suited for a hormone ridden teenager riding around town “trying” to show off and competing with motorcycles. Inherently unstable, it caused me to have numerous accidents within the first few months itself.

Eventually, it was either continuing to ride the monstrosity or drop out of college, so I chose the former and sold it before it had completed one year.

It took 2/3 years, the manliest bike available in India at that time and a year away from college for people to forget I had one.

My Nostalgic trip to nagpur

Last weekend, I had a chance to travel to Nagpur. This time, it was not for some work I had pending, but just to visit the place where I did my engineering from and relive those good days.

I will not go on about each and every thing about the trip, instead I will just list the places I visited and say what has changed about them

Priyadarshini College of Engineering

  1. There are now many different colleges in the same campus, mainly an MBA college, a polytechnic college, among others
  2. Some teachers have left, though I saw most of them on Saturday morning. They seem to have prospered and most come on cars instead of lunas/Puchs.
  3. Students are now from a slightly better class of society, some of them own cars.
  4. The number of buildings has gone up, though it doesn’t feel that cramped
  5. The row of tin-shedded buildings housing the small auditorium opposite the Administrative block has been demolished
  6. The nescafe shop next to the library has been demolished
  7. The row of road-side tea-stalls opposite the college gate has been replaced by a Cafe Coffee Day
  8. The IT block has lost its new feeling (when it was constructed) and looks shabbier now

Dharampeth

  1. Most of the shops are same, no major changes. Bula’s still stands
  2. There’s a new Haldiram building coming up
  3. Pyramid has been replaced by Brand Factory, though the inside of the store looks the same as before
  4. The custard/shake stall at the first left turn was not there both the days I went there
  5. Raskun(j) has closed down
  6. Yummy yum has been closed down/replaced by a newer restaurant
  7. Some good brands have opened up shop
  8. Corn Hub now has 2 outlets (In DP)
  9. The In & Out shop at Shanky PP now sells branded apparel.
Sadar/VCA/Poonam Chambers
  1. The VCA stadium now has a Subway outlet
  2. The CCD is mostly the same
  3. Both Liberty/Smruti theaters are the same (at least from outside)
  4. Tauby’s is still doing good business
  5. Restaurant Nanking is still there
  6. Poonam Chambers was mostly deserted, even on Saturday evening
  7. The video game parlour in the basement of Poonam chambers is much smaller and completely deserted; the games suck and have no place in 2012
  8. The PC cafe coffee day is still there, though there’re much less people

Sitaburdi

  1. Burdi is as (if not more) crowded than before
  2. There’s a new mall in Burdi, but does not compare to metropolitan city malls; mostly consists of Big Bazaar and the crowd is terrible
  3. Landmark (with Westside and Big bazaar) still exists.
  4. The jewellery store which opened up in place of Barista was closed
  5. Pape Juice corner was closed both the days I went there.
  6. There was a new Haldiram joint opening up
  7. Paragon Traders still exists
  8. 10 Downing street still exists; though the Pasta I ordered was very-very spicy; leading me to suspect that it was Saoji pasta.

Overall/Misc

  1. Telangkhedi lake seems deserted
  2. The row of chinese/street food stalls opposite the lake have been replaced by swanky (by Nagpur standards) cafes
  3. The lake is definitely dirtier, with filth floating around
  4. The house where I used to stay has gone from a single floor shabby structure to a 3 floor swanky (again, by Nagpur standards) house
  5. The Hot chips next to PP’s garage pub has been closed
  6. PP’s garage pub still exists
  7. Maitrayi CCD still exists, is doing good business
  8. There are a lot more Hot Chips counters around the city
  9. The city is still more 2-wheeler friendly than 4-wheelers
  10. Fuel rates have gone up significantly, auto-wallahs charge too much
  11. The Airport, which underwent a spurt of development/expansion after I left is now stagnant, not much more has been done. There were birds flying around inside the airport
  12. The restaurants/pubs are still much cheaper than the ones in metropolitan cities
  13. Some women still wear a weird robe over their clothes to protect themselves from the Sun.
  14. The Sardarji opposite T-Point hostel is still serving meals to students. Gary (his son) seems to have grown a regular beard and wears a turban now.
  15. The movie theaters still show English movies dubbed into Hindi. The wrath of the titans was Mahayudhh – 2

Finally, the heat was unbearable, even in March. The temperature crosses 40 degrees by noon and stays that way till 6PM. The sun is very very hot and I got blisters on my hand riding a bike around in the heat; as well as a headache which lasted till the next day.
While leaving, I asked myself this question “Would I be able to live in Nagpur if I got a job offer here?”; after all, I would be able to afford a much higher standard of living even with the same Salary.
Well the answer is “NO”. Nagpur as a city is nothing spectacular. What made it worth living was the presence of wonderful friends an the student lifestyle we used to lead.
Without them, it is not as much fun.
Full photo set:

The amazing traffic of Nagpur..

I heard that there was some information about the traffic sense of the people of Nagpur circulating around the people of Chandigarh and I thought it necessary to dispel the rumours. I am from Chandigarh and have never seen better roads or driving sense anywhere else in India. Anyways, getting back to the people of Nagpur, I would certainly say that they have great driving sense. But it is a little bit different than the rest of the country. I have tabulated the traffic rules modified especially for the high I.Q. people of Nagpur in the following points:-

  1. Remove any silencers/mufflers from your bikes/cars.
  2. If you are driving slow, drive on the rightmost lane so that people can overtake you from the left.
  3. If you are driving on the wrong side of the road, instead of driving by the side, drive straight through the middle. If it is dark, make sure you do not switch on your headlight.
  4. If you want to turn left, turn the right blinkers ON, start turning right and at the last moment change your mind and turn left thus fooling the ones behind you.
  5. To save your brake shoes from wear, don’t brake at all at a trafic signal. Use the cushioning effect of the vehicle already standing at the signal to stop you. If you are on the vehicle which has been bumped into, utter a few obsenities in Marathi and then ignore the incident as a daily occurence.
  6. While crossing the road, stand by the side of the road till you see some traffic. Wait till the vehicle is a few meters from you and then start crossing the road at a run.
  7. If you are female, disregard everything around you and start crossing the road without straying your eyes from your destination on the opposite side of the road. If you are attentive enough to hear the screeching of vehicles coming to a stop because of you, give them a look as if they deserve death.
  8. If you have already crossed the road, turn back at the last moment so that at least one of the vehicles(only 2-wheelers) hits you head-on. In the unfortunate incident incident that the driver survives, start shouting about how it was the driver’s fault and allow the surrounding people to beat him into a pulp and break his bike. Also ask for compensation.
  9. If you see a poor canine somewhere on the road, try to run over him to liberate him from his painful suffering life.
  10. If you are driving along a road and suddenly see something of interest, brake immediately in the middle of the road. If someone bangs into you from behind, lay all the blame on him.
  11. If you feel the need to park somewhere, disregard the parking places and park in the middle of the road in a way which would cause the maximum traffic disruption.
  12. If you are a pedestrian, throw stones and pebbles at the people driving by.
  13. If some blows his horns at you from behind indicating that he wants to overtake you, move a little to the left to let him come to par with you and then suddenly start moving right slamming into him, testing his reflexes.
  14. If you are on your vehicle, stationary at the side of the road and want to start moving, throw your vehicle in high gear and drive perpendicular to the road swerving widely so as to go as far as the other side of the road before coming back into your own lane.
  15. If you are on a cycle, instead of driving straight, drive in a manner so as to make a figure S on the road touching all the lanes.
  16. If more than one bikes are driving along, drive in echelon formation taking up the whole width of the road and refuse to let people overtake you.
  17. If you want to prove that you are a true Nagpurian, as soon as you pass by some happening place, throw your bike in high gear, roaring past all others, swerving your bike left and right and then brake suddenly burning rubber on the road.