Wings of Passion.

 

What do you do when you hear a roaring sound of jet engines flying above? Look above and get fascinated by the sheer size of the jet and forget it, or go gaga over it and find out more about the aircraft and the aviation industry. Most of the people fall in the first category, however there are a small number of us who are awestruck by these metal birds. This fascination often leads us to explore the world of aviation and everything related to it. I am one such person who is in love with these beautiful piece of technology right from my childhood. I am a Plane Spotter.

 

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Emirates Boeing 777-300ER getting ready for departure. Note the Juhu Airport tower in the background.  ©Nikhil Nair

I spent first seven years of my childhood in Sakinaka, a place which lies in close proximity to the airport. The fuel of my passion in aviation was ignited by my dad, who used to show me the planes landing and taking off near our home. Also since he was working with a logistics firm he had access to the cargo terminal, I remember he used to take me in his scooter to a viewing gallery in the airport and from there I could watch the planes taking off. I never knew the names of the jets, the only one I remember was Boeing 747 Jumbo. The size of the jet itself left me awestruck.

“And in that young mind was etched a frame that lived with him”.

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Korean Cargo, the first jumbo jet i ever saw landing during my childhood. I identified this airline as the Pepsi Airline

I used to come back home after such trips and my dad used to help me in drawing those jets, for that he specially bought drawing papers and various pictures of different aircrafts from his office. With this I came to know about the different airlines operating in Mumbai and around the world. My school also had a role in shaping up my curiosity for aviation. From my classroom window and the ground I could easily see the approaching aircrafts. My first distinct memory was the Korean Cargo coming to land. I always waited for the jumbo to arrive and the moment i spotted it my attention was fixed to it. I also had few posters of the classic planes which were with Air India and Indian Airlines back in the day. The L1011 Tristar, Lockheed Constellation, the DC3 etc. Alas i misplaced it. (only if i knew the importance back then)

At the age of 7 I shifted from Saki Naka to Mira road, this meant no more roar of the jets, however I still kept on drawing and identifying the aircrafts from the pictures I got. (Since there was no google in that age and computer was a luxury) This went on for a few years and the curiosity in me grew. I kept wondering what kept this metal birds flying. Here came Discovery and Nat Geo to my rescue. I keenly followed aviation documentaries shown on those channels, and during those days the sensation in the industry was the mega passenger jet Airbus A380. Damn, the prototype itself was amazing, and i was very much impressed by that aircraft. Also watching Air Crash Investigation gave me insights into the functioning of the civil jets. Meanwhile I got introduced to the fighter jets of IAF USAF and RAF. The most fascinating one being the Russian Sukhoi 30 and US made F 22 Raptor.

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Etihad’s A380 landing into Mumbai during sunset. ©Prashob Chandran

Then came the age of computers and internet (obviously in the stage of infancy unlike today) and on a trip to our family friend’s place I stumbled upon a pc game which featured the F 22. Thus I was introduced to a new genre of gaming “Flight Simulation”. With the power of internet I soon began researching about various aspects in aviation, and I always dreamt of flying one of these beauties.

And I still remember stubbornly asking my dad to get Microsoft Flight Simulator X at the age of 13 and ultimately he had to. And Oh, the joy I derived from it. Slowly I got acquainted with the flying procedures and the flight deck of various aircraft. Alas, the joy was short lived, my pc went dead and my parents were so pissed on me that they didn’t repair it for almost six years (my mistake :P) .

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A still from Microsoft Flight Simulator X, where i am in control of this aircraft

Those years my passion for aviation ebbed, I had a career in science which eventually took a toll on me and after four years of struggling and experimenting I finally dropped out of it and unleashed my creative streak. And with new beginnings and the power of social media, I stumbled across some famous aviation pages of India, and it dawned upon me that there is a huge community of plane spotters, right in the city of Mumbai, and there are locations from where one could watch these beauties, up close. KABOOM!!! Man! it feels so good to know that you are not alone in this so called weird hobby.

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The Latest state of the art jet to grace Bombay, the Airbus A350-900 heading to the runway for it’s departure.

 

 

The inner child in me awoke and I was back to my old self, the world of aviation opened up to me in a new perspective. And I always wished to go to these locations and spot myself. Well, and then one day I hopped out of my place one early morning and set out for the spots, I had trouble locating the places but somehow I landed up at the right place, and Lo, the sight was such a spectacle. The whole Mumbai Airport lay in its vast expanse before me, the roars of those engines reverberated in my heart and yes, finally I  felt like a child again, at the age of 22! the same joy which I experienced as a child. And from there I have befriended quite a few people from the plane spotting community, some who have been through the 80s and have seen the legendary classic birds which we unfortunately couldn’t see. It is so good to see that folks younger than me are more informative then i am, and their skills are on a different level than mine. At their age i was unaware that there exists a term called Plane Spotting.  Internet has really opened up avenues i must say.

Some things in life are meant to last a lifetime, and for me my love for aviation will never wane. My friends and acquaintances may call me crazy, well i won’t deny that, but the joy which comes from watching these jets is something which can never be explained. And yes, flying a jet is one of my dream, which I want to accomplish. But right now it isn’t a priority since music is another passion which I want to make my career into. Till then, I will keep dreaming, I will keep doing whatever it takes to feed my inner child. Happy Flying Folks!!!!!! Spread your wings of passion under this expansive sky!!

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The iconic control tower in the background adds to the elegance of the beautiful Mumbai Airport.

All images are clicked by me except wherever mentioned.
Thank You Gaushal Gandhi for the Featured Image in the beginning of the blog.
Thank You Prashob  Chandarn for the Etihad A380 Image.

If you want to check more of my aviation photos follow me on instagram
@that_railplane_guy

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Lucknow Diaries Part 1

One of the perks of being a musician is that you can visit new places. And this year I am a bit lucky to have visited ten new cities in the past six months. Recently  I went to this historic city of Lucknow which is also called as the Land of Nawabs or Constantinople of the East. 

A two hour flight from Bombay and I landed in this never been before city. As excited as I was for my stay and the gig in the city, I was a lot more excited for my flight journey. Being an aviation enthusiast I always have a childlike first timer enthusiasm for the flights. After all, pilots have the best office in the world, and with a window seat you can experience the same. Can’t believe? Here I prove it.

Takeoff from Mumbai
Cruising at 37,000 feet above the earth
The rain-soaked earth gleaming from the sun’s reflection
On final approach to Lucknow

After a delightful flight I stepped into the city, excited not only  for the delicacies and the history which awaited me but also for my debut gig with this beautiful band ESHAN. A half n hour taxi ride from the airport my initial impression of the city shaped up. A common sight here is hordes of cows roaming around freely, some sitting and chilling in the middle of a highway!!!  Also in this city people drive whichever way they like. Anyone ever heard of rear view mirrors?  Nah, Lucknow folks haven’t. Some even have got it removed from their vehicles. I have vowed, never to drive in this city. Not my cup of tea. But this city despite the flaws is really beautiful. The locality I stay in is so peaceful throughout the day and night that I can spend hours gazing at the view which is being offered.

The evening sun welcomed me with this beautiful view

After settling down and getting fresh we went to our vocalist Eshan’s place. His family is very hospitable and we were greeted with piping hot glasses of lemon tea. No Starbucks or any other coffee shop can beat the lemon tea which Eshan’s mom makes. I am definitely gonna miss it when I head back home.

Everything done we went for a tour of the city, that too at night. It was a sight to see the Chota Imambara lit in all it’s glory. Since it was closed to visitors we could experience the place in peace and tranquility. Chota Imambara was built by Muhammad Ali Shah, the third Nawab of Avadh in the year 1838. It is a mausoleum where he and his mother are buried side by side. The building is also called as Palace of Lights because of the lights which adores the place during Muharram and other festivities. The chandeliers inside were brought from Belgium. The palace is intricately carved in verses from Quran. 

Imambara as seen from the entrance
Naubat Khana (ceremonial gate)
Close shot of the Imambara
Calligraphic verses
Tomb of Princess Zinat Algiya, Taj Mahal Replica.
The bronze fish is an anemometer (instrument to show the direction of the wind)

By the time we left it was quite late so we headed back home to relish some Lucknowi platter all thanks to Eshan’s mom.

Second day after a heavy peaceful sleep we made our way to Lucknow’s famed Tunday Kababi. The place is famous for it’s Paratha and Kababs. So we ordered a few plate of it and ate. Second we ordered Chicken  Korma  and Paratha followed by Chicken Biryani. Alas, I couldn’t finish the entire thing because the place was stuffed and my body heated up so much that I had to gasp for fresh air. Happens at times.

My verdict about Tunday is that I found the food to be heavily salted, more than my liking. Also after eating the kababs and biryani prepared by aunty no one else could match her preparations. Not even Tunday. Hence, Aunty:1 Tunday:0. But if you ever come to Lucknow you should definitely visit Tunday.

After this we took a walk through the various lanes of Lucknow as my bandmates wanted to do some street shopping. Rest of the day wasn’t as eventful and we were lazing around.

Outing at Tunday

Third day was the D day which I was looking forward to. It was my first gig with ESHAN ever and I was pretty excited and nervous about the same. We reached the venue and within hours we were done with our soundcheck. Now it was time to rock the stage. Our set list consisted of a mix of bollywood and original songs. Throughout the set we enthralled the audience with our wonderful arrangements of the songs as well as an energetic stage presence, syncing the entire band together. The band ended their set to the thundering applause from the folks present. Truly, a day to remember. Here are the glimpse of the madness which unfolded.

Pre Gig Selfie

(L-R) Fardeen, Eshan, Ashwin, Nikhil, Siddhesh, Navneet

Picture Courtesy: Kati Patang Films.

At the end of the day I went home with a feeling of satisfaction of having give my best. Mistakes were made but everyone in the band handled it professionaly and hence the audience couldn’t get a whiff of the same. Also this show motivated us to strive for betterment and perfection. And such were the happenings of my first three days in the city of Lucknow. I will follow up with part 2 soon… Stay tuned.

Meanwhile you can follow ESHAN on

Solo traveller Diary. Day One and Two

Though I am a native of God’s own country; Kerala, i never had the chance to go for trips to explore my state and my Kerala visit was limited just to my hometown and my relatives.

Bored with the monotony of my native place this year I planned a trip wherein I could explore the unexplored areas before and also be there in my hometown for our onam celebration. The first onam celebration in Kerala.

Everything planned, I departed Mumbai on 17th August and reached Kochi two hours later. My first flight ever and being an aviation enthusiast I was quite thrilled by the journey.

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After my security check I spent my time in plane spotting
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Spicejet Boeing 737, the one which I flew in

The 1.5 hours journey was very memorable. What made my day more special was on landing at Kochi International Airport, in the bay next to us was the Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 777 which was preparing for departure. That huge jet is one of my favorite and the sheer size dwarfed me. The shutterbug in me soon set in action clicking shots until the bus came to drop us to the arrival lounge.

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Saudi Boeing 777

I had coordinated with our family friend who picked me up from the airport and drove to his place. The feeling I had was something beyond words, I was relieved, leaving behind the madness and braced myself for the adventures that were soon to come. Uncle guided me about the local area and how to get to the places I wanted to. My evening was spent in familiarizing myself with the local area. I had my plans for day two.

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The backwaters near my house

I planned to go to Marine Drive and spend my time there. I left my home at 10am in the morning and after an hour of bus ride I got off at the High Court junction as I was advised. A little ahead and I was at the place where I wanted to be. Excited and nervous I stepped in and soaked myself in the calmness of the waters, all I could hear was the cries of the water birds and the occasional horns of the ships entering the harbour. A stroll down the promenade I saw a gang of boys strumming guitar, a conversation followed up and revealed that they just set their feet towards music, particularly towards metal music.

Now from here I would let my clicks do all the talking. Brace yourself to a visual delight of Kochi.

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The traditional Chinese Fishing Net
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Cormorant, a common water bird

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At equal distance exist such beautifully designed walkway bridges.

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On the walkway
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Panoramic view of the promenade

After spending some time here I was fatigued by the humidity and sweltering heat, I walked out and refreshed myself with a chilled lemonade. A little ahead I walked along the main road parallel to the promenade and again entered the promenade, this time at the place from where one could enjoy a view of the harbour by a boat ride. I enquired about the ride and the person took me to a boat which was about to leave. Grabbing a seat I could see the entire Kochi Harbour and the city. The one hour ride was worth every penny paid.

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Cochin Shipyard. INS Vikrant can be seen in this picture
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Leaving behind the jetty and the mainland
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MT Olympic Spirit unloading Crude Oil

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Swanky Sea facing residency

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The boat ride was an experience in itself and after an hour I was back to the shores. Hungry I walked to grab some decent food and after a bit of scouring I ended up in a Chinese joint since I didn’t want to trade a chance with my stomach and spoil my holidays. Once I calmed my hunger pangs I returned to my onward journey home and this was the final image of the port of Kochi which I took from the last seat of the bus.

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An hour later I reached home and the sun embarked on its wayward journey to the otherside of the world, bidding goodbye with a fireglow hue in the sky.

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There couldn’t be any better way to call this a day for nature never ceased to surprise me.