A trip to the Shindavne Ghats

Hello everyone, in my previous post i spoke about my love towards aviation, in this post i would like to introduce you to the world of Railfanning. Like aviation i used to be amazed by the locomotives and the trains during my travel to Kerala or in the Mumbai Suburbs. And again with internet i found a whole community of railfans(RF). Few among em were planespotters too!! Voila, i found the perfect people with whom i could enjoy my hobby.

Having been to railfanning sessions within the Mumbai Suburban section and during my journey across the country via train, i always wished to go to picturesque locations and click these heavy metal snakes. And then happened Shindavne.

A scenic hilly area on the outskirts of Pune, Shindavne falls on the Pune Miraj railway line. A trip to this location was RF Adil’s suggestion to which me and RF Tyrone agreed immediately. We originally decided to visit this place in April but eventually we rescheduled it to May and the date chosen was 21st May 2017. Our initial plan of action was to take the Pune Kolhapur passenger train and alight at Shindavne station. However the drawback of this was that our session would be limited to the station itself and we wouldn’t be able to access the hilly terrain. Also there were chances that this train could be delayed, thereby casting a doom to our plans.  Thankfully Tyrone had researched about this place and with the guidance from senior RF Apurva sir we soon discovered that if we would undertake a road journey we could reach the hills easily and without much efforts.

Everything set, we hired a car and left Hadapsar at 8 30am. Driving along the Pune Solapur Highway, from Uruli we took a turn towards the  Uruli Belsar Road and continued towards Shindavne village. The roads narrowed down from the four lane concrete road to single lane unpaved dust roads. The mammoth hills and the tall Shindavne Viaduct was visible from quite a distance, and our driver was equally thrilled and enthused as much as we were. We reached Shindavne village and with the help of the villagers we soon found ourselves inching closer and closer to the viaduct and the hills. After a point, we reached the base of the hill and all four of us jumped out of the car and were engrossed in observing the magnificent beauty surrounding us.

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We guys were dwarfed by the mighty hills.

We guys were so lost in the surrounding that a lound honk of the train suddenly startled us. All three of us looked at each other in surprise and we scrambled to take our cameras out and aim ourselves towards the oncoming train which was on a higher ground. Turns out that train was the Karnataka Sampark Kranti heading towards Pune, running with a delay of around 90 minutes. Delighted at a beautiful catch we inaugrated our railfanning session. We three decided to trek up on the hills near the tracks from where we could get a vantage view of not only the viaduct and the tunnels but also the entire city of Pune. The trek was a fairly easy one and soon we found ourselves by the side of the tracks,a few hundred feet above the ground.

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The delayed Karnataka Sampark Kranti, led by WDP4D, a modified version of the EMD.

 

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Close up shot of the leading loco. WDP4D, the D denotes the dual cab setup present in this loco.

Despite being there in the peak of summer the weather was still pleasant, thanks to the continuous cool breeze soothing each senses of ours. Once we settled for a spot we patiently were awaiting the metal monsters. Moments later a honk reverberated the surrounding and we got into position. Me and Adil were standing on an elevation whereas Tyrone who was behind us positioned himself near the viaduct.

The snake emerged through the tunnel and we saw WDG4 twins leading a fully loaded freight towards Satara. Tyrone decided to do a Facebook live video. The video ended on a hilarious note as towards the end we could see an excited Adil running towards the viaduct in order to get more shots.

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The WDG4, our first capture post our ascent.

The WDG4 diesel class of locomotive is originally known as EMD GT46MAC, manufactured by the American firm General Motors Electro Motive Division. These locos entered service in the year 1999, the first few being imported in full form. There exists a passenger variant namely WDP4 series, also known as EMDGT46PAC which was imported in the year 2001. Since then these locos have undergone quite a few modifications to suit the local conditions. Some of the modifications have been aesthetic as well.

Half n hour later we were delighted to see a freight train again led by WDG4 twins. The delightful thing about this loco was that this was one of the original EMD locos which were imported and assembled in India. The train was inching closer and closer to us and we got ready for the clicks. The Assistant Loco Pilot delighted on seeing three railfans acknowledged our presence with a smile and a wave, and so did the guard in the end. Nothing can be more joyous for a railfan than a crew acknowledging their presence.

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One of the few Original imported EMD series Loco. The WDG4 twins leading a freight.

All eyes were on the Kolhapur passenger which should have crossed us by now but it was nowhere to be seen.  Moments passed and then we saw the passenger, led by WDG3A series loco negotiating the curves up in the distance and heading towards us. The train was delayed by 90 minutes again. No sooner did it emerge out of the tunnel our hands instinctively pressed the shutter button and we captured some beautiful memories. This time the Loco Pilot acknowledged us with a honk and a wave. Wow, another memorable moment!

The WDG3A  belongs to a class of locomotive known as the ALCO locomotives ( abbreviated for American Loco Company). These series are the mainstays of IR since the late 1960s. These locos were chosen to replace the ageing steam engines. The locos were originally known as ALCO DL560C. Like the EMD the initial Alcos were imported into India. Since then the locos have evolved with time and at present the latest tech w.r.t to Alco is the WDM3D and the WDG3 series loco. The Alcos are famous for their chugging and the furious smoking while accelerating. However the Alco locomotives pose a threat to extinction because of the cleaner and efficient EMDs as well as the electrification project undertaken by the railways.

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THE WDG3A, hauling the Kolhapur passenger.

Now with the reduced train movements not only did we engage in photoshoots but also we changed our locations, trekking upwards. From here on there weren’t much movements with the exception of two freight trains towards Satara. However, the valley offered us solace and we three were lost. Nothing spoken, as if each of us were talking to our inner self, soul nourished by this new experience.

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Serentiy is what surrounded us.

 

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Emerging out of the tunnel, this loco is known as WDM3D.
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WDG4D and WDG4 leading a petroleum rake to Satara.
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The petroleum rakes blend into the surrounding landscape, thus creating a visual delight.

 

As all good things come to an end, this too had to end. And soon we descended back to the base, and bid goodbye to the hills, but not before taking a group pic.

See you soon Shindavne, before the line doubling and the electrification kicks in, which would deface you with obstructing electric poles. Thank you for your beautiful aura which cannot be explained but only felt.

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Those pretty cloud patterns.
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Memories is what we are left with right now. (L-R) Myself, Adil, Tyrone.
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The last picture i took at this location, before i left.

 

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

Number 23

Another year passes by and another number adds up. Last year somewhere around this time i started blogging, although i disappeared for quite a few months. Writer’s block and lethargy is  really a bad cocktail!!

Well, i am 23 this year and i already feel like a grown up who is clueless and lost in his path.  Choosing an offbeat track has it’s own challenges, especially in a society where you are expected to do a conventional living. And the pressure is real and heavy. It’s EVERYWHERE!!!!

But HEY!! My journey isn’t as bad as it seems. Time is a magician who can do wonders. Although i haven’t got a big breakthrough which everyone looks for, i am still at a better place than before. Burnt bridges were rebuilt again, became a better person than what i was before.  Met some beautiful and humble folks  who have motivated me. If not for the amazing people i had in my life, right from musicians who i look up to and i learn from to my close friends and family i would have had a tough time in this huge system that we all are in.

Some days i am brimming at my creative best; Man! i love those days! i have an energy which takes my skills to a higher level. And i wonder how the hell did i end up playing so beautifully. But just like the ‘sine wave’ i hit the bottom real hard and low. I hate such days!! Makes me feel dreary and like a madman who is fed up with the ways of the world. I get demotivated and everything around me gets so frustrating that i cannot even focus on my daily practice routine.

By now you reader must have guessed what’s my current state. Yeah i am at the bottom right now, i know i have to practice and make myself better but there is something which stops me. I have YouTube but i don’t know what i should listen to. I have things to do but all i want to do is nothing. Yeah! The only thing i am doing right now is ranting and whining about my life at 23 on WordPress.

Well, never mind. I would be over this soon and i will be back again to my world of music, just like i am in this picture. Signing Off! Peace!

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The best place to forget everything! The Stage!

 

 

You

An emotional tumult inside my head,

everything upside down, everything disintegrating into chaos.

Where every path lead to a dead end, failure staring me right into my eyes.

 

What are we fighting for?

is this worth a fight!!

In a state of despair, i find myself hurt!!

Broken down, hated upon

Oh, this is not what i have asked for.

 

I need your love, the tender love

which comforts me from the dreary reality.

I want your faith, the faith

which could move the mightiest mountains.

All I ever asked from you was to stand by me!!

 

But where are have you bought us now?

Stuck in the past!!

whereas i made peace within itself.

How hard is it for you?

Haven’t I pushed you,

but have you tried, did you move?

 

I have never been perfect,

i have had my shares of mistakes.

But never did my love for you ebb.

So why do i deserve this hate?

Why am i loathed and despised?

Can’t you see through my shade,

can’t you unravel the threads that lie within me.

Can’t you?

 

I have got no strength in me, to fight a battle which was long lost,

It is up to you to end this.

Will you??