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Showing posts from May, 2011

Arrival in Bangalore and onwards to Toranagallu – 3rd May 2011

I slept so soundly on the flight that the passenger on the adjacent seat was ‘polite’ enough to give me unsolicited feedback about my snoring as soon as I awoke upon hearing the Pilot announcing his intentions to land in Bangalore.I suppressed my sarcastic repartee and started worrying about the quantum of duty I would have to pay for the TV and the harassment I would face from Customs.I should not have worried.I approached a Customs Officer on duty and identified myself as a ‘superannuated’ government officer.I was taken in by the politeness and the speed with which I was ‘cleared’.While paying the minimum duty I ‘forgot’ to pick up my entitled duty free booze.I had mentally marked to pick up a couple of bottles of Lagavulin.An opportunity lost but money saved!! Emirates had the chauffer driven car drop me at my friend’s place, where I freshened up.I left soon, against saner advice, so as to attend office. However, my purpose was defeated as I almost drove into medians and off the roa…

Dubai to Bangalore – 2nd May 2011

I was free the whole day to explore the newer delights of the city.That meant only one place –the Burj Khalifa, the tallest man made structure in the world today.Quite interestingly, none of my friends I met in Dubai had been to the giant building that looked from afar like a taller Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur rooted on a single limb.I got a drop to the Dubai Mall complex that stands at the foot of the giant tower.The complex around the Burj Khalifa is awe inspiring.The Dubai Mall, The Address, etc are classic styles in architecture and landscaping.The Dubai Mall is a city in itself. Walking into the Dubai Mall you feel dwarfed by the giant ceilinged structure and the experience.Fashion houses and swanky stores ensure that the Mall has everything that good money can buy; it has everything you could desire, it has thrill, magic, romance and movies.The Dubai Mall is the world's largest shopping mall going by the area and sixth largest by leasable area. It is part of the 20-billio…

In Dubai – 1st May 2011

Normally an early riser, the late night kept me in bed till 8 am.The hotel has an interesting arrangement for breakfast.The voucher for breakfast at the hotel reception costs only 40 Dhs against the 50 Dhs charged in the restaurant.The spread was mouth-watering but the mouth could not take as much as it should have.The waiters were mostly youngsters from Kannur. After breakfast I decided to catch up with a few friends in Dubai and had to travel to Jebel Ali Free Zone.The route to Jebel Ali was not as crowded as it used to be in the past when I made trips to Jebel Ali during my days with DP World.Nostalgia welled up.It was once said that the National Bird of Dubai is ‘Crane’ for Dubai used to deploy the most number of cranes per sq km during the boom time.With recession having taken its toll and projects having been scaled down the roads and work sites seemed free and empty.The commissioning of the Metro must have also added to weaning traffic off the roads, which is indeed remarkable. A…

Dar-es-Salaam to Dubai – 30th April 2011

Having fallen behind on the updation of the blog I spent the whole morning translating the aide memoire into readable format.In the meanwhile, I also got confirmation of my flight to Dubai.The timing of the flight is such that one could not have utilised any part of the day more productively than what I had planned to do.While waiting for Irfan and Omar to join me I scrolled some of the tourist attractions in Dar on the web and came across the mention of Mwenge carvers and tinga-tinga paintings. The description was such that I wished to see the art, if not buy some if affordable, if time permitted. As soon as Irfan and Omar came in I asked if it would be possible to visit the places where I could appreciate the carvings and the paintings. Omar, as is his wont, immediately jumped up and said, “Let’s go.”He assured Irfan and me that we had enough time to visit the places, have lunch, come back to the hotel to check out and be in time for the flight at the airport.It took time to get a t…

In Dar – 29th April 2011

Breakfast at the Tanzanite Hotel is an unvarying fare. And so is the smiling service.The hotel does not have a regular restaurant. But they manage to rustle up breakfast every morning, which consists of cornflakes, cold milk, doughnuts, bread, apples, fruit juice, coffee and eggs in any form that you would want them as long as your order is omlette!! Normally I have four slices of white bread toast, butter and marmalade with a double egg omlette. This morning was no different. Omar was in attendance immediately after breakfast.Having worked in the Port sector for five years I wished to visit the DAR port.Irfan and Omar managed to get appointments with the Container Terminal Manager and the Port Operations Manager.The Ports of Dar, Tanga and Mtwara, along with the river ports, come under the Tanzania Ports Authority.Tanga is a lighterage port and Mtwara is a seasonal port, which assumes a lot of importance during the cashew season.Cashew is grown near the Mozambique border area of Tanza…

In Dar – 28th April 2011

When the car stopped I woke up and enquired of the ‘battered’ Steve where we were.It was around 5 am and the commuting public could be seen even at that hour.  Most schools and offices start business at 7.30 am, I understand.We were about 20 kms short of the Tanzanite Hotel.Then we hit the most incredible traffic jam I have encountered in my life. It took us over 3 hours to travel the 20 kms and get to the hotel. I did not have anything much lined up for the day and hence asked Irfan if I could meet with the Managing Director of Tazara Railways.I was keen to know how Railways are organized in Tanzania and get a larger picture of the African Rail system, if possible.The resourceful young man got me an appointment for the afternoon, till when I relaxed in the Hotel. I had a most interesting meeting with Mr. Lewnika, the MD of Tazara in his office.And I learnt the following from him. Tanzania has two railway systems – the Tanzanian Railway Corporation (TRC) and the Tanzania Zambia Railway …

Mbeya to Dar – 27th April 2011

Irfan and Omar were to make a few business calls after breakfast.I tagged along to further appreciate the countryside.The landscape is pristine and the air absolutely cool and clean.I was so taken in by the surroundings that I absent mindedly took off the seat belt, lowered the window and started clicking away as if there would be no tomorrow.This went on for a while till we were once again waved down by traffic cops.As soon as we stopped a cop came near me and told the driver, Steve, that I was not wearing the seatbelt.I tried to explain that as a tourist I was clicking away and had inadvertently taken off the belt.The cop would have none of it.Negotiations began almost immediately.Finally, the fine was reduced to Tshs 2000.The cops send us on our way with a smile and the greeting ‘Safari njema’ (Safe journey). While Irfan and Omar made their business calls I chatted up the taciturn Steve.I wanted to appreciate the ‘Bantu’ tribes people in their original environment.Very reluctantly h…

Dar to Mbeya – 26th April 2011

Since Irfan and Omar were going on a business trip to Mbeya I decided to tag along to see a countryside that is normally not on a tourist’s radar.We left Dar es Salaam (Dar) at around 8 am.Irfan told me that hiring a car in Tanzania is a costly affair.For the two day trip that we were embarking on we could be spending up to $35000!!The driver of the car that Irfan hired for the trip, Steve, is a boxer. His biceps could make Salman and Co feel like ill fed kids.Immediately as the journey began, Steve stopped to buy a fire extinguisher and the attention triangle.I was told that the Police are quite tough on the non-availability of safety items on the vehicles.Nice to know that such traffic requirements are ‘in vogue’! Talking about the Police, it did not take long to be waved down by a batch of traffic policemen.On the hand held radar the speed of the car was registered as 64 kmph against the permissible 50 kmph on the highway!! The normal fine for traffic infringement is Tshs 20,000.A …