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Street Food in Thailand. Highway pit-stop from Pattaya – Bangkok (in 2010)

August 12, 2014 Leave a comment

I simply love the simplicity and the variety of food available in Thailand. Additionally never in all my travels have I seen the cleanliness with which food is prepared in Thailand, anywhere else.

These pictures were captured on our commute from Pattaya to Bangkok. I exactly don’t remember where was this but it was almost midway our journey. This was quite a bug complex with clean loos, lots of eateries, etc.
Captured in 2010.

Photo posted originally on Instagram http://ift.tt/1swIRxT & shared via IFTTT.

Please feel free to use the pictures. I just request to credit the photographer. Thanks

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No Matter where one’s in Bangkok, you aren’t far from a Foodcart.

August 9, 2014 Leave a comment

Street Food, Street Food and More Street Food. I can never get bored of it and if it’s from the streets of Bangkok I think that I’ll be able to live on it all my life.
These set of pictures were captured in summer or 2010 in and around the Pratunam Area of Bangkok. We were staying at Baiyoke Sky Towers & while the rest of the party whom I was traveling along were happy to have their food at some Indian restaurant, I simply declined on principal. I simply don’t understand the reason behind this. When we guys are in India we crave and line outside Thai, Chinese and Italian joints, not to mention pay heavily for the even not so authentic food. However when we are abroad, we hunt for Indian food and again pay extra for the not so authentic food.
Anyways, that’s too much of my ranting.
These pictures were clicked with my Canon EOS-550D with the 18-55mm Kit Lens.

Photo posted originally on Instagram http://ift.tt/Va7Wjr & shared via IFTTT.

Please feel free to use the pictures. I just request to credit the photographer. Thanks

Baiyoke Sky Tower, Pratunam, Bangkok. Taken in 2010, handheld with T2i & the kit lens.

August 8, 2014 Leave a comment

In June of 2010 I was in Bangkok for some family function and was staying at the Baiyoke Sky Tower Hotel. After Check-In at the hotel I started to explore the surrounding area near my hotel.

After walking just a couple of hundred meters from my hotel this sight greeted me and was too hard to let it go. I simply bumped up the ISO and shot away till I found a composition I liked.

 

EXIF

Canon 550D (T2i) with the 18-55 Kit Lens

F/3.5 at 18mm 1/2s ISO-800

20/06/2010

Link to Google Maps

 

 

via Instagram http://ift.tt/XIiUys

My Experience with Re-Issue of Passport

September 20, 2013 2 comments

Recently I got my son’s Passport Renewed/ Re-Issued and thought that I’ll share my experience. Though the old passport had expired way back in 2011 I wasn’t getting it renewed as, as soon as I thought about getting it done, I was reminded about standing in big long queues and that too early in the mornings for hours at ends and still, the previous time, it took three visits to the passport office for me to get the documents submitted.

When earlier this year in May someone told me that Tata Consultancy Services had taken over the initial process, I was hopeful that things may be different and decided to try my hands on this.

Upon searching on Google I visited the Passport Seva Website

Registration on the Website: Initially I had a little trouble registering a new user but soon got the hang of the website. Registered a new id (in my son’s name).  Once I was registered I logged into the website and choose to apply for a new passport. The instructions and menu’s in the website are self explanatory.

DOWNLOAD APPLICATION FOR A NEW PASSPORT, EDIT & UPLOAD XML File: Upon going to the section of APPLY FOR A NEW PASSPORT I downloaded the Application File (PDF) from the site itself which has to be saved on your local machine and then data has to be entered in this PDF file itself. Once the data was entered, upon saving it, a XML file is generated. This file has to be then uploaded to the web portal itself.

PAYMENT & GETTING AN APPOINTMENT: Once the xml file was submitted successfully I was issued a RECEIPT for the same. Thereafter one has to make the Payment Fees for issue of the passport which in my case was Rs.1000 + Service Tax. And then an Appointment needs to be taken for submitting the originals and the rest of the formalities.

I was given an appointment for a date which was a good 25-30 days from the day of the submission of the documents. Perhaps it was due to the rush in the holiday season, nevermind I was in no hurry.

NOTE: though I made the payment in advance, I observed that some applicants were paying in cash at the venue itself.

DOCUMENTS TO CARRY FOR APPOINTMENT:

There is a document checklist on the Web Portal itself where the applicant can choose what kind of a service he/ she is availing for example Fresh Issue/ Re-Issue/ Re-Issue within 3 years after 3 years of expiry and so on. Once this is selected correctly the web portal will give you a set of documents which you need to carry in original for the verification on the date of the appointment.

In my Son’s case it was

1. OLD PASSPORT IN ORIGINAL (this was verified, cancelled and returned)

2. ANNEXURE-H (Required in original in case of Minors with signature of both mother and father)

3.PAYMENT RECEIPT

4. Self Attested photocopies of Mother’s and Father’s Passport

 

THE D-DAY. VISIT TO THE PASSPORT OFFICE: So on the appointed date I visited the Passport Office. After wasting a good 2 hours & going through 2 different verification processes I was informed that the Applicant needs to be present in person.

As my son was in school I had the option either to drop this and reapply later OR to pick him up from school and rush back to the passport office before the close of public dealing hours which was 1PM.

If I choose the former then I would have to let go of the thousand bucks and go over this hassle all over again. So I decided I would try to get it done today itself. As it was already close to 1130AM and the office closed at 1PM I spoke to the supervisor there, explained the situation. She agreed to let me in by 2PM. Reached school in a quarter of an hour and again I had to meet the supervisor at the school and explain the situation and she too, kindly agreed. All the while from the school back to the passport office my eye was constantly on the clock and we made it barely just in time around 5 minutes to 2 PM.

The forms were submitted and the entire process was completed with clockwork precision. I took some notes that day itself. Sharing them below.

 

Passport Renewal Process – My Experience

Everything was done online including the payment.

The process of taking the appointment was a little troublesome but rest everything was quite smooth.

Upon entering the office one has to take a Token No which is allotted from one of the four counters in the entrance hall. There is a photocopy machine here as well (Re.1 per print) and yes they give you the change back 😀

As the morning token had expired I had to taken a token again. There is a number on this token something like N38/W40 etc. This is the number which is flashed on the LCD Screens.

Then first we went to A8 series counter where the signature of the applicant was taken along with fingerprints and photograph. Also I was made to sign some documents for canceling the old passport.

Then we went to Counter B1. (This took a lot of time as lunch time had just ended and the no of applicants was huge. But thanks to the excellent waiting hall facilities we had some decent coffee and patties.)

When our number came the executive told me that the address of the wife was pre marriage and it needs to be changed. Noted down the details and promised that I’ll apply for the name and address change soon.

Then again after some waiting in the main hall we went to Counter C1.
At this counter the officer was not accommodating and refused to accept the forms due to the difference in the address of the mother and the father.

He directed me to the APO Assistant Passport Officer. This person I believe was the senior most officer in the entire office. We had to wait for at least 30-40 mins before our turn came.
We entered his office he again gave me a lecture that it’s been 10 years since the marriage and we should have done this long back, etc etc.

I told him that we’ll get it done at the earliest and he made me write on the application form itself that we’ll definitely get it done within 60days from today.

Once again the waiting game started for counter C and the number came on counter C1, same as earlier. This time though, it took only a short while for the procedure.
Then I was told that I would most likely get the Passport within 30 days but I should make sure that I apply for the name change at the earliest.
Upon exiting, there’s a last counter where one is given the acknowledgement for the submitted application.

I also filled up the form for feedback.

 

Points Noted

Persons at the Entrance Hall Counters and Counter A series are all TCS employees.

Their services are quite good and efficient.

Toilets are also very clean.

Waiting all is clean, squawky, and with Big LCD screens so that one knows when the number is coming and/ or how long the wait will be.

The employees at counter series B & C including the APO are GOI employees.

I ain’t prejudice but one can make this out from the clothes they’re wearing and their altitude, especially the way they move about doing their work.

I entered the office at 11am & exited at 430pm. This includes 2 hours that I spent when I went to pick up my son from school.

It was raining heavily and I got completely drenched by the time I reached my car.
Parking is free and easily available.

Documents Needed:

Self Attested Photocopies of Father’s Mother’s & Rajvansh’s Passport were required.

Original’s were also verified.

The Print of the ‘Passport Application Form’ were not required (I’d taken them along)

Annexure H was also submitted in original.

Print of Payment Receipt & Date of Appointment Letter

Review posted on FB

“Just returned. It took almost the whole day.

Forms submitted and I should say that the quality of service has increased dramatically. One doesn’t even get he feeling of being in a government office. The 1st and 2nd level of staff is FROM TCS and the 3rd and 4th are of GOI. The best part is that they have well stocked Canteen, Clean Loos, Photocopying facilities, and on top the entire information being displayed on LCD’s. So no standing in lines. When ones number is displayed, just walk to the counter and get your work done.

Looks like India has started TO Shine, in some parts.

Also I didn’t mention that all he documents we submitted 3 weeks ago online and even the payment transferred by Credit Card. So only those people who’ve been granted appointment for a particular day can come and get their work done. No unnecessary rush of people.”

TIMELINE

10th Jun’13:    Application Submitted

02nd Jul’13:    Appointment 1. This was cancelled and post-phoned.

24th Jul’13:     Appointment 2. All the above formalities were completed on this day.

25th Jul’13:     Email recd for Initiation of Police Verification

28th Jul’13:     I don’t remember exactly but the police verification was completed on 27th or 28th of July

05th Jul’13:     Passport Delivered at Home by Speed Post

In hindsight it was a great experience and now I would never shy for renewal and/ or re-issue of the passports. Lets hope other government departments also learn and implement changes like these to make the life of the population easier.

Enclosing some pictures of the passport office to took while I was there

Proper seating in the Waiting Hall

Proper seating in the Waiting Hall

 

 

The Screens in the waiting Hall

The Screens in the waiting Hall

 

Cheers

Day Trip to Sariska Tiger Reserve- Tigers & More (Part III)

April 26, 2013 4 comments

Link to Previous Posts in this Series

Day Trip to Sariska Tiger Reserve- Tigers & More (Part I)

Day Trip to Sariska Tiger Reserve- Tigers & More (Part II)

As we’d started our day quite early I started to feel a bit sleepy & hungry. The plan was that we’ll proceed to Gulmohar Resorts in Viratnagar have a quick bite, rest for a couple of hours and be back in time for the afternoon safari. The Resort was approx. 25-26 Kms from Sariska Forest Office.
Another disturbing development happened in the meantime. The villagers had started to gather around the entry gate and were threatening to blocks vehicles from entering the forest. We could see a lot of police presence around the area too. The forest officials too, weren’t sure whether they would allow the afternoon safari.
Gurudutt told Hari Singh that whatever decision is taken, which was scheduled to be taken around 2PM, he would let us know.
If it was decided that the park was closed for the evening, we thought that we would continue towards NH8 from Viratnagar, exit at Shahpura and continue towards Delhi.
At approx 2:15PM we received a call from Hari Singh and it was good news. He said that they(Forest Officials) would allow the vehicles to go in a convey. Wasting no time we started back towards Sariska at 2:17PM and were at the Forest Office at 3:00PM. The protesting crowd had increased in numbers. Being a little weary we inquired how would the vehicles enter the park when the main entry has been blocked.
Here the DFO had a trick up his sleeve. There’s another entry to the forest from behind the Reception Center and Staff Quarters of the Forest Office. All the vehicles were told that they should go from there and it was a direct entry into the jungle, smart move in my opinion.
We went to a big water body, Karna ka Baas and saw many variety of birds here. Don’t remember their names now and as they were quite far off for the comfort of my puny little zoom lens, so I didn’t even attempt.
Thereafter we visited a number of watering holes in anticipation of spotting a resting tiger but were disappointed.

At one of these watering holes ‘Tarundi Watering Hole’ I spotted this ‘White Breasted Kingfisher’ and managed these shots.

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It was 3:59PM we decided that rather than trying to spend our remaining time roaming around the jungle it would be a better idea to try our luck again at the ‘Ghaakna Watering Hole’ the place where we saw ST3 in the morning and bide our time there.

Enroute we saw this male Cheetal ‘Spotted Deer’ and really liked his antlers. Quite magnificent I think.

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This one was eager to be clicked & I happily obliged

 

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So was this one

 

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And these as well

 

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This fellow was busy getting his ears cleaned by a bird perched on his head. I couldn’t clearly see the bird but if I remember it’s a ‘RufousTreepie’.

 

 

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While the female waits in turn

 

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We reached the Ghaakna Watering Hole and met the tracking party of ST-3. They said that she hasn’t moved since morning, though they didn’t have any visual on the Tigress. The last sighting was the one we guys had seen in the morning. Also the ‘Radio Collar’ on ST-3 had become defective and wasn’t working.
The forest officials believe that ST-3 is pregnant so they don’t want to take the chance of shooting and sedating her to change her collar. However I learn’t from Gurudutt and Hari Singh that the Forest Officials have been narrating this story since the past couple of months and if ST-3 was indeed pregnant it doesn’t appear visually.
We were again joined by 4 more gypsy’s but all was quiet. We waited there for a long time and by 6:00PM the other vehicles left, we however waited for some more time. Just in case.
The time to exit the forest was 6:30pm and 10 mins before we started to move towards the exit and came out at 6:30PM.
The route for the Evening Safari
2013-04-21 Sariska Evening Safari – Google Maps

 

2013-04-21 B Sariska Evening Safari

 

Time for a group picture.Picture courtesy Gurudutt B.C.

 

Sariska Forest Office Group Picture by Gurudutt

 

Left to Right: Harbeer (my brother), Gurudutt, ShahidBhai and Yours Truly.

It was time again to brave the rear seat of the Bolero. On our return journey we came via Alwar- Tijara- Bhiwadi- NH8- Manesar- Gurgaon.
At Bhiwadi be halted at Haldiram for dinner. As none of us had eaten lunch we were all quite hungry.
From Bhiwadi we took the ‘Dharuhera- Bhiwadi Bypass Road’ and joined NH8. After moving a couple of Kms on the highway we encountered a major jam about a couple of Kms before the defunct Bilaspur Toll. We were stuck here for a good 40-45 mins. When finally the vehicles started to move forward it was discovered the 2 trucks had broken down one after the other and that too on a diversion.
God knows when this mess of NH8 will be sorted out.
Map of our return Journey
Sariska to Gurgaon

Sariska Gurgaon Route

 

Finally we made it to Shahid Bhai’s house at 11:45PM. The moment I got off from the Bolero, I was like NEVER NEVER EVER AGAIN.
If I’m again given a choice of traveling in a Bolero or cancel my trip, I would prefer not going than to having endure traveling in a Bolero again and that too in the rear seat.
I’ve done Delhi -Ahmedabad 4-5 times, a distance of a shade less than 1000 Kms for 14-15 hours at a stretch. I’ve never felt this tired even then. Hell, I even traveled from Delhi to Bhuj 1230 Kms for 22 hours straight but this 330Kms To and Fro to Sariska on a Bolero beats all that. The moment I sat in my vehicle I started to feel a sense of touch and feeling coming back on my bums.
To wrap it up, it was a fantastic trip nonetheless and Myself and Harbeer thoroughly enjoyed it.
And if it wasn’t for Gurudutt and ShahidBhai it wouldn’t be half as much fun. Thanks very much guys for making this trip. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Till the next trip. Bye for now

Day Trip to Sariska -Tigers and More (Part II)

April 25, 2013 3 comments

In continuation to my previous post (http://wp.me/p15sAz-sp) on  my visit to Sariska Post here’s the second part

In front of Gurudutt’s gear I felt like not even taking my camera out of the bag but still I braved it.
Gurudutt uses Nikon D800, D300 – 24~70, 105, 70~200 (all f/2.8 ), 300 f/4, TC-14E-II and yes he was carrying all of it. In front of his gear, I was using a Canon 550D with a poor man’s zoom lens EF-s 55-250.


While leaving the forest office other guides told Hari Singh that ST3 had been sighted early morning and we made a dash for that location. Reached there in no time and started to bide our time and trying to remain as silent as we could. In the meanwhile other vehicles also learnt about this sighting and in no time we had no less than 7-8 vehicles at that location.
We didn’t hear any alarm calls nor saw any pug marks. Suddenly the guide from another vehicle parked near the watering hole started gesturing us and pointed at something.
I thought that I couldn’t be so lucky to sight a Tiger within 30 minutes of entering the jungle. We moved our vehicle closer and could see ST3 cooling in the water about 50 feet or so from the road.
Immediately I heard something like an automatic weapon going off but was glad to see that it no gun but was the shutter from Gurudutt’s Nikon D800. Wasting no time I managed to capture a couple of shots but then all hell broke loose.
The other vehicles started not to come near but RACE to our location as we had the best vantage point and I witnessed something that I’ve never seen in any of the other parks.
The tourists started climbing out of their vehicle (which is surely forbidden), calling for each other loudly TIGER—TIGER—SHER—SHER—TIGER. If that wasn’t enough they started crowding around our vehicle and to top it off started climbing onto our Gypsy shaking it like mad.
There was this one old woman who must have been like 65-70+ years old and if left to herself she would have taken like 5-7 minutes just to climb out of the vehicle on her own. But in the commotion I saw her spring out of her vehicle which would put Olympic Athletes to shame and sprint towards our Gypsy. All this while the guides and the drivers kept trying in vain to tell the tourists to go back but they wouldn’t even listed to them.
All this was too much for the Tiger. She (ST3) waited for a couple of minutes and then decided to move away from this place. Giving us a final glance she (ST3) started to move away from us into the thicket of the forest.
Had she decided to charge at the tourists, I’m sure that she would have covered the distance in under a minute and the tourists wouldn’t even have had a chance to run back to the safety of their vehicles. It would surely have resulted in an unfortunate incident.


Here are some of the shot I could manage of ST3

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I wished that had the other tourists showed some patience and more importantly brains we would have seen ST-3 resting there for a long time, but alas. We decided to try our luck again and as can be seen from the GPS log we thought that we could intercept the path which we thought ST3 was taking and went to the back side of the watering hole. Waited there in anticipation for a long time but nada. I think that she(ST3) had enough of the commotion for a day and was done for with reveling herself.
GPS Track on Google Maps
2013-04-21 Sariska Morning Safari – Google Maps
You’ll have top zoom in the above link.

A screent shot of the above as below

ST3 Sighting

Hari Singh our Guide inquiring from the other Guides whether any other sightings were reported

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Thereafter we scouted other locations, watering holes, trying to locate pug marks etc.

Saw these Peacocks at a watering hole.

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Male Spotted Deer

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A small bridge in the forest

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A group of Sambhar Deer resting under the shade

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I think this one must have been injured in a fight with another deer. His left ear is cut from the outer edge

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This fellow kept licking himself. I couldn’t see whether he was hurt or what. I waited for quite a while if he showed me his face but he didn’t oblige

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Finally we made an exit from the forest gate at 10AM. Spotted this bird (don’t know the name) trying to catch butterflies for breakfast at a butterfly buffet of sorts.

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This one must have had his fill at the buffet as he came down to have some water to wash down what he had.

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Our route for the morning Safari
2013-04-21 Sariska Morning Safari – Google Maps

2013-04-21 A Sariska Morning Safari

 

to be continued…

Day Trip to Sariska -Tigers and More (Part I)

April 24, 2013 1 comment

This Sunday 21st April 2013 myself accompanied by 4 more guys we visited the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary. Having visited only 2 other Tiger Sanctuary before this, it was my first visit to Sariska.I’ve visited Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand and Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan. Surprisingly Sariska is the one which is closest to Delhi was never on my radar. So when I came across this travelogue from my friend Gurudutt, I in some corner of my mind started dreaming that I would be visit Sariska someday in future. Since the day I saw the travelogue I am a big fan of Gurudutt’s photography skills and the dedication with which he keeps visiting Sariska throughout the year and keeps his travelogue up-to-date. Adding fuel to the fire was travelogues by Dhiraj Kapoor and his fantastic photographic skills as well.

Though Gurudutt visits Sariska quite often somehow I never was able to accompany him on one of his travels. Sometimes the date’s didn’t suit well but most of the time I was too damm lazy, however the inclining to visit didn’t die out.
It was last week that I saw on Gurdutt’s thread that he was planning to visit Sariska on Sunday 21st April 2013 I saw an opportunity and got in touch with him. We’ve known each other for quite a long while having interacted on Social Networks and various forums but had never ever met each other in person nor spoken over the phone. So much so that we didn’t even have each other’s phone numbers. Funny thing that happened was when he called me on Friday 19th April 2013, I picked up the phone and greeted him like I knew who was calling. Gurudutt was surprised that I had his number but I told him that his number appeared on my phone through software by the name of TRUECALLER.

So we finalized that we would leave early morning on Sunday as only three of would be going we would leave in one vehicle. The third person to accompany myself and Gurudutt was Shahid Ahmed another common friend who I knew from my off-roading circle of friends.

I came home and when I told my plans to my brother, Harbeer, he too was interested. So now we were four people Gurudutt, Shahid, Harbeer and I.

The plan finalized was that me and Harbeer would pickup Gurudutt from Gurgaon at 3AM, then proceed towards Shahid’s place on Sohna Road and latest by 3.30AM start for Sariska.

21st April 2013

The night before I got my gear in order. Camera charged, Memory Cards emptied and formatted, extra memory cards packed, Tripod, GPS charged and emptied of previous tracks, binoculars, etc.
For this trip I’m using a Canon 550D along with Canon EF-S 55-250 f4-5.6 lens. It was the only lens I could afford at the time I bought it a couple of years back.

Called up Gurudutt informed him that my brother too would be accompanying us, understood the location to his house so that I don’t waste time trying to find it in the morning.

In the morning of 21st Apr’13 or I should say the night of 20th Apr’13 me and Harbeer were in our car at 235AM and started for Gurudutt’s house. We were there at 3am and found Gurudutt waiting at the gates of his building complex. Immediately we started for Shahid’s house on Sohna Road and were there in no time. Shahid Bhai was too waiting for us and it was decided there that we would take his Bolero for the journey to Sariska and back.

God only knows why none of us objected to this but we left behind four perfect and comfortable vehicles behind 3 Scorpios (2 belonging to Gurudutt and 1 to Shahid) & my Landcruiser. I think for me it was the excitement of visiting Sariska for the first time that I didn’t even think about this decision. More on that later.

We were now accompanied by Shahid’s driver as well, Rajesh, and were a party of 5.

Route Taken
Left Sohna Road at 3.30 AM and decided to take the Sohna- Nuh- Firozpur Zikra- Alwar By Pass and then Sariska route, a distance of 165Kms.

Our Route on Google Maps 

http://goo.gl/maps/xNljD

Gurgaon Sariska Route

There were ‘n number of speed breakers on this route and the last stretch of 30 odd kms is in a bad condition, resulting which we reached the Forest Office only 10 minutes to 7AM having originally planned to be there by 6AM. The reason for the delay was Rajesh was driving at a comfortable speed of 60-70 KMPH and the last stretch of 30 odd Kms, being double lane boken roads delayed us by quite a bit.

Good news was that Gurudutt’s guide Hari Singh was waiting for us at the Forest Office with all the permits and paperwork in order as well as the vehicle. Wasting no time we all got our gear out of the vehicle and hopped into the waiting gypsy and made an entry in the forest at 7AM.

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