Thursday, August 30, 2007

Etymology of F--U--C--K

A friend of mine told me this interesting fact about the most versatile and most widely used exclamation "F--U--C--K". Not sure about its authenticity though.

It seems in olden days in England, the couples could not have sex at their will. The king had to give them permission to do so. Before getting into the act, they had to put a notice on the door saying "Fornicating Under the Consent of King".

Interesting, isn't it?

Now some points to ponder over...
  • What if the king says NO, NEVER?Would they still be doing it with notice "Not Fornicating Under the Consent of King"?
  • What would the king write on the board "Fornicating Under My Own Consent"?
  • What if king's son does that "Fornicating Under My Father's Consent"?
  • What if king is dead and no one is appointed yet?
  • What would happen if no consent is taken and king discovers that?
,, , ,

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Complete Idiot's Guide To Clear Customer Interviews

This was highly inspired by "The Complete Idiot's Guide To Talking To Women".

New nerds are being hired in the company and every body had to pass through the guillotine called "Customer Interview". As a foreword to the article, it consists of typical (read stupid) questions asked by your one and only (prospective) god...THE CUSTOMER. The true answers that you would want to give, the ones from the bottom of you heart, the ones which you would swear by your dearest (or dumbest) brain you've been using all these years and the answers which you MUST & SHOULD articulate even though you are conscious that every word falling out of your mouth is a glorified and a fluent lie.

Disclaimer:
I'm not claiming that this guide will confirm your position that the customer interview is going to fetch you, neither I'm assuring you that your customer will be impressed big time offering you a job in his company. This obviously will give a fair idea to newbies on what to talk and what NOT to talk.

If you're unlucky to have a foreign customer with the weirdest English accent, my suggestion is to have your delivery manager whose ears would have got seasoned to the stupidest English on earth. Atleast he can clarify that the customer is not asking you to "elope" but asking you to "dial up" or he is not asking you to "sink" but "think". And as long as its not tele-conference, it would be great if you're accompanied by an experienced nerd to scribble stuff on board, if the interviewer gets technical.

The interview

Customer(C): What were you involved in before you start the new assignment?

What you want to say (WYWTS):
  • I've been wasting all my years trying to do something useful, but all I did was crap.
  • I just finished my education.
  • I've been involved in pot, crack, alcohol abuse, eve teasing and whole lot of other interesting projects.
What you must say (WYMS):
  • I was developing the Ultra thin, high definition, high density modular memory chips for 4.5 generation of cellular system supporting Hybrid - ARQ, involving HSDPA/HSUPA technologies which supports high mobility consuming zero battery with the ability of streaming MPEG-4 quality video at the highest data rate ever supported in the market!!!
  • (If you're a newbie) I was involved in the development of project funded by three biggies, Microsoft, Redhat and Apple. I have developed a version of Linux that can run within windows running within macos-x. We were successful in finishing the project in record time. But the demo was kind of screwed up, because of the usual thing that happens with windows.

C: Are you aware of our mission?

WYWTS:
  • Your mission is to save money, we are the cheap labors helping in accomplishing your mission.
  • What? Do you guys have mission?
  • Who cares?
WYMS:
  • Yeah I understand your mission completely. It feels great to know that we are working towards stabilizing your product and do the testing and maintenance as per the SLA. I'm wholeheartedly supportive of this endeavor.
C: What do you think of the procedures we are following to achieve our mission are effective?

WYWTS:
  • What a shitty procedure, I would finish the testing in one day and use the next 4 days to fill time sheets, status reports, hourly reports, hardware reports, test report, meeting minutes and a bunch of other absolutely useless activities.
  • Do you think I give a damn to all your procedures, give me work and money, I'll finish both by end of week.
WYMS:
  • Oh yeah!!! Absolutely!!! I have never seen such effective quality measures during my previous experience. Especially the kind of reports you have, ensure in every way that the practices are well followed.
C: What is the motivation for you to take up this work?

WYWTS:
  • Who says I'm motivated, its just that I don't have anything better to do I'm working here.
  • I don't care about any damn motivation, I'm getting money, I can do whole lotta crap.
  • I get a chance to see foreign country, I get chance to travel, I get money, I get beer, I get chicks, what more do I need in life?
  • Oh!!! Do I need to be motivated to do your work?
  • Well, never heard of that word before, could you explain in more detail.
  • You ain't kidding, are ya?
WYMS:
  • I get to work on such cutting edge technologies in this project, that is what I was dreaming about and I've got it. What more do I need?
  • The reputation of your product in the market has driven me towards this project. I'm glad that I'm getting a chance to work on this.
C: Where would you like to see yourself five years from now?

WYWTS:
  • In the Presidential suite, Four Seasons, Las Vegas.
  • Why on earth would you want to know that?
  • If I had such foresightedness, do you think I was taking this interview?
  • I don't know which pub I'm gonna hit this evening, and you're talking about 5 years!!!
WYMS:
  • I'm gonna finish my masters and preferably my MBA and still be striving hard for the benefit of this organization and in particular this project which I'm gonna start working on.
  • I would like to see myself as a team lead, working for the project which you're gonna offer.
C: What languages are you familiar with?

WYWTS:
  • Azarbaijani, Fijian, Bosnian, Inuktitut and a bit of English
  • English only
  • Why do you care what I speak?
  • What language should I know to work in your project?
WYMS:
  • Well I'm good at C, C++, Java, .Net. I'm am also familiar with older languages with Cobol, Fortran, Pascal, Ada and stuff like that. Other skills include PL/SQL, Database administration, Microsoft office and others.
C: I heard you've been getting trained for past few weeks, what have you been learning?

WYWTS:
  • I've been yawning and dowsing all my time in training.
  • Training sucked, too much math, I stopped giving a shit.
  • Donno what exactly it was, but trainer was using terms like wireless, cellular quite frequently.
WYMS:
  • I've learnt wireless technology basics, the basics of protocol stack and many other interesting things like DSP, Modulation, GSM, GPRS, CDMA, EDGE, 3G and WiMax.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

No carne, No pollo, No pescado...Solamente vegetariano

A classic quiz question:
Pamela Anderson, Alicia Silverstone, Kim Basinger, Olivia Newton John, Princes Diana, Shania Twian, Arun Radhakrishan...What is common?

They all are females---No Arun is the odd man out
They all are celebrities ----No Arun is not a celebrity yet

Think!!!

You nailed it!!!

They all are vegetarians.

Now we have this special person in our team - shy, friendly, tender, soft spoken, warm hearted, non-alcoholic, non-smoking, die hard vegetarian. I'm not sure if the other celebrities have atleast eaten meat once in their life time...but Arun wins hands down when it comes to vegetarianism, though he has relished chicken without being aware of it.

He spits out his signature statement everytime while ordering the food in restaurant, here in Mexico. No carne, no pollo, no pescado...solamente vegetariano (no beef, no chicken, no fish...only vegetarian). He would want to add few more - no jamon, no camarón, no calamares, no chivo, no huevo (no ham, no shrimp, no squid, no sheep, no egg) but I guess he is scared that the waiter may get impatient while taking orders and shoot back "Pinche Cabron".

He belongs to those few set of people, who always have a calm temperament, but if you have to see his fury then there is only one way out. Bribe the waiter at restaurant to mix meat in his order, allow Arun to eat and then tell him it has meat. Arun then reveals his another face...the face of anger, the face of fury, the face of wrath!!! If only he had license to kill, he would chop-off the waiter with the chef's meat cleaver..oops!!!...but cleaver is non-vegetarian, not sure how he kills them.

Sometimes I think how would he be placing order in occidental countries like China, Japan or Korea.
Arun: "No chicken, no sheep, no pork, no beef, no fish, no squids, no shrimps, no snakes, no dogs, no cats, no monkeys, no donkeys, no horse, no birds, no rats, no rabbits, no scorpions, no centipedes, no millipedes, no bugs, no bees, no snails, no sea-horses, no sea-lions, no that, no this"
Waiter: (with a wide smile)"No food".

Old habits die hard, if you happen to hear a person saying "no chicken, no beef, no fish, only vegetarian" after ordering a plate of idli-vada or masala-dosa in either Sukh Sagar or Sri Lakshmi Venkateshwara (SLV) restaurants in Bangalore, thats Mr. Arun.


Friday, August 24, 2007

The man who knew too much

No no no!!! This is not a glorified review of Hitchcock's suspense movie. It is about the recent interview we had with Mr. I-know-it-all (name changed). It was a technical interview with the motive of hiring him. Let me start by his resume, after seeing his resume, I was wondering if there is anything in this world that he does not know. Here is his resume, I swear by its verbatism, may the good lord strike me dead even if there is slightest deviation from the original.

Note: Excepts from interview are given below the resume

====================================================================
OBJECTIVE
Seeking a challenging Metrology Lab Coordinator/Test Engineering Specialist Position, and/or develops and design a Testing Software and hardware also metrology software, focusing in customer service, for a automotive high-tech. consumer products or Metrology company.

TEST METROLOGY AND DEVELOP SKILLS
  • 7 years experience including: English 90% Electronics Analog, Digital RF, Coordinate of Lab Operations, development, training, repair, calibration, GR&R, measurement uncertainty analysis, and test uncertainty ratio analysis of, Electrical Measurement DC & Low frequency, Radio Frequency, Termocouples, dimensional, analog and degital radio communication, wireless personalities, (CDMA, IS-95, IS-2000, W-CDMA, TDMA, GSM/GPRS, BLUETOOTH, WLAN, WI-FI), and general purpose test equipment and standards,
  • Technical Personnel Handling And New Grade Training Engineers
  • Develop and design of manual and automated measurement systems together with the related documentation, software, uncertainty analysis, and calibration procedures.
  • Perform manual and automated tests and perpare reports of calibration and other reports of instruments performance
  • Development of metrology databases.- Development Accreditation and maintenance of ISO/IEC 17025:2005 Quality System.
  • Maintain and monitoring conditions of facilities and workspaces in a condition approrpiate to an industry leader in metrology.
  • GUM (NIST 1297/EA4) Measurement uncertainty analysis experience.
  • Experience on Aperto Networks PM 100 Antenas.

MAINTENANCE SKILLS:
  • Electronic, refrigeration, mechanical and pneumatic equipment, preventive and corrective maintenance electronic diagrams reading.
  • Work Under Pressure

SOFTWARE DEVELOPS SKILLS:
  • Fluke MetCal procedure development (Up to 100 Procedures developed)
  • SQL, Access, databases develop and maintenance
  • Crystal reports develop
  • LabView 8.2, TestStand Software Platt form Develop an Automated Tests Software To Production Line GIPB and RS 232 Platform
  • Visual Basic 6.0 Software Platt form
  • AutoCAD
  • Orcad Electronic PCB Diagrams, Simulation and Layout Software
  • Temperature Chambers Profile Develop Applications Watlow F4, Thermotron 2800 & 3800 Series

KEY QUALIFICATIONS: High Frequency:
  • Power Meters
  • Power sensors
  • CW Generators
  • Sweep Generators
  • Spectrum Analyzers
  • Vector Signal Analyzers
  • Radio Communication Analyzers Anritsu MT8802B, Rhode & Schwarz CMU 2000 Agilent Technologies 8960 Series 10 E551A, E5515C, Applications E1962B, E1968B, E1987B
  • Demodulation and Modulation Generations of digital wireless signals, TDMA, CDMA, CDMA 2000, BLUETOOTH, GSM GSM/EDGE, 1EVDXO, WLAN
  • Network Analyzers S-Parameter 8753ES 8712ET
ELECTRICAL DC & LOW FREQUENCY:

  • FLUKE 5520A Calibrators
  • 8.5 Digit Digital Multimeters
  • Data Acquisitions
  • DC Power Supplies
  • Electronic Loads
  • Shunts
  • Oscilloscopes
  • Resistance Standards
  • Audio Analyzers
  • Temperature Profilers
  • Temperature Chambers
  • Arbitrary waveforms generators
  • Megaohmeters
  • LCR
  • RF LCR
TEMPERATURE:
  • Termocouples C, E, J, K, L, N, R, S. T, U
  • Temperature Chambers Test Develop Thermotron Test Equity
DIMENTIONAL:
  • Micrometers
  • Deep Gauges
  • Verniers
  • Block Gauges
  • Thickness Gauges
  • Coordinates Machines, Optical Comparators, Mitutoyo Quick Vision, Cyberoptics, Suburban Tool
MASS:
  • 0 TO 10 KGS 0.001 resoultion Scale Systems, Load Cells
TRAINING:

  • UNCERTAINITY
  • METROLOGY FOR TECHNICIANS
  • CAL LAB MAGNAMENT
  • METCAL METROLOGY SOFTWARE
  • LABVIEW 7.0 BASICS & INTERMEDIATE
  • 8960 SERVICE TRAINING
  • RF BASIC MEASUREMENT
  • GSM
  • GSM/EDGE
  • WIMAX
  • SIX SIGMA GREEN BELT
  • TS16949
  • ISO/IEC 17025:2005
  • 7 BASIC QUALITY TOOLS
  • ESD BASIC
  • ESD CONTROL
  • TS16949
====================================================================

After seeing this impressive resume we sort of decided that it'll be a great idea to hire him. He can not only just serve in our team, but can maintain the refrigeration systems in office and in case, your micro-oven or refrigerator fails at home, he can help us out to fix them.

Excerpts from interview:

Me: Do you have any idea of GSM protocol stack layers?
I-K-I-A: Well at this point of time, I don't remember a thing about it, I just know its got somethin to do with some bits of data and some headers and all this technologies are multilayered and the mobile sends signal to radio base and radio base authenticates the mobile and communication happens. You know I have 7 long years of experience *chuckle chuckle* and I have worked on this quite long time back, so at this point of time this is all I can say, but if need arises, I don't think its very difficult to learn.

Me: What is the maximum data rate that could be attained in W-CDMA?
I-K-I-A: If you see my resume carefully, I've just had a small training on W-CDMA and don't know in depth about it. But W-CDMA is anyway used only for data, I know more about CDMA-2000 since that is what is used for voice.
*Sigh*

Me: Do you know what is device pairing in Blue tooth?
I-K-I-A: At this point of time, I cannot answer your questions, but I've worked on big brands like Ericsson and Nokia which has blue tooth connectivity.


Ben: What parameters could be changed in Agilent 8960?
I-K-I-A: OK, let me give you a brief introduction about 8960. It is a very modular device, you just need to unscrew it and load cards which has different functionality. .............................20 long minutes of Agilent introduction.............Yeah and that's how it works!!!

Ramos: Do you have any experience in C programming?
I-K-I-A: I have done it during college days only, but I don't think it should be so difficult for me to learn.
*Gasping for breath*

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Murphy's Law...QED

Kal is a good friend of mine, she is one of those few who belongs to beauty with brains category. This is her disastrous pie making story, which I could have gastronomically titled "A bad textured cheese pie" or a vengefully rhyming one "The sick guy who tasted my pie". But as the story proceeds, the chosen title starts making a whole lot of sense.

Kal has congenital generosity of cooking for others, though she does not cook for herself, she is ever ready to cook for others. Out of the blue she gets the idea of making Cheese pie for this guy. The foremost hindrance was she didn't have the most essential appliance to make pie - The Oven. In this western world, finding an oven was a chicken soup - friends, neighbours, colleagues or comrades - atleast one of them should be able to lend, thought Kal.

She drives straight to David's place and requests him to use his oven, but slothful David asks her to procrastinate her idea.

Pissed off with David, she calls up Tomas and asks for it, but Tomas suffering from postpartum depression, was going out and he couldn't lend.

She calls up Jose, and to her luck Jose had the oven and was working too. Jose picks her up, they both goto supermarket, get the required ingredients and head to Jose's place. She prepares pie crust, pie dough, everything is set, she just has to place it in the oven and bake. But as usual, Mr. Murphy's spirits start playing around the oven and they're unable to even open the oven. Handle wouldn't budge, Jose's plying skills worked, after long and tiring effort the knob finally loosened. They lit the fire, to preheat the oven. Jose kept trying with all his might, ended up breaking the oven handle. The fire was put off and there was smoke all over, Kal found something like a paper stuck in the back of oven, she pulls it out and finds its not paper, but a dead rat!!! The whole episode of bringing oven to a working condition was a grand failure. Jose still didn't want to send Kal without baking the pie, all the required doughs and mixtures were ready in the recipient waiting to get cooked. His attempt to borrow oven from, not one, not two but six different neighbours were in vain.

Disturbed, disgusted (by the rat) and depressed Kal calls up David and asks him to stop being a lazy ass. Knowing that it is useless to argue with women, David allows her to use his oven. Jose and Kal start in Jose's car, which again had Murphy's spirits. Half way through, Jose's car breaks down on Garza Sada (one of the busiest avenues) blocking the traffic, causing chaos. Kal sends SOS to David. David appears there in no time, and they drove to David's place.

Kal was glad to see a clean and organized kitchen at David's place, as though its a brand new kitchen. She put the pie mixture into the bowl, placed it in the oven meticulously and ignited the oven. She set the flame to maximum and was disappointed to see a tiny flame which would have taken week long time to bake the pie. The oven at David's place was conked-off.

Kal was closer to getting crazy and start crying. David sympathized her and tried calling his friends, but to his surprise none responded. Calls to neither mobile phones nor landlines were responded and David thought people are having a weekend long sex or something. Cursing her fate, Kal tried Brenda's number. Brenda, the kind hearted pretty lady assured, rather promised that her oven worked fine. Kal arrived at Brenda's place and what the ...!!! Oven worked, pie was baked and Kal was on 9th cloud.

She drives home, hit the shower and takes the pie to that special guy. Narrating her sorry story about the pie, she eagerly waits for pearls to fall from his mouth, about the pie. With utter blandness the guy says "It tastes OK, but lacks texture". Kal feels like getting one of those Hattori Hanzo swords and slicing, chopping, ripping, cutting, hacking his head.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Heights of Internationalism

I ran into this lady with Asian looks, particularly Chinese, at Isla Mujeres island in Cancun. She was an epitome of Internationalism.

A Cantonese by roots, Canadian by nationality, teaching Yoga and French in USA, married to an Australian who teaches Spanish, vacationing in Mexico and at that point of time talking to an Indian working in Mexico!!!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Backpacking in Cancun

For most orient people Mexico is off their cognizance and wiser few would remember Tequilas, Señoritas, Mayans and Cancun when they think of Mexico. I was privileged and fortunate to experience the last in the list...the pride of Caribbean...Cancun. It is located on the south-eastern coast of Quintana Roo state of Mexico, part of picturesque Yucatán peninsula.

Vivaaerobus, that claims to fame being the most inexpensive flight, carried us down south from Monterrey. The flight was indeed cheap - paper boarding passes, no seat numbers, no refreshments (not even water), non-expanding seats slightly of lower quality than those older red BMTC buses. It took about two and half hours to reach our destination. An ADO bus, costing 35 pesos brought us to the central bus terminus of Cancun in less than half hour. It was quite hot outside, but ADO buses had better cooling systems and seats more comfortable for our derrières than Vivaaerobus ones. We had some roadside chicken tacos cursing the flight for not feeding us, walked for 15 minutes till we found our hostel Casa Mexico Tipico on Calle Jabali (read Caye Habali).

Señora Hilda, the hostel owner was warm and friendly. She explained the hostel rules in a jiffy and after a quick break, she explained us the basics of Cancun - what to see, how to get there, how much does it cost, where to eat, where is that, how is that - she answered a dozen of questions patiently wearing a sweet smile. Hostel has central air conditioning, neat and tidy rooms, immaculate sheets, clean toilets (shared) and even has a kitchen (shared) in case you would want to try out your culinary skills.

Cancun is a very simple city to navigate. In a nutshell, its a city with Tulum avenue, lagoon, hotel zone and beach. Tulum avenue is the backbone of the city containing central bus terminus and connecting neighbouring towns of Playa del Carmen, Tulum and others. Hotel zone is parallel to Tulum avenue which tapers as you move south, giving a shape of "7" when seen aerially. Between these two roads is a huge lagoon where tourists can boat, fish, swim or snorkel. Beach is on the other side of the hotel zone.

We boarded the city bus (Route-2) to one of such beaches on the smaller limb of "7", it was late in the evening, twilight illuminated the beach faintly, crowd was at its least. Waded and swam for an hour, repenting for not carrying beers. Took the same bus back to Tulum Avenue and had a tasty dinner at "Los Palleta Del Mayor", an inexpensive sea-food restaurant. The fish fillet sauted in garlic was fresh and fragrant, tasted suntuoso.

Day 2:
We started the day early, an ADO was peacefully driving us to Tulum. It costs about 72 pesos and 2 hours to reach Tulum from Cancun central, with a short stopover at Playa Del Carmen. Tulum brought back the memoirs of Goa in me. Street crowded with foreigners mainly Gringos, shops selling handicrafts, restaurants dishing out meals not just inside but on pavements too.

Hiring taxis in Cancun and its neighbouring places is the worst nightmare one may have. Taxi drivers are not aware that there exists a device called "Fare Meter" in this world. The fare largely depends on his mood, the face of the customer, the destination, time of the day, moon phases, star positions and several other supernatural factors. And they dont care for your bargain skills, which you used to excel all these years. We tried avoiding taxi as much as possible but in Tulum we had no other option (though there was option of bicycle).

We reached beach paying 35 pesos to the taxi driver, as we trod the soft white sands the sea gods started showing their fury. It started off with lightening streaks, thunder roars, stormy breeze, heavy drizzle mixed with sand. The beach side huts gave us shelter, in about 30 minutes the sea got pacified and rain stalled. We went to Mayan archaeological remains at Tulum. 45 pesos will fetch you an opportunity to witness the debris of Mayan city, consisting of stone buildings of varying sizes, along the magnificent blue beaches of Tulum. These buildings used to be the temples, castles and houses during the Mayan heydays 1200-1500 AD. The most beautiful one is the Templo del dios del Viento (The temple of the God of wind), which stands proudly on a circular base facing the blue and beautiful Carribean. Tulum was a fortified city then, and it was one of the major ports. At one place there is a wooden staircase leading to beach, we could spot many iguanas there, one of them was gaping at the visitors showing off its rosy oral interiors. After a short swim in the beach, we started walking back. Tried hitch-hiking few cars, none stopped, finally a taxi appeared and the driver agreed to drive us to downtown for 40 pesos.

Collectivo service is yet another mode of transport between Cancun and its neighbours, an air-conditioned mini bus, wait-until-full system, stops at customer convenient places, costs a tad cheaper yet faster than ADO, no television but pumps out good music. We came to Playa Del Carmen by a Collectivo and took an ADO to Cancun.

Like the previous day we tried one of the beaches at hotel zone but on the longer limb of "7". I was awestruck by the extravagance there - noisy and palatial disco houses, expensive souvenir shops, grandiose food houses, rich gringos flaunting their BMWs and Harleys. Amidst all these riches we found our way to the beach, it was deserted since it was almost dark. We had grabbed few beers and peanuts from Oxxo, had the pleasure of swilling beer, on the rock, in the water. Waves were also quite high which added to the pleasure. Time passed quicker in the beach, all street food shops at Cancun centro were off. We wandered searching for food, found a Tamales shop opposite to bus station. Chicken tamales tasted good and the chocolate malt was filling and nutritious.

Day 3:
Our plan of going to Cozumel early in the morning got changed due to late awakening and a German lady. Since we woke up late, we happened to talk to Daniella, a big time backpacker. She suggested us to goto Coba, another archaeological ruins site and we decided to do so.

A collectiveo to Playa Del Carmen, from there another one to Tulum. Boarded an ADO to Coba (no collectivo service) which drove us to our destination in 40 minutes. Coba is a small village consisting of few small eating joints, handicraft shops and a main road leading to the lake crowded by crocodiles. Next to the lake is the Mayan ruin site, entrance costs 45 pesos. The area is covered with extremely dense green forests. There are 3 sites to visit each separated by few kilometers. The first one consists of debris of the pyramid Iglesia, the second highest point on which climbing is prohibited. The second one has the great Nohoch Mul, the highest pyramid (42 meters) in the Yucatan peninsula on which one could climb. The pyramid is steep and view from top is the greenest panorama one could see, dense forests till horizon. There was a circular shaped pyramid too and the final site consisted of stone inscriptions. The inscriptions are so inconspicuous that I felt they were just mounted stone slabs. We spotted beautiful butterflies in this archaeological park and could manage few good shots of them. It almost took 3 hours for to traverse the park. Since the walking distance can range upto 10 kilometers depending on the number of sites you wish to see, cycles are available for renting.

We grabbed a bus to Playa Del Carmen. Here we walked on the 5th Avenue, a very posh touristy street parallel to the beach. It had many restaurants, handicraft shops, beauty salons crowded by pretty women. We went to Playa Mamitas and hit the beach. Sand was soft and white, water was calm, beach less crowded. After an hour long aquatic pleasure, we walked back on 5th avenue and had dinner at a roadside restaurant near the bus station. Chicken tacos tasted awesome, though mango juice consisted of 99.99% water with 0.01% mango topped with ice. A thick banana milk shake from the neighbouring juice store after dinner compensated that watery mango juice. A collectivo brought us back to Cancun.

Day 4:
We changed two city buses from our hostel area to reach Puerto Juarez. This is the point to take ferry to the magnificent island of Isla Mujeres (Island of women). The ferry costs 70 pesos for a round trip and takes about 20 minutes to cross the Bajia (bay) de Mujeres. The island is just about 8 kilometers long and less than a kilometer wide, with Playa Norte (The North Beach) on one end and Punte Sur (The South Point) on the other.

Since no buses ply on the island, renting a bike was inevitable. It costs 250 pesos and you can use it till 5 in the evening. Since we were present in the island quite early, most shops were shuttered down and the crowd was minimal. We hit Playa Norte and were mesmerized by the calmness, no crowd, no noise, no big waves - few pelicans and albatrosses were fishing in an absolutely pacified fashion in an absolutely pacified bluish-green beach. The beach was so shallow that I could walk half a kilometer without getting my neck wet. I instantly fell in love with Playa Norte.

We then headed to Punte Sur, the other end of the island. The roads were neat and narrow almost laid parallel to the blue beaches. Punte Sur is where the Mexico ends on its eastern side. We climbed atop a light house inside Carribean village, the view is splendid from this point, blue beaches on two sides till horizon and an obscured Mexican mainland on the third side. We drove back to downtown and decided to do snorkeling.

It costs 200 pesos for an hour long snorkeling. After a quick test of costume size, we were in boat driving towards the coral clad region. The water was crystal clear though terribly salty, we fell back from the boat like those scuba divers and started snorkeling. The life underneath was amazingly colorful and vivid. We happened to spot starfishes, colored fishes ranging from violet to red, long and fierce barracudas, schools of tiny fishes and interesting sea weeds. We were wet and hungry after snorkeling, we found one of the home kitchens "La Susanita" and had delicious chicken tortillas. Though home kitchens are supposed to be inexpensive, we had to shell out 150 pesos for lunch, which was a bit too much for the quantity of food we had.

Azul blue beaches, eye feasting ladies, hot sun, soft sand, ice cold beer, post lunch sloth and reverie - these exactly describe how we spent time after lunch at Playa Norte. We were wading in water like lazy cattle for two long hours guzzling down beer. We returned the bike at about half past four and took the ferry back to Cancun. After a quick rest, we were in the hotel zone watching the golden yellow sunset on the lagoon. We went till the lowest point on longer limb of "7" where the bus takes "U" turn and came back to downtown. Had tasty mushroom quesadillas
at roadside restaurant.

Day 5:
Our flight was at 4 in the evening, so we were not able to risk a far place. We decided to have a look at the much talked about "Market 28". Daniella joined us too, taxi fare was 18 pesos. It was like one of those BDA shopping complexes in Bangalore, selling T-shirts with Cancun prints, sunglasses, leather wallets and hats, Mayan souvenirs and other sundries supposedly cheaper than other places. After a quick stroll, we relaxed and talked over a drink till the lunch time at "Tiknixik". We talked German history, Indian culture, Cuban lifestyle, travel stories, food and loads of other interesting things with Daniella. Mouthwatering roasted chicken with rice and tortillas was served for lunch at the same place. We came back to hostel and relaxed for a while, we packed our luggage, bid farewell to Hilda and Daniella, walked lazily to the bus station gulping chilled beer. An ADO bus drove us smoothly to airport and we were flying back on Vivaaerobus back to Monterrey.

Traveller tips (mainly for backpackers/budget travllers):

1. If you're backpacking avoid all the fancy parks like xcaret or xel-ha. Many may recommend you to visit, but considering the fact that you have to cough out 1000 pesos (on a budget travel!!!) for an amusement park, though it includes snorkeling, food and some entertainment, I would rather explore something more intense, interesting and inexpensive. It would be an interesting place for those travelling with family or on honeymoon, but no way for a backpacker.

2. Cancun is an exorbitantly expensive place, roadside food is a good option for budget travellers. There are innumerable places dishing out tacos, quesadillas, tamales and hotdogs. Most of them are clean and food is delicious, so if you hesitate to eat on streets you're missing something nice and tasty.

3. Buses ply with high frequency and higher speeds. The drivers seem to be retired formula-1 drivers, it looks as though they are having drags with the other buses or taxis when they drive in hotel zone.

4. Collectivos are faster and cheaper than ADOs and I personally liked it more than ADO buses.

5. You can find hostels in Cancun here.

6 . A note to all SLR shooters: ADO buses have a cool atmosphere inside, but the luggage cabin above the seat is mind numbingly cold. I threw my camera bag there while going to Tulum and it was so cold that even the inside of the lens got fogged, which may lead to fungus. You're better off keeping the camera bag underneath the seat.

7. In most archaeological sites, use of tripod is prohibited and use of video camera requires you pay extra.

More photos:
http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=754892
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sachinb/tags/cancun

tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
For most orient people Mexico is off their cognizance and wiser few would remember Tequilas, Señoritas, Mayans and Cancun when they think of Mexico. I was privileged and fortunate to experience the last in the list...the pride of Caribbean...Cancun. It is located on the south-eastern coast of Quintana Roo state of Mexico, part of picturesque Yucatán peninsula.

Vivaaerobus, that claims to fame being the most inexpensive flight, carried us down south from Monterrey. The flight was indeed cheap - paper boarding passes, no seat numbers, no refreshments (not even water), non-expanding seats slightly of lower quality than those older red BMTC buses. It took about two and half hours to reach our destination. An ADO bus, costing 35 pesos brought us to the central bus terminus of Cancun in less than half hour. It was quite hot outside, but ADO buses had better cooling systems and seats more comfortable for our derrières than Vivaaerobus ones. We had some roadside chicken tacos cursing the flight for not feeding us, walked for 15 minutes till we found our hostel Casa Mexico Tipico on Calle Jabali (read Caye Habali).

Señora Hilda, the hostel owner was warm and friendly. She explained the hostel rules in a jiffy and after a quick break, she explained us the basics of Cancun - what to see, how to get there, how much does it cost, where to eat, where is that, how is that - she answered a dozen of questions patiently wearing a sweet smile. Hostel has central air conditioning, neat and tidy rooms, immaculate sheets, clean toilets (shared) and even has a kitchen (shared) in case you would want to try out your culinary skills.

Cancun is a very simple city to navigate. In a nutshell, its a city with Tulum avenue, lagoon, hotel zone and beach. Tulum avenue is the backbone of the city containing central bus terminus and connecting neighbouring towns of Playa del Carmen, Tulum and others. Hotel zone is parallel to Tulum avenue which tapers as you move south, giving a shape of "7" when seen aerially. Between these two roads is a huge lagoon where tourists can boat, fish, swim or snorkel. Beach is on the other side of the hotel zone.

We boarded the city bus (Route-2) to one of such beaches on the smaller limb of "7", it was late in the evening, twilight illuminated the beach faintly, crowd was at its least. Waded and swam for an hour, repenting for not carrying beers. Took the same bus back to Tulum Avenue and had a tasty dinner at "Los Palleta Del Mayor", an inexpensive sea-food restaurant. The fish fillet sauted in garlic was fresh and fragrant, tasted suntuoso.

Day 2:
We started the day early, an ADO was peacefully driving us to Tulum. It costs about 72 pesos and 2 hours to reach Tulum from Cancun central, with a short stopover at Playa Del Carmen. Tulum brought back the memoirs of Goa in me. Street crowded with foreigners mainly Gringos, shops selling handicrafts, restaurants dishing out meals not just inside but on pavements too.

Hiring taxis in Cancun and its neighbouring places is the worst nightmare one may have. Taxi drivers are not aware that there exists a device called "Fare Meter" in this world. The fare largely depends on his mood, the face of the customer, the destination, time of the day, moon phases, star positions and several other supernatural factors. And they dont care for your bargain skills, which you used to excel all these years. We tried avoiding taxi as much as possible but in Tulum we had no other option (though there was option of bicycle).

We reached beach paying 35 pesos to the taxi driver, as we trod the soft white sands the sea gods started showing their fury. It started off with lightening streaks, thunder roars, stormy breeze, heavy drizzle mixed with sand. The beach side huts gave us shelter, in about 30 minutes the sea got pacified and rain stalled. We went to Mayan archaeological remains at Tulum. 45 pesos will fetch you an opportunity to witness the debris of Mayan city, consisting of stone buildings of varying sizes, along the magnificent blue beaches of Tulum. These buildings used to be the temples, castles and houses during the Mayan heydays 1200-1500 AD. The most beautiful one is the Templo del dios del Viento (The temple of the God of wind), which stands proudly on a circular base facing the blue and beautiful Carribean. Tulum was a fortified city then, and it was one of the major ports. At one place there is a wooden staircase leading to beach, we could spot many iguanas there, one of them was gaping at the visitors showing off its rosy oral interiors. After a short swim in the beach, we started walking back. Tried hitch-hiking few cars, none stopped, finally a taxi appeared and the driver agreed to drive us to downtown for 40 pesos.

Collectivo service is yet another mode of transport between Cancun and its neighbours, an air-conditioned mini bus, wait-until-full system, stops at customer convenient places, costs a tad cheaper yet faster than ADO, no television but pumps out good music. We came to Playa Del Carmen by a Collectivo and took an ADO to Cancun.

Like the previous day we tried one of the beaches at hotel zone but on the longer limb of "7". I was awestruck by the extravagance there - noisy and palatial disco houses, expensive souvenir shops, grandiose food houses, rich gringos flaunting their BMWs and Harleys. Amidst all these riches we found our way to the beach, it was deserted since it was almost dark. We had grabbed few beers and peanuts from Oxxo, had the pleasure of swilling beer, on the rock, in the water. Waves were also quite high which added to the pleasure. Time passed quicker in the beach, all street food shops at Cancun centro were off. We wandered searching for food, found a Tamales shop opposite to bus station. Chicken tamales tasted good and the chocolate malt was filling and nutritious.

Day 3:
Our plan of going to Cozumel early in the morning got changed due to late awakening and a German lady. Since we woke up late, we happened to talk to Daniella, a big time backpacker. She suggested us to goto Coba, another archaeological ruins site and we decided to do so.

A collectiveo to Playa Del Carmen, from there another one to Tulum. Boarded an ADO to Coba (no collectivo service) which drove us to our destination in 40 minutes. Coba is a small village consisting of few small eating joints, handicraft shops and a main road leading to the lake crowded by crocodiles. Next to the lake is the Mayan ruin site, entrance costs 45 pesos. The area is covered with extremely dense green forests. There are 3 sites to visit each separated by few kilometers. The first one consists of debris of the pyramid Iglesia, the second highest point on which climbing is prohibited. The second one has the great Nohoch Mul, the highest pyramid (42 meters) in the Yucatan peninsula on which one could climb. The pyramid is steep and view from top is the greenest panorama one could see, dense forests till horizon. There was a circular shaped pyramid too and the final site consisted of stone inscriptions. The inscriptions are so inconspicuous that I felt they were just mounted stone slabs. We spotted beautiful butterflies in this archaeological park and could manage few good shots of them. It almost took 3 hours for to traverse the park. Since the walking distance can range upto 10 kilometers depending on the number of sites you wish to see, cycles are available for renting.

We grabbed a bus to Playa Del Carmen. Here we walked on the 5th Avenue, a very posh touristy street parallel to the beach. It had many restaurants, handicraft shops, beauty salons crowded by pretty women. We went to Playa Mamitas and hit the beach. Sand was soft and white, water was calm, beach less crowded. After an hour long aquatic pleasure, we walked back on 5th avenue and had dinner at a roadside restaurant near the bus station. Chicken tacos tasted awesome, though mango juice consisted of 99.99% water with 0.01% mango topped with ice. A thick banana milk shake from the neighbouring juice store after dinner compensated that watery mango juice. A collectivo brought us back to Cancun.

Day 4:
We changed two city buses from our hostel area to reach Puerto Juarez. This is the point to take ferry to the magnificent island of Isla Mujeres (Island of women). The ferry costs 70 pesos for a round trip and takes about 20 minutes to cross the Bajia (bay) de Mujeres. The island is just about 8 kilometers long and less than a kilometer wide, with Playa Norte (The North Beach) on one end and Punte Sur (The South Point) on the other.

Since no buses ply on the island, renting a bike was inevitable. It costs 250 pesos and you can use it till 5 in the evening. Since we were present in the island quite early, most shops were shuttered down and the crowd was minimal. We hit Playa Norte and were mesmerized by the calmness, no crowd, no noise, no big waves - few pelicans and albatrosses were fishing in an absolutely pacified fashion in an absolutely pacified bluish-green beach. The beach was so shallow that I could walk half a kilometer without getting my neck wet. I instantly fell in love with Playa Norte.

We then headed to Punte Sur, the other end of the island. The roads were neat and narrow almost laid parallel to the blue beaches. Punte Sur is where the Mexico ends on its eastern side. We climbed atop a light house inside Carribean village, the view is splendid from this point, blue beaches on two sides till horizon and an obscured Mexican mainland on the third side. We drove back to downtown and decided to do snorkeling.

It costs 200 pesos for an hour long snorkeling. After a quick test of costume size, we were in boat driving towards the coral clad region. The water was crystal clear though terribly salty, we fell back from the boat like those scuba divers and started snorkeling. The life underneath was amazingly colorful and vivid. We happened to spot starfishes, colored fishes ranging from violet to red, long and fierce barracudas, schools of tiny fishes and interesting sea weeds. We were wet and hungry after snorkeling, we found one of the home kitchens "La Susanita" and had delicious chicken tortillas. Though home kitchens are supposed to be inexpensive, we had to shell out 150 pesos for lunch, which was a bit too much for the quantity of food we had.

Azul blue beaches, eye feasting ladies, hot sun, soft sand, ice cold beer, post lunch sloth and reverie - these exactly describe how we spent time after lunch at Playa Norte. We were wading in water like lazy cattle for two long hours guzzling down beer. We returned the bike at about half past four and took the ferry back to Cancun. After a quick rest, we were in the hotel zone watching the golden yellow sunset on the lagoon. We went till the lowest point on longer limb of "7" where the bus takes "U" turn and came back to downtown. Had tasty mushroom quesadillas
at roadside restaurant.

Day 5:
Our flight was at 4 in the evening, so we were not able to risk a far place. We decided to have a look at the much talked about "Market 28". Daniella joined us too, taxi fare was 18 pesos. It was like one of those BDA shopping complexes in Bangalore, selling T-shirts with Cancun prints, sunglasses, leather wallets and hats, Mayan souvenirs and other sundries supposedly cheaper than other places. After a quick stroll, we relaxed and talked over a drink till the lunch time at "Tiknixik". We talked German history, Indian culture, Cuban lifestyle, travel stories, food and loads of other interesting things with Daniella. Mouthwatering roasted chicken with rice and tortillas was served for lunch at the same place. We came back to hostel and relaxed for a while, we packed our luggage, bid farewell to Hilda and Daniella, walked lazily to the bus station gulping chilled beer. An ADO bus drove us smoothly to airport and we were flying back on Vivaaerobus back to Monterrey.

Traveller tips (mainly for backpackers/budget travllers):

1. If you're backpacking avoid all the fancy parks like xcaret or xel-ha. Many may recommend you to visit, but considering the fact that you have to cough out 1000 pesos (on a budget travel!!!) for an amusement park, though it includes snorkeling, food and some entertainment, I would rather explore something more intense, interesting and inexpensive. It would be an interesting place for those travelling with family or on honeymoon, but no way for a backpacker.

2. Cancun is an exorbitantly expensive place, roadside food is a good option for budget travellers. There are innumerable places dishing out tacos, quesadillas, tamales and hotdogs. Most of them are clean and food is delicious, so if you hesitate to eat on streets you're missing something nice and tasty.

3. Buses ply with high frequency and higher speeds. The drivers seem to be retired formula-1 drivers, it looks as though they are having drags with the other buses or taxis when they drive in hotel zone.

4. Collectivos are faster and cheaper than ADOs and I personally liked it more than ADO buses.

5. You can find hostels in Cancun here.

6 . A note to all SLR shooters: ADO buses have a cool atmosphere inside, but the luggage cabin above the seat is mind numbingly cold. I threw my camera bag there while going to Tulum and it was so cold that even the inside of the lens got fogged, which may lead to fungus. You're better off keeping the camera bag underneath the seat.

7. In most archaeological sites, use of tripod is prohibited and use of video camera requires you pay extra.

More photos:
http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=754892
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sachinb/tags/cancun

tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,