Posted in Assorted

Coffee – The Elixir of Life

How do you start your mornings?

Yes; I heard it right, my dear reader: with a fresh cup of joe. Coffee, Kapi, Filter Coffee…whatever the name, it smells and tastes great; isn’t it?

Coffee…the elixir of life…the best drink known to the humankind…

For me, brewing coffee is kind of religious experience; a ritual that I have (sort of) perfected over the years. I am so obsessed with my coffee that I carried sufficient amount of my favorite brand of coffee and a coffee maker with me when I spent some time in the land of opportunities, aka USA.

I was introduced to coffee at a very young age. I didn’t take much time to graduate from Amul to filter coffee. The frothing, mesmerizing filter coffee made my school and college days. During those days, we could get the freshest cow’s milk from the milk cooperative society. I still remember the days when I would wake up early at around 4:30 and sprint to the society just in time to get the lukewarm milk from my favorite cow. The fresh milk and freshly ground coffee brewed using the traditional coffee filter made the best coffee in our neighborhood.

After marriage, I became the barista of our home. I am fortunate that my wife also likes coffee as much as I do. Now, we do not get the milk direct from the cow’s udder served to us the same day; instead, what we get is the packaged concoction called milk, so I have to settle for the best of what is available: Aavin. Over a period, I reduced the milk content and enjoy coffee in its bitter-sweet glory.

How to Make a Good Filter Coffee?

Here’s my recipe:


Note these things down:

  • Aavin milk, preferably full-cream milk
  • Freshly ground Arabica coffee; not very fine or very coarse. If it is very fine, water will stay for a longer time making a very bitter coffee. If it is coarse, water will drain through very quickly, making the coffee very light. If you can get a coffee grinder, buy roasted coffee beans and grind them daily. If you lack the time, get the ground coffee in small quantity such as 100 or 200 grams, which would only last four or five days. Krishna Sweets (you read it right) stocks pure coffee powder in 200gm pack, which is very good. Keep your coffee powder in a ceramic jar used by your grandma and now kept in the attic. Or, get a good airtight, food-grade plastic or glass container.
  • Coffee maker or coffee filter. Coffee makers are good as the water is boiled at the optimum temperature and dripped into the coffee powder, the result of which is evenly brewed coffee. On the other hand, coffee filters may not yield evenly brewed coffee as the water may drain through the filter sooner than you like. But filters, especially the ones made of brass add the tangy brass flavor to the coffee. I have a small brash filter used for more than 50 years in my family.


  • Fresh water. This is important as the water makes or breaks your coffee, believe me.


How you make your filter coffee is very important, as not only the ingredients but also the procedure that makes or breaks your coffee.

  • Add the required amount of coffee powder to the coffee maker or coffee filter.

For two cups of coffee (around 100ml each), I add four heaped teaspoons of coffee powder. If you use a coffee maker, spread the coffee powder evenly. If you brew using a coffee filter, spread the coffee powder and add little thrust using your knuckles. This will make the coffee powder stay firm when you pour boiling water, so there won’t be any weak spots for the boiling water to drain through quickly.

  • Add sufficient amount of water to the coffee maker. Or boil sufficient amount of water if use you coffee filter.

I add 125ml for two cups.

  • If you use coffee maker, wait for the water to boil and drip through the coffee powder. Wait for the sweet sound of coffee being brewed to stop and promptly switch off the coffee maker and take the carafe (the container where brewed coffee is collected) from the coffee maker.. Don’t wait for the coffee maker to trigger the auto-shut off mechanism and keep the carafe in the hot plate. This will make your coffee boil over 90 degree Celsius, where it will lose the aroma and flavor.
  • If you use coffee filter, pour the water in a container and keep it in a gas burner in low flame. Wait for the bubbles to spring up. When you see a lot of bubbles (where the temperature would be around 90 degree Celsius), remove the container and slowly pour the water in the coffee filter and wait for the coffee to brew. Don’t wait for the water to boil beyond the bubbles stage and reach 100 degree Celsius. This is important for making good coffee.
  • Boil milk in a container in low flame. Don’t add water to the milk.

For two cups of coffee (100ml each), I use 75ml of milk.

  • Mix the milk and decoction and add sugar to your taste.

Yummy filter coffee is ready.

Now, don’t gulp it down. Go to a serene place such as balcony or rooftop, sit in a relaxed position, and slowly enjoy the coffee. As they say, let the world wait when you enjoy your coffee.


Posted in Assorted

Why So?

I have always wondered this: Why does the heart still root for people or things that are second best at the moment or are past their prime? I will present a few cases in point for you, dear reader, to decide…

  1. King Federer…I need not go deep into why he is (arguably) considered the GOAT. But today, he is a shadow of his former self. He perseveres but time has really taken a toll. The mighty Djoker dismantles him each time they meet. And not so long ago, Nadal made him look like an ordinary tennis player when they met in the red clay. But the heart always roots for FedEx each time he meets Djokovic, and hopes that he win the match.
  2. Rahul Dravid…While all the cricketing world (or India at least), rooted for Sachin, my heart was always looking forward to seeing the performance of “The Wall”. He would not be as entertaining as Sachin but still the heart wished he score more.
  3. Windows 10 Mobile…Despite the fact that the mobile world in general and the reviewers in particular play the swan song, and despite the fact that there is no market share to talk about, the hearts roots for Windows 10 Mobile.

So why, why, why the heart roots for the second best at the moment or for people or things that are past their prime?

Loyalty for that person or thing or their class, timelessness, and elegance? Or, is it just that you see your persona in that person or thing? What’s that?? I am still searching for an answer…


Posted in Review

Windows 10 Mobile on Lumia 830 – Is It Worth the Upgrade?

Lumia 830—an affordable flagship from Microsoft and last of the Nokia-branded phone—has been a wonderful digital companion to me for about a year now. I have used both Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile on this device. Windows Phone 8.1 worked like a charm (most of the Windows Phone users vouch for it) on Lumia 830. How does it fare in the Windows 10 Mobile world? Read further…

Windows Phone

I have been using Windows Phone for 3.5 years now. Started with Windows 8 on the cute Lumia 520, which only had 512MB of RAM even when other Android devices were touting 1GB of RAM. 512MB was sufficient for 520, for Windows 8 was working wonderfully utilizing the RAM to the optimum. When I wanted a better camera phone, I didn’t go for 1020 because I didn’t need 41 megapixels. Lumi 930, though was a premium device, didn’t have the glance screen, so Lumia 830 was the best choice for me.

Lumia 830 and Windows Phone 8.1

With its metal frame and sleek body, Carl Zeiss optics, and the more-than-sufficient 10mp camera, it was (and is) a beauty. Windows 8.1 which came as stock OS was working beautifully. The OS was always slick, fluid, and fast for me. Though there were not many apps (I don’t want to get on the app war), whatever apps I needed were already there. And boy, what a camera it has. I can’t remember the countless shots that I have taken just for the sake of using the PureView camera.

Lumia 830 and Windows 10 Mobile

When Microsoft announced the Developer Preview program (later became Windows Insider), I created an account but waited for a perfect opportunity to jump the ship. Had been reading the articles all around the web (including my favorite Windows Central) for the build that was ready as a daily driver. When reviews were mostly positive for 10536, I simply opted for it and moved up through the build chain through the release build 10586.

The experience was a mixed bag. The minimalistic design on Windows 10 in general was refreshing (my views only). But there were a lot of design gaps. Some of the older features such as the display screen under SettingsàExtrasàdisplay was (and is till this day) still baked in the Windows 8.1 design language. The screen flickered sometimes for no reason. The Health & Fitness app was broken. Yet, for the freshness of Windows 10, I remained in 10586.

When Microsoft announced a new branch Redstone for the Insiders, I installed the build 14295. It was by far the regrettable build for me to say the least. Battery lasted just for a few hours; videos in the landscape mode flickered when you touched the screen or adjusted the volume rockers; the People app took eons to open. I had had enough and decided to return to the production build in the Threshold branch aka 10586.107.

Now, when you want to return to 10586 there is no direct way. You will need to downgrade to Windows 8.1 using the Windows Recovery Tool and then get the OTA update to the production build 10586.107.

I took the plunge and downgraded to Windows 8.1. It was kind of funny to use Windows Phone 8.1 after a gap of six months. Things were back to normal again. The interface was fluid, the Phone, People, and Messaging apps opened in a jiffy, and most importantly the Health & Fitness app worked right from the word go. I could feel that the OS was very light though there were less features than Windows 10 Mobile.

But my enthusiasm lasted for just one day. I already started feeling that I was living in a mobile world which was so 2012. For some reason, I craved for the Windows 10 Mobile’s experience. Maybe the Saavn Music app, maybe the revamped Twitter universal app, or just the modern Windows 10 Mobile interface–for whatever reason, I wanted to get back to Windows 10 Mobile.

The OTA upgrade to 10586 was time consuming. The MTS wifi network was painfully slow and at least three times the upgrade aborted. Spent almost a day to get back to 10586.107. Then immediately noticed that there was a production update available to 10586.218. So I lumbered my way through the upgrade path again. It’s been two days since I started rocking the latest production build and as they say it was a happy ending for me. No more development builds until Redstone is ready as a daily driver.

So what is the take away for you, dear reader, if you want to upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile? Here are some random jottings.

  1. Remember that Windows 10 Mobile is still not as refined as Windows 8.1 was. It has a modern look, added features, but has come with a caveat that is performance. Some apps load faster, while some take their sweet time to show up.
  2. It is always better to reset your phone just after the upgrade and install your apps manually instead of restoring a backup. If you have stored your apps in the sd card, chances are that Windows 10 Mobile doesn’t restore them as it happened to me.
  3. Give your mobile a day or two to “settle down.”

I will update this post after a week with my experience of .218 on my Lumia 830. Stay tuned…

Update: It’s been four days since I started using .218. The performance is very good now. Native apps such as Phone, People, and Messaging load faster. Apps didn’t crash. There is one big disappointment though: battery drains pretty fast–just 6 to 7 hours of juice available even if I use the Internet only intermittently. I have restricted the apps that run on the background to the barest minimum; I have set a black & white photo for the Glance screen as well as set a timing of 15 minutes to show the lock screen contents instead of the regular setting “Always on”.

Update 2: Since the phone is kind of settled now, things are slowly returning to normalcy, I would say. Battery lasts for around 12 hours now with moderate use of the ‘Net. Just for comparison, I pitted my 830 against my colleagues beautiful Lumia 650 for it is the only phone that comes close to 830’s elegance and has almost similar specs (sans the camera, of course). Maybe, I am biased towards my 830, but it did load core apps faster than the 650 except the Store app, which still takes a bit of time to load than in the 650.

Overall, .218 seems to be a great build. There is another Redstone build 14322 up for grabs, which was published to the Insiders a few days ago, but I will resist the temptation and wait for its production release. No way I am going to jump ship and join the RS build. Or so I think 🙂

Posted in Review

When a Software Update Actually Downgraded Your Smartphone

I had successfully resisted the temptation. I had thought “It was too early to go for it; also, it was not official, so it could harm the whole setup.” It was the Odin ‘unofficial’ 2.2 update that was available for my Samsung Galaxy 3 a.k.a I5801 a.k.a I5800. So, days, weeks, and months had passed by, and I had successfully resisted my temptation.

One fine morning, Kies, Samsung’s tool to manage the phone, told me that an update was available. That’s it. I just yielded. I ignored the usual Windows wisdom that the device (my phone, that is) could perform faster if it was connected to a USB2.0 slot. I have no 2.o slot in my computer, but have successfully connected to Kies in the past, so it would be no different this time. Or, so I thought.

Kies slowly but successfully downloaded the firmware, but when it reached the 85% mark and started decrypting, Windows couldn’t suppress its anger and made it clear that “the USB device has malfunctioned”. A chill went down my spine. Had I just made a brick out of my phone? The phone was showing the message “Downloading…don’t disconnect the device,” but the mighty Windows didn’t recognize the USB port. Kies, for its part, told me that it could not upgrade my phone and I had to initiate an emergency recovery. I followed the instructions to a T, but Windows had already made the decision: I would not be allowed to use the below-par USB port. I shut down my phone and restarted it. It took a few minutes to show any sign of life, but finally displayed the home screen. The download could not start, so my phone came out unharmed.

In the following weeks, I went through all the reviews. A lot of people had experienced the problem, but there were no solutions. Most people yelled at Samsung for making them wait for long but finally providing them with a buggy update. Most of them reverted (or wanted to revert) to 2.1. I thought “OK! I will stick with 2.1 for the rest of my phone’s life or until Samsung provides a propah update, whichever happens early”.

But, destiny made it sure that I had to suffer the update. The day when a friend handed me his laptop to install Windows Security Essentials, I couldn’t resist for the second time. The laptop had a lot of USB ports, all 2.0. So, went I again through the vicious cycle. Installed Kies and followed the instructions. In no time, the firmware update was over. “What? Have I completed the update process? Am I looking at a Froyo phone? Is this real?” I pinched myself hard. A quick check of the settings confirmed that my phone had indeed been updated to 2.2.

So, you have been waiting for the climax, right? Here it goes…

Proximity sensor only works if you trick the phone. I started the phone and made a call to my wife. Once the call was over, the phone didn’t show any display, so I pressed the menu button. The call was still continuing, which meant the proximity sensor didn’t work. I made a few more calls with the same result. In desperation, I switched off the phone, restarted it, and made another call. Now, the proximity sensor worked. “So, it is only an aberration,” I sighed in relief. But after sometime, the sensor stopped working again without any reason. Now I know the trick: If I go through the switch-off-switch-on rut, the sensor will work for sometime till it thinks it has had enough for the day.

Update: The proximity sensor works now. Here’s the new trick: Take out the battery and SIM card (I don’t know why I took out the SIM card :)), wait for a few seconds, and insert them again. Now, while making or receiving calls, keep the phone at a good distance away from you (maybe, one foot) . Voila, the sensor works.

Positive: 0 Negative: 1

There are no live wallpapers. One of the reasons for going for this update was to enjoy the live wallpapers (though they would suck the juice out of the battery), but I couldn’t see them listed. I am sure the hardware may not be the reason. If Galaxy 5 can be provided with this feature, why not Galaxy 3?

Positive: 0 Negative: 2

The volume control button doesn’t have the necessary credentials to shut up your phone when needed. You can’t simply press the volume control button repeatedly, as you usually do, to switch from “reducing the volume” to Vibrate mode to Silent mode. The button now only has the power to reduce the volume and, if you insist, put the phone in Vibrate mode.

Positive: 0 Negative: 3

Swype has vanished into thin air. I admit that I am not the type of person who shoots 100 SMS messages in a day. But I love Swype. It makes sending messages a joy. But with this update, Swype is gone.

Positive: 0 Negative: 4

I could connect to the Internet at my own will. Though there are apndroids available in the Market, I couldn’t disconnect successfully from the ‘Net, so I have had the privilege of 24X7 connectivity. I tried all the tricks. I even created an APN without providing any connection information, but still my BSNL SIM card somehow connected me to the 3G network. (3G doesn’t work when I am at home, but that’s another story.) After this update, I can “clear” a checkbox that shuts down the Net connection. Whoa!

Positive: 1 Negative: 4

In the end, the update proved to be a bane for the people living in the 3rd planet of the Samsung Galaxy. Now, it’s up to Samsung to save its netizens.

P.S. In hindsight, I think I should have told my friend to download Microsoft Security Essentials from Microsoft’s website himself.

Posted in Travelogue

If Kovoor is Mercury then Kundrathoor is Neptune


Of late, Sunday evenings have been mostly spent in temples. For a theme, my wife and I have selected the navagraha temples in and around Chennai.  A couple of weeks ago, we went to Gerugampakkam (or Geruhampakkam), the Kethu sthalam. This Sunday (5 March), we wanted to go to Thiruverkadu and Mangadu, but ended up at Kovoor and Kundrathoor.

Kovoor, the Budhan Sthalam

Google maps told me Kovoor was 14km from Chitpakkam, via Pammal, but it was actually 16km away from home. We wade through the narrow, dusty Pammal Main Road and reached Kovoor at 5.15pm.

Kovoor is a medium-sized temple; it is famously mentioned as a place visited by Saint Thyagaraja and immortalized by his Kovoor pancharathnam. The rajagopuram is gigantic and majestic. The sannathi street is broad with trees on both sides, and the temple car stationed at the farthest end of the street, though in a dilapidated condition, adds to the ethereal ambience.

The majestic rajagopuram

In the prakaram, we saw Ganapathi at the center as well as on the left corner. After offering our prayers, we circumvented the prakaram and entered the sanctum. Swamy is called Thirumeniyudayar (or Sundareswarar). Lingam is fairly big. In the inner prakaram, you can see Suryan, samayakkuravar nalvar, Veerabadrar and his consort, Ganapathy, Somaskandar, Kaarmeghavanna Perumal, Shanmukhar, Dakshinamoorthy, Brahma, and Durgai. The vimanam is gajaprishtam, as usual. On the outer wall of the sanctum (at the back side of swamy), you find Lingothbavar, instead of Vishnu. Ambal, Thiruvudai Nayaki or Soundarya Nayakai, is graceful, as in any Shiva temple.

The rajagopuram and the vimanas

Though Kovoor is a Budhan parihara sthalam, there is no separate shrine for him; instead, there is a shrine for Saneeswarar. The Ganapathy I mentioned in the outer prakaram is facing Saneeswarar. The priest informed me that this was one of the specialties of the temple.

Kovoor offers rustic charm in spite of its proximity to Chennai. If you want to spend an evening by immersing yourself in spirituality, head toward Kovoor.

Kunrathoor, the Raghu Sthalam

Kunrathoor is famous for the Murugan temple, for sure, but there is a Shiva temple which is equally famous. It is a navagraha sthalam in Chennai. Vada Thirunageswaram, as it was called until a few hundred years ago, is a bustling town today. If Swamy is handsome, ambal, Thaiyal Nayaki, is graceful. Sekkhizhar, a citizen of this town adds charm to the town. There is a Sekkhizhar mani mandapam next to the temple, which is worth a visit.


If you come from Pallavaram and Pammal, you will find a T intersection as you enter Kundrathoor. Right at the intersection, you will find a temple car. It belongs to the Thirunageswaran temple, not the Murugan temple. Go through the street and you will find the temple.

To go to the Kovoor temple, take a right turn at the T intersection and after you cover 3 or 4km on the main road, you will find a Pillayar temple on the left side of the road. Go further down the road, take a left turn, go further, and take a right turn. You can see the dilapidated temple car at the beginning of the sannadhi street.

Posted in Riding

One Year of Riding the Cheetah

It was August 28, two days past the first birthday of my bike, the Cheetah. It has been wonderful 12 months with the Cheetah, though I haven’t ridden it as much as I would have liked. So I decided to celebrate its first birthday in grand style. I had also planned to write a complete review of the bike after my first review a year ago. So, here we go…

I spent the morning cleaning the bike: made it feel better by swiping dust, gunk, and other unwanted substances off; dabbed the chain with sufficient amount of Zorrik; and inflated the tires to 60psi (I used to inflate them to 75psi—the maximum pressure permissible, but after the recent back to back punctures, I have become a bit cautious.) Now, the Cheetah was raring to go.

At 1, had carb-rich lunch of rice, sambar, potato, and curd. Rested for an hour and started at 2. Put on a full sleeve T-shirt and three quarter pants. I know that a cyclist should be proud of their suntan, but it was one of those days when I didn’t want to expose my hands and legs to the heat.

The original plan was to go for a metric century. Headed toward GST. The afternoon heat was tolerable (the Titan sunglasses seemed to have reduced the heat :)), but I could not put up with the maddening traffie. Trucks and city buses tried to occupy every inch of the road, including the shoulder. So, instead of riding up to Mamandur (beyond Chengalpet), as planned, I turned right just after reaching Singaperumalkoil and entered the countryside.

I had been contemplating a countryside ride, and now was the time. I would ride up to Oragadam via Thirukkachur, turn right and go up to Karisangal, turn left and enter Manimangalam, exit at the Mudichur-Tambaram road, and reach home. It would not be a century ride for sure, but wonderful nevertheless, given the fact that Thirukachur is green and still has a lot of paddy fields.

The Singaperumalkoil-Orgadam road is being converted into a multi-lane highway. I haven’t gone through this route, ever. During one of those moments when I tried to schedule the next weekend ride through this route, Google Maps warned me that the road was not better for cycling. But I had always thought of giving it a try just for the countryside.

Now the road stared at me and proved to be a paradox: one stretch would be superb, with two lanes on either side of the divider, but the next stretch would be full of loose gravel. And the smoke and dust bellowing out of the tippers and trucks would make your ride even tougher. At one point, there was no road, just a big heap of gravel. I had to walk those stretches. Despite this, I enjoyed my ride and the environment. My only concern was the tubes. I was reluctant to let the Cheetah sprint through the bad stretches. But sometimes, I had to ride, as there was no place to yield to an oncoming truck.

The place is semi-arid. After you cross Thirukkachur, paddy fields vanish like a mirage and industries crop up like mushrooms on a rainy day. As you near Oragadam, you can see the industrial revolution in full grandeur. Nissan-Renault has set up a factory; Daimler has just started constructing a site. Hiranandani and another big name have started big residential projects next to the industrial zone. The industrial canopy seems to have covered Sriperumbudur, Maraimalainagar, and every acre of land in between.

When I reached Oragadam, I had finished 400ml of Glucovita Isotonic and 500ml of water. Cateye informed me that I had just completed 40km and the average had now come down to 18 or 19kmph because of the bad stretches. The Oragadam junction wore a rustic look despite the industrial development. I bought a 1ltr water bottle and turned right to join the Kanchipuram-Vandalur road. This road was wonderful. I could pick up some speed here. When I reached Karisangal, I developed cramps in my right thigh, so decided to ride slowly. Manimangalam has become my favorite spot, of late. Manimangalam lake was brimming over its girth. I rested there for awhile, ate the apple I had packed, drank some water, and continued. By now, the afternoon heat and the cramps had taken their toll. I could pedal with some difficulty, but home was a good 13km away. After MEPZ, I found it difficult even to pedal an inch further. I thought of calling my wife to come and pick me up. But my conscience insisted the Cheetah didn’t deserve this on its first birthday, and so gritting my teeth, I lumbered my way home.

I know it was not the best way to celebrate the first birthday of your beloved bike. I could attribute my fatigue to the lack of minerals and the ropes of my backpack that put a lot of pressure on my shoulders. But the Chettah was brilliant all the way. There was no squeaking sound. Even in the worst stretches of the Singaperumalkoil-Oragadam road, it was solid like a rock yet swift as a cheetah . Maybe, the 700X35 tires were the reason.

Review of the bike: I have only had two punctures this past year. As I have mentioned, the Cheetah doesn’t make any noise. The derailleurs and the shifters work without any major problems. My only grouse is that the frame is a bit rigid. Maybe, a steel frame would absorb shocks better than the aluminium frame, but aluminium is definitely lighter. If you can get a pair of padded gloves, you can tackle the minor blemishes of the tarmac.

Final stats: 68km at 21kmph.

I have shared a few pictures of the ride here.

Posted in Assorted, Review

Crouching Tiger, Pouring Rain…

It was a Sunday morning, and the Chennai sky was playing hide-and-seek. Rain on a Sunday morning means no tennis classes for Ammu (my daughter).  It also means that no weekend ride for me. Duh! I haven’t become so hardcore as a few other bikers I know to go for a ride whether it rains or shines. On weekdays, I usually wake up at 6:15 to start the day before my wife and daughter get up. On Sundays, I wake up at 4:45 for the weekend ride if I go for the ride in the morning.  This Sunday rain played spoilsport, so I curled up on the bed a little longer as the temperature dropped.

At 9, the family finished its morning cuppa, and each of the family members started wondering how to spend the rainy day. By that time the rain had stopped. Ammu reminded us that a second visit to the zoo was long pending. “Insane” I mumbled. But Sri (my wife) also liked the idea. A quick plan was drawn, and we synchronized our respective watches and started performing the tasks per the schedule: I took care of washing, Sri occupied the kitchen, and Ammu ran from pillar to post doing some chores.

At 11, when we were about to move, a drizzle started. We were all dressed up for the animals, sorry, the event, so we contemplated Plan B—hiring a call taxi. We would wait for another 15 minutes; else we would call the taxi. Luckily, the rain receded, and we started immediately.

Riding a bike when the weather is cool is something one has to experience. The greenery and the clean highway invited us. We would reach Vandalur Zoo in about half-hour, we estimated. There were no traffic snarls at Tambaram. That’s fantastic. Once we reach the toll road, we would simply glide. Now wait, “What’s cooking at Perungalathur?” I asked my wife, who obviously had no clue. When we reached Akaash Bhavan, the reason became evident: Because of a new traffic arrangement, the bottleneck at Tambaram has moved forward to Perungalathur, as all the south-bound busses are now plying through the Chennai bypass, leaving Trambaram traffic free. Traffic bottlenecks on weekdays are acceptable, but they are too much for a Sunday. We had to crawl at 20kmph up to Vandalur. There was some over bridge work going on, which also caused the traffic to move at a snail’s pace.

Sweaty we were when we reached the zoo’s parking lot. I searched for a vacant slot under the shelter, which was already brimming over its girth, moved a few vehicles (parked them properly), and made a little bit of land for my machine. Got the tickets and entered the zoo. Just near the entrance, I found a lot of cycles parked. Needless to say, I got excited. There were two tandems in the lot. Wow! What a day it was going to be! The person who was mending a bike told me that those cycles had come for regular maintenance, but assured me that a lot of new bikes were available for rent inside the zoo.

Once in, I searched in vain for the counter that sold bike tickets though a few persons were merrily pedaling through the zoo’s roads. I could not wait more. I should get a tandem. Sri and I would ride a tandem; Ammu would ride a smaller single speed. It would be a fantastic ride in this forest.

Now, wait… Where did this little drop of water in my forearm come from? Oh! How come this drop, another one, and another one… Oh! No! It’s gonna rain again.

It didn’t rain actually; it poured. Little drops did make an ocean. It was raining so much that there was no place to hide the three of us. We thought it would be more enjoyable to ride in the rain. I stopped a few bikers, but they pointed us out to the direction where only more trees were seen. We were drenched to our skins by now, so we decided to visit a few enclosures and the aquarium before calling it a day. An hour and three icecream cups later we left the zoo, the rain chasing us right up to our doorstep. It was one of the rarest days when we enjoyed the rain thoroughly (Sri hates rain, actually). The rain brought us happiness the crouching tiger in the zoo would not have. We will visit the zoo again during winter just for riding those bikes.

Biking in the Zoo:

  • TI Cycles has set up shop at the zoo.
  • All types of bikes (mostly Hercules) are available: single speed, geared, and tandem. There are no kid bikes, though.
  • The bikes that I saw were all shiny and in good condition.
  • You have to shell out Rs.200 as deposit per bike.
  • The rent is Rs.15/hr  for single speed; Rs.30/hr for geared bike; and Rs40/her for tandem.