Thrill – India Playing Pak at Sharjah

“Pushpa, quickly get ready!  I have come to pick you up to watch the second half of the cricket match.  India is all out for 125.  I am surrounded in my portion of the stadium by Pakistan fans and they were at their loudest in supporting their players.  I was the lone Indian supporter and got carried away to oppose them.  To prove my loyalty, I have placed a friendly bet that India will win…200 UAE Dirhams each with a few of them.  It is 2 to 1 in India’s favour.  India is going to win this match.  It would be interesting to watch.”  I rushed home during the innings break to take my wife to the match.

Pakistan won the toss and elected to field.  They demolished Indian batting stalwarts like Ravi Shastri, Srikkanth, Vengsarkar, Gavaskar, Amarnath, Madanlal, and Viswanath.  Only Azharuddin and Kapil Dev were the major contributors.  Imran Khan, Pakistan’s ace bowler was merciless in his pace and had 6 wickets to his name.  India wound up for a paltry 125.

Driving a distance of over 20km in about 20 minutes from the Sharjah Cricket Stadium to Dubai, we were back in time before the second inning began. It was Friday, 22 March 1985, the weekend holiday.  Anand (my son) developed Mumps and Pushpa stayed back with him.  Meeta and Seema were with me all through the match.

Pushpa resisted my insistence, “How can I?  Anand is unwell. Anyway, why do you want me to watch a match which we are certain to lose.  Just 2.5 runs per over?  Easy for Pakistan to win. ”

“No.  Just watch.  I have a strong feeling that we are going to win today.”

Anand was asleep.  When I continued to insist, she had Kannan, our part-time helper come over and joined me to the match.  I collected the money to pay for the stakes, in case India loses.

My boss was one of the of Committee members of the Sharjah Cricket Association and could manage to buy VIP seats.  We had lunch at the stadium and there were some cricket players in the buffet queue too.  Javed Miandad was just ahead of me with a friend.  He said aloud, “I am going to blast India today.  If we don’t win today, I will not return to Pakistan.”

Back on our seats in the stadium, all the Pakistan fans around us were mocking me.  It was all in good humor.   I knew some of them well.  I handed over the bet amount to one of them, Mr. Jhumkawala.

Soon, India started getting wickets.  One run out and two great catches by Gavaskar.  Miandad came in to bat, struggled and could not get a single run in 15 balls.  Frustrated, he tried to hit a lofty shot and was out for a duck!

Around the score of 40-45, they lost their fifth wicket!  Gavaskar was in a mood to entertain the crowd.  He had taken 4 catches and every time he put the ball in his pocket after taking the catch.  Around the score of 85-87 they lost 3 more wickets.  At the score of 87 for 8, my Pakistani friends started handing me the bet amount before walking out.  They lost 2 more wickets at the same score!

All Indian supporters were enjoying their best.  We were carrying a large Indian flag.  The Bollywood super star Rishi Kapoor was in the balcony adjacent to us.  He borrowed our flag and was waving for a long time.  The flag never came back to us!

What a match to win!  Well-worth the efforts to bring Pushpa!  With pleasant memories we got back home. And Javed Miandad to Pakistan!

Experienced and Written By: Badri Baldawa  Edited By : Meeta Kabra

Yellowstone National Park #6 – Wildlife

Oh! What a place! Yellowstone National Park.
Here is a glimpse of the wildlife we found.  Bisons were in plenty.

 

 

Bison

Beautiful yellow and grey deer were also found in very close proximity.  As some of the places we could walk with them

 

 

We were lucky to that suddenly a Coyote (Wolf Family) came in from front of our car (left top picture)

 

We could see a herd of deer passing through a pond in an absolutely disciplined way, as can be seen on picture at left bottom

 

 

Bears just on roadside welcoming us near Jasper. Bear was less than 10 Mtr from us. I was tempted to go out of the car and have a selfie!

Yellowstone National Park #5 – Geysers

One of the main reasons we came to Yellowstone National Park was seeing the Geysers, and they did not disappoint. The anticipation was enough. My goodness, when it erupts…

We saw many geysers. Two were prominent amongst them. One was called Old Faithful. It started with a steaming hole. There are chairs kept around it in a circle around 100 metres in radius. A computer program estimates the time of eruption, with a ten minute margin of error. Everyone sits down, and soon enough, the show begins.

Slowly, the hole begins to throw water out. It faked out three or four times, when the fountain only reached about the height of a full grown man. But then, it started, and didn’t stop. It reached a height of at 200-250 feet, spewing hot water and steam from its mouth, water flowing everywhere.

 

 

Sulphur Hot Springs

Yellowstone National Park #4

Our jet-lag had got us by the tails. We all woke up at different times. All of us woke up before 5 am. The plan was wake up at 6:30, but our bodies were still in Mumbai Time!

After breakfast and checking out, we sat in the warmth of a fire that had been set up. There is nothing quite as soothing as the warmth of a fire, the crackling sound it makes, the randomness in its designs and patterns. It really calmed us all down as we waited for a van to take us to the rent-a-car.

Ruhi and I browsed through their cars, and finally settled on a Ford Escape. Owing to its huge trunk, comfortable seats, and – most importantly – in-built navigation system, we thought it was perfect. The person at the counter happened to be from Goregaon, so we got chatting. Delightful person. He took me through it all in Gujrati, which I understand, but can’t quite speak much.

I turned and the engine purred to life. We were on our way. At around 9 a.m., we set out to White Sulphur Springs, on way to Yellowstone, USA.

 

The road was mostly flat. If you live in India, you have never seen this much flat land in your life. There were no mountains for miles. The ground was brownish-yellow, but I suspect that if one goes in the correct season, it would all be lush and green.

 

 

 

As we got closer, the view got better. The mountains started coming in, and with them, the snow. There is nothing like the feeling of snow: its shining white colour, the cold it brings along with it, the warmth you get from the inside… one can never get enough. I hadn’t expected this. By my plans, we were to come back up north via the snow, but I had not anticipated this beauty at all.

 

 

 

There were vast stretches of road where we were the only car on the road. No one else seemed to want to be here, and that really surprises me. It was also sort of soothing. We had a little joke in the car where we would start clapping and cheering when we saw a car.

 

All said and done, the car ride from Calgary to White Sulphur Springs, Montana, U.S.A. was about 10 hours. Adding to that the eleven hour layover we had at Heathrow Airport the previous day, and the two nine hour flights it took to get here, it’s safe to say we were all tired out of our minds.

 

The Motel we stayed at, Spa Hot Springs Motel, was special.  It had three pools with pure natural sulphur spring water, each pool set to a different temperature. The lowest was 98 degrees Fahrenheit.

We got into our swimming suits and to the pools. You will never have a more soothing experience in your life. I don’t know what it is – the high temperature or the Sulphur, but my God, such a refreshing experience.

Tiredness if any vanished.  It was so good, for a moment I considered changing our route so that we could come back to this place on our return route to the Canadian Rockies. Alas, that cannot be. We have better things planned for the way back. More exciting news to come!

Canadian Rockies #3: Planning

During our driving in first half of May, the winter snow will still be there. Some lakes will still be frozen in Canadian Rockies and a few roads in Yellowstone will still be closed.   But the snow all around will have its own charm and excitement.  Considering these closures, I worked the route, keeping maximum time on road to be 10 hours per day.

Against the expectation of 30-45 days for Canadian visas, we got our visas in less than 2 weeks.

To ensure that the car has enough space to carry the baggage of all four of us, I selected a compact SUV after assessing its cubic feet storage capacity.  I opted to hire it from an agency a few km outside the airport as it reduced my rental cost to less than half with hotel pickup facility.

Hotel bookings were done at each location, giving preference to “free cancellation” option terms.  That gave me scope to change the route to certain extent while finalizing the plans.

Bags are packed and all set to go on tomorrow, the 30th April !

If you would like to receive more frequent (almost daily) updates of this trip here are the social media links: FacebookInstagram.

Canadian Rockies and Yellow Stone Drive #2 – Why ?

Why Canadian Rockies and Yellowstone NP? 

On one of my business trips to the U.S.IN 2008, a prospective customer asked me about my recent trek to the Mount Everest Basecamp. It turns out he was a regular trekker. He told me about his favourite hike-and-drive: the Canadian Rockies. That’s what created the spark to explore this Range.

Research revealed that it would be thrilling to go from Vancouver to Alaska via the Canadian Rockies. However, I had other trips lined up, so the Rockies had to wait.

In 2014, I went to Alaska. Though I wanted to drive to Alaska, I soon realised that taking a cruise to Alaska would be an equally exhilarating experience. So, we took a ship, and once more, the Rockies were put in the back seat.

After Alaska, I drove in Iceland, and completed the epic 22,000 kilometer ‘Road to London’ drive, I began to contemplate the big question: what’s next? I didn’t want to stop. This world is too beautiful to not explore!  After some research, three options presented themselves: Egypt and Jordan, an African Safari, or the Canadian Rockies.  Pushpa and I also desired to take some of our grandchildren on this trip.

Nishi, who was with us for the ‘Road to London’ drive, was going to begin her 5th standard in a new school. She didn’t want to miss the last few days in her current school, so she passed on this trip. Aarya is just 4, so she was out of the question. That left my other two grandchildren Arsh and Ruhi, who instantly consented to join.

I presented the options to them. Arsh was totally indifferent. Ruhi, however, was all for the Rockies, owing to the abundance of snow. She said, “I just love snow. Traveling in snow sounds really exciting to me.” The grandchildren had spoken. Rockies.  Looking to their other educational commitments, early May appeared to be the only possibility.

Normal season for Rockies is July to October.  May is an odd season as some of the roads would still be blocked with snow and the lakes at higher altitudes would still be in frozen state.  But the month of May gives us an advantage.  More of snow everywhere.  Hiking and trekking on snow covered mountains, frozen lakes and river glaciers would be a real fun.  Driving around these mountains during that period would be an added excitement.

Bingo! The plan was set. Pushpa, Arsh, Ruhi, and I were going drive around the Canadian Rockies. But as the title of this blog suggests, we are also going to Yellowstone National Park. Where did that come from?

Arsh and Ruhi’s educational commitments in India were very complicated. After factoring in these commitments, and the correct season, this is what we came up with: we had to start the trip on any day between the 1st and 3rd of May and continue for two weeks before returning to the motherland. For the Rockies, 8 to 10 days were adequate, but we wanted to spend the maximum of available time with the grandchildren. So, we had a few more days in hand. Hence, I decided to put in the Yellowstone National Park. That takes 7 days. We’d be done 3 or 4 days too late. I dropped Vancouver, and instead we would land in Calgary, and do a sort of circle, south into the U.S., to visit Yellowstone, and then back up north into the Rockies, making the most efficient use of our time. That was it!   A drive through the Canadian Rockies and Yellowstone National Park was decided.

I will try to keep you updated on this trip.  If you would like to receive more frequent (almost daily) updates here are the social media links: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Canadian Rockies & Yellowstone NP Drive

It is time, once again, to leave the comforts of home, and venture into the hills. On the first of May, 2018, Pushpa and I will be going to the Rockies in Canada, and Yellowstone National Park, in the USA on a solo self-drive. We will be travelling with our two grandchildren, Arsh and Ruhi, who will be 16 and 14 respectively on the day of our departure. I hope to share everything from planning to execution, including pictures of the best-looking snow capped mountains (apart from the Himalayas, which always hold a special place in my heart), frozen lakes, glaciers, high rising geysers, hot sulphur springs, and wild animals in their natural habitats. Stay tuned for further updates.