14th Dec 2015

Tackling interviews & exploring North


“People don’t take trips, Trips take people”

Photo of Pune, Maharashtra, India by Rahul Mahant

Just when I was riding on a cruising advances in my professional life, the news dropped at our office on the night of 7th Dec’15 like one nuclear missile and all of my colleagues including me were standing jaw-dropped there.

The news was I was officially fired, as our operations unit was shut and I was jobless effective 8th Dec. Though I was jobless now, the first two things, my mind was circled with: 1) What will I convey to my parents and how? 2) Now I’m free, from where shall I start to accomplish my travel goals?

Prior to this I was planning to take all my friends to Kolad for river rafting on my birthday i.e 12 Dec’15. So I went ahead with the plan for river rafting at KUNDALIKA River Rafting near KOLAD without ruining mine and others’ mood.

In the mean time I got interview call from another company in MUMBAI and I thought it’ll get me rid of that haunting word “JOBLESS” huhhhhhh. Interview was scheduled on 14th December 2015 at 6:00PM. Keeping this company’s interview aside I was planning for my birthday.

I had moments of numbness in between all this trip as I was Jobless but only thing helped me was “Rahul this time won’t come again with your friends”. So we hired one traveler and headed for river rafting. We enjoyed river rafting and came back on 13th December 2015, everyone exhausted and tired. We took a package from adventurenation.com which was really cool in arranging all our rafting experience food and stay. I highly recommend to try their service.

Day 1


“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page” - St. Agustine

On next day i.e. 14th December, my interview was scheduled at 6:00 pm. So, I only planned for interview and had no other plan in mind till then. But I just asked my friend, ”Would you accompany me to Mumbai?” (Some background about - Vineet Singh, my travel buddy and an avid traveler. He is always up for any expedition we had in mind and he never said no for my travel desires).

Vineet agreed with only one condition - whatever will be the result of interview and as we were bored of going to Mumbai multiple times and comeback on the same day, so this time we will do something different and will go further. I agreed and instantly we started our web search for places which we can look out for, and we had this in our bucket list since long “RANN OF KUTCHH”. After deep discussion for about 5 minutes (hahahahah) RANN OF KUTCHH was finalized and Vineet got excited to see RANN OF KUTCHH and then we found out that BHUJ is approx.1000km away from PUNE. But excitement surpassed that stigma of travelling 1000km distance and we started to think and give it a shot.

We had only 1 hour to get ready with packing and booking our train tickets from Mumbai to BHUJ (15th December) and BHUJ to Mumbai as railway station near RANN OF KUTCHH is BHUJ. (Luckily we got reserved tickets this time). We boarded MSRTC bus for MUMBAI at 12:00-12:30 pm and reached Mumbai by around 5pm and my interview was scheduled at 6:00pm and we were late by 30 minutes and interview was wrapped up by 7:00pm and as they were offering me lesser package than my previous profile I was put on hold straightaway. I was disgusted but motivated for the next interviews and fate of my life.

So by then, we were looking for hotel as our train 19115 BDTS BHUJ express was scheduled to depart on the next day at 14:50hr. We got our hotel at NALA SOPARA near to BANDRA terminus as per my estimation and we roamed in Mumbai metro at night and rested in hotel. Our journey began which was real spontaneous and I carried that tag – JOBLESS along the tour for the first time. I somehow managed one telephonic interview on our travel day morning, but I wasn’t prepared for some technical questions for agencies, I ruined that too.

After all, I was on a trip which was not only fully planned, but also was tractioned on the geos drafted on map.

Day 2

On 15th December we headed toward Bandra Terminus to board our train to BHUJ and whole day we were in a train thinking about visit to RANN.

Day 3


“Travel far enough, till you meet yourself”

Photo of Bhuj, Gujarat, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Bhuj, Gujarat, India by Rahul Mahant

We reached BHUJ on 16th December around at 7:15 and after getting fresh at railway station we had some tea and bread pakoda outside the station. Our excitement reached another levels, when we saw RANNOTSAV stall and we both exchanged glances to express that joy by seeing a crafted milestone – “Safed Registhan”. We observed that the stall was empty and thought we were lucky enough to not sneak in the registrations by skipping the queue for RANNOTSAV. But that happiness didn’t last long as we got to know that, RANNUTSAV will be starting from next week as our the then Prime Minister, Mr. Modi was there to inaugurate RANNOTSAV next week. Therefore for security reasons entry in RANNUTSAV was prohibited for a week. That was the day when we both blamed Modi for the first time(Being Modi supporters)and cursed ourselves for not doing proper research.

Photo of Bhuj, Gujarat, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Bhuj, Gujarat, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Bhuj, Gujarat, India by Rahul Mahant

Travelling approx. 1000km to reach there and with some white dreams to see RANN OF KUTCHH, we were in a spot of bother. We were hapless but still decided to reconfirm entry was really prohibited for a week or not. We boarded a state transport bus to reach a place called - BHIRANDIYARA check post and investigated with the locals if we can still sneak the entry (legally or Illegally) to RANN OF KUTCHH (ROK). But we were soon stopped on our commute by the army personnel and they suggested us to visit KALA DUNGAR (KD), from where we can remotely have a glimpse of Rann from a height of 462m. The experience was really soothing, where we could clearly see the layers of white sand, ocean and blue sky all in one landscape. It’s one of the rarest scenes where we can observe such combination nourishing the beauty of nature. As we were enthralled by the view but disappointed at the same with a bad luck of not attending Rannotsav, for which we actually travelled this far.

Now it was the time to take a call on our next move – so uniquely we decided to think of possibilities where we can actually travel by pinning our location on Indian map. So after detailed analysis and considering our costing, we thought of going to MOUNT ABU next. We were back in BHIRANDIYARA and started asking the locals for convenient ways to go back to BHUJ and convenient way was bus. While we were waiting for bus to BHUJ and as it was taking long time for bus to arrive we hired same jeep which was going towards BHUJ as there was no business for them for a week. He asked Rs200 for both of us only or Rs150 for a shared option, we opted for private one. On our way back to BHUJ, we were discussing best ways to reach MOUNT ABU and we finalized our route from BHUJ to MOUNT ABU via AHMEDABAD. We were about to book bus tickets from BHUJ to AHMEDABAD to MOUNT ABU then we saw a man waiting for a bus alone and on a hot and sunny deserted road. We suggested our driver to give him lift to show our generosity. Listening to our discussion that man suggested instead of going to MOUNT ABU via AHMEDABAD better go directly to MOUNT ABU as train is available from BHUJ at 16:15 same day. This saved us a lot of time and cost by cutting our journey from 15-16 hrs to 8 hrs only (Believe me generosity does help in travels).

Photo of Bhuj, Gujarat, India by Rahul Mahant

We went ahead to book our seats and ate delicious Gujarati thali at Sankalp Restaurant and we overate unlimited tasty jalebis (as thali was unlimited so we ate more than our capacity as per cost cutting strategy)….hahahaha….Typical INDIAN’s cost cutting strategy. We reached the station 1 hour prior to train departure. Now at 16:15 our train departed and we settled at our seats and shared our experience with friends in a common group on Whatsapp.

Day 4

PUNE-MUMBAI-BHUJ-MOUNT ABU-_______-_______-_______-_______-PUNE

“Traveling – It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a STORYTELLER”

Photo of Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant

When we told our friends that, we are on our way to MOUNT ABU to find them all surprised about the route we are taking. While having these conversation with them, we came up with name of another city i.e. AMRITSAR as this city was on my mind because of few Punjabi friends. This city marked our desire to visit Golden temple and experience that serenity. We booked hotel for our next destination and as the whole train almost empty and we were tired, so we took rest and woke up at around 7-8 pm and waiting for our station to arrive.

In our train journey, we met one couple from Sweden in the bogie, who were travelling all the way from west India to explore Mt Abu and then head towards Jaisalmer for their night stay in desert. They shared some of their experiences about their travels so far in India and we came to know that they were trying to explore these places on a strict budget being students in their 20s. I literally liked his girlfriend, amazed by her smoking skills. That moment I went ahead to install Tinder to try out my luck on travel :-D (wanted to test the app’s capability/compatibility during travels).

Photo of Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant

Finally, we reached our destination - ABU ROAD on 17th December around at 12-12:30 midnight to greet us with chills, new city and new people. That was amazing feeling wandering the deserted, scary roads with the help of google maps, avoiding those scary glares with stray dogs. We found out our hotel and on reaching our hotel at walking distance from station we took it as one of the takeaway - Always book your hotel at walking distance from station when visiting new city at night. As we checked-in late we got extra 1 hour for checkout and by the time we planned to explore MOUNT ABU, we planned how to reach AMRITSAR.

Reception staff at hotel suggested us that there are some fixed famous points to visit in MOUNT ABU instead of hiring private taxi better go from bus as that was cheap and convenient to reach MOUNT ABU. On reaching MOUNT ABU we took fixed taxi to visit fixed places as proposed by taxi union. We visited Adhar Devi Temple, Nakki lake, Sunset point, Honeymoon Point, Dilwara Jain Temple and one another temple, where we can feed wheat dough to fishes in a lake which was really funny though. I observed their appetite to be more than mine. Adhar Devi Temple’s history was interesting as to see devi’s idol we have to go through narrow passage and there were monkeys around the temple.

I had one interview for an opportunity from Bangalore and I found it too difficult to find a place from where I can take a telephonic call avoiding the hustle and chants coming from temples but somehow managed in one of the Jain temples around. I was advanced to another round after this interview to be scheduled in a week’s time. After visiting all the famous places of MOUNT ABU, we took bus back for ABU ROAD station. We had dinner at one of the famous local Dal Baati serving restaurant in market close to the proximity of railway station. After thinking of another route for future, we found out that while reaching AMRITSAR we must pass through another famous city i.e. JAIPUR as this city is approx. 5-6hrs of distance from MOUNT ABU by train. This time we were not lucky enough to seal the reserved train seats and so we decided to go without reservation on general train ticket as the distance was 5-6hrs and we had no choice.

Photo of Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant

We purchased our ticket for JAIPUR and encountered with one strange, annoying and frustrated govt employee in the form of ticket handler sitting on the ticketing window aging somewhere in his 40s. He was really an annoying personality, who got mood swings with almost every passenger requesting him for the ticket. He would find some nooks in reservation form or notes every time with perfection. He even abused some but in the very next moment he was acting sober. This gave us a reason to laugh for hours to give us an unforgettable memory from MOUNT ABU. As the trains for Jaipur from Abu Road station was at 1 hour interval and last train was at 11pm and we departed by last train and there was no place to sit in any trains which passed earlier. So we had to compromise on resting our tired bumps on floor to reach our next destination. Believe me this was one of the scariest hours spent in a journey.

Day 5


“Not all those wander are lost” - Jrr Tolkien

Photo of Jaipur, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant

We reached JAIPUR on 18th December in the morning around 5:30 am and as train was little late, we waited at Jaipur station for around half an hour and looking for cheap hotel near to station. After some investigation, one local at station suggested us that better go to Jain dormitory near Revolving hotel, JAIPUR as that is cheap and also near to Jaipur bus stand and walking distance from Jaipur railway station. So we went by walking to that dormitory and seriously at the price of Rs375 that dormitory was awesome and worth more than the money paid. We checked in dormitory at 6-6:15 am and get fresh and rested till 10 am in dormitory and started planning for AMRITSAR and looked for buses to AMRITSAR and we found out that there is no direct buses for AMRITSAR, we first go to BHATINDA by bus and then reach AMRITSAR by another 4-5hrs of bus travelling. So we finally booked bus ticket for BHATINDA and also booked hotel in AMRITSAR. We had 4-5hrs of spare time in Jaipur so we decided to enjoy a movie and we settled down for “Bajirao Mastani” at 12:00pm.This was also a different experience to see a first day first show of a movie at different city. We were just passing through and also tasted Jaipur’s famous pyaaz kachori only be found in Jaipur. After eating street food (chhole kulche) I attended one more interview from the dorm and it went well, but they were looking for a junior guy, which I wasn’t in a mood to compromise with the profile so I raised my concerns and declined politely. We headed towards bus stand as bus timing was 6pm and while on our way to BHATINDA we were sleeping and we woke up as bus was halted for a long break on the road itself. We got down to witness a horrific accident which happened just three vehicles ahead of our bus. The impact was so strong that truck driver got struck into cabin with all the cabin parts being wrecked. Truck driver was bleeding and he’s screaming for help We witnessed this for the first time and we were horrified about our remaining journey. But somehow Highway traffic Police cleared that truck from road and made way for ambulance to rescue truck driver to resolve traffic. We reached BHATINDA on 19th December at 4:30 in the morning and took another bus for AMRITSAR run by Punjab Roadways. As on our way to AMRITSAR we also booked our train ticket from AMRITSAR to NEW DELHI on 19th December ( scheduled departure at 23:45 from Amritsar) this time also we were lucky to get confirmed tickets. Meanwhile in Mount Abu, we had already booked our train tickets from Nizamuddin (NEW DELHI) to BANDRA TERMINUS with status of waiting list 52 and 53 (with this waiting list we just gambled, we actually thought to try our luck for the last time).

Day 6


“My favourite thing to do is to go where I’ve never been” – Diane Arbus

Photo of Amritsar, Punjab, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Amritsar, Punjab, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Amritsar, Punjab, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Amritsar, Punjab, India by Rahul Mahant

On 19th December around at 11:30 am we reached AMRITSAR bus stand and by 12 pm we were at our hotel. We booked hotel near to Golden Temple and we got freshen up one by one and headed for Golden Temple, the much awaited destination after RANN OF KUTCHH. We were in the premises of gurudwara and we have witnessed the holiness on television and for the first time we were about to experience that live. It was really emotional, divine and peace with the scene of Golden temple surrounded by all fours for me. For the first 2-3 minutes I was engrossed in the spirituality looking at that gurudwara and people from across the nation with faith and devotion. After spending some time sitting outside, we headed for darshan of GURU GRANTH SAHIB and ate at Gurudwara’s langar.

Photo of Amritsar, Punjab, India by Rahul Mahant

After langar, we enquired about entry in Wagah Attari border parade as it was around 2:30 pm and found that entry was first come first have seat basis till the stand is full. So, we were in a hurry and headed toward Amritsar bus stand and reached Wagah border around 3:45 pm and submitted our bagback at local shop 1km away from the border. After security check, we reached border by walking and another heart break had stroke, parade stand was full and we compromised seeing the flag down ceremony on projector screen. Though we were unlucky to see flag down ceremony from stand but still were satisfied to reach Wagah border. We came back to Amritsar around 6:30pm and did shopping from market near Golden Temple and ate tasty food of Punjab. We had enough time as our train timing was 23:45pm so, we reached Amritsar railway station by walking and our train was late by 15 minutes and we waited at railway station till the train arrived and boarded train for New Delhi.

Day 7


“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it is lethal” - Paulo Coelho

Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Rahul Mahant

By now we were carrying some memories to cherish and an experience to boast for long. We reached NEW DELHI railway station on 20th December at 8:00 am in the morning and got fresh at railway station. Our train timing for Mumbai was at 15:35pm from Nizamuddin railway station so, we decided to roam few places around old Delhi and finalized to see Cannaught Place, as this place is pretty famous and also near to Nizamuddin. I still remember that we were at park above the Pallika bazar and at 11:35 am and we checked our train berth status after chart preparation and we were shell-shocked for few minutes to know that our tickets didn’t clear and we had to go to railway station for figuring out any alternate options (tickets through agent). Adding to my frustration level, I opened the Tinder app to right swipe all, but luckily found one interesting match with whom I already started to plan out my evening. But on reaching station no options were left for us and some were to either stay in Delhi for a night and book train ticket for next day or book flight for around Rs10,000. We opted to stay in Delhi at our friends place in Gurgaon and agreed to book train tickets through agent. So, before going to friend’s place we visited India Gate and Chandi Chowk and reached Gurgaon (where he stayed) around 8:30pm from Chandni Chowk to DLF Cyber Hub via Metro train. After reaching friend’s place we rested for a while and started to plan something over drinks. We concluded that instead of giving extra money to agent we can see another city on our way to Pune. After research and all planning, here was the last city on our way to Pune i.e. UDAIPUR. So we booked our bus ticket from Gurgaon to Udaipur departing on 21st December at 6:00pm and stayed at friend’s place, partied and took rest.

Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Rahul Mahant

At night I met that girl, with whom I matched on Tinder in DLF cyber hub and after some drinks I dropped her home and waved her goodbye. It was really sad to let go off anyone like this if you’re attracted to her but was a nice interaction and discussions we had while I was leaving for my friend’s place.

Day 8

On 21st December we did nothing as we woke up late and booked hotel at Udaipur and also booked bus ticket from Udaipur to Pune on 22nd December at 4:00 pm and waited for bus. At 6:00pm we boarded bus and move towards Udaipur. I did all the research about the place and was astonished to study its historical importance.

Day 9


“Better to see something once, than to hear about it a thousand times.”

Photo of Udaipur, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant

We reached Udaipur on 22nd December by 10:30 pm and reached hotel by auto. On reaching hotel we waited for an hour as our room was not ready, so we roamed places near our hotel as well as tried to capture terrace views of Udaipur from hotel. As my room was ready we got call from hotel and got fresh at hotel. I enquired about some famous places of Udaipur and found that City Palace of Udaipur was at walking distance from hotel. We clicked some pics of that Palace, as exploring those famous and huge Palaces of Rajasthan is out of the world feeling.

Photo of Udaipur, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Udaipur, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant
Photo of Udaipur, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant

This city of lakes had some more to offer as we ate and shopped some trademark leather bags made of camel skin (though I was not sure leather was genuine or not but after 13 months bag quality is same till now). We were satisfied to see another city though for 5-6hours, but covering famous City Palace of Udaipur. At 3:15pm we booked auto and moved towards bus stand.

Photo of Udaipur, Rajasthan, India by Rahul Mahant

At 4:15pm bus arrived and we were happy that in spite of booking a normal sleeper bus, to our surprise we got an upgrade to Volvo AC Bus. After boarding that bus, we came to know that Volvo bus leisure was only till Ahmedabad and after that we have to switch bus from Volvo AC bus to Normal sleeper bus. As we approached Ahmedabad city, we were checked for the first time for an alcohol carriage (Gujarat being a dry state) and we were amused and that seemed funny to see our bags getting checked thoroughly. At Ahmedabad we switched the bus and that normal sleeper bus was horrible comparing to other sleeper bus(downgrade).

Day 10

Finally, on 23rd December by 11:00am we reached Pune via Mumbai and our journey ended there without any losses in the tour and returning all healthy.

Even after 13 months, the memories of this trip are fresh enough that we still remember each and every city and places with all micro conversations and discussions we had. I still remember my interviews, they being one of the toughest I faced in my career (Because, I didn’t take them seriously at all to study more about the profiles on offer).

Key Takeaway from this tour: Travels can teach you everything but your career doesn’t stray with you like a wanderlust. After giving four interviews in the tour, I was still jobless at the end, but some good opportunity was waiting for me as I am enjoying my current work and organization.

This journey transitioned my experience to a different level and made us confident enough to visit any city or country with little research about them. After that I had many other trips like this and my soul always craves for trips like these of course with my travel buddy - Vineet. (Always chose your travel partner wisely!)

And to highlight the best part of this trip – that the overall experience was just worth Rs.10,500 each.

“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.” – Paulo Coelho

This is my first attempt to share my experience with all the aspiring travels out there through this contest. I suggest and highly recommend everybody to go on trips like these. Some anonymous, unplanned and following your heart trips are the best ones for an experience, which will be enough to add that smile on your faces with those life long memories.

“Because, travels keep you going” – Rahul Mahant

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