A road trip to Gandikota & Belum Caves

A recent trek to Gandikota, often referred to as the Grand Canyon of India and the Belum Caves, the second longest caves in India

Source: A road trip to Gandikota & Belum Caves

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Manchester United Supporters Club, Hyderabad

Manchester United finally ended their streak of 8 games without a win after clinching all three points against Swansea City. While it was a great game and Wayne Rooney ended his scoring drought, I missed the official screening with around 50 of my fellow supporters and being there would have only made the experience much sweeter.

Humble Beginnings, the slow growth and a few milestones

It was in the December of 2013 that I attended my first screening with the Manchester United Supporters Club, Hyderabad or the Manchester United Fan Club, Hyderabad as it was then called before it got the official recognition from Manchester United.

It was a game against Tottenham Hotspurs and a struggling David Moyes’ team managed to grab a point courtesy a brace by Wayne Rooney – not a game that you would really remember forever. But for me, it was a game that changed the experience of watching a game.

There were 50 odd supporters cheering for the team. Right from “Oh, Manchester is wonderful” when the boys walked on to the pitch to “We’ll never die” when Sandro curled in a 25 yard scorcher for Spurs. The volume never lowered no matter how bad or good the team was doing. And, this was when I decided, this is a group I want to watch all my matches with.

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My first experience with MUFCH

The rest of the season was an up and down affair. For the first time in over 20 years, the club failed to qualify for the prestigious UEFA Champions League, but the fan club in Hyderabad was only growing bigger. The joint screening against Chelsea showed the strength of our fan club as we walked out as the louder fan club despite a 3-1 defeat. The Facebook page started getting popular, and fans were better connected after creating a Whatsapp group! We also formed a football team and began participating in various tournaments across the city.

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Scenes after a huge win

En route to becoming the biggest fan club in the city

The 2014-15 season, with the appointment of Louis Van Gaal, brought in some buzz and excitement amongst our fans. While we notched a streak of six consecutive victories, our attendance at the screenings kept increasing each week. On October 26, 2014, our headcount at the screenings touched 100 for the first time. Robin Van Persie’s late, late equalizer blew the roof open as the Red Devils of Hyderabad erupted in ecstasy. A group of 60-70 odd Chelsea supporters were muted and we had established ourselves as the biggest fan club in the city. Our first late night screening, an away fixture at the Emirates, was attended by around 45 supporters, and this gave us belief that there was no looking back from here on.

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Maddening atmosphere after a late, late RVP equalizer against Chelsea

 

On February 6, 2015, on the anniversary of the Munich air tragedy, the fan club organized a charity drive. We collected old clothes and blankets from our members and also bought food and water packets and distributed amongst the underprivileged. This was followed by a screening of the movie, ‘United,’ a documentary about the tragic air disaster in 1958, which also helped a lot of the newer fans learn about the club’s history and growth.

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Charity drive organized by MUSCH

The final half of the season saw a host of crucial fixtures lined up one after the other. For the games against Manchester City and Liverpool, we shattered our previous records as nearly 300 Red Devils turned up for consecutive weekends. The convincing victories made the experience that much sweeter. By the end of the season, we managed to organize over 35 screenings (including evening games and late kick-offs) and became a recognized brand across the footballing circles as the biggest fan club in the city.

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We all knew Manchester was Red. But, here, we show Hyderabad is Red too

Push for Official Recognition

The start of the 2015-16 season saw us reach the coveted mark of 50 official members, and helped us push to attain official recognition. We sent a charter which included the history of the fan club, reasons why we want to become an official fan club and how we would help the society. Two years of effort and hard work was finally rewarded when we finally granted official status by the club of our dreams, and a few weeks later, we received a letter from Louis Van Gaal, himself confirming the official status and congratulating us on the same.

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Letter from the Boss, himself!

 

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Perks of being an official member

 

It has been a wonderful and exciting journey with MUSCH, and with an ever increasing fan base, I can only say that this is just the beginning of bigger things to come!

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After attaining official recognition, we were rebranded as Manchester United Supporters Club, Hyderabad (from the earlier Manchester United Fan Club, Hyderabad)

 

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The football team of MUSCH

 

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You can connect with the Manchester United Supporters Club, Hyderabad through their Facebook Page, Twitter Handle or Instagram account.

This article was first published on The Sports Mirror

 

Reds of the World – Monish Menon – Hyderabad, India

Got featured in the Reds of the World Section!! 🙂

kenframpton.ca

Reds of the World will be a series of interviews with supporters from around the globe. If you’d like to participate, get in touch with me via Twitter, @kframpton.

Our last Reds of the World feature was tremendously well-received, and I’m happy to say my little blog has now been read in more than 60 countries worldwide!

We ventured 8700 miles from Manchester to visit Nate Kunz in Durban, South Africa – so let’s bring it in a little closer this time. We’re off to Hyderabad, India now and it’s a mere 6600 miles from there to Old Trafford!

The ‘lion city’ has a population of more than 7 million residents, and was built along the banks of the Musi River. Also known as the ‘pearl city’ for it’s past as a diamond and pearl trading hub – the main industries now are pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and IT. The city’s…

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Don’t go, Dave

Dear Dave,

Before I even begin to try to convince you to stay at Old Trafford, I must admit that I wasn’t your greatest fan when you were first bought had only heard of your exploits at Atletico Madrid and how you were Spain’s next big thing. But the media always tend to exaggerate things and I thought this was one of those.

But, with Van Der Sar retiring, Man United needed to invest in a keeper and Sir Alex decided to get you from Spain for a huge fee. You were hardly 19 and no real experience barring a brilliant season at the Vicente Calderon. And to be honest, you didn’t look intimidating either. I like big, intimidating goalkeepers. They always put fear in the minds of strikers, especially in 1-1 situations. Peter Schmeichel was intimidating. Van Der Sar was intimidating. Oliver Kahn was intimidating. You were just a lean, skinny, malnourished 19 year old.

The first few games were enough for me to judge you. I’m usually a huge optimist and support my players no matter how bad they play. But a goalkeeper who couldn’t handle a long ball, who couldn’t force his way past six bodies to go catch the ball from a corner, a keeper who always looked shaky on every shot on target was inexcusable. It almost looked like we were playing with 10 men on the field.

I had never seen United concede six in a game and when Balotelli and Co. put six past you, I had enough. True, our defence was in shambles on the day but I expect a top keeper to do some damage control. It reminded me of the horror days we had once Schmeichel left. Roy Carroll, Tim Howard, Fabien Barthez all came and went and none were top quality.

In my head, you were no top keeper and never going to become one. The only positive, if any, was that you were a good shot stopper but you were in no way intimidating, and in England you needed to be big and brave.

What happened over the course of the next two-three years is nothing short of a miracle. You just won United’s Player of the Year award for a second consecutive year, single handedly won us games and are one of the primary reasons, we will be playing in the Champions League next season. The best players in the league i.e., Hazard. Aguero, Sterling have all been denied goals from one-one situations thanks to your shot stopping abilities and presence of mind. From being ridiculed, you are now a fans favorite and have a chant about how big and brave you are. Quite a turnaround, that!

And when you put in performances like those, bigger clubs come calling. There are a few clubs as big as Manchester United. One of them, of course is Real Madrid, to whom we have supplied our best players over the past decade and again, they want to steal us of our most prized possession.

For you, it must make absolute logical sense to move to Madrid, your hometown. Friends and family are the reason I still work in my hometown and I can understand why you may want to go back to Madrid. You would also be replacing Iker Casillas, a Real Madrid and Spain icon from a dozen years and probably your idol as you were growing up.

But how good would this move be for your career? True, Real Madrid are more of a powerhouse in Europe than United, but it also is a high demanding team. They demand instant success and success, always. Gareth Bale went there with high expectations as the costliest player in the world and is now regularly booed by their own fans for having a temporary dip in form. Casillas, himself, was booed after some poor performances.

Compare that to the fans here at Manchester. We keep supporting our players regardless of their form, which in turn, motivates the player to raise their performances. Fellaini and Ashley Young will lay testament to that fact.

While you would not go in to our hate books should you decide to leave but you certainly will be breaking a lot of hearts. The club will move on, shell out a few millions, buy another keeper and life will be normal for us, fans again. But will it, for you?

Yours truly,
A Manchester United supporter,
Hyderabad, India

He's big, he's brave, He's Spanish Dave He makes great saves And he never shaves Flyiiing through the air :)

He’s big, he’s brave,
He’s Spanish Dave
He makes great saves
And he never shaves
Flyiiing through the air 🙂

Caricature credits – Snehith

This article was also published on SportsKeeda 🙂

A Terrible Thursday!

There are bad days and then there are horrible days. And then, there are days where even horrible seems to be an understatement. Thursday (11th June, 2015) was one of those days where nothing could just go right!!

With a plan to log out earlier than usual from office, I ended up reaching office late and then eventually staying back beyond normal hours.

I left for office on my beloved bike on a nice, warm June morning. The traffic was clear, the signal lights all turned to green as I approached and even the petrol station was surprisingly empty. Nothing could go wrong – absolutely nothing.

And as I approached the halfway mark, the Cinemax (PVR, now), my bike stopped. It just stopped, and refused to start! After a million attempts at starting my bike and as I had almost given up all hope, a mechanic approached me and offered to help. A couple of attempts later, he concluded there was some dust in my spark plug, removed it, blew some air, uttered some magical spells, and Lo Behold, my bike was normal again. I couldn’t thank him enough, gave him 50 bucks and re-started my journey.

Only a couple of kilometers later, after I took the left from Jubilee Check Post and as I entered in to Road No. 45, my bike (not so beloved any more) broke down again! This area though was no main road and was one of the richest colonies in Hyderabad. What it lacks though are enough mechanics in sight! I began pushing my bike down the slope, towards HiTec City with the hope of finding a Good Samaritan. And when, one finally arrived, he suggested I go back the opposite direction if I wanted to find a mechanic. My lucky day! :-/

And there I was, pushing my bike back up the slope for another 800 meters and cursing my luck! And then, God (or whoever it is), decided to stop playing games with me and a Honda Service Station popped out magically out of nowhere.

The service station guys replaced the spark plug but the bike still refused to start as the battery had been drained out due to the million start attempts prior to dragging the bike to the service center. And there I was, terribly late to office and helpless and watch the service guys push the bike up and down the slope trying to get the bike started and the battery charged. After half an hour of futile attempts, and as if someone from above decided to have some mercy on me, the bike suddenly started, as if nothing had ever gone wrong!

And for the third time, I restarted my journey to office. Just as I thought, my day couldn’t get any worse, it did!

I went in to an ATM to withdraw some money and while the money came out, my card didn’t. The machine swallowed my card and I got a message saying, “Your card has been retained by the bank.”

I went to the bank located upstairs to log a complaint and they kindly informed me that there was nothing I can do but wait for 7-8 days if I wanted to get back the same card or to block the card and get a new one in 3-4 days. My day went from being good to bad to horrible to something even worse.

With no more misfortunes on the way, I finally reached office at 4:30, a good two and hours later than what I was originally scheduled to reach. Consequently, I wasn’t able to complete my assigned work on time, and ended up staying an extra hour and a half in to midnight before I got back home on the same dreaded route I took in the morning. An action packed Thursday, indeed!

Seems legit

Seems legit

An Early Morning Summer Trek!

It was the beginning of a long weekend. Since it was Memorial Day in the US on Monday, it gave me an extra day off to relax and rejuvenate. And my choice of relaxation was to get one hour of sleep on the Friday night!

After returning home real late after watching the night show of a horror movie (Poltergeist – not scary!), the plan was to wake up at 5 AM and watch the sunrise atop the Moula-Ali Dargah.

Memorial Day is usually celebrated on the last Monday of May every year, and I usually used this long weekend to get away from the scorching summer heat -Himalayas in 2011, Nilshi in 2012, Coorg in 2013 and Sikkim in 2014. This year, though, a trip outside Hyderabad couldn’t be planned, the least we could do is to trek up a neighboring hill and Moula-Ali seemed like the obvious choice.

The hill is located around 2 kilometers from the ECIL bus stand and the area is well known for various well known industries (ECIL, NFC, Coca-Cola) located in and around Moula-Ali. The entrance to the hill is a small diversion from the main road leading to ECIL and you’re greeted with old buildings and structures as you see the 500 odd steps leading up to the peak of the hill.

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The hike up is fairly a simple walk up the flat steps and once on top you get a panoramic shot of the Secunderabad area.  Though it is a spectacular view, you cannot help but notice the concrete jungle we live in. We tried looking around in all directions trying to spot a place of significance – on one side, you could see the enchanting Mahendra Hills while from the other side, I could locate my apartment. A water body was visible far on the backside while industries emitting smoke made me miss the Himalayan mountains even more.

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The sunrise though, in my opinion, looks as same as it is from any part of the world, and the sunrise from the Moula-Ali Dargah was no different. I cannot help but say, we did get a wonderful shot of it though!

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There are three other hillocks in the area with dargahs built on top, but with the summer temperatures soaring as high as 40 degrees by 8 AM, these hillocks remain to be trekked some other day 🙂

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Some more pictures from atop the Moula-Ali hill 🙂

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No trek/trip is nowadays complete without a selfie, is it?

All pictures credits – Maddy

Five years at Franklin :)

Rewind: five years ago

I had just got done with my graduation final exams. I had no clue what I was going to do in life. I had job offers from a few companies, and I had no idea which one I was going to join.

So, well there was a company that paid pretty decent, but was a building! The other was pretty close to home. One was a night shift job which I was not too keen on. And the last one was the one that paid the lowest and was farthest away from home.

What do I do?

I chose the fourth option! Only because it had a sprawling green campus, the Interviewers were the friendliest and I kind of felt at home when I had given my interview.

Today, I finish five years with Franklin Templeton (the fourth option) and as I look back, in retrospect that probably was the best decision I have taken! 🙂

A couple of years ago, on this day, I had written about my three year journey at Franklin Templeton. Today, I have nothing much more to add to that article except may be that when I wrote the three year journey, I mentioned I had no idea how long I would stay when I first joined. But when I wrote my three year journey, I knew at the back of my head, that the five year milestone was not far away too! 🙂