Guide to buying the HOME treadmill that suits your needs


Welcome to the most ‘googled’ topic on the internet regarding running among fitness enthusiasts, next to good running shoes! I decided to set apart the riff – raff on most popular sites (these are paid by certain treadmill companies to give good reviews about them), and give you the basic data on what you need to get the most out of the money you pay for.

Treadmill consumers can basically be divided into three main categories:

1. ‘Walkers’ (Category 1)

2. ‘Joggers’ (Category 2)

3. ‘Runners’ (Category 3)

An interesting answer to a question most people ask me: How long should a good treadmill last?

IF you have got the machine that SUITS the taxing that you give it, a ‘good’ piece of equipment should last at least a maximum of TEN YEARS with proper servicing. All the features I will be discussing below are for equipment that will fulfill these conditions. (This article is meant for serious buyers looking for good life for their treadmills, and if you belong to this group, please read on)

Criteria and parts of a treadmill that you should be analyzing before you buy:

  1. Price, size and build quality,
  2. Warranty,
  3. Motor size, hp and speed,
  4. Running belt aspects
  5. Deck and suspension,
  6. Computer console – & safety – features.
  7. Assembly


While there are many who insist they have more for less, it is important to strike a good balance between price, quality and value as you shop.

Look for a treadmill that is built to last, as a well built treadmill will be less expensive to operate in the long run.  Replacing a shoddily built treadmill after only a few years ago could end up costing far more than buying a better model up front.

There are of course a number of ways to maximize value when it comes to buying treadmills, including purchasing floor models, purchasing last year’s treadmill model and shopping at the outlet stores.  In addition there a number of excellent sellers of quality treadmills on the internet, and they can often provide competitive prices on superior treadmill brands.

  • Price for Category 1: Those who are going to use the treadmill for just walking (as for those who are elderly or obese), can go with treadmills that cost Rs. 60, 000 or less. I know this will seem like a huge amount of money, but this will give you the bang for your buck. Imagine getting an economical one and seeing it give up the ghost in two years!
  • Price for Category 2: People who jog should safely stay above the 60 k limit and purchase a brand depending on the other categories we will discuss below. Remember the more you use your treadmill, the more desirable it is to invest more for it! A great quality treadmill for joggers would cost you about Rs. 70k to 2 lakhs.
  • Price for Category 3: Oh yes, here we are. Looking for a ten – year – life in a treadmill for runners? Be prepared to invest heavily. Any home – treadmill from a good company costing above Rs. 1.5 to 2 lakh will take you over this period. This is the ideal price – range for home treadmills for all categories, and anything promising for lesser prices is to be looked at carefully for someone from category 3.

As for size and build quality, Most treadmills are about 6.5 feet by 3 feet. Folding treadmills are about half the length when folded. If you have a very spacious room, you might not need a foldable unit. To decide on ideal treadmill size, I suggest you measure your room first! Decide whether where you will place your treadmill will hinder your daily activities (such as walking to the bathroom or to the computer/television). If so, go for a foldable unit. When deciding on this feature, ensure that this property is easy to use!


Generally, if you want a treadmill with a longer warranty, be prepared to face a higher quality and price. The motor is the most expensive part of the treadmill, and that component must be covered by the warranty. Ensure the motor has at least 10 years coverage. Ideally, you should look for a warranty of 2 years for parts and 1 year for in-home labour. If any problems appear, its usually in the first 90 days of use, and usually these are minor issues. Most warranties will NOT cover wear-and-tear, but only manufacturing faults. However, some offer lifetime motor coverage plus the 5 years inclusive of wear-and-tear.


Being the heart and soul of any treadmill, it is important that the motor be large enough to move the ‘treadbelt’ easily and efficiently.  Generally speaking, the larger the running surface of the treadmill the larger the motor should be.


 Horsepower (H.P) is a measure of the motor’s power. These measurements can be either Continuous Power or Peak Power. Here you will learn about how certain companies try to cheat you out of your money!

Be wary of manufacturers that list Peak Power.

Peak Power are higher numbers and sound impressive, but all Peak Power indicates is a motor’s maximum power before failure, not it’s sustained output (Continuous Power). Hence, when you hear sales talk about ‘horse – power’ ask the dealer whether he means continuous (CHP) or peak (PHP) horsepower!

What you need:

  • Categories 1 & 2: You will want at least 1.5 C.H.P (continuous horsepower) for a home treadmill.
  • Category 3: Ideally, a 2 C.H.P is suited to home runners and also those in category 2 who use the treadmill very frequently.

The stronger the motor, the heavier a person the treadmill can carry, and the faster you can run! In general, the motor size is directly related to the price of the treadmill.

A treadmill advertised as a 6 H.P motor available for Rs. 70k or less on auction sites are quoting Peak Power and mislabelled.

  • SPEED: This is not an extremely important criteria unless you are a professional looking to maintain speeds as high as 16 kmph or higher over prolonged periods of time. Most home treadmills easily support speeds up to 12 kmph.


BELT – SIZE: The size of a running belt is related to stride and natural side-to-side movement of runners. The taller a person is, the longer their running stride. Gait (side-to-side walking movement) also is important for determining the width of the running belt. Ideally, you want a running belt size of at least 45cm wide by 130cm length. The longer and wider a running belt is, the more comfortable and confident you will feel on the treadmill. Larger running belts are 55cm by 150cm.  Those who plan to run or jog on their treadmills will want to look for the largest treadbelt surface they can find, while walkers may be able to get away with a somewhat smaller surface.


This is another area where buyers have to exercise caution, especially if they belong to ‘Category 3′. Just like a car, the treadmill’s suspension influences how soft or hard your tread feels to run on, depending on how well it absorbs shock. The deck is often made of laminated wood, coated with lubricant to minimise friction between the running belt and the deck, which in turn reduces strain on the motor. The deck rests on shock absorbing pads that provide the suspension. Look for thicker decks, and soft shock absorbing pads. The average treadmill deck is 16mm, with better treadmills having 25mm decks. If running is more your speed than walking, check the  treadmills’ deck length, since you’ll need a longer one to accommodate your stride. If you want the space-saving that a folding treadmill provides, make sure the deck isn’t too heavy to lift.


The computer console displays your running information and is your interface to your treadmill. Features that are essential are accurate feedback including:

  • Running time
  • Distance
  • Speed
  • Incline
  • Heart rate and
  • Calories burned.

The computer console should also include a variety of in-built training programs to keep your workouts interesting. The more programs, the better. The treadmill should include Heart Rate Training programs. The most modern console feature Web-browsing capabilities, music and video.

All tested treadmills have a safety key near the console that clips onto clothing and turns the machine off if you fall. People with children at home or as visitors should make sure that they can’t access treadmills, and hide the safety key.


Always ask about delivery and check whether assembly is included or available at an additional cost because some treadmills weigh up to 180 kg (400 pounds). It might be worth it if you’re not particularly good with a toolbox. It generally takes experienced engineers about 1 to 2 hours to put together a treadmill, depending on the number of steps. Lifting heavy parts, adding applying grease, and working on your knees are part of the process. Some of the steps require two people.

EXTRA FEATURES: If you are looking for more features than just the basic walking or running facility, you can check our additional spice – ups that come with treadmills. These include docks for iPods, USB ports, and wireless Internet connectivity that are popping up on many treadmills.

So go ahead and select the right treadmill for you, depending on all the features I listed above. And remember, if you are looking for a good treadmill that not just comes with good features, but also with adequate warranty & durability, wait before investing the right price! Take care, and happy hunting!


Annur Marathon 2k14 – Day 2: The Race

I groggily looked at the dial of my watch, squinting hard at the fluorescent display. I had gotten up before any of my alarms had started ringing exactly 2 minutes before 4 AM. (I usually set ten alarms on my mobile before a marathon event). I got up, went for a quick wash, asked Sanju to lock the door and was out, with a sleeveless tshirt (bib binned) under my regular t – shirt with a pair of black silk sports shorts and feet adorned with Injinji socks and New Balance shoes.

The drive was thankfully uneventful and I reached the starting point at exactly 5 AM. I was surprised to hear the sound of rock music filling the air, and to see the finish line lit up majestically.


I found the allotted parking area, and parked my ‘Ritz’ before making my way back to the starting point. Unfortunately many of the participants arrived late, and the starting time was shifted to 6 AM from 5:30 AM. But there were no further delays. After removing my outer t – shirt and keeping it in the car, I went back to the school/ start – point, and did a series of warm ups – starting from my neck, then slowly working my way downward, briskly activating all the joints in my body. Nothing broken – thank God. The team had hired drummers who did their job beautifully, energizing everyone in vicinity


Following this came a few stretches and a dynamic run – on – the – spot after which I felt prepped to go. Patric had arrived by then, and we exchanged greetings before I started the run just 5 minutes later. The flag was waved, and around 50 of us were off! I managed to stay a little ahead of half the pack, and slowly jogged from an 8 kmph speed to a 11 kmph. The sun had not yet risen, and the full moon seemed to be making a statement of its importance as it lit up what would definitely have been scary streets if it had not been for the huge crowd running with me. I took in the scenic awesomeness and proceeded to increase my pace when I noticed a school kid trying to pass. Pretty soon I had made it to the 4 km mark – I looked at my watch: twenty two minutes had gone by. I decided to go with the same speed of 10 to 11 kmph, and slowly passed many would – be – runners who had little idea of what speed they should have been running in. They were now exhausted and walking.

Time seemed to drag and my legs started feeling heavy by the 6th km mark. Refreshments were served every four km, and I helped myself to a sip of ‘gatorade’. Following this I upped my pace, and overtook the only person who was ahead of me. I looked for others ahead, but they were nowhere to be seen – not because I was first, but because, they were horrendously fast.


Soon after I heard footfalls closing in behind me and two runners, one being a man around my age with a ‘Chennai Marathon’ t – shirt and the other a somewhat heavier boy. Not to be outdone, I feverishly kept pace with them step – by – step. The 10 km mark came, and we had to take a U – turn to run back down along the same road we had come.

I groaned, as I realized that we had to climb all the inclines we had easily passed in a descending manner on the way there. I attacked each one with as much enthusiasm as I could muster, but my running speed was severely injured – to as bad as 5 kmph. After the inclines were through, I had my share of a few drops of water and a sample of orange – fruit (the magic of this fruit is it not only provides carbs and electrolytes, but also hydrates you with water just enough to keep running), then increased my pace to 5 minutes per kilometer (a 12 kmph speed). I soon overtook the Chennai runners and was on my way to overtaking the other tired 21 k runners and also 10 k runners who had made a U – turn at the 5 km mark to get back to the finish point.

I checked my watch and realized it would be hopeless finishing before 2 hours were complete, but I still kept my pace, as I heard more footfalls closing in. I was thankfully not overtaken anymore till near the finish line, though I did have to fend off a ‘doggie’ which was threatening to have a piece of all the runners passing by. With ten seconds to the finish line, I had an odd experience with my sixth sense, which was never wrong. I turned around and saw two kids sprinting toward me. I tried increasing my pace but was exhausted and gave in around two feet from the finish line, finishing the race in exactly 2 hours, 32 seconds. It was nice to be welcomed by the organizers via microphone, being announced my timing and given a medal on the spot. (unfortunately, no certificates were issued for the 21 k runners).


Patric had finished his 10 k in an hour, and was waiting at the finish with his certificate. He helped me out with getting breakfast which was being served nearby, and I collapsed into a bench in a classroom and hungrily gobbled up the hot ‘kicchidi’ served with sambar. I would normally run a 100 miles from kicchidi, but at the moment, it was the tastiest meal in the world. Patric and I took a few pictures and left with happy memories.




I came back to my room, and Sanju & I headed back to Salem starting from there at 1 PM, with arrival at 3:30 PM.

Next marathon – Rock ‘n Run has been canceled; was looking forward to it! But then, I guess I could substitute with the Madurai 11 km marathon around March 16th! Take care folks!

Annur Marathon – Day 1: The Journey

After taking a blessed half – day off from my work at Salem (hats off to the Chief Medical Officer for letting me go during a peak day), Sanju and I left at 3 PM to Annur. Taking the Coimbatore Highway, we paid the fees at both the tolls, and were proceeding to Annur when the calls came from Aravind Eye Care, Coimbatore checking if we would be staying there for the night (I had called and requested them earlier). I agreed and as soon as I disconnected the call, Patric my old pal called up and said that he too would be there in Annur to collect the bib later in the evening. We reached Annur at five, after missing a turn, and taking an adventurous slow ride in the opposite direction, to get back on course.

Once we reached the marathon starting point (Swami Vivekananda Matric High School) in Annur, I was immediately given my bib as soon as I mentioned my number. The staff were friendly and requested me to be at the start point at 5 PM, even though the marathon would start later. I agreed, went back to the car satisfied, started the engine and prepared to leave for Coimbatore, which was 30 km away. The GPS, for some reason, decided to trick us and we missed a turn (again). This time, I was not to be outdone, and took an alternate route via GPS. This took us via a narrow road supposedly leading to a college. This eventually turned into a slum with streets just big enough to accommodate our car. In five minutes, just when I was thinking I should turn back, the main road appeared ahead. We actually did it! Once back on the road, it took us just fifteen minutes to get to the road leading to the airport.

With memories of our recent trip to AIOS, Agra, we decided to once again, stop over at Aanandhas, but this time for tea. We enjoyed our tea, coffee and ‘vadai’ (which is basically flour with a few vegetables which is fried to a golden – brown colour) with sambar (a kind of soup made from lentils). Satisfied with our experience, we then headed over to Aravind Eye Care, Coimbatore, which was just a little way down the street, got our room key, met a few staff who had worked with me in Theni, then again headed out to dinner. This time it was Brookefield’s Mall, which was some distance away and took 40 minutes just to get there. We got a few books at “Odyssey”, from where we were rudely chased out at 9 PM, when the lights went off to signal that it was time to close down.

The food court was much too positive in that they served twice the amount of food that we could manage, and thank heavens, Patric showed up and helped us getting the food off the plates. We then said our goodbyes and came back to our room for a good night’s sleep. Marathon next day!

Day 5 – Departure Day (9/2/’14)

After a refreshing bath, we had headed to bed the previous night. All the luggage had been packed already, and it was now time to lug the heavy baggage to the lobby. After checking that everything had been taken and confirming whether the taxi had arrived, we proceeded downstairs. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, it was the same taxi guy who had brought us to Agra in cthe first place, and he had another stunt up his sleeve. On proceeding out into the cold morning air after checking out, we found the taxi to be absent, despite the taxi guy’s insistence that he was indeed there. Further analysis proved that he was in fact at ‘Pyrenees’ where we had dropped our other two friends when we came to Agra. With a voice bordering on irritation, I politely asked him to come to Hotel Bhavna Clark’s Inn as soon as possible. Sanju and I decided to have some breakfast before he came by. Fortunately, the buffet was open, and we had our usual breakfast, before hurrying down and placing the luggage in the taxi.

Then we were off at 715 AM. I had the initiation of a fever coming on, and wrapped myself totally in preparation for worse things to come. Thankfully it was nothing a paracet could not fix. On the way, the car decided to pull a little stunt of its own. Both the driver and his assistant took turns at driving and tinkering with the engine when the car started jerking around. I also noticed the driver had a bandage around his arm (this wasn’t there last time?). The road we took this time was highly bumpy and had some traffic, but it got us there in the same 4 hours it took to come via the ‘Expressway’. We reached the airport at sharp 1115 AM, and I paid the driver and his mate for a job finally well done.

We proceeded with our visit to the airline’s counter at Indira Gandhi International Airport (the cargo luggage was not screened this time – probably it would be, after we gave it at the counter?) After getting rid of the heavy cargo bags, we headed with our hand luggage toward the security check – in, placing our laptop, mobiles and camera into separate plastic trays and sending them through the security scan before proceeding to being patted down by the guard. Finally after being thoroughly scanned, we headed over to food court and had a great dinner (Sanju had rice and chicken from KFC, and yeah, I helped myself to pizza as usual from Pizza Hut)

I badly wanted to have some cold coffee, but noticing it was just twenty minutes to boarding time, we made our way to the required gate. Unfortunately the boarding time was an hour ahead of departure (God knows why). During boarding we met two friends working at Eye Foundation, whom we knew while working at Aravind Eye Care and Joseph’s. We then proceeded into a mix of a sunny afternoon with chill air, to board the bus for getting on our flight.

Once in, there was a huge wait for 50 minutes, during which time three or four other planes took off while our jet sat, engines idling, a huge metallic bird with shiny wings that would take us home, and back to Tamilnad. Finally, it was time, and we departed, feeling the wind beneath the jet’s wings, leaving Delhi far below. We reached Coimbatore at a record time of 5:40 PM. Once we reached, I left Sanju at the airport after claiming our cargo baggage, picked up our Ritz from the hostel, then returned to take her with me and back to Salem.

The drive was excellent, wherein we had fun racing a few persistent Mahindras and Toyotas, and a driver who felt afraid to push his Audi past the 120 kmph mark. Needless to say, the Ritz made its mark as we wove in and out of highway traffic, sticking to speeds of 100 to 130 kmph. Then, Salem it was, arriving at 7:50 PM, the whole journey being done under 2 hours. We decided to have dinner at a veg restaurant right in front of our place, then lug our luggage to our apartment. Finally, we were home. I wasn’t ready for my usual busy schedule, but I sure was happy to be back home safe and sound, after a great experience at Agra.

Upcoming event to look forward to: Annur Rural Marathon on Feb 16th.. heads up!

Day 4 – Trade, Friend & Fort (8/2/’14)

Time for mom to depart – after seeing our share of the Trade Center at the conference! Decided to go over there and see if we could spice up our nursinghome in Trichy with one of the ‘goodies’ we saw at the Trade Center in Jaypee Palace, the venue of the conference. Decided to go with a demo of a green – laser apparatus, a fundus camera, a screening tool for the eye’s posterior segment and the non contact tonometer with ‘pachy’ built in.

Soon after, Sanju and I parted ways with mom, and it was now time to meet my old time friend Vetri from school days. He had come over to Agra to see us with his family, and was just across the street, waiting in his car. So away we went, making friends with Saranya – his better half, and their baby Arundhadhi, the cute little heroine dressed up like a doll in pink. We decided to head over to Agra Fort. When we got there, and found a parking spot, Sanju couldn’t help but admire the little doll.



Once we had convinced the badgering guides that we didn’t need their company, we headed to the magnificent archways and gardens, well maintained 



As expected, there were areas made of marble just like the Taj – huge structures carved out of shiny white stone, and others with beautiful architecture carved into it.



There was one particular area that I liked – a place that overlooked the Taj, exuding its beauty and salience through the misty air. The awesome red expanse of a portico with carved ‘windows’ that looked out into the world outside stood out shouting for attention in the still atmosphere.


Pavilions and pillars spoke of the old times, as I pictured kings and soldiers going about with their work in this monument of red and white. Tried to blend in, and be a part of the Agra Fort.



Following our visit to the Agra Fort, we decided it was time to line our tummies with excellent food – and excellent it was, the awesome pizzas at Pizza Hut! We found our way there by GPS, and had a great down downing out pizzas with cold drink. What’s more, the staff decided to put on a good dance for us. Way to go Pizza Hut!


Vetri dropped us off at our hotel, where he was in two minds as to whether to stay over for the night or whether he should go back to Delhi. He finally decided he ought to get back cos of his Badminton game on Sunday morning. We said our goodbyes, feeling great that it was another day well done. Next up – Departure Day.. stick around folks!

Trip to Agra – Day 3 (7/2/’14 – Banquet Lights)

Day three would be the most uneventful of all the days in Agra (that would be only taking into account the day). Morning welcomed us with toasted bread and omelettes with tea (our usual favourites here). We were at the conference by 10 AM. Thought I’d make a difference today, and headed straight to Hall A where the cataract session was going on, where I learnt a few new techniques including the multiple – hole sculpting in dark cataracts to get rid of the central hard core, Sanju wanted to go shopping, and so, she joined Mom and both of them made their cunning escape. Now arose a new problem – the hall was so full, I had to stand for more than an hour before I could actually find a seat. After attending sessions till 11:30, I headed out and met up with some old pals – Vivek, Sankar and Ashok from Aravind Eye Care and Samarth Agarwal who had passed out of Joseph Eye Hospital.

After attending one more session, it was time for lunch. I found Drs. Tanuja Britto and Antony, and headed toward the buffet – area. It was great to meet up with Dr. Sujatha and a few other medical officers from Joseph Eye Hospital during the break. The pile – up of rotis failed to impress us. We stuck to salads, then moved straight to the non – veg section and helped ourselves to mutton, following which came huge samples of dessert. Antony (alias ‘Ants’) and I took a picture after what seemed many decades.


I felt exhausted after the long exposure to a situation such as standing still at the conference (I’d rather run a marathon instead), and so I headed back to my room, where I wrote my previous blogs for ‘Day 1’ and ‘Day 2’. Sanju and Mom joined me at my hotel at 6 PM, We found the venue for the infamous banquet dinner to be ‘Saloni Farm’. Unfortunately and unpredictably, there were no shuttles that covered our area for the venue. After finding a taxi, we rushed to the venue. The traffic was incredible and I feel Agra must have experienced such a traffic block for the first time, as ophthalmologists from all over India made their way to the venue either by auto rickshaw, their own vehicles or by taxis. We reached there by 8:30 PM, instructing the driver to wait till 11:30 PM, for which he happily agreed when we met terms with him regarding his Rs. 800 pay.

Once we made our way in, provided the coupons, and entered the huge area, this is what we saw:


Mom wanted to meet up with her friends, and two hours was spent searching for them, while helping ourselves to snacks being readily provided by waiters who were passing by. Trance music & the sound of bass filled the air, and I found my head automatically nodding to the beat. Phones were out of the scenario, as reception and tower level were ridiculously low. We continued to have a light dinner and huge dessert while still searching for them. I finally found one of Mom’s friends, and the rest of them soon came by for a happy reunion.


We decided it was time to leave at 11 PM and headed out, while calling up the taxi driver. Unfortunately there was a not – so – miniscule pile – up of traffic, and it took 20 minutes just to find the car some distance away in the opposite direction and another 40 minutes getting to the venue in the taxi while passing perilously close to vehicles and their drivers who were resorting to driving bumper – to – bumper. Yet another 25 minutes getting back to our hotel, after dropping off mom and her friends at theirs’.

So that was yesterday, and wow, was that fulfilling as well as tiring. More tomorrow! 

Trip to Agra – Day 2

On the 6th of February, a beautiful cold morning found us waking from bed at 9 AM after a rather stressful previous day’s events (read Day 1 for more details). We got to the conference site via taxi from our hotel, and proceeded to the one of the several reception desks where doctors were given badges according to the numbers assigned to them previously via SMS. Sanju received her guest card, and she got Mom’s card and delegate – kit in advance as she was going to be late. The ophthalmic trade center was our next stop, where we met several friends and also saw a few instruments and investigative modalities.

We had tea at one of the tea stalls, following which I took Sanju into one of the conference halls. The ‘orbit’ sessions were proceeding as expected and Sanju followed them quite well for a person with no medical training. I had a good time explaining things to her, and then we headed for lunch. We tried to catch up with Mom during lunch, which was difficult amongst the enoromous crowd. We finally spotted her in one of the three lunch areas. She was with Devaki Aunty and Dhivya (Aunty’s future daughter – in – law). We discussed about going to the Taj Mahal and things went on as planned.

On reaching the area, we were stopped at a point beyond which our taxi was not allowed. Battery – operated auto rickshaws were then used to transport us for a fee of Rs. 200 (Rs. 20 for each of our tickets plus Rs. 100 for taking us to the Taj). The driver then got down inbetween to get our tickets for us, came back, and drove us to the entrance. We were then assaulted by guides, photographers and sock – sellers. We decided to get the socks which were a form of caps that we doctors wear during surgery. This was required once we entered the marble section of the Taj, wherein we were supposed to adorn the socks over our own footwear. The guides and photographers were persistent, and we finally picked one in both.

Once we got through security, we had to keep our conference bags outside (our guide proceeded to his ‘friend”s shop, saying that they would be safe there). We then returned to the entrance, and proceeded with the others via gardens toward the magnificent red gate that led to the Taj monument.


Once through the gate, we saw the famous view that most photographs portray (even I who had visited the Taj previously twelve years ago was still stunned by its beauty)



The guide went through the process of informing us about the magnificent structure’s history, and the photographer took many pictures, insisting that we need pay only for the ones that we like, which would be printed. I haven’t scanned any of his pictures, but here’s one from my camera:


On stepping into the marble section of the Taj, after wearing the ‘socks’ over our footwear, we couldn’t help but admire its’ serene beauty even with the thousand – odd people milling around us. The river Yamuna, though not really clean, did strike a good pose behind the gigantic structure.


The walk into the grave of Mumtaz was next, but that of the Shah’s was forbidden. After proceeding through dark corridors, I was relieved when we emerged outside again into the sunlight (as these corridors were well known for talented pick – pockets and I had my hands covering my money – bearing – pocket and camera pouch all the while). The paintings and wall – carvings really caught my eye.



We exited the Taj ‘s marble section soon, and we were back in the gardens, where we rested for a while admiring the majestic influence of the monument, under the shade of a tree. Our guide refused to leave us, even though we were there for fifteen minutes. He was rather taken up with my profession and asked me what kind of eye drops he could use for good eye – health. I informed him that it would be better to visit an ophthalmologist and get properly checked before getting any of the 2000 – odd topical medication that exist out there. On the way out, I noticed a beautiful sunset, which I hastily captured.Image

Once out of the Taj, our guide Raju took us to the place where we left our conference bags. Turned out he had been receiving a commission to lead us there, and to a few more shops which drained around 4k of all our money together. But then, all – in – all we had a great time and the chap didn’t charge us extra for his time, so no harm done. We arrived back to our hotel at 8 PM (how lovely compared to our previous night?) had a pleasant dinner and ran straight off to bed. THE END> what are you looking at? Next day comin’ up!

Trip to Agra – Day 1

Sanju and I started from Salem, Tamilnadu an early time of 6 AM. Except for one stop for coffee at 7AM, the journey was done non – stop, while keeping the car at a steady and slow speed of 80 to 100 kmph. We reached Coimbatore at 8:!5 AM, had breakfast at ‘Aanandhas’ a delightful restaurant recommended by ‘TripAdvisor’, then headed straight for the airport. I dropped Sanju there with the bags, and proceeded to park the car at one of Aravind Eye Care’s hostels which was right next to the airport. This was mighty convenient, and soon, I was back inside the airport in just 20 minutes. Entry, baggage screening, check – in and security clearance went unhindered, and the flight was on time. Fortunately found a few minutes to spend at Cafe Coffee Day inside the airport for a yum Devil’s Own topped with fresh cream and coffee beans. It was nice to see many other doctors who I knew headed for the same conference in our plane. Our flight took off and landed on time at Delhi at around 2:45 PM.

Our friend Anuj was already there in Delhi and had arrived two hours ago with his sister – in – law Soumya. We had fortunately hired a taxi through a retired friend from the army earlier, and all four of us managed to pile in with our luggage. The journey to Agra was uneventful, except for interference at every single toll gate on production of the free pass from the Defense Section. Near the first toll plaza, we found a highway – restaurant where we stopped for tea at around 5:15 PM and took a few photos there.



We reached Agra at 7:30 PM, then proceeded to drop Anuj and Soumya at their place which was in a totally different locality from ours. I was a little nervous because they were the only ones with us who knew Hindi, while Sanju and I were only proficient in Tamil and English. The taxi driver then suddenly said he wanted Rs. 8000 for fare (which was quite outrageous). A call was made to the taxi owner, and the matter was settled saying the fare was actually Rs. 5500, and the extra Rs. 2500 was for advance for the return journey, which was not required. With that put behind us, we dropped off Ponnappa and Soumya at the ‘Pyrenees’ lodge and were back on the road.

Then came the second heart – attack. My phone had only 15% battery charge, and the taxi guy switched to full comedy – mode by saying he had no idea where I wanted him to go and that he definitely required my GPS to get us there. I tried to convince him to talk in broken English, but failed horribly, as he kept cutting me off unceremoniously with a string of words in Hindi. Praising God for my ‘roaming – enabled – phone’ I proceeded to give him instructions. But… time for the third heart – attack? The car was out of fuel but our super driver and his mate were not interested in stopping at the nearby fuel stations. When Sanju interrogated them with her broken Hindi phrases, they replied that they needed LPG gas and that the station was not nearby. Getting to the gas station took ten minutes through narrow desolate roads lit by sparse street lamps. I looked silently at Sanju, who was now getting the jitters. Once at the bunk, we both were ordered to get outside (without any reason as to why), and the car was taken into the station.

My mind was now working at lightning speed for different ways of escape, in case things turned nasty. Six guys conferred with one another, then finally one of them came over to ask us the address where we were supposed to be going. We repeated for the twentieth time that the address was Bhavna Towers – Clark Inn at the bottom of Guru ka Taal flyover. Then after a few heart wrenching moments, we were back in the car, and driving out of the slum area. The driver was still in love with my GPS, so I had to switch the phone back on (charge was now down to 12%). Fortunately, the remainder of the journey was done sticking to main roads. There were a few worrying moments when the driver insisted that no such flyover even existed. But when we stopped at a tea shop, the localites there were kind enough to point out to our driver that there was definitely such a flyover, and it was just around the bend. We reached it in a minute and our breathing, heart rates and other vital – signs returned to normal when we climbed the flyover and saw our hotel marked with a bold red – and – white sign, just as the phone exclaimed that the battery was down to 4%. The driver and his friend flashed highly attractive smiles and shifted their weight from one foot to another, after helping us with our luggage, and being paid Rs. 5,550. I paid them a hundred extra for God – knows – what, and proceeded to our room. We noted that the time was 9 PM – a full 1.5 hours of traipsing around the town of Agra.

Dinner was spent downstairs at the restaurant, wherein the waiters conveniently forgot to even have the courtesy to fill our glasses with water. We helped ourselves to dinner (which was decent enough) and some ice  – cream, and headed back to our room for a good night’s (and might I add, highly deserved) sleep.