Hello Friends, Enemies, Those In-between & The Undecided!

Welcome to my blog. This is just the continuation of my old web site http://www.ejji.4t.com . In case you are reading about me for the first time, I suggest you visit my earlier website and then read on. And, do not forget to see all the photographs on EJJI’S PHOTO GALLERY . The name ejji6t.wordpress.com tells you that I am 60 years plus now, though some parts of me are assuredly much younger and perhaps more used. (For further proof, see my profile photo on my website http://www.ejji.4t.com !) If you are the serious type who thinks that all the burdens of the world are on your shoulders, give me a break. This is not the place for you. Wanna have fun and a laugh? Come right in! You will notice that I have changed from a “Congenital Sybarite” in my earlier website to “Reciprocator by Experience” now. Therein lies a story. One learns by experience. The biggest liar in the world is the person who says, “I have never made a mistake”. (The next biggest liar is the one who says, “Your check is in the mail”!) Like pregnancy, experience cannot be quantified. You cannot say, “I’m slightly pregnant”. Similarly, no one can say, “I am slightly experienced”. If you are alive, you have experienced some thing, some place, some time, and in some way. My experience has taught me that there is no use doing something expecting something in return. No, I am not a pessimist at all. I am just practical and accepting some unpleasant facts. When you do not expect anything from anyone, the smallest good deed one does to you feels big. When you do not expect anything from anyone, the smallest harm one does to you also seems small. So how does one reciprocate? “If you are smitten on your left cheek, show your right cheek” is nice to read, but difficult to practice. After all these years I have learnt that, “If you are smitten on your left check, smite back! But make sure it is on the left cheek and you leave a mark”. The world is such. No use pontificating on the impossible. But, if someone does you a good deed, remember Polonius’ words in Hamlet to his son Laertes, “Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel”. Thus after being a “Whole-time Househusband and Homemaker”, a “Rat Race Runner (Retd.)”, a “Compulsive Party Host”, a “Congenital Sybarite”, etc. I am now a “Reciprocator by Experience”. It took me some time (and age) to realize that very few persons one knows “reciprocate” anything, anytime in any form! I became selfish. Ayn Rand’s book ‘Virtues of Selfishness’ helped me correct my path! This mid life correction has saved me immense trouble and expenses too! That is how I have now become a “Reciprocator by Experience”. Now I just “Reciprocate”- the good, the bad and the ugly in the same fashion that I got it! If someone is good, I am good. If someone is kind. I am kind. If someone is bad, I am worse! No. I am not a cynic. I am a practical optimist and open in my outlook. Enjoy my blog. Your comments, good, bad or otherwise, most welcome. Live. Don’t exist!

qyuPHOTOGRAPHS AND VIDEOS POSTED HERE ARE COURTESY PARTICIPANTS, MAHINDRA ADVENTURE AND OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHERS MANOJ SAHOO of klickmypics.com , VLADIMIR KEZLING of kezling.ru & ADITYA BENGALI of Cajun Moon Photography and many others. It is not possible for me to give individual credits for each photograph. I accept that copyright wherever applicable belongs to the owner.

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During their summit meeting over the October 2016 weekend in Goa, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid considerable emphasis on a suitable way to celebrate next year (2017), to mark the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations being established between the two countries. Read the full story. Click on this link.  IT ALL STARTED IN GOA IN 2016 !!!!!

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Putin Modi

We are greatly inspired by the vision of our Honb’le Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi ji to strengthen strategically important corridor, the INSTC and simultaneously uphold the 70 year long diplomatic ties between India & Russia, being jointly announced by the Honb’le Russian President Vladimir Putin and our Honb’le Prime Minister at Goa during BRICS summit early this year. To convert this vision into reality KMSC has been directed by the Ministry of Indian External Affairs, hence is organising the India Russia Friendship Motor Rally.

Kalinga Motor Sports Club – KMSC is based out of Bhubaneswar and has conducted 4 similar International events [India – Nepal; BBIN – Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal,  IMT – India Myanmar Thailand & IMT – II 2017] under the aegis of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways since the year 2015. People from all these countries were participants in the last friendship motor rallies, thus developing strong bond as people to people contact.

Mr. Mikhail Gorbatov, Vice Consul, & Director of the Russian Center of Science and Culture, Chennai, and His Excellency Mr. Sergey L. Kotov, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Chennai, were the key persons,who along with Mrs. Janaki Krishnan mother of Ejji K. Umamahesh, who spearheaded this epic event.


The entire route survey from St. Petersburg to Bandar Abbas and Chabahar was done by Ramesh Mahapatra, Ejji K. Umamahesh and Chidanand Murthy in 2017.

A brief report on India Russia Friendship Motor Rally – India Leg


Bhilai to Chennai 2938 km

Chennai to Ahmedabad 3448 km

Ahmedabad Tehri New Delhi 1552 km

Road to Russia


Russian Nationals 8

Thai Nationals       2

Indian Nationals    26

Vehicles                 09  Mahindra & Mahindra Scorpio New Generation

Day-0 18th February 2018

The first set of participants and organizers arrived at the famous Rajkumar College in Raipur. The management of the college were our hosts.

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27973698_544428172606283_1927691791760049723_nDay-1 19th February 2018

The participants of the INDIA RUSSIA FRIENDSHIP MOTOR RALLY 2018 arrived at the Bhilai Steel plant Guest House by 4pm and were welcomed by the CEO Mr. M. Ravi and his team. A photograph exhibition was organised by the authorities to showcase transition from waste land to the mega steel plant. The Russians settled in Bhilai had a rare chance of meeting people from their country who were the rally team members. The CEO hosted the participants with a grand cultural evening and a gala dinner.



Day-2  20th February

The caravan was flagged off from the main gate of the Bhilai Steel Plant at 0800 hrs in the presence of Sri Ranvijay Singh Judeo, Member of Parliament RS from Chhattisgarh, Mr. Tarun Vijay, Former MP Rajya Sabha, CEO Mr. M Ravi and thousands of workers of the steel plant for its next destination.

The rally was received by the Chhattisgarh Motor Sports Association at the capital city of Raipur later flagged off by the Honb’le Chief Minister Sri Raman Singh.


On the route to Ranchi, the caravan crossed the city of Samabalpur in Odisha which is incidentally the sister city of Tver in Russia, the birth place of famous Russian traveller Afanasy Nikitin.

The caravan reached Ranchi covering a distance of 652 km to be welcomed by the members of Ranchi Adventure Wheelers for a gala dinner.

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Day-3  21st February

The team was hosted with refreshments at the Ranchi Rotary Club before leaving for the HECL Visit. Exchange of flags between Rotarians from Russia and Ranchi was ceremoniously conducted.

The authorities of HECL greeted the team with sumptuous breakfast and gave a conducted tour of the plant that continues its heavy engineering operation with the gigantic machine tools brought from Russia in the fifties of the last century.

Later the caravan took the road to Bokaro Steel Plant. Lunch was arranged by the authorities and a flag off ceremony was done by   the CEO Mr. P.K. Singh in presence of the Directors and other plant officials for Jamshedpur night halt.

Day-4  22st February

The team left for Bhubaneswar from Jamshedpur. On its way to Bhubaneswar the guest were hosted for lunch at the Palace of Maharaja of Mayurbhanj, where the team saw old artefacts and antique furniture and was lost with memories of a bygone era. It was a nostalgic moment for the team to have met the 90 year old Princes of erstwhile kingdom of Nepal and the present Maharajmata of the Mayurbhanj State. It was an unique opportunity for all.




The caravan rolled off for Bhubaneswar to meet the Rotarians of RI District 3260 with a special district meeting where experiences were shared by the travelers with the inquisitive listeners particularly when one said she was from Vladivostok, Vancouver etc…and a flag exchange ceremony took place following a fellowship dinner. On the way, the rally stopped at Tampara Lake near Chilka.

Rotary Bhubaneshwar

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Day-5  23rd  February

As per schedule the friendship rally rolled off for Vishakhapanam on its way for the next halt. Although the Vizag. Steel Plant was built with the Russian collaboration, the management was not keen to participate in the event.

Day-6  24th  February

As per schedule the friendship rally rolled off for Vijaywada on its way for the next halt. On reaching Vijayawada, the convoy drove to the famous Kanakadurga Temple overlooking the Prakasam Barrage. After a memorable visit to the temple by the participants, along with our Thai and Russian guests, the rally moved on for the night halt.


Day-7  25th  February

The caravan then rolled off for Hyderabad. The delegates were welcomed at the Ramoji Film City by the authorities of BrahMos Aerospace, a unit of DRDO and escorted to their place of stay in Hyderabad. The authorities later took the participants to their guest house for fellowship dinner. It was an event of joyful gathering between the resident Russians and the rally team. The dinner turned colourful when the guests and the hosts started singing in Hindi as well as Russian. The management of BrahMos Aerospace presented caps and T-shirts to all the team members before bidding adieu for the evening.


Day-8  26th  February

The cars started rolling sharp at 0800hrs for the BrahMos Aerospace plant site. The delegation was given a traditional welcome by the authorities with garland, tika and traditional musician playing mangal vadyam. The entire unit staffs were gathered to accord a warm welcome before send off. It was a unique site for many. After a group picture the caravan rolled for its next stop at Chennai. The members expressed their gratitude to the management and the staff of BrahMos Aerospace and DRDO for their hospitality. The caravan after being flagged off by the plant authorities at 0830 hrs covered a distance of 638 kms to reach its next destination Chennai at 2200 hrs.



Day-9  27th  February

This was a rest day and all the participants were taken for a conducted tour to Mahabalipuram and the Theosophical Society. It took many by surprise that this society was formed in the USA by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (Russia) and others in the year 1875 which still thrives in India, with the headquarters in Chennai and branches all over the world.




The evening was at the Russian Centre of Science and Chennai, Culture, Chennai. His Excellency the Consul General of the Russian Federation in Mr. MR. SERGEY L. KOTOV along with the Director of the Centre Mr. Mikhail Gorbotov, hosted the evenings cultural program. This was followed by dinner with typical Russian cuisine at the centre.

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Day-10  28th  February

Though, as per plans a halt at the Neyveli Lignite Corporation was scheduled, it had to be rescheduled to Madurai as the plant authorities refused to cooperate.

The evening in the temple town of Madurai, started with a visit to the Thirumalai Nayak Palace is a 17th-century palace erected in 1636 AD by King Thirumalai Nayak, a king of Madurai’s Nayaka dynasty who ruled Madurai from 1623–59.

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The Meenakshi Temple at Madurai was a blessing to all the participants as it was a place where all could go in to the temple. A unique life time experience, for the non-Hindus too!



Day-11  1st March

Rally was welcomed by leading citizens of Tinnevelly on the highway to Kudankulam.

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Rally on schedule now rolled on for Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. The authorities and the Russians working in the unit anxiously waited for the convoy to reach the plant gate. Though permissions were not available for going into the complex, the CEO welcomed and flagged off the caravan from the plant gate for Kanyakumari, where they hosted the team with lunch.

The team had a chance to visit the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and the Thiruvalluvar Statue at the southernmost tip of the Indian peninsula. A unique opportunity for most!

Later the caravan returned to Madurai for the night halt.

Day-12  2nd March

The cars rolled on its path to Bangalore for a night halt. It was the day of colours – Holi. Much enthusiasm amongst foreign participant was there to play with colours hence arrangements were made for attending a Holi celebration by the local friends from Bangalore.


Day-13  3rd  March

The team was in need of rest after travelling for 5326 kms from the start. And this was granted after reaching Goa on the 13th day of the event.

We stopped at Castle Rock to view the famous railway station.  An international railway connection that did exist in the past but is no longer a possibility is that between India and Goa, which until 1961 was a colony of Portugal and not part of India. For travelers between Goa and British India, and later between Goa and India all the formalities of international travel including customs checks and verification of travel documents were carried out at Castle Rock.

Day-14  4th  March

A rest day at Goa saw us visiting the Portuguese churches in Old Goa, drink cashew Feni and eat sorpotel. (Sorpotel, is a dish of Portuguese origin now commonly cooked in the Goa, Mangalore and East Indians of Mumbai, The former Estado da Índia Portuguesa colony. It is also prepared in northeastern Brazil. Ingredients include meat and offal, which varies depending on region from pork to lamb and even beef. The meats are first parboiled, then diced and sauteed before being cooked in a spicy and vinegary sauce. Some people also use the animals’ blood for boiling.)

The evening saw us on the sea shore partying like there is no tomorrow!

Day-15  5th  March

The caravan was ready to roll at 0730 hrs to take the arduous journey of 552 kms to Navi Mumbai.

Though there was a plan to visit the monument at Revdanda, of the Great Russian traveller Afanasy Nikitin who travelled to India in the mid 15th century, it could not be materialised due to paucity of time, heavy traffic and narrow road to that spot. It would have been difficult to manoeuvre the long convoy of Mahindra SUVs to the monument.

The rally was received by the members of Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations in India (FFFAI) at Navi Mumbai as it reached the destination by 1900 hrs.

Day-16  6th  March

The team now rolled northwards to Vadodara, Gujarat for the next halt. Mr. Naresh Bhonsle of Mahindra met us on the highway to greet us.

Naresh at Navi Mumbai

Day-17  7th  March

Rolling on the Bharat Mala road network of the National Highway Authorities of India the team reaches Rajkot for a night halt.

The team was invited by the Principal of Rajkumar College, Rajkot (established in 1870) to share their experience with students and the staff of this century and half old premier education institute of India. The team was hosted with dinner after the interaction.

The foundation stone of Rajkumar College was laid in 1868. The institution was designed by Colonel Keatinge and was formally opened by the Governor of Bombay, H. B. Sir Seymour Fitzgerald, in 1870. The college was founded for the education of the princely order by the princes and chiefs of Kathiawad for their sons and relations.

Day-18  8th  March

8 th of March is a red lettered day for the rally, as we are celebrating the International Women’s day. Lady participants with International Driving License were asked to drive their cars.

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Ladies 01

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Day-19  9thMarch

It was 0730hrs. Luggage packed into cars. Breakfast over and team ready to roll for Ajmer at 0800 hrs. The biological clock of each participant was fully tuned by now.

India Leg of the rally now gets ceremoniously flagged off by the Principal, staff and
students of Rajkumar College, Rajkot to its next destination- Amdavad.

On the way, we stopped by at one of the best Automobile Museums in India at Kathwada on the outskirts of Amdavad.

The members were shown the rich and colorful culture of Gujarat by visiting the Adalaj Step Well. Adalaj Stepwell or Rudabai Stepwell is a stepwell located in the village of Adalaj. It was built in 1498 by Rana Veer Singh of the Vaghela dynasty of Dandai Desh. It is a fine example of Indian architecture work.

We were received at the Shree Digbhuvan Palace of the erstwhile princely state of Limbdi in Gujarat by our friend (Yuvaraj Sahib) Jaideepsinhji Chhatrasalji, the son of the last royal title holder (HH Thakore Sahib) Shri Chhatrasalji Digvijaysinhji and his charming wife (HH Thakorani Saheb) Snehlata Kumar, who showed us around the well maintained palace and explained the history of the palace and the erstwhile ruling family. Limbdi State was a princely state and was entitled to a 9-gun salute during the British Raj. It was ruled at that time by members of the Jhala dynasty. It belonged to Kathiawar Agency. After India’s independence from British colonial rule in 1947, Limbdi was integrated into the Indian Union with other princely states. The rally was flagged off by Jaideep.


Ejji, Shyamala, Jaideepsinhji Chhatrasalji and Bhamini at the Limbdi Palace


We then visited the Sayla Palace to meet (Thakore Saheb Raja) Prithvirajsinjhi Surendrasinjhi, the present head of the Jhala Dynasty who rules over the state of Sayla. The state of Sayla was founded in 1751 by Seshmalji, who is said to have fought many battles and to have captured Sayla from the Kathi Darbars and made it the capital of his state. He is credited with building the fortified wall around Sayla and founding the Darbargadh or Rajmahal (palace), which is still the residence of the Jhala family, but needs a lot restoration and maintenance. The palace has halls for audiences, administrative and judicial meetings of the rulers, life-size portraits of successive rulers and attractive carvings.


It was 0730hrs. Luggage packed into cars. Breakfast over and team ready to roll for Ajmer at 0800 hrs. The biological clock of each participant was fully tuned by now. We reached Ajmer very late. But there still was time for an impromptu party in Ejji’s hotel room!

Day-20 10th March

Early risers never missed the chance to visit the Ajmer Sharif Dargha as it opens at 0430 hrs to be ready for the next leg of travel to Gurugram, Delhi.

Day-21 11th March

Now from the plains of South India to the hills of Himalaya was the task for the team. As usual it started rolling on time for Rishikesh for the next halt.

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Day-22 12th March

The rally team was hosted by the Tehri Hydro Power Corporation and a unique experience for all to visit the 10th tallest dams in the world. The team was hosted by the dam authorities for lunch.


Day-23 13th March

Program of Flag In at the Russian Embassy in Delhi was scheduled at 1500 hrs, this left with no room for the participants to laze away anymore. The caravan rolled at 0530 hrs into the National Capital on the concluding day and team members kept to their promise to conclude successfully. An impromptu lunch was arranged at a public park in Delhi, as we waited for the scheduled time to meet the Russian Ambassador to India for the Flag In of the India Leg, and Ceremonial Flag off of the Russia Leg scheduled for April 2018. Many participants were leaving Delhi after that.

We were hosted to a fantastic dinner by our friend Kasi Viswanathan from Moscow, at the iconic Pind Balluchi Restaurant & Bar. The shot glasses say, “Sannu ki” meaning,  “What does it matter to us?”,  and “Pai Gya Syappa” meaning, “What the heck/f…!”

The participants were warmly greeted by His Excellency Mr. A Nikolay Rishatovich KUDASHEV, The Ambassador of the Russian Federation in India and his team, Joint Secretary Eurasia Division, Ministry of External Affairs Mr. Srinivas and his team, at the concluding of Leg 1 and the beginning of Leg 2 – Mumbai to Saint Petersburg.

Leg 2 is scheduled to roll out from Bandar Abbas, Iran, on 27th of April 2018 for Saint Petersburg, Russia through Azerbaijan, a drive of around 5500 km. And then Leg 3 from St. Petersburgh to Bandar Abbas, again through Azerbaijan on the same route.

The India Russia Friendship Motor Rally on the 70th Anniversary Year Friendship & Diplomatic Relations of our two Great Nations, affirms our rally motto, “May the wheels of India Russia Diplomatic Relations always move forward in the FAST Lane”.


What an amazing drive of 9000 km in India for the INDIA RUSSIA FRIENDSHIP MOTOR RALLY 2018- India Leg! 8 Russians 2 Thais and 26 Indians in the convoy. Russian ladies of all ages from senior citizens to young adults were able to drive on Indian roads and highways! Thai participants did that too. Not a single car in the convoy got lost and no breakdowns or mechanical failures. Incredible support from the #Mahindra technicians in the convoy. We now prepare for Leg 2 of the rally, starting April 27 from Bandar Abbas, Iran, to St. Petersburg, Russia, thru Azerbaijan. And then the return drive, Leg 3 of the rally, from St. Petersburg to Bandar Abbas starting May 16th 2018. Back in Chennai to chill out and come out of rallying and partying mode. Till we meet again, drive safe and enjoy motor sports.

India Russia Friendship Motor Rally – Onward Drive Leg 2

Basic Objective : People to people Connect & celebration of
70 years of Diplomatic Relationship
Period of the event : 27th April to 16th May 2018
Distance to be covered : 5500 km by road 900 nautical miles by sea
Participants : 20 Teams, 45 people
Nationality : India, Russia, Iran & Azerbaijan
Vehicles : 19 SUVs by Mahindra & Mahindra

Leg 2 map - Copy

Itinerary-Russia Leg 2-page-001

The friendship rally was officially flagged off from New Delhi after the end of the INDIA LEG to reach Mumbai on its way to Moscow then to Saint Petersburg in Russia to reaffirm the seven decade old diplomatic ties between Russia and India.

14th April 2018


With great help from Shankar Shinde, Managing Director at Global Express Multilogistics Pvt. Ltd. and Utkaarsh R Tiwaari Commissioner of Customs.


24th April 2018

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Arrival of containers with Indian made SUV for the epic event.

28th April 2018, Saturday

Arrival of all participants at Bandar Abbas, the largest sea port town of Iran, and accommodation arranged at the Iran Government run Homa Hotel. Due to technical snags with the shipping agency, late arrival of vessel and Friday being a national holiday in Iran, the vehicles could not be released from the port to keep up to the schedule of Flag Off of the India Russia & INSTC Friendship Motor Rally.

29th April, Sunday

The scheduled flag off could not be maintained. The day was spent in site seeing and visiting the only Hindu Temple in Iran.

Some went to see the Hormuz Island.

30th April 2018, Monday

*** The event had to undergo one day delayed start. And the flag off was done on the 30th of April, Monday, for Shiraz.


Dignitaries present:
Shri Devesh Uttam, Deputy Chief of Mission, Indian Embassy in  Tehran
Shri U. N. Ogle Consul General of India in Bandar Abbas
Captain Aftab Ahmed Khan, Naval Attaché, Indian Embassy
Secretary General of The Motorcycle and Automobile Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (MAFIRI), Tehran.

The ‘kafila’ (meaning convoy in Iranian) of 18 cars rolled out at 0800 hrs from the hotel campus for Shiraz. Though the cost of diesel in Iran is less than Rs.8.00, it is not available freely. Most vehicle use benzene. Diesel is used by large transport vehicles only and is available on permit. A preloaded card is issued to the direct user, hence it was not easy to procure in a free market. A major setback for refueling DIESEL in Iran!

The ‘kafila’ reached the business town of Shiraz by evening after covering a distance of 570 km for a night halt. Accommodation arranged in Hotel Persepolis International.

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Shiraz, a busy business town of Iran, over crowded with vehicles gave an early start to the team.

The visit to Hafiz Tomb in the beautiful garden town during late spring in this part of the world was very interesting. Poet Hafez was born in Shiraz in the year 1315, whose poetry is so popular that till today people in Iran do not forget to recite. In the year 1932 at the invitation of Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran, Guru Rabindra Nath Tagore visited the tomb of this great Persian poet Hafiz.

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At The Hamam: We visited an old Hamam or bath house. It has a heating room where water was heated with wood fire and piped to the rooms. The renovated bath house has life size images of the persons who were part of a working Hamam ages ago. A barber, a masseur, a dentist and others. The dentist can be seen just about to pull a tooth out of a patient using a primitive instrument. Just beside him, you can see the earlier patient, whose tooth the dentist had extracted. This man even has a “swollen right cheek” with a bandaged face!


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After the visit the ‘kafila’ rolled towards Persepolis, yet another historic place in Iran.Persepolis – magnificent ruins dating 515 BC, was a site everyone looked forward to visiting. In hot weather, not a shade anywhere, climbing several steps, the whole team had a great time. One got lost into the bygone era thinking of King Cyrus and Alexander the Great while strolling around this vast UNESCO World Heritage site. Accommodation arranged in Hotel Persian Kowsar.

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2nd May 2018, Wednesday

On the road to Isfahan: Old buildings on the desert road.

The ‘kafila’ rolled for the garden capital of Iran – Isfahan. The beauty of the well planned city of Isfahan with bright gardens at each nook and corner of the city stole the imagination of the participants.

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The water harvest system in Isfahan Si-o-se-pool with arch bridge dating back to the 15th century was yet another land mark visit for the participants.


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The rally participants were taken to Naqshe Jahan, to be completely drowned in Persian beauty of art, architecture and history.

After the visit to the beautiful city of Isfahan the ‘kafila’ drove for the modern capital of Iran – Tehran. Accommodation was arranged Hotel Homa, for a 2 night halt in Tehran.

3rd& 4th May 2018, Thursday / Friday

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The entry into the Capital City of Iran became smooth owing to their weekly holiday. The mayhem of Tehran traffic was not felt by the ‘kafila’ because of the weekly holiday. The participants were received by the members of MAFARI and some mission staff.

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The Alborz Mountain Range is just 56 km away from Tehran!

The conducted city tour gave participants an unforgettable experience of the less known country of Iran, the gate way to the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a signatory of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Countries. We visited the Gulestan Palace and The Grand Bazaar.

The hectic day was followed by a warm welcome dinner hosted by the First Lady and the Ambassador of India to Iran His Excellency Mr. Sourabh Kumar at India House. The dinner was attended by their Excellencies Russia’s Ambassador to Tehran Mr. Levan Dzhagaryan and Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to Iran, Mr. Bunyad Huseynov. The vegetarian participants were just too happy to have Indian food which they have been struggling for since they entered Iran on the 28th of April.



The entry into the Capital City of Iran became smooth owing to their weekly holiday. The mayhem of Tehran traffic was not felt by the ‘kafila’ because of the weekly holiday. The capital city of Iran, is a delight to see. So clean and orderly. Subway walls and building facades are painted aesthetically.

Wherever you park the rally vehicles, curious onlookers, study the stickers on the vehicles and ask to be photographed with the participants.

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“Welcome to Iran”, “Long Live Hindustan”, Sharukh Khan, Amitabh Bacchan are the words you hear from passing vehicles. Most shout out “Welcome to Iran” and show clasped hands as a figure of Indo Iranian friendship, as the rally cars carry Indian and Iranian flags.

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This is Nabaat. Nabaat is created by dissolving sugar in water, then slowly vaporizing it until it crystallizes. Typically a little bit of saffron is added. More fancy Nabaat has several herbs in it as well. In Iran Nabaat is dipped in tea to make it sweet. Also, in Iran, tea is drunk unsweetened. They keep a piece of sweet or sugar cube between the front teeth and sip the unsweetened tea.

Full set of pictures at 

These are Ejji’s pictures.


Pictures at Kalinga Motor Sports Club website:




Pictures from Kalinga Motor Sports Club, Facebook page:






This video is courtesy Manoj Sahoo.

This video is courtesy Doordarshan India.

This is a video courtesy Surjit Singh Deo.

This video is courtesy members of Kalinga Motor Sports Club and the participants of the India Leg.

This video is courtesy members of Kalinga Motor Sports Club and the participants of the India Leg.

This is the link for a Tamil TV channel that reported on the rally:

This in the link for Kalinga Motor Sports Club website:


This in the link for India Russia 70years Friendship Moto Rally, Facebook page:



From the Gujarat Press:









The INDIA MYANMAR THAILAND (IMT) 2 FRIENDSHIP MOTOR RALLY 2017 is ready to roll on 24th November. The rally route is Guwahati to Bangkok (leg 1)  and Bangkok to Guwahati leg 2, both through Myanmar. The IMT 1 Rally 2016 was done by Kalinga Motor Sports Club (KMSC) in November 2016 on the same route, again in two legs. It was a perfect success. We are sure IMT 2 will be as successful.


After the iconic INDIA ASEAN FRIENDSHIP CAR RALLY OF 2004, followed by  THE INDIA ASEAN FRIENDSHIP CAR RALLY 2012, we now have the third edition INDIA ASEAN FRIENDSHIP CAR RALLY 2017 . This rally has a new organizer, North Eastern Federation on International Trade (NEFIT), headquartered in Guwahati, Assam, India. An approximately 6000 km drive through 7 countries including India, as per the tentative itinerary, it promises to be a drive with private participants also. Those interested may contact NEFIT directly.


Regret Poster


Tentative Route Map

Read more at:











Moscow to Saint Petersburg

Moscow to Saint Petersburg


Read more at INSTC DETAILS

Saint Petersburg to Tehran (INSTC-Chabahar Rally)

Saint Petersburg to Tehran

Tehran to Chabahar (INSTC-Chabahar Rally)

Tehran to Chabahar



My buddy and fellow rationalist Narendra Nayak ,who was with me in Chennai a few days ago, talks about rationalism and how so called Guru’s and Godmen (Godwomen?), take the gullible for a divine ride! Narendra Nayak gives many links in the article that will be of much interest for you to read. Also Google out the video “Narendra Nayak on Godmen, Pseudosciences and Society”, where he does the same tricks that many of these divinity’s middlemen do. This reminds me of Kushwant Singh’s statement on this subject. He said, “Reason and stupidity cannot go together.” So you can now decide which of these two words describes you! Narendra Nayak , should I also get bodyguards like you, now that I have shared your post? Or shall I ask one of these guys if there is a shadow of death hovering around me? I am sure that they will even recommend a suitable penance to ward this off, of course the ritual to be executed by them on payment in cash or kind! Perhaps there is one super Guru, who will be able to predict the final verdict too.

An Interview with Narendra Nayak – President of Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations & Founder of Aid Without Religion


You are one of the more famous unknowns. Your name should be more internationally recognised, I feel. You have done plenty of work in the sceptic movement and for reason. Your father bought a lottery ticket on the advice of an astrologer. This was a turning point for you. Why? What other personal/educational background assisted with the development of rationalist perspectives and tools?

As for me being an unknown, I do not mind that! But you have to remember that ours is a country of 1.20 billion people, and among them I am quite known as one of the most visible faces in the field. We would rather do the work than seek publicity. The international scene is replete with those who make orations at international seminars, and I have attended only a few. The IHEU had awarded me for outstanding services to Humanism at their Oslo conference. Thanks for your feeling that I should be more recognised internationally!

One of the reasons for my turning a sceptic was my father’s obsession with astrology. But there are more reasons. They can be read here. http://nirmukta.com/2010/12/26/a-twice-born-atheist/ and here too  http://nirmukta.com/2009/12/11/am-i-a-hindu/. It was that I first became an atheist and remained one for quite some time. Atheism is just a conclusion. Later on I should say may be at the age of 21 or so I became a rationalist who investigates things and looks for evidence before accepting something. At the age of 25 or so I joined the movement. My undergraduate training as a chemist and later on my post graduate training as a medical biochemist made me more and more methodical in investigating claims of the paranormal.

The choice of a life without succumbing to any of the irrational practices thrust upon one by the society was a challenging task but I have managed to live up to it. You could read more here http://nirmukta.com/2010/11/26/practicing-atheism-in-ones-life-under-all-circumstances/ . The easy availability of literature and references was another plus point as I was teaching at a Medical College. Again we had many colleagues with such inclinations and would cooperate when needed. Later on about three decades back, when I came in touch with Humanism, I realised that that was what I have been doing all my life. So, can now say that I am a Humanist!

In your experience and transition, rationalism is not only a scientific and philosophical stance. It is an ethical stance derived from personal, likely emotional, experience within the family. How do you maintain high ethical standards in this professional work over decades?

This was probably because I was working at a university where there was very little interference in the personal lives of the faculty unless their stands were a threat to the commercial interests of the set up. Even in such situations I have stuck to my stand, and attempts were made to ‘put me on the proper track’. These did not succeed.

When punitive action was taken in 1989, I approached the courts and won my battle, and it was technically held to be termination from service which could be done only after a due process of law which had not been followed as there were no grounds at all for such an action.  Of course, due to the slow moving Indian judicial system it took nearly five and a half years for the courts to decide in my favour.

But I had made my point and after that, there has been absolutely no interference in my activities! In my personal life, I have always stuck to my stand about ethics; no active participation in any religious ceremonies, no treatment from quacks etc. This has been followed even in my business which is run on totally ethical lines.

To you, what is a rationalist, or makes a good rationalist?

According to me, I would define a rationalist as one who puts things to the test of reason before accepting them.  Leading a life by one’s convictions makes a good rationalist.  Though this looks almost impossible in a country like ours, many of us have done it.

You are the president of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations(FIRA). What tasks and responsibilities come with this position?

My responsibilities as the President of FIRA are to hold the movement together on common points of action. I also work to promote the movement by going to places all over the country to speak to our member organisations, conducting workshops for developing rational thinking, representing our points of view at seminars, TV discussions, media and anywhere else needed. I write regularly for the printed media through press handouts, web site publications and a regular column for a monthly magazine called Mangalore Today.

For a long, long time I have been conducting workshops for teachers at the national children’s and teachers’ science congresses. Of course, it has been stopped after the present government has come into power. The responsibilities are difficult to perform as there are too many languages in this country and we have to communicate to people in their regional language which is possible for me as I can speak nine of them. Perhaps that may be the reason I keep getting re-elected repeatedly! The last one happened a few days ago on the 26th of February.

In July 2011, you founded Aid Without Religion. What was the inspiration for it? How did you identify this niche needing services?

The religious organisations try to justify their collection of funds from the public citing that they are needed for charitable purposes. They also directly or indirectly force the beneficiaries to sing praises of the head of the sect promoting these. Their photographs are posted all over the place which receives their charity and many time paeans to them are sung. They also promote quackery in the name of medical care. So, it was very much needed to do some work without these. So, I started this trust for the specific purpose. Again, when I pass away I want my personal assets to be put to use to promote such work. My idea is to see that my work goes on after me and a charity with such specific aims and objectives would help in that.

You put godmen and frauds to the test. They fail. What are godmen? What is the most common trick of godmen and frauds in India?

The term ‘godmen’ is a specifically Indian usage. Some of these gurus call themselves Bhagawan XYZ where the term Bhagawan or god is a prefix to their name. They also change their given names to high-sounding ones having a meaning like ‘a great one’, ‘a realised one’ and so on. Some of them even add a number of ‘misters’ to their title like Sri Sri, Sri Sri Sri etc., the number of sris quantifying their greatness. In order to bamboozle their gullible followers, they perform tasks apparently impossible for a normal person say something like ‘materialising’ an object from thin air, walking on embers, dipping hands into boiling oil are a few such examples. There are also Jesus Christ-like moments multiplying food, converting one liquid into another, reviving the dead, healing disease etc.

Who was a particularly notable story in your professional career so far?

If you mean my profession as a medical biochemist, my involvement in the work about lead poisoning particularly in school children has been the most satisfying. As a consumer activist, we succeeded in bringing about a Consumer Protection Act for the country in 1986. As a rationalist putting a stop to a fraud called as midbrain activation, which was allegedly conferring supernatural powers on children to see even when blindfolded, was one of our major achievements. Check this- http://nirmukta.com/2015/04/26/midbrain-activation-challenge-an-update/

What is the overall state of rationalism in India?

We are diverse nation with a huge population. We need a lot of activists to make the people think rationally. We have a program which appeals to the people directly which is called the ‘miracle exposure program’. In this, we go to the people and show them the so-called God man tricks and explain how it is possible for anyone to do them. This helps as a starting point to make the people think about them. The newer generation of godmen have given them up and have started other things.

This would give an idea about some of the attitudes. http://nirmukta.com/2011/01/03/the-super-intelligent-superstitious/. This too- http://nirmukta.com/2010/04/22/yogi-in-politics-a-rationalists-thoughts-on-baba-ramdev/ which pertains to a so called yogi who has built up a marketing empire selling things like noodles and biscuits in the name of promoting yoga!

On one hand, we have the economically weaker sections who have been ruthlessly exploited by the religious system while on the other we have the more affluent the so called middle class http://nirmukta.com/2016/03/14/hypocrisies-of-the-great-indian-middle-class/, whose icons are again an example of irrationality many times- http://nirmukta.com/2011/05/26/icons-of-the-middle-class/.

How does one present the rationalist worldview in a respectful and positive light in various sectors of Indian culture, and subculture?

The rationalist world view is nothing new to India. Gautam Buddha taught about it 2500 years back. Charvaka was one of earliest materialist philosophers. Two religions, Buddhism and Jainism, have originated in India which are basically atheistic.  The Upanishads and Darshans encourage questioning. The Shad Darshanas are an example of this. Again the term ‘Hindu’ is a vague one with a legal definition as ‘one who is not a Christian, Muslim, Jew or a Parsi’ which means that all rationalist/atheists come under that ambit!

So, it is quite difficult for the rightist forces to attack us on logic and reason. So, they tend to label us as ‘sickulars’ (mockery of secular), ‘Commies’, ‘anti-nationals’ etc. But the common people are remarkably receptive to our point of view when properly presented.

What have been the most emotionally moving experiences in your professional rationalist work?

They are too many to be cited here. We have supported inter-caste, inter-religious marriages, helped the so-called untouchables, HIV-positive children shunned by the society and so on. One of these is here http://indianatheists.org/2011/04/07/children-of-a-lesser-god/

What are some of the demographics of FIRA? Who is most likely to join it?

FIRA does not take memberships from individuals. We are a federation who affiliates organisations who have members. We have organisations with thousands of members who are registered societies and trusts having a few members. One of the strongest is Punjab Tarksheel Society with thousands of members. Kerala Yuktivadi Sangham has a very systematic setup with an organised membership. Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti has hundreds of branches in villages. As already said, we do not take individuals as members. Those likely to join us are like-minded organisations – atheist, rationalist, secular, humanist- all are welcome who are interested in development of rational thinking.

What have been the largest activist and educational initiatives provided by FIRA (and you, individually)? Out of these, what have been honest failures and successes?

We have made a systematic effort to have activists in every district of the country and organised national and state level programs which were funded by the government of India. Some of them worked. Many did not. Two times we have organised marches to the parliament to demand the enactment of a bill to separate religion from politics but nothing has happened on that front.

We have tried for anti-superstition acts in many states but have succeeded in only one state. Another of our failures has been our inability to attract younger people to join us actively. The younger generation has no significant presence in our movement. Though many of them agree with our point of view, they do not want to take an active part. We have to work hard to bring them in.

Who/what are the main threats to rationalism as a movement?

The religious bigots, who now have the official support from the government ruling at the centre. The so-called minority pressure groups also target us. We are attacked from every side. Three of our people have been murdered so far. Dr. Narendra Dhabolkar was the first one to be killed, and he was a very active member of FIRA. I am forced to go around with an armed bodyguard appointed by the government because threats to my life have been perceived.

How can people get involved with FIRA, even donate to it? How can people further rationalism in India?

We are more in need of participation than funds. My appeal to people is start an organisation of rationalists in your locality and join us as a member. We shall provide resources in terms of inputs and training.

Thank you for your time, Mr. Nayak.

This is the personal blog of Ejji K. Umamahesh.


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