A Walk to Remember

What do you do when you have an amazing company, fabulous rains and a will to explore the city beyond cafes, restaurants and air conditioned malls? (Specially when you are living in the godforsaken place called Dombivli)

You plan an impromptu trip to Yeor hills. You have no clue what you will find there. You have only heard about leopards being spotted or about the wonderful waterfalls.

Yeor hills is a part of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, located in Thane. (Insist on going by the meter from Thane station, we paid double of what the fare ought to be) The autos / cars / bikes are allowed inside but the real charm is in walking all the way to the top of the village.

It was drizzling nicely when we started the walk and it started pouring heavily as we inched further towards Yeor village. The raincoat and umbrella were barely protecting us. The climb was not very steep, except for a single patch. It was so nice to get drenched in the rains to the core, experiencing a much pleasant weather and looking at all the flora (fauna was hiding from us because of the rains I guess) The best thing we experienced was that we had left all the negativity behind us and we carried only a sense of wonder. It was unbelievable that such beauty exists amidst the chaos of the city. The hills are as scenic as Lonavala. We ended the trek with the delicious duo of hot tea and vada pao at a quaint little tea stall, which was a surprising discovery indeed.

This was going to be a Walk to Remember forever.

Hot Tea – Bliss!

Always Amazing – Aditi

A natural Pokestop (Tee Hee)

Dancing in the rain!

A surprise find!

Snail! (Spotted by Aditi)

Who needs Lonavala bro?

A fake Touch Me Not

Orchid like flower.

Speechless

 

 

Goa – Beyond Partying, Boozing and Sea Food

It had been a long time since we went for a vacation. We, as in myself and my parents.

On mom’s birthday in Nov ’14, I was wondering what to gift mom. (Usually it is jewellery / smart phone)  and then I recalled that how mom keeps saying she is the only one  from the family who has never been on a flight. And voila! a idea formed in my mind. Let’s zero in on places which are not far from Mumbai and which won’t be too expensive!

I had been to Goa in 2010 for a weekend. You can read about it here: Rendezvous with Goa But it was just a sip for a thirsty soul. I always planned to return for a more fulfilling experience.

I booked flight tickets, hotel and planned a detailed itinerary which would suit my parents. Some people tried to dissuade me from this plan saying you all are vegetarians and teetotallers, what would you do in Goa? I was not doing Goa right maybe but I was definitely doing being a daughter right 😉

We didn’t booze, party or go for adventure water sports but we did have fun in our own way!

Brace yourself! A detailed account is coming up! 😉

On D day, we left home at 9 to catch a flight scheduled at 1.30 (Funny thing that we had to travel 150 minutes for a 45 minute flight 😛 ) Anyway, we reached the domestic airport in Mumbai well in time, only to know all domestic flights of Air India do not take off from Domestic but the International Airport (fondly known as T2). Anyway, we took another cab & reached T2. The path leading to T2 is amazing in itself and so is the airport! The airport is done up beautifully including lots of art installations.

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We had a quick brunch at the Street Foods by Punjab Grill (Yummy food, specially the Samosa Chaat) The walk towards the flight gate was too long, be careful if you have people who can not walk much. Arrange for a wheelchair well in advance.

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Since it was an Air India flight, we got free snacks – a cheese sandwich, Frooti & a small bottle of water. Shouldn’t have eaten at the airport 😉

Anyway, so we landed a bit late at the Goa airport as the plane wasn’t getting place for parking (who would have thunk?) Do take the prepaid taxis (booking inside the airport at the prepaid taxi counter) to save yourself from being fleeced. Unless you have an arrangement with the hotel to pick you up.

Our first destination was Vasco, at my mom’s cousin’s place. After a heavenly lunch, sharing stories, discussing politics and a refreshing nap, we headed towards Calangute. The air was filled with scent of trees and you could sense that you have left polluted city far behind.

The hotel, Calangute Grande, situated in a charming bylane was a delightful place (for the budget we were on that is)

Day 2: A visit to Old Goa, Dona Paula & Miramar Beach was planned. Also lunch at Delhi Durbar in Panjim (Amazing amazing food)

The Basilica of Bom Jesus is an enchanting structure with lots of options for photo ops. The Basilica also displays the remains of St Francis Xavier and a hall of paintings based on life of the said Saint. The paintings are a bit dark and the remains can give one the creeps. The backyard of the church has a small garden as well.

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Right opposite the Basilica is the Archaelogical Museum and Se Cathedral. Its a beautiful place and I regret not going inside the museum. Next time maybe!

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We had booked the cab for sight seeing via the hotel and none of us had taken the driver’s number or noted the licence number in enthusiasm (Totally Facepalm moment) Like fools we kept searching where the driver had parked his car. And after a long futile search, coordinated with the hotel for the driver’s number. We were totally exhausted by then. Delhi Durbar here we come! After a leisurely lunch, which included Sula Rose Wine for dad (after all we were in Goa 😉 ) we moved towards Dona Paula. A picturesque place with such a beautiful view! Totally enjoyed clicking pics here 🙂

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Next Stop Miramar Beach. The sand here is very silky and the distance from the beach to the sea is probably the longest.

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Day 2: Dolphin Trip, Fort Aguada & Baga Beach

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Unlike few years ago, there are ample restaurants available for vegetarians, one of them being Navtara in Calangute. We had this amazing Veg Xacuti, a spicy vegetable curry along with hot hot buns!

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We had planned to go for Spice Plantation on Day 3 but somehow dropped that plan and just did some shopping in the morning & a visit to the Calangute beach in the evening. Got inked (temporary) and made dad envious and had an amazing Italian dinner at Over The Flames. Got parents introduced to Tequila, only to be questioned over and over again on what happens if you drink tequila (annoying parents happen that’s what -_-) Note that Calangute beach is more crowded than Baga. Water sports at Calangute are cheaper than at Baga beach.

One thing was puzzling parents that we didn’t see any animals, not even strays in Goa and then look what we found 😉

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My Arm Tattoo 🙂

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On my neckline 😉

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Mom getting inked 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Over The Flames

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One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor!

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Bebinca (Goan dessert. It’s non vegetarian         (don’t tell dad ok?)

And finally it was time to bid Goa goodbye! Sigh! One of the most beautiful vacation I have had. Would go again. I want to explore more on foot. The beaches as well as the beautiful by lanes. Goa is very green and clean inspite of so many tourists. It would be a delight to be here again! Au Revoir!

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Beautiful Art at Goa Airport

 

A weekend in Pune!

This year I had decided to not waste my weekends lolling on the bed. I finally made it to my first weekend getaway last week!

It feels weird that there are so many places to visit near Mumbai itself & I have never been there yet! Anyway better late than never, right? I decided to start my journey with Pune. (For more than one reason 😉 )

Booking tickets was not a new task for me. But hotel reservation was. I had planned to reach Friday night so that I can start early on Saturday. Had thought to meet couple of friends on Sunday & leave for Mumbai at night. Hence booked only from Friday to Sunday. Big mistake it turned out to be. Plan of meeting friends fizzled out. Had to walk around the city along with my luggage. Only if I could stow away my luggage I could have had a fruitful Sunday too! Anyway, the hotel was chosen based on the best deal Clear Trip offered & it turned out to be a pretty good deal. The room was quite spacious & I was happy to have a room of my own even if it was only for couple of days 😉 And a perfect mirror for MIRRORFIES!!! YAYYY!!!

German Bakery Date

I had heard the name Deccan Queen since childhood but never travelled in one! I was super excited! The train journey took almost 3.15 hours and the view from the train was amazing!

Deccan Queen

 

The hotel I had booked was near the legendary German Bakery! I was already looking forward to visit other legendary places. 🙂

The climate in Pune was very cool & air condition is absolutely unnecessary. I was feeling chilled even with the fan on! Woke up early as decided & had yummy coffee & pancake at The Yogi Tree, which was incidentally next door to the hotel I stayed.

Yogi Tree 1Yogi TreeFirst on the agenda was to go to Osho Ashram. It is situated in Koregaon Park (referred by Punekars as KP). While on the way I had darshan of the German Bakery from outside :p Lane no.1, where the ashram is situated, is surrounded by trees on both sides. It is a walker’s paradise! Earlier, they used to have a tour of the ashram. But they have stopped it now, unfortunately. If you want to visit then you would have to buy some costly day packages. 😀

After the ashram, moved on to the Aga Khan Palace, which has been turned into a Gandhi memorial. The palace is surrounded with breathtaking greenery! It is a photographer’s delight!

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It was humbling to walk around the place where legends have walked!

Moved on to Raja Kelkar Museum. The museum is a tribute by Dinkar Kelkar to his son, who passed away at a very young age. He along with others, collected unique items of daily use. The creativity is amazing!


Kelkar Museum

Kelkar Museum 1

 

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Ivory Door, part of the museum collection

Erotic Nutcutters, Interesting

Erotic Nutcutters, Interesting

Though I loved the entire collection, the musical instrument section was the best! They play classical music in the section & it was so soothing & charming! I got a book about the museum & DVD of the virtual tour for my parents (So much for the resolution of no shopping, no increasing baggage!)

After I left for the museum I remembered I needed to get couple of things. Had a chat with the shopkeeper couple, who knew immediately that I was new in the city. They told me inspite of living walking distance from the museum they had never visited it. I urged them to do so. 🙂

My spirits were high & was off my way to the next stop Shaniwar Wada. The GPS told me it is quite nearby & since I was in a mood to explore the city on foot, I walked towards the fort. By the time I reached the fort I was utterly exhausted. I couldn’t explore the fort much & came back to the hotel.

Shaniwar Wada, a heritage site

Shaniwar Wada, a heritage site

After a quick lunch & a short nap, I was raring to go out again!

Wasn’t in the mood to have anything so just sipped on ice tea at German Bakery. I just loved the ambience! From German Bakery I moved to Goodluck, the much revered Iranian Cafe. I ordered for tea & bun maska, but I wasn’t actually hungry & also was a bit disheartened, so just had the tea. It was delicious!

Famous Bun Maska

Famous Bun Maska

So that was Day1.

Next day, I decided to have some nice spicy puneri breakfast. Pataleshwar caves was the only one on my agenda. It is situated on Jangli Maharaj Road & I found a very nice restaurant there which serves yummy & spicy misal pav. Day = made!

Spicy Misal Pav

Spicy Misal Pav

The Pataleshwar Cave Temple is located on the main road. And is an interesting site. Not much to see though. But the stone construction & banyan tree at the entrance enchanted me!

Pataleshwar

Banyan Tree

Banyan Tree

I was clueless regarding my next stop. So I just roamed around. Walked till Deccan Gymkhana, bought some goodies for home & team from the very famous Chitale Bandhu, walked towards FC Road but then it was too hot so I went to Phoenix Mall, Vimannagar, which is very far from the city & getting a return auto from there is very difficult. I spent couple of hours in the mall for the AC & then returned to the city. I wanted to visit the Sambhaji Garden, but it was closed for the afternoon & there was plenty of time left for it to reopen. I had fresh hot corn on the cob & some coconut water. That was my lunch for the day 😀 I walked around F C Road, in & around the smaller bylanes. But I got pretty bored & wanted to sit for a while. I wanted to visit Vaishali restaurant, but it was jam packed! I also wanted to visit Starbucks Cafe at F C Road as I had heard so much about it!

Starbucks FC

But by the time I entered the cafe I was pretty much bored & in pain what with carrying all my stuff around with me! I decided to end my journey. Last Checkin: Swargate Bus Stop 😉

Overall I had good fun. I need to plan my trip in a better way. There are many places in Pune I have missed out on. I hope the next experience turns out to be a better one 🙂

A Day in Mumbai!

An Awesome Day Spent in Mumbai:

1. Get up early around 6 – Leave home by 7.

2. Take a slow local to Dadar. Travel in Second Class.

3. Buy tit bits from hawkers selling stuff in train.

4. Start conversations with random strangers (Not so difficult in Second Class).

5. Reach Dadar. Go to Siddhivinayak Temple on foot. Drink in the smell of the flowers coming from the flower market..Don’t be overwhelmed by the crowd 🙂

6. After the Darshan go to Mahalaxmi Temple via Worli Sea Link. Be mesmerised by the beauty & vastness of the ocean..

7. From Mahalaxmi Temple, go to Snowman’s in Breach Candy on foot..Work up your appetite 🙂

8. Snowman’s is one of the first icecream parlour in Mumbai!

9.  Have your fill of icecream & snacks.

10. Walk on to Cumballa Hill, Malabar Hill right up to Walkeshwar.

11. Check out the most famous place in Walkeshwar..yes guessed it right…Teen Batti!!!

12. From Walkeshwar go to Babulnath Temple. After Dev Pooja, time for some Pet Pooja!!! Best place for this is opposite Babulnath – “Soam” It serves the finest satvik food 🙂

13. It should be evening now & you would be tired after walking for entire day.

14. Go to Chowpatty & just lie down on the sandy beach..sea near your feet & blue sky above..

15. After resting a bit walk along the beach..also give your feet a taste of sea water…

16. Must have Pani puri in the Food Plaza & awesome Golas!!!

17. If your heart desires, have a kulfi from the shop near shiv sagar..unforgettable taste!

18. Take the 108 bus & come to CST station. Enjoy the magical view enroute..

19. Board the train for home..

20. Cherish the moments of the day!

A day well spent…Treasure it forever!!!

 

Rendezvous with Goa!!!

 

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride goes a famous English proverb. It literally means that if one could readily have what they want, life would be easy & we all know that wishes are not fulfilled so easily! But sometimes they do…A White Stallion comes along your way & you simply have to enjoy the ride 😉

Being a avid reader, I have travelled many places over the globe in my mind but there are some places which I actually want to visit. Beaches have always fascinated me & Goa, dotted with beautiful beaches, has always been one of those places..

A chance discussion between my sister & her sister in law on Facebook led to planning their birthday celebration in Goa.

After my sis had done all the meticulous planning, we were set to Go Goa!!! She had designed a fab itinerary & set our mouth drooling for all the excitement that laid ahead of us!!!

Friday was the day we were to set sail & it was very hectic to cover the day’s job well in time to board the bus for Goa in the evening!

The Joy ride started with playing games in the bus & having mom made sandwiches (None of us had proper food during the day to make up for leaving early & packing hassles). After much rocking & rolling the bus reached Mapusa at 10. From there straight to our resort in Goa. The Resort was pretty & the view from our room was just breathtakingly awesome!

The birthday girls were ready to move to the beach immediately but we had something else in store for them..By the time they got ready, we had arranged for Cakes, Bouquets & Champagne.

The surprised & happy look on their faces was priceless!

Time to move the celebrations to the beach!

The beach was beautiful & in spite of being heavily crowded was surprisingly clean..

After drinking in the view, it was time for some Adventure Sports..

Water Bikes, Banana Boats & Paragliding was the menu for the day…

Water Biking was the most adventurous I could get 😉

After all the fun & adventure, we were famished & went reluctantly to have some lunch..But the day was not over yet. We returned to the resort & headed for a dip in the swimming pool..God had also conspired for us to have good time & showered his blessings in the form of rain..

We enjoyed in the pool till we wrinkled up like a raisin! The only motivator for us to leave the pool was an evening filled with music & dance in the most happening club in Goa!

I was visiting a club for the first time & It was a mind blowing experience! The Music, people, ambience & the dance floor all were an exhilarating experience & inspired a non dancer like me to Twist a bit 😉

The mind was still willing to indulge but the bodies were tired after all we had been through the day. Our sleep was induced with dreams of Sun, Sand & Sea!!!

The next day was for sight-seeing..In a short span of time we covered Fort Aguada, Aguada Jail, Panjim, Dona Paula..

All places were best places for photo sessions & we had a blast taking in the view & preserving it in our cameras..

But the best memory was having lunch at Delhi Darbar. It was finger licking delicious & I simply had to say I M Lovin’ it 😉

For all those who have never been to Goa, I would recommend them to visit the place at least once & for myself can’t wait to have a major vacation in Goa to pack in what we had left behind this time!!!

Till Then – Goa Esperame!!!

 

New Girl in the Old City!!!

 

Talking about London, Paris & New York, reminded me of one of my most favourite city in India. The city which made me fell in love with it. A city which always will be a Happy Place for me. 🙂

In January 2009, I was shipped to Bangalore for 3 Weeks! My first thought was how I would survive for 3 looooooooong weeks without my beloved Mumbai, & without my Aai 🙂
 
The only comforting thought was that I would get to meet my dearest cousin, my best friend from childhood  & spend quality time with my bua, cousin, sister in law & my cute niece!!!
 
There was also a dream (of course due to the Mills & Boons impressions) that i will meet my special someone in a strange city 😉 Well, it’s still a dream but made my travel light & easy <3
 
I travelled through train & was hoping to see interesting sights on the long journey..However, all the people in my compartment were hell bent on sleeping for the entire duration of journey & I couldn’t see anything beyond Kolhapur..
 
By the way, was very excited to see Kolhapur..Had heard so much about it..Kolhapuri Chappal, Kolhapuri Mirchi & the black sand, etc..I also wanted to have something of Kolhapur, so had a vada pav (Proud Fan) at Kolhapur station..But it was bland beyond imagination..My one thought was no one can beat Mumbai as far as Vada Pav goes 😉
 
Well, then stuffed myself with Bourbon biscuits..Mom had packed some sandwiches but they got stale due to the heat..
 
Off to sleep & M & B dreamland..:-) Till landed at Bangalore City Station.
 
Tired as Hell But Eager to meet team..In the end Rest @ Guesthouse won! I loved my room, It was airy & spacious & had a huge window. And thus began my paid vacation 😉
 
Still remember the south indian breakfast at Sandhya, the awesome sandwiches, Sapota (Chikoo) Milkshakes, continental breakfasts at CCD, hunting for good places to eat..:-), all you can eat buffet at Masala Chowk (Eva Mall) – Had a first look at real Chocolate Fountain! Was mesmerised <3, MTR Ki Coffee, its amazing how they serve ghee in a tiny bowl & the tiny 1 Rs coin sized dalwada are just so yummy!!!
 
Also did some sight seeing on my own..Garuda & Forum Mall, Brigade Road, Lalbaugh Botanical Garden (Was fortunate to visit during the Flower Show)
 
The Flower Show was something.. I just got delirious looking at all the different types of flowers!
 
Weekends were usually spent at my cousin’s place & what a surprise that my NRI, newly wedded cousin, was there too with his wife. Had a great time recreating our childhood by playing silly games & loads of laughing!  

 
Visiting the Banerghatta National Park with them was the best part of my visit!
 
Of Course, I worked too during the week days, in case anyone was wondering 😉
 
I had grown too fond of my team & most of all Bangalore..As my day to return to Mumbai was approaching, I was feeling sad to leave & what do you know? Got an extension of a week to stay!!! Was Loving it 🙂
 
But all good things come to an end! Also, was badly missing mom ke haath ka khana..Thought If I saw Idli for one more time, I would just puke 🙂
 
My Last Day was on Saturday, 7th February, when we were also celebrating Rose Day in the office!!! I was returning back by Flight, my first time ever..
 
I had got a whiff that my team was planning something for me so I had to go to office plus had to do packing & collect the famous Mysore Pak for everyone back home & also get roses as we were celebrating Red Day + Rose Day. My bua had given me shukan money & I got a lovely red top from Revolution to celebrate the Red Day 🙂

When I reached office, a huge white teddy bear was waiting for me on my work station & one by one the gifts started pouring in..I got a Will Miss You card, a handwritten poem, a painting, a pen stand with a barometer & a lovely saree. Also got 6 red roses from one of my team member, a fibre red heart on a stick from another & a yellow rose each from everyone else.

And as if that was not enough, they gathered & sang a Song for me, Chalte chalte mere ye geet yaad rakhna…considering where most of them don’t even speak Hindi, it was too overwhelming…

Then I had to rush to guest house & fit in all the gifts in my bags..:-) It didn’t help that I had a bagful of books, which I bought from Landmark!!! My house mates managed somehow with my luggage & then I left for airport. They had planned earlier to give me Bangalore Darshan but since there was a huge traffic on that day & we were already short of time, just went straight to the airport. My colleague was there till I entered the gate. After that it was a cake walk as my sister & sister in law both had told me what to do next..

I got my boarding pass & a window seat, collected tags, went for security check & then roamed around the waiting lounge..I didn’t feel anything extra ordinary..it was just like walking in a mall..:-)

My seat was in the middle row & there was a wing right beside me so I could not see much..But as I had settled in my seat, I did not ask to change my seat..just turned my head in the window behind me & took in the view..

The view was amazing, specially when we were flying above the clouds & also when we were about to land in Bombay. The view of the sea from the plane was absolutely amazing..

And thus ended my paid vacation, which has left sweet memories to savour!!!