Archive for the ‘Travelogue’ Category

Have been Reading the wonderful Foodies Guide to IIMK in the Taste of Heaven Blog. It’s a wonderful compilation with a direct “From the Horse’s Mouth” coverage. I’ve been doing my own Food outlets discovery in this city and decided to put two of mine up too.

Sagar

(A good family restaurant that is light on your pocket and a treat for your taste buds)

INTRODUCTION

If you miss your the bicker & quibble-quabble of your naughty nephews/nieces as you would dine with your extended family, then look no further. A splendid family restaurant catering to local folk who more often than not turn up with their families, its a wonderful change from the aristocracies of Taj and the noise of Sea-Queen. Most importantly, its a place where you can drop over for a sumptuous dinner after you have completed your shopping (Whatever you would have done on that …!) and had some change left which if left unspent would risk making your un-accustomed pockets jingling with coins. Its so damn cheap!!

HAVEs and HAVE-NOTs

For non-Veggies ask for ginger chicken and pathri which is something like rice chappatis but only thinner and tastier (Its like rumali-roti made with rice and of dimensions of a normal roti). Alternatively you could substitute pathri with ‘Appam’ in case you have an eclectic taste, Appam is something like baked version of rice cake and has appearance hybrid between idli in the middle of a small dosa. But, Boy! Does it taste good! If you are too tired of garlic chicken, then try ginger chicken as well. But, by far garlic is the best; ginger comes close. A rider: don’t try much more, its not all that great! For fish lovers, you’ve plenty of choice. Most of the fish curries are delicious if you do not mind the strong aroma of coconut oil.

For Veggies, substitute chicken curry with paneer butter masala and/or mushroom masala, and you got your own winner combo!

LOCATION

Sagar has two branches on two ends of Mavoor road and most often is swarming with people. It has three categories of seating: normal, family & AC. The cost escalation for AC is marginal so taking that is highly recommended!

COST

In all a gluttonous meal will set you back by anything like Rs. 85 to Rs. 120 and with larger numbers the per head cost comes significantly down.

Al-Bake

(The Authentic Arabic Cuisine served at a fraction of the Arabic prices)

INTRODUCTION

The city of Calicut has been known for two things, Vasco-Da-Gama’s Entry and its next-door proximity to the Middle East. How then you would wonder would the city not be served by at least one authentic Arabic food joint? Well with Al-Bake you can put all those qualms at rest. Situated tight in the corner opposite Baby Memorial Hospital, the chain of restaurants are all labeled with bright neon lights so that you cant miss them even if you are doped that you couldn’t differentiate between a dove and a crow! It’s a largely conservative up-market restaurant frequented by most gulf-returned Mallus. Its not too well light but the ambience is quite decent. The space is a bit constricted but the air conditioning and the service more than make up for these minor defeciencies.

HAVEs and HAVE-NOTs

For non-Veggies: Try out any dish, most of them are quite palpable. I had something which tasted like ‘luckhnowi Biryani’. The beauty about this place is that I never came across a single item which was not worth trying out at least once (and maybe twice as well!). Also most food retain their distinct “Arabic” flavor and the customizations to Indian Taste if any are hardly visible to naked eyes. The desert is amazing with Ice cream shakes which are worth dying for. My favirte is the Pista Flavored one.

For Veggies: It has some dishes , but largely there are better avenues where you can try out the food. Skip Al-Bake if you intend to stick to a Veggy meal.

COST

Al-Bake is slightly prier than Sagar but much cheaper than Sea-Queen or Mezbaan. The food is really worth the price they charge and a decent non-veg meal will cost two people Rs. 130-160 per head with a slight lessening with increasing numbers. Look for this place when ARABIC is what you are looking for.

A Rider:
Ambience is Very conservative, so consider a different restaurant if you plan to have a cosy dinner with your lady interest.

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After the news came in that I made into IIM, Life has almost taken a somersault. I have become complacent and different to work. Days are spend touring the last of the unknown corners of the city.

And I have been enthusiastically pursuing my ‘wanderlust’. Places I have visited after the results are Goa, Pune, Matheran, Kolkata, Burdwan & Sikkim(Gangtok). The most picturesque of them has undoubtedly been Sikkim. After an overnight bus journey from Kolkata to Siliguri followed by a five hour back breaking ‘sumo ride’, we finally reached Gangtok for a three day stay program. The views and the experience it presented was truly worth the pains.

The detailed experience would tale some time to pen down so I would briefly put in some of the things we did in those three days

· Day 1: Visit the downtown shopping complex, enjoy the food there. Look and observe the people and try and get a feel of their lives.

· Day 2: Take a tourist vehicle and visit Changhu Lake, Babaji’s Mandir , Nathula & View point. From view point get a pristine view of the Kanchenjunga and take some snaps.

· Day 3: Check out the ropeway which gives a beautiful arial view of the city, go to Rumtek Monastery

All this while we took some wonderful snaps, whether it was snow covered peaks, or lush green tea gardens spanning the whole view, sikkimese children trudging along the slopes on their way to/from the school, monks of all ages adolescents, youth, middle aged and elderly in their various times as they go through their refreshingly simple and piously puritan lifestyle.

Green hillsAt Changhu Lake

Snow Capped Mts.Kanchenjunga

Babaji's MandirAt Babaji's Mandir

Sometime it made me feel that the ‘concrete jungle’ and the ‘rat race’ that goes init has truly made us oblivious to happiness and peace of mind. Mind has indeed been numbed by the comforts it so desires to an extent such that it is no longer able to experience and appreciate the little joys of life.

Sleeping Monk boy Dharma Chakra

One of my most prized snaps is the one in which a small monk of about the age of 12 years is comfortable napping on the table of their co-operative cafeteria which serves surprisingly tasty Maggi at the very reasonable rate of Rs. 12 and plays popular hindi movie numbers. When he realize he wasa being shot he gave such a mesmerizing smile which I thought is probably extinct in cities like New Delhi, Mumbai or for that matter any metropolis. More of its snaps are present here.

Monks in MeetingRumtek interiors

Wat to Rumtek CompundRumtek Monastery

Buddha's Golden Statue

While in Kolkata, checked out the now wonderfully working Salt Lake City Center. Met with buddies, met my relations and gave a last long look at the city which some time had been my home for a fairly kingfish span.

Salt Lake City Center Salt Lake City Center

The past few days, lots of developments have taken place. I have put in my papers in my company and the travel plan has been finalized. So days are spent socializing with the friends with this rather lengthy two and a half years of involvement, cementing relationships, reinforcing bridges built of the days. Made some new friends during this span too. Took many friends out for a treat that they extorted me to give!

Been spending the last couple of days going to the handful of locales that I missed in Hyderabad. Went to Golconda fort with two friends, had a great time watching the sound and light show. Took some wonderful snaps of bats hanging upside down from the fort walls too! The past few mornings I keep wondering at the beauty of Hitch City, one place which has literally been my domain for quite some time now. I have walked in an out of this place ten times a day and yet remained oblivious to its inherent beauty. Now when time is near to bid adieu, I realize it was indeed one of the very few places of work of international standards; organized, maintained and commanding by its presence.

Last night, after doing a round of window shopping at Hyderabad Central, I capped my experience by watching an otherwise thoroughly avoidable movie “Darna Zaroori Hai” with a friend, just to bring back the experience the numerous weekends and some weekday evening that we spent lavishly wasting on the most ridiculous of movies!

Never really thought this would happen, although when I think in retrospect it was inevitable. As the day nears for me to bid adieu to this place, a bitter sweet feeling seems to engulf me. I have grown sort of attached to this place and the people with whom my life had been so closely entangled the past few years. Its as if a bondage which has grown, much to the lack of my knowledge!

Sneaking out at the drop of a hat, is one of those prized habits which I thought I have lost in the dry dreary sands of monotonous daily professional life. There used to be a time, when a whim or a fantasy could have my gang trolling down around two kilometers at the inauspicious innocuous time @ 02:00 hours towards the highway in pursuit of cold coffee with ice-cream and dollops of gossip. Those days, we thought it was a passing phase and more as a sign of young restlessness, was quite right about the first one, though much later I realized that it was more a result of intoxication by life; getting a kick out of it!I had long been planning a trip down to some nice location, and have it as a college reunion of sorts. Finally time had come and we headed for
Goa, thanks to ridiculous planning and an almost absent co-ordination! People landed from far and wide; Hyderabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Pune and
Delhi. Some got a leave, some ‘managed to fall sick’ and some others arranged a GD/PI at one of the IIMs as an excuse to take the FRI off. Thus we had Fri, Sat and Sun to savor
Goa.
It was as if we were re-living out college years these three days again, starting with the inevitable mess-ups’ that was trademark of any of our endeavors back in college. One of the guys managed to miss his Flight, ended up shelling a small fortune to return to his hometown and in the process abstain from the meet; others managed to loose their sunshades/sunglasses and spectacles; and then there were a few discerning others like me who managed to get his Digicam soaked in salinated sea water, thus putting it out of circulation for a long while apart from creating enough room for expenditure so that all dinners at restaurants for the next three months will have to be stopped to compensate for the loss!

Goa from Satellite
(Goa as it Looks from Satellite)

Myself and a friend took a Volvo from Hyderabad to
Goa, Paulo Travels, a Volvo service which was till now one of the worst maintained, most expensive and most impolite that I had come across till now. But being the monopolistic service provider to
Goa, we were left with little or no choice. So while I spend the night wide awake grinding my teeth in the cold ( the Air conditioning was running at full power for no reason and the luxury of blankets were not something Paulo entertained!) and bearing the loud snores and the drooping head of my friend A, I kept wondering about the unpredictability of life, here I was meeting up with all my hostel buddies after such a long time, quite a few of us couldn’t make it in the convocation and rest assured that very few of us would ever be able to take time out of their jam packed schedule driven lives to make way from another meet once they get full fledged into the Hustle-Bustle of life.

Goa Tourist Map

We reached Panaji at about 10:30 A.M after a long journey of about 15 hours and drove straight to awaiting friends at ‘Palacio-de-Goa’ hotel, a rather nicely kept up hotel with a decent pricing for its services.Soon we took to hiring bikes to go around the city, and check out the beaches. At this point it is worthwhile to mention the special preferences that some people had towards beaches frequented by foreigners, who were uncannily naked and took to sunbathing ignoring the gaping eyes of the natives and the Indian visitors.

I actually had the uneasy experience of having a fellow Indian tourist run out of Water while bathing, to go fetch his camera to take a snap of a blonde foreigner tourist who had just taken off her top and was proceeding to the waters for a bath. That person actually proceeded to about 10 meters of that lady with his camera in his hands and a lustful eyes and a gaping tongue hanging out, and took her snap. My instant reaction was of that of humor, but the realization soon dawned on me that, we 'Sex Starved Indians' are probably one of the most indecent and cheap behaving ones when it comes to respecting people's private space

On Board the Ferry
(On board the ferry enroute to Calangute)

On Board the Ferry

We short listed three beaches as a part of out Itinerary, Calangute, Baga and Anjuna. All these beaches were at a drivable distance from Panaji and were quite popular amongst the tourists. Of these Calangute is by far the most popular of all beaches, Anjuna as per the highly reliable information of one of my friends from IIM-Lukhnow is the more 'Virgin' one, rather less commercialized and a favorite amongst the peace loving, topless and sun bathing foreigners. Hence it found an irrevocable place in the ‘must see’ list of this college pass-out bachelors group. I must admit, I too was quite excited at the thought of getting a real peek into the nicely chiseled bodies of blondes and brunettes.

Goa Panjim.jpg

(Beaches Along
Goa Costline : From Satellite)
What was left of the first day was spent grandiosely trolling in the Calangute beach and swallowing and digesting the beauty of the ocean and the sky and the horizon that holds them apart. Incidentally a lot of water and adventure sports activities are available in Calangute, these include but are not limited to water scooting, Para-sailing, paragliding, speed-boating and paddle-boating.

Sun Going Down Against the Setting Sky Soaked Gang

 

Calangute Beach

(Calangute Beach : from Satellite)

The most exciting of these was definitely Para Sailing.

Parasailing

The sheer pump of adrenalin as the jet of cold air thrusts on you and jolts you high up in the air, can be scarcely put to words. Initially it is scary and you hold on to the safety harness, wondering when it will slip through your torso and engage you in a free- fall, slowly the realization takes over, that its probably not going to happen, and even if it would, it would probably be better to enjoy the breathtaking beauty all around. Soon the muscles begin to relax and you are finally enjoying the spread around you. The splendidly Turquoise Blue water and the golden sands with little 'ant-sized' people hustling-bustling around the shores. Its truly a breathtaking experience. What makes it all the more exciting is the sudden jerks that you are bound to get as and when the speedboat decides to increase its velocity, with an effect pushing you higher up in the air. One such jolt, and your worst thoughts come dancing back, are you finally going to drown & die? Oh No! you are not even Married, and even worse you are still a Virgin!!

Water Sctooting

Anjuna Beach

(Anjuna Beach: From Satellite)