December 05, 2007

Yours truly by Gayatri

I was douced into this little game by a friend Gayatri. All I had to do was sign up and she'd tell me 8 random bits about myself, stuff which she knows at least. And this blog post is to honour her 8th commandment, i.e do a post on it!

Leave your names lil ones!
  1. I'll respond with something random about you.
  2. I'll tell you what song/movie reminds me of you.
  3. I'll pick a flavor of jello to wrestle with you in.
  4. I'll say something that only makes sense to you and me.
  5. I'll tell you my favourite/clearest memory of you.
  6. I'll tell you what animal you remind me of.
  7. I'll ask you something that I've always wondered about you.
  8. 8. If I do this for you, you must post this on your blog. YOU MUST!!
Gayatri's responses (with inline comments on the same by me)
  1. You're a nice, chocolate-getting boy!! Thank you!
  2. Uncle Kracker!:P:P
  3. Punch!
  4. Will you beat him up for me? :P Pleasure'd be mine. Pain his.
  5. At, MTV sitting and discussing kickass stuff that never took off., And, you dropping me to the station! And, you saying I was SOO young :(:(
  6. An old, dying animal :P Hahaha
  7. You could be a wanderer all your life, couldn't you? Absofreakinlutely!
  8. ! There you go!

December 04, 2007

Novelty Follows Loyalty

Just like a relationship guru would advice a couple who've celebrated more than 3 anniversaries on 'how to bring back that spark in their relationship', I think there are marketing gurus who think not much differently.

The other day, I was browsing through a local Sarvodaya and was intrigued by variants of some familiar brands.

Close Up Flavilicious

First reaction - flavi-wtf? Whatever! Being a 'connoisseur of brands', I had to pick it up and play guinea pig for the marketers and the greater good of humankind. The Close Up folks have come out with 2 'limited edition' flavored toothpastes - Luscious Lychee and Tangerine Burst. I've started using the Tangerine, and quite like it in the mornings, but I prefer the classic Red before bed. Lychee is too err... pink for me to even look at the box. Will leave it for the sis. And if you are someone from Unilever reading this, I have some suggestions - how about a chocolate flavor?!

Some interesting observations about the packaging and the product:
  • The brand is seemingly so well established, that besides in the textual description, there is no mention of the word 'toothpaste' on the box!
  • There's a 'do not swallow' instruction :) Hehe. Good advice, since you may forget it's toothpaste!
Taj Mahal Dessert Teas

'Pamper Yourself', says the ad campaign. And indeed, this serious competitor to the cafe mocha makes friends with your taste buds - as soon as you've had your first sip. Priced at Rs.40 for 5 sachets, it comes at a premium, but one that I wouldn't mind paying for. It's still cheaper than a cappuccino and most importantly - I would give it a 10 on 10 on the brand+product experience, which begins at the very sight of the packaging. Housed in a very well designed triangular carton are 5 triangular pod sachets. The box opens easily, so do the sachets. And all it takes is adding a cup of hot water to make yourself a sinful cup of dessert tea. I had picked up the vanilla flavor, and it was definitely better than I had expected. Rich and creamy, without an iota of artificial taste - perfectly blended. Highly recommended (by a self proclaimed tea lover)!

November 25, 2007

Goa Kronicles: Part 4 (South Goa)

Sandy Feet
Continuing on my mission to walk along the entire Goa coastline - just for fun, frills and fab photos (AND my love for alliteration)... I bring you a tour of the most beautiful South Goa beaches.

Bring out your hammocks, lie back and enjoy!

Palolem Beach
[ Day view ]

Palolem Sunset
[ Evening view ]

Although this spectacular, once virgin beach is now thronged by day tourists and backpackers - it still remains the quintessential laid back, serene, romantic best that Goa has to offer. Hidden in the quaint and merry town of Canacona, Palolem is one of the longest and most safest beaches for a swim. By noon, the tides are low enough for you to swim 100 meters in the waters. Post 2 pm, you could walk across to the Canacona island on the Northern strip - dry, and return back by sundown in waist deep water!

Palolem Rocks!

This is not your beach for the 'action'. No fancy clubs, no trance parties - it's the place that would inspire a poet or an artist who's suffering from a creative block. Or a patient with an artery block. White sands, blue green waters, relaxed shacks, lip smacking food and the mellow sound of moonkissed waves. Get the drift? I call it a sensory delight. Speaking of great food, dont miss a newly opened place on Palolem Beach road (market area), called 'Cheeky Chapati', run by an expat couple. They have the most amazing and creative juices and shakes, with an equally interesting food menu.

Cheeky Chapati

Kollam & Patnem Beaches
Palolem Annexe, more like it. Walk down South from Palolem around the rocks (and a magnificent view) and you reach Kollam beach, followed by a slightly longer beach, Patnem. Sparsely populated at the moment, but the crowds will likely move here or up North to Agonda in the near future.

Rajbaga (Rajbagh) Beach

Never judge a book by its cover. And never judge a beach by its boring sounding name. This lesser known beach is home to the fabulous InterContinental Grand Hotel, replete with a golf course 200 meters from the beach! The coastal walk from Palolem to Rajbaga is about 5-6 kms. and walking barefoot was perhaps not a good idea, certainly not without a bottle of water. And then when the fruit vendor offers you a comforting coco water for 50 bucks - there's no escape. You can't beat economics.

November 18, 2007

Mumbai Bloggers Brunch Notes + Photos

Today's bloggers' brunch was as much a fun event as it was a gastronomic delight! As always, the superhostesses Melody and Sakshi pulled off a fab 4 hour event with no room for boredom. Lots of familiar faces and newbies alike, and everyone still seemed to have a great time.

The location, Dio's at Tardeo was just perfect, with a homely ambiance and reasonably priced, great food. The starters were fine, so were desserts. What I really liked was their salad and main course and live counters. Wine and beer were also well priced at 100 bucks each. Overall, definitely a place where I'm going again!

While the topics of discussion didn't necessarily focus on blogging, they ranged from Rakhi Sawant to Kanishk's dancing to Deepika Padukone and OSO versus Saawariya to photography to making money online to virginity to social service to profane sounding names of people and beyond. In chaos, we had fun. And made a lot of new friends while catching up with old ones!

Birthday boy Akshay showed up just in time for desserts.

Click here to check out the rest of the photos on my Facebook albums and also check Melody and Sakshi's picks.

November 07, 2007

Bunch-a Bloggers over Brunch

My alarm went off this morning to invites from superstar bloggers Sakshi and Melody. They're inviting all and sundry, bloggers and hoggers to a lavish Sunday brunch at Dio's. Here's the details. You're invited. Bring along your mates too - it's gonna be one fun event you don't want to miss.

When: 18th Nov, 2007. 11 am - 3 pm (Yeah, it's lavish!)
Where: Dio's, Behind Everest Building, Tardeo
Why: Woman and man are a social animal. Never eat alone.
How much?: Rs.450 wonly. Unlimited food and fun for the price of 3 beers. Don't think.

November 02, 2007

What you doing this Sunday?

Let There Be Light

If you've got no spectacular plans besides watching the traffic from your balcony, here's something nice and fun where you could join in and spread some Diwali joy.

Via SMS from a friend:
"Volunteers required for a Diwali party being organized for some poor kids. No money needed, just be present and mind the kids. This Sunday, starting 3 pm. at a location in Thane".
Interested? Drop me a line. Will connect you up!

October 31, 2007

A Tale of 3 Cities

I love all 3 cities - Mumbai, Bangalore and Goa. So it's natural that I land up blogging about things about these cities. Here's a list of the kind of searches which landed some folks (like you) on my blog recently. If you're new to any of the 3 cities and can't find an answer, shoot me an email or drop me a message here. Would be happy to help.
  • beautiful pictures of goa beach
    Ah, there's loads of them on Flickr. Mine are here.
  • mumbai domestic airport
    Looking for the name of the company that build it? GVK. Here's my post.
  • local specialities in bangalore
    bisi bele bath, chow chow bath, maddur vadas, mysore pak... See Burrp! for reviews
  • best juice centre in bangalore
    Tough one. I'd say the one on St.Mark's Road, opposite State Bank. Juice Junction?
  • bus mapusa to arambol
    ... costs around Rs.12, takes about 40 mins. Very picturesque!
  • lhomen tours
    Wonderful tour operators in Bhutan. I highly recommend them! Ask me for the contact.
  • switching to cfl
    ... is a good thing for you economically and environmentally. Just dispose them safely.
  • malai translate into english
  • kshanbhar vishranti photos
    Sorry, none. Here's a scan of their card. Fab halt on the Mumbai-Goa highway for a delightful bite.
    Kshanbhar Vishranti - Contact Card
  • best beach shack in baga
    Tough one. To each their own. Find your spot.
  • mandrem beach hut resort
    You're looking for Riva Resort. Fantastic location and view. Reasonably priced.
  • amoeba in leela palace bangalore
    Fun place. All of Church Street is! :)

October 08, 2007

Fashion Sense + Civic Sense

The weekend gone was a fine blend of the fun and the serious. Checked out the Chivas in Fashion Tour at the ITC Grand Maratha on Saturday, followed by a promising and charged up meet with fellow Facebook citizens of Mumbai for making the city a better place. Here's the lowdown.

Chivas in Fashion Tour
Classic Kaushal style, I reached the show mid-way - so I missed the first part by Wendell Rodrigues, but still managed to check out Malini Ramani, Rahul Khanna and Rohit Gandhi's collection. Now, let me first tell you that I'm not a fashion critic, but as I told a lady friend at the event "Since you women complain a lot about us men having no fashion sense, I decided to make it here and change that". With that disclaimer, I now present you with my expert comments...

I really liked Malini Ramani's collection - bright colors, sporty and yet, very stylish - it had a great, fresh appeal to it. Oh and the models carried them off phenomenally well. Khanna and Gandhi presented mostly evening wear and club wear in rich dark fabrics.

Photos by my friend Nishant Desai. He takes up photography assignments.

My Mumbai

Last week, a fellow trekker sent me an invite to join this Facebook group. The mission statement read "My Mumbai aims to raise environmental awareness amongst the citizens of the greater Mumbai community, by actively involving them to work towards a cleaner and healthier environment".

Since I identify with, am appalled and feel I should do something about such issues myself, I decided to attend the first meet, which saw a bunch of us young Mumbai citizens perched in the founder's living room and bombarding problems and solutions for improving living conditions of the Mumbaikar (begin small, dream big - as one of the participants Jeet says). It was amazing how well the time was managed, taking each aspect separately and thawing it up - right from how this organization could potentially launch and shape up to who would take onus of what - and then breaking down to the problems and solutions. All within a matter of, just over an hour. Topics ranged from energy conservation and global warming to garbage disposal and waste management to air and sound pollution and such.

The closing was the most interesting part - we decided to get into action mode immediately! The group dynamics was great and we already seemed to know each other since always. So the next half hour saw us walking down Worli Sea Face, walking up to strangers and talking them into switching to CFL bulbs from incandescent bulbs. At the end of the exercise, we had already made decent progress - from identifying a problem to talking about solutions, to hurdles and potential workarounds. I left knowing well that this was another great Sunday spent productively, creatively and constructively. Cheers and God Speed to My Mumbai!...

... and a Happy Monday to you - have a super productive week :)

October 02, 2007

Seriously - that id is up for grabs! An ex-colleague informed me about the launch of, which if you haven't guessed yet, lets you change your ID to something funkier like or or or while using the Windows Live Hotmail interface!

Like CoolHotmail proclaims... no more same pinch ;)

September 16, 2007

Mumbai Domestic Airport - The Wow! Experience

I'm in the field of design and user experience, and people sometimes need to be explained what the latter means. Let me start by saying that design is perhaps a subset of user experience. Marketing could also be a part of the user experience as a whole, besides design. To make things simpler, let me use this post to rave about the Mumbai domestic airport experience.

If you remember the domestic airport as a shoddy place where everything was dirty and chaotic, you obviously haven't been there lately. The lower terminal is brand spanking new and has a slick, futuristic design, completely spic and span. From the moment you enter, there's a sense of vast open space, very well lit. Hallways have trees planted along with a seating desk. Tons of seating space in fact. Clean loos, a cyber cafe, some great snack counters, Crossword bookstore, Cafe Coffee Day, Stop and Go (a mini Shoppers Stop), really swanky lounges - it's great to see a transformation from a filthy airport to a wow experience!

Essentially it's not just a great looking place only, but also a completely new, richer experience for everyone.

Peace on arrival

What's more, you'll be in for a pleasant surprise on arrival in Mumbai - no more getting 'taken for a ride' by the cabs and rickshaw drivers with excess fare demands. Every person who gets into a cab or rick is now given a handy leaflet which has both rate cards printed! This my dear readers, is what great user experience is all about. Understanding what users need, want and expect - and soliciting a wow! reaction. Naturally, I can't wait to fly next!

September 06, 2007

Catching up with Bangalore

Back in Bangalore for a week while returning back from Kerala where I'd gone for a friend's wedding... realized I have a lot of catching up to do with this ever changing city! Detailed notes later, but here's some quick points...

  • The Metro project is actually underway, and MG Road looks ready for a major facelift.
  • Lotsa new restaurants and clubs. Checked out Soul Cafe, Mast Kalandar and Foodworld Gourmet so far, besides regular faves Coffee World, Konark, Sunny's (where I decided to try something new this time... mahi mahi and sauteed chicken in brandy. Both yum. Pradipta tells me the mahi mahi was a little overcooked, especially since there was wasabi by the side).
  • Muthu's is gone. So is Spiga's :( Chowringee Lane has moved to Banerghatta Rd :(
  • Day one yesterday was disastrous for a photo session - was drenched in rain while at Lalbagh, which looks fresh as ever but the flowers were mostly semi-dead.
  • Checked out Printo's for on-demand printing. Fairly good service.
  • Anita's photo exhibition, 'Wide Angle' was awesome. They were doing a fundraiser for AIDS affected kids. Hats off to the beautiful photos, the photographers and the cause!

August 02, 2007

My Top 10 Facebook Apps

Wow, I've never blogged about Facebook before - Strange! But all the noise around the top 10 apps for Facebook on the blogosphere, started by TechCrunch's interns - makes me wanna share my faves as well, for whatever it's worth. Narcissism, if nothing else.

First, a quick WTF about Facebook for those who came in late or never did. By far the best social networking application and platform, Facebook was started by Mark Zuckerberg as for his Harvard University. More history here, but it's definitely defining the future of social software and how we interact with it, and our peer circles. Let me put it this way... way way back, when you wanted to communicate or stay in touch with friends, it was the BBS world, then came email, followed by chat, IM and now - dense social networks like Facebook (yes Orkut and MySpace also seem old skool now).

Just about a month back, Facebook released a Platform for other services to build on top of, and integrate with the site. Essentially, you're now able to share your virtual life and lifestyle with your peers who are constantly updated of what you're upto. Little wonder, no one dares to ask "wazzup?" anymore! Summing up... here's my list of the top 10 apps I like on Facebook.

1. Movies / Flixster -
'Coz I'm a flixphile. Seen 1,200+ movies so far!

2. -
Share the luuv! Publishes my public favorites.

3. ZuPort Flickr -
Fetches all my Flickr photos & sets - no duplication!

4. 30Boxes Calendar -
The best calendar/lifeminder out there, methinks.

5. Shortcut -
Wow, this one should have come with Facebook by default. Start typing a friend's name and jump to their profile/album/message them directly.

6. Twitter -
The 'wassup' killer. I ping Twitter in Google Talk, updates here!

7. Video -
This one's made by Facebook and could get much better.

8. Trips -
Great for nomads. Shows your past trips and let you invite pals to plan future ones.

9. Shelfari Books -
Rate books I own, want or would like to lend. Vice versa.

10. Graffiti -
Freedom of expression and/or defamation :)

Other Fun/Noteworthy Apps

* Hoops & Yoyo eCards -
The most fun eCards. Love 'em! Integrated with Facebook.

* Photobubbles -
Because photos without captions are only half the fun!

* Introductions -
Still testing this... Seems interesting.

* Blog Friends -
Great tool for bloggers, linkswapping and updating friends.

The Audio app was also one of my favorites, but it just vanished this week :(

Compare my list to others' - TechCrunch | Robert Scoble | Orli Yakuel

July 29, 2007

Taxi No. 3837

Mumbai cab I've always wanted to write about Mumbai's cab/taxi drivers. Firstly, I prefer using cabs over buying a car (convenient, ubiquitous, maintenance free compared to the latter and I don't add to the madness of the traffic with another honky, polluting machine). Secondly, it's fun talking to the cabbies who always have a million things to talk about!

But today specifically, I have strong reason to salute Mumbai's cabbies. Having dropped my grandma to my aunt's place in Goregaon, I was about to get off from the cab after paying him, and at that precise moment in recent history, the skies decided to cry out loud and it started raining heavily. The station was about 30 feet away and I was bound to get drenched. The cabbie however, asked me if I had an umbrella. When I answered in the negative, I was pleasantly surprised that he got off from the cab, took his own umbrella out and ushered me into the station's shed!!

In hindsight, it was something which really saved me from falling ill as I was already down with cold and headache since Friday night. Perhaps my collected karma of being good to cabbies paid off, but hats off to Taxi No. 3837, and all the cabbies of Mumbai!

July 25, 2007

An Akanksha fulfilled Sunday

This weekend I had one of the most rich Sundays I've ever had.

A quick flashback first - Not too long ago, I made friends with a Harvard student via Facebook, Karina. She's in India for 2 months working with NGO Akanksha and helping to empower kids who come from lesser privileged societies. While I've been hearing a lot about her fantastic work here all the time, I really wanted to experience it myself and help in some way too.

So, waking up way too early for my Sundays at 8 am, I joined her and met up with her kids at the Nehru Planetarium. There were about 15 kids and they were split into groups which were given projects to work on. One group was given the topic of importance of education, the other was working on curbing bullying in their community and yet another was given the task of helping reduce garbage and promoting cleanliness.

Akanksha's Green Planeteers

First, the kids made posters pertaining to these topics, even as I watched with awe, how Karina was managing the kids so beautifully - adding some inputs, being stern sometimes and helping in streamlining their thoughts.

Joy Spreaders

After this activity, it was 'action time'. The activity of the day was to visit the kids' community right behind the Planetarium and address the issue of garbage and promote cleanliness. To that, one team had written a letter to the BMC (the policy part of the strategy...) and all of us were then going to go from door to door to spread the message (...the social change part) and conduct a signature campaign against garbage. To set a precedent in their community, the kids were armed with gloves and trash bags and would be collecting 'token trash' from homes which we were going to visit and later dispose them in the right place - the garbage dumpster.

Lady Captain Planet Water Canal (aka Sewage Drain)

The biggest irony of the garbage issue in this community was that people were used to throwing garbage in the 'naala' (water canal) which ran along the area, even as there were proper garbage dumpsters provided about 50 meters away!

Mission Accomplished!

It was heartening to see the passion with which the kids spoke to their own community, put up the posters to promote education, cleanliness and a responsible community. At the end of a 2-3 hour exercise, we had collected 50 signatures, 6 full bags of trash and a hell lot of learning.

I also got to know how much of a difference Akanksha is making for these kids and the awesome work my friend has been doing there.

The debriefing session was pretty interesting too - Karina asked the kids a lot of questions about their experience and their answers were very mature for their ages! The bonhomie, attitude and sparkle in their eyes were all things you had to see for yourself! I was pleasantly surprised, yet happy to see that positive social change is possible.

Train, Trainer and Trainees

We later treated the kids to a show at the Planetarium and later took them to the Nehru Science Center, both of which the kids loved. Some strong mentions I'd like to make here...

Wheels in Motion

1. The new Planetarium show sucks. I've been a BIG fan since I was a kid, but I think this is the worst, most boring show ever. I didn't know there was a change (the earlier one had a great start with a 3D city tour, great music and content) and was a bit disappointed, but K & the kids liked it apparently.

2. Nehru Science Center on the other hand has improved SO MUCH! The staff was way too nice - they insisted on a students' discount since we were from Akanksha. The installations are brand spanking new. Gardens are well kept - parakeets, rabbits and some great flora. A fantastic 3D show (for just 20 bucks more). I couldn't get enough of it... nor could the kids!

Overall, a super Sunday it was indeed. Next Sunday I'll be joining them again for a video-edit session courtesy of my ex employers

Read Karina's notes on her blog | Photos from the day

July 07, 2007

Cheers to 07.07.07!

Another update at 3 AM :)
In case you haven't noticed, today's date is in triplicate - 07/07/07!

My friend Shilpa in London tells me she's going for the Live Earth concert which is a special event to raise climate change awareness with 20+ various artistes. Check out and make a pledge like I did, to help make a difference.

Additions to my favorites
With thousands of awesome new websites mushrooming every week, my bookmarks - both local as well as the ones on, Spurl and Google Bookmarks have been flooding. Here's some of the best ones you may wanna check out...

Expensr - Log and track your personal expenses. Much needed for me!
Flixster - Write and share movie reviews (and more awesome features!)
Traineo - Fitness community
Vimeo - New and improved video sharing community (prefer it over YouTube)
Burrp - local restaurant, cafe and club reviews from India.
Check out my current reviews or bookmark my profile for updates

July 05, 2007

Random Notes at 3 AM

* Nick is coming to India again!! :)
* Megan's going back to the US just before her birthday :(
* Love the new drinks from Yogi Vita - imli, amla, nimboo, kokum
* Picked a new book - The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara
* Workout schedules have gone awry. I need discipline!
* Personal travel plans in a mess - too busy to have fun right now.
* Upgrading my system after ages this week! From an AMD Athlon XP with 512 MB RAM to a Intel Pentium CoreDuo processor with 1.5 - 2GB RAM and a flat screen monitor. Next on the cards: Windows Vista!

July 03, 2007

Review: "It Happened In India"

by Kishore Biyani & Dipayan Baishya

The business biography/autobiography of Kishore Biyani is a refreshing, inspiring and entertaining book which is related in a manner someone in the family would talk to you to pass on the wisdom of their experience in life and business.

For those who came in late, Kishore Biyani is the owner of brands and businesses such as Pantaloons, Big Bazaar, Central, Bare, Food Bazaar and many more!

Personally I was eagerly anticipating the book launch – since the Big Bazaar at Phoenix Mills has always been my favourite hangout since day one of their opening. If I was not at home or in the office at Hungama (which was right next door at Raghuvanshi Mills back then) – anyone could tell I was at Big Bazaar! This was a few years back. Today, I’m helping associate MTV with, the e-retailing arm of Biyani’s group. So honestly, I already was a ‘fan’ of the business and the man. My review might therefore be less of a critique and more of a rave.

From the word “Go” this book oozes enthusiasm, passion and creativity in the true sense of the word.

Ashni Biyani sums up her dad’s book best from the youth viewpoint “I realise that India needs role models who will make it believe that it can happen right here, in this country”.

Dipayan Baishya does a wonderful job at synchronizing the content into chapters and creating a captivating flow of things.

Why I loved the book:

  • KB (as Biyani is called by those who know him) is extremely candid and non-superfluous.
  • The language is common-man friendly.
  • KB is a deviant, not a formula man.
  • Contains tons of stories of successes and failures of his life.
  • Inspires entrepreneurs and yet doesn’t paint just a rosy picture.
  • Most importantly, it’s an INDIAN business story so you can relate to pretty much everything. I haven’t come across very many books by Indian businessmen who have shared their life and business story.
  • Being a designer and an ideas person, I appreciated how much emphasis the Future Group puts on these otherwise intangible assets of a business. I also particularly liked his theories of memetics, consumer behaviour study and (sic) “life is about timepass” :) and learnt a bunch of things I would want to apply in my own life and business.
  • A zillion noteworthy quotes, words of wisdom, philosophies and musings by KB.

On a sidenote, the timing of this book is perfect since the group is coming out with an IPO soon – and I have no doubt that the best seller will only add to the oversubscribing of this issue. Oh I’m buying!

(Will try to update this with a more detailed review later).

June 29, 2007

Behind the seen - 8 facts on me!

I've always pooh-pooed (however that's spelt!) word games. But heck this one is for narcissists. So here's my response to Sakshi's tag...

Rules of the game

1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
3. At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
4. If you fail to do this within eight hours, you will not reach Third Series or attain your most precious goals for at least two more lifetimes. [Er, okay….]

Here goes nothing

1. My first paycheck was at age 13. 30 bucks for 2 lines for a telly show. Don't ask.

2. I've never smoked, fed a shark, driven a car or kissed. I never intend to change the status quo for the former [Update: Never say never?! :)].

3. As a child I was a pretty good gymnast - yea, the paunch today won't let u believe that.

4. I've been off the telly for 11 years.

5. I was almost kidnapped. Twice.

6. I did my first bungee jump without any fear at all. Only after I jumped, I felt the butterflies in the tummy thing, for like a nanosecond.

7. I'm a college dropout.

8. I probably have ADD (Attention deficit disorder). Ironically, I like things in order - so I also probably have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Am freaky about hygiene and putting things in places. Or arranging bottles so the labels show - symmetrically.

You've been tagged!
More useless info: Just received 2 simultaneous updates via my Facebook Firefox toolbar...
* Swati Iyer is happy that its the weekend!
* Tushar Chaudhary is awaiting the end of a very long week!

We all work for the weekends, nay? :D

June 25, 2007

Notes from Waterworld

The monsoons have hardly arrived and with the first major showers itself, Bambai nagariya is down under and crippled - like the Indian cricket team in this year's World Cup.

I bet you've read and heard newspapers, people and everyone except the animals - about how this looks like a deja vu every year, how BMC sucks and everyone blaming the person to their right. Right. Posterity is going to give us a kick in the posterior for this high thinking.

Cut to reality. I'll take 2 minutes of your time with my 2-paisa thoughts on 'fighting the rains' and 'making Mumbai rainwater free' and all that.

Before abusing the BMC, stop abusing the roads. Stop littering.
I personally believe if there is a drainage line the city has in place - the BMC is already doing their job of maintaing it. But if you and I are going to throw plastic bags, bottles and garbage recklessly, it's going to clog up, duh! The same way you clog your arteries with oil from samosas all your life and one fine day, question life, God and yourself about who's to blame for your heart condition.

Think back when it was nice n shiny. Now think of the number of times you threw refuse saying "Hey, so? everyone does it!" or "one more wont make a mountain of a mole hill" or "hey the street cleaners are paid for this and its my tax money anyways") - Yes I've heard them all. So back off, be proactive instead of reactive. Everyone can see the problem once it goes out of proportion. Stop causing it instead.

Avoid using plastic bags, bottles and if you do - dont throw it off. If you dont see a waste bin, carry it in your pocket or in your bag (you carried that wrapper all the time it was housing a chocolate which in turn is busy clogging your arteries right now. Right?).

If everyone does this little bit, which is hardly asking for much - one would not find it difficult to look out of the window on a day of heavy downpour in awe instead of panic, knowing nature, the BMC and the drainage lines would do their job. Smell the earth, feel the rain spray and feel the scintillating chill.

Welcome the rains! :)

Sidenote: Went to Atria Mall today and had the best ice-cream of the season at the newly launched 'New Zealand Natural' store. Try their passionfruit FruitFlo. Delectable! They've got smoothies n shakes too.

June 13, 2007

Finding Heaven in Sin City

In a world and time where we're sinning everyday, it's a great thing to experience heaven. And I just found 2 shortcuts to heaven in these divine Godsent products...

1. Pepperidge Farm Milano Double Chocolate

Imagine - rich dark chocolate gently wrapped between a layer of crunchy buttery tender cookies. A lethal combination which was designed to seduce the taste buds into succumbing to the sinful.

I should stop desribing these cookies before Blogger bans me for 'erotic literature on a personal blog' or something.

2. Emborg Danablu Danish Blue Cheese

My Bangalore friends know very well of my intense passion for blue cheese. Especially the Sunny's Special Blue Cheese salad (Sunny's, Lavelle Road). To be honest it's difficult to write about blue cheese. Because it's not the usual "wow that's yummy!" food. You have to really savour it. Slowly. You start with a teeny little helping, forget about worldly things and experience it tickle your taste buds. Here's how I would describe the 3-stage reaction of a person tasting it for the first time...

* Yeeoow - smells like (insert gross word)
* Crinches nose, gets curious
* "Hmmmmmmm...."
* "...ummmmmmmm....."
* The world stops spinning. The tongue doesn't. Experiences nirvana.

So there. That's how you can get as close to heaven as possible while continuing to let your pot of bad karma overflow.

Now I've been dying to find a good store which keeps blue cheese in Mumbai but had failed so far. So when last week I was in Mulund and finally found it at the Shoprite store at Nirmal Lifestyle - I almost cried and thanked my heavens.

June 10, 2007

Mumbai Bloggers Meet Notes

Just back from a fun bloggers meet at Seijo. Made possible by the wonderful 'partners in crime', Melody and Sakshi Juneja. Thank you ladies. Thou rocketh.

For me, making it to the meet was probably an adventure in itself! Till late evening, I had (a) a TON of work and things to do, (b) a new project coming in which I declined (beat this - a simulation of a porn website for a movie scene which was to be shot this morning! I told my prospective client how they could do it themselves) and the best part... (c) an empty bank balance! (long story). Finally around 11, I just got out of the house with 60 bucks in my wallet and 'dropped in' at the ATM. Miracle of miracles! A cheque of just enough amount had cleared just in time :D Phew! Off to the bloggers' meet...

Random Notes

  • For turning up at 11 for a party that started at 8 pm, I wasn't too late!
  • The Indian blogosphere is replete with beautiful ladies :)
  • Bloggers are not necessarily party animals. They tend to stand in a circle.
  • Suggestion to Saks & Mel: Bonfire next time?
  • Seijo IS expensive. Friggin' expensive. Old monk + Thums Up = Rs.360!
  • The G-string has arrived in India. Hallelujah! (an 'outsider' unfortunately)
  • Sakshi goes into a 'loop' and repeats stuff after tripping on long islands. :D
  • That tune stuck in my head is apparently Bob Sinclar (Zookies). Got MP3?
  • The one thing everyone agreed in the end: Mumbai rocks!

Met a lot of fun people and made some interesting friends tonite!
Melody (The Voice in My Head), Sakshi Juneja (To Each Its Own), Shiju Thomas, Amit Varma (India Uncut), Divya (Chronicus Skepticus), Akshay Mahajan (Trivial Matters), Gaurav (Gauravonomics), Sumit (Twisted Difference), Piyush Bedi and Pankaj (2 fundoo friends of Sakshi).

Overheard "I'll have sex with you on top of the Taj Mahal!"
- Non-drunk girl to happy girl

June 01, 2007

Goa for the soul traveller

At the beginning of this year I took off to Goa for a whole week, alone - to relax, unwind, think and read at leisure. The 2004 Goa trip to Baga, Palolem and Anjuna with my maddest friends was definitely the most fun. But this one was for me, just to introspect if you may.

So without any specific agenda, I reached Goa by flight from Bangalore.

Baga Beach

What I ate for breakfast
A full scrumptious breakfast atop a beach shack, Baga Beach.

I knew I didn’t want to hang around at Baga this time but thought I’d spend the day lazing on the beach anyways and then figuring out where to go next.
Perfect for: Friends. Baga is the BEST beach for a fun time. Clubbing, eating out, shopping or just chilling out on the numerous beach shacks.

(Eventually this turned into an idea of exploring the entire North Goa coastline spread across 1 week + 4 days in 2 months!)

I took a bus from Calangute to Mapusa and switched to another from Mapusa to Arambol. I find it rather weird that Indian local tourists spend more on traveling within our own country (hired cars/bikes) as compared to foreigners – this is evident from the fact that a lot of folks on the bus were foreigners!

The journey from Calangute to Mapusa is nothing much to write home about – it’s mostly inland journey but the local experience is still a lot of fun. After passing through Siolim the ride does get more picturesque though! Just before reaching Arambol you see the beautiful Mandrem beach with it’s own village hut resort. Note to myself: Come back here for a relaxed holiday, perhaps with a lady friend sometime.

Arambol Beach

Beach Oasis Stretch! Sunset Over The Sand Kingdom No Dolphins Today :(

Aaaaahrambol. Aaraam-bol. Arambowled. Aah-rum-bowl! I’m sure the place was actually spelt as one of these. Because it was indeed a worthwhile journey. Just about enough 'crowd'– not as much as Baga (which is getting worse than Juhu Chowpatty) nor as less as marooned as the Southern beaches. Yet, truly a melting pot of cultures, great beach shacks, a looooong coastline, hilltop paragliding, a rocky hillside you can cross to go over to a secret little lake with a view of dolphins on early mornings – yes children – such a place does exist right here in India! And I’m not even done talking about it.

It was close to sundown by now so I went straight to the beach – What a pleasant surprise awaited me. A gorgeous sunset, no loud blaring music (but some great Prem Joshua instead), a lot of people doing yoga or tai-chi or aerobics and walking further down towards Mandrem – a flamboyant group of musicians who played some aweeeesome music.

Beach Musicians from Kaushal Karkhanis on Vimeo

Perfect for: Solo travelers, hilltop paragliders, light trekkers. The beach mood is 'laid back' and as slow as it gets. No party/clubbing scene

Mandrem Beach

Doted by palm trees, you can’t help but stop by this place if you’re driving along. It’s a gorgeous sight and there’s a wonderful retreat here called ‘Riva Resort’. This is not an activity beach – just a place you can sit back and relax, maybe read a book or get a suntan or go swimming.
Perfect for: Idyllic vacations. Peace lovers. No adventure/clubbing here

Walking back from Mandrem to Arambol I sat down to soak in the sunset and noticed a young couple practicing yoga and having a lot of fun with it – they were literally all over each other in what can be best described as a mix of kiddish playfulness and subtle foreplay! The girl was as ravishingly gorgeous and athletic as the guy was handsome.

The duo was so magnetic and energetic that I couldn’t resist asking them if I could take pictures – they obliged, with a word of caution “Make sure you don’t get her face” the guy told me. “I’m her yoga teacher and her dad pays me for this!” All of us had a hearty laugh. I went back to my sunset and the lovebirds went back to their 'yoga'.

Such an incredible pair, I thought to myself.

The next day morning I changed my breakfast venue from 21 Coconuts Inn to what seemed like a cultural hangout and a favorite of most tourists – German Bakery. Good decision! The place had some delicious food, great coffee, brownies and above all – it was the de-facto meeting point and culture corner for the community. Highly recommended. Just a couple of shops towards the beach there was another restaurant which plays movies while you sip on some beer or enjoy a laid back dinner. Another fun place to hang out.

Old Goa / Velha Goa

I had 3 more days and too much relaxation is not my cup of tea - so I decided to leave Arambol and go inland to discover Old Goa by bus. So I returned to Hallmark Guesthouse in Baga and took a bus from Calangute to Velha Goa. Once again the journey was beautiful - the route flirting with the shoreline on-and-off with visions of houseboats, steamers and little boats making it look almost surreal.

Old Goa - Se Cathedral Old Goa - Se Cathedral Old Goa - Museum

The bus dropped me off near the Se Cathedral / Basilica of Bom Jesus. This is a magnificent structure which houses the relics of St. Francis Xavier's body till date. Just opposite is the Museum which was temporarily closed as they were spraying some anti-fungal and preservative gases all over the place. So after spending most of my time at the Cathedral, I took off for Baga beach by sundown and just strolled around the colourful marketplace. Speaking of markets - the Wednesday market at Anjuna was next day away and I wanted to experience it - made a mental note of that.
Perfect for: History lovers/art lovers

The Long Walk - Baga to Fort Aguada

Before I went of to sleep the previous night I had a crazy idea - I had seen Baga, Vagator, Anjuna, Palolem and now Arambol and Mandrem beaches. Why not traverse the entire length of the coast of Goa?! So the journey began...

Calangute Beach

Once the most popular beaches of Goa, this long beach has now become nothing short of a mela with uncles and aunties going for a swim wearing, well - everything!
Perfect for: Family holidays - fewer babes in bikinis or less!

Candolim Beach

Mostly a foreigners' haunt, I mentally bookmarked a quaint little place towards Sinquerim which was pretty much secluded and nice to walk around.
Perfect for: Couples. Not for a solo traveller.

Sinquerim Beach

Kingfisher Villa I don't know what made me make a decision to walk from the inside road from Candolim to Sinquerim (perhaps the overbearing heat and fatigue) but it was a great decision - got to see Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Villa en route! It's so magnificent from the outside, I'm sure there are a million wow factors inside.
Perfect for: Couples. Not for a solo traveller.

By now my toes had boils but I was determined to reach my destination...

Fort Aguada

Lowerfort, Aguada On both sides of this 17th century fort are 2 luxury properties - the Taj Village and Taj Fort Aguada. The view was beautiful - a 'U' shaped waterfront with the grand 'River Princess' boat bobbling in the ocean (this boat has been stranded here since 4-5 years apparently). Since it was Wednesday market at Anjuna beach today, the locals asked me if I was interested in a boat trip across to the market. I was tempted, but decided not to spend too much and do a boat trip some other time, maybe with friends.
Perfect for: Toursts for sight-seeing, business/luxury stay.

Vagator Beach

Shiva Rock, Vagator Beach

So I took a bus back from Aguada to Siolim and hired a car to reach Vagator beach first (the Anjuna market would still be open for a couple of hours more). I love Flickr coz it helps you find out more about places so easily through real people's photos. I'm referring to a photo taken by Anindo Ghosh which I had seen earlier - a rock carved out to look like the face of Lord Shiva! When I knew it was at Vagator beach I had to go there and see, click it myself.
Perfect for: Rave parties, sight-seeing. Not a favourite for local Indian tourists for stay.

Anjuna Beach

Cafe du Monde Reflections of Goa Sundown at Anjuna Skinnydipper

My last halt of a looong, tiring yet incredibly fun day - the Anjuna market was a delight for the senses. Reached there on a hired bike just an hour into closing time. This 'flea market' was started years back when backpackers and 'hippies' would frequent Goa, fall in love with the place and spend all their money. To stay longer, they would sell off their belongings in this flea market. Today it is more of a commercial hub for all types of sellers - local, Indian locals, foreigners making a living to stay in Goa and local street food sellers. Try the mini-pizzas which an old lady sells here. Awesome! And herbal tea which a foreign couple serves in a cafe which seemed more like a melting pot of cultures. Overall I just loved the market experience here. The sunset by the rocky beach was the perfect way to end my splendid day and week-long solo tour of Goaaaah!
Perfect for:Shoppers. No wait, anyone who loves a cross-cultural experience :)

Goa - Perfect for anyone. Can't wait for the season to start again in October!
(I went back the next month with a friend for 3 days - completing the North Goa walks upto Morjim beach. More in my next post!)

My Goa Photos | View as Slideshow | Download HolidayIQ Goa Beach Guide