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