About me

Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie..

Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... Love reading books- sometimes i read 3books simultaneously, crazy about music- need it all around me, all the time and ofcourse, i totally am ga ga goo goo over my 7yr old naughty brat- Floppy!! errr, Prince Floppy!! :)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Travelling with a friend or a group.... lessons learnt...

Travelling to me is more than just visiting a new destination. It is all about an experience that starts with the journey going all the way till the day I pack my bags to head back to base. And one of the things I have always believed that when you travel with someone is when you see their true colours.. You see sides to them you did not know existed, left right up down wherever.. But you get the drift, right?

While most of my trips have been solo, there have been a few with people I know.. rather I thought I knew.. but boom, I was in for a surprise and not a pleasant one at that. But then on the other hand, there are folks who have made the trip memorable with who I had a good time.. So, you win some and lose some..

Travelling with someone you know means,
  • *    You need to be open to conflict of ideas.
  • You should be willing to adjust and do things you normally wouldn’t do
  • You should learn to stay silent at certain times [ when blowing up a fuse might only make it unpleasant or turn nasty]
  • You should be ok with twists and turns [ the times when your companion suddenly decides they want to sleep in, or go shopping while you want to get an early start and visit some of the cultural sights or take a tour of few hours]
  • You should be willing to accommodate their whims and fancies
  • You should be prepared for hours of ranting and venting [instead of spending a few quiet minutes before calling it a day]
  • You should be ready to hand hold and guide them around, instead of just doing something on your own/at your own pace
  • You should learn to control your emotions and not let it ruin your holiday
  • You should be willing to have them get mad at you for being honest, but move ahead
  • You should accept that they are gonna do what they are gonna do and just tune out
  • You should sometimes cut chord and decide to go your separate ways and meet before flying out back to base.
  • You should let them indulge and take photographs of you and you need to click them as well.. :D

And then there is the other spectrum -Group travel, where many a times you know none-  maybe the organizers or you have a friend travelling with you. For ex, I did Leh Ladakh with a group I connected through a duo who organized trips [ most of them are treks ex delhi- JustWravel].. These days with technology what it is, instantly a whatsapp group is created with those travelling on those dates and messages fly to & fro, including important information about the trip. Surprisingly for the Leh trip, a group was formed only when there was a crisis and all were needed to find an alternative solution. The group then continued to remain where we shared links to photographs and blog links.. I then got out of it, cos it did not make sense to just have a group where I had nothing to share..

Part of the group at Sanchi Stupa.... :-) 

In such group trips, the ballgame is entirely different from travelling with just a friend/colleague/partner. Things you need to take note of,

1.     Group Dynamics- not everyone is the same. The needs, lifestyle and personalities are varied and so there are bound to be clashes, arguments. It is all about how you choose to handle things.
Some in the group might not be as fit as others and so take longer to complete a task, or a hike. Similarly, some will sleep in late, causing a delay in the entire schedule. At times, you might have people whine and crib about things like accommodation, food etc and so will demand things being done differently for them. Sometimes the organizers will bend over, but in most cases things are all preset and so nothing can be done.
2.     Adjust and accommodate – There are times things could go wrong and one needs to be prepared for it. This applies to all aspects of life. One cannot huff & puff saying it was meant to be a certain but things aren’t what they were promised. During Leh trip, many a times we got delayed on the road because of roadblocks. These are elements beyond the organizers’ control right? So, all we could do was be patient, have some fun while waiting and move on… One needs to also adjust when there is someone who is battling with motion sickness or needs to use the restroom urgently, etc. There are always things that will crop up, and these cannot all be pre-informed/planned
3.     Be polite, be civil and survive the trip – There will be times when you are ready to lose it, yell or just go on a debate you know aint gonna end well. But time to pause, think about why you are where you are and regain focus. It then becomes easy to deal with people who are different from you J

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Walking through the streets of Ranwar Village in Bandra, Mumbai

Narrow lanes, quaint independent houses and bungalows is the first thing you see as you step into Ranwar village, dating back to 1716.. This is one of Mumbai's treasures.. an area not many are even aware of.  All this right there in Bandra, one of the buzzing areas in Mumbai..  

This village consists of bungalows on each side standing tall since the early 1900s, divided by Veronica Street. And for those familiar with Waroda Road and the small eateries around here, then you should take a small detour towards Ranwar Village.

There are fire hydrants, small cross, a church of sorts and so much more packed within these walls. And then the street art, oh it is so bohemian and chic.. If only the walls could talk, they would tell some amazing stories I bet..

The short walk down the narrow lane will lead you towards the Ranwar Square – it is said to be the hub of cultural activities back in the days. Since 1866 when it came into existence, the place has hosted the Cross feat, community rosary recitals and many other activities. The wells here are known to have gold that was hidden by locals to save them from Arab pirates. There is also a story that these wells were used to swim by the villagers on the feast of John the Baptist... Who knew so much lay tucked away within the streets of such a happening city....

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Skywatch Friday... Beyond the planes

Had just landed at Bangalore Airport, walking towards the shuttle I spotted this beautiful sky and cloud formation....

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Vegas and all the jazz.. Part 2.. Hoover Dam

Well, after an eventful first few hours at Vegas
and the fantastic visit to Grand Canyon, 
I was all set for the 2nd round...

Where were we headed? Next on the agenda was Hoover Dam... I had seen images of the place and read about it but this was the 1st time I was actually going to see it.. We drove down the deserted road and then the bus pulled into a parking lot. All around was nothing but mountains and a bridge, I also spotted a sign board saying "Welcome to Nevada", but there was no sight of the Dam. I wondered if it was hidden away and I would walk around the corner and ta da, it would loom large. But that was not the case. There was a walkway with a spiral pathway going up the hill. All along the way, there were  boards talking about the Dam, how it was built, how long it took and so on. Quite informative and detailed. 

Thus began the walk up the slope, while it wound round and round , going up quite a bit, it wasn't a tiring walk. There was a curved structure of sorts with stone benches near the top, along with few more information boards, before you step on to the bridge sidewalk and see the Dam down below.

From the boards, I came to know that the Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between Arizona and Nevada.Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead, and is located near Boulder City, Nevada.. It was built between 1931 and 1936 by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and is named for President Herbert Hoover; from 1933 to 1947 it was known as Boulder Dam. A key unit on the Colorado, the dam is a major supplier of hydroelectric power and provides for flood control, river regulation, and improved navigation.

We could feel the entire sidewalk vibrate every time a car drove by on the bridge behind us. Not to forget how windy it was.. I nearly thought I was going to be blown away... After a few minutes standing there, seeing all the structures around the Dam, we made our way back down the path to the parking lot. I could still feel the path vibrate with the traffic increasing with every minute...  As I made my way towards the vehicle, I thought about what it must be like to go closer to the Dam and witness the water gushing out the doors.... Amazing how much history a place offers..

A few links to interesting read about the Dam- 
http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-things-you-might-not-know-about-the-hoover-dam https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoover_Dam Stay tuned for more from my trip to USA....

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Skywatch Friday...Golden Gate Bridge and the skies

It was a cool beautiful morning when I landed in San Francisco... As I sipped on the hot coffee while waiting for my bro in law [S] and niece [Sr] to come pick me up, I kept wondering what he had in store for the day. He had mentioned "lets do touristy things on Saturday, chill on Sunday and subsequent days were for me to explore the town/city"...  

Within a few minutes they pulled up and we were off on the road.. And lo behold, we were driving down the Golden Gate Bridge, the red bridge loomed large and was right in front of my eyes as we drove through it.. We pulled into the view point area and got off the car to get a good look at it.. The bridge was packed with kids who seem to have come on a field trip, and then there were hoards more in the viewing arena..  

And just as we were ready to leave, noticed a girl place her tiny dog on a mat on the wall, and start clicking pictures.. Well, we joined in and clicked a shot of the little pup.. She had a fancy looking mat, leash and a bag for it.. If you ask me, it looked more like the dog needed some food and treats.. :D 

After a quick few photographs, we decided to head out to somewhere up in the hills where the view was better and crowds were fewer..   The sky was crystal clear and blue that morning... The morning had been cool, but I could feel a warmth creep in... As we drove away from the hills, we could hear the hoards of cars drive up and make a beeline for the few parking spots available. 

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sarda Farms, Nashik

Friend and another lady who were part of the road trip had been subscribing to milk from Sarda Farms for a few months now. And so one of the things we were curious to do while in Nasik was to visit the Sarda Farms.Having grown up seeing cows in my grandparents house, watching them being milked, heck we have even played with the calves, I was curious to see what was different at the farm, I was also curious to see what system they followed- with the calves, the way cows were treated etc.... 

My friend had written to them earlier, asking for permission and fixed an appointment as well, Sunday evening 4pm. When we looked up Sarda Farms on Google Map, it showed it the place an hour away- in Shenith[Taluka Igatpuri, (off Mumbai - Shirdi highway)]. We planned accordingly, heralded the kids into the two cars and hit the road. 

Asked for directions every now and then, had guys on bikes literally taking over the route, showing us the way. And then what happens, we reach the office of Sarda Farms only to discover it is their Corporate office and not the farm. Bummer!! A few frantic calls, some semi-heated discussions - Should we go ahead, cos the actual farm was about an hour away [ acc to Google Map] but wait, the guy at the other end gave us a route that would take half the time [woot woot.. what sort of sorcery was this... ]. Finally, we caved in and decided to stick to the original plan and armed with the directions he had given and our trusted Google map, we were off. Well, what do you know, we actually reached the Farm gates in half an hour. Lo Behold~ 

Met the guy who was to show us around, the first he made us do was step into a small tray filled with lime powder. This is so that we dont spread any bacteria that was in our shoes into the farm. 

Founded by Shrirang Sarda, his sole objective was making sure people got to enjoy fresh milk delivered at their doorsteps - a luxury in today's times. The milk is packaged in glass bottles much like it used to be in the good old days and delivered promptly in the morning [between 5 am & 7 am], which ensures the quality is as high as it can get. The 4+year old brand now delivers to over 7000 homes across Mumbai and Nashik.The farm generates around 10,000 litres of milk per day . 

The cows were segregated based on their health, first time pregnant, some that were pregnant and milking, others that were new, and then there were the sheds for calves - ranging from 0-10day old going all the way to 1 year olds. We got to walk through the property, spread across 11 acres , petting some of the calves and watching how the milking process was done as well. They got periodical medical check ups done to assess their health, wellbeing, ailments [if any] and how/why they were giving as much milk as they did.. And then there was a huge shed that contained the cow feed- roasted corn, hay, and a whole lot of other food items that were mixed and fed. They have a property right next door where they grow a variety of plants that are part of the cow feed as well, and when there is a shortage they purchase from other farms nearby. The place also had fans, water sprinklers, and a scratch post for the cows to play with... 

The milking process is completely automated, the cows are herded into the zone in single file and they seem to know where to go, what to do. The suction gadgets are placed on their udders once cleaned and the milking happens, once done they are sent out back into their holding area. The milk is then brought down to 4degrees, and sent to container trucks which take them to the other unit for further processing, packaging and shipping out.. Think the milk is priced at Rs90/ litre,which is fairly high when compared to other milk,but then small price to pay for good quality.

We got to taste the milk - in its purest form or as coffee/tea.. After spending about an hour and a half, or more, we got back in our vehicle to head back to the property.. I had just one thought in my mind, "why do we need to put the cows and calves through so much to get milk.... hurts to think what the calf goes through when separated its mom, hurts to think of what the mom goes through to not be able to feed her calf, hurts to think about the way calves are isolated, and then there is the different treatment for cows vs bulls...." Knew i wont be able to sleep easy thereon... seeing what I had... sigh~  

Friday, November 3, 2017

Skywatch Friday... Up towards the North I go

This year has been good in terms of travelling, have done a trip a month [ almost ] and they have all been to new destinations [some with a stop over at a familiar town/city].. Oct end took me to Mumbai, and then from there managed to do a road trip to Nasik, then a quick stop over in Bangalore before taking the train back to Chennai...

Here are a few shots captured during the 1st leg of the journey to Mumbai... [now you know why I make sure to grab a window seat on all my flights... lol]

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday

Parekh Farms, Nasik

Mumbai is one of those cities that has quite a few options for those looking to getaway for the weekend. But the flip-side to this is most places get packed and roads are trafficked on Saturday mornings. And even if you do manage to getaway, where would you stay? All the hotels are bound to be booked. 

Here is one place that we stayed at which I would highly recommend for anyone doing a weekend getaway. The place is located in Nasik and is called Parekh Farms. During my recent visit to Mumbai,  we decided to do a short holiday and a road trip at that. Except this time we were leaving Friday morning , so hopefully the traffic scene would be better.

Situated 11 kms from Nashik city on the Trimbakeshwar Road is where you would find the property am referring to. It is tucked away off the main road, but is quite accessible and not remote.  As you drive in, you are welcomed by nothing but silence, which is just wow, especially for someone like me who loves it!

We were greeted by Sumeet Parekh [who manages the property along with his parents, they also happen to live in the house near the entrance with his wife & two kids] and Cocoa, their friendly Lab. The main property has 5 rooms, each of which has been done up aesthetically in different colours, with plenty of natural light flowing in. 

The first space you see is the kitchen and dining area - food is served in buffet style near the kitchen and there are few tables chairs/benches to sit on. Alongside is a shelve with random set of books, games and toys for the kids. 

As you walk down the passage towards the rooms, in the middle are  small tanks of sorts that house Lily pods, few other water plants along with toads and guppies. These were the major attraction with the kids, who wouldn't let go till the time we actually bid adieu to the property. 

On the left side is a large room with a Table tennis , carrom board and other sports related stuff. Beyond this is a small basket ball court of sorts. Every other open space is filled with beautiful plants, flowers and their garden. 

We had taken 3 rooms, and each one was quite comfortable. Our room had one single bed, a big king size bed, cupboard, a shelf containing water bottle with glasses and a bathroom that also had an outdoor shower area. The bed opened to huge french windows that had simple curtains on them. The rooms have only fans, and so it would get quite hot if you were visit during summer months, so plan accordingly. The rooms had two fans and plenty of lights,  with beautiful raw brick walls that added to the cool factor. The decor is something I gotta mention as it was well thought out [ Sumeet's wife is an architect who has designed the place], the plants, the colours, the furnishings and just about everything else is very pleasing to the eye and works well. 

We were there with no set agenda and all set to chill, we were happy to go about doing things on our own, plus we had two cars with drivers to take us around. Otherwise you might be a little lost not sure about the public transport system here.

One of the kids had his birthday few days earlier and so my friend who had discovered this property spoke to Sumeet, got reference of a cake shop and managed to order a cake. Must say it was quite a yumm cake as well.. :) 

Since it is a home stay, dont expect room service or swanky elements. If you need water, or coffee or tea you need to do a quick hop over to the kitchen area. They are quite open, and give you a free run of the place, so feel free to get what you need or ask the help if you need something specific.  

We paid about Rs4000 per day per room, had to pay an advance and remaining at the time of check out by cash [not sure if they accept credit cards/netbanking]. The closest ATM was about 2kms away, a SBI one [I know this cos we went in search of one] :D

Breakfast is included in the package, and was ready by around 9am. It would either be poha, saboodana upma, bread/toast with jam, omlettes, fresh cut fruits, coffee, tea, herbal drink[ Sumeet's dad's speciality]. The days we were there, we did have lunch and while it was a simple menu, it was quite good [ some local dishes were also part of the buffet and again if you want something specific, you can request them or teach the girls who would make it for you, same holds for food for those picky kids] They do serve meat at lunch, one dish [if i remember right]

What made the place and stay special for us was that we all got to chill out, it was away from the city yet close enough and there was plenty of open space to just walk in. You get to enjoy the hosts' company through the day. 

Places you can visit around here
1. Sula Vineyard
2. Vellone Vineyard
3. Sarda Farms
4. Triambakeswar Temple 

[will write more about these in subsequent posts] 

If you are the kind who is a no frills fancy, happy go lucky person who wouldn't mind sitting in the garden reading a book while sipping tea this is the ideal place for you.