Observations from The Tea Festival-Part 1

I had an opportunity to update my ‘operating system’ to learn more about tea.  I keep wondering, how I started drinking tea. Despite growing in Southern India, where there is a strong habit of Coffee and Tea, I chose to avoid both till I joined work 13 years back. The tea machines, and on Indian Railways were my first blushes with tea. Till date, I used to visualise tea as a neccesary evil in the mornings, which I never paid attention to the taste, unless it deviated off the basic taste scale that I had.

The tea festival held in JW Marriot in Bengaluru was an eye opener for me, on the various varieties of flavours of tea that is available. The various aromas that are there, quite pleasantly had me listening in to learn more about this. As I soaked in the aromas, I could sense the depth in some of them. I saw some strong tea varieties, and some very different ones from Turkey, and was blissfully observing people talk about Tea and thoughts.

There is a more detailed series of posts coming up, but for now, do have a glimpse of how the event went on.


There were workshops for Tea tasting and Tea appreciation. There was quite a crowd for these events. This was a session hosted by Anamika Singh who runs her own tea business called the ‘Anandini Himalaya Tea Company’. When she was running her session, I saw her passion and knowledge in letting people know about the subtelities in the art of certain tea brews.


One of the brews she had for us for a tea-chocolate pairing workshop. She neatly poured out the tea, initially half cup for everyone and then filled the cups, to make sure that the brew was consistent for all people. It looked like the sunset had chosen to rest in the glass, with that shade of golden brown.


We had 3 varieties of chocalates to put in our mouth after taking a sip of the tea. I quite enjoyed the chocolate melting in my mouth since it had warm tea waiting to attack the chocolate and create a blend. I was not quite able to spot the blend with my taste buds, since I was distracted by the sweet feeling of chocolate melting in my mouth with the tea brew.


Susmita, the main organiser is seen conducting a session, where she is talking about the ‘First Flush’ variety of tea from Darjeeling which is about Rs 16,000 for a kilogram of tea powder. This is from one of the companies that were present called ‘Tea Philosophy’.


Some of the first few workshops were interesting that they took us to the history behind how Tea originated in India presented by a couple of people who work as Tea Scientists. My whole perception was that the Brits invented tea when they were in India, but the history of tea dates back to around 2000 years in China. That ends my first update on the festival. Look forward to 2 more parts of exploring a few varieties of tea and some history behind it. Do know more about the festival through the website or by checking some of the tweets around with the festival with the #TFI or #TeaFestivalIndia



On How India Plays Holi

Growing up in the southern confines of Chennai, I was walled from how the rest of India celebrated a festival called Holi. The Chennai I knew started in Thiruvanmiyur and ended in Mylapore, with my catchment area being Adayar and Besant Nagar. Since growing over 30, I have had the opportunity to attend the Holi function outside Chennai, to witness what a fun festival it is. I thought I shall document some of my shots of how India plays Holi. If you have an opinion on Holi as a function, do head to the comments box, and lets get a conversation going. Tell me places that I can go to cover holi!


Holi Party in India- Bengaluru
Love the way the girl is surrounded in a pool of Holi Colours and is not done yet!


Holi Party in India- Bengaluru
I quite love the way different colours come into the frame. Pretty much like how different people co-exist in a single space!


Indian Holi Party
Like the energy in the frame, with all that Holi Powder visible as particles.


India Holi Celebration Party
The mad scramble for Holi Powder on the Cart


India Holi Celebration Party
Like the way the guy is emptying all his holi powder, before he heads home!
India Holi Celebration Party
View from the change rooms! Holi party never stops!


India Holi Celebration Party
The Blue clouds of powder look surreal. Or is it just Surf Washing Powder 🙂 ?


India Holi Celebration Party
Lord Krishna is on Earth. Coming soon to a Holi Party near you!


India Holi Celebration Party
When the blues get over, Pink Power takes over!


India Holi Celebration Party
When Pink Power needs a makeover!


India Holi Celebration Party
From the blue Zone to the Pink Zone!


India Holi Celebration Party
The kids shaking a leg to some music and targeting innocent bystanders!
India Holi Celebration Party
Kids enjoying at the holi celebrations!


Indian Holi Party Celebration
Kids are Killing it! My son playing Holi, and loving being dirty in green!


Indian Holi Party Celebration
Me with my son at the Holi Celebration!

What’s Your Poison…err…Tea?


There is a Tea Festival, happening at JW Marriot Hotel on the 18th and 19th of March 2017. The festival is to make people aware of the beauty and aroma around Tea and to discuss the possibilities of Tea based Tourism. Maybe I will have a few more places to visit over a cuppa tea


This is being hosted by Susmita Das Gupta, Entreprenuer of ‘The Smart Ideas’ and a passionate Tea enthusiast, who has conducted many tea tasting and tea meet up sessions.


18th and 19th March. From 11 am to 8 pm on the weekend.


Katchutravels is interested in understanding the possibilities around tea tourism. Also the next time, I travel to a hill station, I’d love to know more about the leaves and the various varieties of tea, which is right now limited to the ‘dip-tea’ that I have.  I will be covering the event in its entirety. Do look out for regular updates on our Facebook and Twitter Handles.

But the raison-d’etre of the festival is that India is actually the largest exporters of the various varieties of tea, which has been commercially produced in India since 1820 (and being around from 750 BC), so we have a reason to celebrate

‘Katchutravels’, is happy to be displaying travel images at a Photo Exhibition [running as part of the Tea Festival] scheduled at 11 am on the 18th and it runs till 8 pm on Sunday.

Photography Exhibition at the Tea Festival-JW MarriotPhotography Exhibition at the Tea Festival-JW Marriot


There are interesting tea workshops through which people, would be able to understand the intricacies of Tea and its impact on health. Here are some of the ones I plan to attend. Though you should know that these are priced moderately between Rs 650-850 which can be booked on Eventshigh hosted by Celebri-Tea folks!

  • 18th March- 12 pm- Know your Tea Workshop
  • 18th March- 2 pm- A Journey to Rediscover Tea
  • 18th March- 3:30 pm- Tea and Health
  • 19th March- 112 pm – Tea Appreciation Workshop
  • 19th March- 2 pm- Tea and Chocolate Pairing.


Interesting to note that 3 artists whom I admire a lot, were also Tea Lovers! Kishore Da, Sachin Tendulkar and Bob Marley

Tea Festival India
Tea Festival India

#TravellerStories-07- Of Free House-Boat Stays and Other Tales

This edition of the #TravellerStories features Athmanathan , who once took a one way ticket from Singapore to Nepal to take out 4 months to discover himself. Athma is a Banker who lives in Mumbai.

Why the need for such a series like TravellerStories? We hear so many travel stories, but we’d be able to appreciate the travel stories at a relative level, only when these same questions are put to people at different place, we’d probably have a sense of awe towards how geography and history places a bias on our thinking. So these are nice postcards that you want to quickly rummage through, over an evening snack. Yes, just meant over tea and biscuits.

A) Where are you from and what do you do for a living?

I am from a lot of places! I normally use Y = random (‘Pune’,’Trivandrum’,’Pondicherry’) to answer the question of where I am from. I work in a Bank. I know that seems old school in the world of startups and digital/tech companies. I convince myself to believe that ‘I build forward looking numbers for the most important banking institution in the world, the US FED’

B) What’s the most cliched thing that outsiders say or feel about your city/country?

‘India is curry country’. While I don’t disagree in total, I believe that people should travel once to form their own opinions . I never travel to any country with a bias.

C) What’s that one dish travellers should try out at your city and where?

Any South Indian dish at either ‘Madras Cafe’ or ‘Ram Ashray’ in Matunga in Bombay (Now called Mumbai).

D) Reg exploring places outside your city, which is your favourite place (and why)?

The Canadian Arctic. Solitude like nowhere else in the world (‘world’ refers to my limited understanding of the places where normal travelers can venture into). I have spent 2-3 days without meeting another human being – that has never happened anywhere else on my travels.


E) Of all your travels on work, which city charmed you the most and why?

Montreal. Beautiful city, Warm hearted French Canadians who enjoy life to the fullest.

F) What is the craziest thing you have ever done while travelling?

Landed in Srinagar at 10PM with no accommodation, no plan and absolutely no research. I was chased by a few travel agents when I got down from the bus. I started walking randomly in some direction. After 15-20 mins, the road got dark. One of the travel agents was persistent – he chased me for almost a km despite my refusals all along. He caught my bluff – I was walking in a direction where there were no hotels. As it turns out, I ended up bunking in a spare bed in his house – a house boat ! I couldnt afford any of his house boat options – so, he just lent me a spare bed in his room. Ashfaq, a nice warm hearted guy, was once of the nicest people I have met in Kashmir.