Vignettes of North Goa That You Didn’t Know

There is always a sense of excitement when a trip is planned to North Goa, that never seems to die down with time. Goa to me means a melange of experiences across every village. In North Goa, over time, I have learnt to avoid Calangute and Baga, and seek greener pastures to discovering the Konkan Coastline that houses Goa. I have developed a sense of awe and peace for the northern most part of North Goa, and this photo story exactly talks about a few vignettes of North Goa, that your friends did not tell you about.

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That place, which required a passport before the 1960’s to enter! *

That place, which feels like a trip to a paradise, without using a passport

That place that Lonely Planet said ‘Indians visit to escape India’

Usually when people say that the best place to visit in Goa is ‘North Goa’, what they really mean is that stretch between Candolim and Baga, with Calangute sandwiching it. Goa is best explored a little further north of Goa post the Siolim Bridge, if you are driving down, and post Thivim station if you are travelling on Indian Railways.

Hat Tip- Travel on Indian Railways. Its cheaper, quicker and more exciting to travel from the South all the way to the north. This would be from Loliem/Cancona from the South to Pernem in the north.

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If you did the road, the first point of call is the Morjim-Aswem-Mandrem stretch.This stretch of the beach has a few rocks by the beaches, but is extremely safe for swimming, as there are very moderate currents. The villages in this stretch are extremely scenic, and are often meant for postcards to be sent on Facebook back to your friends. If you want a secluded stretch with privacy, pick the huts at Otter Creek. I havent stayed there but I find it alluring to shed some currency on my card to reserve my stay there. The travel version of ruminating over an “Add to Wishlist”

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If you head further north to the extreme, you will come across a colourful hotel, that stays on a little hill overlooking the Arabian Sea. You need to get off the jetty at Kerim, and take the ferry to Tiracol village (named that way as the Terekhol river over looks it). The goverment ferry takes passengers free and charges for the vehicles, while the private ferry is smaller and quicker but charges quite a hefty sum. It is so peaceful trying to go on the ferry and floating slowly on the water. That is so ‘sussegado’, feeling the sun on your face, and taking in the pretty sights of the palm trees dotting on Kerim Beach.

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Once you reach the other side, you need to walk up a couple of kilometres or take an auto rikshaw up the hillock to reach the place. This is a heritage hotel called ‘Fort Tiracol’, and has 7 rooms, each named after a day of the week. A review on Trip Advisor says ‘Friday’ is the best room.  If you are already staying elsewhere, you can always go there for the view and come back feeling energised. Walk up to the lounge on the terrace and sit there and soak up the views!

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This is the view of the Arabian sea, meeting the Terekhol River by the side of the Kerim Beach. I remember staying on Kerim beach in 2009. It is one of the quiet beaches in Goa, and I hope it has stayed that way. The mountains shown in the picture usually have paragliders jumping off to fly over this valley. The other side of the mountain has the Sweet lake beach and the main town of Arambol Beach. If you trek from Kerim, Arambol is 4 kilometres and a scenic 45 minute trek, and if you chose to flash your motored vehicle, its a steep 19 kilometres through scenic forests.

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When you come over to the other side to Arambol beach, you have just landed on a paradise, that is crowded but presents a beautiful experience to the eclectic traveller. Workshops, Music, Yoga and a serene beach. This is my favourite beach in Goa. Arambol to me represents a state of the mind, and is so different from the rest of the beaches, even though its very far away. This photo was taken from a hut right at the entrance of Arambol beach through the sloping market road in a place called 21 Coconuts inn meant for backpackers.

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Between Arambol and Kerim, if you trek the jungles, you will find a plateau which houses a couple of meditation communities called the Banyan and Mango Tree. You will also find a bunch of people enjoying the privacy by smoking marijuana.I had trekked once at 6 am to capture shots of the early morning sunrise, and I found this person smoking up at sunrise. I usually stay away from smokers, since I am allergic to cigarette smoke, but I saw lovely ambient light on this person, so I decided to brave it and take his shot. He saw that I was going on taking photos after requesting for him, so he decided that I should end up giving a ‘Dakshina’. One Laptop please he said, and I could not even ask him “Dude, What are you smoking”?

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As I proceeded down back to the beach, I saw a shack owner who had come to brush his teeth amidst nature. How privileged ae those who get to brush or bathe amidst nature like this. I loved it back in 1997 and 2004, when I was doing this daily on long treks in Himachal Pradesh. As I soak in that feeling, I am thinking when should I plan my next trip to this side of the world.

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*- Read this fascinating read on how Goa required a passport to enter back in the times by Scroll.in

#TravellerStories-03-Of Happy Pizzas and Other Stories!

Let’s meet Nikhilesh Murthy who is third on this series called  #TravellerStories. He’s a traveller from Bangalore in India  who blogs at about lifestyle and culture in various places. He is a marketer for an IT company in Bangalore. In this episode, we throw a few questions at him and find out what he likes and doesn’t.

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.

Nikhilesh Murthy saying Cheers!
Nikhilesh Murthy saying Cheers!

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

For all practical purposes, I am a “Bangalorean”. While my roots are in Tanjore in Tamil Nadu, I only go there once a year to visit the family deity. I work in the marketing department of an IT company and am responsible for one of their technology functions. When I’m not doing that, I’m busy attending music shows or trying out new food at places across the city. I make it a point to take a few weeks off every six months and go travelling, some times on my own, sometimes thanks to work.

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

Most folks I’ve met are always surprised as to how I can speak English so clearly (and many times better than them). They also get surprised when I talk about world politics, western music, etc and don’t know too much about fixing computers. Many folks also get a bit shocked when I talk about bands like Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, Black Keys  and musicians like Miles Davis or Jack White because their assumption is that we all listen only to “Indian music”, which is either Punjabi music ( an opinion of folks from the UK and Canada) or Bollywood music. I also enjoy living in hostels and travelling solo. So many of the local folk find it odd that I’m not sticking to the general impression they have that Indians (like the Chinese) travel in large groups and are quite loud. I wouldn’t completely blame them for that stereotype.

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

I always encourage folks to try out the famous masala dosa in Bengaluru. I’ve taken a handful of foreign friends to the Airlines Hotel ( but CTR in Malleswaram is the best). And they love that along with the vada. They find “the savoury peppery donut” quite fascinating.

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

I don’t think there is a single place as such that comes to mind. So many options – Mysore, Mangalore, Coorg, Chikmaglur just to name a few. Each of these are very different from the urban jungle of Bengaluru. Less traffic, more polite folks, a lot of nature to discover. And not to forget, great food. Just try the pandi curry (pork curry) in the average Coorg household or the ghee roast in a Mangalorean house to know what an array of flavours we have to offer.

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

I was in love with New York for the longest time, but a trip to New Orleans changed all that. The culture and vibe of the city is very unlike any other US city I’ve been to. There’s jazz and blues at every corner; come night time, the bands play on the streets and people dance away. Not to forget the cajun styled food which offers familiar Indian flavours yet is completely different. The architecture of the old French and Spanish styled streets make for beautiful pictures. I was fortunate to be in the city during the French Quarter music festival. It was an experience like no other and is now the benchmark for what a music festival should be.

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

Most of these stories are best shared over a cold brew. To name one,  I would have to say that during my recent trip to Cambodia, eating a pizza topped with some unmentionable organic elements, which led to some embarrassing situations once the good stuff kicked in, was not one of the brightest ideas I’ve had.

Nikhilesh Murthy in Cambodia, trying to cover a sunrise at Angkor VatNikhilesh Murthy in Cambodia, trying to cover a sunrise at Angkor Vat

If you would like to be featured and tell your stories that may be of interest to the traveller community, do write in to us at Kartik@katchutravels.com

The Covelong Music and Surfing Festival 2016

Covelong near Chennai, is home to the annual 3 day beach fest with Surfing, Music and Yoga as the main attractions by the beach. Usually the 3 day festival happens in August or September. To know more about the festival and latest dates click here. Go further to read what happened in 2016’s edition of the Covelong Surf Festival

The real beauty of a music festival by the beach is not as much about the music, as much as it is about the vibes that evening. Its about a crowd that wants to jive about, its about a musician who wants to get the crowd involved, even if they don’t understand the music.

Usually the Covelong music festival has an acoustic stage and a beach stage through the day, but its the night that takes centre stage. The colours, the scent of the salted sea, the colours of the locals and fireworks, and yes the Bass thundering its away besides the raging waves makes for 3 evenings of high octane raving over music. I didn’t quite understand the music, but shaking a leg and feeling lighter is probably the key, as I would discover.

 

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Fuzzculture’s Arsh was engaging with the audience really well. He looked like the singer KK when seen from behind with long hair, and a guitar round his shoulder.

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He had quite an aura emanating, when the smoke from the stage were seen in the background of the lights. The independent music scene and the musicians surely had me think, that I should probably move beyond bollywood and popular music.

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The crowd genuinely seemed to be interested in listeing to the musician and it was nice to see the local fisherman also getting involved trying to sample the music.

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The front stage is not where all the action happens. I briefly went behind and saw the stage from behind, and it looked like the cover of a music band, with all colours of the spectrum lit against the dark of the twilight playing into darkness’s hands.

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The local flavour at the beach near Chennai was the corn seller selling corn. It was not overpriced like a lot of commericalised corn. I took some corn, rested on the sands, looked at the moon in the distance, its reflection on the sea and thanked providence for providing a beautiful experience of music by the Bay of Bengal. I would come back tommorow for the surfing. Till then, it was time to get to Mahabalipuram and go and catch the highlights of the India-West Indies T20 games being played then in Florida.

Corn seller at the beach, during the Covelong Surf Festival
Corn seller at the beach, during the Covelong Surf Festival

I came back the next day to watch some surfs and was spellbound by the magic they created in traversing the sea with their artistry

Surfing on the East Coast of India- Covelong Surf Festival
Surfing on the East Coast of India- Covelong Surf Festival
Surfing on the East Coast of India- Covelong Surf Festival
Surfing on the East Coast of India- Covelong Surf Festival
Surfing on the East Coast of India- Covelong Surf Festival
Surfing on the East Coast of India- Covelong Surf Festival
Surfing on the East Coast of India- Covelong Surf Festival
Surfing on the East Coast of India- Covelong Surf Festival

#TravellerStories-02- Off Missed Sunrises and Other Stories!

Let’s meet Arnav Mathur who is second on this series called  #TravellerStories. He’s a traveller from New Delhi (who is passionate about going green and sustainability) who blogs at Eat,Travel,Live and Repeat. He works as aSocial Media Coordinator and Content Writer at JustWravel Pvt Ltd. In this episode, we throw a few questions at him and find out what he likes and doesn’t. Since this is an experiment, feel free to comment and help us out with interesting questions for the next set of travellers to be featured.

Arnav Mathur

 

Why the need for such a series like TravellerStoriesXX? 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 Delhi but have spent all my life in different towns of India as my father is in the army.I have stayed in places like Wellington and MHOW which are like alien cities to people living in metro cities. I am a Civil Engineer by profession passionate about Green Buildings and Sustainability. I have been freelancing for a travel company and travel blogging and am enjoying every bit of it.

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

Indian food is spicy and unhealthy.

Well not all Indian food items are spicy and unhealthy, their is a healthier less fat, sugarless option for all sweets available these days.Of course, some Indian food is spicy, but we never cook too spicy items at home and usually ask for a medium spicy alternative of a dish while ordering in restaurants. The street food of India is hygenic if taken from a decent looking populated vendor.

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

It would definitely have to be the Tandoori Momos and the Vodka Momos. I heard their names for the first time in my life when I moved to Delhi a year back, and have become a momo addict ever since.Tandoori Momos are available in Hunger Strike, Amar Colony and the Vodka Momos in Queens Boulevard, Amar Colony.Read more here

D) Reg exploring places outside your city, which is your favourite place (and why) and send us a photo with you in it

My favorite city till now would have to be McLoedganj, Himachal Pradesh without any doubt. It was my first trip after relocating to Delhi, India and it spearheaded the urge to travel and explore. It was the perfect catalyst for my Wanderlust. It was a weekend trip after 3 months of hectic job so all we did inMcLoedganj was Eat, Sleep, Relax and Repeat. The place is so welcoming to travelers with so many cafes offering cuisines from around the world and free wifi in all the cafes. I had my life’s best Pizza till now in Carpediem, McLoedganj, so yeah!  McLoedganj is my favorite place till now and will always hold a special place in my heart.

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

During my trek to Chandrashila Summit in May 2016, it was made clear by our Team Leader the importance of time hence we started early morning at 3 AM for the final summit trek.After walking for nearly 2 hours we reached a spot, where we were told our destination was not that far.While others were still to resume the walking, I took some giant steps and took a good 500 m lead which eventually led to a 1 km lead.When I reached Tunganath Temple, I was crazy enough to halt for 20 min for no rhyme and reason.As a result I reached the summit at sharp 6 AM but missed the sunrise by a mere 15 min. That’s when I realized the importance of time on the hills.I definitely should have been crazier to not take a halt at all and instead just kept moving forward.

Arnav Mathur missing his sunrise
Arnav Mathur missing his sunrise

 

 

If you would like to be featured and tell your stories that may be of interest to the traveller community, do write in to us at Kartik@katchutravels.com

#TravellerStories-01- Of Camping at Wimbledon and Other Stories

Let’s meet Verushka Ramasami who inaugurates this series called #TravellerStoriesXX. She’s a traveller from Durban (which she thinks is the best place in South Africa) who blogs at SpiceGoddess. She works as a Travel and Tourism lecturer and is a lifestyle blogger when the sun sets over Kwazulu Natal. In this episode, we throw a few questions at her and find out what she likes and doesn’t. Since this is an experiment, feel free to comment and help us out with interesting questions.

Verushka Ramasami
Verushka Ramasami

 

Why the need for such a series like TravellerStoriesXX? 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 Durban ,South Africa. By day I am a Travel and Tourism Lecturer and by night a Lifestyle Blogger. My blog has a focus on Food , Travel and Culture.

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

” Do you live in a treehouse ?”
” Do you speak African ?”
” Do you have a Lion as a pet ?”

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

Definitely a Bunny Chow ! No there are no bunnies harmed in the making of this dish. The dish is a quarter loaf of unsliced bread that is hollowed out and filled with either a vegetable or meat curry. It is eaten by hand so no cutlery. The dish originated from the indentured Indian laborers who came to work on the sugar cane fields in South Africa and use this as a way to transport their food to work.

D) Reg exploring places outside your city, which is your favourite place (and why) and send us a photo with you in it

I love travelling and have travelled to some pretty amazing places around the world. For 2016 my favourite place is Kerala , which was my first trip to India.

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

I think every trip has a crazy adventure. But one that sticks out is while I was in London and we camped on the road for tickets to Wimbledon. It was worth it though as we got centre court tickets.

If you would like to be featured and tell your stories that may be of interest to the traveller community, do write in to us at Kartik@katchutravels.com

A Day out at Lords-London

When I got off the tube at St John’s wood, and proceeded in the direction that most people were walking, I felt a strange sense of home coming with a bunch of strangers. I paused for a second, I took a deep breath. This was not for taking in oxygen in a crowded place, but rather to come to terms with reality of a dream that was a 100 steps from coming true. The enormity of being right next door to the Lords Stadium was overwhelming me. It probably was about the place, but not the occasion as a lowly West Indies team were playing England on the ascent, Johnny Bairstow was making his debut, Kemar Roach was ripping leather bolts-Not quite the stuff that cricket fans would be relishing to compromise their sleep over, but it was enough to make me like I was entering a magical kingdom. I walked out of the station, and felt the chill in the Summer air, hit my face. It was summer as they said, but it was chiller than Bangalore where I lived.

Lords Ground in LondonLords Ground in London

I heard touts selling tickets, outside the ground. I obviously had not planned coming to London to have booked tickets earlier at Lords, so I went forward knowing fully well that I would probably go upto 50 Pounds to buy a match ticket. There are something in life you feel priveleged to be paying surge-pricing, and I was not going to argue on price. Once I had the ticket in my hand, my chest swelled with pride, and I strode into the Lords ground, walking my way to the John Edrich stand. I turned around and checked that the Middlesex county had no stand named after Mike Gatting, one of their more famous sons. Maybe if Gatting had not done that reverse sweep in Kolkata, and England had won the 1987 World Cup, he would have a stand in his name. Guess what, as I was thinking and settling into my seat, I happened to bump into the man, who’s here conducting a fans activation show for the local sponsor.

Mike Gatting at Lords
Mike Gatting at Lords

When I started to settle in my seat, I quite enjoyed the view from the Edrich stand. It was a view facing the grand pavillion and while I was at Thirdman, the replay screen was diagonally opposite me which meant, I could also watch replays of how the action panned out. Good seats for the 50 pounds!

Aleem Dar Reversing a decisionAleem Dar Reversing a decision

The greens of the grass against the brown of the players pavillion, brought out the contrast of the players in white very well. The only constraint was the morning sun, which never came in the time I was there. Here’s Ian bell shepharding the tail as England march to a first innings lead. Watching the cricket in London was so different from watching it in India in the sense that people would come all buttoned up and upright in coats. They seemed to have a schedule of sorts in watching the cricket, and getting to one of the stands called the Tavern stands, where the cricket fans would drink. The members would sit opposite the edrich stand at the Grand stand, and would stand and applaud as the players would walk through them. This is something I had heard when I had earlier gone on a Lords tour. Also there were no restrictions on bringing in Cameras. Back in India, I remember being stopped for bringing my Nikon SLR by the police, despite the fact that I had ICC’s letter as an official fan engagement photographer for the 2011 Cricket World Cup. The fans came first here. The ECB had a fan engagement program called the ‘The Twelth Man’ back then, and it showed how much they valued the fan, who was paying money and spending his time watching a bunch of people entertain in flannels over leather and wood.

Driving at LordsDriving at Lords

By the time, the afternoon came, the ground was partially flood lit, owing to the simmering rain clouds which threatened to pour. It was a surreal sight watching a panorama of the ground being completely lit up.

Panorama of Lords GroundPanorama of Lords Ground

England were playing out overs, and were content to score at a snail’s pace.  I decided to head out during the interval to check the scenes in the ground. I found Phil Tufnel, the yesteryear finger spinner signing autographs for his book,while a Carribean fan decided to dedicate a whole shirt to autographs. Now comes the question of asking, if these autographs were accumulated over the years.

Back in the 1990’s, my mother used to work in the hopitality industry, which opened quite a few doors for me, whenever the cricketers were playing in Chennai, I would have access to meeting them. I would meet them, listen to their inane jokes and wait for hours for their autographs. The nerd that I was,I would also rattle stats to them about their own batting. I remember doing that with a rather young Sanath Jayasuriya in 1992 when he was part of a World XI playing a Wills Indian XI at Chepauk.

Cricket Fan at Lords, London
Cricket Fan at Lords, London

While someone managed to get one on a test match hat. I remember using autograph books, shirts and bats but never a hat for memory.

Wearing Your Autograph

Meanwhile, lunch was being served, and I could have none of it below, since there was no vegetarian fare on display. I had to make do with cup cakes.

Tandoori Chicken for lunch at Lords, London
Tandoori Chicken for lunch at Lords, London

A little further down were dancers from the Carribean country of Barbados. They hired a bunch of dancers and and an offline activation booth outside the Edrich stand. I somehow felt that commercial tourism could be sold better. All these tourism agencies have the same ideas which go on the lines of “Lets-show-some-local-flavour-and-dance-and-sell-tourism”. I am not quite sure that’s the way to sell travel. As a traveller, I would have loved to hear a cricket connect to the place, and then hear about possibilities of Barbados like visiting certain beaches/experiences that only Barbados could deliver. Maybe someday when I have enough influence in the world of travel, I will love to help tourism agencies tell better stories at why travellers should visit them.

Barbados Dancers in London
Barbados Dancers in London

Travel Post Cards 04

This edition features some low resolution photos from the little island of Gili Trawangan in Indonesia

“This series, called the Travel Postcards are basically the short story version of a single frame. Some tales are told between 2 sips of your juice. These are those tales. Not too long, Not too short, a little context, a little perspective and yes, they do act as a pill, that you can pop up for some travel inspiration”

 

If you go to Bali, and are quite fed up with all the touristy actions along Kuta, and if you’d like a Robinson Crusoe experience, in a quiet island, but with SCUBA Diving, Partying, Beach Cafes and no honking at all, go pick any of the 3 Gili Island. These islands are closer to Lombok province of Indonesia (Air Aisa flies to Lombok now). The rampant tourism in Bali spoilt the ecosystem, and brought in traffic jams to an island that feasted on palm trees and the sea. The locals fearing the same, decided that Gili will not meet Bali’s fate and they decided to have no vehicles on the Gili Islands. Also, there is no police on the island as the people govern by themselves and police comes here once in a while to check on things. The island is idyllic with white sand and blue waters, and despite its flashpacker vibe, the island still is never as crowded as the beaches in Bali. On an index of crowded to totally Crusoe level, you move from Gili Trawangan > Gili Meno > Gili Air.  To know more, there will be a series of detailed posts on the island shortly.

Open Air Toilets in Gili Trawangan
Open Air Toilets in Gili Trawangan

 

Cidomo- The only mode of horseback travel on the Gili Island
Cidomo- The only mode of horseback travel on the Gili Island

The Sights and Smells of the Charminar at Eid

In a city of 7 million, if 3 million people spend a period of 10 days shopping after sunset and feeling great, it must be a place with a lot of good vibes and energy. I decided to visit the Charminar during Eid in 2016. I called up Ravi and Avinash, a couple of Hyderabadi friends, who decided that they would also learn a bit about photography, and also help me navigate through the maze of roads leading to the Charminar. We parked the bikes on a lane far away from Charminar, and took note of the place, sending between us the geo location of the place, since every road looked the same. There was a charm and beauty in an old city where the houses looked similar.

As we walked down the road, we could see the Charminar from a distance, but there was a huge sea of humans thronging the place, walking across streets. The charminar was glowing, from all the lights in the distance. It was beautiful to see the city so alive at 10 pm in the night. The ladies were thronging by the perfume shops, and I decided to go have a look, instead of standing by the sugarcane shop, or the tea cup shops or the cloth shops. On closer examination, and through the bokeh of my lens, I found a colourful world further enhanced by the aroma of the scents on display. I was asked to spray some scent and try it on. I found the scent too strong, and decided to watch others try it out.

Scents and Colours at Hyderabad
Scents and Colours at Hyderabad

The scents in the glasses and outer covering on a 50 mm lens, were decked up to the T. The shop keeper’s son came forward and noticed that I was not quite trying out, so decided to ask me, what I do, and when he knew I was a travel writer and photographer, he uttered those 3 words that most people do-” Ek Photu Please”. I did a few shots to humor him, noted his email ID, and promised to send him his pictures in a couple of weeks. I had a glance at the beautiful golden shade of the perfumes and decided to move to some of the shops that seemed to have a list of perfumes.

Scents laid out at Charminar
Scents laid out at Charminar

 

While I could not quite pick a winner to recommend a perfume, I liked the way the perfumes were shown with different names. The earlier shop that I passed by had no names. In that way, a little colour and character over random items.

Charminar's Perfumes
Charminar’s Perfumes

There was a throwback to a yesteryear world, in the way the fonts were, and the way they communicated. Intimacy is indicated by a simple font. They haven’t used any model to convey their communication or used any skimpy clothes to show passion. Show a bit about how we folks express our love in this part of the world. I’d love to see such local flavour retail at experience stores at the Hyderabad Airport. I am quite blind to these foreign brands that are sold at the airport, with the only real local item being the Karachi biscuit store. Maybe these perfumes being sold as is at the airport makes a case? What do you think? Do let me know in a comment below.

Exotic Perfumes at CharminarExotic Perfumes at Charminar

By the time, I walked down the street, despite the light rain in the air, there was a lot of heat from all the lights. I managed with frequent stops for juice, but when I saw the spicy samosas mid way, I stoppped by. There were other people too, who were admiring it like the way, I was.

Spicy Samosas at Charminar
Spicy Samosas at Charminar

Just like an oarsman, who is delighted after seeing the shore, after a while at sea, we were delighted at seeing the Charminar. We admired the monument, and walked around it and proceeded to walk to the other side and we saw a group doing a photo walk. You’d find a bunch of people with cameras trying to stop at this very place to try and get a good composition of the Charminar.

Zipping through the Charminar
Zipping through the Charminar

The Charminar stood silent there, while vehicles zipped past the monument leaving trails of light. I too tried staying as still as the Charminar, but I figured out that this was a huge challenge. I could not stand there and feel completely safe about it. The Hyderabadis have a funny way of driving extremely fast on these crowded roads and then applying brakes just to get attention. I have a 30 X 15 cm area to stand on, with my tripod and making sure that my camera bag is not jutting out. My hosts Ravi and Avinash, help guard me on either sides, requesting vehicles to avoid getting close.

Motion by the Minars
Motion by the Minars

In between these shots, I had a person come over to me, and abruptly say “Bhai Meri Photu Lo” and he started posing right in the middle of my composition. I was perplexed and decided to smile at what happened and asked him what frame did he want. He asked to take whatever I could. I took this shot, and showed it to him, and then he walked away happy, even before I could ask him his phone number(Whatsapp) or email ID. Reminded me that maybe next year, I should look at buying a portable printer to pass a shot to all those people who ask me a photo. Its just another JPEG file for me, but for them, it could be a window to expressing themselves and be wonderstruck. That’s the power of a photo in print!

Ek Selfie Le Le re
Ek Selfie Le Le re

 

And then some time later, a vehicle passed passed by, and whizzed past us, and when we looked back in the camera, it looked like we had spotted a UFO in Hyderabad, but dont worry, that’s just Long exposure trails being applied to the frame of the Charminar.

 

UFO Speeding at the Charminar?
UFO Speeding at the Charminar?

 

And then it occurred to me, how beautiful it would be if the vehicular trails of light could be captured around the Charminar. We had to choose a spot high enough that would allow me to a semi-panoramic view of the Charminar. We moved to a nearby coffee shop, and then found this view from there. It was almost 3 am, and the Charminar still had a steady stream of auto’s raging through the limited spaces, while it stood glowing amidst its surroundings. Slowly people started to retire for the night, and we found ourselves mentally tired. We knew, our time was up. Our senses and vision had just seen a beautiful array of people and objects, and now after 4 hours and many conversations, we decided to respect our bodies, and maybe come back again next year.

 

The Charminar shines through the night
The Charminar shines through the night

And then, my hosts Ravi and Avinash, decided to end it up digitally with a selfie against the Charminar! Maybe that’s how we say “All’s well that end’s well” in these times of digital narcissm

Travellers taking a Charminar Selfie

 

Travel Postcards-03

This edition of the Travel Postcards features a little village, by the northernmost beach in Goa. That little village that no one told you about. That little village, that is nestled in the middle of nowhere, like a bermuda triangle between the intersection of the Arabian Sea, The Terekhol river, and a little sleepy village.

“This series, called the Travel Postcards are basically the short story version of a single frame. Some tales are told between 2 sips of your juice. These are those tales. Not too long, Not too short, a little context, a little perspective and yes, they do act as a pill, that you can pop up for some travel inspiration”

It has an ancient fort (Fort Tiracol), which is now converted into a luxury hotel. Once you get to the Hotel, you will come across the rooms, which are named after each day of the week, and when you get to the eating area, you will have a beautiful view of Kerim Village by the palm trees and the beautiful curves of the Kerim beach. Even if you cant stay here, you can hop over on the free ferry from Kerim, to the Terekhol side, and walk up to the fort on an ascent. You could also chose to go via an auto, but that kills the charm of such a beautiful place. Get there at a Leisure walk, until the bright orange of the fort welcomes you.

Terekhol Fort in Goa
Terekhol Fort in Goa

You would be drive through this palm tree laden path to arrive at Kerim’s jetty. Its a scenic drive from Arambol Village or Pernem Railway station to come here to cross over to the other side. Kerim is away from the noise of Punjabi music blaring, away from noisy tourists and most importantly far away from any kind of populist ride like the Banana boat rides or water scooters. It makes the beach and the village a lesser attraction, but that’s where the charm of Kerim lies. Away from it all, so that you discover yourself and the that 3 letter word called G O A.

Palm Trees lining Kerim Village
Palm Trees lining Kerim Village

To know more about this place, keep visiting this space for a longer piece on Fort Tiracol. Till then, spread the love and let the travellers know about Terekhol. It doesnt cost much!

Travel Postcards-02

Today’s Photo series features the iconic Vithala Temple and the Anjanadri Hill Temple, from Hampi( Karnataka) in India. Now go get your tea, and read on!

“This series, called the Travel Postcards are basically the short story version of a single frame. Some tales are told between 2 sips of your juice. These are those tales. Not too long, Not too short, a little context, a little perspective and yes, they do act as a pill, that you can pop up for some travel inspiration”

Panoramic View of the Vitthala Temple
Panoramic View of the Vitthala Temple
View from Anjanadri Hill-Hampi
View from Anjanadri Hill-Hampi

The first photo was taken in Hampi, over the side of the Tunghabadra river, that houses the Vithala temple. The whole place has a ‘What If’ feel. What if, this whole empire was not razed down to ruins? What if, this place was teeming with people? I would love for it to be captured or shown via Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality when you wear a headset and strut through the town. Hampi is basically yesterday’s empire frozen to today’s times. Its interesting to see how the temple was the centre of most activities. There was a place for trade, outside the temple with a stable for horses, and a rest place for travellers to bathe. Today all that stands are ruins of a kingdom that once was the envy of many. The boulders and rocks, add the extra charm to the modern day rustic Hampi, especially during the golden hour sun-light.

I took the help of a local guide called Basava, who took me to the top of a hill, that gave me this near panoramic view of the Vithala temple. I call it near panoramic, since this was shot on an 18 mm focal length, on a cropped sensor SLR. I wish I had my Tokina 11-16 lens on this trip. It would have made for a little more surreal imagery of the Vithala Temple

The second photo was taken on the top of Anjanadri Hill, which is the birthplace of the Indian deity-Hanuman. These places at the top of a hill during sunrise or sunset. Hampi seen from above, is probably the way it was ordained to be. The soft greenery that adorns the rough landscape, shows you how contrast can make a great scene.

Have you been here to Hampi? Which is your favourite place? Do mention in the comments below! Do watch this space for a longer post on these places!

 

 

Goan Monsoon Musings-Part 1

The alarm rang at 7 am as planned, the snooze button was activated (not as planned) and I went back to sleep. I heard the sounds of droplets of water falling hard outside the floor of my hotel. It was raining hard. I was in the midst of the Goa n monsoon, and there was no escaping from the fury of the Goan Monsoon. The sea was raging too. I could hear the waves, as it crashed on the whatever was left off the coast of Sernabatim in Goa. I was at Furtardo’s Beach Café, which was perched on a slightly elevated platform, with the beach having been eroded. So the waves basically hit against the hotel wall, and I was that close to the monsoon’s fury. I stepped out of my room, and opened the door, and the main area was just fine. The fury had not swallowed my room. The beach shack’s garden, was glowing green all over, fresh from the rains.

Main Reception at Furtardo's Beach House in Sernabatim-Goa
Main Reception at Furtardo’s Beach House in Sernabatim-Goa

Umbrella clad, I stepped out to the beach below me. The rain had abated a bit, though the winds were strong. There were a handful of people on the beach, presumably locals who were maybe at their daily walks, suggesting that everything is normal. The coconut trees, were trembling and could not quite mask the calmness of the locals. The weather felt beautiful.

 

Winds and Rain-Goan Monsoon at Sernabatim Beach
Winds and Rain-Goan Monsoon at Sernabatim Beach

An hour and many droplets later, I was on the road. I had made my plans for the day to get outdoors and drive through the Goan monsoon. There’s a special charm to Goa in the monsoons. Its as if the whole state is painted with grey skies and green grass all over. If you had to fall in love, make love, or rekindle your vows towards a relationship, Goa in the monsoons is when you come. A little walk through Sernabatim village maybe.

As soon as I started walking, the sun chose to make a guest appearance. The paddy fields seemed to have 2 shades of green, gleaming in the morning sun. It was beautiful. The different shades were due to different sets of farming efforts maybe since there was a boundary in between separating the plots. But 2 shades of green was maybe all I needed to ramble along.

 

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The roads were empty. No Tourists, Just the locals, Just the way Goa functions normally, and I was put right in that situation. I saw a diminutive uncle, taking his wife on a cycle, amidst the tall trees and wet roads. For a village, these were pretty sturdy roads. I have lived in Bombay, Bangalore and Chennai, and at the first sign of rains in a remote colony, the roads disintegrate. There was just the odd puddle of rain water stagnating but the villages were pristine and un touched by all the tourism.

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I quite loved the colourful houses, complementing the contrast that the monsoon brings to Goa. On the red bricks, that anyway dominate most homes in the Konkan belt, you are bound to see moss and off shoots of plants, as borders between the house and the roads. Weak borders at that, which could fall anytime.

 

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If the houses, were not enough for color, the Goan vehicles too oozed off some quirky colours. I saw a greenish Bajaj scooter, over looking a Honda Activa parked in the distance. It was about 9 am, and I see a Goan youth, cozying up in the little space that is there as seats, to lazily read the morning news. It’s a working day for most part of India, but Goa is as relaxed as ever. It’s an alternate reality in Goa, which does good job of convincing people that life is ‘better in goa’(Like those T shirts).

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I come across a Goan Taxi stand, which is basically a shed, that was built in the middle of nowhere. The wall is basically their ‘Amul Advertisement type medium’ to let the world know that they could call these folks for a taxi. The Taxi union in Goa, I hear is very strong. They have not allowed private radio taxis/app based businesses to set shop in Goa, which protects local establishments, but works out not so well for travellers.

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More coming in the second edition!

 

 

Travel Postcards-01

This edition features a beautiful little hippie village near the extreme north end of Goa called the Arambol Sweet Lake Beach (Kalacha). This featured prominently in the beginning and end scenes of the 2011 Bollywood flick titled “Dum Maro Dum”

“This series, called the Travel Postcards are basically the short story version of a single frame. Some tales are told between 2 sips of your juice. These are those tales. Not too long, Not too short, a little context, a little perspective and yes, they do act as a pill, that you can pop up for some travel inspiration”

 

 

Camping in Goa (Arambol Sweet Lake)
Camping in Goa (Arambol Sweet Lake)

This photo was taken at 10 in the night at this beach in Goa, called Arambol. The beach is sandwiched between a Sweet Water Lake, Mountains and the Sea. Telephone signals havent made it here, and nor have hotels. So it means, there are patches of Goa, that still have a pristine rustic look, and out of bounds for tourists. Arambol-Sweet Lake beach, or the Kalacha Beach is a beautiful beach that you could look forward to camp at in the night without any interference. You do have a few basic shacks that go upto INR 1000 a night during high season, and upto 200-300 a night in the normal season. This beach is best avoided in the off season, as its off the traveller circuit, as everything here is normally empty in the monsoons. Couple of fun things to do on this beach, and that will come shortly on a post that will be hyperlinked from here. For now tata!

Day Out at the Covelong Surfing and Music Festival-Part-I

I am always fascinated by the prospect of listening to music at the beach, and also have the waves crashing by. It’s a world of your own, when you are at sea. India’s east coast is usually not privy to having the infrastructure required for music, and entertainment by the sea. Over the last 3-4 years, Chennai’s outer fringes have seen a spurt in sporting activity with surfing being adopted in Covelong and Mahabalipuram, and even further in Pondicherry. I decided to go check what the festival was about.

Given this was happening about 40 kilometres from where I live, I thought it would be fun if friends come along, so on reaching the location, I updated my Facebook check-in, to let friends know, that they could come over anytime during the day. I was pleasantly impressed with space created for parking 2 wheelers and cars. There was a separate apartment enclosure by the sea, and there was enough space to park vehicles as long as you were early enough to find a good slot.

The surf festival is about professional surfers, competing with themselves in the sea, with a context. I was perched in the sea, trying to capture the way they communicate with the ocean to surf along with the wave. The first day was about some surf and music, and that’s what you will see in greater detail in the next part. For now, here’s a glimpse into my trip.

 

Live Life One Wave at a Time!
Live Life One Wave at a Time!
Drumming up a tune!
Drumming up a tune!

 

 

 

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Finding Love and Warmth in Arambol-Goa

My hands are for some reason, not very comfortable to type. I am sitting by the side of the big rocks that adorn the extreme end of the beach. My hands are having minute layers of sand on them, which for some reason are not going off. I wash off the sand with water, and then use my towel, which, I later figure is dirtier than my hand. I turn to my shorts, and its setting the barometer for sand higher than the towel. My hands are still muddy. I give up the phone, and take a look at the scenery that surrounds me.

Tented at Arambol
Tented at Arambol

 

 

My tent stares at me from a distance, as I have been away from it. Its pretty warm out here, and for some reason, I haven’t been getting any wind my side. I decided to go a little further between the rocks, as it gave me some shade.

 

There’s a helper who is ferrying food and beer to travellers laying out at the beach beds at the other end of the beach. There are travellers running on top of the hill and jumping off it, only to paraglide over the beach.

 

I decide to try the second option, and walk over to Mohinder, who’s been at it for most part of the day, flying guests over the Arambol landscape. He says 1200, and after some bargaining, helping him find more people, we settle at 1000 per trip. I am escorted up a hill, and I am asked to wear the flying equipment, tying the ropes to my body. I will have Mohinder behind me, who will do the manouevering for directions, while I play passenger. Ok, run to the count of 3, he says. I don’t believe the parachute will take off. I actually don’t. I run half heartily on the cliff and Mohinder asks me to jump, with a little bit of the runway still preserved. My legs are in the air, slightly above the rocks and in 2 seconds, I was over the cliff and flying in the air. That moment was surreal. I was flying and gaining some ascent, and saw the world from above.8907_10151340467875860_509716593_n

 

The ocean was endless and it just showed how visually powerful is a body with no ends. The Arabian sea on one side, the green hills on the other, A beautiful beach below, and it felt so relaxing staring at this scenery. The scenery was accompanied by pin drop silence. I was paragliding into the sunset and moon rise, and I spent those 15-20 minutes up in the air when the sun and moon exchange duties and take over.

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It also made me briefly feel immortal. Its not a bad thing to feel, when in Goa.

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Until, I was brought down to earth. The warmth I had on me, from the evening sun, was a very different and comfortable feeling that was handed down. I had one of the most memorable and tranquil experiences, experiencing silence on the top.

 

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My pilot (Mohinder) ensured that I got off with a minimal thud, when we land. I was exuding with warmth when I got down to soak in another view in fading light.

 

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I saw a young couple kissing passionetly on the beach. I wasn’t sure whether I could go and ask them, since that would ruin the moment.  The moment was sublime, since the couple did not quite worry about who were around. They were basically creating their own world, with a scenic beach and just them in the scene. So much of passion as the twilight took over from the sun. Maybe finding love and warmth on a beach, should now be a life goal. Maybe!

The Lankan Beach Cure-Part III

This little series explores Sri Lanka through its beaches. A day out at the beach along the Dehivala-Galle line shows up some beautiful sights. Join in me in my experiences in Sri Lanka

The day so far in Colombo, had been very relaxed on Poya day by the beach. I wandered by the railway tracks to find some place to eat. I realised I was in the lovers zone, and was invading the privacy of hormones on display, every step I took. If you landed here directly, do check out Part-1 and Part 2 of this series, and then read on.

Love is in the air!

The beach had lovers, The area by the boats had lovers, the trees near the railway tracks had lovers, and the railway tracks also had couples. Talk about dinning it in on a solo trip, that you don’t have a partner around! I waded through all the romance, and found a place to have some fried rice, and went back to the beach at Mount Lavinia, lying on the beach, and letting the waters wash me of my ego, pride and prejudice, and enjoyed the sunset before returning home, a wiser man, after a day of silence and spending time observing myself.

 

Couples in Colombo romance by the railway track
Couples in Colombo romance by the railway track

 

Couples romancing in Colombo by the Sea
Couples romancing in Colombo by the Sea

The next Sanath? Sanga? Tharanga? Ranatunga?

I always remember Sri Lanka, as the land of left handers. From the times of Arjuna Ranatunga, Sanath Jayasuriya (or his clone Kusal Perera), Sanga or Tharanga, Sri Lanka has always managed to produce a line of south paws who make cricket very interesting with their batting.

Cricket in Colombo by the beach
Cricket by the beach! Southpaws on Fire!

 

Evening sunset at Mount Lavinia in Colombo
Evening sunset at Mount Lavinia in Colombo

 

Evening Sunset by Mount Lavinia-Colombo
Evening Sunset by Mount Lavinia-Colombo

Quick Bangalore Getaways- Conquering Makalidurga- Part II

Makalidurga is a great rail and hill trek, and can be classified as a quick 2 hour getaway from Bangalore for light trekkers, with an option to camp out at the top of the hill.

This article continues from Part-1 We walked along the track till the sign-board of 54/400. This is the point when you turn left and start climbing the mountain to start the actual ascent part of the trek. There is no best time as such to trek. We did this early i the morning at 6 am, after sleeping the night at a pyol of a house, next to the railway station. You could do this trek in a day.

Rail Trek to Makalidurga
Railway Tracks near Makalidurga

As we started the ascent, we were not quite able to find the exact route to the top of the hill. We were content with a little trek, and wanted to soak in the views of the this little hill just doing trainspottting. Waiting for the train seemed fun from the time, the twilight gave way to the morning sun.

Makalidurga Fort Trek
Trainspotting from a Hill!

Usually trains from Sathya Sai Prasanthi Nilayam, and Hyderabad, find their way through this route before stopping at Yelahanka railway station.

Rail Trek from Makalidurga
Trainspotting!

The train seemed to be the only real attraction to look at from this height apart from the peace and calm one expects to find at this height and isolation. I was told that there would be views of Gudamagere lake nearby, but that is something we did not find during our trek. A blogger however recalls the views of the lake from the top. That’s something for our next trip, where we spend more time trying to find the right directions to go to the top.

 

Or maybe, it was summer, there were very little of green growth of leaves, or water bodies around.

View from Makalidurga Rail Trek
Dry Summer!

 

We found a dilapitated structure on a plateau, which was amok with monkeys. It almost felt like we were unwelcome visitors to their part of the kingdom. A monkey was nibbling around the remnants of a Nandini Curd packet

Monkeys of Makalidurga
Monkey’s breakfast!

 

And then the monkey discovered it has company but by that time, it has devoured the contents of the packet dry.

Monkeys of Makalidurga
Sorry Mate, No Breakfast for you!

There was even a nice pool we discovered. Maybe if we came in the monsoons, this place could be fun, if we camp for a couple of days here.

Makalidurga Hill Trek to a Pool
Private Pool, but where are the humans?

The pool over looked a little house, and a small shrine. I did not see any humans at that spot though. The place looked very serene and simple, and I thought, I should now trek back down and maybe savour the morning breeze for a little snooze.

Makalidurga Hill Trek
Peace by the Pool

 

On the way back, I found a good rock to peacefully take a 10 minute nap, and then we proceeded back to the place where we had parked the car.

Makalidurga Hill Trek by the Railway Trek
Extra Peace by the hill

 

After earmarking the place, and a resolve to come back better prepared, we decided to leave back to the city and the trip with some tea and coffee, at the nearest sign of civilization.

Rail Trek to Makalidurga
Morning Chai!

Quick Bangalore Getaways- Conquering Makalidurga- Part I

I have always dreamt of going to a fantasy world, and returning in time to the normal world. Usually dreams are the only way to do that, but leaving that to the probability of how well my day went previously makes it tough even for fantasy dreams. So I was researching, if I could get off from Bangalore at 10 pm, drive to some place within a 75 kilometre radius, and then get home by 10 am to live the usual routine life. Such a place existed. Welcome to MakaliDurga.

 

WikiPedia says  the following about this little village.

Makalidurga is a hill fort situated near the village of the same name. It is 60 km north of Bangalore and 10 km after Doddaballapura on the way to gauribidanur. The fort at the summit has an old temple of Shiva with Nandi and in legend Markandeya Rishi performed penance here.

Makalidurga Fort stands at the top of a huge granite hillock, huddled up amidst the chains of hills, formed like a valley close to Ghati Subramanya, a well-known pilgrimage center. It has a fort on top, at the height of 1,117mts.

It has become one of the trekking destination for adventurers. Many people go for night trek to this place

Our trip started from Hebbal, and we took the road to Makalidurga, after a stop at a CCD in between. The hills were no where in sight. We only saw the expanded Bangalore city, until Yelahanka and then all of a sudden civilisation ended. We saw pitch dark roads, and no 2G signals, which meant Google Maps on a dying iPhone would not show us where we were. We trusted our gut and took a road to go a little further, when we hit civilisation in the form of a railway crossing at Dodaballapur.

 

 

Rail Trek to Makalidurga
A national train whizzes past at a railway crossing!

By the time, we hit the next railway crossing, there was no civilization around. It was just us, the three of us. A goods train passed our way to relieve us from the loneliness of spending time by the railway track.

 

Railtrek to Makalidurga
Goods Train Whizzing Past

We decided to wait for some day light to go up on the trek, since none of us had done research to go on the trail to the fort. We went back to a house near the railway station and slept on the floor, and kept an alarm to be woken up 4 hours later. We woke up, and took the car and parked it on a open grassland, near the railway track, and decided we would trek from there. A couple of other cars present, indicated that maybe we had spotted the right place to begin the trek.

 

Rail Trek to MakaliDurga
Parking SPot

 

More coming- Read Part 2 of ‘Conquering Makalidurga’

 

 

 

 

 

The Bangalore Winter!

We have all heard raving reviews on social media, when our brethren living in the North of India talk about the winter. #DilliKiSardi is usually trending at work and your social circles, and me coming largely from Chennai, I had not quite understood the fuss over winter. I decided to travel to Bangalore for a week for some work, and found myself living on the outskirts, so it was easy to zip off on a borrowed bike to the highways on the east of town to Hoskote for my morning tea. The air was bone chilling. There’s a reason why we Chennai folks call Bangalore as a hill station, since we aren’t used to so much of Chill. I used to stop driving every 10 minutes, since I made the cardinal sin of travelling in my shorts on the highway. My body needed external warmth and it was only through hot tea, that my body felt a little satiated.

 

One of the many Tea shops that I stopped at. I would order about 3-4 tea cups at each store during a stoppage. The halogen lighting of the street lights would add to the drama of this scene, where I am waiting with a cup, aimlessly watching passerby’s smoke cigarette rings in the air.

Blowing Rings in the Bangalore Winter
Blowing Rings in the Bangalore Winter

One Cigarette Ring viewed, meant I went and got another tea cup. This went on for about 10 minutes within which I had 4 tea cups.

 

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I proceeded to walk a little further to see how the visibility was on the service lane. I could barely see anything for more than 200 metres. I must admit that the bright lamps on vehicles was the only way I would know that there was a moving leviathan coming my way on the service lane. I decided to keep left on the service lane for the proximity to a tea shop. The last thing I wanted to be doing is to go on a highway for miles and be stranded without access to hot tea. Yes, a reason as silly as that for not going on the highway.

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A few metres ahead at the next tea shop junction, near Budigere Cross, I walked near the men who lit a fire. It was so blissful trying to feel the warmth from the fire. At that moment only the warmth mattered. It didnt matter that Airtel 4G was not coming, or the fact that my bike had little fuel. Everything else could wait. I was having a primal moment connecting me to focus just on the basics. I needed the warmth badly.

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In about an hour from then, the mist cleared and the roads were clear to drive. Atleast on the highways which were elavated I did not see too much mist.

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The roads were clear, and I was heading home after a brief but enjoyable 90 minutes out in the winter. My winter initiation had begun. Maybe Kashmir and Leh would be the next stops.

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The Lankan Beach Cure-Part 2

This little series explores Sri Lanka through its beaches. A day out at the beach along the Dehivala-Galle line shows up some beautiful sights. Join in me in my experiences in Sri Lanka

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I observed the boys playing cricket and it was beautiful observing the kids playing by the sea.  Every now and them, their shots had an audience in a moving train full of passengers. This was the rail from Galle to Colombo, steaming in to the city, at the outskirts of Colombo (Dehiwala)

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I found some grass to rest myself and spare myself from the searing sun. Beyond the grasslands, I found a structure that was closed and had no one, so I went ahead and rested by the pillars watching the Lankan shirtless kids sweat it out by the sea.

 

 

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Behind me, there were a few boats on which the couples started to converge. Some on the boat, some behind it and they seemed to enjoy the anonymity of the Poya day. The whole city had shut down, and they were left to themselves to spend some intimate moments under the umbrella, while the cricket continued with little audience interest. Pretty much like how ‘Test Cricket’ at grounds, run in most parts of the world on week days!

Post  mid-day, I had grown bored of watching the kids play and miss at the cricket, watching couples explore each other and watching the sea that was threatening to come inland and disturb the 2 games going on at the beach. The cricket and the love continued unabated.

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I said good bye to the boys, the grasslands and from a distance, saw the another set of couples spending time with each other, before I retired to the main road of Mount Laviniya. I had travelled about 3 kilometres on beach since morning and had documented almost every thing that happened on the beach the whole day, after I had started out from my hostel(Adikaram Sea View Hostel)

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But the stray coconuts probably watch things unfolding on the beach better than me. The coconut probably knows all of the gossips happening between people and objects by the sea. There’s infact an interesting blog in French Polynesia by that name, called Coconut Radio which says that “In French Polynesia when gossip is passed along from person to person we call it the coconut radio”. I had just played the Coconut Radio for Sri Lanka on Poya Day. I enjoyed it in silence, when I reminisced the day that just happened.

Food from ‘The Hole in the Wall’- Jannal Kadai in Chennai

As I walking down the crowded North Mada Street, and proceeded to turn right at the Ponnambala Vaidhiyar Street, the fresh smell from the flowers vendor’s catch, warmed me up for the gastronomic fare that lay ahead. I had heard about the ‘Window Shop’ (Jannal Kadai )store, that serves delicious evening snacks and breakfast near the temple, but had never managed to go there, despite being a local in the city of Chennai now for 26 years.

Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore
The Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore

I was a 100 metres away from the ‘Jannal Kadai’, and I had to wade through the sea of people who were walking in and out of the majestic Kapaleeswarar Temple. The temple, was facing one of its less crowded days. I have been here during the Mahashivratri festival and have seen crowds swell here, so today was mildly pleasant, also helped by the fact that Chennai was going through a rainy spell, so the humidity was bearable.

Jannal Kadai in Mylapore-Chennai
Crowds thronging ‘Jannai Kadai’ in the evening.

I walked a bit further and tried to spot where this shop was. A little further down the road, I saw a bunch of people crowding near a window. Could it be a flower vendor shop, or was it ‘THE JANNAL KADAI’? I saw people holding plates and consuming food. Maybe this was the place. I moved a little closer to the window, and saw a man, at the counter sitting at the level of the window, cross legged and collecting cash into a box. Flanking him were a couple of his team mates who were making ‘Bajji’, ‘Bondas, ‘Idli, ‘Vadai’ and ‘Dosai’. A quick 5 course (you-could-call-it-that-way) menu of an evening snack, by the temple.

Jannal Kadai in Mylapore-Chennai
Crowds thronging ‘Jannai Kadai’ in the evening.

 

The window to the shop, was partially covered by dried lemons and the image of a demon occupying space. Usually this is a sign of warding off evil spirits, usually found in many parts of South India at estabilishments, and even on vehicles. The more colourful are found on national lorries that ply on highways. The Tamil comedian Vivekh, takes a pot shot at such beliefs against Colourful demons-on-Lorries’ in a yesteryear movie called Minnale. [Watch it here from 1:50 to 4:25]

Looking through the window of Jannal Kadai
Looking through the window(Jannal)

As we lounged inside, and spoke to the person at the cash counter, we are told that this place is about 10 years old. Maybe he meant it for the business, but this was operating out of an olden days house, and the house must be a lot older. We settled for 2 plates of Dosai’s and 1 plate of ‘Molaga Bajji’. Just as we ordered, a fresh batch of bondas was placed by the windows to help the consumers make their choices easily, in the absence of a menu card.

Appetizing crisp bondas on display at Jannal Kadai in Mylapore
Bonda Ready Saar

We chose to give the bonda a miss, since I needed to be home. The Dosai, was made wet by Sambhar and chutney on it. The plate finished in double quick time, and I was gastronimically ready for a few more, but since I had to be at the other end of the city, I chose to settle the bill, and come back to Mylapore for a more detailed date with my stomach at the various eat outs in Mylapore. The Hindu newspaper, has done a good job in listing the places in Mylapore that you should keep a look out for. Do view them here, and come back to this blog, for more detailed reviews of all of these eat outs.

 

Till then, if you plan to go to this place, use this Google Maps Link.

 

 

 

 

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