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When I rode to Spiti to find solace…

October 25, 2012 Leave a comment

There are times when one loses oneself to the daily rigmarole, the daily routine. Life seems like a static camera roll written over and over again. It needed a rejig. Needed to break the routine and do sometime I had only imagined, only read, only heard. But it had to be done.

Left my job. Left my life behind. Maybe not forever, but for 16-days it was living a life far beyond my imagination.
Did not plan anything except to start from my home in Mumbai at 5AM in the morning and ride till wherever I could before I felt tired and had to stop for a nap!
The adventure began mid-July on a motorcycle, 4 luggage bags, 1 man, 1 soul, 1 dream – Ride to the Himalayas.

Not having a plan or a partner was perhaps the best thing about this trip. Do anything, stop anywhere, go anywhere, stay anywhere – it didn’t bother me. But it did intrigue others.
The trip was made memorable thanks to the many people I met on the road. From being offered cups of tea, to a free room and even butter chicken it was the awe and confusion most people expressed at my desire to ride 5100 kms, alone, on a motorcycle. What I really wanted was to be with myself. What I really wanted was to ride to a place where only few had conquered. What I got….was a humbling experience. To ride in the Himalayas is a truly awe-inspiring experience. But it does humble you. It teaches you a thing or two about yourself. It calms you down. It makes you a different person, a better person. It humbles you like nothing else can.
Riding across 6 states, day and night, covering 5100 kms – started off as one-off journey but ended up being something special.

The journey started off as trip to a destination but the journey itself reverberates in my mind. I remember the roads – good or bad – I remember the people, amazing at heart and quick to help without a second thought – I remember the grand views but what I cherish the most is how I felt after I came back home.

Humbled and satisfied but hungry for more.

Categories: Trips Tags: , , ,

Mumbai – Mount Abu – Udaipur – Mumbai: Day 1

October 27, 2011 6 comments

Been sometime now since I got my CBR250R and well I am totally loving the experience. It was a 5 year dream to own a 250cc sports touring motorcycle and it finally culminated with me owning the Honda CBR250R. Initial hick ups aside, the bike is what I have always wanted. And the dream to tour on the motorcycle was no longer a figment of my imagination. It was a reality.

Fast forward to September 2011 when it struck me that a 4-day long leave was on the anvil from 6th – 9th October. Having asked around, Konkan was finalised along with routes and destinations. But going solo isn’t my cup of tea, not yet. The trip held promise but not until a gentleman named Jason Bourne (ok added the Borne for cinematic purposes!) showed up and told me about his Mount Abu plan. Now this became my plan. Quite a turn around this but as it turned out it was one of the best trips I have ever done!

So we headed out precisely at 5:45AM from Dahisar check naka to our destination Mount Abu on 6th October. Have never ridden on NH8 this early and the fog was just so mesmerizing. It was a dream world and I slowed down to enjoy riding in the fog as long as I can! It was eerie though sometimes as all I could see was a faint glimmer of a vehicle, mostly a truck, in front of me. We didn’t stop to take pictures here which was perhaps our greatest mistake during the entire trip!

We had decided to halt at 10AM for breakfast. But the sign boards kept egging me on to ride more. We reached Manor. Decided to halt at Charoti. Reached Charoti, decided to stop for breakfast somewhere at the border of Gujarat. This game continued and I realised later how much my partner, who was on a ZMA-R, loathed this idea of riding till hell breaks loose. And ride we did. Reached Ahmedabad in 7 hours flat. Now we had to stop. Made the mistake of going into the city thus we lost precious time negotiating the traffic and in turn, getting lost! Finally found a way out and we were out of Ahmedabad and the first hotel we saw, we stopped for lunch.

Now the roads from Mumbai to Manor are average and get better up till Charoti Naka beyond which the roads are a 6-lane bliss all the way till Vadodara. It was a pleasure cruising at 120kmph effortlessly! The two-lane NH8 from Baroda t0 Amdavad is a thorough disappointment. We did cover it in good time but a 4-laned highway would have been so much nicer! The expressway next to us didn’t help as cars zooming past was a sore sight!

Jason, by now, was not only famished but also didn’t like the idea of riding with me. I prefer to keep riding while his style is to stop, relax, ride – in that order! Two conflicting riding styles but one thing for certain was that we covered a good distance in good time! Now it was time for lunch and we hogged on some vegetarian food – paneer and mushrooms! Meal was good and the price wasn’t much which was great as throughout the trip, I was going to be spending a lot of money on fuel!

Left from here at around 2:30PM and next halt for us was Himatnagar. A heavy lunch reduced our speeds drastically and we took our sweet time to reach Himatnagar. Just 80kms away, but we reached there in around 1.5 hours! From here on, we were cruising leisurely taking stops regularly to keep ourselves hydrated. So while the first half of the journey today was according to my style, the second half was according to Jason’s so that everybody is happy! I must say that really awesome roads helped cover distances quickly and at the same time, allowed us to drive leisurely whenever we pleased to!

First click after 650 kms

At one point on the Major District Road 49, we stopped for a good 45 minutes to just chill. From here on, Mount Abu was still a good 150 kms away and we realised we had driven pretty darn slowly. Picked up pace and we were off again! Stopped finally at around 20 kms before Abu Road to confirm directions. Finally reached Abu Road by 7PM. Spent the next one hour searching for a hotel. We found a few cheap ones, but bike parking was an issue and I did not want to park the CBR on the road especially in Abu Road where everyone was hankering over to have a glimpse of the bike!

Finally found a hotel – Hotel Durga – got a room for Rs.800 and called in a night! We realised we were tired the moment we hit the sack! Day 2 was going to be full of fun and we were already looking forward to going to Mount Abu early in the morning.

The route taken on Day 1 is here.

Check out the new Chocolate Melange at Costa Coffee

June 1, 2010 13 comments

Have been to Costa Coffee a few times and have never had any complaints with the coffee here. The hot varieties or even the cold coffees are simply superb. A recent trip to Costa was no different either. However, what intrigued us was this big slab of dark chocolate kept aside. Their most expensive pastry, the Chocolate Melange is worth Rs.95. The pastry was garnished with thin sheets of Melange which gave the pastry a slightly bittersweet flavour, a perfect combo for any dark chocolate lover.

We had it is ice cream and it went quite well with the cold vanilla ice cream. The pastry itself was warmed up just a bit which, in my opinion, really bought out the flavours! Thumbs up to Costa Coffee for bringing out the Chocolate Melange – an excellent dark chocolate treat!

On a side note what is up with Costa Coffee and Pheonix Mills? There are three outlets in the same damn mall! Can never miss Costa Coffee if you are in Pheonix Mills!

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Travel Photo Contest @BlogAdda

May 27, 2010 53 comments

What? Another contest? This one is right up my alley though!. BlogAdda’s latest contest in a long line of contests is one where people contest with each other by giving a context to the content of the photos in their blogs. Phew! (trying to be funny is doubly difficult bah!)

It isn’t so difficult to write a travelogue of a certain place but it is so difficult to actually pick out five of your best/favourite photos from a whole bunch of pictures! Come to think of it, travel photo folders in my computer are competing with each other for a place in this blog, as we speak!

That line from Pringoo is so true. Have seen such ‘fast’ travelers who wants to see everything but ends up seeing nothing and more importantly ends up being a lonely traveler without any experience to share, without any experience to enrich their soul!

Shot this picture at Juhu Beach. Had gone during a weekday thinking it won’t be as crowded as it generally is but was proved wrong by the thrones of burkha clad or dressed to go to a shaadi women! A fair was held at the beach with people thronging the make shift shops to buy accessories, household items and anything and everything else with the sea as the back drop. Come to think of it, even the Anjuna Flea market doesn’t offer this kind of view! Saw this balloon guy who tried to sell those balloons to everyone and anyone but if you did not have change (Rs.5), he wouldn’t sell it to you! Ironic in some ways but funny all the way! Sir buy balloon? Only Rs.5 sir. What? you do not have Rs.5. I no sell you balloon!

The dude in the centre got an earful from his supervisor and he kept pleading he did not do no wrong. After sometime another supervisor comes and says some things in a South India language (I think it was Tullu) and you could sense the tension between those two. Once the guy left, the worker was back to doing his job but his eyes said more than what he could possible say with words to his supervisor!

Found this lonely log at Diveagar Beach, Maharashtra. What was intriguing was this erstwhile tree was so close to the sea that I wonder how old it must have been? There were many shrubs growing a little further away but this was different. The footsteps in the background add to the mystery of this photu!

Clicked this at Bhandardara, a hill station in Maharashtra. Bhandardara is popular for its lake, known as the Arthur Lake and fed by the Parvara River. We were here just before the onset of summer so the weather was cool, the water was clear and the sky was blue! This small abandoned hut makes for the best view of the lake no matter what time it is. Imagine getting up in the morning and gazing at the reflection of the sky on the calm waters of the lake. Not many sights come close to this!

This picture is one of my favourites. Clicked at Manori Beach, Mumbai. This was also perhaps the first time when people were clicking me instead of the scenery. Why you ask? Well for starters, I was flat on the ground when taking this picture and onlookers were bemused at what I could be clicking from that height that I couldn’t click standing up. Well, it was the sea shells, which look humongous from this angle!

Hope you enjoyed reading through!

The contest is sponsored by

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Whack!! this Wednesday’

May 20, 2010 21 comments

A few observations and much reasoning lead to error; many observations and a little reasoning to a good whacking!

Haven’t really participated in many contests but couldn’t avoid ‘Whack!! this Wednesday’. For those who know me wouldn’t believe I wrote this but ya well, what the whack, here we go!

If you own a car and especially a bike you would be well aware of unruly pedestrians who think they own the road. I, the law abiding biker, come face to face with such pedestrians’ who-own-it-all. Even these are an assortment.

  • There are those who will explicitly choose to cross the road when a bike is approaching and endanger the biker’s life and off course their own. Doesn’t matter if the road behind the biker is empty, but if the pedestrian doesn’t cross before the bike crosses, the earth will shatter and the sky will fall down!
  • Then there are those who will, after getting down from the bus, always try to cross the road from the front of the bus. Oh ya, the government made the bus of glass so that everyone can see through and through! WRONG! We bikers do not know if you are crossing from the front of the bus because we cannot see you! Off course, with experience you learn to slow down but even then don’t you just feel like whacking the living daylights out of such people?
  • And then there are the aunties and uncles who cross the road as if strolling in a nana-nani park. And what’s more, they always find unsuspecting bikers to strut their stuff in front of. I know you think you are the most important person in this world and at the moment when you are in front of a biker, we think the same too because we cannot do anything. But I can whack you now, thanks to Blogadda!
  • Oh did I forget to mention the old, really old uncles who love to show their Usain Bolt akin racing skills to bikers. But they know they will lose if they run parallel to us. So what do they do to get our attention and in doing so defeat us comprehensively? Start running in front of us just when they see us hapless bikers. Oh ya you made your point. But uncleji, this ain’t the Berlin Olympics and if are so eager to show off your running skills at the age of 60, why don’t you go to a race track instead?
  • Before I forget, there is this another irritating pedestrian who just loves the feel of tarmac and if even there is a 2 feet wide footpath right next to them, they will still choose to walk on the tarmac. Such brand loyalty is unheard of, especially in government circles. Oh and what is worse is they choose heavy traffic situation to display such blatant affection and loyalty for the good ole tarmac. This is the time when bikers are forced to drive in the narrow gap between cars and the footpath and this is also the time the pedestrian chooses to take a walk in the park seemingly aloof of the eager-to-overtake-the-adjacent-car biker honking at em’.
  • Lastly, who can forget the holy rickshawallas and cabbies and buses? The most irritating rickshawallas are those who try to overtake a BMW on a highway when the road is clear. In doing so, they not only create a massive traffic jam behind them but also increase stress to unheard off levels in anger management parlance. Not to forget the cabbies who drive at 20 kmph, no matter what lane they are in. And they drive like royalty, like they are driving a Bugatti. Bikers like us are forced to two their line, disallowed to overtake such cabbies because if we do so, we will be breaking our oath we gave our mothers of not racing on the highway. Then there are the buses that just love driving in the last lane and make sure they give not an inch away to the bikers to pass through. Imagine being stuck behind a King Long Bus on the Andheri Flyover for more than 20 minutes just because the bus driver did not reciprocate your incessant honking! More than whacking the driver feels like whacking the bus itself for its way to big and way to powerful. Remember spiderman? With power comes responsibilities and for buses, this power translates into doing what they want because they own the god damn road!

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Pratap Da Dhaba, Paaji tussi great hoji!

Have been to Pratap da Dhaba a few times already. My last few visits have been well documented here, here and here! I realised that I have yet to post pictures of this place and this time seems no different except for a few pictures but I hope that doesn’t disappoint.

The last time I went, we were disappointed but thankfully, that experience was a one-off. This time around, we went on a weekday and got the benefit of great service, courtesy relaxed waiters.  Pratap da Dhaba has a good Dhaba feel to it and one can see all sorts of people here including families, friends and couples.

We started off with drinks including the age-old Lassi and the Panna Goday Naal. The later was an extremely tangy drink with pepper and salt mixed with lemon juice and water. It was a one of a kind drink and we loved it!

The drinks kept us going for a while after which we ordered for a Macchi Fry Amritsari. The Amritsari was ravas cooked in North Indian masalas and wasn’t as spicy as fish starters are in Maharashtra. The starter was excellent and the accompanying chutney was good as well.

While raving about how good the starters were, we went ahead with our order for the main course which was a Kukkad Dhania Adraki. A bit disappoint with the adrak which had a strong flavour but overall the dish was good. The Ginger-Garlic paste was liberal but so was the white chicken which was tender and juicy. We also ordered for a Lachha Paratha and again was a bit disappointed here. Prefer my Lachha Paratha a bit thinner than a Tandoori roti but that wasn’t the case here.

Overall the food was excellent and the service was good. We were served the Paneer version of the main course which was promptly replaced by the chicken variant without us saying anything!

The place is a bit on the higher side but the food and the ambiance makes up for it. Pratap da Dhaba is highly recommended by https://talkreviews.wordpress.com!

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Mocha, Coffee is as good as it gets!

Mocha is a popular cafe among the urban youth. Their Coffee and Hukka flavours are well-known and are probably the only Cafe to have a strong fan following for both the heady mixtures!

I don’t remember the last time I had hukka at Mocha but Coffee here is my staple food. Always on the look out for something new, I tried out the Brazilian Bourbon Santos. The hot coffee has a rich flavour. It was a refreshing drink which is generally not the case with Indian coffee. It had a hint of chocolate I thought but it could just be the home-made chocolate I chomped on before chilling out at Mocha.

We also ordered for a Dutch Truffle Cake Shake which was exactly like the Dutch Truffle Cake with whipped cream on top! Along with the shake, ordered for a Honeyglazed Chicken Sandwich. The sandwich was filling and it almost felt like having a soft Panini sandwich.

Mocha is never a let down in terms of experience and the food though we wished we got better seats! Mocha is a bit expensive, which is the reason why I prefer other coffee houses but then again, Mocha has so far being without any disappointments and I intend to keep it that way!

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Trip to Romantic Bhandardara



Its been sometime now since my visit to Bhandardara so finally decided to write about my wonderful experiences on this trip. Bhandardara is a hill station in Maharashtra and more information about this place can be found at Wikipedia.

Our journey started from Mumbai where we boarded a AC bus to Igatpuri.From Igatpuri we had to board a ST bus (Maharashtra State Transport) to bhandardara. Igatpuri is a busy destination for buses and trains alike so we could book a bus last-minute without any hassles. Before boarding the bus at Mumbai (from Kalanagar), we had dinner at Maharaja, a chain of restaurants and bars. The food here is excellent though the price is on the higher side. We had a relatively heavy dinner as we were under the impression that we will reach Igatpuri at 5 PM but instead reached at 3PM!. We reached within four hours and were left in the middle of nowhere it seemed. A quick walk to a petrol pump nearby and the people working there assured us that we were in Igatpuri. Phew!

We were stranded in the middle of no where (well, technically we were in Igatpuri), far away from home, searching for the ST Bus depot. It was a long way off but we reached their eventually. Passed by the Igatpuri train station and it seemed that if we planned in advance, we could have traveled by train as the ST bus stand is close by.

It was bone chilling cold but at least we weren’t tired walking. Once at the ST Stand, we were informed that the first bus will leave at 5 AM. So we had one hour to kill. Most of that time was spent gazing at the gazillion stars which are hardly visibly in Mumbai! Sigh, the pollution. The night sky was dreamy but we were tired and needed some warmth so went inside the bus depot, which with its hard, warm granite ledges, was as cozy as it could get!

The bus finally arrived but it had a punctured tyre so that took another 20 minutes and we were on the way to Bhandardara. Had heard that the road from Igatpuri is excellent and the view is even better but my body finally realised it was way to tired and I dozed off, missing most of the scenery in the process! Though in my drowsy state did realise that the road to Bhandardara is full of curves and would make for a perfect early morning bike ride.

We were finally there at Bhandardara. The bus dropped us near the entrance of the complex where most of the hotels are located. There is a ‘Cafe Dam Corner’, a Tea and Vada Pav stall, whose owner, Sanjay, was very helpful in giving us information on places to stay and things to do in Bhandardara. His tea, vada pav and bhaji are excellent by the way and he was our de facto breakfast/snack stop during our entire trip. 

We then headed to our hotel Amruteshwar (named after the Amriteshwar Temple), which is a couple of minutes walking distance from Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). MTDC has the best view of the lake, especially the MTDC Cottages. However, we were unable to get rooms there as the rooms or guest houses had to be booked around a month in advance!

Anyways, we proceeded to our quarters but stopped a few times marveling at the scenery. MTDC seemed to have the best view but Amruteshwar too held its own with a great view of the valley. We were taken aback and choose to spend sometime out in the open marveling at the scenery even though we were very very tired!

We freshened up, book transportation and were on our way for sight-seeing. Off course, we had breakfast as well, a more detailed account of which can be found here. We visited the Umbrella Falls, which is actually a water outlet for the Wilson Dam. The dam is at a height of 150m and is the largest earthen dam in the country and one of the oldest in Asia.

The dam itself is visible from Bhandardara but a closer look provides a better view. At the base of the dam is a tranquil garden with streams and trees and makes for a peaceful environment. The water is pristine and the riverbed is clearly visible.

We went closer to the water outlets, where fruit bats were resting high on the trees,. They were harmless and we continued to get closer to the waterfalls. Man made maybe, but it was a gorgeous sight. The waterfall created mist kept the surroundings wet and moist all throughout the day.

The sun was above us but the trees and the waterfall kept us cool and with the fruit bats keeping a watchful eye on us, nothing could go wrong! It was clearly one of the prettiest sights we had come across in a long while. To see such clear water and breathe such pure air was an unique experience for people like us who live in the stale concrete jungle known as Mumbai!

There was a bridge there which made for a picturesque setting and we spent quite sometime soaking our feet in the clear waters near the bridge.

Our next stop was Randha Falls, the third highest falls in India. Being close to summer season, the river had dried up quite a lot and the waterfall was just a fraction of what it is supposed to be. This was in February, so in the current heat, the waterfall may just be a trickle.While we went in February, the best time to visit Bhandardara to witness the true marvel of Randha falls would be during the monsoons. It was the middle of afternoon and we left soon after the mundane photo clicking session.

We returned back to our rooms and headed to MTDC for lunch. The food here strictly ok though they do serve a lot of Shrikhand! Lunch followed a couple of hours of lazying around and then we headed out for another trip around the Arthur Lake which is formed by the dammed up river of Pravara. The lake is a reservoir to the Wilson Dam and was formed way back in the year of 1910! Now that makes it a historic sight. There is also an ancient legend attached to the river. World66.com states the following about the ancient legend – ‘…Legend has it that Shri Agastya Rishi meditated continuously for a year, living only on water and air. Pleased with his tremendous devotion the Lord came down to earth, blessed him and left leaving behind a stream of Ganga – now known as Pravara River’.

And this time, we actually covered the entire circumference of the Arthur Lake! We came across many points which offered a panoramic view of the lake and the Sahaydris.

While on this round trip, we came across many dried up waterfalls and figured that in the rains Bhandardara would be as close to heaven as one can get! Streams and waterfalls line the entire lake and what was now barren rock would be transformed into lush greenery where the big cats will come out to play.Yes, there are leopards here and panthers too! Jungle Book anyone?

Anyways without digressing, Bhandardara is indeed scenic though we were greeted by dried up water falls, lower water levels and barren rocks for most of our journey. We came across an old temple while on the way to the sunset point. Couldn’t get time to step out and take more pictures. It was an intricate temple and seemed like the holy place of worship was deserted!

It was evening time and we went to the sunset point which is located near a playground on top of a cliff. It is strange that a children’s playground is located so close to a cliff.

The point offers a panoramic view of the surroundings including a Dam nearby. What was interesting was that the sunset point is located close to small forest which has a high population of panthers, as told to us by our guide. We shuddered at the thought of seeing one but thankfully (or sadly) we didn’t spot any. I did manage to spot an eagle which had made its nest high up on the cliffs. Ah! reminded me of the Discovery Channel footage!! Waited for sometime for the Eagle to return back to its nest, but it didn’t, I probably scared it!

On the left of the sunset point was the small patch of forest which still seemed lush green. The forest aside, the view of the sunset was brilliant!

Got an opportunity to click some interesting pictures of the sunset as well!

Darkness crept quickly and it was time to leave. We headed straight for dinner after our mini excursion. It was a tiring day and all of us were awake for more than 24 hours and once back in the room, we dozed off quickly! The morning of next day provided us with some more exceptional views of the valley.

Had our breakfast and were on our way back to Igatpuri from where we were supposed to get our bus. The road all the way to Igatpuri is excellent with some exceptional scenery.

We saw mountain tops lined up with Wind Mills providing electricity to the region which boasted of nearly 24 hours of electricity!

We were lucky to catch a glimpse of Mount Kalsubai, the highest peak in Maharashtra. The view from the peak is awesome though we were unfortunate to have not visited the peak on this trip, maybe next time for sure!

We stopped for lunch at Igatpuri. The place, Manas Resort, is a lifestyle resort providing a holistic experience. Naturally, the restaurant was expensive but the food was good. We had the chicken biryani which was like a Hyderabadi biryani though the same wasn’t explicitly mentioned. Overall a good meal. Soon after lunch, we boarded our bus and were back to the same old hectic life (ghissi piti life) in Mumbai.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience at Bhandaradara, one I am looking forward to for a pre-planned monsoon trip!

My uncle had been to Bhandardara a few months before we went and he scaled Mount Kalsubai. Below are some of the pictures he clicked.

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China House, House of the Good Food!

April 10, 2010 2 comments

China House, as the name suggests is a Chinese Restaurant (no points for guess that on a Food and Travel blog!). Located inside, Galleria in Hiranandani, Powai, China House shares space with a couple of Kebab joints and the Bengali street food place, Hangla’s.

China House is a pretty small restaurant, it ends a few paces from where it starts and seems a bit cramped up with the tables and chairs placed close to each other. But it has unusually high ceilings dotted with Chinese artifacts. The entire setting of the restaurant makes one really feel like one is at a Restaurant in China except for the Indian waiters and the fact that there are tables and chairs!

Anyways, whilst admiring the place, we ordered for Dumplings which is pretty much like Wanton. The Chicken Dumplings were yummy and made for a perfect light starter (even though the covering was made of Maida) for our main course which was the Mustard Chilly Prawns Sizzler. Emboldened by the delicious starter, decided to try the Sizzler. My friend suggested the Mustard Chilly as she likes Mustard. Hump! me not so much but went for it hoping the mustard wouldn’t overpower the taste buds. Thankfully, I was right or should I say the chef got it right. The quantity wasn’t much but the summers have seriously sapped away our appetites, so we didn’t have a complain on the quantity front. The quality was good too. The Prawns were big and yummy and so was the rice and noodle combination with the big french fries!

The sizzler was really nice there was only a hint of mustard which is a good thing in my book!

China House is indeed a good place to have dinner. If you are in Powai and in the mood for some Chinese, do give China House a thought. It is definitely cheaper than Yoko Sizzlers which is also located in Galleria.

Price: 3.5/5 (Rs.300 for the Sizzler and Rs.135 for the Dumplings)

Ambiance: 4/5

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AER Bar and Lounge, Thumbs up for the view of the city!

April 2, 2010 2 comments

Aer Bar and Lounge, on the 34th Floor of Mumbai’s Four Seasons hotel, is perhaps the roof of the city. This open air lounge makes for a perfect setting for a romantic date or a business meet or a romantic date (more suited for this, hence the weightage) or just hanging out with friends. Since it is located in Four Seasons, or rather, on top of Four Seasons, Aer boasts of well-heeled clientele. Now now, I wouldn’t say I  am one amongst the well-heeled but heck a special occasion called for a special place. And besides, find me a place that gives a 360 degree view of City.

The ambiance, is governed by the weather. If it is hot, you are not going to enjoy sitting here but if it nice and breezy then there is no better place. I guess, this is why the place opens only at 5:30 PM in the evening. Makes for an amazing place to watch the sunset.

The place is set up pretty well. The bar area is surrounded by 2 pax tables while the rest of the place is a mix of group seating and some cosy seating for couples. The setup is really good but it isn’t something that will make one go ‘WOW’. But the view, well, that is something you do say WOW!

But the same cannot be said for the drinks. We ordered for a couple of mocktails. There was nothing special about the mocktails and my companion even joked that the same can be made at home very easily! Well that was true. How difficult is it to make a Mojito? The other drink was titled Blue, made of Lychee Juice, Mint Leaves and Blue Curacao. Again, nothing special. Move on.

While we sipped on our drinks, we were still going WOW at the view. Haji Ali on one side and the Bandra Worli Sea Link on the other was one thing, but imagine seeing the Powai Lake in all its glory? To give a perspective, it takes an hour to reach Four Seasons from Powai Lake which is about 30 kilometers away from the hotel. (assuming all roads are empty and all signals are green!!!).

As the sun set, lights started to come on – one by one. Street lights, followed by a few residential complexes, the city was being transformed. Living here for 25 years, this was the first time I saw such a transformation on such a grand scale. The city lit up slowly and if the view during sunset wasn’t pretty enough, with the lights on, the city looked beautiful, almost sexy in many ways!

Again, the panoramic view was a sight to behold. Mumbai, officially, looks pretty at night.

But before I bore you more with this, I ordered for a New York Cheese cake. The cake was accompanied by the strawberry and cranberry sauce and strawberry ice cream. The first thing to note here was that the strawberry ice cream wasn’t pink like it is in most places. Second thing, the cheese cake wasn’t heavy. Probably used Parmesan cheese but not sure of it. It was a pretty good cheese cake!

Overall, the drinks disappointed but the cheese cake was the saving grace but what really gives this place the charm is its view. Come here after 7 pM and you will not be disappointed!

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Churchgate Restaurant, Simple name!

March 29, 2010 4 comments

Traveling to Churhgate, the southern most tip of the Western Railway in Mumbai, isn’t something I do often. Most of the eating (aka hogging) happens at the station itself. But today, I was here with a purpose. To have a beer and some chicken along with it. The only place I knew which was close to the station was Churchgate Restaurant. Opposite 210 Degrees, this is a quaint little place. Nothing much to speak off as far as ambiance is concerned, there is however, an antique clock hanging next to the TV set, lending a bit of charm to the entire place. The ceiling is high as well, a feature absent from most new structures.

We grabbed the biggest seat there was for the three of us and ordered for a pitcher of beer. It wasn’t chilled but it wasn’t warm either. Ordered some Chana Dal with the beer and for starters a Chicken 65. Was a bit aghast with the quantity which was way too less for my liking. At INR 100, I have had better chicken 65 and in far greater quantity as well.

Next up we ordered for our main course – Chicken Masala Fry. The quantity was less here as well. They do not serve Tandoori Roti so had to do with chapati (which is a thinner version of a Tandoori Roti). The Masala Fry was just about ok. The thick gravy had a consistent flavour which drowned any other flavour present in the dish. In the meantime, we ordered for another pitcher.

Overall, the food is nothing to write home about.  Beer wasn’t chilled but if it was, I wouldn’t be able to have it for my ongoing sinus problems! So no issues for me! The thing is though, sitting at Churchgate and having beer makes me feel ‘cool’. The place doesn’t have a beer bar ambiance but that is a good thing in my book.

Food: 2/5

Ambiance: 3.5/5

Service: 4/5 – Service was excellent. The waiter was busy but he always had a smile on his face and did not hesitate to answer any queries we had. Though if only he had told us, food isn’t so good, we could have gone elsewhere!

Price: Pitcher: INR 190 (INR 130 on Sundays, A real bargain IMO).

Other offers: Chicken Dhansak (INR 110 on Fridays and Saturdays)

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Beach Hopping: The Goa Experience – Part I

March 22, 2010 16 comments

There is something about a beach. The sound of the waves crashing, the touch of sand and the chills of the cold seawater on bare feet is but a generalization of an experience one can have on a beach. Yet it is amazing how each of these experiences is unique.

Over the last four months I stepped foot on more than 20 different beaches across Maharashtra and Goa. It is not an achievement I brag about (Well maybe I do :P) but it is the experience that I treasure. Some of these visits seemed mundane while others were pure bliss. After all what is a visit to a beach if it does not enrich your soul, calm your mind and clear your head?

It all began with a trip to Kashid and Murud beaches which are ahead of Alibaug. Regarded as one of the prettiest beaches in all of Maharashtra, Kashid was one place I was eager to go. White sands and calm and cool waters was what I expected and it is what I got, or rather, experienced. A blog post about the trip to Kashid and Murud is up here.

But little did I know, that this little trip will set in motion a chain of events that would lead me to the point of penning down my experience of many more beaches, some of them pristine, untouched paradises!

My second beach trip was not very far apart. An overnight trip to Diveagar and Harihareshwar concluded in mid-October 2009.

Diveagar

The long-deserted stretch of the Diveagar beach won me over while the more famous Harihareshwar was only a small visit for the sake of proof through photographs for I was too eager to head back to my new found solitude at Diveagar. Harihareshwar though is an excellent beach with the waters calm all throughout the year!

Harihareshwar Beach

Then, after a lull, came Goa. This party destination is the destination of choice to spend my new years eve. Unless I find another beach destination with lesser people and same old Trance/Techno/House/Electro music, Goa will continue to remain my preferred destination to ring in the new year. But this is not the only reason why Goa is a preferred destination.

Anjuna Beach

Sunset at Calangute.

For one, I am in love with Goan beaches and can never get enough of them. Secondly, beaches have a calming effect and no where but in Goa am I at peace within.

Be it basking in the sun on Calangute, or having dinner at Souza Lobo at Baga, or light snacks at Bob Marley Shack at Candolim, Goan beaches offer a lot more than sun, sand and booze and apparently great sights too ;).

Chill on every beach and enjoy the unique beauty was my moto on this trip. Offcourse, like a dog, I left my imprint on each beach I visited. The massive early morning waves at Calangute are not to be missed while the serene waters of Colva and the unpolluted ocean at Palolem is as close to heaven as any living mortal can get.

The Calangute Waves

The long deserted stretch of Colva. It was the only beach that wore a deserted look in Goa!

Palolem is a very pretty beach!

Anjuna has its own charm as well. The erstwhile rave capital of Goa still thrives just like any other beach. Tall cliffs that overlook the ocean make for a perfect sunset point. Baga, on the other hand, is dotted with clubs and discs and shacks that go on all night, but it is Anjuna where the real parties happen. It is not just the parties, the coarse Anjuna sand and the strong water currents are an attraction of their own.

Anjuna Beach.

But really, the most fun is the long stretch starting from Baga and ending at Taj Aguada. Different sands and a different colour of the sea every few 100 meters is a sight that greets one. It is like a beach buffet – every delicacy is there – choose the one you want! Speaking of delicacies, one should try out the Bob Marley’s Shack at Candolim. They serve good Vindaloo and excellent Veg Pakodas. It is also located in one of the less crowded parts of Candolim, partly due to the anchored ship there, which apparently no one wants to take responsibility for. Then there is X-Bar Restaurant at Calangute which serves good biryani and good food in general. Another is Manik which serves good Hukka too and has excellent chicken tikka! It is located just ahead of X-Bar on the road that leads to Baga Beach.

Calangute again, the sands stretch right upto Fort Aguada.

Moving away from the more commercialized yet very pretty north Goa beaches, we checked out the long deserted stretch of Colva. The day we went, there was a strike by the locals forcing us to take the longer, prettier road to the beach. Once there, didn’t feel like leaving.

A beach with so few people on it – surely this cannot be Goa in December. But it turned out that the strike was in part responsible for the desolation that was Colva. Anglers’ beach primarily, this is where many locals come as do the tourists.

The beach provided us with many photographic moments. Colva is a pretty beach to visit and with minimal crowds is an excellent place to relax, let go and just enjoy the beach.

But not satisfied with only one, we ventured on the roads once again to go to Palolem. So much I had heard of this beach that it was only a matter of time until I made it here.

The prettiest beach in all of Goa and by far the prettiest I have stepped foot on, Palolem was as enchanting as they come. A round cape, rocks and boulders mark the edges on either side. While the beach is pretty, it is the southern tip, which caught my attention. A natural pool by the sea, it was a pretty sight.

So much so that I chose to spend time sitting on the rocks there gazing out to the endless sea as if there was no tomorrow. A quick lunch at Chascaa was preceded by a long walk.

Amazed by the beauty, I felt sorry for the beach wondering how much pollution the resulting commercialization must be causing. But it was a clean beach suggesting that shack owners could be responsible for preserving its beauty.

Goa has so much more besides beaches. There is Fort Aguada with its majestic Lighthouse and the panoramic view of the Arabian Sea.

The Fort

The Lighthouse

The View

Then there is the Anjuna Flea Market which is probably the biggest I have seen so far. Excellent place to buy gifts and everyday items at throw away prices. Offcourse, one would need to bargain hard to get those throw away prices in the first place!

The Tibetan Market inside the Flea Market. This is one of the two major Tibetan Markets there.

Would you like to  buy some pipes?

Palolem was my last beach visit in Goa. However, beach hopping did not end there. It continued with frequent visits to beaches across Mumbai and Maharashtra. I have penned down my subsequent travelogues in the following posts:

Beach Hopping Part II: Alibaug Expedition

Beach Hopping: The Mumbai Excursion – Part III

Another one of those beach trips: Kelwa Beach

The pretty Gorai Beach and the imposing Pagoda

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Sahibaan, Colaba

Sahibaan at Colaba is apparently the first of the many Sahibaan restaurants open in Mumbai. Being the first, it boasts of an extensive menu, Chinese and India, that most of its brethren do not.

We were at Colaba searching for a place to chill and have dinner and chanced upon Sahibaan. Did not hesitate to walk in. The place is pretty small but has good seating arrangement. They generously offered us a table for six people even though we were just two!

They serve this for free but only after an order is placed.

Have already had the sizzlers from here so decided to try out something new. For me, new meant having Momos. So ordered for Steam Chicken Momos which were served along with three different sauces. One was sweet, one a bit sweet and sour and another just plain spicy!

My friend told me about how they serve  Momos elsewhere such that you can dip a whole Momo in a sauce and relish the flavour. Here you had to use the fork and the spoon but that was no problem either.

After the momos, we ordered for Chicken Pot Rice. Very much like Biryani cooked in an earthen pot, the Pot Rice was served in a ceramic bowl. Steamed chicken was the delicacy of the day for us with loads of freshly cut veggies. We were given chop sticks too. It was my first time with a chop stick and I think I didn’t do a bad job afterall. The pot rice was a bit bland and had to be mixed with some Soy Sauce (which I like) .

The food was delicious. The thing with Chinese food is the magic of the various sauces and when done right makes any thing you can have into a tasty delicacy. But we weren’t done yet. Ordered for a Sizzling Brownie (had to order something sizzling at Sahibaan!). The chocolate was a bit burnt and the brownie was just a plain old brownie, had hoped to find some nuts in there.

Overall, Sahibaan is a really good place serving good food and every attendee there has a ‘real’ smile on his face. Such a lovely thing when you are out for dinner after a tiring day!

Food: 4/5

Ambiance: 3/5

Service: 4/5

Britannia and Company, Fort, Mumbai

March 2, 2010 3 comments

Britannia was a name I had heard a lot from a Parsi friend of mine. It just so happened that I ended up at Britannia while on my way back home from my father’s office and decided to try out this place.

We were greeted by an old and friendly gentleman who took down our names (and even remembered our names while we were leaving from there! awesome stuff). If this friendliness wasn’t enough, we were served by another old man who was the darling of everyone there with nearly ever person in Britannia wanting to click a picture with him!.

He came over to take our order with a big broad smile. I can tell u, that made my day! We ordered for a Chicken Berry Pulav which seemed to be the preferred meal for most there. The Pulav was a first for me with berries in it. Though it looked like fried onions it was infact berries and made for a unique combination with chicken and rice. The chicken itself was tender and juicy and cooked really well.

Though the rice was bit expensive for my liking, the experience, the service and food made up for it.

Britannia is most definitely worth visiting more than once but mind you, the place is only open during lunch hours (mostly from 1 PM to 4 PM).

Vithal Kamat, NH3, Thane

February 27, 2010 1 comment

Went on one of the beach trips and this time to Kelwa Beach via Manor. While returning, decided to head off to Vithal Kamat for lunch. The restaurant we went to was a vegetarian one.

We ordered for a heavy lunch including Kadai Paneer, Chole Masala and Lassi. The food here is standard fare and tastes very much like the usual in most vegetarian restaurants. Also ordered for Lassi which was nice and thick. The tandoori aloo paratha was nice as well.

The pricing here moderate and the ambiance is more or less like that of a family restaurant. There are other restaurants around Vithal Kamat so a visit to Kelwa/Manor wouldn’t leave one searching for food atleast!