Showing posts with label car. Show all posts
Showing posts with label car. Show all posts


A small nano but long wait

Beginning of this year sold our Indica and bought Swift-Dzire(ZDI) which we found very practical and perfect for our Indian need. And we did not thought of booking any new car in recent time. Suddenly things got changed when Pamela started a new job in May. We were quite happy with single car and personally opted for BIAS (Bangalore International Airport - Volvo) as I commute from Hebbal to Old Airport read every day around 20KM one way.
But with rains things started to change and at times had to spend hours for bus and rain is something which I enjoy with a cup of tea on a balcony not on road with umbrella. So we said why not a second car ...
Looked around in the classifieds but nothing clicked. There were just three cars in our list
  •  Nano - Pros Price Cons - no power steering and many more as listed by others.
  •  Alto - Pros A complete car compared to Nano Cons Price difference almost 1.5 L to 1.8L different between different trims.
  •  Reva - Pros Alternative fuel Cons - Long running cost with Battery replacement, niche car in itself, Price is quite high 4.25L with AC model.
After doing test drive on Nano & Alto Pamela said she is OK for Alto but for not for Nano (power steering).

We dropped Reva along the path and did not did a test drive.
But after 10 days of deliberation I had a test drove Nano. Definitely it is different compared all the cars I drove till date. Found I can manage it in city traffic for few days in a week. Plan to drive this when I know for sure I will be late; other sunny days can always take BIAS and have a worry free commute.
Now why CX ??? -having AC in car was a must so the basic model was dropped. Found LX for another 30K is too much. As we would not be driving this car in extreme condition do not need fog lights and other features. With current 20K discount on road price for CX is just 2 lakhs which sounds right for me. Dealer promised to put sun film, mud guard and floor mats as complimentary. Might need to change the seats from vinyl to fabric after some time.
The paper work was quite easy. Never bought a car like this before. The first car I bought in USA almost took 4 hours of marathon negotiation.But the delivery was a sad episode after 4weeks of wait finally got the Nano yesterday. The delivery dates from the dealer kept on slipping which was a shame and last Sunday we even given them cancellation request if they fail to deliver it early this week.  On Monday they said they will deliver it.
P.S. I drove the car for last two days, the ODO reads only 82KM for now. It is OK to drive but definitely does not feel like a complete car. The picture is from Nano website the car comes without alloy wheels.


Aarush's-Free ride

Well another small post with pictures. These pictures of Aarush are months apart. One on left with motorcycle are just after his tonsuring and on the right are just weeks old. He really likes to ride like any other boy. And if we try to stop him it does not go well at public place. When we were in Star Bazaar @ Kormangala few weeks back he remembered where this toy car was kept and every time we tried to refrain him he used to go back there. It was surprising that he remembered where the escalator was and went up all the way navigating those aisles of merchandise from the lower floors. Recently, we bought him a cycle from Fisher-Price which he rides inside home all the time. The picture of that is there in this album will try to capture a video some time soon.


Drive to heritage site - Lepakshi

My 1st term is coming to an end and we are given the upcoming test as well project submission dates. On reaching home from class on Saturday I was desperate to go out of Bangalore to get charged to combat the upcoming gruelling weeks at work and personal front with study. I had no clue where to go for a day and started to check my faithful websites and zeroed on Lepakshi from Anita’s site. While she made a detour and visted two other places on the way we just opted for Lepakshi via NH-7 as was not in mood for too much of adventure.

After a sound sleep we woke-up at 8.15 AM; left home late around 10.10 AM, had breakfast in a south indian fast-food corner before hitting the road. City traffic was not that bad on Sunday and further away it was thinner. After leaving behind the international airport there was not much of traffic at all and we really left the concrete jungle behind.

Soon we crossed Devanhalli (new destination of real-estate agents) and road towards Nandi-hills. The road from Devanhalli to Chikballapur is underconstruction which means sometime you get a proper highway or else DIVERSIONS with lots of big HUMPS. Those humps are actually meant for big vehicles like trucks and buses while I punished my little Indica with one or two whom I failed to recognize at right time.

Chikballapur looked like is small town as we passed by without stopping. From there the condition of the road improves except few patches where it is undergoing big construction.

Soon we were greeted by a big sign board which read “Eenadu Pradesh welcomes you”.

Just after crossing the border we found RAXA Academy and AP Tourism Restaurant on our left. Right there we took narrow left turn and drove for another 15 KM for Lepakshi. It is a state road that goes to Hindupur via Lepaskhi. The road is narrow as well its condition is not very great. And as there is not much traffic we were able to drive in comfortable speed as long as one is alert. There are few patches where we found lush green paddy fields which soothes ones eye in scorching heat. We stopped by to take some pictures with sun-flower plantation; it looked like an end of season for them.

Soon we were able to see the back of big monolithic bull (Nandi). We reached temple in this heat around 1.40PM; and was relieved to be in shade. The temple is built by sandstone in Vijayanagar (Hampi)style of architecture. This is Veerabhadra temple where there is a big Monolithic Shiva-Linga. According to Hindu mythology, this seated Nandi (bull) outside is gate keeper of Siva and Parvati generally faces the main shrine. Here, it looks at this Linga (due to human settlements now the line of sight is obstructed). We went into detail tour of the temple as well courtyard. We almost burnt our feet while taking tour of outer enclosure.

The temple is divided into three parts - the Nritya (Ranga-Dance) Mandapa, the Ardha (Worship) Mandapa and the Kalyana Mandapa with 38 carved unfinished monolithic pillars.The temple as a whole is built from sandstone and there are signs of severe erosion. I wish the whole place was more maintained and preserved for generation to come.

Well, while going Aarush had a good nap but on the way back he was very active and naughty - as a whole he was a good kid.

Odometer Reading 0KM – Home 10KM – MG Road 23KM – Hebbal 52KM – Diversion for Nandi Hill 70KM – Chikballapur120KM – (Bagepalli) AP Tourism Restaurant / RAXA Academy Take Left122KM – Big Cement Crane135KM – Lepakshi

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Road trip to Mysore

Applied for a whole week off in December as I had 25+ days off to take for year 2008 - this gave us 9 days off with two weekends. I preferred a week before Christmas to avoid traffic and tourist. Initial plan was to leave Bangalore on Sunday for Mysore and move from there depending on Aarush's comfort. Stepping out of the home with him means a disrupted routine and adapting to a new environment for all us. Somehow, I was super lazy on Sunday and postponed the travel for next day. Even while dining on Sunday we were discussing just to be in Bangalore for whole next week or not. Then I concluded the discussion by saying- "we will start tomorrow(Monday) very early morning."

Next morning we could not start early either because of apathy; we started with normal daily practice and by the time we left home it was 11:20 on the clock. Aarush dozed off as we crossed Bangalore city limit and car picked some speed. He woke up when we reached almost outskirts of Mysore. I was driving with comfort as it was 3rd time on the same expressway in a short period of time. Followed sign for the Mysore palace and reached south gate entrance.

We had our packed lunch in the car before entering the palace compound. Bargained & hired a guide to show us the nooks and corner of the palace. Cameras are strictly forbidden inside the palace and we also had to leave our shoes outside as we enter the palace. Without going into details the palace is awesome; well maintained in Indian standard but not up to the mark like those of "Châteaux de Loire". The work and craftsmanship inside is too good which highlights how rich Maharajas of Mysore were. They had natural resources at their disposal like Kolar gold mine, Ivory and varieties of expensive woods to fulfill their hearts wish. The campus also has 27 temples almost at every corners of the compound.
It was dark when we left palace car parking and headed for a hotel. Initial choice was Ginger (new no frill hotel from Tata) as I did not stopped on the way to note the phone number we opted for Hotel Paradise. We were lost in dark while finding the hotel though we were certain we are in the same neighborhood and then a lady Samaritan guided us to the same on her scooter. The room was nice and clean; it cost us about 2000 (san air conditioning) rupees. A old fashioned beautiful hotel with nice view to whole city. The structure is old but elegant. We discovered the well kept and manicured Hotel garden next day morning.
After whole days of activity Aarush went to sleep very early skipping his normal dinner. Around 4 AM he woke up with full energy and started banging phone and other objects on which he could lay his hands. After one and half hours of playing he dozed off as the east sky was bright.
We woke up late; I called a friend at work who had been to Coorgweek before for details. After getting the contact called the same home-stay letting them know - we are coming today itself. This caught the owner off guard as he was not prepared for any visitor during the week but he said he will go to the market and dinner will be ready for us tonight.

After breakfast we picked some necessary things before hitting the road for Brindavan garden; it was already 11 AM. Brindhavan garden is only 15 KM from Mysore but the condition of the road started to deteriorate as we reached closer to the dam. It is just horrible with big pot holes; big trucks carrying river stones are the culprit for the road condition.
Being Tuesday, there was hardly any tourist in the garden. This garden is brain child of Sir Mirza Ismail influenced by Mughal design. The dam was built in 1927-32 by Wodeyar rulers of Mysore on river Cauvery. In recent time, there have been renovation work going on to beautify the garden and its surroundings. Old guest house have converted to Royal Orchid Hotel; kept wondering who goes there to stay on business or leisure. Only thing I could think off was to have corporate off-site meeting there.
After Brindhavan garden we headed towards Coorg via SH88.


Passion of reading

This question really sounds absurd to start a decent discussion on reading. I am not a writer nor pose to have any writing skill but I like to read. It is said the type of books you read generally depends on your attitude and personality. I believe reading as a habit has always allowed to nurture a wholesome sense of well being. But most of us read books to lull ourselves to sleep.

I read any thing that I can grab and not picky about subject or writer. Once I like a new writer; try to read his other work as well. In last 5-6 years can only think of two books that I started but couldn’t finish – ‘Satanic Verses’ and ’The Argumentative Indian’. This makes me wonder am I a good reader or not? Normally, I do not try to review books as I read for pleasure and have a good time. Though these books are well known, well read and sold million of copies I wonder is it wrong with me or with these books?

The journey of reading book takes back to memory lane - we (me and my brother) were hooked to reading from very early age as we grew reading books. Special thanks goes to my Mom for inculcating this habit in us. Switching from a totally pictured short comic to a immensely boring book of at least a hundred pages, with no images or diagrams was not easy though so I don’t blame any kid who would frown at the idea.

But there were others too who really appreciated this habit of ours and gifted us wonderful books as we grew. We were considered as book worms; we even saved money that we got from our elders to buy firecrackers at the time of Diwali. As for us the philosophy was simple – book lasts longer than a firecracker and you can always re-read books. We still have those well preserved collections to re-read. Now a days, with too much stress in work place many of us miss out on reading in this very manner and sadly it is only in times of grief, loneliness or insomnia that we seek refuge in reading some stuff.

I read many writings of Mr. Rushdie and really liked them a lot. ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’ is my favorite; just found out it got published after his most controversial work. I was in adolescent when ‘Satanic Verses’ got banned and always wanted to find out what was out there - a forbidden passion. So while in US I tried to borrow it twice from public library - got bored and could not follow the story after few chapters. I still wonder who are those who might have read, realized the content before banning the book? Did they just ban the book based on its name, who knows its a long history now.

Now coming back to ‘The Argumentative Indian’, a collection of published works by Mr. Sen during his long career and research. Though there are excellent foot note and reference in page I could not agree with writer about his view on recent India. Besides this, there were so many words which require frequent referring to a good English dictionary.

May be being a young Indian I see India from a different lens. Being in India I find his view on recent history of India to be unaccurate and one sided. To me his references are very academic in nature and away from ground reality; also his views are squinted for recent political history. Without doubt he poses to have vast knowledge about Indian history, culture and I am no one to make any comment on it.

To sum-up, this two books failed to keep me glued to finish it. May be one day I will try to finish them and will re-read… till then happy reading.


Letter to my son

Hello Aarush,
Today you are four months old...though nothing remarkable but for me it has been days now since we met last. Hope you to be fit as fiddle.
I came to know from your mom that now your vision is focused more or less, you are trying to grasp objects; can bat and swipe at dangling toys. It seems now you are ready to rock and roll as you have started taking side turns with squirms, giggles and wails... You respond to your nani (granny) and aunt with big toothless smiles as well with coos and making happy noises. Do you still continue to often soothe and calm yourself by sucking your fingers; and do you bicycle your legs and wave your arms when placed on your back with jerky movements.
Hope your head and neck muscles are getting stronger and able to lift your head to look around. I know that these muscles will still need support, so we have to be careful to guard your head and neck while lifting and holding.
Well, enjoy your time with your aunt and two elder cousin sisters. But do n't get spoiled with too much love, care and attention.
Darling, it seems besides all care and love you are not keeping a good progress as recommended by your doctor. I just want to let you know that 'am are not worried as long as you are happy and at ease.
Sorry my child, I miss you a lot and hope to see you soon. You are always in my heart and on my mind.
Loving you... Your's DADA
P.S. - For others please check Aarush new pictures


Goodbye – Mumbai – a quick update

I did not want to use a title like “Welcome to Bangalore” or “Here I come to Bangaloru” on purpose as need some time before I can call this my new home. From long time we were knowing that we have to move to Banglore but on personal grounds I had to postpone it which was readily accepted by my company. In recent months, I was waiting for that green signal from my company that I have to move in any case.
At last, on Sunday (27th April) I partially moved; travelling from Mumbai to Bangalore in my car covering 955KM in 20 hours. The experience of that journey deserves a post of its own. I hope to write on that as soon as I find a suitable place to rent and settle myself a bit.


Perfect Parking

Encountered this perfect parking on a small by-lane in Bangalore. For sure I will not be able to park like this; normally have enough difficulties in parallel parking on the street between cars. I was failed (fatal) as rear tire touched the ramp in my first attempt to secure Californian driving License. Looks like the owner will not be change car as this is customized parking only which can accommodate small car.


Shiv Jayanti

“Shiv jayanti” should not be confused with Shivratri (Night of lord Shiva)- marked with devotion to one of most powerful lord in Hindu mythology. While Shiv jayanti (Birthday) is celebration of birth anniversary of Shivaji Maharaj who ruled Maratha region in 17th century fighting against powerful Mughal Empire of North-India. He was named Shiva, after the local Goddess Shivai, to whom his mother Jijabai had prayed for a son.

According to English calendar, birthday of Shivaji is on February 19th. But ShivSena, the main political party of regional party in Maharashtra celebrates the same according to Indian astronomical dates. In Mumbai, you can’t miss this day which is celebrated with its colors and festivity. A colorful procession with lezims (a traditional musical instrument) is taken around the city. The main gathering happens at Shivaji Park of Dadar in the evening. You will find saffron triangular flags fluttering everywhere from train station to cabs on this day.
But there are some down side of this celebration to common people. If you have to travel around Dadar or need to cross the central part of this maximum city be prepared for a evening crawl. On the main roads as soon as you see on your rear-view mirror a big speeding SUV with flags you need to give right of way. The priority to this kind of vehicle is more than any emergency vehicle; it also signals ‘do not dare to touch me or stop me’ to law enforcement officials. With recent split of ShivSena this time there were cars from both parties to show their power and dedication to Shivaji Maharaj. Not sure if Shivaji would have appreciating the same. This is one of these celebrations which have been hijacked by political parties to show who rules the city - ‘Asli Bhai Kaun Hai’.


Bhat Suar

Every time I visit my in-laws and see one of these “Bhat Suar” (three-wheeler cart) on the road it brings back memories of my college days. Durg(in-law’s place) and Bhopal(college day) were part of same state 6 years back; although politically divided they are very similar to an outsider like me on social and geographical terms.
First part of the name comes from the sound they make “Bhat-Bhat” and second part “suar which means pig”. The design varies from state to state and its mechanism is very simple and rigid for extreme conditions. Maintenance is simple - all you need to open the hood and fix it- no complicated electronics; only big mechanical parts.
Before coming to Bhopal I have never seen these big yellow tempos (tutuk). Sometime they are the de-facto public transport in central India. Since in these areas, public bus service is inadequate or nil and a small auto for single person is expensive; They are very popular as they are engineered to accommodate around 12-15 people. Memories of these bones rattlers on uncomfortable pothole filled roads will remain for long time. The conductor will always try to squeeze another passenger chanting- "Khasko bhai khasko" (convince to make more room). "Ab kahaan khaskein" ("Now, where do I shift?")would be the apt reply.


Hebbal Lake

Last weekend I was in Bangalore and was checking progress on construction site. Well will this be a view if we move there; but as at work things are not yet crystal clear for the upcoming move. It is a nice view to have from kitchen they say a happy person always makes a happy meal. With new Bangalore airport going to be operational in next month this side of town is going to see lots of traffic and that is going to add more worries for already worried Bangaloreans. Only hope government takes proper steps for speedy execution of new promised public transport. But with current progress card it is still 6-7 years away.


An announcement

This announcement was long due on our blog. Though this breaking news was shared on d-day instantly with friends and families from Hospital via SMS and emails. I specifically carried my camera, laptop and wireless data card for the same.
I created two announcement cards one in pink and other in blue with two names (for girl and boy) and kept them ready. We never disclosed this big-news in last few months in our blog in-fact it was kept secret to many except close family members and few friends. Promise to update blog with those tense and waiting events as those eight and half month passed by. Frequent readers of our blog might got a hunch that there was no travelogue in recent time.
Right now life is bit busy with as we try to master ourselves in art of wrapping (buritto) and changing nappies. I do not see myself awake in front of computer late in night for coming few months.
Just uploaded few pictures of Aarush, as he just completed 11 days today.


Berlin Diary

Today while leafing through the pages of our album found yet another trip waiting to be jotted down before it gets erased from our memory. A trip to Berlin where present and past are in sync once again.

We went there for 3days- 2 nights stay by train on Easter weekend when sky was gloomy and mercury dropped to almost freezing point but didn’t deter our enthu to explore city as much possible. We took overnight train from Paris which reached at very early hours. We bought metro (u – Bahn) day pass tickets before going to our pre-booked Novotel hotel.

Beutiful decorated Mosaic Tile

After taking our room key we left to meet Berliners, no longer East or West Berliners but just Berliners. Had a takeaway breakfast on a way from one of the bakery shop at metro station and got off at Zoologischer Garten Bahnhof to visit Kudamm. It is here that the KaDeWe the largest departmental store in all of continental Europe stands. If you don't have a lot of time to browse the whole store at least pay a visit to the top floor which is Mecca for foodies. We also checked both BMW and Mercedes showrooms where you find designer items other than car designed by those famous engineering and designer with perfections.

We walked to Berlin’s famous landmark Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche rebuild itself but not at the cost of wiping its past. The ruins of Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church stand as reminder of the suffering of the war, right next to its hexagonal bell tower very much building of the present. The church is a reinforced concrete structure with blue-colored glass bricks while Memorial hall has still some of the mosaic decoration that survived the bombing.

From here we hopped onto double-decker bus line no 100 famous among tourists as it crosses most of historic Berlin.

Tip: Sit at top as it's easier to get a view of most top sights like Reichstag, as well as the many other historic buildings on Unter den Linden.


Got down at Alexanderplatz to see Berlin’s 365 metre high TV tower. Next to the TV tower is located the gothic Marienkirche, the second oldest church (built in late 13th century) of the historical centre of Berlin. It is close to river spree and surrounded by few notable buildings with red-brick roof and right across the street was Starbucks – had coffee there. I do not drink coffee but those chilly winds outside we took shelters few times where Santanu tried to give quick dégustation class on coffee. From here we walked to Berlin Cathedral built between 1895 and 1905. We even climbed to the top of dome to take panoramic view. It faces the Lustgarten (pleasure garden) and the Berliner Stadtschloss (berlin city palace). Lustgarten is a park on Museum Island. It houses Altes museum (old museum) which we visited later.

Reichstag - German Parliament

It was dusk when we were waiting in a long queue to visit Reichstag - German parliament near the Brandenburg gate building with large glass dome and access to top with a great view of Berlin. Although free entrance but extensive security check and at same time its worth visiting.

Then, we went to see Germany’s iconic landmark Brandenburg Gate at historical center and nucleus of former East Berlin district Mitte. This is where it’s all happening. It’s numéro one place to be seen and to see. Cafes, bars restaurants, theatres, designer shops selling everything from shoes to scarves; day or night places along with many other sites of historic interest are teeming with people. It is new hangout for young and restless. In the very heart of Berlin is a memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe which we didn’t visited as it was already dark.

We at Bradenborg Gate

Lastly, went to house of world culture centre for non European art whose floor was superbly decorated… no doubt. Had dinner at one of Chinese restaurant near Zoologischer Garten and left for our hotel.


Venice at leisure

Venice from Lido

Next day, when we woke up, were very happy to see blue sky after two days of grey sky. Around 9.00 AM we came by boat to hot-spot St. Mark's Square. St. Mark's Basilica which is Byzantine influenced was too crowded to visit that time and unfortunately in evening we ran out of time and could not make it so satisfied ourselves from outside only. Doge's Palace is a gothic palace with bridge of sighs at rear end which is made of white limestone and has windows with stone bars. It connects the old prisons to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace and last view point of Venice that convicts use to see before their imprisonment. Campanile bell tower is worth for city view only but we did not take the flight of stairs as we have lot more to explore. Visiting museum was big NO as we had enough (time was another constraint).

St. Mark’s Basilica blue sky small

Did enjoyed trip along the Grand Canal with hopping on-off. Countless bridges lace together the neighborhoods of Venice. Amazed to see many historical buildings is slowly sinking into the marshy ground…getting tilted?

At afternoon after lunch we took a cruise to one of islands in the Venetian lagoon. We went to Murano where one gets chance to watch Venetian glass blowers fashion their delicate objects known for glassware, lamps, chandeliers and glass jewelry. We started with glass museum and visited few glass factories, they show you the art, but for them it is just part of work. We got few souvenirs for friends and family.


At evening we came back to Rialto Bridge. Rialto Bridge is famous for its shops. There are three bridges joined together which makes it special. Wandered around saw many taking gondola ride – it’s ‘expensive’. Best if you are a group of four to split the cost for those twenty minutes. Any way, we could not found another couple to share and decided against it. The route from the Rialto to the Academia (one of the famous museum) and back to piazza San Marco winds through ornate squares and is quite interesting.

TIPS: Get a travel pass to ride the elusive water bus – else single tickets are less economical if you plan to spend days touring in order to explore every nook and cranny. We missed few things at Venice; we did not visit the famous Opera house which underwent renovation. We stayed in Lido but we did not explore its beaches. Last but not least we missed to pick up those carnival masks for wall hanging.

It seems Venice is not the place for pasta. Rather, Cichetti (chee-keht-tee) are small portions of food served in bars all over the city, with small glass of wine. You eat while standing in a crowded room. Certain bars display all the Cichetti before you; Sorry, couldn’t enjoy that as I am not a wine-lover.



Doumo from Distance

There are plenty of places to explore in Tuscan region from Florence as day trip. We decided to visit Siena which is only one hour. Reason for choosing Siena was for its medieval beauty; in that era Siena and Florence were at war when Florence defeated Siena.

Travel by road through Tuscan region is really amazing as you cross those post-card hills. But exhausted from yesterdays walking on the cobble stone roads of Florence I dozed as soon we hit the highway that made Santanu bit furious as he couldn’t share those moments.

Piazza del campo

Bus dropped us near to city center from where we visited top-sights – Piazza del campo square (city hall, museum, bell tower) and cathedral (with a baptistery, cathedral museum and viewpoint) of medieval town with twisting alleyways.

Siena’s city square (unique shell shaped piazza) is huge and it is the main landmark; only accessible by feet or taxi. There are lots of leather shops along Via di Citta (Main Street). Besides, there are numerous other shops and restaurants lined against the narrow lane which we found outrageously priced and too crowded with tourists. We walked along that street and had mouth-watering pizza for lunch in one resturant.

Marble Work small

Siena’s cathedral is outstanding with black and white marble columns and dazzling mosaics on the floor. Do not miss the magnificent Bernini statue of Mary Magdalene (does this bell a ring from Da Vinci’s Code?) hidden away in a niche of marble. Duomo is unfinished as you can see the half constructed outer wall. inside every possible inch of wall, ceiling and floor has been decorated. Adjoining the cathedral is the Piccolomini library which is also must.

Later, we walked to San Domenico (Basilica Cateriniana) with delicate and soft gelatos in our hand. This is a huge gothic church with minimalistic design so there is no fancy marble works or any thing.

Finally, we walked back to the bus stop (to Florence) with my eyes wide open this time.

At morning we crossed famous open market of Florence. But unfortunately, in the morning we were too early and in evening we were too late.


Cinqueterre – Mediterranean nirvana

We got up early had a quick breakfast and dragged our bags to Milan Central Station; bought our ticket for next destination “Cinqueterre” - refers to five small villages (Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore and Vernazza) - cling to the rugged mountains along Mediterranean coastline with breath taking view.


This UNSECO heritage site is not on the main train line or motor-way that connects Milan to Rome. To get there, we have to cross the mountain to reach the western side of Italy. Need to change train at Genoa- known for its pesto sauce and native place of Columbus. It is said that as the western side of the Liguria hills gets the best sun light which is perfect for tomato and basil. As we had to change train from main line to local line we could only get glimpse from train.

There are special trains from Levanto to La Spezia which stops in these five villages. As I write down about different trains lines I am sure you got an idea how remote these little villages are ; yes they are really small villages. Tourist attraction has not yet turned them into mini town.


Cost of hotels in those five small villages were enormous so we booked hotel at Levanto, north of Cinqueterre a small village with sandy beach, bustling day-time markets. Later, while exchanging travel notes with friends we found Levanto was a better choice in terms of food, spacious room and most importantly price and service.

After checking into the hotel in afternoon we rushed back to the rail-station to head towards the south most station Riomaggiore. We got one day “Cinque Terre Card” that allowed us to hike and ride public transport in Cinqueterre. This small amount helps to maintain this National Park.

The best way to explore Cinqueterre is to hike the trails between the 5 villages; there are other numerous trail which connects vineyards and sea. Of course, there are public transport or ferry to hop between villages.

 Hiking at cinque terre

We planned to hike south to north in one go; the distance between Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare is 12kms, a lot of the trail is steep and rocky. The hike started with steep stairs leading to famous Via dell’Amore, (which needs no translation I hope - Path of love). The walk from Riomaggiore to Manarola is the easiest which takes about 15-20 minutes depending on how long you stop to gaze at the view! It is paved all the way and fairly flat.

The next section of the walk is from Manarola to Corniglia ( 3km long and takes about 1 hour). Parts of this trail are pretty easy, but it is steeper at times, the ground is sometimes uneven. The most exhausting part of this section is at the end. As you arrive at Corniglia train station there are also signs to reach secluded or public beach along the way. That means you need to hike down to the sea. The station is located by the sea side, while the town of Corniglia is on top of the hill which is connected by long flight of stairs!!!

The section between Corniglia and Vernazza is most scenic part passing through vineyards, fragrant herb bushes and rocky outcrops with spectacular views. It took about 1.5 hours to complete, though we stopped quite a bit to admire the views and took some breathe.

Cinque Terre

Toughest section is between Vernazza and Monterosso with lots of ups and downs and steep stairs. It is a real bridle path which unwinds itself by the seaside.

From here, we returned back to Levanto by train full of sun-burned tourists.

TIP: Need good pair of shoes to avoid weary legs and hiking pole will save your knees. We hiked this part in late afternoon as we were crunched with time but will advice to start in the morning so that you take more frequent stops to admire the beauty and give rest to your legs and lungs.

At the end, we almost had to run as we were not prepared for hiking in dark and it was only us on that trail. You can spend few days in these villages to unwind and explore churches and other historic buildings if those interest you. </p


Fresh Tomato Soup


Till far only soup ever tried to make was carrot soup in Paris that too in bleak winter. Big thanks to my French Teacher for sharing the recipe en Français. Recently, went to local vegetable market; seeing tomato got so tempted that without thinking bought two kilos. Then I brainstormed a bit to think and idea of soup came as an escape. Here is my 2 cents recipe. If craving for something sweet and sour at the same time just have a bowl of creamy tomato soup to satisfy your desire as an appetizer.

  • One kilo Tomato – boiled, peeled and deseeded.
  • Two/three carrots – chopped to tiny pieces.
  • One big Onion finely chopped
  • Few cloves of garlic
  • One red chili
  • One Bay leaf
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • Black pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil / ½ tbsp butter
  • Juice from one fresh Orange
  • Low fat cream or thick yoghurt
  • Dried Basil / Parsley leaves - optional
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oil/ butter and fry cumin seeds, bay leaf, garlic and onion with pinch of salt. When onion turns golden, add carrots and continue frying at low flame. Once carrot is tender add tomato and fry for few minutes

Make puree in a grinder (remove bay leaf before). Add water according to thickness required. Put the blended soup back in the pan. Bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat. Now add freshly squeezed orange juice and cream after removing from heat. Season it with nutmeg and fresh black pepper. Garnish with a couple of parsley or basil sprigs if any and serve hot with either croutons or bread slice.


Best news is “Bread-Talk” boutique has recently opened at Vashi. It is a famous bakery chain from Singapore and they do cater good quality of various breads as well as desserts. But sadly, the dessert I got from there was too creamy, spongy and sugary. I will say tasteless to my taste buds as these kinds of pastries are very popular throughout India. After tasting European pastries, I find these one as - concept of western baked goods mixed with Asian ingenuity makes cool looking pastries that are hit-and-miss at certain point. While multi-cereal bread which I got was awesome.


Calamity of Mid life & middle class

It is impossible not to eavesdrop when people are having a loud conversation on phone in Mumbai's life line - local train.

Unlike other days today morning, was special one which is worth describing.

A guy gets in; stands next to me and elbows me to make his room and starts chatting over mobile (so how it goes....).

“Sorry yaar (friend) had to switch off the mobile as train was coming in; you know how much rush is there nowadays.”

As if there was less rush in last 20 years in Mumbai local. Well, from his conversation I figured out on other side will be another mid-life middle class male on the call. After few lines of small chit-chat the big one comes (which inspired me to write this blog).

“Oh he (some friend)! he is still in hospital on dialysis and doctor says it will take another two weeks to recover.”

Oh God! that is alarming that friend can be just like me another middle aged middle class. And now you read and hear everyday about people as young in twenties are getting heart attack. Well, no doubt life is stressful but we Indians make it even harder with our own karma, as we poke our nose in every matter, as well in others matter; worrying about them, giving constant stream of unsolicited advice is part of our nature.

“Not sure what went wrong, Doctor says due to his high blood pressure his kidney is not functioning properly. He is having heavy loss of protein in the urine”

Indeed too sad conversation, but then he admits "what more to say, even we do n't know 2% of our body and how it works; we only go to hospital when sick”.

Not sure how to say how true it is, in India there is no conception of prevention of diseases, people get really sick spends money (according to their capacity) as most don’t even have medical insurance and then one final day all is over. And worst of all, relatives, friends and bystanders never try to take precaution on the same for themselves as all think that it will not happen to them it only happens to others.

Now the sunny side of the conversation.

“I forgot to tell you, I got a Toyota Corolla recently; a good bargain for a perfect second hand, you must come one weekend we will go for a long drive to Pune.”

It is mandatory to announce, you got a good deal to show your acumen as buyer. I love to hear this stuff as I am sure both guys will never make it in their life, as their wives will never allow that bachelor party to happen. Unlike west or even far-east where it is common to have guys having evening-out after work; it virtually doesn't exist in India yet. As Indian guys has too many balls to juggle with. If you think I am making it sound too boring, the reason is very simple as myself I haven't yet met a person like that.

Well then the conversation continued with natural stuff like kid’s education, stock market, weather and boss at work. By that time his stop was coming so he cuts the call quite abruptly. For 90% Indians, phone attic does not require a formal hello or bye, conversation starts and ends – cradles down – thats simple.

May be just like writing no concluding paragraph. Well, this is a good link on our kidney; I will encourage to read the same, may be it increase that 2% knowledge on human body; high time to take care of ourselves with less medication and having more of stressfree life.


Cabbies of Mumbai

Mumbai Taxi

Black and yellow metered taxi’s made famous by Bollywood movies play a major role of public transport in Mumbai other then auto rickshaws, trains and buses. In New York they are yellow, in London they are Black and in Mumbai they’re both yellow and black. They are part of Mumbai heritage. Normally, they move in snail space at peak hours which may depend on the area traversed and the state of the roads. Truly, at times cannot help to mention their weird way of driving.

Few facts:

  • These metered taxis ply throughout Mumbai otherwise only mode of hired transport in proper Mumbai as auto-rickshaws are not allowed. Bandra on western and Sion on central line marks the demarcation point. This is a big bliss as there is not much noise pollution, no mad driving and not much squeezing on road for space.
  • They are quaint vehicles which are quite reasonable in price to hire, even if short on leg room, seat comfort, ceiling height, and window space.
  • They also run in share mode, maximum of four person can share the ride but routes are fixed for this kind. Mostly Mumbai-ans uses them to reach office from station or vice versa.
  • All most 99% black and yellow cabs are Premier Padmini by FIAT
  • FIAT does not produce these car any more so all cars on the road are 20/30 years old.
  • They run on CNG (that is the only reason taxi fair did not got a hike in last few years).
  • Fixing the car is easy, not much electronic like new car. Each driver knows his car’s technical fine points like his palm.
  • Taxi drivers in Mumbai are still OK; not as honest like old times but better off from their counterparts in any other major cities in India.
New TAXI - Mumbai

Though there are new air conditioned taxi on the road which are yet to become mainstream. These will be air conditioned and fitted with GPS, cordless phones, electronic meters with printers. These new taxis will charge a little extra than the traditional black and yellow taxis because of the luxury frills.

Even recently one Cab Company has decided to employ ladies driver catering mainly to ladies passenger and this service will be started by this November.


Sweet potato dessert

Sweet potato dessert (Ranga Alur Puli) is an age old Bengali dessert - a sweet lover's delight for sure. Its crispy outer layer mesmerizes gastronomic senses. As for its availability, it is more of a traditional sweet, prepared in households. These days some sweet shops are starting to include this in their repertoire to cater to the time-constrained generation.

Sweet Potato

My hubby being born with a sweet tooth, do enjoy sweet of any kind. So, this recipe is actually initiated and arranged by my mom-in-law for him while I prepared it under her guidance on our short stay at Siliguri this year.


    For Puli Dough:
  • Sweet potatoes: 500 gms
  • Flour: 1 ½ tablespoons if preparing stuffed one (otherwise 100gm for plain one)
    For Stuffing: (optional)
  • Milk: ½ litre
  • Sugar: 1 tablespoon
  • Coconut: ½ (grated)
  • Cardamom (green): 2-3
  • Raisins
    For Syrup:
  • Sugar: 1 cup
  • Water: 1 cup
  • Oil for frying
Method:The Puli Dough:

Wash and boil the s.potatoes until soft. Peel and mash. Add the flour and knead into dough. Keep aside.

The Stuffing: (optional)

Bring the milk to a boil by adding a tablespoon of sugar in it. When the milk starts to thicken, add the coconut and the raisins and condense it to a thick, sticky consistency. Remove from heat and add crushed cardamoms. Let it cool.

The Syrup:

Add a cup of sugar to a cup of water and bring this to a boil. The syrup should be of medium consistency. Let it cool.

pulis are ready
Making the pulis:

Take a small portion of the dough in your hands and shape them accordingly unless it is stuffed. If preparing stuffed pulis then flatten the dough and make a cavity in the centre and fill it with a little of the above stuffing. Seal the edges of the dough and give it the shape of a puli. Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the pulis in batches. Remove from oil as pulis start browning or golden. And dip the pulis into the syrup carefully, one by one. Serve hot or cold.

Frying the pulis

Frying Pullis: We prepared plain puli without stuffing but stuffed one are really mouth-watering and delicious….no doubt! Actually, Ranga alur puli (fried sweet potato dessert) along with other pulis like Muger puli (made of moong dal or yellow moong lentil), Chirer Puli (made of poha -beaten rice), chana dal puli, Chaler puli (made of rice) use the harvest produce—rice, coconut, date palm juice and jaggery etc speciality items of Shankranti.

Finally all ready

Day 3 - Rishikesh

The weather looked gloomy with an overcast sky as we woke up. We had breakfast at the hotel and decided to visit Rishikesh today. Again we...